this too
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
  The Oxford Muse
I came upon The Oxford Muse ( ) a few months ago, just at the time I was starting to read blogs and fast getting hooked. It appealed to me for some of the same reasons.

I’d read and loved a wonderful, chaotic book called An Intimate History of Humanity, by the project’s founder, Oxford Professor Theodore Zeldin – a “history of human feelings, habits, emotions and perceptions” which alternates historical essays with illustrative contemporary personal accounts of each emotion discussed ( )

The book appealed to my curiosity (or you could call it voyeurism) about people’s intimate lives and how they talk about them. You could call it voyeurism when reading a book - sometimes even when reading a blog. But the Oxford Muse is all about exchange, initiating conversations, challenging the superficiality of much social contact.

They ask people to write their self-portraits, or create them in discussion with Muse facilitators. Questions are provided (but answering these is optional) to provoke reflection and self-revelation. The results are interesting. Some of these portraits are on the website, and a book is in press.

Other activities include ‘conversation dinners’, where strangers or people who’ve previously known one another only in a restricted context are placed at tables for two and given a ‘menu’ of personal questions to discuss. A recent participant said he learned more about a colleague over this dinner than during 20 years working in the same office.

There’s an e-group with world-wide membership which, at its best, creates a real feeling of connection and of people sparking off each other’s thoughts and emotions.

Zeldin’s recent radio appearances have been arousing interest. He’s on the BBC World Service this week – listen here at any time until Monday 7 February:
Wow, thanks for the link... I've only had time so far to glance at it but I'll be going back. Looks fascinating; engaging too...
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Freelance copy-editor and translator. Keen on language, literature, photography, art, music, buddhist meditation and the countryside.

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