Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekend inspiration

Can you believe this poodle is 14 years old? Looking good.
Its yet another wet Sydney weekend downunder, and we're blogging late because a) we had to nip out this morning so I whisked Phil over to the Easter Dog Parade to check out the action and b) I've started working on a project which involves a fair bit of reading and research. So today was a blur of Endnote, Web of Science and juggling documents - through which most of the household slept, blissful in their ignorance.

How do you tackle big projects? Some people I know seem to be carried by inspiration, others kick and scream all the way, but the ones who seem to generate consistently excellent work are masters of routine. So I enjoyed this post on how these types get things done.

Coincidentally I had just learned that the novelest Haruki Murakami is also a runner in Damon Young's book How to Think About Exercise. I'd never really considered the philosophy of exercise before, and this book was a beautiful introduction.

Having gone to the gym twice in my life (once in the mid-90s, another valiant effort made more recently), Young articulated my until-then-undefined unease about gyms: they really are based on a type of flawed dualism.

To overcome the sedentary lifestyle, many turn to the gym...To begin, this encourages the idea that mental and physical work are somehow at odds: different worlds, with different uniforms and music. In the office, I work with my mind; in Fitness First, with my body. ...But exercising only for health can worsen the very dualism that led to a sedentary lifestyle in the first place; we behave as if we were minds servicing bodies, like a sports repairman fixing a raquet" (p9-10).
Well said! And forget the uniform thing. I was disappointed to discover that even in inner Sydney, sequined leotards are frowned upon. But the intention of Young is not to discourage exercise - far from it. He points out that the ancient philosophers were sold on exercise.

For Socrates, philosophy...is promoted by exercise. 'Many people's minds are so invaded by forgetfulness, despondency, irritability and insanity because of poor physical condition,' Socrates argues, 'that their knowledge is actually being driven out of them'. (p14).
Walking the dog, then, is good for one's character and brain - as well as the dog! 

Anyway, if that's too much to contemplate and you are committed to couch-surfing this weekend, you might want to consider modifying your furniture to suit its primary devotees - the felines in your house. I hope someone from Ikea is paying attention to this brilliant design concept.

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