Happy Twentieth! Back to the Basics II

Happy 20th to all students of Epicureanism! This month marks the publication date for How to Live a Good Life, for which I wrote the Epicureanism chapter, and also a book review of the rest of the book. As this book will likely attract new students to EP, I also authored the essay Advise to New Students of Epicurean Philosophy.

Our friend Nathan wrote a piece for SoFE titled On “-Isms” and Pleasure Wisdom, where he presents his case against isms. We also closed the so-called “Chinese Year of the Pig” (which actually ends on February 5th) by unveiling the 20 Tenets of the Society of Friends of Epicurus so that they may serve as guidelines in the coming years.

In the initial years of forming groups of friends and intellectual peers with the goal of studying, applying, and teaching Epicurean philosophy, we have frequently considered that it might be a good idea to have a concise, summarized set of clear Tenets to facilitate the process of teaching, to connect theory with practice, and to more clearly explain what it is that we believe in.

Speaking of which, two new philosophers formalized their membership this month: we welcome Charles (who admins the r/Epicurean_Philosophy subreddit), and Jesús, a Venezuelan professor of political philosophy who has been instrumental in revitalizing the Spanish-language page for Society of Epicurus by volunteering to translate dozens of essays. As a result of this, the Spanish-language page has grown greatly over the last couple of months. These efforts will help us to continue to reach more people in more languages via more outlets in the coming years, and we are very happy that they are adding their passion to the teaching mission of the Epicurean Gardens.

Michael Shermer interviewed Catherine Wilson in How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well.


Today I’d like to revisit the blog Back to the Basics, which discussed the importance of carrying out our choices and avoidances as per the middle portion of the Letter to Menoeceus. Particularly, I’d like to reconsider this portion:

Again, we regard independence of outward things as a great good, not so as in all cases to use little, but so as to be contented with little if we have not much, being honestly persuaded that they have the sweetest enjoyment of luxury who stand least in need of it, and that whatever is natural is easily procured and only the vain and worthless hard to win.

And so plain savors bring us a pleasure equal to a luxurious diet, when all the pain due to want is removed; and bread and water produce the highest pleasure, when one who needs them puts them to his lips. To grow accustomed therefore to simple and not luxurious diet gives us health to the full, and makes a man alert for the needful employments of life, and when after long intervals we approach luxuries disposes us better towards them, and fits us to be fearless of fortune.

This portion calls for a healthy measure of simple living, which is balanced by Vatican Saying 63, which says: “Frugality too has a limit, and the man who disregards it is like him who errs through excess.” This is because the goal of our choices and avoidances is a pleasant life, not a simple life.

But what if we were to focus on having “the sweetest enjoyment of luxury” from time to time, rather than on being “contented with little if we have not much”?

What I mean by this is that if we, from time to time, treat ourselves to a sumptuous feast or a luxurious pleasure, when we do have to–or find it of greater convenience to–enjoy simpler or plain versions of the same pleasure, we feel less like we are punishing or depriving ourselves, and we are better able to enjoy the simple pleasures and be content with them.

The Letter to Menoeceus does not discuss THIS other mechanism: it says that when we live simply and from time to time we enjoy luxurious pleasures, we are better able to enjoy them. But this is also true the other way around.

We see this mainly in the realm of diet. People frequently see diets as acts of restriction, and correspondingly feel as if they were punishing themselves for their previous sin of over-eating. But many critics of popular diets point out that having a day or two every week when we treat ourselves, within limits, helps us to be loyal to our dietary goals throughout the rest of the week. It helps us to be less discouraged when we have the occasional binge and keeps morale high.

There are probably many subconscious dynamics related to self-love and self-loathing, and related to how we treat and view our bodies and to our eating habits, that are involved in these mechanisms. I do not wish to delve into all that here, but I do wish to point that enjoying luxuries from time to time DOES work, that it does help people to stay true to their goals over the long term when they are striving to live a simpler life. After they have tasted the luxurious pleasure with no guilt, they go on to relish the simpler ones with a greater sense of satisfaction with themselves and their life choices.

Posted in ethics, morality, Philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book Review: How to Live a Good Life

Today is the official book release date for How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy by Penguin Random House (Amazon link here), a collection of 15 essays edited by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary and Daniel Kaufman. In includes chapters on Epicureanism, Daoism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity Progressive Islam, Existentialism, and other philosophies of life as they are lived today.

