Plutarch's Table

The Connected Mind and Henry Miller | November 1, 2010

Yesterday’s literary salon on Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn was such a treat.  We came to the table with some sharply differing interpretations and reactions and I felt that we were able to use that controversial edge to get to some really interesting questions and insights.  As one of our participants put it, regardless of how we each felt about the book, it had us all deeply engaged – and what more could we ask of a work?  Having spent the last 15 or so years doing philosophy as an almost entirely solitary activity, I am amazed at how much more productive it can be to think collaboratively.  Yesterday I definitely discovered some corners into which my mind and imagination had never before ventured, and I think that it was the multiplicity of perspectives and the deep sense from everybody that what we were talking about mattered, that made this possible.  This got me thinking about a great talk I saw recently on TED, about collaboration and the connected mind. A great quote at the end of the talk, in case you haven’t the time to watch it all – “chance favours the connected mind”.  A Milleresque sentiment, I think.

Thanks to our wonderful hosts and to everyone who came out and contributed so generously to what turned out to be a highly enjoyable and stimulating discussion.

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About author

My name is Joanna Polley. I am a writer and a philosopher experimenting with ways of practicing and teaching philosophy outside of the university environment. I completed my PhD at the University of Toronto and have taught for several years in the departments of philosophy and literary studies, and am currently exploring ways to bring philosophy out of the ivory tower and into the wider public sphere. My specific research interests have been in the history of philosophy, philosophy of language and culture and the philosophy of literature, but I am interested in any philosophy that helps illuminate contemporary problems and deepens our experience of being alive. You can also visit me at www.joannapolley.wordpress.com for information about my philosophical therapy services.

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