Tag Archives: Roman Krznaric

From Carpe Diem to #Yolo – seize the day, urges Litfest philosopher

12 May

Roman Krznaric © Calyx Picture Agency

Carpe Diem is one of the world’s best-known philosophical mottos, according to Roman Krznaric.

It has endured since it was coined by the poet Horace in 23BC, and today is one of the most popular tattoos (Dame Judi Dench, no less, had it inscribed on her wrist for her 81st birthday), been adopted by songwriters (like Metallica’s Carpe Diem, Baby), has inspired inspirational slogans (see Nike’s ‘Just Do It’) and is the defining line in the movie Dead Poets Society.

Google the aphorism, and it throws up 25 million search results. Continue reading

Public Intellectual is not a dirty name – Suzannah Lipscomb at Swindon Festival of Literature

17 May

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Given the reaction of the tabloid and ‘quality’ press front pages during the election, you may be forgiven for thinking that today’s public intellectuals are Katie Hopkins, Jeremy Clarkson and Russell Brand.

Happily, you’d be wrong on two counts and you can argue the toss with me about Russell. The term ‘public intellectuals’ sit uncomfortably with the British public, too self-congratulatory. The French are fine with it. But, boy, do we need them.

According to historian Susannah Lipscomb at the Swindon Festival of Literature last Friday, public intellectuals are the clever people who emerge from quiet libraries; they don’t endlessly research a particular point that only five other people care about.

They arm themselves with encyclopaedic knowledge, for sure, have a long hard rumination about all of it – then they get out there, tell people what they know and have an opinion about it: “They use knowledge and learning to change our shared world,” says Suzannah. Continue reading

Empathy Handbook – Roman Krznaric at the Swindon Festival of Literature

10 May
Roman Krznaric

Roman Krznaric

“A smart professional type was sobbing quietly in the corner of my train carriage. So many of us are carrying an intolerable burden. Be kind.”

So tweeted TV celeb Dan Snow, 6 May, and Swindon Festival of Literature retweeted, apropos of nothing, other than what a lovely sentiment and what an awful dearth of empathy there seemed to be around the election.

On Friday, philosopher Roman Krznaric shared how he lost his empathy at the age of ten, when his mum died. And he wanted it back.

This isn’t just a ‘what I did on my holidays and you might laugh/learn from it’ kind of tale. Roman has begun a rather civilised – (for what else could it be than one filled with hugs?) empathic revolution with the Empathy handbook, Empathy Library, Empathy Museum and Empathy Bus.

The Empathy Bus features a ‘human library’ where, instead of books, actual humans can be ‘read’; a chance to talk to people who have a completely different way of life to one’s own and, as novelist Harper Lee said: ‘step into their skin and walk around for a while’. Continue reading

Is sibling sex okay? The Third Swindon Think Slam!

19 May

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Armed with my three times three minute think pieces, the Third Swindon Festival of Literature Think Slam! began.

I was one of eight contestants, ready to launch their thoughts, arguments and philosophical musings on the Swindon Art Centre audience yesterday.

And, as it turned out, hopelessly outgunned! Continue reading

Roman Krznaric – life inspired by history

19 May
Roman Krznaric

Roman Krznaric

Oxfam and UN advisor, tennis player, gardener and furniture-making fanatic, Roman Krznaric is the Brian Cox of philosophy, making it fun and relevant.

In the first part of his event at the Swindon Festival of Literature yesterday on the curious histories of how we live, I was reminded of my first year of my degree studies. This was about the Ancient Greeks and their various types of love. How ‘love’ didn’t necessarily mean passion, and how the Greeks actually felt wary of erotic love.

Which made me think that just because we (in the English language) don’t give different types of love their own names, does this mean we don’t have similar concepts? Or does giving them their own names raise awareness, legitimise them? Raise their importance? Or is the multitasking of one word just as good? Hmmm.

And here’s a ‘did you know’: the Eros statue in London’s Piccadilly Square is not the god of romance at all. Nope, it was erected (snigger) as a monument to his twin brother Anteros, the god of requited love and also known as the Angel of Christian Charity.

Ahha! I see what you’re doing there, Swindon Festival of Literature. I’m founding out things and getting a bit of mental exercise. Mission accomplished. Continue reading