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Turning Thoughts into Action
Social media allows a platform for ordinary people to express their opinions. Many go further and share the actions they have taken usually in the social sector such as the Robin Hood Army or Roti Bank, Fixit, and Transparent Hands
However, it is also true that shelves of university libraries, and research centres are filled with amazing studies and reports and inventions that rarely cross over into the world of policy makers or manufacturers. A lot of intellectual activity becomes an end in itself.
In his paper, From Thought to Action, Jonathan Dancy asks can theoretical reasoning lead to action? Or does it only create a set of beliefs and intentions? Even if action is not the intended result of thoughtful reasoning, at the very least it needs to be shared outside the inner circle with the aim to inspire action.
Philosophy and art are expected to play a quieter role as influencers, rarely expected to turn their observations into direct action. The musi…
Recent posts
“The Beautiful Sorrow of Things”
I like movies with happy endings. Sadness sends me into a panic, as if I will never get out from under the weight of it all. Yet I have to admit there is an arresting beauty in sadness.
Tragedy, sadness, melancholia, anxiety, and even ugliness has generated some exquisite art, music, films and theatre over the centuries. Sometimes tragic events are shown with objectivity such as the Death of Marat by David, sometimes the internal angst of the artist comes through with stunning effect such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night – the view from the window of him room in the mental asylum.
In his essay ‘Atrabilious Reflections upon Melancholy’ (1823), Hartley Coleridge (son of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge) praised melancholy as a more refined state of mind than happiness: “Melancholy is the only Muse. She is Thalia and Melpomene. She inspired Milton and Michael Angelo, and Swift and Hogarth. All men of genius are melancholy – and none more so than those whose g…
Empathy has become the hot new subject for social scientists. A relatively new term coined in 1909, it is defined as the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes. More than sympathy – feelings of compassion, or pity for the hardship of others- empathy is the ability to feel as the other feels and may be followed by some form of action – to support, assist or simply be available.
It is identified as a fundamental skill in a world where businesses cross continents, migration brings cultures in proximity to one another, and religious polarization generates wars with devastating consequences. Not restricted to humans, empathy also informs environmental policies to achieve human “progress” without destroying nature and animal habitats that are shrinking with alarming speed. The creative arts - Literature, Cinema, Music, Art, Dance - have, since the establishment of human societies, gifted society the opportunity for empathy.Empathy gives people the ability to feel the em…
What’s in a Name?
It is estimated that about130 million babies are born in a year. Each one will be given a carefully considered name. A name that indicates their gender, family, culture, and possibly religion.It will indicate their parents’ aspirations with the assumption that as the child grows he or she will develop a personality and values reflected in their given name. The importance given to naming a newborn can be gauged by the elaborate naming ceremonies across the world. Names are decided in a dizzying array of systems: Tasmiya of Muslims, the Baptism of Christians, Namakaram of Hindus, Chaathi of Parsees, The Chinese Moon-yut or red egg and ginger party.
Philosophers have debated , with no clear conclusion, whether a name is merely an objectivetitle or a description of the person.However, in practice, names are imbued with all manner of qualities. Some believe a name determines the destiny of a person. Numerology has been applied to names from at least as far back as 9 BC in…
Diaries, Journals and Notebooks
Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks have probably brought him more renown with academics than the fifteen paintings he made in his life time. Filled with investigations of anatomy, botany, geology, mathematics and inventions for bridges, flying machines, war machines, submarines, musical instruments, they continue to be relevant today. A small hand bound notebook was always tied to his belt at all times, ready to jot down ideas, observations and a to-do list.
The pocket notebook was also a fixture of many writers, scientists, soldiers and statesmen, including Darwin, Hemmingway, Beethoven and George Lucas. It came to be seen as a masculine, accessory. Maugham kept a writer’s notebook in which he wrote sketches of people he met who might make it into his next novel. Frieda Kahlo, Paul Klee and Picasso’s notebooks, like that of most artists were not only part of the creative process but were also a “friend” in difficult personal times. Picasso said “Painting i…
Image Wars
As the election draws near, the battle of the image has acquired a frantic momentum. Posters are put up in any available space, then taken down, smiling, turbaned, clean shaven, mustached, beardedor draped in dupattas, and the inevitable smutty images shared on social media.Videos are shared, and awhole industry emerges for songwriters,performers, printers, production houses and poster pasters. Ballot paper symbols arrive looking like a child’s qaida or first alphabet reader- some familiar such as the lion, kite and cricket bat , some incomprehensible and inevitably comical like the ones shared by blogger Rameeza Ahmad -an energy saver bulb, a laptop, an air conditioner, an ostrich and an egg plant – who would accept a symbol that evokes the phrase “thali ka baingan”!
Statecraft has always depended greatly on images. The Pharoahs commissioned monumental statues as did the Mesopotamian empires, the Greeks and Romans, and continuing right into the twentieth century. Coinag…
The Actor’s Dilemma
Last week I received an email announcing a commemorative session for the late Razia Sajjad Zaheer at the Pak Tea House Lahore by the Progressive Writers Association of Pakistan. Was I in a time warp? Is there still an active Progressive Writers Movement?
I was already on a search to understand why Pakistani films and TV dramas no longer had truly great stories or great actors , a search that had led me to the role of the Progressive Writers Movement, a group of engaged writers whom Bilal Zubedi and Dr. Riaz Ahmed Shaikh call the “creative minority”, that gave us poetry, dramas and film scripts that defined the golden age of literature, cinema, radio and television.
Zubedi and Shaikhin their study “Rise and Fall of Progressive Thought in Pakistan: An Appraisal of PTV Drama Tradition”( 2013) suggest that this creative minorityestablished PTV , the sole TV channel till 1989, from management tocreative programming, including Naheed Siddiqui’s classical dance payal, Th…