PHILOSOPHY FOR A COMPLEX LIFE
Date of the Event: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - 7:19pm

 Berkeley Arts & Letters presents: PHILOSOPHY FOR A COMPLEX LIFE   MARK VERNON, author of "PLATO'S PODCASTS: The Ancients' Guide to Modern Living",  and  ASTRA TAYLOR, author of "EXAMINED LIFE: Excursions with Contemporary Thinkers"   in a philosophical conversation Monday, March 1  7:30 PM @ Hillside Club (2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley) $12 advance (Brown Paper Tickets or 800-838-3006), $15 at the door (Hillside members half price)    Do you get the feeling that some things went wrong? With credit crunches, wars, global warming, and unemployment, it is only natural to feel disenchanted by modern-day living. However, in his funny and profound new book, acclaimed writer and theologian Mark Vernon provides us with an antidote --he demonstrates that if we want to solve the problems of the present, there is no better resource than the past. In PLATO's PODCASTS, Vernon presents the would-be thoughts of Ancient Philosophers on various topics central to our twenty-first-century existence, including Epicurus on bottled water, Zeno on shopping, Sextus on food fads, and Diotima on sex, providing a practical philosophy for complicated lives. Joining the dialog is documentary film maker and writer Astra Taylor, whose own book, EXAMINED LIFE, companion to her documentary film, features interviews with eight iconoclastic and influential philosophers, conducted while on the move through places that hold special resonance for them and their ideas. Peter Singer's thoughts on the ethics of consumption are amplified against the backdrop of Fifth Avenue's posh boutiques. Michael Hardt ponders the nature of revolution while surrounded by symbols of wealth and leisure. Judith Butler and a friend stroll through San Francisco's Mission District questioning our culture's fixation on individualism. And while driving through Manhattan, Cornel West --perhaps America's best-known public intellectual -- compares philosophy to jazz and blues, reminding us how intense and invigorating the life of the mind can be. She boldly takes philosophy out of the dark corners of the academy and into the streets, reminding us that great ideas are born through profound engagement with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, not in isolation from it. Mark Vernon is a writer, journalist, and broadcaster in the UK as well as a regular contributor to BBC radio, TV and "The Guardian". He began his professional life as a priest in the Church of England, and after a crisis of faith, was eventually led to the philosophy of the ancient Greeks, which he felt offered a different way of life. Vernon now writes on philosophy and edits a series called "The Art of Living." He is the author of numerous books and is an Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London. Astra Taylor holds an MA in Liberal Studies from the New School for Social Research and has been an instructor in sociology departments at theUniversity of Georgia and State University of New York, New Paltz where she has taught classes on social theory, globalization, and the sociology of film. Her writing has appeared in the Monthly Review, The Nation, Adbusters, Salon, The Baffler, and Bomb Magazine. She is the director of Zizek!, a feature documentary about the world's most famous philosopher.   

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