Two-word phrases which I’ve forgotten what they mean:
- Objective correlative
- Negative capability
- Cognitive dissonance
Stuff I'm reading, looking at, listening to, quotes and other scraps.
Two-word phrases which I’ve forgotten what they mean:
Whatever one is writing, one is trying to tell the story of being here at this moment in time. Art is the provocation for talking about enigma and the search for sense in human life. One can do that by telling a story or writing about a fresco by Giotto or studying how a snail climbs up a wall.
– John Berger
As I got even older I realized that the people in charge are as clueless as the rest of us. Like our software, our society just kind of happened over the years and it’s always on the verge of coming tumbling down. Nobody really knows what they’re doing or what they’re talking about. If you can get over the sheer terror of that thought, it’s actually quite liberating.
All we have in life is our time. As Annie Dillard reminds us, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way. It probably won’t make you money at first, but do it anyway. Work nights. Work weekends. Sleep less. Whatever you have to do. If you’re lucky enough to know what brings you bliss, then do that thing at once. If you do it well, and for long enough, the world will find ways to repay you.
This fall, in a toilet stall in Burlington, Vermont, I saw this scrawled on the wall:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. The world needs more people who have come alive.”
If you’re doing something you love, you won’t care what the world thinks, because you’ll love the process anyway. This is one of those truths that we know, but which we can’t seem to stop forgetting.
In America, success is a word we hear a lot. What does it mean? Is it money, power, fame, love? I like how Bob Dylan defines it: “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”
We have these brief lives, and our only real choice is how we will fill them. Your attention is precious. Don’t squander it. Don’t throw it away. Don’t let companies and products steal it from you. Don’t let advertisers trick you into lusting after things you don’t need. Don’t let the media convince you to covet the lives of celebrities. Own your attention — it’s all you really have.
In the tradeoff between timeliness and timelessness, choose the latter. The zeitgeist rewards timeliness, but your soul rewards timelessness. Work on things that will last.
I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts. And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.
I don’t think that to work is to live. Work is alright in proportion: but one wants to have a certain richness and satisfaction in oneself, which is more than anything produced. One wants to be.
What I am saying does not mean that there will henceforth be no form in art. It only means that there will be new form and that this form will be of such a type that it admit the chaos and does not try to say that the chaos is really something else. . . . [T]o find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.
Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.
Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.