Arts and Culture
We may live in the age of selfie but we've always been self-absorbed. Maria Loh, author of Still Lives: Death, Desire, and the Portrait of the Old Master, outlines five books which address the history of the curated self with an emphasis on artists who painted their own portraits to cement their legacy.
“Art was a form of visual philosophy written with brushes and chisels rather than with pen and ink”
+ Before the self-portrait, the rise of ownership of mirrors in the 15th century gave people their first feeling of individuality.
Nostalgia didn’t always have a positive tone. In fact, before the 20th century, the word was used in the pejorative sense.
Nostalgia in those days was a technical term used and discussed primarily by specialists. In the twentieth century, however, the word has become fully demedicalized. It now means little more than a sentimental attachment to a lost or past era, a fuzzy feeling about a soft-focus earlier time, and is more often used of an advertising campaign, a film or a memory of childhood than with regard to any strong sense of its etymology, “pain about homecoming”.
Philosophy & Productivity
It's crazy to think that a hundred years after the Adamson Act passed, we're still working the same eight-hour shifts designed for railroad workers. Given that most of us work in front of computers and our best ideas come when we step outside it, how can we free up more time to think? Writes Morgan Housel:
“Tell your boss you found a trick that will make you more creative and productive, and they ask what you’re waiting for. Tell them that your trick is taking a 90-minute walk in the middle of the day, and they says no, you need to work.”
We think modernity is superior to the past. But we too can be intellectually overconfident. “When Kahneman writes that we are ‘blind to our blindness’, he is reviving the Socratic idea that wisdom consists in seeing one’s blindness: knowing what you do not know.” Within all facts and reasoning, there's still a little room for doubt.
This is only a preliminary step in Plato’s dialogues – a (good-natured) reaching after fact and reason should and does occur – but an initial tolerance of uncertainty is a capacity without which individuals and societies cannot adequately self-correct and improve.
Social Media & Technology
The internet companies are not only American-based, but their manifest destiny also makes them look like hegemonic colonizers.
“This is a dilemma of the feudal internet. We seek protection from these companies because they can offer us security. But their business model is to make us more vulnerable, by getting us to surrender more of the details of our lives to their servers, and to put more faith in the algorithms they train on our observed behavior.”
CDs were once expensive, plastic things. But they were built really cheap. I just tried popping on an old Chemical Brothers mix, and it didn't even play. Blame the sharpie.
It's also better not to muck up the top of your CDs with labels—the adhesive creates chemical reactions that quickly eat up data—or even permanent markers. “The moment you start to write on that top layer, you're setting yourself up for degradation.”
Digging in the Crates
Shanti Celeste is an up and coming house producer from Bristol, England. Her latest 2-track EP features the jungle healer ‘Make Time,’ combining a rich collection of synths and electronic breaks. A real treat.
Yasmine Hamdan is a Parisian-based electronic musician who grew up in war-torn Lebanon. While’s she gained a reputation in the Middle East as an underground artist, her latest solo record Al Jamilat plans to unleash her to a broader audience. The track ‘La Ba’den’ offers dreamy electronic Arab vibes. Compelling stuff.
Thought of the Week
“Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
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