Sam Woolfe

Strolling aimlessly — instead of having set routes, and set sites to see — is something I’ve always enjoyed doing, especially in big or new cities. I discovered that there was a French term for this aimless strolling, considered to be a kind of art. And that’s flânerie, while the person who engages in this activity is called a flâneur. These terms are derived from the Old Norse verb flana, which means “to wander with no purpose”.

Continue reading…

Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on June 27, 2022.

--

--

Asemic writing is, by definition, meaningless. It is wordless writing. But what attracts artists and viewers alike to the art form is the way that certain marks can appear meaningful. The scrawls and strokes can be so reminiscent of a natural language or system of glyphs that they look as if they could be read — if only one was well versed in it. This is because this art form often utilises the gesture(s) of writing that is familiar to all of us, be that the kinds of strokes and shapes we make, the repetition of them, the ‘flow’ of writing (as in cursive), joining characters into discrete words, the spaces between words, the creation of sentences, the beginning and end of sentences, and so forth and so on.

Continue reading…

Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on June 13, 2022.

--

--

Mandalas are intricate designs and symbols that are drawn in geometric forms (mandala is Sanskrit for “circle”). They originated in India, and are pervasive in Buddhist culture — particularly Tibetan Buddhism — as a way to represent the universe, deities, or certain realms. They are a form of spiritual artwork used across the world as a way to aid meditation and trance induction. Tibetan Buddhist monks also create highly intricate mandalas out of coloured sand and then destroy them once complete, symbolising the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of all things.

Continue reading…

Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 27, 2022.

--

--

Negative visualisation might sound like an oxymoron at first. How could something negative be helpful? Well, in short, negative visualisation is a philosophical mindset and a coping mechanism developed by famous philosophers like Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. It’s a Stoic principle, and it can help you cultivate gratitude in your life. (The method actually originated with the Cyreanic philosophers, but was later adopted by the Stoics.) The practice has also been referred to as premeditatio malorum (“premeditation of evils”). Seneca discussed it in his Moral Letters to Lucilius.

Continue reading…

Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 25, 2022.

--

--

Within the field of psychiatry, the decision to provide a mental health diagnosis to someone experiencing emotional distress — a range of troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviours — often presents a moral dilemma. Of course, there may be an assumption among psychiatrists that diagnoses are, generally speaking, in a patient’s best interest, since it is intended to pinpoint what condition it is exactly that needs treating, allowing the most effective recommendations for treatment to be made.

Continue reading…

Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 23, 2022.

--

--

In my first post on asemic writing, I briefly touch on the origins of this art form, noting that the artists Tim Gaze and Jim Leftwich applied the term to their quasi-calligraphic works in 1997. (See my review of Gaze’s latest book, Glyphs of Uncertain Meaning, which also includes some more information about the artist.) Peter Schwenger — the author of Asemic: The Art of Writing — considers this the point at which this international artistic movement was launched, which now encompasses a wide range of publications, exhibitions, and online activity.

Continue reading…

Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 16, 2022.

--

--

Emptiness is a core aspect of Buddhist philosophy. This applies to both the Theravada tradition (the oldest existing school of Buddhism) and the Mahayana tradition (the later branch of Buddhism that accepts the teachings of early Buddhism but adds new texts and doctrines, such as the Mahayana Sutras and the emphasis on the bodhisattva path: the path to becoming a Buddha — an enlightened being — in order to liberate all sentient beings from suffering).

Continue reading…

Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 9, 2022.

--

--

Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (1973) poses an interesting and thorny moral conundrum. In this story, the narrator describes the utopian city of Omelas, whose very utopianism, prosperity, and unspoiled happiness depend on the perpetual misery of a single child, hidden and locked away in a filthy, dark basement.

Continue reading…

Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on May 2, 2022.

--

--

Many antinatalists (perhaps most) embrace veganism, finding both lifestyle decisions ethically consonant with each other. But whether one entails the other depends on the particular ethic at play: If it’s preventing and minimising suffering, then does this not entail antinatalism? This negative utilitarianism is what many vegan activists like Ed Winters (Earthling Ed) say undergird their veganism, yet when Alex O’Connor (Cosmic Skeptic) brought this up to Winters in a recent podcast episode, the latter said he does not support antinatalism.

Continue reading…

Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on April 25, 2022.

--

--

Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe

I'm a freelance writer interested in philosophy, ethics, psychology, and mental health. Website: www.samwoolfe.com