Insights from beyond technology
Greatest generation still has a lot to offer modern thought
Wanaka-based author Kenneth Bragan is 86, and describes himself as ‘‘the voice of an old man’’.
Mr Bragan will lend his voice to the upcoming inspirational speaking event, TEDxWanaka, next Saturday.
As a concept, ‘‘TED’’, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, originated in the United States 30 years ago, attracting speakers such as Bill Gates, Jane Goodall and Sir Richard Branson .
A non- profit organisation, it provides a platform for the human need to learn and teach, where guest speakers are given 18 minutes to share their ideas and experience with the audience.
A Wanaka resident for 20 years, Mr Bragan has written five books, including Do Not Go Gentle, which deals with getting the best out of old age, and it’s on this subject that he will speak at the event, fitting in with theme, ‘‘change makers’’.
Also a retired psychiatrist who studied medicine at Edinburgh University, he grew up during the depression in a small coal-mining town in the north of England near Newcastle, and emigrated to New Zealand in 1965.
Mr Bragan is concerned about the impact of technology on psychology, and how it can put life ‘‘on a very superficial level’’.
‘‘People like me who were born in the 1920s and 30s were the last generation to experience life before the advent of technology; We’re the only generation left not born into it, therefore we have something to say.’’
By no means a luddite, he believes ‘‘life is too much on the go, with not enough time for reflection’’.
What he’s reflecting on these days is the link between psychiatry and literature.
When he first immigrated to New Zealand, and after completing a specialist qualification in psychiatry, he worked at the Seacliffe asylum near Dunedin, where Janet Frame had been a patient.
It was through a study of her life, illness and work that he began to focus on how writing could serve as a recovery tool, a way out of grief and of madness.
‘‘As a psychiatrist I do understand how writing can be a way to keep the dark side quiet.’’
He has been studying other female authors, whose brilliance was also ‘‘steeped in mental illness’’. It’s a subject dear to his heart, and he thinks there may still be another book in him.
‘‘I think I’ll go back and give it another go,’’ he said.
The view from his room: Wanaka author and retired psychiatrist Kenneth Bragan will be speaking at the TEDxWanaka event next Saturday.