Over the summer, I submitted a reworked version of my PACT conference paper to a fairly well-respected journal in the fields of philosophy, phenomenology, and cognitive science. When I received the paper’s rejection letter, I wasn’t too surprised, nor was I too discouraged by the news. I knew going into the submission process that the journal has a pretty high rejection rate, and that it’s a bit above my current pay grade as graduate student. Still, I found the comments that I received from both reviewers to be quite helpful and generous, and I’ll be working on updating the paper in the coming months to take advantage of that helpful feedback. Right now my attention is focused on preparing for an upcoming comprehensive exam on the work of Pierre Hadot, and it’ll be some time before I can return to this paper and its future iterations. So, for now, I’m sharing the paper below, and I’m uploading a pdf here.
A talk I gave recently at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA.
I’ll be speaking at the meeting of the Pacific Association for the Continental Tradition (PACT) this Friday at the University of San Francisco. The full program is available here. My schedule has been unreasonably busy as of late, but I’ll try and report back on the overall feel of the conference. It looks like it will be a good one. For those interested, I’m copying the intro for my talk below. Readers will no doubt recognize the themes as they’re similar to what I’ve been writing about here in the past few months.
Readers, I’m sharing above the flyer for our call for contributors to the Fall 2017 essay series of the Side View. You can also download a pdf HERE. Feel free to share widely with your networks.
I’ll be posting a few more updates here as we get closer to the launch of the Side View website, but I promise not to inundate Knowledge Ecology readers with this news forever!
Thanks for helping me spread the word!
“Attention is an art form. We explore how people shape their minds to become expert perceivers and doers.”
I’ve been working on a new project as of late. I’m calling it the Side View. It’s a media organization (podcasts, essays, interviews, books, events, that sort of thing). The basic premise—to study the skills of perception in action—is one that grows out of the work I’ve been posting about here for the past several months, but it’s much more than that. It’s a whole media environment.
The official launch is several weeks off yet. I’m aiming for Fall 2017. However, the major components of the website are already in place and I’ve been working with a graphic designer on logo and branding elements. I also have a sound engineer helping me set up and use the recording equipment for podcasts, and I already have several contributors ready to go. Things are shaping up.
The Side View will be larger than a blog or a podcast. I’ve been running my own editing business for a few years now, so I’m well-placed to produce quality books (electronic and hard copy) and other media materials. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which means there’s plenty of opportunities to throw live events related to the Side View themes. Stay tuned for more info on that.
All of this is to say that moving forward I’ll be scouting for contributors who are looking for a venue for their work—for short written pieces, art pieces, training or teaching programs, podcast contributions, and things I haven’t thought of yet. Trained and expert modes of perception, along with the practices that deliver them, are the uniting theme, and as people will see this broadly includes the insights of philosophers, athletes, meditators, artists, crafts and tradespeople, musicians, designers, engineers, psychologists, and more.
I’m pasting in below the general description of the project. Feel free to share it widely with folks you know who may be interested. If you have an idea for an essay or a podcast episode drop me a quick line at arobbert84(at)gmail(dot)com. I can respond there with more details about the style guide, appropriate length, publishing schedule, and so on. I can also share with you the website URL, so that you can see how our work will be presented.
Finally, I just launched two social media channels for the Side View, on Twitter (@TheSideViewCo) and Instagram (also @TheSideViewCo). While the official launch is still weeks off, you can follow these accounts for updates leading up to our first podcasts and publications. I’ll be doing a more sustained push for followers and so on then.
Please get in touch if you’re interested in collaborating! Details below.
The Side View
What We Do
The Side View explores how people shape their minds to become expert perceivers and doers. We see attention as an art form, as a craft or skill of the whole person.
The Side View media environment features a blog, a podcast, a journal, a book series, and live events. Follow along with us, and explore your own conversions in perception.
The Side View focuses on the transformations experts undergo to see the world in new ways. We describe how experts learn to make the implicit explicit in their work.
Who We Are
The Side View features a rotating cast of philosophers, athletes, artists, designers, meditators, scientists, and engineers based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Side View is about the knowledge and intuition we use to navigate the world. It’s about how we come to be expert perceivers and doers, people who know, in the moment, the right details to attend to and the right responsive action to take. In this sense, the Side View is about how the mind meets the world. But it’s also about how the mind, when properly trained, modifies the possibilities of the world it comes to perceive.
Today it’s common knowledge that the world shows up differently to different people. The details we notice and find important vary based on our backgrounds, beliefs, and expectations. So what, then, does the world of the expert look like? How, for example, does the designer see space? How does the artist see color and shape? How does the meditator see inner states? How does the athlete see movement?
These and more are the questions the Side View explores. The central idea is that perception of whatever kind is never given without effort. Perception on this view is rather a hard-won achievement, a result of diligent exercise aimed towards a goal; it is itself a kind of practice, a work of attention trained up through effort and repetition. From this perspective, the expert lives in a different world of possibility, operating with a level of detail and discernment gained only through years of training.
Take the expert rock climber as an example. When they look at a rock face before making their climb, the details and contours that show up for them are not the same ones that present themselves to the beginner. In other words, the same rock face shows up in different ways depending on the abilities of the climber. New possibilities for ascent become possible as the climber trains up their perception. The same can be said of the painter, the psychologist, and the carpenter—all have heightened levels of perceptual ability, cultivated through practice, experience, and learning.
To explore these ideas, the Side View draws from philosophy, science, meditation, athletics, art, and more to discover how people understand, and then transform, their worlds. It connects these disciplines through the idea of practice, emphasizing the skills that lead people to become masters of their art in the first place. The ancient Greeks used the word askēsis, meaning exercise or training, to describe this process of personal and collective transformation. The Side View uses this concept to explore the experience and training required to produce great thinkers, creators, and doers in any craft.