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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Tech

Making meaning removes meaning

gif by John Walters

Making meaning removes meaning. What we make is what we want to make. The only supervisor is ourselves.

But we do need signals — something that tells us that we’re moving in the right direction.

“The muse has to know where to find you.”

Billy Wilder

Accept professions but don’t become them

Tied up in labor, we forget that the day job is the means of survival. Home is where the real sex happens, where we enjoy the liberty to play and rage into our work.

Doing the work we enjoy is the best use of our time. After all, more time is better than money.

Paradoxically, everything we don’t want to do feeds our basic survival. That’s why such priorities always feel somehow aslant.

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work

Building a prototype

via giphy

Amorphous. Elastic. A concept within a concept.

You can wait until you get your hands on a 3D printer to build out an idea, or you can create one now with silly putty, legos, or pen and paper.

The tools are tools, and our minds fabricate the rest. Stick figures may not produce reality, but they’re good enough to get a design across.

People learn best visually, information as a collection of stills. Tangibility is a nice to have. Whatever stimulates the senses, drives home the point.

You’re better off pulsating the mind with image clusters rather than depending on the persuasion of deadwood words.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Working backward

We all know what we want. Our main challenge is in getting there. But if we take our end-destination and outline the steps to achieve it working backward, it suddenly becomes less intimidating.

We can’t afford to skip any steps. Mastering each tread fortifies the fundamentals which help push us through temporary and unforeseen hurdles.

Greatness is scarce because so few people want to struggle.

They think they can perfect the work in theory over practice. Success is ultimately a summary of our failures.

We should feel compelled to identify what you want and map out the road it takes to get there. We may never arrive at the final destination but instead, be redirected to something even better than we could’ve imagined.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

More time is better than more money

Time is the most valuable asset we have, yet we often fritter away the minutes using money.

Instead of walking up the mountain, we pay to take the lift. Instead of using the local train, we hop in a more expensive cab ride. Such convenience circumvents the lived experience.

The most memorable experiences are the ones that stem the pace and allow us to notice the minutiae: the smells, the way people move, communicate, and dress. Ceasing the fight with time, life generates novelty.

Travel, while requiring the funds to do so, is nonetheless a priceless activity. Writes Kevin Kelly in his piece More time is better than more money, living in the present opens a secret vault.

“Here is what I learned from 40 years of traveling: Of the two modes, it is far better to have more time than money.

When you have abundant time you can get closer to core of a place. You can hang around and see what really happens. You can meet a wider variety of people. You can slow down until the hour that the secret vault is opened. You have enough time to learn some new words, to understand what the real prices are, to wait out the weather, to get to that place that takes a week in a jeep.”

Kevin Kelly

No one is doubting that money makes one’s life easier. But we can either like and enviable Instagram photo or try to live it.

Money cheats time by replacing experiences with immediate gratification. The challenges along the way are the richest experiences in disguise. “So if you have a choice,” Kelley writes, “travel with more time than money. You’ll be richer.”

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work

Keep them guessing

They say write to be understood. But what’s the point in spelling it all out?

Said author William Faulkner in an interview with the Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?

FAULKNER

Read it four times.

Write to be misunderstood?

It doesn’t hurt to make an arcane reference here and there to keep the reader guessing. Obscurity is luminosity.

Said author Jonathan Franzen in lunch with the Financial Times:

“I think you have to have a few things that you have to kind of chew on to get.”

When you first listen to a new Radiohead song, something about it sounds off. But after a few listens, the sounds in between appear and ameliorate Thom Yorke‘s mystical voice. Nothing makes sense, but the emotional tug works, the same way laughter doesn’t need thought.

It shouldn’t be the author or musician’s goal to demystify everything. The maker is often still figuring it out himself, recasting their own interpretation.

Categories
Arts Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Tech

Brian Eno: ‘Try not to get a job’

What would the world look like if everyone was guaranteed a basic income?

For musician Brian Eno, that society would put a lot more emphasis on time well spent.

“Try not to get a job. Try to leave yourself in a position where you do the things you want to do with your time and where you take maximum advantage of wherever your possibilities are.”

Brian Eno

Of course, not everyone can afford to remain jobless; the harsh reality is that work pays the bills and keeps us alive. But as more jobs get outsourced to robots and artificial intelligence, humans will need new ways to think about their responsibility.

What will we do when there’s no work to be done?

Work defines who we are. It forms the nucleus of our identity. However, a jobless world may encourage more innovative thinking about ourselves and our role in a secular, globalized world.  Perhaps it’ll compel some people to pursue more passionate work, the type of vocations that choose them instead of the other way around.

In such a world, we’ll be makers instead of cogs, thinkers instead of algorithmic lemmings. Writes Oliver Burkeman in The Antidote: “There is a positive correlation between the fear of death and the sense of unlived life.”

To work on something we actually enjoy is to live.