How to Write The Book of Your Life
– An Improvised Talk of Which You are the Hero, with Piano Accompaniment
by philosopher and author Luis de Miranda and pianist Peter Knudsen
To create a book you need: letters, inspiration, paper or a computer, a way of transposing an inspiration and experience into sentences, and you need a reader, an audience. But where does the inspiration come from? Here we could discuss the so-called Infinite Monkey Theorem. A Monkey writing randomly on a computer for an infinite amount of time would eventually write a meaningful masterpiece, as if by coincidence. Randomness versus intentionality. The truth is we are no monkeys, we have limited time and no book is written randomly. Same thing regarding your life. It is probably not infinite, so why would you live randomly like an infinite monkey, hoping for meaning to emerge without intention, without determination, without the deep involvement of your crealectical self? How can creation be a process of healthy growth a process of destiny-shaping? That is the way Luis de Miranda, PhD, practices philosophical counseling at the Philosophical Parlour in Stockholm, after having been a professional independent publisher for many years, helping others write meaningful books, and after having written many books himself (fiction and non-fiction), translated in various languages: Luis helps each person write the alchemical and embodied book of their life, as their own masterpiece. The philosopher’s stone is a charcoal pencil.
This talk will last 20 minutes. At the beginning, Luis de Miranda will take 20 words offered by audience, and improvise a speech around these words, while Peter Knudsen, jazz composer, will accompany him.
A degustation of Port wine will close the event around 18h45
From 18.00 to 19.00
Center Camões at Stockholm University
Stockholms universitet, Universitetsvägen 10, Södra Huset, Hus B, plan 5, Sal B522A &B522B
Alcibiades being advised by Socrates. A painting by François-André Vincent. Notice that behind Socrates is his daemon, the divinity that inspires him.
Kristina Queen of Sweden hired Descartes, the father of the modern cogito, as a philosophical counsellor already in 1649. She subsequently resigned from her position, judging there was a more important matter than being a queen: what could possibly more important than the kingdom of Sweden?
Now offering consultations on demand.
Drawing of the Big Bang by my daughter Svea, 7.
In my practice as a philosophical counselor, I often encourage the counselee to start with a tabula rasa within the cosy security of my parlour. The empty table is a process by which we authorise us to think as if all our certainties should be questioned, as if we were starting anew, as if new-born. This was done for example by Descartes when he supposed for the sake of truth-searching that everything was an illusion. In my view a philosophically healthy person is capable of connecting to a meta-reality that I call Creal, which is the real of absolute creation, radical alterity, novelty, the ex nihilo = ex toto without which creation would be a mere remixing of existing realities.
It is philosophically healthy to see creation not as mere fabrication, construction, but as a process that can be independent from human engineering and yet one that we can connect to in order to co-create. We are capable of the idea of radical alterity, radical novelty, infinite possibility, infinite abundance of potentialities. Connecting with this idea generates an emotion that opens the path to a deeper form of well-being. But of course it is also challenging our comfort. It is not without danger and risk. It is preferable not to be alone in this journey. Philosophy is also about friendship and love.
Now why would someone do this? Descartes was searching for the truth, for something certain, as certain as mathematics. He found, paradoxically, the cogito, which is an anti-mathematical experience. Is philosophical health about truth? This is the kind of question that might not have a universal answer, but rather needs to be elaborated singularly in a specific embodied dialogue.
Perhaps philosophical health is about living a blissful and thoughtful life, while overcoming human finitude, human suffering, contradictions, pain, conflicts, frustrations, dull routines, alienation, exploitation, etc. In the latter case, we are talking about a transmutation of the human (even Marx wanted a transmutation of the human). Is philosophical health a form of self-alchemy? Yes. But beware the new-age fuzzy uses of the notion of alchemy.
Let’s take the analogy of writing a book. Creating a book. To create a book you need: letters, inspiration, paper or a computer, a way of transposing creal-inspiration into sentences, and you need a reader, without whom there is no book (even if you are your own reader at first). Eventually you also need some form of material production of the book as object. Where does the inspiration come from? Here we could discuss the Infinite Monkey Theorem. Randomness versus intentionality. Of course no book is written randomly. It would be boring and too chaotic. Same thing regarding your life. It is probably not infinite, so why would you live randomly like an infinite monkey, hoping for meaning to emerge without intention, without determination, without the deep involvement of your crealectical self.
How can health be a process of creation? How can creation be a process of health? This connects to the idea of regeneration, transmutation but also finality. This needs to be addressed in a singular dialogue, since a universal answer might be self-contradictory by imposing a normative stance. That is the way I practice philosophical couseling (after having been a professional independent publisher for so many years, helping others write meaningful books, and after having written many books myself): I help each person write the alchemical and embodied book of their life, as their own masterpiece. The philosopher’s stone is a charcoal pencil.
Join today if you are qualified and interested: https://philosophical.health
The Transnational Genealogy of Esprit de Corps
The theoretical message of the word ensemblance is quite simple: the book shows that discourses of ultra-unity in human ensembles are often ideological fabulations connected to nationalism, manipulation, groupthink, power coalitions, social control, political neo-romanticism, etc. These can be effective historically and socially because modern individuals often have this understandable longing for belonging to a group of peers, like-minded fellows that become as one for the sake of a cause. Today, with the upcoming crisis of individualism, the confused revival of nationalisms, and with the capitalist ubiquity of ultra-competitive team-spirit, the exclusivist ideal of cohesive ensembles and esprit de corps seems more and more attractive for some (not to speak of the fantasy of esprit de corps between humans and robots or AI, although I do speak about it in the conclusion).
Hence the cautionary need to remind us, with this book and its rich evidence, of the critical views on esprit de corps since Montesquieu, d’Alembert and Diderot. I sympathise with the critique of the excesses of individualism that has been made in the name of esprit de corps, but the myth of close-knit togetherness, I’m afraid (and I regret it), seems equally illusionary. The idea of ensemblance is not completely negative, though. It’s fine to search for ensemblances that combine solidarity and a critical openness (cf. the pages on Deleuze and Guattari in chapter 6), provided we know pure unity is a dangerous fiction. Moreover, ensemblance – as also explained in the conclusion – is a critical modulation of popular concepts that are I believe too optimistic, such as Judith Butler’s assembly and the Deleuzian assemblage.