Earlier this year I promised myself to consume more thought-provoking, inspiring and educational content. Being selective in what I chose to consume has proved to be more challenging than I thought it would be. With so much content being created every day it can get difficult to filter what is worth your time and attention, and what is better of ignored.
It takes time to fall into a habit of being more critical about the content you consume on daily basis. Luckily, I think I’m finally getting better at it. And that’s why today I want to share some of my cultural and educational content picks for a month of February I thought you might enjoy too.
On Self-Respect » by Joan Didion, 1961
I’ve picked up The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion a couple of years back and could barely get through first half of it. Not for me, I thought, perhaps some years later. Then, in 2017, with a release of South and West: From a Notebook and a help of numbers of bookstagrams I follow, Joan Didion came back to the picture.
This time I was determined to learn more about life and work of Didion. I started my journey by watching a documentary about her, in which a passage from one of her early articles was quoted that caught my attention instantaneously. That was a piece on self-respect. The very same moment I paused the movie and looked up the original article – a must read, I thought to myself. Little did I know I will be rereading the same article over and over again, gradually obsessing over each and every word she uses. I quote:
“To live without self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk, phenobarbital, and the sleeping hand on the coverlet, counting up the sins of commission and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice or carelessness. However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.”
6 Myths About Buying Ethical Clothing » by Leah Wise
I speak about mindful consumption quite often and I always seek to learn more about it. That’s why recently I’ve been reading a lot about ethical clothing and slow fashion.
I’m not saying that from now on I’ll only be purchasing ethical clothing but I can say out loud that I will be looking into more ethical alternatives. Most importantly, I will continue learning more about sustainable fashion, as well as share my knowledge with those who are interested in learning about it themselves, because, in my belief, ethical and sustainable living first starts with education.
Whether you share my beliefs in mindful consumption or not, I’d still encourage you to read 6 Myths About Buying Ethical Clothing. In her article Leah addresses almost every question any ethical clothing skeptic might have. And even though I don’t really like the tone of her speech, I must agree she presents strong arguments that will make you question your values and actions.
The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo, 2005
Over the last year, I’ve watched numerous documentaries about Frida Kahlo. To be frank, I don’t remember how I decided to watch something about her in a first place, but once I started I couldn’t stop. By now I’ve seen The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo four times, including the recent rewatch, and I can’t recommend it enough.
The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo introduces you to Frida’s life through historical and cultural events that shaped her personality and work. As someone who knew little to know nothing about her, I had hard times understanding her paintings. However, after watching the documentary and exploring the symbolism and meaning behind Frida’s famous works, I now see them in a completely different light.
Probably the most touching parts were her diary entries, both texts and sketches, that revealed her state of mind, which later also reflected in her paintings. And now I’m seriously contemplating purchasing her diary in which she documents the last ten years of her turbulent life.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, 2014
For the longest time, I’ve been avoiding this book for one simple reason. It’s been talked about by so many people now, setting my expectations sky-high. But by the end of January, I overcame my fear of disappointment and decided to give this read ago. Now I regret not doing it sooner.
Sapiens explains the history of humankind in a simple manner, making the book accessible to wide audiences. I’ve learned a great bunch from this book but most importantly I started seeing things in a different light. There was one particular realization that stayed with me days after I finished reading it.It’s important to remember that we should not only praise human achievements but also admit that all of them come with a tradeoff. What is ingenious and has never been done before often cost us a loss of something we can’t bring back, let it be the extinction of certain flora and fauna or native tribes.
Here are a few more ideas presented in the book that made me see things differently:
“According to the science of biology, people were not ‘created’. They have evolved. And they certainly did not evolve to be ‘equal’. The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God. However, if we do not believe in the Christian myths about God, creation and souls, what does it mean that all people are ‘equal’? Evolution is based on difference, not on equality. Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code, and is exposed from birth to different environmental influences. This leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival. ‘Created equal’ should therefore be translated into ‘evolved differently.”
“Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behaviour, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist, so it would need no prohibition.”
“As far as we can tell from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan, and if planet earth were to blow up tomorrow morning, the universe would probably keep going about its business as usual. As far as we can tell at this point, human subjectivity would not be missed. Hence any meaning that people inscribe to their lives is just a delusion.”
Even though the book is repetitive at times, it doesn’t get boring. It’s a book worth reading especially for those who are so caught up in their lives, they fail to see a bigger picture of the world we live in.
What are some of the articles, movies, books or podcasts you’ve been recently enjoying?