living a meaningful life
Founding faculty member of The School of Life Melbourne
The Melbourne Review, April, 2014
By Wendy Cavenett
Damon Young’s garden, where the bees currently swarm and delicate white flowers bloom and decay, offers a retreat or a reminder of life’s precarious state – the cycle of life and death that he is acutely aware of. Born 10 weeks premature, Young’s parents didn’t know if he would live or die. For many weeks, he was kept alive by a series of tubes in his side (he still has the scars there), and it was only when he started “ripping them out”, that the doctors told his parents that he would survive.
Fast-forward almost 39 years, and Young’s fascination with mortality and its relationship to living a meaningful life – or “the good life” as he often says throughout our conversation – underpins much of his writings. As one of Australia’s most prolific public philosophers, Young, who is an Honorary Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, published his first non-fiction book, Distraction: A Philosopher’s Guide to Being Free (MUP) in 2008. In it, readers were introduced to his achingly honest ruminations about the scarcity of attention in the contemporary world. It struck a chord with many individuals struggling to remain focused on what was worthwhile in their lives. Through technology, art, politics and relationships, Young investigates what each will “cultivate in us, and, in turn, what will develop our freedom [from distraction], and our capacity to be masters of our own lives”.
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