experience

‘A man, being just as hungry as thirsty, and placed in between food and drink, must necessarily remain where he is and starve to death.’ –Aristotle

Picture some serious non-fiction tomes. The Selfish Gene; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Guns, Germs, and Steel; etc. Have you ever had a book like this—one you’d read—come up in conversation, only to discover that you’d absorbed what amounts to a few sentences? I’ll be honest: it happens to me regularly. Often things go well at first. I’ll feel I can sketch the basic claims, paint the surface; but when someone asks a basic probing question, the edifice instantly collapses. Sometimes it’s a memory issue: I simply can’t recall the relevant details. But just as often, as I grasp about, I’ll realize I had never really understood the idea in question, though I’d certainly thought I understood when I read the book. Indeed, I’ll realize that I had barely noticed how little I’d absorbed until that very moment.

{ Andy Matuschak | Continue reading }

Counterintuitive nature of quantum physics leads to a number of paradoxes. One of them is a “quantum vampire” effect consisting in the fact that photon annihilation in a part of a large beam doesn’t change the shape of the beam profile (i. e., doesn’t cast a shadow), but may change the total beam intensity.

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First of all, I can remember very specific odors in extraordinary detail pretty much indefinitely. Moreover, I can conjure the memory of these odors exactly and at will. I have it on excellent authority from several researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center that this is a very rare capacity. […]

Secondly, I can mentally and very accurately forecast how the perceived odor of any given substance will change at various levels of concentration. […]

Thirdly and largely because of the two previously mentioned strange abilities, I can imagine discrete odors and know what will happen when I combine and arrange them while adjusting their concentrations – entirely in my head without even opening a bottle or picking up a pipette.

{ CB I Hate Perfume | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

photo { Robert Mapplethorpe, Jack in the Pulpit, 1988 }

Too much thinking leads to bad choices

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Achieving most goals in everyday life requires persistence. Despite an abundance of relevant theoretical and empirical work, no theory details the universal causes of persistence (and non-persistence) across all goal types and settings. To address this gap in the literature, we introduce the Continuing and Returning Model of persistence. […]

[T]he goals that people pursue in daily life are varied and complex. These goals may be concrete or abstract, short-term or of indefinite length. They vary in difficulty, importance, and in how they work with or against other goals that a person holds. Some goals are intended to be started and finished in one continuous episode, but other goals are episodic, meaning that pursuit occurs across multiple episodes. People’s most important goals (the ones that they most want to accomplish) are typically not achieved in one episode of pursuit.

Everyday goals can be episodic for many reasons. Goals can be episodic by their nature (e.g., “write daily”), but more often they are episodic by choice. Breaking a goal into smaller tasks can be beneficial, as can taking breaks to rest and recover. People manage many goals in daily life and minimally have goals to eat, sleep, and maintain their social relationships. People often cannot focus on one goal at a time; instead, they manage multiple goals, allocating their time and attention among competing behavioral choice options. Thus, factors unrelated to focal goals can affect their persistence. Even goals intended to be pursued in one continuous episode (e.g., writing an email) are often deliberately stopped or interrupted by factors unrelated to someone’s motivation for the focal goal such scheduled events, other prioritized goals, and extraneous thoughts. The potentially episodic nature of everyday goal pursuit and the fact that everyday persistence can be influenced by factors external to the goal has implications for how and why persistence occurs and fails to occur. […]

In contrast to the intuitive notion that persistence is inherently good and reflective of commitment to the focal goal or to one’s personal character, the Continuing and Returning Model depicts persistence as goal pursuit process that is dynamic, multiply determined, and separable from goal attainment and other metrics of success. Persistence is not a binary behavior but rather a process that is affected by many factors. Furthermore, persistence is not always adaptive. Indeed, sometimes persistence reflects inefficient goal pursuit. Similarly, non- persistence isn’t always maladaptive. People who stop pursuing a goal are often prioritizing or accommodating other important goals, people, or events.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

related { How The Brain Switches Between Different Sets Of Rules }

oil on wood panel { Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with an Ermine, 1488-1490 }

This is being marketed as “psychedelic soul,” and while it has some rock trappings, I’m having a hard time finding the psych in this

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a lot of luck comes from doing things that are interesting, and sort of creating your own luck

{ Eric Schmidt | Continue reading }

image { Bill Arsenault, Nonplussed Some Some More exhibition poster, 1969 }

“Bergman burned down our home,” said Eric W. Ohlsson, a retired doctor, referring to a scene from the 1968 film “Shame,” in which a barn was used as a flaming prop

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Try this experiment: Pick a famous movie—Casablanca, say—and summarize the plot in one sentence. Is that plot you just described the thing you remember most about it? Doubtful. Narrative is a necessary cement, but it disappears from memory.

