Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wichita blogger recommends A Life at Work

On her blog Life is Good, LM writes about Thomas Moore’s new book, A Life at Work, and gives examples from her own experiences, to support Moore’s focus on the value of reflection. She says,
"This is interesting to me also because whenever my ex-husband and I would come to the point of unresolvable conflict and separation (3-4 times over the 28 year marriage), we'd go to counseling, he would claim that the problem was his job, and then he would change jobs and things would be okay for while, but then the cycle would repeat itself. Moore suggests that often deep personal reflection about career choices and natural talents or desires is necessary to reveal the underlying cause for the unhappiness/illness, and then being flexible and willing to change."
LM concludes A Life at Work "is an easy read, and would be a good book for anyone who is feeling frustrated about their life, future, and struggling with depression about their job, or the judgments of others who see 'success' as having mainly to do with salaries and prestige."

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Reviewer endorses approach: To work is to pray

In The Hindu of India, D. Murali reviews Thomas Moore’s A Life at Work and concludes, "A book that can cut through all cluttered notions about work." Murali says,
"With modern technologies like email blurring the borders between work and home, the link between fulfilment at work and happiness at home is more important than ever, the author observes. Rather than solving the problem of work at a purely practical level – through new training, a different career, or a fatter paycheque – get to the bottom of your frustration, he urges.

Frustration commonly manifests as a feeling of getting nowhere. "Many people believe that you should always be getting somewhere, that you should always be on the 'up' escalator, moving forward in life." But sadly, 'people at the top of the ladder can also feel stalled.'
A simple and timeless prescription from the Bhagavad Gita is that you can win your freedom by being karma-yogic; that is, by doing your duty to your best while at the same time not being attached to the fruits of labour. As if in affirmation, a chapter title in Moore’s book reads, 'To work is to pray.'"

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Attendee describes Moore's talk about violence

At the beginning of April, Thomas Moore was a keynote speaker at the second annual academic conference of The Foundation for Mythological Studies in Santa Barbara, California. The conference theme was Nature and Human Nature: The Mythology of Violence. Barque member, Andy (aka Waking) attended the conference and has generously written this note about Moore’s presentation.
Entering the large and comfortable lecture hall that once served as a fairly large chapel, we are greeted by FMS associates and a projected slide image with the title of Thomas Moore's talk:


Approximately 150 conference attendees take their seats and in the welcoming introduction to Moore, we are told he is working on his next two books, Soul of the Gospels and a collection of short stories about Golf. Following warm, appreciative applause, Moore commences his presentation:
"I give a kind of traditional description or exploration of violence through mythology. That's my point. I start with the idea that violence is a religious phenomenon. In this, I'm coming right off the last words of Lionel Corbett's speech earlier today. I think that violence is a religious phenomenon. I don't mean that having to do with the church or belief system, anything like that. I mean that it is profoundly mysterious and that we make a mistake when we try to rationalize it, when we try to understand it - that's not the approach.

The reason I am in the field of religion and the reason I like it so much [is] I understand religion to be our effort to find a way to relate to the mysteries that are around us. I think that's what religion does: it gives us ritual, it gives us story, it gives us images that allow us to - not to explain those mysteries at all, because that would be the wrong direction - but to effectively connect with it so that we are somehow co-operating with them rather than running away from them and being hit over the head by them. So, that's where I start.

Violence, I think, is a mystery and it's in the realm of religion - not even psychology, unless you do it with, by saying that you're putting psychology and religion together. The other thing I want to say that's a bit preliminary is psychological, and that is, I think if we talk about violence as something that is out there, that's in our world and our people who are violent, and we have to do something about them - anything we say risks being a defense against getting closer to violence. Do you see what I mean?

If we don't look at ourselves and include ourselves in the violence and see that even we (every day), whenever we deal with some of our demons and some of our difficulties at the expense of someone else, that we are entering that chain of violence in a small way - unless we see that - unless we understand that by talking about violence we’re talking about ourselves, I think that our very intellectual, very intelligent perhaps, analysis would be a defense against getting into the violence. It will prevent us from getting into it. So that's why I think it's a defense issue.

Now look at these images I brought to show you... I think all of us, myself especially (I have to think of myself here): What about the violence in me? How does this myth, how does it help me appreciate that and sort it out and get to make some arrangement with it?

