Monday, August 31, 2009

Philosophy Camp III

On Friday, I cheated a little, taking the bus to Woodinville before pedaling the rest of the way—about 50 miles—to Smoke Farm outside Arlington for this year’s Philosophy Camp, the annual, so it has become, summer retreat at which University of Puget Sound professor of religious studies, Stuart Smithers and I get together with a dozen or so former students and current acquaintances to read and discuss philosophy, eat good food, do sitting meditation and yoga, and, in general, commune with nature such as it is on the south fork of the Stillaguamish river.

On Saturday morning, we read David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement Kenyon University Commencement speech and wondered, as he does, about what it means to be authentically free in the contemporary world. In the afternoon, we pondered Nietzsche’s preface to Human, All Too Human, and tried to figure out what it might be like to be free souls and the kind of self-deception it might require along the way to becoming one.

In the afternoon, I led a yoga session, and even though I forgot the names of a few of the asanas, I think it went pretty well, enough that I’m not entirely disabused of the notion that teaching yoga could be a fun thing to do when I’m in my seventies.

Sunday morning, after meditation, we looked at Spinoza, prompting the jokey idea to combine him with brunch next time, for “Spinoza and Mimosas” as well as getting us all to wonder a bit about the greatest good and whether Spinoza has it right when he refers to it as something like the union of the mind with all of nature, and what that might mean if he does.

My alternate route from the farm started with a canoe ride across the river, and then a ride along a blackberry-choked rail grade. I saved half an hour of hill-climbing, but spent the time changing two flats on the ride home.

2 Comments:

Anonymous lm said...

What a novel idea! Did everyone receive the readings before arriving or were they assigned the day they were discussed? How many attendees held a degree in philosophy or religious studies? I couldn't find much information about the camp online, is this an invite only event?It would be lovely to attend next year (if it's possible for someone who merely enjoys philosophy to join).

2:54 PM  
Blogger dashap said...

We handed out the readings right before reading them; they weren't very long. I'm not sure anyone had a degree in philosophy or religion except Stuart and me; most had taken some course, but not all. Invitation only, but it's easy to be invited if you ask.

3:46 PM  

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