How imagination shapes our lives

The two biggest forces that shape our lives are imagination and desire. We imagine things, and then we desire them. We are often driven by something we have only half-concsciously imagined, like a dream of career success, but which nevertheless has huge power over us. We might feel that if only we can reach X postion, or make X amount of money, we will have an awesome life – and this background imagination and desire can drive us to spend… Read More »How imagination shapes our lives

Having a philosophy

I found out today that a philosopher who had an influence over my life has died. His name was Roger Scruton; he wrote on a range of topics from architecture and beauty, to sexual desire, environmental conservation, human nature, ‘the soul of the world’, and drinking wine. One of my favourite books of his is called ‘I Drink Therefore I Am’. It says on the book jacket: “This book offers an antidote to the pretentious clap-trap that is written about… Read More »Having a philosophy

What is the essence of a company?

Companies seem permanent – GE, Siemens, Ford, Nike, Apple, Four Seasons. But what are they really? A company is not a thing, like a shoe, for instance. If you take a shoe off, you can put it in the corner, and it will stay that way until it slowly degrades and, eventually, returns to dust. A company is less real than this: a business is just a pattern. Imagine that North America faced some devastating epidemic and civilization fell apart.… Read More »What is the essence of a company?

Eminem teaches us about the shadow side

One thing I haven’t read anywhere in reviews of rap is how it often draws on the ‘shadow side’ of our natures. The term ‘shadow side’ comes from Carl Jung. He described the shadow side as the part of who we are that we don’t acknowledge. Part of the the shadow side is made up of things that we push away because they are too difficult to deal with (our own anger, for example). Part of it is things that… Read More »Eminem teaches us about the shadow side

Basing your life around something good

The fundamental nature of being is good. At first glance, this doesn’t seem obviously true. There are a lot of bad things in the world: suffering, drudgery, malevolence. But to me this abstract point is the most important idea which ties everything together. It is the foundation of ethics and how to think about living well. Part of this idea comes from Christianity: God’s goodness runs in everything from exalted to the everyday. Jesus Christ is not just a perfect… Read More »Basing your life around something good

On building a better civilization

We all live in civilization, but what is it? Does civilization mean anything? I think it’s important to have a good answer to this, because so often in politics we are talking about what we dislike, what we are against and what we are trying to prevent. For example, we are trying to stop climate change from disrupting civilization. But if we focus our whole mind around stopping the bad thing, climate change, we don’t think about what we value… Read More »On building a better civilization

Loving ideas + being ambitious

The times I have felt most ambitious in life are around ideas: when I have found some grand new theory (evolution and Richard Dawkins, Goethe and classicism, Carl Jung), when someone has created a great work that tries to encompass the whole world and the human spirit (Dante, T.S. Eliot, Jordan Peterson, Maria Montessori), or when I have had long dinners with friends and mentors, talking late into the night about grand ideas for the world and what would make… Read More »Loving ideas + being ambitious

The Pike – a poem

A poem I wrote when I first arrived in Oxford. It felt wonderful to be standing in the footsteps of so many others. I wanted to work at inheriting the experience of the ages, and doing something with it. Standing by the river in Oxford University Parks, I was thinking of a poem by Ted Hughes about a pike, and how the pikes also have their lineage, of their experience down in the depths. ‎ Under the river(As deep as… Read More »The Pike – a poem

Bon Iver: 00000 Million

Justin Vernon, from Bon Iver, wrote about having lived in so many places, and being pushed into so many roles and personas, by so many groups over his life: ‘who knows how many poses that I’ve been in’. I often feel this way: how many poses I’ve been put in, or put myself in, over time. This line is part of his beautiful song called ‘00000 Million’. The chorus has a sample from an Irish folk song – a voice… Read More »Bon Iver: 00000 Million

Losing and finding hope

Recently I feel I have lost the sense of leading my own life. It feels more like life has been leading me. I have been feeling weighed down by the weight of it all: what a gigantic task it is to try to influence the world even a little bit; how hard it is to sort out my emotions enough so they don’t end up pushing me into the rabbit hole of running away from it all (playing Diablo III,… Read More »Losing and finding hope