Letters to a young poet ✍️
Let me put this in a simple linguistic formula: Mankind = manikin = mannequin. Like Plato’s demiurge or creator-deity in the Timaeus, the fashion designer takes the old rags of matter and forms them into something sublime. God is the great fashion designer in the sky and the fashion designers here on earth are his prophets, his true disciples: mortal portals to his immortal power.
— Simon Critchley, Memory Theatre
I can disagree with your opinion, it turns out, but I can’t disagree with your experience. And once I have a sense of your experience, you and I are in relationship, acknowledging the complexity in each other’s position, listening less guardedly. The difference in our opinions will probably remain intact, but it no longer defines what is possible between us.
— Krista Tippet, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
On the rocks, of course. Write drunk, edit sober.
“The first draft of anything is sh*t.”Ernest Hemingway
People confuse busyness with productivity. Answering emails all day is mostly a waste of time, as is instant messaging co-workers. Doing something — typing into little boxes all day — fulfills the human desire to feel useful.
Similarly, people often perceive what artists do is an unnecessary use of time. But creativity is a fancy version of productivity.
When it comes to painting, songwriting, and any other artistic vocations, nothing gets wasted. Scraps and shitty rough drafts lead to the best answer.
Sensible work gets us paid. Yet, when we photograph everything, we look at nothing. Without propelling the imagination and putting work on the canvass, we are just waiting for the next rebound under the basketball hoop rather than looking how to score.
“It was a moment of seeing from the bird’s-eye view rather than from our usual close-up perspective. Or, in other words, it was a moment of non-robotic consciousness.” 🔗https://t.co/Ajw3RT07DH pic.twitter.com/r6akTMfVAU— Wells Baum (@wells_baum) September 7, 2018
And this is why humans want wings.
Video courtesy Elite Falconry. Check their Instagram feed for more.
Despite popular belief to the contrary, there is absolutely no power in intention. The seagull may intend to fly away, may decide to do so, may talk with the other seagulls about how wonderful it is to fly, but until the seagull flaps his wings and takes to the air, he is still on the dock. There’s no difference between that gull and all the others. Likewise, there is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place. Intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.
— Andy Andrews, The Noticer
An inner radicalism tugs away at the illusion of coherence. What we strive for often makes zero sense to others, if at all to ourselves. But we feel it.
The contrarian begs to differ if only to avoid the stuckness of traditional thought.
In all likeliness, it’s the things misheard, misquoted, misunderstood — mere accidents — that provoke innovation.
“I like hearing things incorrectly. I think that’s how I get a lot of ideas is by mishearing something.”Tom Waits
When we remove the obsession with absolutes, we roll the dice on what could be. Never certain in any outcome, confidently looking sideways at the cracks. Think different.
“I’m inspired to see different worlds coming together; people living in chaos but partying. It’s like the beauty of a painting that at the same time represents such a harsh reality.”
— Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, ‘Fragile Responsibility’
We want to reduce the stress in our lives, yet we keep piling on the number of things we need to do. We travel arms wide open into a tidal wave of responsibilities.
We want to restrict the data tech companies collect from us, yet we swipe right at consent. All terms, all conditions, in favor of the Leviathan.
We want to think we’re a curious bunch, open to a world unknown, yet act like novices at the ways of seeing. What is new leads somewhere new, absent the spot.
We meditate to detach the mind from surfeit consciousness when simply going for a walk, doing the dishes, or shooting hoops produces the same relaxing effect. With little effort, the neuronal spike trains intensify in voltage.
Opposite to everything, without opposition to anything. Whatever one says is true, the opposite is equally true.
Ziming Liu from San Jose State University has conducted a series of studies which indicate that the “new norm” in reading is skimming, with word-spotting and browsing through the text. Many readers now use an F or Z pattern when reading in which they sample the first line and then word-spot through the rest of the text. When the reading brain skims like this, it reduces time allocated to deep reading processes. In other words, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings, to perceive beauty, and to create thoughts of the reader’s own.
We are cultivating impatience, begetting callousness and ignorance. We need to go deeper. Huxley forewarned us.
- Blind to our blindness
- Freedom within the cube
Our sensory perception tells us how we should interpret the world, which is often a series of paradoxes. It’s the bits in the brain that make the world a reality, not the external stimuli itself.
“If you could perceive reality as it really is, you would be shocked by its colorless, odorless, tasteless silence.”David Eagleman, neuroscientist
Like breathing in air, we take the information we need and spit it back out. A cycle of gases, presence is a gif loop stuck on belief.
“In coming to New Mexico, I had unexpectedly felt myself an alien—an immigrant—in my own country, and this lithic scatter reinforced this feeling. I was reminded that we Americans are interlopers on this continent; that we have built our great and towering civilization on the wreckage of a past that we know almost nothing about and can scarcely comprehend.”
— Douglas Preston, Cities of Gold
The glut of information means that we need to review things more than ever.
And one of the most useful tools I’ve come across is Readwise.
Each day or weekly (up to you), it emails you a dose of your Kindle and Instapaper highlights.
Rereading through them not only reminds you of the interesting passages you once discovered, but also how that “old” information connects to your existing thinking.
According to professor Kenneth Goldsmith at the University of Pennsylvania, “an educated person in the future will be a curious person who collects better artifacts. The ability to call up and use facts is the new education. How to tap them, how to use them.”
The pennies of Instapaper or Pocket articles you collect add up over time but their meaning is in their extraction. The simple act of reviewing allows one to remix and convert previously found artifacts into forward-thinking idea-generating value.
Su Shi is known as the Chinese Leonardo whose scroll painting is set to break Christie’s auction house record for the most expensive Asian artwork of all-time.
More from Bloomberg:
Su Shi, a household name in China, was an 11th-century scholar, statesman, poet, writer, calligrapher and artist, whose painting style has influenced virtually every Chinese painter ever since, according to Kim Yu, Christie’s international senior specialist of Chinese paintings.
He began an “aesthetic revolution” that departed from the highly detailed and meticulous academic Song dynasty works, which required months to complete. Su Shi’s “Wood and Rock” is a simple and spontaneous work created for the artist’s personal pleasure and painted in one sitting, Yu said.
Measuring nearly 11 inches high, and almost 20 inches wide, the original ink-on-paper work depicts a gnarled, leafless tree and a rock behind from which a few young bamboo shoots emerge.