Ascending Museo Soumaya

I spent a few days in Mexico City last week. One of our stops included The Museo Soumaya building in the upscale Miguel Hidalgo district.

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Photos by Wells Baum

Designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero, the curvy-shaped building contains five floors of European art, including the sculptures of Auguste Rodin.

The above picture shows my older brother ascending the stairs leading into the museum’s main entrance. More images below.

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The law of reversed effort

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via giphy

“When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink, you float’ and that ‘insecurity is the result of trying to be secure.”

Alan Watts on the ‘law of reversed effort’, also known as the ‘backwards law’ when doing what’s right make things wrong (as featured in The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking)

 

The cheeky faces of Mexico City

From the masks of Mexico City’s cheeky lucha libra wrestlers to the walls of art in dive bars and parks, to the boyhood fervor of an old man in his special puppet, Mexico City is very much a lived experience. To quote Edward Burnett Tylor:

“Taking it as a whole, Mexico is a grand city, and, as Cortes truly said, its situation is marvellous.”

Letters to a Young Scientist

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“Make it a practice to indulge in fantasy about science. Make it more than just an occasional exercise. Daydream a lot. Make talking to yourself silently a relaxing pastime. Give lectures to yourself about important topics you need to understand. Talk with others of like mind. By their dreams you shall know them…The ideal scientist thinks like a poet and only later works as a bookkeeper. Keep in mind that innovators in both literature and science are basically dreamers and storytellers.

Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson; 2013

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

WaPCqsDhNkcv3aEtD“Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life. 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. Waiting rooms were made for books—of course! But so are theater lobbies before the show, long and boring checkout lines, and everyone’s favorite, the john. You can even read while you’re driving, thanks to the audiobook revolution. Of the books I read each year, anywhere from six to a dozen are on tape. As for all the wonderful radio you will be missing, come on—how many times can you listen to Deep Purple sing “Highway Star”?

Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Adamant about living in the now

“I live in the now so the past is something you’ll have to dig up.”

David Hockney,  the British artist who’s become known as the ‘the painter of Southern California’

“Artists aren’t hedonists. They’re workers.” Hockey’s persistence echoes Japan’s Hokusai who also believed the best work was yet to come.

You can take breaks but real artists never stop noticing. “Remember,” says Hockney. “Our eyes never stay still. If your eyes are still, you’re dead.”

 

Andy Warhol: ‘As soon as you stop wanting something you get it’

“At the times in my life when I was feeling the most gregarious and looking for bosom friendships, I couldn’t find any takers, so that exactly when I was alone was when I felt the most like not being alone. The moment I decided I’d rather be alone and not have anyone telling me their problems, everybody I’d never even seen before in my life started running after me to tell me things I’d just decided I didn’t think it was a good idea to hear about. As soon as I became a loner in my own mind, that’s when I got what you might call a ‘following.’ As soon as you stop wanting something you get it. I’ve found that to be absolutely axiomatic.”

‘Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea’ ✍

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via Rebecca Hendin

“Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea,” observed novelist Iris Murdoch.

If you think you’re going to write a masterpiece, it’s already too late. It never works out that way. What you imagine in your head rarely translates to the same excitement on paper.

The best bet is to start writing and see where it goes. Writing, like photography and music, is all in the edit. It’s knowing what to keep, what to throw away, and what’s worth tweaking. As Miles Davis declared: “It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.”

How are you going to know until you get it down?

When it comes to writing, you’ll never know where you’re going until you get there. So you might as well just dive into it. Perhaps writer Louis L’Amour put it best: “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

Habit fields: Where we work impacts how we work

Where we work impacts how we work, or play. As creatures of habit, we can let certain zones remind us what to do.

Writer Jack Cheng uses a ‘distraction chair‘ at home to social network and check email while he saves focused work for the desk. Author Austin Kleon separates his desk between digital and analog.


But all habits take discipline. As soon as we start mixing tasks like skipping from Twitter to an important presentation the ‘habit field‘ loses its power as a trigger for experiences.

Whether we read from bed or write standing up, “we become what we behold,” said Marshall McLuhan, “We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

That tool isn’t just a computer or a notebook. It also includes the couch.

‘It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found.’

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Photo by Wells Baum

Success bears responsibility. All of a sudden, your work and words mean something because the first time in your life people who you’ve never met are listening to you.

“It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found.”– D.W. Winnicott

The alternative to fame is anonymity. Van Gogh gained recognition after he died. Before that, he had only sold one painting to his brother.

For some, success turns people into leaders. For others, it causes them to curl back into their shell and their echoes to faint. The spotlight curbs their creative freedom.

For the rare few, they keep on trucking and stick to the person they’ve always been. When it comes to any notoriety, self-expression should always trump impression. The latter is never the point of doing good work.

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