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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fourth Philosophy Club Series Starts Soon

Our upcoming mini-philosophy club experience ('mini' because we'll be doing 3 sessions rather than the usual 6) is entitled "What's in a Place?" and starts on Thursday, November 6th. Subsequent sessions will take place on Thursday, November 20th and Thursday, November 27th. All sessions start at 7:30 pm, and wind up around 10 pm. As for the theme...

Asking, quite literally, just what IS in a place, the first session (November 6th) revolves around those public places to which we flock in droves, which have entered into the collective imagination, and which we have come to regard as iconic. Inspired by my recent trip to India, and using the Taj Mahal in Agra as our jumping off point, we'll attempt to get to the bottom of what we are seeking when we visit places such as this, and what it means to gaze 'for the first time' upon a place so recognizable that by the time we actually get there, we have already 'seen' it hundreds of times before. When we, in turn, take photographs of that already familiar place, just what are we trying to capture? - just what are we hoping to take home with us? In opening up the question of what makes a place a place - the stories it holds? the practices enacted within it? the bricks and mortar of which it is composed? its location on a map? - we also probe the notion of the 'bucket list' destination. 

The second session (November 20th) looks at private places - those sites which are enormously significant to the individual but which carry little meaning for the rest of the world. When we make a pilgrimage to such a place, when we cross oceans and/or move mountains to either get back to that place or stand before it for the first time, just what are we hoping to find? - just what are we expecting to have resonate? If we feel nothing, does place as both concept and concrete reality become meaningless? If we feel something, do we vest place with more than its four square walls can reasonably contain? At 7500 feet above sea level, in a town perched on a hilltop in the shadow of the Himalayas, I grappled with these questions. Which places in your life prompt a similar line of inquiry? Does the ordinary place you live in today become extraordinary if, at some point in the future, it becomes somebody else's personal mecca?

In the third session (November 27th) the Indian concept of Jagaad, or 'frugal innovation,' is used to challenge our existing ideas around places both public and private, and to stretch our thinking so as to consider the very notion of place from a fresh perspective. In this session, as in the other two, thinkers who have sought to make sense of place are introduced into the conversation, and insights drawn from philosophical sources are interwoven into those we generate as a group. To nurture this process and get those old creative juices flowing, club participants are asked to read a short 'think piece' in preparation for each session. These will be sent out by email in the week before we meet. 

In December, we will send out details of our 2015 salon series, which kicks off in January, along with information about renewing your annual membership and introducing other women to wine women and philosophy.