Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy

Thinker types: Contrarian versus the individual

Shall one play the contrarian or the individual thinker?

It’s not that interesting to be the rejectionist of the status quo just for the sake of it.

What’s more interesting is forming one’s unique style or opinion and projecting that with confidence — minus the bombast, of course.

What individuates individuals is their desire to make a difference because they believe in something.

‘Think different’ is a call for variation and abstraction. We need more of these poets, those who stray to the side to peruse the neglected fragments.

We need less antagonists, those who say the opposite of what everyone else is saying. Thinking outside the box is not a vocation, nor some deliberate existential thrill.

The self-appointed individual pokes at the mainstream without pretentiousness and criticism. She strives to make blind spots visible.

Once we get over the societal pressures of what we like and dislike, we get to focus on the heart work: what matters instead.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Poetry

Assume everything and nothing

We suffer from a surfeit of choice.

An excess of options breeds indecision, the cruelest of frustrations. The result? We end up doing nothing at all.

Perhaps inertia is the best solution in these dizzying times. Instead of forcing the issue, we let nature take its course.

Yet, life doesn’t move unless we do. It begs for action and a subsequent reaction. Doing opens the floodgates to the invisible, exposing us to an infinity of blind spots.

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. The bottomless scrolling newsfeed sucks dry the rudiments of attention and stokes impatience. 

Staring into the forest’s green space allows us to unlatch the eyelids from closeupness. The external world makes us think expansively, beyond the myopia of screen addiction.

We can assume that the best answer lies beyond us or deeper within. Hubris intact, we continue searching with the impossible hope of conquering ourselves.

Patience is the key to self-discovery. The wait never lasts forever if one never gets tired of waiting it out.

In the search of knowledge, we persist in converting inferences into future actions.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Poetry

Came, saw, and self-conquered

The choir of one conducts an archaeological dig of the self.

What else to expect other than massive truth bombs?

The head is the instruments of instruments, yet it can’t outsmart the amygdala. The prehistoric brain fires on all cylinders.

The inner-narrative searches beyond the mask anchoring down any Shakespearean stage.

The ego has the power to build and the power to destroy. Once undone, there are no lily pads to jump to next.

Categories
Creativity Photography

The vast but empty spaces of Andreas Gursky

German photographer Andreas Gursky’s photograph “99 Cent II Diptych” (see above) was once the world’s most expensive photo.

In it, the Dusseldorf School photographer stitched together a two-part photograph (also called a ‘diptych’) of a vast but empty grocery store in Los Angeles.

Taking another contemporary digitally manipulated view of everyday objects, Gursky’s “Rhein II” sold for $4.3m at Christie’s New York in 2011 — the image became world’s most expensive photo to sell at an auction.

“I wasn’t interested in an unusual, possibly picturesque view of the Rhine… This view cannot be obtained in situ; a fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river,” recounts Andreas Gursky on the work.

The vast but empty spaces of Andreas Gursky
Photo: ‘Rhein II’ (1999, remastered 2014) © Andreas Gursky

However, I still dig the artifice projected in his 2017 high-speed train ride in Tokyo, where he merged multiple photos to give the picture a blurring, hyperreal effect.

Gursky’s “Bahrain I” which reconstructs myriad images of the Bahrain International Circuit racetrack is also one to marvel at — especially for the way its paint-like race-tracks enhance reality.

The vast but empty spaces of Andreas Gursky
Photo: ‘Tokyo’ © Andreas Gursky
Photo: ‘Bahrain I’ 2005 © Andreas Gursky

Regardless of his skill, Gursky tells his students that it’s only because of hours of practice and work that beget his radical intuition.

“People keep trying to find a matrix for the perfect image, but it’s intuition, it’s not something that can be taught.”

Andreas Gursky (via FT)

You can learn more about Gursky’s 2018 exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery in the video below or right here.

Categories
Productivity & Work Writing

Writing through sheets of ice

You bought the new notebook, snagged a new pen, and listened to a motivational podcast. You’re ready to do the work!

But two things happen as you start:

1 – You freeze. The thoughts in your head never make it to the tip of the pen. Your brain trips up on its wiring of ideas. Warning!

2 – You get going but know that what’s splurging on paper is crap. You’re producing sheets of melting ice. The writing is ugly, an explosion of everything at once. Such cacophony melts your heart, deadens your spirit.

The urge to quit and give in to the resistance is what smothers dreams. Goal-setting often backlashes when you set the bar too high.  

What if instead of focusing on the goal, you concentrated on the system?

