Category: Mirrors of the Mind

‘Teachers and self-educators now have at hand a congenial portal to challenging big thinkers’

Rob Neufeld’s review of Mirrors of the Mind appeared in Asheville Citizen-Times shortly before Ron’s book launch at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.
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The Malkovich Transformations

The protagonist in the 1999 fantasy film Being John Malkovich is Craig Schwartz, an out-of-work puppeteer. One day Craig discovers a hidden doorway behind some cabinets in an office building where he has landed a temporary job as a filing clerk. Intrigued, he crawls into what seems to be a damp tunnel. Suddenly the entry door slams shut behind him and Craig is hurtled through a space-time vortex that thrusts him into the mind of the film’s namesake, actor John Malkovich. Read more…

How does an expert in ‘creative retirement’… retire?

When Jorvik Press author Ron Manheimer retired in 2009 as founding director of the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, he thought he knew how to leap into the next chapter of life. <a title=”How does an expert in ‘creative retirement’… retire?” Read more…

How does an expert in
‘creative retirement’… retire?

When Jorvik Press author Ron Manheimer retired in 2009 as founding director of the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, he thought he knew how to leap into the next chapter of life.

Heading up this lifelong learning, leadership and community service program at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, he had led countless weekend workshops for hundreds of people considering their next chapters.

He formulated his approach as Ten Keys to a Creative Retirement. One of the keys, “adaptive reuse,” advised pre-retirees to reflect on how they might extend their accumulated talents, knowledge and interests, and project them into new yet related activities. Ron borrows the term from the field of architecture where it refers to restoring an old building to house new functions, like turning an empty warehouse into an art museum or an outdated fire station into a restaurant.

As an example, Ron points to a former banker with a love of classical music who became the treasurer of the non-profit board of a civic orchestra.

But instead of following his own best repurposing advice, Ron headed elsewhere. “For a truly creative retirement, I decided I should try to come up with activities that would be unprecedented for me,” he says.

Not much of a gym guy, he found a personal trainer, developed an exercise program, lost 25 pounds and took up hiking. Apprehensive about death, he became a hospice home visitor. A longtime grant seeker, he joined the board of a foundation that funds other people’s projects.

“I loved these new ventures but then I started running out of inspiration,” he says. “I still had lots of time on my hands and, though I was beginning to feel anxious, I didn’t want to fill up my time just to keep busy.”

Ron went back to his keys to a creative retirement and took another look at adaptive reuse. “I thought, how can I extend the things I’ve done for many years and make them fresh again?”

An author of several books and a raft of scholarly and popular articles, he came across a deferred book project. “Clearing out some old computer files, I discovered the chapters I had put aside. Work and family demands had halted any progress on the book several years earlier.

“But I felt the spark of intellectual excitement still alive in those pages. It was about how philosophers portray their own life experiences and realize their most noteworthy ideas.

“I loved tracing how thinkers who have had such an important impact on world history described their own life-changing experiences. What if I could put myself into the mind of a Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a Simone de Beauvoir, or someone I admired as both philosopher and social activist, Mahatma Gandhi? Where could that take me and take my readers? Maybe I could hitch my midlife transition to their self-transformation.”

Find out for yourself how the project turned out. Buy Mirrors of the Mind here, or order it from your favorite bookstore.

Ron Manheimer lives in Asheville, NC and is available to talk about his new book and the creative retirement process that led him to write it.

Mirrors of the Mind

Mirrors of the Mind

Imagine you could sit down and talk personally with the greatest philosophers of all time. Imagine having coffee with Augustine or Rousseau or Kierkegaard. Ever had a fantasy about chatting with Sartre and de Beauvoir in a Paris cafe? Well, read the chapters in Ronald Manheimer’s book and you will have the ‘feel’ of being in the presence of these and other thinkers. This is a one-of-kind book in which masterful scholarship is concealed behind a delightfully readable text. It can be recommended both to those with an academic grasp of philosophy and those coming to the great philosophers for the first time. The book is irresistible and not to be missed. — Harry R. Moody , Co-author, The Five Stages of the Soul

The field of philosophy is a formidable one, even for the well-educated. Its self-referential technical vocabulary and abstract discussions may seem remote from the issues and experiences of everyday life. Yet, in our own ways, each of us is a seeker of wisdom. We may wonder how our life experiences influence our ideas and values, and vice-versa. Can we find our place among the seminal figures of the great philosophical traditions, both east and west? Mirrors of the Mind aims to help bridge this gap.

Readers drawn to philosophy often find the standard histories and introductions distant from their personal lives. Many are more curious about how historically influential thinkers actually lived. Could there be a connection between the general truths that a school of philosophy asserts about the universally human and the particular flesh-and-blood truths of the philosopher’s life?

Delving into the newly identified genre of the philosophical autobiography, Dr. Ronald Manheimer’s Mirrors of the Mind takes both the neophyte and the initiated on a unique literary and philosophical journey through the works of important thinkers. This guided tour of the life of the mind covers self-reflective narratives ranging from fourth century Augustine’s Confessions to 20th century Simone de Beauvoir’s The Prime of Life.

Mirrors of the Mind looks into the private lives, made public in narratives by important thinkers who have changed the world or, at least, how we perceive it. The focus is not highbrow gossip or sordid revelations about a philosopher’s life, but rather a search for the creative embodiment of thinking and being – the architecture of the soul.

These first-person narratives serve as the loci in which philosophers’ lives and the ideas that have animated them are joined or paralleled. The philosophical autobiography is a literary space in which the thinker turns his or her analytical mind and the tools of the trade on his or her remembered past.

At its best, the philosophical autobiography helps us to see great minds as real people who wonder and suffer, analyze and romanticize, communicate both bliss and darkest despair. The accounts they give of their lives show that many of their most famous ideas occurred in moments of sudden illumination that would take them a lifetime to explicate. These works demonstrate that analytical judgment may go hand in hand with acts of imagination; that calm, cool, reason may intersect with an impulsive leap of faith.

Through such authors, the reader shares exemplary instances of a thinker’s emerging sense of purpose, engagement with the critical issues of his or her time, perceived threads of continuity through a life of change, and the search for integration of ideas and experiences. Getting to know philosophers through their life stories helps to dispel the impression that great thinkers lived only in their heads.

For readers who wish to explore the subject further, each chapter ends with suggested reflexive writing exercises and philosophical fieldwork.

Reviews

Mirrors of the Mind will teach. Students are drawn to philosophy because in order to live the life worth living – the examined life – the ideas of the great thinkers connect with their own. To explore the lives of these thinkers who have helped construct our intellectual world, using narrative, metaphor, whimsy and rigorous philosophical argument is a delightful way to invite students into the search for wisdom. Manheimer has crafted an original work, the result of decades of his own philosophical autobiography. — Katharine Meacham, professor of philosophy and religious studies

Mirrors of the Mind is an excellent introduction to philosophical autobiography and, in certain ways, to philosophy in general. Manheimer is like one of those masterful guides, who knows all the best spots – the twin gardens of Augustine, Rousseau’s country lane, and many more besides. First-time visitors to philosophy may find themselves wanting to stay, while locals will surely be surprised by the resources right under their noses. — David Hart, philosophy professor