The purpose of the book is to help people living in the 21st Century to tackle the challenges related to choosing a personal philosophy of life by giving them fifteen radically different examples of how others are doing it. Most of the essays were written by members of clergy or of academia. I wrote the Epicureanism chapter, and have had the opportunity to read the book in its entirety. From the intro, we learn that these are a few of the goals of the book:

First, to appreciate the sheer variety of philosophical points of view on life and better understand other human beings who have chosen to live according to a philosophy different from your own. Understanding is the beginning of both wisdom and compassion. Second, because you may wish to know something more about your own—chosen or inherited—life philosophy; our authors are some of the best and brightest in the field, and their chapters make for enlightening reading. Last, it is possible that you, too, have been questioning your current take on life, the universe, and everything, and reading about other perspectives may reinforce your own beliefs, prompt you to experiment with another philosophy, or perhaps even cause you to arrive at a new eclectic mix of ideas.

In the past, I have published commentaries on Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian, Humanist, Nietzschean and other philosophical traditions, as well as Christianity, Islam, and the Bahá’í Faith. I have learned much from each of these traditions. I’ve learned to appreciate Muhammad’s good business sense–even if I profoundly disagree with most of the rest of Islam. I’ve learned to come to terms with and appreciate some of the good aspects of my own Christian upbringing.

I even cheerfully stumbled across a Daoist philosopher who was Epicurean in all but name! One of my favorite chapters in the book was the one on Daoism, which coincidentally is the philosophy that has the most in common with Epicureanism. It reminded me that if there are innumerable atoms in infinite space, as Epicurean cosmology says, this means that the cosmos is very complex and phenomena may have multiple valid explanations from various perspectives. This modern Epicureans call “polyvalent logic”.

From Confucianism, I was reminded that relations are part of what defines our identities. From Stoicism, I learned that it is prudent to let go of what we have no control over. From the Progressive Islam chapter, I learned that the efforts to bring Islam into the future go well beyond ijtihad (independent interpretation of the Qur’an), and capitalize on the Qur’anic message of economic justice to make the religion relevant to contemporary progressive issues. From Reform Jewish Rabbi Barbara Block, I learned:

How wise our world would become if only we would all learn from each other!

I also learned that there is a non-theistic religion called Ethical Culture (aka Religious Humanism), which is in many ways similar to Humanistic Judaism and to the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Existentialist thinkers like Sartre and De Beauvoir were very interested in how people objectify each other, and asked questions about how we can best develop mature, intersubjective human relations between free individuals. The Existentialism chapter reminded me that enemies can sometimes be a source of healthy competition and–in a strange way–be at the same time good friends,

that other people are vitally important because they challenge us and open up possibilities in ways that we do not always see on our own, and the best kinds of relationships are those that are constructively critical

and that

signing up for a set of rules that someone else created is “bad faith,” meaning that we are not being authentic.

The Effective Altruism chapter reminded me that, if I’m going to be putting out efforts to help others, I may as well ensure that my efforts have the greatest impact.

It would be unfair for me to “review” the content of the Epicureanism chapter, since I myself wrote it. I will leave that to others. However, I will say that the experiment of writing this chapter was a great chance to re-evaluate my own personal philosophy and to re-visit many of the things that I’ve learned as a student of Epicurean philosophy, and that everyone should carry out this experiment as a way of assessing the ways in which we sculpt ourselves and our lives as pleasant, how we create meaning and value, how we deal with existential baggage and challenges, and how we discern truth from untruth. In fact, ancient Epicureans were known for writing Epitomes that summarized their doctrines as a learning and memorizing tool. So my exercise of writing this chapter is actually a recommended practice of the tradition.

If you read How to Live a Good Life and want to maximize the pleasure that you get from the book, my advice is that you take this project a step further and write an essay where you expound your own personal philosophy, perhaps inspired by a few of the things you read here. If you do publish your essay, please share the link below! Most importantly, remember that philosophy is not just an exercise for academia: it’s an exercise for daily living.

