gentle vibrations in the air
waking up nature within
a beautiful pattern
that comes about
over and over all by itself.
It has been a while since I have introduced the little corners post. I assumed many other posts would follow easily. And oh boy did I not had many ideas! Life is strange however. Before I knew it I was packing boxes. Saying goodbye for a year to the place I call my home. You often hear the cliché words that home is not a fixed place. “Home is where your heart is.” “Home is where the wind will take you.” “Home is not set in stones.” Well for me, it is that fixed place.
In the meantime I try to take the spirit of my old home with me. It is challenging to make a temporary residence feel just like your true home. But – for all of you wandering around in temporary places – it is good to realise that it does not have to be your home. Embracing the change can be liberating. At least that is what I try to tell myself. And when something is a challenge, it definitely does not mean it is completely impossible.
Here is a little corner that feels like my home away from home. Only a little different: all the pieces in it have their own story – some things are lovely gifts, others thrifted books of the first day I arrived in Edinburgh, or old friends in a new setting. The only thing that remained the same is the complete impracticality of it! Did I already mention this is my working space? Indeed, I have tried it once for 5 minutes. Luckily it is the feel that counts!
A couple of weeks ago I shared my thoughts on transcendence and religion in our modern age in a TEDtalk. I gave this talk for the student speaker choice award of TEDxUniversityofEdinburgh. Together with 13 other students I took the stage after weeks of workshops and preparation. I’d was an amazing experience. Not only taking that stage and giving a talk that breaths your own thoughts word by word, but also working on that talk.
My reasons for giving this talk were clear to me. For years I’ve occupied myself with a thorough study of the notion of religion, secularism and transcendence. A rather solitary process, since not many people (in respect to the world population – or even my surroundings) are familiar with the debate, the jargon, the problems, and questions. But I truly believe that addressing the notions of religion and transcendence today, is addressing a topic that occupies everyone. In one way or the other.
“Belief in transcendence is a fundamental aspect to religion, because of the character of religion; whether it is polytheistic, monotheistic, or non-theistic, religion always refers to something transcendent, something higher or beyond, to something that goes beyond our own capacities, responsibility, and control. The notion of a sense of fullness is crucial for our practical context. All human beings ask questions about the quality of their life and are concerned with living a life that is worthwhile.”
The question remains whether religion is the only way to connect to something transcendent and reach a state of fullness. The religious landscape has changed dramatically in our contemporary society, especially compared to to the year 1500. Moreover, the distinctions between different sorts of religious or non-religious practices and beliefs have become less definite. In addition, new forms of non-belief as well as beliefs outside Christian orthodoxy have risen.
Maybe you are a fervent atheist, and annoyed by being discriminated or even worse silenced because of this belief. Or maybe you’re born in the bible belt, loyal to your religion and having troubles with certain legislations in the modern society because of this. Maybe you don’t believe anything at all, but at the same time you are searching for ‘something’ because this world of fast consumerism doesn’t make sense. A topic that is engaging to so many people on so many levels, needs to be addressed. Preferably to much than to little. And this is why I the TEDtalk. To contribute to this engaging topic. Where philosophy sometimes lakes the possibility to reach many people, youtube video’s like the TED video’s can.
If you want to read more about the transcendent in our modern world, have a look at the “Immanent Frame” theory of philosopher Charles Tayler (in another fragment of my thesis).
According to Taylor, we all share an immanent frame nowadays. This immanent frame is a central concept in Taylor’s theory and one of his most influential and useful notions. The immanent frame must be understood as a shared structure that constitutes a natural and immanent order over against an order that is supernatural and transcendent. Furthermore, the immanent frame is characterised by a modern scientific world view, modern exclusive humanism, and the buffered self which is disciplined and individualistic. Our lives take place in an order that is self-sufficient and immanent, on a social, moral, and cosmic level. Here, a reference to a higher or divine realm lacks necessity. We can do without a God, because we can attribute everything to “Nature” and even to “developing human motivation”.
Accordingly, our idea of religion has changed. Nevertheless, despite our immanent frame and the lack of a necessity of transcendence, we can still choose to be open to something beyond: to the transcendent realm.
