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Archive for the ‘stillness’ Category

I don’t especially like David Brooks’ work, but I really loved this quote from his piece in The New Yorker, “Social animal”. I can’t help but think this is what these fabulously wealthy idiots are missing.

During the question-and-answer period, though, a woman asked the neuroscientist how his studies had changed the way he lived. He paused for a second, and then starting talking about a group he had joined called the Russian-American Folk Dance Company. It was odd, given how hard and scientific he had sounded. “I guess I used to think of myself as a lone agent, who made certain choices and established certain alliances with colleagues and friends,” he said. “Now, though, I see things differently. I believe we inherit a great river of knowledge, a flow of patterns coming from many sources. The information that comes from deep in the evolutionary past we call genetics. The information passed along from hundreds of years ago we call culture. The information passed along from decades ago we call family, and the information offered months ago we call education. But it is all information that flows through us. The brain is adapted to the river of knowledge and exists only as a creature in that river. Our thoughts are profoundly molded by this long historic flow, and none of us exists, self-made, in isolation from it.

“And though history has made us self-conscious in order to enhance our survival prospects, we still have deep impulses to erase the skull lines in our head and become immersed directly in the river. I’ve come to think that flourishing consists of putting yourself in situations in which you lose self-consciousness and become fused with other people, experiences, or tasks. It happens sometimes when you are lost in a hard challenge, or when an artist or a craftsman becomes one with the brush or the tool. It happens sometimes while you’re playing sports, or listening to music or lost in a story, or to some people when they feel enveloped by God’s love. And it happens most when we connect with other people. I’ve come to think that happiness isn’t really produced by conscious accomplishments. Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities. Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.”

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2500

From “The woman who rode Australia’s longest trekking route – a photo essay” in The Guardian. 

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This is the most delicious interview.

It’s a conversation with poet, Ocean Vuong at The Creative Independent on “being generous in your work”. It’s about the nature of creativity, the past, being home, the problems of criticism without engagement, the limitations of purity, everything being related to everything, survival, closeness, connection, the fetishism of certainty, and the action of paying attention.

What’s your mood when you write?

When I’m lost in the work, I’m curious. I don’t know if curiosity is a balm, because it often gets me in trouble, but it gives me control. It becomes fuel, and it brings me out of myself and into the world, even if I’ve just been sitting at my desk and thinking about spirals, which is what I’ve been thinking about this morning.

The Italian philosopher Vico had this theory that time moves more in a spiral than it does in a line. He believes that’s why we repeat ourselves, including our tragedies, and that if we are more faithful to this movement, we can move away from the epicenter through distance and time, but we have to confront it every time. I’ve been thinking about trauma—how it’s repetitive, and how we recreate it, and how memory is fashioned by creation. Every time we remember, we create new neurons, which is why memory is so unreliable. I thought, “Well if the Greek root for ‘poet’ is ‘creator,’ then to remember is to create, and, therefore, to remember is to be a poet.” I thought it was so neat. Everyone’s a poet, as long as they remember.

 

 

 

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My progress report
concerning my journey to the palace of wisdom
is discouraging.
I lack certain indispensable aptitudes.
Furthermore, it appears
that I packed the wrong things.
– Inventory / On Being 52 by James Baldwin

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I love this article on middle age and why it is such a happy time, by Natasha Badhwar in live mint.

The belief that early youth is the peak of one’s life has been proven to be a fallacy. Now one feels far more productive, especially when one finds oneself managing so much more with much less effort. I write when I sleep, I raise children when I am away from home, I support people with just words. This is also when one realizes that this isn’t the peak either. There’s a lot more uphill ahead for us.

There are so many things that I still want to do. Thinking about doing them makes me as happy as doing them. I own my imagination.

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our society is currently gripped by a pervasive ideology of work. It is continuously preached to us as the pinnacle of human virtue. If you’re not doing superhuman stints at the office then something is wrong with you. And don’t even mention the word unemployed … that’s blasphemy.

The most worrying facet about the ideology of work is this: we are obliged to toil even when it’s not really necessary in concrete, economic terms. Appearing super-busy becomes more about fulfilling a societal expectation than doing something useful to society.

From Peter Fleming’s “The way to a better work-life balance? Unions,  not self-help” in The Guardian

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