Is there a reading group for The Matter With Things?

  • Is there a reading group for The Matter With Things?

    Posted by Andrew K on January 1, 2024 at 3:08 pm

    New to this site, has anyone organized a reading group, or have an interest in doing so, with a scheduled reading pace? I recently finished The Master, and am about to tackle the big one.

    Also, let me know, is it worth it to pay for this site? I paid for a month to check it out

    Emma B replied 4 months, 1 week ago 9 Members · 27 Replies
  • 27 Replies
  • James Willis

    Member
    January 1, 2024 at 6:56 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    The short answer is no. We are all at different stages and read at different rates. When I first joined – almost two years ago – I did so hoping to find fellow travellers sharing the experience of reading The Matter With Things, but it never happened. I found a lot of people here took aspects of the book which linked with their own work, and then went off in lots of different directions, and almost never employed the clarity of thought and language that so distinguishes McGilchrist’s material.

    What you rightly call the big one took me at least two months to read, making extensive notes as I went. The first book covers much pf the same ground as TMAHE, but in greater detail, and I found it a useful recap. From then on we were into new territory, working towards the final chapter, almost book-length in itself, which I found astonishingly new and important.

    As for whether I recommend membership of this group – I am a member, so that says something. There is a huge wealth of material here and the online events are good. Personally I have found the discussion forum element extremely disappointing. But that may be my own fault.

    These are not particularly powerful thoughts in reply to your questions, and I hope others will add much more useful things.

    Best wishes, and welcome aboard, James

  • Bob Eng

    Member
    January 1, 2024 at 7:51 pm

    Hi @Andy , I don’t have anything to offer on your question about the value of a paid membership, because each person’s perception of value differs. On your question about a reading group, as one who allocates too little time to reading, I’d hate to be a drag on such a group. If my participation could nonetheless be tolerated, I’d be interested. Thanks.

  • Whit Blauvelt

    Member
    January 1, 2024 at 8:30 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    On the one hand, Iain’s work is immensely valuable. On the other, these forums aren’t where that work is being done. There’s little to no discussion of ongoing discoveries and theories in neuroscience, which might well further advance McGilchrist’s theories. And on the cultural side, there’s largely a lack of understanding of the non-dualism Iain is a proponent of, and instead an embrace of the naive conclusion that the RH-as-good is struggling with the LH-as-evil.

    On nondualism, the just-out issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies on “The Legacy of Francisco Varela” has a great lead article, “At the Cradle of Things: The Act of Distinction and Francisco Varela’s Non-Dualist Thought,” by Sebastjan Voros, who includes a quote from The Master in clarifying the “not one, not two” non-dualist view which Varela adopted from Spencer-Brown, and which Iain in turn has focused on.

    What we perhaps need to learn to see here is that the very means by which the LH separates itself functionally is in its self-conceptual separation from the RH’s modes of mentality. It divides itself off. When we see people defending their egos in discussions here, that’s the mark of the divided-off further securing its separation. Even Freud, in The Ego and the Id, attributed ego to the LH, in its association (in his view) with language.

    It’s not that we should not embrace the analysis from the LH perspective of the mind as divided; it’s that if we then don’t also attain the perspective from which the mind is undivided, we have not found our own “mastery.” When we can see it both as divided, and as one, and alternate freely between those vantages … is that when we’ve really made progress on the path that McGilchrist has helped illuminate for us?

    Best,

    Whit

  • Anthony Bremner

    Member
    January 1, 2024 at 9:26 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    I was a member at the start of the year, cancelled and recently re-joined as the member’s Q&A is a chance to engage directly with Iain and his work.

    I haven’t noticed a huge discussion presence but that may well be a failure of settings in my behalf.

    I’m not sure a reading group per se would work (but if it does, great work!) but I would really like the chance to chat about certain chapters. I powered through the first volume and the first few chapters of the second but got stuck at the chapter on Time and never really got momentum back. Maybe you could start a discussion per chapter or something?

    • Andrew K

      Member
      January 1, 2024 at 11:04 pm

      Thanks, yeah maybe I’ll try to post as I read it. It would be a shame if the discussions are rarely used, it does make me wonder if it’s worth an ongoing expense, but we’ll see.

  • Christina Florkowski

    Member
    January 3, 2024 at 4:40 am

    @Andy, good questions! How would you see this reading group working? Do you have a proposal for the cadence and how participants would be invited to engage as we went along?

    My sense for this community forum is that it still is finding its way. The tool itself has some issues, but I can’t imagine that McGilchrist and his team has time to invest in that. This feels like an experiment – and so I am here in that spirit.