So I would like to talk about etymology. I've written about this. Violence, in most sources that I have seen, is related to the Latin word, vis, V-I-S."
Moore begins his slide show presentation of about half a dozen to ten wonderful color images projected on a large screen behind his podium. These include images of paintings and sculptures from approximately the 15th to the 19th century. He starts with Botticelli's Primavera, and follows with Venus and Mars, for example. He uses these beautiful images as artistic examples portraying what he will repeatedly refer to as vis generativa.

The other area of his talk circumambulates around images and mythologems of the ancient Hindu story involving Vishnu (the Boar), Brahma (the Swan) and the origins of the Shiva lingam. This story, he suggests, represents a metaphor for vis power.(1)

Moore remarks,
"... there is a telos of violence – a searching for 'vis power' - the divine power in Nature, numinosity... What we need is vis, what we have is violence. Try to discover vis, to eroticize the culture – going through Venus, not Mars. You do not condemn Venus... Confronted with the Venusian mistake, ...Jesus does not condemn the adulteress. Surveying our power's heights and depths, we need Mars power to get our voices out there with Venus present."
Humorously, Moore has genuine struggles with the temptation to linger on the wonder and beauty of each individual image at the expense of completing his talk before the appointed deadline. Throughout the slide show, Moore provides copious, insightful commentary and effectively engages the lecture hall with audience participation. The lecture concludes with a warm standing ovation.

Afterward we share a nice dinner together in a cafeteria on campus and finish the evening with book signings where I get to speak with Tom personally.

(1) Different versions of the story about Shiva's lingam stress different features. Here is one version.

Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture will publish selected conference papers in its Spring 2009 issue: Psychology of Violence.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Blogger is "crazy glad" Moore wrote latest book

Last month in Peterborough Ontario, blogger staten-island73 posted reaction to Thomas Moore’s A Life at Work:
"I love watching t.v. When I'm not working, sleeping, running or tending to turtles, I am probably watching t.v. I make no apologies for this.

Once in awhile however, I read a book. And once in a longer while I read a book that makes me crazy glad that the author wrote the book instead of sitting around watching t.v.

Right now that book is A Life at Work by Thomas Moore. I adore Thomas Moore, and I'm so glad he writes down the stuff in his brain."

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Resources for creating more fulfilling work

While talking about Designing a Livelihood, Sanjida Afroz mentions the Buddhist concept of right livelihood, and then the idea of soul making:
"Another ancient spiritual concept, 'soul-making' is making a comeback in both spiritual and psychological circles. Thomas Moore, author of the popular book Care of the Soul, suggests that the spiritual and psychological belong together, that an inquiry into each is a part of soul-making. If the soul lies at the intersection of our spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social and physical selves, then soul-making is about becoming all of who we are. Since for most of us, our work is an important part of who we are, soul-making requires us to look at the people we are at work, at the communities we form there, and at the nature of our work itself."
Afroz talks about many North Americans’ discontent with their jobs; visionaries who have established businesses with uncommon precepts; and concludes with a list of resources for readers interested in creating more fulfilling work.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Artist and poet DeLozier praises Moore's books

In today’s blog post, "Art, My Talisman", Lori DeLozier in Vinita, Oklahoma, writes:
"A couple of weeks ago, I promised to loan the book The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life by Thomas Moore (a much, much loved non-fiction author) to a friend. I pulled the book, which I've owned since it publication date of 1996, from the bookshelf and so it's been laying around the studio, awaiting my next chance encounter with Susan T. Finally, just seeing it daily got to me and so I decided to go ahead and re-read it myself. I'm very glad I did. I began to feel immediately "re-enchanted" just dipping into its intelligent, extraordinary pages. I started (just for my first taste) in the middle of the book, a chapter entitled "Objects of Art"--just couldn't resist that, naturally. Last night, though, I returned to "Chapter One: Nature." What an awesome book. What an awesome writer and thinker Thomas Moore is. His other books that I've relished (seems an understatement) are: Care of the Soul (listed under my "Books that Changed my Life" column), Soul Mates and Dark Nights of the Soul. I see in the front of the current book another title that piques my interest: Rituals of the Imagination. Will have to see if I can land my hands on that one. Don't know how I missed it... (If you haven't discovered Thomas Moore, do so. For your soul.)"

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