“Every sentence is a wispy net, capturing a few flecks of meaning. The sun shines without vocabulary. The salmon has no name for the urge that drives it upstream. The newborn groping for the nipple knows hunger long before it knows a single word. Even with an entire dictionary in one's head, one eventually comes to the end of words. Then what? Then drink deep like the baby, swim like the salmon, burn like any brief star.”Scott Russell Sanders, Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World
Everything we post online gets sucked into the web somewhere. The mere thought that our words, images, and videos are living on some server in Indiana or India is interesting yet frightening.
The cloud stores our content just as loosely as we own a Kindle book. While we get to enjoy the ease and ubiquity of the infinite digital file, it can also go defunct in a moment’s notice with the flip of the switch.
On the other hand, everything can start and end on paper. It’s more durable than bytes, having passed on ideas and notes for centuries. Paper is inexhaustible.
The evolution of data changes ledgers from one minute to the next. Notebooks can be stagnant things, and within them more permanently owned memories.
Salvador Dalí’s ‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus’ (1937) is a nod to his relationship with Sigmund Freud, the originator of the Narcissism Theory. Dali told Freud that it was “the first painting obtained entirely through the integral application of the paranoid-critical method.” Meanwhile, Freud read more about archaeology than psychology with a keen interest in sculpture. The synthesis between art and psychoanalysis will forever be linked.
Don’t prepare. Begin. Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is Resistance. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do. Start before you’re ready. Good things happen when we start before we’re ready. For one thing, we show huevos. Our blood heats up. Courage begets more courage.Steven Pressfield, Do the Work
The ability to face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each.Roger L. Martin, The Opposable Mind
Talk about a badass beak. This shoe-billed stork lives primarily in swamps from Sudan to Zambia. The bill itself takes 1.5 months from hatching to fully develop into its slipper-like shape. But some think it's the most frightening bird on the planet, as chicks are known to fight each other off to the death with even Mom picking favorites. The five-foot birds are also known to be patient hunters that rip their prey apart, including crocodiles.
We used to drive horses, then cabs, and now Uber. Ideas, hardly new, get retranslated to match the demands of modern times.
First came the radio, then television, and now the pocket-sized smartphone. Each iteration seemed to enhance our addiction to glow.
From snail mail to email, to instant messaging — this time is different they say, confusing progress with advancement.
These algae prints were misattributed for more than a century before art historian Larry Schaaf discovered that they were the work of British botanist Anna Atkins.
As a pioneer of cyanotype photograms, a process in which sunlight (not a camera) imprints over objects on a piece of coated paper, Atkins produced the blueprints for a book entitled Manual of British Algæ in 1841. She just never got any credit. Thanks to Larry Schaaf's book of Atkins's work, promptly titled Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms, her work continues to see the light of day.
A lot of people never start because of the fear of imperfection. But when it comes to creating, something is better than nothing. That something could be as little as a blog post — private or public — a diary entry, a podcast, a simple doodle, or if you prefer to speak through images, an Instagram post.
The habit of making and sharing your art builds confidence. Of course, there will always be others that want to put a dent in your endeavors but most people are encouraging.
Even more, two things happen when you show up to produce every day.
- Your craft improves.
- You establish an archive of work to pull from.
Once your daily practice of making art is set in the stone and you've kicked down the frustration barrier that prevents so many from being consistent, then you can go back and pull inspiration from your work.
New ideas will bloom from the stems of your first drafts, especially the shitty ones. You'll start making connections and flag concepts that need further elaboration or clarification. Through this process, it'll start to become clear what types of work you enjoy, what you want to be known for, and where you want to spend the most time improving.
Creativity is not rocket science but it is still hard work, one that requires both commitment and trial and error. The professional shows up the good days and the bad to hack away at their inner genie. There are zero shortcuts to building quality and long-lasting output.
gif by youngcoconut
I visited Cusco, Peru nearly two years ago but somehow never heard of the Rainbow Mountains while I was there. These skittle-looking ranges also called Vinicunca, are a three-hour ride outside the Peruvian city. The red, yellow, purple, and greenish hues are a result of leftover mineral deposits from ice sheets that once filled the area. It looks like I'll have to make a second trip so I can hike this!
More info here.
Photos via Getty
“Toys are preludes to serious ideas.”Charles and Ray Eames
Those shiny toys, they give us all the answers and leave little to the imagination. What could unleash creativity like a blank paper does for a pack of gel pens instead turns off the lite-brite of ideas.
Charles and Ray Eames knew about the risks of shiny objects all along.
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. The desire and ability to press on has and always will solve the problems of the human race and divide those who achieve from those who might have been.Ralph Waldo Emerson
I remember rolling the last page out and adding it to the stack that was the finished manuscript. Nobody knew I was done. Nobody cared. But I knew. I felt like a dragon I’d been fighting all my life had just dropped dead at my feet and gasped out its last sulfuric breath. Rest in peace, motherfucker. Next morning I went over to Paul’s for coffee and told him I had finished. “Good for you,” he said without looking up. “Start the next one today.Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
When in doubt, you can always depend on your curiosity. It is the fire starter for all important questions.
But inquisitiveness is not the only fuel you need. Sometimes you need an anarchic kick. The best medicine is straight up rebellion.
When conviction fights convention and curiosity whets the mind, the amalgam produces an orderly disorder that begs for reinvention.
It’s a place where we disappear, locked in thought of the imagination. The pen moves mightily, an effortful attempt to get locked in with each written word.
Each sentence is a constant beginning, a chance to practice a stroke of brilliance.
We just might get it, someday. Get what, you ask? Perhaps nothing but the chance to do it all over again tomorrow.
What's the rush to the pedestal?
“The chief thing is to humble one’s self and become a little child, to be content not to master all at once, to be obedient to what Nature can teach, and to be patient through years and years.”Auguste Rodin