Further Reading:

Lucian’s Sale of Creeds: an ancient satire of the various philosophies

How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy

Posted in Books, Philosophy, Review | Leave a comment

Brazil’s Pentecostal Problem

I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity. Through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity! – Nietzsche’s Zarathustra

This Christmas, the producers of a silly Brazilian film–a parody consisting of a gay Jesus–were targeted with terrorist Christian violence with a Molotov cocktail. Presumably the historical Jesus, if he existed, did not have a sense of humor? Unlike the Charlie Hebdo attack in France, no one died this time. But this is just the latest episode in the rise of a scary and violent movement in modern Brazil, and which–like white supremacy and Christian supremacy in the US–sees itself emboldened by those in power.

Brazilian President Jair Balsonaro’s son Eduardo is reported to have close ties to American fascist Steve Bannon, and leads something called “The Movement”–a vaguely-named organization that wants to reinvent Brazil according to an authoritarian model set by Christian-Fascist ideology. The Movement is reminiscent of the obscure organization that we saw in the documentary The Family. Together with its neoliberal and national-defense-obsessed doctrines, it teaches that Balsonaro is a type of messiah who was chosen by God to lead Brazil in these trying times.

Balsonaro recently launched a new party. On its platform, we see a clear flirtation with dictatorship (which helps explain his paranoid obsession with national security) and with making all the other political parties illegal.

The fact that the tentacles of a notorious American white supremacist extend into “The Movement” may help to explain the recent news about armed, drug-dealing Pentecostal gangs slowly taking over Brazil, terrorizing religious minorities and forcing the shut-down of their temples. The violence of Christian nationalism in Brazil is no less racial than the violence of its American counterpart. Many of the practitioners of these minority faiths are Afro-Brazilians, and these faiths are the result of centuries of syncretism between Catholicism and African traditional religions. This begs the question: who will they go after next? The gays? Will they eventually go after the Catholics?

(Perhaps the (welcomed) decline of Catholicism has much to do with this? Perhaps Pentecostalism works as a shamanic outlet for Brazilian peasants, and the fact that it’s not that different from folk belief in spirits and in possession has helped it to grow there? … except that in this new religion, these spirits have devolved into demons …)

Balsonaro is playing with fire, and his megalomania may actually end up destroying Brazil. Instead of “Making Brazil Great Again”, he may actually make it smaller! There is a growing independence movement in the wealthier southern part of Brasil–in Rio Grande do Sul–and increased levels of national authoritarianism and state violence are likely to fuel the independence movement’s narrative that Brazilian federalism does not work. If Brazil loses the south, it will lose the economically powerful city of Sao Paulo with it, lose a large portion of its middle class, and degenerate into a much poorer country as a result.

I have been pondering why this is happening. I visited Rio de Janeiro in 1993 and found the population to be very relaxed and free. Brazil is incredibly diverse ethnically and racially. It has the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, and huge indigenous, Black, White, and mixed populations. Brazil’s national motto is “Order and Progress”, but there’s nothing progressive about this new, ultra-conservative brand of Christian nationalism. It signals that the country is entering a time of huge existential and identity crisis. Religiosity tends to increase during such times.

Further Reading:

Dreams of Dictatorship and the Nightmare of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro

Posted in Christianity, culture | Tagged | Leave a comment

Happy Twentieth of December! On Autarchy

Happy Twentieth of December and Happy HumanLight! Our friend Charles has taken the initiative of creating and managing Epicurean spaces on Reddit. If you’re on Reddit, please make sure to visit and subscribe to the new r/Epicurean_Philosophy subreddit. This is the only subreddit whose admins are all certified to be Epicurean philosophers by the Society of Epicurus. There have been issues with the content in some of the other subreddits in the past, so we hope that this will create a friendlier environment for Epicurean content on Reddit.

The upcoming book How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy will include chapters on Epicureanism (this essay was written by yours truly), Stoicism, Aristotelianism, Christianity, Progressive Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Existentalism, and more. The book’s editor, Massimo Pigliucci–who is a proponent of Stoicism–was kind enough to allow a guest post by Catherine Wilson on his blog titled Wrong Again? One more on Stoicism vs Epicureanism.

