Mishearing things

ilya-ilyukhin-281346Listening seeds ideas. Overheard dialogue, especially misheard words, are auditory stimulants for the imagination. Said Joan Didion in her essay “On Keeping a Notebook:”

“See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do… on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there…”

From the dull to the senseless, an ambient awareness latches on to snippets of interestingness in any conversation. The journal archives and then whispers for a second look. Simply rereading our notes gives them a new form, turning the slightest quip into a saintly significance.

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The Illusion of Christmas

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The Illusion of Christmas by Signe Emma and Theodoulos Polyviou

Hypnotic, dizzying, and trippy. ‘Tis the season:

We have developed our design through the use of 3d modelling software. In doing this, we were given the advantage to view our compositions through mobility and constant change of viewing points aiming to achieve the most effective result possible. This process extends our understanding regarding these mediums available at the moment as “setting the stage” for creativity to be enacted. The final result is an interplay between the “physical” and the virtual.”

The Illusion of Christmas by Signe Emma and Theodoulos Polyviou

 

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

First stillness, then catastrophe

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Photo by Wells Baum

Transformation can be exciting, but it can also be retrograde.

Change doesn’t mean better. Boredom with the status quo can sometimes beget darkness.

The function of play, a style of art, a kind of government, are meant to be noisy but unrestricted.

The stimulation of calm and collected still leaves space for the unimaginable and disruptive. However, going back seems to be an evil obsession at the present and the unfortunate direction of the future.

Transformation opposes progress?

 

Abstract thinkers make more eye contact than those who think in concrete terms 👁️ 🤔

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“Many of us, no doubt, have reached the conclusion that people who do not look at us while either listening or talking are trying to hide something. This is in general agreement with the opinion of law-enforcement offcials who have attended our seminars. Michael Argyle in his book, The Psychology of Interpersonal Behavior , observes that people look at each other between 30 and 60 percent of the time. He also notes that when two individuals while talking look at each other more than 60 percent of the time, they probably are more interested in the other person than in what he is saying. Two extremes might be lovers looking at each other adoringly and two hostile individuals getting ready to fight. Argyle also believes that abstract thinkers tend to have more eye contact than those who think in concrete terms, because abstract thinkers have a greater ability to integrate incoming data and are less likely to be distracted by eye contact.

How to Read a Person Like a Book by Gerard I. Nierenberg and‎ Henry H. Calero

Japan’s lonely vending machines by Eiji Ohashi

Photographer Eiji Ohashi spent nine years capturing images of Japan’s vending machines on his late-night commutes home from work.

“At the time, I was living in a town in the north of Japan that would get hit by terrible blizzards during the winter months. I’d drive my car in (these) conditions and use the light of the vending machines to guide me.”

Well-maintained even in harsh winter conditions, the machines stand out in Japan’s remote towns like ‘roadside lights’, the eponymous title of Ohashi’s photography book.

For a country that produces “300-plus flavors of KitKat,” the vending machines not only look the same, they all sell the same items. Said Ohashi: “I wanted to capture the standardized form of the vending machines. I thought you could see the differences between the regions through the scenery around them.”

All photos via Eiji Ohashi 

 

 

Teju Cole on the flood of images in a mobile-first world

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Photo by Wells Baum

There is a photograph coming at you every few seconds, and hype is the lingua franca. It has become hard to stand still, wrapped in the glory of a single image, as the original viewers of old paintings used to do. The flood of images has increased our access to wonders and at the same time lessened our sense of wonder. We live in inescapable surfeit.

— Teju Cole, from ‘Finders Keepers’ in Known and Strange Things

Bending genres

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Photo by Wells Baum (Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors)

Nothing is original, nor is it copy-pasted. But innovation is a remix, a mash-up of findings, widgets, and opinions.

There is no solitary genius but the product of scenius — network thinking — educating each other, sharing in pairs and stealing ideas and scraps from each other to formulate something new.

We are the product of our environment and our own creative solitude. Blending disciplines, the plurality of ideas, is the upshot of our conversation with others just as much as it is ourselves.

Newsletter: What’s your favorite number?

