A retrospective report

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gif via sambmotion

We take a retrospective report, this time with the prospect old various viewpoints.

When we look back at our own history, it only makes sense now and never then. We can only see as the neurons emit.

The future prohibits knowledge

Gathering experience increases one’s attentiveness toward ambient hints. Age is hypnotic, it compels us to notice and thereby prevent the patterns and vices we originally pursued.

“The creative part of us gets tired of waiting. Or just gets tired.” — Mary Oliver

We may have to live things twice in order to figure out what to do next. The coexistence of both hope and despair push us through the messy middle.

From the cave to smartphones and onto the next magic wand, the fun is in the hunt to figure out what’s on the other side of the rainbow.

Technology spreads unreality

The reason we’re so comfortable around friends is because we can strip away the plastic and can be ourselves, zits and all.

The problem with social media is that while it allows for the perfected self, it also undermines reality. Juxtaposing our screen lives and raw selves can make us feel fraudulent.

Technology spreads unreality.

The law of attraction says that we can achieve what we think, visualize, and collect. But what colonizes parts of our mind with fantasies and ideals also deceives us.

Technology may spread unreality, but there is no substitute for facts.

No matter how many times we pollute Instagram with the edited self, the squares decompose as quickly as they’re shared.

Life doesn’t recycle on the internet’s stage.

The effect of expectation

The placebo creates a ceremony of expectation. It builds off novelty and reinvigorates confidence in the possibility of recovery.

We all fall victim to the soft mental implantation of a placebo, the oldest medicine in the world. One simple belief kickstarts a chemical revolution. But in reality, the answer just needed to be poked from dormancy.

Reawakened, the inner narrative thrives on hedonic editing.

We certify the belief in our internal storage. Over time, it gains credibility and records the transaction on the human block chain of the genetic code. Truth happens to the idea

If at first, we expect, then we can succeed. It is faith that moves mountains.

The sorcery of screens

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The internet never ends. Mountains of content are piling up as we speak.

The hook is neither in our control or that of technology. We pull the lever, the slot machine spits out a variable reward.

It’s impossible to disentangle ourselves from the mindlessness of a ludic loop. With more data, the machine grows smarter and more manipulative.

But we can’t fault our own blindness, zombie scrolling in the sorcery of screens.

All the while, the trees are abundant, pumping oxygen into nature and encouraging humans to rejoin the broken.

Tethered to the magic of screens, we feed the data distilleries with our oil and reap cheap entertainment pellets in return. There is no quid pro quo. We are competent and conscious only in our dreams, awaiting that return to an archaic form of life.

Assume everything and nothing

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We suffer from a surfeit of choice. Stuck in indecision, we end up doing nothing at all. Perhaps intertia is the best solution in these dizzying times. Instead of forcing the issue, we let nature take its course.

But more often than not, life doesn’t move unless we do. It begs for action and a subsequent reaction. Even more, in doing, we realize how much more is invisible.

Passivity and dynamism coexist

Surrounded by a morass of distraction machines, it’s no wonder we permit the frustration of ‘what’s next’ chip away at our patience. “Patience is the key to joy,” wrote Rumi.

Staring into nature’s green space may not solve our problem, but it will help us think expansively. We can assume that the best answer lies beyond us. That is until we realize that the answer cramped inside us all along.

The wait never means never if we never get tired of waiting it out right now.

The search continues.

Blinded by closeness

You can’t make anything in the forest stand still. It is in constant flux, whether that’s in seasons, wildfires, or in the territory marking of a killer bear.

Nature is fickle. It calls for preparedness and a broad scope.

“You can’t see the forest for the trees.”

One must not only have a plan in trekking the forest also but remain on guard. As the saying goes, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”

Proximity can be blinding. Looking at the individual trees clouds the big picture just as the donut hole takes your eyes off the whole donut.

Linearity isn’t as important as a deliberate wandering, with eyes open to the vastness of seeing.

Let the forest speak.

How to avoid the comparison bubble

How to avoid the comparison bubble

It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison bubble. You always want what we don’t have. You are incorrectly taught to copy, just as you’re erroneously taught to think in absolutes.

Celebrate what makes you unique

You should do what makes you unique. You should feel free to steal ideas from other people and build on top of them. Don’t just copy-paste.

The worst nightmare will be looking back on your efforts and thinking we you just couldn’t be yourself.

Being different, standing out, is what should push you on.

If you need more encouragement:

Book guilt

books, reading, beach reads

On average, how many times do you actually finish the book you’re reading?

Artist and journalist James Bridle encourages us to be honest with ourselves on answering that question. Here’s what he says:

I don’t read like I used to—although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I rarely finish books. I’ve always had a habit of abandoning novels 50-100 pages before the end. I don’t know why, I’ve always done that. I think I’m doing it more and I don’t mind because I think my critical senses have improved and by eradicating book guilt I’ve reached a point where I am happy to cast things aside. I read 5, 10 books at once. I read them on paper and electronically as the mood takes me.

I read with continuous partial attention and I don’t care that I am frequently interrupting my own reading. I despise the discourse that says we are all shallow, that we are all flighty, distracted, not paying attention. I am paying attention, but I am paying attention to everything, and even if my knowledge is fragmented and hard to synthesise it is wider, and it plays in a vaster sphere, than any knowledge that has gone before.

Two thoughts —

  • No need to beat yourself up for not finishing a book. Just don’t blame it on the heat-seeking missiles of tweets and push notifications.
  • Focus on your reading but keep an open mind on how it all connects. You might get interested in something else instead. That’s ok, you can always return to the book later.

