Newsletter: ‘I have forgotten how to read’ 📖

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Below are some links worth reading this week along with some art and podcasts recommendations after the jump.

Interesting Reads

I have forgotten how to read. Reading online is much harder than reading a book, not only because of the multitude of distractions (text messages, notifications etc) but also because of the tendency to share for immediate gratification. Writes author and journalist Michael Harris: “Online life makes me into a different kind of reader – a cynical one. I scrounge, now, for the useful fact; I zero in on the shareable link. My attention – and thus my experience – fractures. Online reading is about clicks, and comments, and points. When I take that mindset and try to apply it to a beaten-up paperback, my mind bucks.”

How to Manage Stress Like an Olympic Biathlete. The mental game is just as important as the physical one. Focusing on process rather than pursuit may give you a better chance at achieving victory. Says Olympic biathlete Clare Egan: “‘If I hit this, I’ll win the gold medal’ — as soon as you have that thought, you’re definitely going to miss it. That extra push or desire to win is not only not helpful, it’s counterproductive. You have to eliminate that from your mind and focus on the task.”

The Case for Self-Promotion. When it comes to sharing your work, what’s the right balance between pompousness and modesty? Columnist Courtney Marting explains the paradox for On Being: “It’s a total catch-22: if you don’t self-promote, you won’t be known to those who hold the keys to whatever kingdom you’re interested in unlocking. If you do self-promote, you might catch the gatekeepers’ attention, but pray they don’t read your self-promotion as needy or navel-gazing.”

An effortless way to improve your memory. Want to remember more of what you read? Give your brain a 10-15 minute rest. No phones, no distractions, just pure boredom, a quiet room and dimmed lights. “Baguley and Horner both agree that scheduling regular periods of rest, without distraction, could help us all hold onto new material a little more firmly.”

Thought of the week

“To be or not to be. That’s not really a question.”

— Jean-Luc Godard


Other Recommendations

Art

Kasamatsu Shiro (1898 – 1991)

(via @Oniropolis)

Books

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The World As I See It by Albert Einstein: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”

Podcasts

“We were born here,” Frederick Douglas said in response to those like Abraham Lincoln who wanted free slaves to settle outside America, “and here we will remain.”

Listen to Frederick Douglass on In Our Time

 

If you found any of the above useful or interesting, I’d appreciate it if you shared with your friends. Thanks for reading.

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Einstein: The World As I See It

c8nIHtU00MvV35U2Q“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”

— Albert Einstein, The World As I See It (1934)

An Olympian’s guide to managing stress

When you aim for the donut hole, you’ll certainly miss it. The obsession with victory backfires. Says Olympic biathlete Clare Egan on hitting the last of five targets:

“‘If I hit this, I’ll win the gold medal’ — as soon as you have that thought, you’re definitely going to miss it. That extra push or desire to win is not only not helpful, it’s counterproductive. You have to eliminate that from your mind and focus on the task.”

When you compete against others, you also impede your ability to get the job done. Says Egan:

“I think such a big part of this is focusing on what you are doing. You have to let go of how everyone else is doing, and focus on your own work.”

The lizard brain wants you to compete out of fear. The monkey mind wants to you to assay your inner monologue. Ambition trips you up.

The mental game is just as important as the physical one. Focusing on process rather than pursuit may give you a better chance at achieving victory.

Read How to Manage Stress Like an Olympic Biathlete

Human rationality and craziness

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The most successful people are both rational and crazy.

As much as robots and artificial intelligence threaten our creativity, there will be some people who cultivate the randomness of thought to continue innovating.

Wrote Jean-Luc Godard: “It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.”

See the world, not its model

Patterns beg to be synthesized, broken down and encrusted with ingenuity to make something new.

Humans envision the future and work backward, mostly through the freedom of trial and error. They see holes and fill them in with new opportunities.

Folks may never know where they are going, but that is exactly how they get there.

Have you forgotten how to read?

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Online reading is different than experience than reading a book.

For one, the digital experience is stickier because of its dopamine-hitting bells and whistles. We are constantly shifting between articles, apps, and text messages, hijacked by the latest gaze of entertainment. It’s the equivalent of flipping TV channels.

Writes Canadian author and journalist Michael Harris:

“Online life makes me into a different kind of reader – a cynical one. I scrounge, now, for the useful fact; I zero in on the shareable link. My attention – and thus my experience – fractures. Online reading is about clicks, and comments, and points. When I take that mindset and try to apply it to a beaten-up paperback, my mind bucks.”