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Painters suspended on the Brooklyn bridge, October 1914 (Eugene de Salignac)

Hi all, I hope everyone had a chance to check out the solar eclipse this week. I saw it at 81% totality from DC. Those lucky enough to experience the total eclipse will appreciate Annie Dillard’s essay below.

New music this week comes this way courtesy of Thundercat. Ry Cooder takes the crate.

web gems

  1. Autistic author Naoki Higashida provides a beautiful answer to the question: What’s your favorite number?

  2. In celebration of the solar eclipse, The Atlantic republished Annie Dillard’s epic piece on her encounter with a total eclipse in 1982. “We saw the wall of shadow coming, and screamed before it hit.”

  3. “When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” Robert Frank is best known for his 1958 book The Americans which featured 83 photos from Frank’s journey across the U.S. documenting race and material consumption in American life.

  4. Life coach David Cain provides an intriguing solution to avoid experiencing anxiety in advance: When You Can’t Stop Looking Ahead, Look Backwards

  5. If you want your food to taste better, take a picture.

Thought of the week

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”

— Marcus Aurelius


New track on loop

Thundercat – Jethro

Digging in the crates

Ry Cooder – Soy Luz y Sombra

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Wells Baum (@bombtune)

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To err is human

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gif via kidmograph

Technology evolves. Customer expectations change. Facebook tweaks its algorithm, again! All strategies and proven methods are temporary.

The pragmatist is always looking for a better way while following the practices that already work.

But there’s no way to identify what works without identifying what doesn’t work first. Strive a little toward imperfection.

Trial and error is the essence of survival. Consider doubling down on efforts that are showing promise.

We must remain in beta.

Developing a clear and focused mind

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via giphy

If we don’t pay attention — keep our eyes on the donut rather than the donut hole — we’ll lose the plot. Said the stoic Marcus Aurelius in his journal Meditations:

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”

If we don’t stop and smell the flowers, our mind will follow the latest obsessive thought or get stuck in the ludic loop of Twitter or Instagram.


In such an environment that values speed over infinite improvement, we need to force ourselves to pause, to step outsides ourselves and to detach from the closeness of our own world in order to cultivate a more objective narrative.

Read The journal of Marcus Aurelius is essential reading if you want a clear and focused mind

The Lazy Guru’s Guide to Life

9780316348706_p0_v3_s1200x630 What if we could be, or at least feel like we were on vacation all the time?

That vibe is at the core of Laurence Shorter’s new book The Lazy Guru’s Guide to Life, a book he wrote by being bored out of his mind.

Instead of practicing mindfulness and meditation, Shorter took 3 months off let his brain just wander, taking walks and unplugging from the internet, just waiting until an idea struck him. That idea was drawing.

Since releasing his book, he’s developed some core tenets that are central to his philosophy of living in relaxation mode.

“To live life not just in pursuit of our dreams, but as if we have already achieved them. To put it plainly, I am declaring myself on permanent vacation: relaxed, at ease, creative — always.

In his manifesto, he outlines three ways to help inculcate the feeling of doneness.

1. Don’t try to fix things

2. If you can’t be bothered with something, there’s always a good reason

3. Give yourself space

As I wrote a few months ago, we try too hard. We push ourselves for no reason other than to live up to the habit of always being on. As Shorter puts it, “We live in a world obsessed by action and success. And in a world hooked on action, the only way to be different is to stop.”

We need to be more like the tortoise rather than the hare. It’s not for lack of care, but in slowing down, disconnecting, and not letting the small things eat away at us, we’re able to liberate our sense of fulfillment and unleash our creative thinking selves.

 

Competence without imagination 🤖

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Photo by Wells Baum

The machine is a perfection of man, one that aggregates all simulations and chooses the best possibility at the right time. AI also gets smarter with each mistake it makes in a type of machine learning called reinforcement learning.

Humans can’t learn and execute actions as fast as their robot counterparts can. Our neuronal chips are already at brain capacity, no matter how many amphetamines we take to speed them up.

So what do we do when we’re rendered jobless?

For starters, we’ll have a bunch of time on our hands to do other stuff, constructing innovative things that robots can’t predict. After all, we’re the ones biologically wired to random thoughts, chaotic imaginations, and combinatorial creativity.