WBEZ | philosophy http://www.wbez.org/tags/philosophy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en You are your car http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-03/you-are-your-car-105844 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/5907678514_b69783c2fb_z.jpg" style="float: right; height: 199px; width: 300px;" title="(Flickr/Anthony Ryan Tripoli)" />I totally get it: Detroit and the international car community are the main drivers (pun-intended) in industrial production and economic well being.</div><p>No one can debate the fact that as goes GM, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, etc, etc, etc. &ndash; As goes the world economy.</p><p>What I don&rsquo;t get; or, should I say, what I no longer get is why we collectively are so fascinated with cars. Recently, I went to the Chicago Auto Show, and frankly, I was underwhelmed! Oh sure, there were a number of beauties to be found there.</p><p>Cars that mimed and mirrored car executive Robert A. Lutz&rsquo;s iconic statement: &ldquo;We are in the art business...art entertainment and mobile structure, which coincidentally, also happens to provide transportation.&rdquo;</p><p>Yes, there were a number of stunning pieces of art there to covet and admire: Jaguar Roadster; Corvette Stingray; Ferrari F12 Berlinetta; Infinity Q50 Sport; and, of course, the Maserati Quattroporte.</p><p>But except for these stand out Cinderella&rsquo;s, the rest of the ball was populated by a pretty pedestrian (again, pun-intended) crowd. As far as I was concerned, most of the cars on display, very much looked alike. The Fords looked like the Mazdas.</p><p>The Nissan SUV&rsquo;s could hardly be distinguished from everybody else&rsquo;s SUV&rsquo;s. The Honda, Hyundai and Toyota sedans were all peas from the same pod. And, I wasn&rsquo;t the only one who felt that way.</p><p>I went out of my way to ask a lot of people who were there, what they felt about the show, and, generally, they agreed with my opinion. One gentleman, I talked to who was around my age, nailed it for me.</p><p>He said that when our dad&rsquo;s were growing up, cars were a rarity, an extravagance, a luxury.</p><p>By the time our dads became dads, cars were still alluring and exciting, but they were becoming commonplace. And for our generation, he went on to say, while many cars are beautiful, expensive, and mobile symbols of class, most of us see cars as a utilitarian necessity.</p><p>We may still want to drive a Cadillac, but if the price is right and you can get a 10-year &ldquo;bumper to bumper&rdquo; guarantee, a Kia will do &ndash; at least for a while. Bill was spot on! Cars are beautiful. Yes, I would prefer to drive an Infiniti Sport Convertible, but in the end, it&rsquo;s only a car.</p><p>Prima facia, it may say something about me - something about my credit rating or how much I make - but, it&rsquo;s not who I am.</p><p>It certainly doesn&rsquo;t give me a sense of identity, purpose, or meaning in life. My best friend, Dennis, dropped out of high school in our junior year because he wanted a car. He wanted to be cool. He wanted to impress his girlfriend.</p><p>So he got a job and bought a beat up 1953 Chevrolet, and his girlfriend loved it. Back then, I guess we did think that owning a car made you cool. And clearly in Dennis&rsquo; case, it did.</p><p>His girlfriend, Nancy in fact married him. And guess what, they are still together. Now that is cool.</p></p> Thu, 14 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-03/you-are-your-car-105844 Philosophy and Sex http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-02/philosophy-and-sex-105392 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/love-images-wallpaper.jpg" style="height: 388px; width: 620px;" title="Philosophy and Sex (dailyscreens.com)" /></div><p>Arguably, Alain De Botton is the most widely read English language philosopher in the world. In fact, if you take into account how many languages his books have been translated into, he is perhaps the single most popularly read philosopher in the world today.</p><p>A big part of his popularity is that he has published on topics that are part of everyone&rsquo;s lives: anxiety, travel, architecture, religion and work. And now he has turned his attention to a topic that has been a &ldquo;source of needless neurotic frustration for most of human history&rdquo; &ndash; sex!</p><p>De Botton&rsquo;s new book, <em>How To Think More About Sex</em>, is not a sex manual that offers (philosophical?) insights on how to have more intense and better sex. Rather, it is a series of reflections on the general complexity of life and how all of us, to some degree or another, are unhappy with or unfulfilled in our sex lives. The goal of the book is to help us feel &ldquo;a little less painfully strange about the sex we are either longing to have or struggling to avoid.&rdquo;</p><p>Frankly, this is not a book I would give my wife, partner or lover on Valentine&rsquo;s Day. De Botton&rsquo;s thesis &ndash; though thoughtful and more than a little correct &ndash; is a downer.</p><p>Although De Botton recognizes that sex can be satisfying, sensational, and even transcendent, most of the time, he claims, it is pedestrian, purely functional or disappointing. To be fair, De Botton&rsquo;s argues that the problem isn&rsquo;t sex per se. Rather, he maintains that the demands and complexities of life make &ldquo;great sex&rdquo; hard to achieve &ndash; because we are all too busy, too engaged, too overwhelmed by too many other things in life.</p><p>Normal life, suggests De Botton, is the enemy of &ldquo;cupidity&rdquo; (eager desire). Work, children, responsibilities, stress, anxiety, drugs, alcohol, and the unavoidable loss of intimacy that is part of all long-term relationships equals the &ldquo;death of lust&rdquo; and the end of desire.</p><p>Sadly, De Botton seems to be in agreement with Goethe when he said: &ldquo;Love is an ideal thing, marriage is a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.