I applaud Massimo’s active engagement of the modern Epicureans like myself and Wilson in friendly, open discussion and/or debate, as well as his ecumenical efforts to promote Epicurean ideas in the public sphere presented by Epicureans. There is mutual benefit for Stoics and Epicureans in this, as it allows issues and opinions that have been obscured for centuries to be made clear by being presented and advocated in a modern voice for the benefit of sincere students of philosophy who are interested in the merits of the Epicurean-Stoic arguments and counter-arguments.

Speaking of Wilson, my book review of How to be Epicurean is live on the Society of Epicurus page.


This year, I focused a bit on Epicurean economics as a result of my observation that this is a much-neglected subject, appealing mainly to Philodemus’ scroll on the art of property management. However, the doctrines of autarchy go all the way back to Metrodorus–who was a “great administrator” and one of the founders of Epicureanism–and to Epicurus’ own moral example:

Epicurus’ life when compared to other men’s in respect of gentleness and self-sufficiency might be thought a mere legend. – Vatican Saying 36

The word used here for “self-sufficiency” in the original Greek was autarkeia. In English, this word artarchy mainly refers to the economics of local self-sufficiency, but in its original, philosophical context (as we see above) it referred to the individual. We have a few foundational adages on the subject:

Nature’s wealth at once has its bounds and is easy to procure; but the wealth of vain fancies recedes to an infinite distance. – Principal Doctrine 15

A free life cannot acquire many possessions, because this is not easy to do without servility to mobs or monarchs, yet it possesses all things in unfailing abundance; and if by chance it obtains many possessions, it is easy to distribute them so as to win the gratitude of neighbors. – Vatican Saying 67

Notice here that the sources reject both conservative politics (servility to monarchs) and liberal politics (servility to mobs), favoring instead an idea of personal sovereignty and personal economics.

We cannot speak of personal sovereignty if we are wage slaves. There are important problems related to economics that make personal sovereignty a life-long pursuit for most individuals. Only the most privileged are exempt from having to develop life-long autarchy plans. We find advice in the middle portion of the Letter to Menoeceus concerning the importance of being able to live self-sufficiently:

Again, we regard independence of outward things as a great good, not so as in all cases to use little, but so as to be contented with little if we have not much, being honestly persuaded that they have the sweetest enjoyment of luxury who stand least in need of it, and that whatever is natural is easily procured and only the vain and worthless hard to win.

… To grow accustomed therefore to simple and not luxurious diet gives us health to the full, and makes a man alert for the needful employments of life, and when after long intervals we approach luxuries disposes us better towards them, and fits us to be fearless of fortune.

Notice also that autarchy is our fortress against the highs and lows brought about by Fortune–which is worshiped by some as a Goddess, and in modern monotheistic societies it seems that people refer to God often when they really intend to speak of Fortune, to the entirety of things that are outside of our control. In the Letter to Menoeceus, it is argued that chance is an unsteady friend and that a sage should believe “that the misfortune of the wise is better than the prosperity of the fool. It is better, in short, that what is well judged in action should not owe its successful issue to the aid of chance.” An Epicurean sage should aim to be self-made insofar as possible.

Fortune but seldom interferes with the wise person; his greatest and highest interests have been, are, and will be, directed by reason throughout the course of his life. – Principal Doctrine 16

I have anticipated thee, Fortune, and entrenched myself against all thy secret attacks. And I will not give myself up as captive to thee or to any other circumstance; but when it is time for me to go, spitting contempt on life and on those who vainly cling to it, I will leave life crying aloud a glorious triumph-song that I have lived well. – Vatican Saying 47

It is vain to ask of the gods what a man is capable of supplying for himself. – Vatican Saying 65

And so the Epicurean conception of autarchy–which includes the economics of self-sufficiency, but goes far beyond it–involves a complete ethical discourse of personal sovereignty, including the concept that we should create our own destiny rather than relying on gods, oracles or accidents.

In Other Traditions

Be a lamp unto yourself. Be your own refuge. – Lord Buddha

Buddhism, in most of its varieties, encourages the development of the self as a fortress not too different from what we find in Lucretius. This is done mainly through meditation and mindfulness techniques.

