‘It looked like a Life Saver. It looked like a Life Saver up in the sky.’

giphy
via giphy

Annie Dillard first published her essay ‘Total Eclipse’ in 1982. It’s since been republished The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New. Below are a couple of my favorite snippets. Read the entire essay on The Atlantic.

On seeing the total solar eclipse, also known as the path of totality

If you think very fast, you may have time to think, “Soon it will hit my brain.” You can feel the deadness race up your arm; you can feel the appalling, inhuman speed of your own blood. We saw the wall of shadow coming, and screamed before it hit.

On seeing a partial eclipse:

I had seen a partial eclipse in 1970. A partial eclipse is very interesting. It bears almost no relation to a total eclipse. Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane.

Are you excited to see the moon lurch between the sun and the Earth?

Support my blog

Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

$3.00

Advertisements

How about them apples?


They’re always there, surrounded by the good-looking ones. But we can’t always spot them.

Rotten apples wind up in our shopping cart not because we didn’t eyeball them but because we assume they’re just as fresh as the rest of them. Probability is in our favor.

Grocery shopping is a picker’s chance. But it is not worth scrutinizing every choice; most apples are good. Suspicion is not worth clinging onto in an unlikely game of chance.

Humans vote with expectation. The chorus of decision-making is already loud enough.

Developing a clear and focused mind

giphy (23)
via giphy

If we don’t pay attention — keep our eyes on the donut rather than the donut hole — we’ll lose the plot. Said the stoic Marcus Aurelius in his journal Meditations:

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”

If we don’t stop and smell the flowers, our mind will follow the latest obsessive thought or get stuck in the ludic loop of Twitter or Instagram.

In such an environment that values speed over infinite improvement, we need to force ourselves to pause, to step outsides ourselves and to detach from the closeness of our own world in order to cultivate a more objective narrative.

Read The journal of Marcus Aurelius is essential reading if you want a clear and focused mind

What’s your favorite number? Autistic author Naoki Higashida provides a beautiful answer

via

In an interview with Time Magazine, Japanese author Naoki Higashida reveals his favorite number. His answer is both complex and beautiful:

I’ve never really thought about my favorite, but if pushed, my answer would be 3. The number 1 is the most important. It feels like proof that something is there. Then again, zero is the most amazing discovery. The concept of nothingness is proof of human civilization. After 1 comes 2 in order of importance. The number 2 lets us divide things and put numbers in order. These three numbers (0, 1 and 2) would have been sufficient. As a number, 3 is enchanting. It was created even though it wasn’t needed. Perhaps it was born out of creativity?

Digits transcend each other. Like words, each one fits into the fabric of a larger numerical system.

People often recite the number 108 as the most beautiful number because it’s “simultaneously One, emptiness, and infinite.

The whole is a sum of its parts. What’s your favorite number?

 

Newsletter: Sometimes thinking is a bad idea

giphy (21).gif
gif via US National Archives

Below are your interesting reads in creativity, culture, and tech from this week. Listen to the new track ‘Endless’ from Mercury Prize-nominated Portico Quartet after the jump.

web gems

  1. “There are many different ways of getting from London to Paris, but as long as you get to Paris, that’s all that counts.” After running more than 2,300 auctions, Christie’s international director of auctioneering Hugh Edmeades explains What it feels like to conduct an auction.
  2. We are at our best when we’re relaxed and instinctive, free from the chaos of the monkey mind. Sometimes thinking is a bad idea.
  3. “I don’t just shoot willy-nilly, I wait for something to happen.” RIP Detroit street photographer Bill Rauhauser.
  4. Think of social networks as unique places, just as the bar and the coffee shop each contains its own set of memes and culture. In the Land of Internet Subcultures, Try Not to Look Like a Tourist
  5. Can a penguin go insane? Werner Herzog demonstrates the Nihilist Penguin.


Thought of the week

“We build our computer (systems) the way we build our cities: over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.”

— Ellen Ullman

New track on loop

Portico Quartet – Endless

Digging in the crates

The Defenders – Our Rights

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Wells Baum (@bombtune)

Support my blog

Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

$3.00

Flashes of intuition

michael-henry-284456.jpg
Photo by Michael Henry

When we drop a coin in the dark, our first instinct is to look for the nearest light (street lamp of phone flashlight) to find it.

We are victims of ignoring the obvious, yet we remain curious about what hides in the night. The problem is that we quickly search for artificial illumination to solve it.

But the initial frustration provides enough luminosity. The coin is often just below our feet; often times, we’re standing on it. It is not lost.

All we had to do was use our senses to look around first.

 

 

This is the place 

Photo by Lin Zhizhao

Social networks are unique places. They are no different than hangout spots; the bar and the coffee shop each contains its own set of memes and culture. However, using the same language from one into the other could make you look like a tourist.

“One user’s home platform is another’s foreign land. A point made by a subculture at home on Facebook might look funny to another on Twitter, which can read as evidence of a conspiracy to yet another on YouTube, which might be seen as offensive on Tumblr, which could be a joke on Reddit.”

Knowing the ins and outs of each channel comes with frequent use. And while most sharing is trial and error — virality is mostly luck — replicating content between environments is a bound to fall flat. Posting a witty tweet makes no sense in the feed of a Facebook friend who’s looking for something with sticky emotional value.

The old adage rings true: the medium is the message.

Good social media contributors are tweakers. They tailor a message to each network to maximize engagement, down to the file type. They may upload an image to Instagram but a similar video version to Facebook and Twitter, and a GIF for Reddit.

Social media is still the Wild West. You must pick and choose an audience carefully or risk being misunderstood, which happens to most people anyway, even on their own turf.

All roads lead to Rome

giphy (19)
via giphy

No one situation, sale, or journey is ever the same; there are too many variables at play.

As Christie’s international director of auctioneering Hugh Edmeades puts it: “There are many different ways of getting from London to Paris, but as long as you get to Paris, that’s all that counts.”

The only consistent navigation seems to be people’s adopted values and principles, gathered from their knowledge and experience. While context is a compass, it is amenable to change.

All roads lead to Rome, including the ones that don’t exist yet.

Kurt Vonnegut: ‘Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God.’

Kurt Vonnegut: 'Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God.'

“Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God. It is so extraordinarily full of magic, and in tough times of my life I can listen to music and it makes such a difference.”

Kurt Vonnegut

You can hear Kurt Vonnegut repeat this quote in the beginning of 1 Giant Leap track ‘Daphne’ below. You might feel a slight prickle the skin.

How to unthink

via giphy

Knowledge can be a hindrance. The more we know, the more likely we’re to hesitate in times of execution.

So the overthinking basketball player misses a wide open layup, the tennis player misses an easy return, or the painter or writer can’t seem to get their inspiration to convert on a blank canvas.

Stalling is a symptom of facing the resistance. When we try too hard to be perfect, we may do nothing at all.

So how can we stem the tide of excess contemplation?

One of the ways to think less author Flann O’Brien once said was to act “calculatedly stupid” and to enjoy what we’re doing. As Vincent Van Gogh put it: “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile.”


We are at our best when we’re relaxed and instinctive, free from the chaos of the monkey mind.

Unthinking is the ability to apply years of learning at the crucial moment by removing your thinking self from the equation. Its power is not confined to sport: actors and musicians know about it too, and are apt to say that their best work happens in a kind of trance.

So do the work and let go, let God. Let inspiration be free-floating perspiration.

Read Non cogito, ergo sum

Support my blog

Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

$3.00