&rdquo; However, I choose to take away a different lesson from this book.</p><p>Rather than just offer us a comical and negative interpretation of sex and love, I think De Botton is offering us a cautionary tale. To wit: The most difficult task in life is getting like, love and lust all in one relationship.</p></p> Wed, 13 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-02/philosophy-and-sex-105392 Milos Stehlik reviews Patricio Guzmán's new film ‘Nostalgia for the Light’ http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-08/milos-stehlik-reviews-patricio-guzm%C3%A1ns-new-film-%E2%80%98nostalgia-light%E2%80%99-88890 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-08/milos.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p><strong><em>Nostalgia for the Light</em> starts today at the <a href="http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/">Gene Siskel Film Center</a> and runs through July 14th. The film retrospective, <em><a href="http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/guzman">The Probing Eye of Patricio Guzmán</a></em>, begins at the Siskel Center on July 17th and runs through August 3rd.</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>If you really want to see the stars — go to Chile. Many of the world's best space observatories are situated there. The altitude and quality of light offer the clearest view of the galaxies. <em>Nostalgia for the Light</em>, the new film by Chilean documentarian Patrizio Guzman, explores the cold, awesome beauty of the galaxies as seen from observatories in Chile’s vast Atacama Desert. Known as the driest place on earth, it’s just west of the Andes mountains.</p><p>But secrets revealed to observers by the high-powered telescopes in the Atacama Desert parallel secrets hidden in the dry desert ground: the remains of Pinochet's concentration camps. Mothers, daughters and relatives return, day after day, to sift through the desert in search for their loved-ones’ remains. The harsh desert sun keeps human remains intact -- the desert also preserves intact the remains of pre-Columbian mummies, 19th century explorers, as well as the remains of the political prisoners "disappeared" by the Chilean army after the military coup in September, 1973.</p><p>Patrizio Guzman is 70 years old, and almost all of his films have, as their central theme, the political tragedy of his country which culminated in the death of its president, Salvador Allende, and which was followed by the brutal military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.</p><p>Guzman's film trilogy, <em>The Battle of Chile</em>, was one of the first films to bring to light this grotesque history in a powerful statement. Though clearly the original intent of <em>The Battle of Chile</em> was to mobilize resistance to Pinochet’s reign of terror on Chile, the films still resonate today as a powerful and brave historical testament. Guzman was no more and no less than a witness to his troubled time. <em>The Battle of Chile</em> was followed by films like Salvador Allende, a moving portrait of the late President who was Guzman's friend, and the films <em>Chile: The Obstinate Memory</em> and <em>The Pinochet Case</em>.&nbsp; These films endeavored to keep this collective memory and history alive. Although Guzman now lives in France, the clearly tortured past of Chile, his native land, dominates as a main theme for most of his films.</p><p><em>Nostalgia for the Light</em> might often be categorized as a documentary. But it is more of a cinematic essay. This film articulates and posits definite philosophical and moral points of view — it tries to connect the search of the heavens with the search for history. How can the Atacama Desert’s dry and vast emptiness support both the clear vision of the universe and still hide the recent past?</p><p>The young astronomer Gaspar Galaz, encapsulates this philosophical disconnect, when he says that “the present doesn't exist.” The reason is because light needs time to travel from its origin to the eye of the viewer. Whenever an astronomer looks at the sky through the telescope, he always sees the past, because of the time it took that image to get to the eyes. The contrast is glaring: while Galaz peers through his telescopes to study galaxies, the women return day after day, sometimes for years -- to comb 40,600 square miles of desert for a tiny bone fragment that might connect them to a lost loved one.</p><p>In <em>Nostalgia for the Light</em>, a woman beautifully articulates this piteous, reverent search when she says, “I wish telescopes didn't just look into the sky, but could also see through the earth so that we could find them.”</p><p>Ultimately, moral and ethical meaning in <em>Nostalgia for the Light</em> comes from the beauty of its images — the starkness of the desert, where the bleached-out bones of those dead but-not-forgotten lay in sharp disparity to the endless depths of the star-laden night sky. In this harsh contrast of perspectives, detail contains the most powerful meaning: the well-oiled gears of an old telescope which enables astronomers to see thousands of light years away with clarity that escapes women who sift through rock and dirt to recover a history — stolen from them by political brutality…</p><p><em>Milos Stehlik’s commentaries&nbsp;reflect his own views and not necessarily those of Facets Multi-Media, Worldview or 91.5 WBEZ. His reviews air on Fridays.</em></p><p><strong>The trailer for <em>Nostalgia for the Light</em>, with English subtitles</strong></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/7FvhsYCkcN8" width="425" frameborder="0" height="349"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 08 Jul 2011 16:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-08/milos-stehlik-reviews-patricio-guzm%C3%A1ns-new-film-%E2%80%98nostalgia-light%E2%80%99-88890