The School of Life

The School of Life is an online project that publishes short videos on a variety of themes, potted bios of authors, philosophers and scientists, political movements, historical events and so on. These are virtually without exception excellent, and above is a good example, their piece on a hero of mine, Baruch Spinoza. Whoever the guy who does the voiceover is, is absolutely excellent, something of a rarity these days in this genre. The dark side of the School of Life is that it also runs a line in fairly cringe-making motivational material, both on video and in print. Emotional First Aid Kit and Know Yourself Prompt Cards are good examples – and as usual I’m torn between the “God, how awful…” and the “I wish I’d thought of that…” reactions, depending on mood and circumstance. At first sight it seems odd that School of Life does this. After all, since they are so good at capturing the essence of genuine wisdom as embodied in Spinoza, Plato or Bashō, it seems superfluous that they should peddle the cracker barrel variety as well. But instant salvation is big business (Emotional First Aid Kit will put you 20 bucks behind), and I suppose that the worthy end of their spectrum is to a great extent subsidised by the dross. I very much recommend the literature and philosophy videos. There is a very good collection on key concepts in Japanese aesthetics that is well worth watching.

3 thoughts on “The School of Life

  1. “superfluous that they should peddle the cracker barrel variety as well”…this evoked an audible feel good laugh on my walk. And this: “and as usual I’m torn between the “God, how awful…” and the “I wish I’d thought of that…” reactions” 🙂

    Depending on one’s point of reference, the Cracker Barrel store has an ambience that can’t be matched by formal place settings and meticulously folded napkins. High philosophy can be intimidating, if you weren’t born into it. I personally have a fantasy of becoming a Cracker Barrel philanthropist, generously buying all those I love and care for and even strangers, trinkets and scarves and games and iron pans — to their heart’s content.

    Your explanation for some reason, brought to mind SARK. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes SARK: “Try: studying something in nature for one hour or longer: snails, ants, butterflies, leaves,” she writes, and reminds readers “your desire to feel creatively free is very important.” taking a leaf out of John Ruskin’s book ☺️. Yes, I’d secretly love to be motivational fridge magnet mogul. 👑💰

      Liked by 1 person

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