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Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy

The archaeological dig of the self

A synchronization of mind thought, and people — symphonies boost enthusiasm, concentration, and memory power. Their confluence is the great harvester of human attention.

If you’re always polishing the car, you’ll never go anywhere to discover new things. If you’re always rushing, you’ll never reap the benefits earned through reflection.

The inner and outer worlds work together to stimulate the imagination.

Money and passion fail to make one rich and happy automatically. Creators are doers. And work demands all the scars.

Invest in yourself — spiritual and mental health — and see it a role to play the orchestrator of your own life.

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Creativity Productivity & Work

The burn of discontent

Everything starts and ends from the burn of discontent.

We all have an inkling for something, a dormant enthusiasm, waiting to erupt so we can pour our hearts into it.

But the wait is killer. Toiling in anonymity while practicing in mediocrity needs a special kind of patience.

The resistance can only win at our own capitulation. The work is all that matters. 

As they say, “the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

If self-promotion along the way helps one build up the confidence to ship, by all means, do it. We must seek the respect we deserve.

We are the audience and actor in the play of life, trying to step back and compose with the highest quality. 

No one is going to announce our emergence. All we can ask for is to be consistent with our time. 

Show up. The only talisman is the heart and head work.

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Creativity Productivity & Work

Creativity: Faith in process, faith in rest

Rest is integral to unlocking creativity.

Your best ideas come when you’re not trying to grind it out, but when you’re not trying at all. Ideas hit you when your mind is at ease. 

Says composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda:

A good idea doesn’t come when you’re doing a million things. The good idea comes in the moment of rest. It comes in the shower. It comes when you’re doodling or playing trains with your son. It’s when your mind is on the other side of things.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Creativity is always awake

The brain never shuts off. It’s always processing knowledge, thoughts, and experience, even in a perceived dormant state. 

Creativity is always awake, but it needs time to bloom. The head takes in new information and gets feedback along the way. 

The ‘eureka moment’ is, therefore, a canard. The sedentary body helps the neurons and synapses synchronize thoughts. 

If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.

Banksy

Neurochemistry thrives off disconnecting, in which connections mount unforced.

A good idea is an accumulation of bad ones, clever hybrids cleaned up and simplified through trial and error.

The creative thinker enters a relationship through a swift reflection process.

Discovery is not a matter of giving up but giving in to the process of waiting and wondering, all the while keeping the faith.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Arts Creativity Writing

Creativity lies within

The quest of creativity is really the search for aliveness.

It is no wonder that when we spend the time to make and ship our craft, we are happier human beings.

To see and have any product resonate is icing on the cake. Few artists ever achieve wide acclaim for their work, even fewer prosper.

There’s no guarantee that the so-called “professional” writer or photographer achieves monetary success. Money is no arbiter, as Van Gogh can attest — he only sold one painting while he was alive and it was to his brother.

When we begin with the intention to please or entertain others, it’s no wonder the muse gives up on us. She demands honest work.

Creativity can be selfish act. We make what we want to see in the world, even if we don’t believe in the project at hand. It is within the practicing of creating, the maker basks in raw aliveness.

Originality is the pusher.

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Creativity Poetry Writing

The road to becoming a mentality monster

She never imagined what her artwork could do to her. Her output fostered confidence in the images of the psyche.

She brushed with aplomb, thinking without thinking — neither about the potential eyeballs nor sales numbers. What artist needs market research?

Honest, disciplined, and in good taste. The creator never grew disillusioned when she got knocked back.

Persistence is a duty, a right to the path. Passion is the great instigator; the emotional jolt every fashion designer needs to avoid the grind.

She dared to do. Doing is why there’s knowing.

She became a zoo of complex, organic molecules optimized toward effort. The world welcomed its newest mentality monster.

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Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Writing

It’s the indecision that’s risky

In the absence of ideas, we’re lost floating at sea.

Weighed down in idea debt, a lack of action can have the same debilitating effect.

Inertia is the purported enemy. Just write the truest sentence already.

What works better is facing fear and proceeding right into it.

We keep our eyes on the prize and spend our time wisely, for the latter is never under your control. We remain undecided and fritter the seasons away at our own risk.

Born in the morning, jolted in the afternoon, and reset in the evening.

Intensely alive with a deliberate pulse — faith knows that even the wrong ideas fail successfully.

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Arts Creativity

The Olivetti Valentine typewriter

An icon of 1960s pop-art design, the Olivetti Valentine typewriter was designed by Italian architect Ettore Sottsass and British designer Perry Ellis for the Italian company, Olivetti.

Sottsass covered the typewriter in red “so as not to remind anyone of monotonous working hours.” Its iconic red color was a precursor to the iMac, a machine that also differentiated itself from other computer products by offering a panoply of vibrant colors.

The late great music icon David Bowie was known to have one of the Olivetti Valentine typewriters in his own private collection.

The typewriter debuted on 14 February 1969, hence the name ‘Valentine’ and also existed in a neutral gray color as seen below.

The Olivetti Valentine typewriter
Photo: Twitter/dean_frey
The Olivetti Valentine typewriter
via twitter