Reading, thinking, and conversation are noble pursuits and reasons to live. AEWCH 177 featuring Zena Hitz on the value of intellectualism.

20 Jan

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Happy New Year! Here’s the third in the series of episodes on How To Live in 2022. The first, AEWCH 175, was with occult scholar Mitch Horowitz, and the second, AEWCH 176, is on why reincarnation matters for us now. It’s not just the obviously spiritual that we must bring to bear on how to live now, though. It’s how we spend our time, and what we give our days and thoughts over to. For me, intellectual pursuits – especially literature, film, music, philosophy – are what I long to spend my time on. But I resent, deeply, the idea that they have to be “for” something, even self development. It’s not that they can’t contribute to self development, rather, that they only contribute to self development when we don’t force them into the role. So how could I do an episode on how-and-why-to-be-an-intellectual without forcing it all into functionality? Luckily, public intellectual, teacher, and philosopher Zena Hitz‘s, book, Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life, is hugely clarifying on this. After reading it, I knew I had to speak with her. I hope this conversation is clarifying for you, too.


Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others offers a great exploration of how to view art, the news, the world in general, without becoming numb: numb in the way we become numb to what we see again and again, and numb because of the narratives (or lack of them) that surround what we’re regarding. It’s a short book full of declarative and illuminating sentences.

A good companion episode for this one is AEWCH 141 with religious scholar Jason Josephson Storm. We talk about knowing beyond academia, beyond postmodernism, beyond the old ways of taking in knowledge… but without discarding the most useful aspects of all the above. We also get really weird about it.

Since we discuss “spectacle” so much, I think I should direct you to the Situationists, the anarchist art/culture/politics group from 20th Century. One of the best entry points is via Ken Knabb’s super plain but very rich site, Bureau of Public Secrets.

Buy her book, of course. And visit her website, which is extensive; lots of interviews and thoughts and links and media. You can also look into the great books tutorial series Zena founded, The Catherine Project. And here’s a good talk from Zena at the Thomistic Institute.

Until next time, friends!

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