Personal sovereignty is celebrated by the Satanic tradition. In Laveyan Satanism, it takes a form that is highly influenced by Ayn Rand’s doctrine of selfishness as virtuous, and I suspect the results of this are likely to be mixed or bad (as we saw in the unhappy life of Ayn Rand herself). Towards the end of his life, Anton LaVey was reportedly very paranoid. I do not think that the theatrics and ritualization of personal sovereignty are necessarily a bad idea, but I do think that this should not replace the ethical and philosophical processes of introspection and cultivation of character. We don’t need the appearance of health, but true health.

The other major tradition within Satanism is TST. In The Satanic Temple‘s Third Tenet, we find that personal sovereignty is related to the politics of bodily autonomy: “One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone“. The other tenets also serve TST’s purposes of political activism, and they make sense within our particular junction of history. This, again, has utility to help the goals of that particular organization, but does not help guide the self-care of the individual in a complete and fully coherent manner.

I believe that we should discuss and study Epicurean doctrines about autarchy more broadly. I believe they are extremely relevant moral guidance for today’s world and for all generations.

Further Reading:

 On Epicurean economics

Another Book Review of “How to Be an Epicurean”, this one written by a capitalist who is critical of Wilson’s anti-capitalism: Not Quite the Playboy Life A new book makes a spirited, if flawed, defense of Epicurean philosophy

A few thoughts about the role an ontology of motion and a performative new-materialism plays in my work as minister at the Cambridge Unitarian Church

Posted in Economics | Leave a comment

American Samoa Residents Are Declared US Citizens

American Samoa

American Samoa

A few political changes in the Pacific have taken place recently: the island of Bougainville voted for independence from Papua New Guinea, and the residents of the US territory of American Samoa either were declared to be US citizens, or appear to be on track to be declared US citizens. Up until now, they are the only US territory whose residents are US nationals, but not US citizens.

Everyone born in the states and DC is a US citizen as per the 14th amendment, and everyone born in the territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico is a US citizen by unilateral declaration of the US Congress–at least that has been the opinion help up until now. The decision by a court in Utah contradicts the currently held doctrine that residents of the other four territories are not US citizens by virtue of the 14th Amendment, that they are instead citizens by congressional mandate. It also reaffirms the claims of many Puerto Rican statehooders who have been arguing for years that, under unincorporated territorial status, people from the territories are constantly subjected to biased, discriminatory, and arbitrary judicial decisions and policies whose logic is difficult to ascertain or justify.

Congress has the power to grant citizenship to the people of the territories. Courts do not–as far as I know–have that power. For this reason, the decision claims thatThis court is not imposing citizenship by judicial fiat. The action is required by the mandate of the Fourteenth Amendment as construed and applied by Supreme Court precedent.”

The 14th Amendment of the US Constitution establishes birthright citizenship. KSL reported the news as if Samoan US citizenship was a done deal, AND invokes the 14th Amendment. The Utah court established (for the first time, as far as I’m aware) that the 14th Amendment applies to people born in the territories:

People born in American Samoa are U.S. citizens, a federal judge in Utah ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups’ declaration came in a 69-page decision in a lawsuit filed last year on behalf of three American Samoans in Utah. John Fitisemanu, Pale Tuli and Rosavita Tuli sued the government to be treated as U.S. citizens under the 14th Amendment.

Waddoups agreed, writing, “Any State Department policy that provides that the citizenship provisions of the Constitution do not apply to persons born in American Samoa violates the 14th Amendment.”

The judge barred the government from enforcing any rule that says the citizenship provisions of the Constitution do not apply to people born in American Samoa.

In recent months, there was an ISIS terrorist wives fiasco. Women who had escaped to Syria to marry and bear children from terrorists were trying to re-enter the US and the UK. We learned then that international law forbids the existence of stateless persons, which complicated the controversy. For that reason, it is interesting that this non-citizen-US.-national status has existed while the international community looked the other way for about 120 years, and at least one Mother Jones article called out the racism inherent in American Samoans’ citizenship status.

Residents of American Samoa have obviously not been citizens of the independent country of Samoa all these years, and they haven’t been citizens of the US. They have been merely “US Nationals” with no complete citizenship that is recognized internationally, since American Samoa is not a sovereign country. When given the opportunity to gain citizenship, elders of the very traditional island territory decided against becoming US citizens because US citizenship comes with certain constitutional guarantees, including the right to private property–and these clash with Samoan traditional society’s rules concerning collective land ownership by the clans and tribes.

