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Will Buckingham's Wayward Things

Issue 11: Christmas 2020

An Irregular Bulletin of the Curious, Wayward & Intriguing
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There's just time before the festive season for another edition of Will Buckingham's Wayward Things.

In this edition, there are thoughts on the Moomins and the end of the world. There's a link to a lovely medieval Persian story about Plato and the music of the spheres. There are some thoughts I've been having on the Chinese philosopher Mencius and the idea of rewilding our moral ecologies. And there are some wintery links to other good things online, including Inuit child-rearing, and a curiously affecting game that draws on the myths of the indigenous peoples of Alaska.

So settle in for some holiday reading. And let me wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year,


The Moomins and the Apocalypse

I recently had a piece published in the new (and very beautiful) Oh Reader magazine, about my early love of Tove Jansson, and growing up in the shadow of the Cold War. The piece reads Comet in Moominland alongside the frankly terrifying UK Government what-to-do-in-a-nuclear-war booklet Protect and Survive.

The piece is in their print journal. You can get hold of Oh Reader via good bookstores in the US, or through their website. There's an electronic edition as well, which you can sign up for.

Looking for Wisdom? Plato's beef with Aristotle, virutous cats and more

My new philosophy project lookingforwisdom.com is now up and running. Somewhere during my research for the project, I came across this beautiful Mughal painting. It is a depiction of Plato charming the beasts of the field.

I traced the image back to a lovely 12th/13th century Persian tale about Plato's beef with Aristotle, a remarkable musical instrument, the music of the spheres, and the art of sending wild beasts to sleep.

My database of Philosopher Files on Looking for Wisdom is slowly growing.

New Philosopher Files go out by email every Thursday, featuring thinkers as diverse as Aspasia and Ptahhotep, Confucius and — most recently — Parmenides. You can sign up for free!

Also on Looking for Wisdom, here's a short piece I wrote about John Gray's new book Feline Philosophy, and the Confucian virtues of cats.

This is something I've written about in this newsletter before, but I thought I'd take the publication of Gray's book as an opportunity to work it up into a more developed piece..

Ethical Rewilding?

Here's the piece on the Chinese philosopher Mencius, and how to rewild our moral ecologies. It was published on the Medium publication, Socrates Café.

You can read the article here.

Good things from around the web


On Anger

I think this recommendation came via my friend, the ever-brilliant Jean Morris from Tasting Words. It's a piece on anger and Inuit child-rearing practices from the NPR blog. Never in Anger by the late Jean Briggs was one of my favourite anthropology books. And this is a great introduction to her work, and to the changing world she wrote about.

Never Alone

Whilst talking about the cultures of the Arctic Circle, here's something lovely. I'm not a gamer (I have neither the patience nor the dexterity) but Never Alone is something quite special. The game was developed in collaboration with indigenous Alaskan Iñupiat communities. And it is an entrancing, illuminating journey through Iñupiat culture, without ever feeling didactic. Find out more here.

Triumph on Twitter thanks to ancient Indian philosophy

When writing recently about the early Indian woman philosopher Gārgī Vācaknavī (see here), I came across the Whatshername podcast, which tells stories about "fascinating women you have never heard of." In this edition, Ravi M. Gupta discusses how Gārgī can help you upgrade your social media debating skills.

What I'm Reading

There are so many books I'd like to recommend this time round, it is hard to know where to start. I enjoyed Emily Thomas's recently-published The Meaning of Travel and Anna Ezekiel's translation of German philosopher Karolin von Günderrode's Poetic Fragments (read about Günderrode here). I've been reading up on Mesoamerican and Latinx philosophy, and working through Saras Dewi's Ekofenomenologi (Ecophenomenology) in Indonesian. I've also been spending a lot of time for a future project reading about Ancient Greek divination practices. So it's been a big old mix.

But the one book I want to shout about in this edition is my friend Maria Taylor's brilliant second collection of poetry, Dressing for the Afterlife. It is funny and wise and beautifully written.

What I'm Listening To

Did I recommend this last year? If not, I should have done. It's Bahamian singer Joseph Spence's version of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. It is both strange and (arguably) wonderful.

Having just added this to the newsletter, I sort of suspect that I have shared it before. But that's how it is with Christmas songs. The same ones come around again and again...
And that's all for this edition! Let me wish you all the best for the holidays, and I'll see you again in the new year. As usual, just drop me a line if you want to say hello!

All the best,

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About Wayward Things

Wayward Things is an occasional newsletter from writer and philosopher Will Buckingham, an irregular bulletin of things I find curious, wayward & intriguing. The newsletter is free — it's just for stuff I like, and think there's a chance you might like as well.

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