Taylor frames the idea of transcendence as an option as follows. He states that the immanent frame can have two different ‘spins’. These spins can have a tendency towards either closure or openness. Taylor calls immanent orders closed when they ignore or deny the possibility of transcendence completely. Reasons for choosing an immanent frame that is closed are fear for religious fanaticism; the attraction of the idea that we belong to the order of nature; and the belief that there are no miracles or mysteries. An immanent frame that is open keeps the option of transcendence open. The main reason for open immanence is the belief in a higher, and possibly collective, good: the idea that there exists a better, more moral, way of life which we can reach by aiming at something higher. A second, negative, reason expresses that there is a need for transcendence because we feel that something is lacking in the immanent order. We cannot believe that this is all there is.
Of course my position here (and if you’ve seen the talk you can probably guess this) is that this being open to the transcendent, the having of the open spin, does not necessarily have to be connected to the religious. It can be religious of course, and it often is. But as Dreyfus and Kelly have learned me, as well as my own personal experiences: all things can, potentially, be shining. The transcendent can be found in the other person that you love. During a football match. In a song that has a personal meaning to you. In the beauty of nature. In the encounter with a work of art.
If this grasps you as well, and your informative hunger is not yet satisfied, have a look at the immanent frame blog: an amazing online space where great scholars share their thoughts on this and related issues.
Nature is changing again. In its own phase. In its own way. Winter is almost there.
During a little trip to Necropolis in Glasgow I noticed this phase and way. Green trees and winter ready ones stood side by side. Golden leaves contrasting against juicy green grass.
There is beauty to be found in very moment of the year. It is a privilege to live in a place where the seasons change and foretell what is coming. Nevertheless, I do already long for the moment where nature revives. But isn’t it so much more appreciated after a leafless winter!
What do you need? A soft (velvet) pillow cover (which you can also make yourself of course), soft wool, a card, a needle and thread, and a pair of scissors.
For the cushion you have to make 16 tassels. The tassels are made like this:
Step 1: Take a card to use for winding the thread. Wind the thread around the card in loops, about 18 times. (The more times the fuller the tassel will be).
Step 2: Take a second piece of thread. Slide the wound thread off the card. Tie the second piece of thread into a tight knot in the middle top of the looped thread.
Step 3 & 4: Cut through looped ends, and adjust into tassel shape.
Step 5: Turn the ends inside out. Now the top knot is inside the tassel.
Step 6: Cut a third piece of thread to wrap around tassel’s neck and make a tight knot. As you wrap, make sure all the threads in the head and skirt are in place. Trim the ends of the tassel with your scissors.
After your tassels are ready, all that is left to do is sewing them to the cushion and finding a spot to lie it down!
Are you going to give the tassel cushion at try during one of these dark evenings? If you love tassels just as much as I do and like to see more, please have a look here.
The celebration of Halloween – this year I had my first experience with the hallows – allowed me to see the world in a different perspective. Natural and fictional phenomena that normally scare me to death, strangely do not seem that frightening during this night. Arachnophobia did not shun me away of painting spider webs on my face.
Someone who shows us the world in another perspective as well, is photographer Martine Stig. However, she doesn’t need spirits. She begins with the world as it is and presents it in a mysterious dimension. Frightening even. For her photos depict how past, present and future are entangled. As if in a moment of transition. The world as we see it becomes a science fictional scene. See here some beautiful images from her book Cauchy Horizons.
How different the world looks through Stig’s lens. Beyond reality and yet so related to the world we know. Do her images leave an impression of un/surreality on you as well?
A month has gone by. It feels like day and a year. My conception of time is totally off the hook since I arrived. There are so many impressions. There is so much to be experienced. So the days have flown by. But all the individual moments, all the many, make that I feel to have been here for so long.
The hills, the city, the nature, the victorian buildings.
The excitement of the referendum and the relieved and disappointed faces the day after.
The missing of the people I love and the gaining of new friends that are already dear.
The Greeks words that I had forgotten and have now regained.
People from all over the world with their beautiful stories and cultures.
The idea to walk in the city where J.K. Rowling let her imagination flow.
To live in a city of the enlightenment, of so many wise men and women.
The three weeks of sun in the land of rain.
Here is an impression in photography of a couple of moments I have captured.
// Sarah’s birthday // the view of Edinburgh from Aberdour // found rabbit jaw // seeking seals // exploring Aberdour // scones as breakfast from Press Coffee // wallpainting in Leith // one of the many stairs in the old city // the castle of Edinburgh //