Power, Music, Art, And Asking Questions
What better way to get to know Today’s Woman than through her Current Obsessions? This month we meet a woman who thinks deeply, has a penchant for bongos, and whose teenage goal was to be a beatnik. Can you dig it?
What prompts someone to study philosophy? This is how Leigh Viner, assistant professor of philosophy at Indiana University Southeast, explains the discipline’s allure:
“I was attracted to philosophy’s intensity of curiosity. It is unbridled. Philosophers think about everything. That’s just my personality. I was drawn to philosophy because of the questions that I asked myself — What is the meaning of life? How does one live a good life? Is there a God? What is the nature of reality? What is death? What is my place in the world? Even as a child I thought about these questions.”
Her Current Obsessions:
Lately I’ve been obsessed with understanding the nature of power so I’ve been reading Foucault, Beauvoir, and Nietzsche. They are all good writers and good storytellers. I’m curious as to how power operates. There are different kinds of power — self-mastery, power over someone, the capacity to do things. But, it is not just about controlling or mastering other people. Often power is hidden but significant.
As a teenager I was obsessed with the beatniks. In my own mind I was one. I wore a beret and my parents got me a set of bongos, which I still play. I also have a full drum kit. I love the drums because playing them uses your whole body in a way that other instruments don’t. I love making the rhythms and the repetition. I currently play with the band Bird Dog & His Coyote Gospel Choir. I play a kind of funky jazz flute.
In the last few years as I have traveled I have made it a point to visit art museums. I taught the philosophy of art, which is one of my favorite classes to teach. I love art in every form — visual, performance, poetry, film. Art is a refuge for recharging my soul. Art adds beauty, and I love experiencing other people’s art. I am not a visual artist, but I do take photographs, and I am a situationist artist who creates experiences or shifts the nature of the artistic experience in ordinary life. I recently taught a class on philosophy at the Louisville Free Public Library and crafted it as an interactive performance. I wove in visual images and drew responses from the audience. Even my music has an improvisational aspect, weaving in a new thing and enjoying the value.
Three of my favorite Louisville restaurants are Dragon King’s Daughter on Bardstown Road, Vietnam Kitchen in the South End, and Dakshin in Fern Creek. Dakshin is an Indian restaurant in a little strip mall, and they serve cuisine from lots of different regions. Two of my favorites are vegetable korma and saag paneer, which is a spinach and cheese dish.
I turned a bedroom in my house into a movie room. I have an orange mid-century sectional, a mounted projector, a screen, and sound system. It has a good vibe. I recently subscribed to the Criterion Channel streaming service. I love that because not only can I watch the movie, I can go deeper into learning what went into making this movie. The interviews with the directors and the actors give me a different level of appreciation for the artists. Criterion features movies by European directors, art-house, independent, British, and American cult films.