No coffee dates
International relations scholar Megan MacKenzie became interested in feminist IR after her professor suggested they drop the women in international relations lecture during the semester. Abstract painter Marisa Purcell says she has reached a point where she doesn't really care what people think about what she does. Philosopher Joanne Faulkner argues that if she doesn't do what she's doing, who will?
The "Hammer and Polish: the craft of ideas" panel at Belvoir Street Theatre threw up a range of pathways to get thinking. Megan told the audience of around 50 on a wintry Sydney evening that she comes up with ideas by daydreaming at conferences. She also gets inspired when she hears an answer to a problem she doesn't quite believe. And while Megan prefers to write in silence, Marisa says she draws a lot of inspiration from music and listening to podcasts.
And even though the German parliament in the first century used alcohol in their decision making, this group didn't. Instead, they found space for reflection in meditation and yoga classes. Marisa also avoided coffee dates so she could stay focused on her painting.
To get "thinking", I talked about the concept of analogies and their role in creating ideas. Joanne talked about thought experiments, including the Pleasure Machine, proposed by philosopher Robert Nozick. In the experiment, a person ponders whether they would be permanently attached to a machine which brings pleasure all the time. Would we prefer the machine to real life?
While the three speakers came from very diverse backgrounds in terms of their work, the common thread was an idealism about what they did. They were very committed to what they did — so much so that Megan, who describes herself as "logical" has pinned a ten year goal to her bulletin board at work. Faulkner describes her ideas as her "baby" and that she simply had to do the work.