Hooked on artifice and spin

Twitter’s removal of millions of fake accounts reminds us that not everything is what it seems. The internet is full of bots, replicating humans, even programmed to act more human than the humans themselves.

We too are conscious automata, no more authentic than the droids themselves. People are just savvy editors. We present our best selves online to increase our self-worth make other people envious.

Artifice defeats authenticity in all chess matches of the irreality we crave.

Yet, the push to be at our best could be the resolution to our proposed mediocrity. Why shoot ourselves down when a quasi-celebrity lifestyle sits at our fingertips.

Fame happens to the mobile holder. Stuck in a ludic loop, we are the host of our own Truman Show. Attention captured, republished, and released. We’re neither superior to bots nor are we consciously behind.

‘Summertime City’ by Kadir Nelson

kadir nelson new yorker cover

This week’s New Yorker cover is a doozy, from no other than artist Kadir Nelson. The magazine interviewed him about the work and why he prefers the slow process of oil painting in the digital age.

I love the oil medium. It’s timeless and has been used for hundreds of years. I want to create artwork that will live outside of the printed medium or the computer. I like to think that I’m creating fine art that happens to work as a cover for The New Yorker.

— Kadir Nelson’s ‘Summertime City’

The happiness curve

Behavioral economists explain why the mid-life crisis is only temporary. Happiness increases with old age.

“Life satisfaction tends to decline gradually after early adulthood, bottom out in middle age [or 40s], then gradually rebound after.”

Study: Is well-being U-shaped over the life cycle?

In short, life gets better after 50.

Fleeting motivation


Here today, gone tomorrow. Motivation is fickle.

But what if you promised yourself you’d get it done regardless of how you felt?

Going to the gym, doing homework, emailing the boss — there is no time like now time.

You’ll feel incentivized if, under no circumstance, you have to do it anyway.

Good habits are non-negotiable.

The plethora of neurocognitive connections that empower your actions know that you don’t always have to like what you do.

You just have to stay grounded in the experience, to avoid leaving the box unchecked. As Jerry Seinfeld encourages us, “Don’t break the chain.”

Productivity occurs when what you must do no longer needs to stay determined to complete it.

Through repetition, you can sculpt your brain to stave off the opposable mind.

PS. If you want to track your progress, consider the bullet journal system.

Thinking aloud in chemical synchronicity

When you can think aloud your own thoughts, you will strip the mind of its own disfluency.

The brain’s pen will be mighter than the sword.

“Protect yourself from your own thoughts.” — Rumi

At which point it’s too late.

The relationship between the user and product in mind

PC-3-SV-turntable-designed-by-Dieter-Rams-Wilhelm-Wagenfeld-and-Gerd-Alfred-Muller-for-Braun-1956.-Photo-by-Wright.

Dieter-Rams-FP-35-Super-8-Projector-for-Braun-1972.-Photo-by-Wright

HL-70-personal-fan-by-Reinhold-Weiss-and-Jurgen-Gruebel-for-Braun-1971.-Photo-by-Wright

“Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.”

Dieter Rams

‘It takes a real man to tell a lie’

An animal may be ferocious and cunning enough, but it takes a real man to tell a lie.

H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau

The fog of the present

Attaching yourself to the coming and going will steal your future. You have to listen to your life and follow its intuition.

Introspection is your observatory. The depths of inner space needs no telescope but your own attention. You can already see far enough.

“You must always know what it is that you want,” the old king had said. The boy knew, and was now working toward it.

— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist  

With such belief, landmarks pave themselves along the way. Routines build confidence.

The challenge is in seeing the world as many angles as possible while simultaneously having the courage to act on your own volition.

Like a rough draft, you experiment and reshape it later. It is the spirit that guides you settles you in, on purpose.

Identifying what matters

The brain is an empty void. It waits to remember until we give things meaning. Otherwise, it clings to the instincts of the amagdyla for its main sensory perception.

Thankfully, our brains are large processors. It knows that survival depends on exchanging information with others. Information is quid pro quo.

But the problem with oral communication is all the selling. Through rhetoric and persuasion, one can rise to have incredible influence. This is, unfortunately, how we got the Kardashians. We make stupid people famous.

Modern life narrows down our perceptions. Praising others, let alone mimicking them, makes us blind to our own self-worth.

The thrill of knowing is internal. It reminds us that we are more interesting than the role society gives us. Nothing means anything if we can’t float with nature and find the question.

We, the data

Dissolved into data, we produce a feast of trackable interactions.

They are the editors as much as much we are the authors. While we create everything, they produce nothing, yet the internet still owns our words.

The attention merchants munch on the aggregate and peel off the niches into targeted prey.

Our eyeballs are the oil, primed, pumped, and then exhausted into tanks of consumption.

Monetization of the ego starts at birth, built for entertainment in the first place. We make, make, make until we are over-marked and sold to the highest bidder.

‘Don’t shy away from discomfort’

book cover Unthink: Rediscover Your Creative Genius

“Don’t shy away from discomfort. Enter it, especially if it’s a potential door to progress. When I picked up those paint supplies as a suddenly jobless thirty-year-old with three young kids and without enough savings to coast, it was a very uncomfortable move. The left side of my brain was screaming at me to go find a job, any job, before I ran out of money. It was screaming at me to stop screwing around with some ridiculous art form at which I had no experience. But my right brain was telling me otherwise. I knew it was right regardless of the logic that told me it was flippant and dangerous. The truth was that I cared deeply about what I was doing and that the greatest danger lay in going down another wrong path and finding myself stuck in another rut at forty.

Erik Wahl, Unthink: Rediscover Your Creative Genius

Setting sun

telescope science discover world

Whether you set the route or leave it open-ended, you can discover things along the way.

Constraints produce their own magic. They make you innovate based off what you have to play with. But so too do indefinite destinations.

Out of curiosity blooms everything.

The more we know, the more we want to know. We permit our heuristic temptations to guide the discovery process. The rush to fill ignorance with self-knowledge makes us feel alive.

The world is more like a playground than a camp. It begs us to take more information than we need. But in borrowing its widgets, we have to reciprocate to ensure what we put out or reinvent comes back to enrich nature itself.

‘If I don’t try to tell it, it risks not being told’

“What has prompted me to write over the years is the hunch that something needs to be told and that, if I don’t try to tell it, it risks not being told. I picture myself not so much a consequential, professional writer, as a stop-gap man.”

John Berger, Confabulations

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