If this decision is appealed (as is expected) and stands, it could be argued that American Samoa will have been given US citizenship against the consent of the governed, triggered in part by litigative activism by mainland Samoans.

However, to be frank, almost all the US territories were given citizenship with no regard for the consent of the governed.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Zozibini Tunzi: a Modern African Queen is Born

I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful. I think that it is time that that stops today. – Zozibini Tunzi

The winner of this year’s Miss Universe pageant is Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi, who looks like Egyptian royalty in this picture. I like how–true to her message that natural beauty is best and that Black women should love themselves–she wore her hair short with a small afro on top, and she still looks beautiful, elegant, and feminine in addition to being very eloquent. She did not attempt to straighten her hair, or to lengthen it.

As part of her work in the coming year as the new ambassador to the world on behalf of the women of her country and of women everywhere, she says she will continue to work as an activist to end violence against women.

South African society exhibits some of the worst violent crime statistics in the world. A high percentage of women have been raped at some point, and recent heinous crimes have caused increased activism by women demanding justice against rapists and killers. A World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2016 indicated South Africa had the fourth-highest violent female death rate out of the 183 countries.

What is bizarre about this is that nearby countries like Botswana and Namibia, which otherwise share a somewhat similar history and culture, are considerably much more functional. Namibia (just northwest of SA, and where the population also suffered during apartheid) is known to be one of the safest and friendliest countries in Africa, and Botswana (just north of it) is one of the least corrupt countries in the continent and has been undergoing considerable development as of lately. So why does a country that is surrounded by so many good news offer so many bad news?

I know that Tunzi is “only” a beauty queen, but together with the grassroots women’s activist movement, I think real change may happen, in part, as a result of her winning the crown and the increased attention and resources that will pour towards the causes she defends. Let’s not forget that Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Prize for her environmental work in Kenya and that today Nairobi is the greenest and cleanest city in all of Africa (followed closely by the elegant capital of Rwanda, which has recovered from genocide to become another model good-news country).

People tend to follow those who are great among them. Following Maathai, citizens of Kenya have planted millions of trees in their country and reduced deforestation considerably, reversing dangerous trends that are advancing elsewhere in places like Brasil. If one person can make a huge difference, then a legion of activists joining hands can certainly change the paradigm. South African women desperately needed some good news. All Hail Queen Tunzi!

Posted in culture | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Existentialism of Naked and Afraid

In recent weeks, I have been binge-watching episodes of the series Naked and Afraid. The premise of this reality show is two strangers–a man and a woman–are dropped off in the wilderness naked and must survive for 21 days. They must find, kill and cook their food, stay warm by making fire and cuddling, and deal with huge emotional and mental stress as part of the challenge. I know I arrived late to N&A fandom. I’m typically a fan of fantasy and science fiction, and this show was one I accidentally stumbled upon and could not stop watching.

Man survives by his wit. – Odin, in Havamal

Naked and Afraid is quite interesting from the philosophical perspective. Many aspects of the show remind me of Epicurean philosophy: the human need for someone to talk to, and the importance of the element of control over one’s circumstances stand out. Epicurus spoke about how nature does not give you a choice when it comes to the natural and necessary desires: in the show–which disrupts our accustomed sense of normal and places us back in the state of nature–the distinction between the different kinds of desires and their place within the priority hierarchy is seen in sharp focus.

Another aspect of our ethics that is also seen is how little we actually need to survive, and even thrive. Although at times the cast members are seen going through severe trials, once the key necessities are met there are also times when their conviviality, team work, and the victory of being able to secure a meal or a warm shelter, demonstrate that happiness is possible once the natural and necessary pleasures are secured.

The nakedness of participants is a metaphor for the inherent vulnerability of the human animal in his environment. We modern people go very far to try to forget this! Although the civilized state is not without its problems, the series is a case for the simple pleasures of civilization: the warmth and safety of a home, the presence of loved ones, the conveniences of a kitchen and a comfortable bed, or of a ready meal. These are all things we take for granted–until they’re missing and we must conjure them from our natural environment.

Below is a funny look at N&A by Ellen DeGeneres:


Posted in culture, existentialism, Review | Tagged , | Leave a comment