The good books stick. If you read it all the way through, you could say you were hooked!

If your inability to finish books is a time issue, consider this advice from Stephen King: ‘I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows.’

'I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows.' — Stephen KingClick To Tweet

The pointlessness of constant self-grading

The pointlessness of constant self-grading
Books by Carlos Arl | $17.24
  • Five-star ratings
  • Gallup polls
  • Followers and social media ‘clout’

We obsess with gauging the temperature of our present reputation. The numbers are public, ticking up or down like stock prices.

The internet is the grandest stage of them all where we endeavor to present our best self. We strive to prove our self-worth, using likes and follows to pepper our egos.

A reputation is never finished. There’s always one more person to attract and appease.

Yet, the perpetual chase of approval remains illusory. There is no need to install an elaborate series of checks and balances on fame’s usefulness.

Our mood, needless the temperament of others, is as fickle as the weather.

Vigorous grading is not good for the person, nor the whole.

Beware the algorithms

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Six hundred red years ago, there was no such thing as personal identity. Only when people owned mirrors did they start seeing themselves as individuals.

One hundred years ago, all fighter pilot seats were the same size until there became unnecessary deaths. The US Air Force adapted and customized its seating options.

The mass markets ushered in by industrialization standardized our style. The factory mindset kicked in. But then the internet came along and let people shop in niches. The bell curve flattened, and we felt special.

But the algorithms that run the world today have once again undermined our uniqueness.

The machines determine what we wear, listen to, and read.

We have no choice but to partake in an algorithmic world. We get it: There are too many resumes for one job, a surfeit of photos, new music, and so on.

But picking the mathematical best obviates the outlier and the error. It is the spontaneity that makes us human. Context matters.

If we’re already living in a simulation, let’s not be afraid to be random. We know what we like, the rest is thrown at us by optimizing bots.

It’s time to get weird again.

‘Water is itself the obstacle to water’

Loop Water GIF by Living Stills-source
gif by Living Stills

Leonardo da Vinci obsessed with water more than any of his multidisciplinary interests: architecture, science, painting, and sculpture.

For Leonardo da Vinci, the current represented that perfect chaos that separated air from water. In his Book on Waters, he wrote:

Nothing shares a surface with something and something shares a surface with nothingness. And the surface of something is not part of that thing, whence it follows that the surface of nothingness is part of nothingness, whence it follows that a single surface is the limit between two things that are in contact. Since the surface of water is not part of the water, and hence is not part of the air or of other bodies placed between them, what is it then that divides the air from the water?

Below is one of Leonardo’s sketches on the movement of water from 1508. It demonstrates the paradox of water in, around, and again itself.

Leonardo da Vinci water #drawing #sketch #art
Leonardo, da Vinci, 1508-09 (Paris MS. F)

Writes art historian Irving Lavin, Professor Emeritus in the School of Historical Studies at the Institue of Advanced Study:

…water in percussion: that is, water is itself the obstacle to water, and in this case the contrast is between the resulting currents on the surface, under the surface, and surging upward carrying bubbles of entrapped air. The relationship between air and water, both in combination and as analogous media, was also a subject that greatly preoccupied Leonardo and played a critical role in the development of his thought that concerns me here.

The structure of a stream lies within its anti-structure. There’s the unpredictable and disruptive movement of its flow. Yet freshwater slithers over rocks, persisting unperturbed all the way into the mouth of the river.

The chaos of running water seems to be why it works.

Read Leonardo’s Watery Chaos

The froth is coming off

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With the right instructions, the unfamiliar becomes manageable.

We follow the recipe with the hope that the convoluted reality seeps away into the froth.

Yet, had we followed our instincts we may not have gotten stuck in the first place.

If we don’t take Google Maps with a grain of salt, we will find ourselves submerged under water.

Knowledge is visceral. The rest is streaming.

Picasso: Art as a form of diary

picasso #art #artist #painting
Photo by Cecil Beaton 1933 © The Cecil Beaton Archive at Sotheby’s

Art is where our mind’s eye merges with reality to create a theater inside our head, resulting in the form of a diary. This was especially true for Pablo Picasso.

Picasso was perhaps best known for his practice of public journaling via painting. “My work is my diary. I have painted my autobiography,” he said.

Picasso grasped his inner thoughts and projected them on canvass. His art gave us a peek inside his head, such as his relationship with partner Marie-Thérèse Walter in his formative years.

picasso tate modern #museum #art
‘The Dream’ (1932) Private collection © Succession Picasso/DACS London

Art is therapy

Art is an instrument for coping, part mental therapy part expression. Bottling his thoughts without letting them go would’ve driven Picasso insane. Whether it is painting, writing, or playing sports, we exercise our bodies to verify that we’re still alive.

As Picasso and so many other artists illustrate, self-expression has a real and irresistible pulse.


‘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 gateway to light is the eye

A short-term realist, a long-term optimist.

Can one hedge against fear and doubt while simultaneously pushing for a better and brighter future?

Most of us struggle in bear markets, when confidence ebbs into despair. We can only permit pertinacity.

What keeps one going is the light at the end of the tunnel, connecting the slightest ideas to extend the road through all perceived hurdles.

The obstacle is the way, they say.

Necessity is the mother of invention. If we can’t tolerate ambiguity along the way, we’ll most certainly give up.

If the gateway to light is the eye, persistence lies in the guts.