Welcome to friends of wine women and philosophy (wwp)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wine Women and Philosophy Outreach Salon

We spent a very enjoyable afternoon a week or so ago with a group of McGill University students who were interested in experiencing a wine women and philosophy salon designed especially for them. Pictured here with us are Sarah, Chloe and Isabella, who took time out from finals week to explore 'The Art of Conversation' and with it, the importance of asking good questions.

It was clear from the get-go that we all shared a love of lively and stimulating verbal exchange, and the eloquence of these students as they elaborated the difference between talk that rewards and talk that just never seems to go anywhere was truly impressive. We also appreciated the fact that Sarah, who organized the afternoon, is the daughter of regular wwp member Kathy McKnight...It was fun to try out our pedagogical approach with the next generation! For more details on other wwp outreach initiatives, why not check out our website.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Lovers Group Enjoy Their Annual Trip to the Nurtury Last Weekend

Thank you to Pat for organizing yet another splendid weekend for her friends at the Nurtury. This is the third time that this group has gathered at the Nurtury to talk books, do crafts, enjoy walks in the woods, break bread together and throw around ideas. As in the years before, this weekend fulfilled all that it promised.

Though we missed the company of Ann and Wendy - both of whom were in Europe and unable to attend this annual get-together - Carolyn, Louise, Judy and Pat kept the home fires
burning and the creative juices flowing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Upcoming Members' Salon Series Starts With Spinning Off Spinoza

Here's an important date for your diary. The next members' salon takes place on Thursday 6th of December at 7.30pm and the evening revolves around the life and times of 17th Century lens grinder and philosopher, Baruch Spinoza. It's worth doing all you can to make it to this salon as it sets up the 5 subsequent salons in our 2013 series...Quite apart from that, Spinoza is a pretty fascinating thinker and you won't want to go through this holiday season without his thoughts on joy (and sorrow) very much on your mind. To find out more about becoming a member of wwp and attending our monthly salons please visit our website.

Remembering Margaret 'Magee' Bremner (Wallace)

Our thoughts go out at this time to wwp members Wendy and Heather, and their sister Val, who lost their 'big' sister, Magee, on Saturday, November 17. Though we never met Magee personally, she was very much part of our collective wwp story: brought vividly to life by Wendy, Heather and Val when they participated in a book and film club weekend up at the Nurtury which Magee had hoped to attend along with them; exchanging ideas with us about a scrap-booking weekend that Magee was keen to put on at the Nurtury. We have been so moved by the sisters' love for and care of Magee during the past half year, and we send our deepest condolences to them and their family.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 133: We're Home...22,000km Round Trip!

We've been just a tad slack about our blogging of late...(ie. we're really late)...and we'll be filling in some of those gaps in the weeks to come - especially as concerns the four fabulous salons that we ran in the Toronto area during the last week of our road trip. But for now, we just wanted to say a BIG BIG thank you to Pat and Sue, who kept the home fires burning while we were away - it was great to see them the other evening, and catch up with all the news from the hood. We also want to express our deepest gratitude to all those who participated in the road-show experience - whether as much appreciated ports of call along the way, or as armchair fellow-travelers following our adventures on the blog. It was great journeying with ALL of you!

Now that we are back, and Carmella is winterized and all parked up until the next road-trip adventure beckons, we have turned our attention to getting the 2012/2013 Montreal salon season organized. We are putting on 6 salons between now and next May...Our first takes place on Thursday, December 6th, and the rest of the schedule is posted both here on the blog, and also on our website. Details of these upcoming salons will be posted soon...For now, suffice to say that 17th century renegade philosopher Baruch Spinoza will be a thread weaving in and out of the entire series, and that by working his ideas backwards and forwards between different epochs and a diverse range of philosophers, our hope is that we will all emerge with a much better sense of both this highly compelling thinker, and those key concepts with which philosophers have grappled through the ages. As always, the application that these concepts have to our own lives and times is central to how we intend to work the various strands of Spinoza's thinking into our salon programme.

