I know a lot of folks sneer at Alain de Botton and his pop philosophy, but as the man himself says, “how striking that in a democracy, elites still have a problem with the 'popularisation' of ideas”. It’s like those ridiculous playwrights and theatre goers who sneer at David Williamson’s plays, because they’re a little too accessible to the general public, and people can actually understand them (and perhaps especially because he makes money from them). Supposedly good art and also philosophy is meant to be too obscure for most, even in that democracy.
But all that aside, I like some of the geeky paraphenalia The School of Life sells. I instagrammed some of my purchases, so here are those pictures.
I bought this bag because, as I said on instagram, why pretend you’re not carrying any. The least emotionally healthy people living their lives out there are those in denial, who think they're not lugging any themselves, or those simply unaware. So the aim is to acknowledge yours and learn to carry it well. The only problem I have with this bag is that it's not big enough.
Then I bought this hourglass, because when I first saw it I thought it was a fabulous idea. Apparently many of us don’t even give 15 minutes a day to the things we claim are ostensibly so important to us. As the blurb says, this hourglass “delicately shames us into doing a minimum of what really counts. It is a gauntlet thrown down to our better selves”. And 15 minutes seems so doable. I often put off doing important things in the moment, because I think I need more time than I’ve got, but you can actually achieve quite a lot in 15 minutes of dedicated time. I’ve now proved this.
I also bought the psychoanalysis pencil set, out of my strange idea of what’s fun. I like the little blurbs that come with this pencils. Like this one on “defence mechanism”:
A defence mechanism is a way to save ourselves from mental anguish, by interpreting our own behaviour and that of other people in a way that affirms our self-love. We deny responsibility: ‘It’s not my fault’. We blame others: ‘You have been mean’. Or we tell ourselves consoling lies: ‘I couldn’t help it’. But if the cause of such behaviour is self-protection, then it cannot be changed by argument and stern warnings. For we defend ourselves precisely when we feel in danger. Increasing the level of threat isn’t going to hasten the solution. We learn to be more reasonable, more accepting of responsibility and more accurate about our weaknesses in times of security. The goal of analysis is to make us less ‘defended’. We put our weapons down, and have the courage to let ourselves get hurt.What I found really quite helpful in that is the idea that you won’t get around people’s defenses with a front-on attack on the them. You’ll do it by first enabling them to feel more secure.
So now I can sit in a cafe and extract my psychoanalysis pencils from my emotional baggage, to take notes in a moleskine from my graphic guide to psychotherapy. Or not.
And that’s all. I bought a Christmas present for my Mum in the Dandenongs, but I won’t blog that.