Systems are more powerful than fears because discipline always overrides motivation. 

The real work happens when you sit your ass down at the desk for half an hour and write hundreds of words regardless of the outcome. After all, the more you make, the more you have to play with. 

Writes James Clear in “The case for having no goals in your life:”

“Goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.”

James Clear

It takes a long time to strike the chord you seek. The rest of the time you’re practicing with the intent to nail it down. All writing is in the edit.

Even poor sentences give you fresh ideas and force you into new territories. Writing, as in all creation, requires both patience and persistence to push the wastewater through the shoddy pipes. Here’s how to tap into the creativity faucet.

The muse only works in your favor if you’re willing to be consistent and put in the work. “Remember our rule of thumb,” writes Steven Pressfield in The War of Art, “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

The rest — the Moleskine notebook, the perfect pen, the dreamy goal — are excuses that trip you up.

Categories
History Poetry Politics & Society

Back to black

The cement of society amounts to a thin place that refuses to be exploited and homogenized.

The world is flat once again, as nation-states, cities, and towns have gone back to their most nativistic urges.

Globalization was never ruthless enough, spread unevenly amid the digital divide, and invariably vulnerable to the power-hungry few.

The market shifts back to impulse over cooperation, as people gravitate inwards and head onwards into deeper provincialism.

The only penetrating force — Amazon Prime — brings the people to their doorsteps.

Once dormant, the balance of power re-emerges to run the show.

God, the great fashioner designer in the sky, weeps below at the unintelligent design.

Algorithms and artificial intelligence — human products — jam the world of competence and comprehension.

The past is as present as the future, with those ignorant of history daring to repeat it.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Poetry Writing

Walking in circles

Abstract thinking strings together collisions of thought, producing ever-more complexity or the deepest simplicity.

Tinkering with possibilities makes everything strange, at least at first. But that’s yesterday’s genius.

gif by Yali Herbet

Today and tomorrow, we’ll mill around some more, waiting for the most certain idea. Even the subconscious doesn’t give time off for the brain to relax.

Said one, “If a mind was so simple we could understand it, we’d be too simple to understand the mind.”

Crunching it all down to the essence, we complicate nothing. We’re always left circling the strange, left with more questions than answers.

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Poetry

The business of living

The temptation to linger in maximum comfort — life isn’t a warm shower, you know.

One typically extends a staycation at the sight of pleasure or during a pandemic, displeasure.

People are adaptable, prepared to extend or narrow their comfort zone in a variety of situations.

They’ll even attend to simultaneous entertainments if it means they can get on with the business of living.

Moving across the stream, pinging into and around rocks, life thrives when you stop looking for happiness and absorb all the scars.

Where there is joy is pain, and lots of courage in between.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy

Thoughts are seeds

Examining the world, collecting artifacts, awaiting that sudden flash. 

To believe that epiphanies are a result of short-term thinking is a canard. Good ideas emerge from gathering string over long stretches of time. 

Do you think Isaac Newton discovered insight into gravity only after the apple dropped on his head? No, he’d been chewing on the concept during one of his numerous contemplative moods.  

Seeds of thought blossom into ideas

Whatever it is–a mental note, a scrawl on a napkin, a Pinterest pin, or bunches of index cards–the most important thing is to get your observations recorded. Hence, you can remember what’s interesting now and more easily recall it again, later. Memory favors double-recall.

Having an aggregation system where thoughts compound and grow as seeds to flowers is vital to the thinking process

Like a series of connected synapses storing up bytes of memory, building on top of ideas spurs on a curiosity that lends itself to an aliveness unheard of in the day to day numbness.

Persistent novelty keeps us awake. The fruit of creativity — curiosity — creates a beautiful cycle of discovery. 

Seeds merely planted but watered with attention, keep the brain tickled well enough.

Categories
Arts Productivity & Work Writing

The chorus of arrival

“The pen is the tongue of the mind,” wrote Horace.

It scribes from experience and the imagination, ricocheting from one neuron to the next.

Sometimes it takes years to write a lyric. The frustration of waiting on its arrival is the art of gathering string.

We are always chewing over something and turning out blanks of progress. The sentence is already there, dormant, waiting to bloom. The lyrics are phenomenally written, waiting to be sung!

It’s quality of the connections that make eureka-moments feel so elusive. Fragments take time to make whole.

Simple and beautiful — thoughts are not born from the recipes of artificial intelligence.

Discovery dawns on us like a spark of randomness, but only if we challenge ourselves to get to work.