In: Uncategorized

4 May 2008

I have been sidetracked for the past week so no time for blogging. Hopefully this will now change. However, two things worth catching up on:

– Attended the launch of the Prix Pictet photographic competition last Tuesday (29 April). It is a new photographic awarded focusing on sustainability with Kofi Annan, a former UN secretary general, as its honorary president. It also has the endorsement of Gro Harlem Brundtland, a special envoy to the UN on climate change. This year’s theme is water.

The PR stunt at the start of the event gives some flavour of what it was about. All of those attending were given a clear glass bottle with a little water in it and the name of a country. Mine had a tag on it saying “Ghana” and a note saying the average daily domestic water consumption was 27 litres per head which was equivalent to five minutes in an ordinary shower. What is this bizarre counter-position meant to mean? Perhaps that by having a shower in Britain we are depriving ordinary Ghanaians of water? Or that water is a scarce resource? (see post of 12 March 2008).

– Michael Fitzpatrick wrote a pithy critique of the mainstream happiness discussion in an article (30 April) on spiked on the contemporary obsession with healthy living:

“Having replaced heaven (in either terrestrial or celestial forms) as the goal of human existence, health has been reduced to the anatomical and physiological functions of the human organism. The highest aspiration of the modern individual is biological survival, complemented by the state of bovine contentment celebrated as ‘happiness’ by government advisers, a condition to be achieved by making healthy lifestyle choices, appropriately corrected by short courses of cognitive behaviour therapy.

“For Aristotle a true state of health meant a ‘flourishing life’, not merely in terms of prolonging our bodily existence, but in terms of personal achievement. What matters is not merely feeling good about ourselves, but living and acting well. Happiness is the result of human activity in the world, it is not just a state of mind, and even less mere animal fitness.”

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