A gathering of unlearning and reimagining
The gathering in 2023 (29th June to 2nd July) will focus on Unlearning and Reimagining Difference. As we’ve been preparing, William Blake’s thought has come to mind: “Without contraries is no progression”. Or to put it another way, whilst differences prompt us to reconsider the past, and question how we perceive the present, they might also aid us with imagining a different future, one simply not possibly without the struggles of today.
We will come together with insightful speakers, brilliant workshops, music, improvisation and the loveliness of the place itself, to ask not only how difference is playing out in today’s world but how difference might become an asset or wellspring from which to find paths into an expansive, beautiful future.
Alongside more formal conversations, the programme includes time to enjoy workshops and other activities, as well as the parkland around St Giles House. The aim is to have the chance to engage with unsettling difficulties and tremendous possibilities at the level of mind, body and spirit. Through talks, walks, movement, food, workshops and meditative space, the Realisation gathering aims to create an experience that is intellectually, physically and spiritually nourishing, to drive change and foster understanding.
Each participant will be invited to belong to a small group, for sharing of experiences and development of connections. If you feel the pressure and the potential of being alive now and seek an opportunity to take a step back with others of soul and energy, do consider joining us.
And if you have any questions about any aspect of the gathering please contact us.
Dr Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist, neuroscience researcher, philosopher and literary scholar. He is a Quondam Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, an Associate Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford, a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and former Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director at the Bethlem Royal & Maudsley Hospital, London. He has been a Research Fellow in neuroimaging at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore and a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Stellenbosch. He has published original articles and research papers in a wide range of publications on topics in literature, philosophy, medicine and psychiatry. He is the author of a number of books, but is best-known for The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (Yale 2009), In November 2021 his two-volume work The Matter with Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World was published by Perspectiva Press.
Xiaolu Guo is a Chinese British novelist, essayist and filmmaker. Her novels include A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, and I Am China. Her memoir Once Upon A Time In The East won the National Book Critics Circle Award 2017 and shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize and Costa Award. Her most recent novel is A Lover’s Discourse, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2020 and longlisted for Orwell Prize. Named as a Granta’s Best of Young British Novelist in 2013, she also directed a dozen films, including How Is Your Fish Today (Sundance) and UFO In Her Eyes (TIFF). Her feature She, A Chinese received the Golden Leopard Award at the Locarno Festival 2009. She had her film retrospectives at London’s Whitechapel Gallery 2019 and Cinematheque Switzerland 2011. She was a visiting professor at Columbia University and Baruch College in New York. She divides her time between London and Berlin.
Rory Stewart has been an academic, writer, adventurer, politician and diplomat. After a brief time in the Army and the diplomatic service, he walked 6000 miles on a 21 month trek across Asia, was the acting governor of a province in Iraq , established an NGO in Afghanistan and was appointed a Professor at Harvard, and wrote a number of books before entering Parliament. He served as a minister in a number of departments and was a cabinet minister before his bid to be Prime-Minister. He is now President of the non-profit GiveDirectly.
His walk across Afghanistan shortly after the US invasion is described in his award-winning New York Times bestseller, The Places In Between. His books have sold more than 600,000 copies worldwide and have been translated into 13 languages. He has made a number of documentaries and he also co-presents (with Alastair Campbell) the UK’s leading political podcast ‘The Rest is Politics’.
Linda Woodhead MBE FBA is F.D. Maurice Chair in Moral and Social Theology and Head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London. She researches religion, spirituality, and values in post-Christian societies. Her most recent books are That Was the Church That Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People (with Andrew Brown, 2016), Gen Z, Explained (with Katz, Ogilvie, Shaw 2021) and Unknowing God: Towards a Post-Abusive Theology (with Peter Harvey, 2022). She is currently researching the way that ‘values’ have become a new religion.
What are the
of our times
asking of us?
Participants are asked to come with their disquiets, convictions and skills, to collaborate in an exploration of broad questions such as Who are “we”? What marks our times? How do we resource society, soul and politics for social transformation? How do we live with soul in a troubled society? How can a space like St Giles can help us think about 21st-century challenges such as climate emergency, racial division and gender inequality, social technologies and surveillance capitalism?
We will explore how to foster a holistic social conversation that evokes qualities of heart, mind and spirit that are non-ordinary, that take us beyond our habit energies and out of ourselves to look afresh at the crises we face.
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