Also in the pipeline...Another 6 week round of the Philosophy Club kicks off in early 2013, and - inspired by our road-trip experience - we'll be continuing to take our salons out of our own living room and into yours. You'll find more information about both of these ventures on our website. We welcome your input regarding all wine women and philosophy developments, so please get in touch with us via the website if you want to share your thoughts and join the conversation.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 126: Sorrow and Joy Salon, Toronto, Ontario

It was with great joy (and no sorrow) that we met up with Nicola and her friends for a salon in Toronto on a sunny Sunday afternoon - ready to take on a topic that 17th Century philosopher Baruch Spinoza saw as central to our entire existence. For Spinoza, almost everything we experience can be linked to those oft-twinned states of feeling joy or feeling sorrow...Though just what those two states represented for this monist and materialist thinker - emotions? affects? passions? degrees of perfection or imperfection? - has remained a subject of lively philosophical speculation in the 350 or so years since his controversial 'Ethics' was published to little fanfare and publicly shunned.

To be sure, Spinoza's embracing of joy-seeking as the supreme 'good' and God as an earthly substance like any other was bound to ruffle more than just the odd feather in his time. It is, however, the tendency since then amongst philosophers of diverse stripes and colours to 'bend' Spinoza to suit their conceptual purposes that makes his thinking so perpetually timely.

Considering first Spinoza's notions of joy and sorrow through the virtue ethical lens of Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, we debated their status as 'typical emotions' and compared the way they are seen to heighten, peak and ebb within moral philosophical circles to Spinoza's understanding of our ever-changing emotional state.Turning then to post-structuralist Gilles Deleuze's borrowing of Spinoza to illustrate the workings of affect, we considered sorrow and joy as impersonal 'energy fields' and their fleeting manifestations in and through us as life's ongoing play of intensity meeting banality.

What primarily concerned us, however, was not so much the nature of joy and sorrow in and of themselves as the relationship between the two - were we talking flip-side, here, or fold? With this question in mind, we set to work: testing the waters with a series of well-known quotes that highlight the traditional linking of joy and sorrow; wading into the depths with scissors and paper to hand as we attempted to tangibly represent the differences between a flip-side connection (joy and
sorrow as opposites) and that of the fold (joy and sorrow as a continuum). This particular line of flight culminated in an exercise in haiku poetry that found us peering in from the outside at joy and sorrow personified in an image, and attempting to translate that 'vision' into a fragment of bodily writing.

Nicola's delicious homemade soup made a welcome entrance as we brought this afternoon of lively thought and stimulating discussion to a conclusion. We want to thank Marion, Emily, Juli, Tanya, Bonnie, Erika and, of course, Nicola, for generating such joy in the context of a working salon, and for creating with us such an intellectually exciting environment.

Days 124 and 125: Kitchener, Ontario

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 120 to 123: Women and Friendship Salon in London, Ontario

Arriving back in Canada after the long trek home across the States, our first stop was London, Ontario and a salon devoted to the topic of women and friendship. Appropriately, co-host Sue had gathered some of her closest friends together to explore the issue, and in the company of Kelly, Mary Lou, Randa, Sandi, Sheila and Susan we turned a celebration of good friendships into a rigorous examination of just what it means to 'do' friendship well.

This emphasis on friendship as an engaged act of doing (as opposed to a simple state of being) lay at the root of the evening's main theme: How do we want to see female friendship? - as a 'site' of consolation or as a 'mechanism' for investing women with personal and socio-economic power?

Three philosophical concepts helped us to distinguish between these two 'takes' on the purpose of friendship, and develop our own individual philosophies of friendship in and around them. The first was Aristotle's discussion of 'perfect' (and by extension, 'imperfect') friendship - his idea that perfect friendship is a state of excess that can only be extended to one, and certainly never to a woman (or for that matter, even experienced between women) provoking much vibrant food for thought. The second was radical feminist Janice Raymond's notion of female friendship as 'Gyn/affection - her suggestion that one's Passionate Self should be understood as the Original Friend who in turn propels us out and into action in the wider world, resonating strongly with many of us, as well as triggering an interesting conversation around what it means, as a result of our friendships with other women, to be what Raymond terms 'life-glad.' The third was relational ethicist Marilyn Friedman's proposition that women's friendship provides a new basis for 'thinking' community and creating it - her emphasis on the voluntary aspect of friendship leading us to examine how choice plays itself out in our sense of who we are and how we are in the many and varied relationships that make up our life.

A combination of charades, character sketching and creative writing were used to milk the material for all it was worth, and a spirited dynamism that spoke to the sense of solidarity and ease that this group of friends experience when in each other's company kept us all on our toes. It was a wonderfully stimulating evening and we want to thank all those who participated for making it such a great welcome back to Canada. A very special thanks goes out to Sue for co-hosting the salon alongside us with such aplomb, as well as for showing us such warm hospitality during our two day stay with her. We are looking forward to visiting London, Ontario again!