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?
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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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.