{ Peter Greenaway | Continue reading }

“I almost always remember where I was and I remember the book itself. I remember the physical object,” says Paul, the editor of The New York Times Book Review, who reads, it is fair to say, a lot of books. “I remember the edition; I remember the cover; I usually remember where I bought it, or who gave it to me. What I don’t remember—and it’s terrible—is everything else.” […] “Memory generally has a very intrinsic limitation,” says Faria Sana, an assistant professor of psychology at Athabasca University, in Canada. “It’s essentially a bottleneck.” The “forgetting curve,” as it’s called, is steepest during the first 24 hours after you learn something. Exactly how much you forget, percentage-wise, varies, but unless you review the material, much of it slips down the drain after the first day, with more to follow in the days after, leaving you with a fraction of what you took in.

{ The Atlantic | Continue reading }

through grass behush the bush to

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The largely dominant meritocratic paradigm of highly competitive Western cultures is rooted on the belief that success is due mainly, if not exclusively, to personal qualities such as talent, intelligence, skills, efforts or risk taking. Sometimes, we are willing to admit that a certain degree of luck could also play a role in achieving significant material success. But, as a matter of fact, it is rather common to underestimate the importance of external forces in individual successful stories. […]

In this paper, […] we show that, if it is true that some degree of talent is necessary to be successful in life, almost never the most talented people reach the highest peaks of success, being overtaken by mediocre but sensibly luckier individuals.

{ arXiv | Continue reading }

‘Ne sens-tu pas qu’il y a dans la vie quelque chose de plus élevé que le bonheur?’ –Flaubert

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In early 2015, near the end of my MFA in Fine Arts at Parsons, I set out on a project to create a celebrity by 2020—entirely via the internet—as an art practice. The celebrity I began to create was a hyper sexy, cyber savvy, female rock star named Ona.

Without a large budget or industry connections, I knew that major social media growth would be an important factor. I started by employing some of the usual tactics I’d used in the past for other projects—a press release, an article in Thought Catalog, soliciting articles from journalists. Nothing much came of it.

So I tried a different tack, working with what I already had: two Instagram accounts, each with a couple hundred followers—one for my art practice as a whole (@leahschrager) and one specifically for selfies and modeling (@onaartist). It was immediately clear that the selfies I posted on @onaartist got more likes and the account grew more quickly. I sought out modeling accounts with big follower numbers and I started DMing them, asking the models if I could pay them to talk to me about how they grew. None of them got back to me. I then did some open submissions to @playboy, @arsenicmagazine, and a few others, but I didn’t get picked.

Finally, I DMed a collection page—a page with a large follower count that features photos of various models—and it got back to me. The page was @the.buttblog, and I was told it would cost $200 for a permanent post. I paid its admin to post a photo of me and in 24 hours I gained around 5,000 real followers.

{ Leah Schrager/Rhizome | Continue reading }

marker on inkjet print { Leah Schrager }

‘So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand.’ —Thucydides

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So, some asshole stole my snapshot, put it on reddit (which I didn’t know).

Last night, I posted my pic on reddit.

Now – I found out I got banned and accused of “stealing my own pic.”

Fuck the state of ‘creativity’ and ‘originality’ today. Fuck it.

Let the world implode inside of its own self-licking asshole.

Yes, these silly things mean something to people who actually CREATE anything. […]

No, it’s not yours to fucking ‘remix.’

No, it’s not ’shared’, to be owned by all – even if it’s free.

{ Tim Geoghegan on Facebook }

Quante uova a settimana possiamo mangiare?

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Dinner is served at 7:16 and finished at 7:20 P.M. […]

My only nourishment consists of food that is white: eggs, sugar, grated bones, the fat of dead animals, veal, salt, coconuts, chicken cooked in white water, fruit-mould, rice, turnips, camphorated sausages, pastry, cheese (white varieties), cotton salad, and certain kinds of fish (without their skin). […]

My doctor has always told me to smoke.

{ Erik Satie | Continue reading }

art { Andy Warhol, Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) (detail), 1963 }

‘[Man] is not conscious of being born, he dies in pain, and he forgets to live.’ —La Bruyère

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My brain tumor introduced itself to me on a grainy MRI, in the summer of 2009, when I was 28 years old. […]

Over time I would lose my memory—almost completely—of things that happened just moments before, and become unable to recall events that happened days and years earlier. […]

Through persistence, luck, and maybe something more, an incredible medical procedure returned my mind and memories to me almost all at once. I became the man who remembered events I had never experienced, due to my amnesia. The man who forgot which member of his family had died while he was sick, only to have that memory, like hundreds of others, come flooding back. The memories came back out of order, with flashbacks mystically presenting themselves in ways that left me both excited and frightened.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

What’s up with your bad breath onion rings

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Stanley: I lost my brother years ago

Ford: (from the other room) QUIT TELLING PEOPLE I’M DEAD

Stanley: Sometimes I can still hear his voice

{ Cyclone Rachel }

Who we are when we are not paying attention

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One woman reported having 8 car accidents in one 150 mile journey. She was also unlucky in love. After joining a dating agency, her first date fell off his motorcycle and broke his leg. The second date walked into a glass door and broke his nose. Eventually she met her future husband and the church they were going to get married in burned down the day before the wedding. […]

In total, 80 percent of people who attended Luck School said that their luck had increased. […]

Lucky people just try stuff.

{ Barking Up The Wrong Tree | Continue reading }