What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.Carl Sagan, from the Cosmos episode “The Persistence of Memory”
Zhongshuge is a bookstore chain in China. Each of its stores leverages mirrors in its architectural design to give a kaleidoscope effect to the space’s interior.
The location in the city of Chongqing features a ceiling mirror that provides an optical illusion of intertwined staircases while also magnifying the size of the room.
“I wrote the book … in snatched hours, in clattering cafés or in the dead of night … The story of how I wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is written invisibly on every page, legible only to me. Sixteen years after it was published, the memories are as vivid as ever as I turn these pages.”J.K. Rowling
Most authors refuse to revisit their old work. Musicians avoid listening to their old albums. Some actors refuse to see their own movies after they hit theaters.
Art reminds creatives of their daily battles with the blank page, canvass, or script — a craft fraught with sweat and tears, pain and pleasure. Even more, all that work was yesterday's genius.
“There’s always more to be said, more to be felt,” Henry James once remarked. We can always do better. Yet finishing and moving on is the point. And so we buckle up and start the next one.
art via giphy
These algae prints were misattributed for more than a century before art historian Larry Schaaf discovered that they were the work of British botanist Anna Atkins.
As a pioneer of cyanotype photograms, a process in which sunlight (not a camera) imprints over objects on a piece of coated paper, Atkins produced the blueprints for a book entitled Manual of British Algæ in 1841. She just never got any credit.
Thanks to Larry Schaaf's book of Atkins's work, promptly titled Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms, her work continues to see the light of day.
The ultimate lesson games give is not about gratification and reward, nor about media and technology, nor about art and design. It is a lesson about modesty, attention, and care. Play cultivates humility, for it requires us to treat things as they are rather than as we wish them to be. If we let it, play can be the secret to contentment. Not because it provides happiness or pleasure—although it certainly can—but because it helps us pursue a greater respect for the things, people, and situations around us.Ian Bogost, Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of Games
Pay attention to what’s in front of you—the principle, the task, or what’s being portrayed.
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.22
It’s fun to think about the future. It’s easy to ruminate on the past. It’s harder to put that energy into what’s in front of us right at this moment—especially if it’s something we don’t want to do. We think: This is just a job; it isn’t who I am. It doesn’t matter. But it does matter. Who knows—it might be the last thing you ever do. Here lies Dave, buried alive under a mountain of unfinished business.
There is an old saying: “How you do anything is how you do everything.” It’s true. How you handle today is how you’ll handle every day. How you handle this minute is how you’ll handle every minute.Ryan Holiday