Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be—and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway. How do we achieve this state of mind? By staying stupid. By not allowing ourselves to think. A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate. Don’t think. Act.Steven Pressfield, Do the Work
Iconic Latvian photographer Philippe Halsman shot some of the most famous portraits of all-time for every major American magazine, including credits for more than 100 Life Magazine covers. He shot the Albert Einstein photo for Time Magazine.
But he’s also renowned for one of his side projects in taking black and white images of popular faces in mid-air “jumpology.”
During a six-year period in the 1950s, he’d request an off the cuff photo of a celebrity artist, author, scientist, or film star jumping into the air. He captured nearly 200 portraits of celebrities including the Marylin Monroe, Salvador Dalí, and Aldous Huxley and published them in a book aptly titled Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book.
“When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears.”Philippe Halsman
Build a board of long-distance advocates. These can be authors, leaders or personal heroes of yours you might never meet. You’ll never share coffee, perhaps, but their books and ideas can impact your career. I’ve never met him, but author Steven Pressfield greatly impacted the hustle investment of my Career Savings Account. I never would have been able to finish my first book without the encouragement of his book The War of Art. If advocates or a table of strangers feels like too big of a stretch, begin with a bookshelf.Jon Acuff, Do Over
Reading not only creates a theater inside your head — it can also inspire you to do the work you’ve always wanted.
“The first of the great Roman roads, the Via Salaria, Salt Road, was built to bring this salt not only to Rome but across the interior of the peninsula. This worked well in the Roman part of the Italian peninsula. But as Rome expanded, transporting salt longer distances by road became too costly. Not only did Rome want salt to be affordable for the people, but, more importantly as the Romans became ambitious empire builders, they needed it to be available for the army. The Roman army required salt for its soldiers and for its horses and livestock. At times soldiers were even paid in salt, which was the origin of the word salary and the expression “worth his salt” or “earning his salt.” In fact, the Latin word sal became the French word solde, meaning pay, which is the origin of the word, soldier.”
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
Our online identities have become our real-life identities, one where the rapidity of instant communication breaks down the slow pace of life. Tech makes us impulsive and drains our patience–we demand things with a click of a button and expect a drone to deliver them the same day.
So it’s no surprise that some people want to feel what it’s like to slow down again. The record store may be dead–selling CDs at least–but the bookstores continue to fight against the frenzied activity. Amazon just opened its second bookstore on the West Coast. The Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris is thriving, offering “an antidote to commercialism.” Some readers prefer personal recommendations over algorithmic ones.
For some, there will always be an allergic reaction to the rapidity, convergence, and intangibility of digital life, and a nostalgic desire to visit places that encourage us to think, browse, and chat. We will not salvage or recreate everything pre-digital, but we will prop up those spaces that give us an escape from the velocity of ourselves.
We suffer from the infinity of choice, to what type of books we’re interested in, all the way down to the format we want to read them in.
Amazon’s recommended book algorithms allay the frustration of making decisions by taking into account your past reads and what others have read to suggest what to consume next.
Algorithms (or recipes) therefore resolve two things: Indecision fatigue caused by the avalanche of choice and the wisdom of crowds.
Spotify Discover Weekly works the same way — after it gets to understand your habits and preferences it recommends prebuilt playlists to appease your taste.
Algorithms free up our brain space to do rather than toggle between the options. They are the antidote to the chaotic linear 21st-century feed.
The more time we spend consuming rather than selecting what’s next is time well spent. By outsourcing our digging, we create more time to learn.
Even the proactive tastemaker must yield to the occasional “if and then” statement to build on top of the symphony of algorithms. A remix is not always artistically lesser than its origins.
In an increasingly algorithmic world, there can still be an element of human touch to prove we’re not headed toward complete thoughtlessness after all.