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Is Travel the Answer?

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

A wee little travel essay I was asked to write as a guest article to a University publication

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” Samuel Johnson

To so many people, travel is seen as a method of running away. Of avoiding reality and shunning our societal and moral responsibilities. In short, it’s merely a self-indulgent, short-term endeavour that’ll eventually come to an end. And with that end, we’ll return to ‘reality’ with a sharp kick, to sadly set off exactly where we left off a few months earlier. In the words of Elizabeth Drew, “Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation.”

Now, although this may be a fair assessment of many backpackers and travellers the world over, it’s a long-shot from truly explaining the rationale and motivation behind much wandering vagabondism.

For so many poor lost souls out there, the country they grow up in is too small a pond to enable one to truly appreciate what needs to be appreciated. The restrictions set forth by individual cultures can all too easily close the mind off to alternative, and more positive thought modes.  As D. Runes once said; “People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home”. Read more…

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Categories: Misc, Travel, Writing

Screw it Let’s Do it.

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Deciding to overcome the heavy, miserable weather, and just get on with it! So I went for a run….

Today’s just been ‘one of those days’. Dark, grey, ominous clouds outside. Constant, fine drizzle and pedestrians sauntering miserably through crestfallen streets.

You know what I mean. Those days that make you want to sit and wallow in your own self-pity, huddled in a duvet longing for some rays of light to penetrate the sky. Any rays. Please. PLEASE! Even if it’s just one or two…

Problem is, you see, I live in Southport. 70% of the bloody time it’s ‘one of those days’. But today I snapped. I’d had enough. So I took matters into my own hands.

What did I do? That’s right. I turned to my bookshelf, as you do. And just before I gave up my search for something interesting to read to return to my wallowing, an old book by Richard Branson caught my eye.

I didn’t pull it down to read. I just spied the title; Screw it, Let’s do it!’. Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Were The Beatles a ‘boy band’?

In the beginning, The Beatles played Rock ‘n’ Roll. This music wasn’t recorded, and mostly comprised of covers. When the band started to become more popular, primarily in Liverpool, they wanted more, but their manager told them in order to truly succeed, they’d have to clean up their image; stop eating on stage, stop swearing, stop smoking. John said ‘it was a choice of making it or still eating chicken on stage’, as ‘guitar bands’ were ‘out’. Read more…

Categories: Misc Tags: , ,

2010 Election; The British Socialist Manifesto.

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Private capitalism does not work. It is not certain that Socialism is in all ways superior to capitalism, but it is certain that unlike capitalism, it can solve the problems of production and consumption. At normal times a capitalist economy can never consume all that it produces, so there is always a wasted surplus (wheat burned in furnaces, herrings dumped back into the sea etc. etc.) and always unemployment. In the time of war, on the other hand, it has difficulty producing all that it needs, because nothing is produced unless someone sees his way to making a profit out of it. Read more…

The Absurdity of Life: Does that mean meaningless and despair?

March 6, 2010 2 comments

Read time: 12 minutes.

Post based on Thomas Nagel’s paper, The Absurd, in the book ‘Mortal Questions’.

Abstract

What makes life absurd? Can we escape this view? and if not, does it matter? This is a continuation to my last post, why so many people think the western work ethic is right. For those of us who realise that this work ethic is fatally flawed, we often think it’s because such work is absurd and pointless. This post explores this idea further, and suggests why the idea of absurdity is in fact a good thing.

What makes life absurd?

Human life is full of effort, plans, calculations, success and failure: we pursue our lives, with varying degrees of sloth and energy. It would be different if we could not step back and reflect on the process, but human beings do not act solely on impulse. They are prudent, they reflect. They ask whether what they are doing is worthwhile.

They spend enormous quantities of energy, risk, and calculation on the details: His appearance, his health, his sex life, his emotional honesty, his social utility, his self-knowledge, the quality of ties with family, colleagues and friends. Leading a human life is a full-time occupation. Read more…

Why So Many People Think The Western Work Ethic is Right

February 24, 2010 3 comments

Read time 7 minutes

Solomon Asch set out to study social influences and how social forces affect a person’s opinions and attitudes when he began his conformity study in the 1950’s (Hock, 2005). Asch noted that participants in these past studies often changed their differing opinions to those of the majorities, when confronted with opposing views (Asch, 1955).

These tests on how others can effect our judgement without altering our knowledge about the situation, it turns out, show that we’ll often side with majority even if we quite strongly believe they’re wrong. Asch said “That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong…is a matter of concern. It raises questions about…the values that guide our conduct.” (Asch 1955).

Not only does this suggest at frighting thoughts of how a jury panel may be wrongly influenced, it also harks at how religion may have developed. But more interestingly, to me, is how this natural, in-built, most likely evolutionary disposition to side with the majority has effected our view on the typical way to live life, wherever that may be. The typical work/life balance. The status-quo of the western 9-5.   Read more…

Can we live the Ideal Life Anywhere?

February 11, 2010 1 comment

This topic sprung up in a philosophy seminar I had last week, and with the coincidence of Scott Young writing something about this just a couple of days ago, it got the old brain juices flowing.

As I read him, Scott believes there’s an ideal city for us. Our character may suit the romanticism of Paris more than the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Each city holds different things for each of us, with the challenge being to find the city that suits us most fully, in order for us to reach the peak of enjoyment and satisfaction in life.

I want to go against this idea though. Consider London, believed be fast paced, exciting and vibrant. Who would suit this kind of place more than a fast paced, vibrant person, you may ask. But it must be remembered that all the places mentioned in this debate are colossal in size, and so it’s simply too quick to say that one place is unsuitable for certain characters, yet perfect for others. Labelling a city with just one characteristic is like saying all Christians are homophobic, or no Caucasians can dance.

Read more…

Categories: 'Self Help', Misc, Travel Tags: ,