Since physical books lack the immediate stimuli, reading requires an entirely different mindset. It enforces focus and patience. Said Harris: “I do think old, book-oriented styles of reading opened the world to me – by closing it. And new, screen-oriented styles of reading seem to have the opposite effect: They close the world to me, by opening it.”

Screens are for short-term readers; book heads play the long-game. The latter know that great moments in novels are as scarce a goal in a soccer game, but they can also be more exciting.

Books test our attentiveness while creating anticipation. Perhaps they are the only escape we have left from our distracted world. Constricted to one tangible novel of a screen, a paperback can help recalibrate the imagination and slow down time.

‘To be or not to be. That’s not really a question’

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Photo by Stefano Pollio

“To be or not to be. That’s not really a question,” quipped film director Jean-Luc Godard back to Shakespeare’s most famous line.

To be is rather a false start. We think that success breeds confidence, but it’s actually the little lessons along the way that build up our future.

Struggle makes us human

Similarly, it is our impairments that deem to weaken us that actually but end up making us stronger. As we overcompensate for our flaws, we excel in creating our own unique survival methods that are almost impossible to replicate.

Humans should march slowly, unattached to the cult of action, tolerant to their defects.

Said Malcolm Gladwell: “A lot of what is beautiful and powerful in the world arises out of adversity. We benefit from those kind of things,” but “we wouldn’t wish them on each other.”

We are all underdogs in something, a compromise that gets us out of bed in the morning and back to work.

The self promotion dilemma

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By all means, show your work. The internet is a great place to get feedback and build up your confidence. Just keep in mind, it’s all about you until it isn’t.

“It’s a total catch-22: if you don’t self-promote, you won’t be known to those who hold the keys to whatever kingdom you’re interested in unlocking. If you do self-promote, you might catch the gatekeepers’ attention, but pray they don’t read your self-promotion as needy or navel-gazing. Pray you don’t violate some unwritten code of class conduct or seem too eager. You have to appear to have a lot to offer without appearing to need anyone to take it. What a strange psychic and social predicament we’ve put ourselves in.”

Read The Case for Self-Promotion

The simple technique that boosts your short and long-term memory

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via giphy

Want to remember more of what you read? Give your brain a 10-15 minute rest. No phones, no distractions, just pure boredom, a quiet room and dimmed lights.

Why do we need to reduce interference?

It takes longer for new information to encode and simply consuming more or squandering time on social media will make it even hard to remember.

When we let the mind wander, the brain works backward and connects the dots, cementing those memories that were previously unlinked.

So stop chasing extra stimulation and let your brain rest in its own presence. Your memory will thank you for it.

Read An effortless way to improve your memory

 

 

Curiosity is not neutral

Life can be a string of unnoticeable moments.

That’s why we compel our eyes to see.

The secret to paying attention is being inquisitive.

Not just asking questions, but seeking a different perspective.

People act like each other on the surface but deep down they are unique. They know how to intuitively think for themselves.

It is impression that cages the person. It is expression that unleashes the individual.

The courage of our convictions opens the gate to opportunity, allowing for more information to pass through.

Curiosity is not neutral

Once the switch is turned, the entire world becomes our oyster.

A reminder about life from a poem by Roger Key:

“Hokusai says Look carefully.

He says pay attention, notice.

He says keep looking, stay curious.

He says there is no end to seeing.

He says Look forward to getting old.

He says keep changing,

you just get more of who you really are.

Newsletter: ‘We are living in total fragmentation’ ⚡

Below are this week’s interesting links and recent discoveries for your weekend reading.

Links

David Bowie predicted Internet-enabled dystopia in 1999. “We are living in total fragmentation…I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg. I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.”

Neanderthals’ Lack of Drawing Ability May Relate to Hunting Techniques. Neanderthals were great hunters but poor artists. According to a study done by professor Richard Coss, their inability to draw could’ve been due to the fact that they didn’t have to work as hard for their food. Homo Sapiens, on the other hand, strategically chased game in the open grasslands of Africa. They developed superior hand-eye coordination as a result of drawing out their prey on cave walls.

Facebook is a video game for adults. Tweeted Mike Bird: “Overheard someone say ‘Facebook did to your parents what they worried violent video games would do to you’ earlier this week and haven’t stopped thinking about it.” Facebook is a weapon of mass propaganda, a platform where conspiracy theories thrive. We should be giving our parents the same lecture they gave us on video games but about their manipulative online use.


The best of the rest

Book recommendation

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Photographers on Photography by Nathan LyonsPersonally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.”

 

What to watch

One minute art history: a unique flow of artworks stitched together to demonstrate a variety of styles.

Peep this musical vitamin

Baltra “Fade Away”

Thought of the week

“True journey is return.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin


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.

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