    A question that appears for me right now in this thread: am I a consumer in this forum or a member of a community?

    thanks for the question,

    ~Christina

  • Zak Safra

    Member
    January 3, 2024 at 6:56 am

    Hi @Andy and everyone

    I think if there were a reading group I would want to join it.

    Another option would be that we open a discussion for each chapter of the book. That way if people want to add comments at their own momentum without any obligation — they can.

    All the best to everyone and happy new year

    Zak

    • Andrew K

      Member
      January 3, 2024 at 2:11 pm

      If there was enough interest, I might try to start it, but with only a few people it’s bound to die out. There probably isn’t too much to discuss in the first section of TMWT going over the neuroscience, which I’ve started, I imagine there’s a lot of talk about it in the later sections.

      • Anthony Bremner

        Member
        January 3, 2024 at 8:44 pm

        Maybe I’ll start a discussion on the chapter on Time and see if anyone engages? I can start a new discussion page/forum whatever for chapters of the book and people can populate chapters as they come up?

  • Manuela van der Glas

    Member
    January 3, 2024 at 9:07 pm

    channel mcg offers a zoom platform on which we could meet online. Would anyone like to pick a day / time, i.e. every 2nd Thursday of a month / 8 pm BST for 60-90 min? organise the zoom link and distribute it here, so that we could have conversations? what do you guys think? with kindness, manuela

    • Andrew K

      Member
      January 4, 2024 at 1:51 am

      I’d be interested, although it might be hard to coordinate, especially on weekdays. I’m in EST, which would put me at 2pm.

      • Manuela van der Glas

        Member
        January 4, 2024 at 8:59 pm

        Thank you Andrew, which day/time would work better for the EST time zone? I am happy to organise a get together.

        • Andrew K

          Member
          January 5, 2024 at 8:10 pm

          Just an idea, but maybe Sunday around 10am EST (4pm BST)

          One thought I had, was to do a book club of something other than McGilchrist’s book, one of his recommendations, or something else that would be relevant.

          • Bob Eng

            Member
            January 5, 2024 at 10:00 pm

            I’d suggest keeping it simple to start.

            Book: The Matter with Things

            Meeting frequency: Once a month

            Reading pace: 1 chapter a month

            I’m in the US and alternate between Eastern Time and Pacific Time, and I’m better on weekdays than weekends. So selfishly, I’d vote for something like:

            a Friday at 17:00 GMT/12:00 EST/9:00 PST

            Again, just to get things going if there’s interest.

            By the way, I also have a Zoom account in case that becomes an issue. Thanks.

            • Andrew K

              Member
              January 6, 2024 at 12:26 am

              I wouldn’t be able to make it, but don’t let me stop you. I don’t think the first part of the book, with the survey of the neuroscience, is very conducive to discussion anyway.

            • Christina Florkowski

              Member
              January 8, 2024 at 6:50 am

              Thank you for the suggestion, Bob. While there might be specific meeting here or there that I could not attend, this general plan would work for me.

  • Manuela van der Glas

    Member
    January 8, 2024 at 4:38 pm

    @Andy @anthony-bremnergmail-com @bobeng @zaks @chrys

    I try to respond to all of you in one go and hope it will work.

    I just came back from up north and need to get an overview first. From what I could see though, there are two wishes in regard to when to meet:

    Sunday at 10am EST / 4pm BST / 5 pm CET

    Friday at 12:00 EST / 17:00 GMT/ 9:00 PST / 18:00 CET


    I am going to check my agenda and will set up zoom links for both days/times so that anyone who is interested can meet and I will post the links here this Wednesday evening CET.

    I wish you all a good day and look forward to meeting you all.

    With kindness,

    Manuela

  • Anthony Bremner

    Member
    January 10, 2024 at 3:41 am

    Hey team – I’m in Australia so those times wouldn’t work for me (it’s like 0200 and 0400) but I don’t think it would be easy to find ones that did. So don’t worry about it! I’ll just have to try and generate a discussion on here.

    • Manuela van der Glas

      Member
      January 10, 2024 at 9:53 am

      G’day Anthony, thank you for letting us know. Would you like to share the days/times that suit you? (this way we can coordinate accordingly). With kindness, Manuela

      • Anthony Bremner

        Member
        January 12, 2024 at 7:53 am

        Hi Manuela! Thank you for asking,

        I’ll try and come to the 11am CET one! Very kind of you 🙂

      • Emma B

        Member
        February 6, 2024 at 1:42 am

        Australia here too!

        I am awaiting the audiobook for TMWT which will be an absolute treat to listen to whilst on walks!

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