“I don’t know. The real theme of the show is Don Quixote, which you hear about in every episode. And not just Don Quixote—I’m very proud of this: There isn’t an episode in which there isn’t a reference to a musical—Man of La Mancha and Camelot and Brigadoon. The idea is that they are on a noble but futile quest—they’ve decided that that has honor, and they’re gonna do it.”—Aaron Sorkin, TV’s Best Talker: Aaron Sorkin on The Newsroom, Sorkinism, and Sounding Smart
“Then he added, “I don’t know anything about ratings (and I’ve had the ratings to back that up) but if I were the president of CNN I would put the smartest news people I know in a room and ask, ‘What would a utopian news show look like?’ and then I’d ask ‘What’s stopping us from doing that?’ ”—
“All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”—George Orwell, on writing.
Researchers believe measurement of brain waves confirm Sigmund Freud’s contention that anxiety disorders such as phobias are the result of unconscious conflict. In new research, Shevrin Howard Shevrin, Ph.D., presented research on 11 individuals diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Each received a series of psychoanalytically oriented diagnostic sessions conducted by a psychoanalyst. From these interviews the psychoanalysts inferred what underlying unconscious conflict might be causing the person’s anxiety disorder. Words capturing the nature of the unconscious conflict were then selected from the interviews and used as stimuli in the laboratory.
“I work in a literary genre that thrives at uncertainty points, when questions about our future are unanswered. Even though post-9/11 America is as corporate-dominated as any cyberpunk could have anticipated, it’s also national-security-obsessed. We seem to be building toward a sort of public-private partnership of free-market totalitarianism that never felt like it was on the road map.”—The Windup Girl author Paolo Bacigalupi on what we can learn from the cyberpunk breakthrough. Article here
Everything we are doing as a society is towards limiting failure. However, we are on the verge of a rupture. A glitch in a systematized culture. Where we realize we have nothing left to lose, or if we have anything to lose, it’s worth giving up for something more important. I see our culture as being afraid of risk because it would mean giving up the very little success that was in itself difficult to achieve in our current economic climate. I see OWS as a hyper-aware reaction to the stagnation of our culture insofar that we no longer care about the level of sacrifice required because the alternative is too soul crushing. It is a realization that our culture is about to plateau and we long for something more than the bottom line.
We are prepared to embrace the uncertain, luck, chance, mistake, failure once again. That is the opposite of the New Aesthetic. The opposite of the singular computer vision systematizing everything and quashing all difference.
Last year you wrote about how we weren’t making any serious effort in the way of innovative new space launch schemes. Have your thoughts on this changed at all with developments like SpaceX and more interest in commercial space travel?
What they’ve achieved is really spectacular. I don’t think anyone can appreciate just how difficult it really is until you’ve been inside on a development project like that, so it’s an awe-inspiring thing that they’ve done. I’d like to see people exploring other options besides chemical rockets, but there are a lot of obstacles to doing that — to make a long story short those obstacles boil down to our attitude toward risk as a society.
What’s our current attitude toward risk?
I think we’ve become far more averse to risk than earlier generations were — and people have become conservative about trying to fund and explore new ideas in a way that’s becoming a serious problem for us.
Why do you think it’s such a serious problem?
That’s an interesting thing to think about. I don’t claim to have the answer — one take on it is that 50 years ago we had very limited access to information compared to the way things are now. Even the best informed decision makers were operating in a vacuum, and they knew it. They knew they had to accept a certain level of risk and make some judgment calls — and that their bosses or people responsible for evaluating them had to just accept that.
And you think the Internet is to blame?
The Internet has created a situation that we at least have the illusion that we can get unlimited information about anything now — and it may have fostered the attitude that if you take a risk and it doesn’t pan out, you should have known it, and you’re personally responsible.
So you think we were more innovative before we had all this information at our disposal?
Yes, I think that naiveté can actually have some advantages, in a strange way.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”—Anais Nin. Ken Robinson quoted it in a talk he gave at the World Innovation Forum. And just like that, our entire current moment in time distilled into a few lines.
“It is worthy of note that a revival of non-representationalism is taking place at the historical conjuncture when digital simulation technologies have nearly been perfected. Hypothetically everything conceivable by the human mind can be visualized with the aid of digital technology. The area of technical practicability no longer contains any limitations, the only borders are posed by human imagination and intellect. At the beginning of the century, abstract art brought an abrupt expansion of the conceivable. While a comparable and similarly radical
developement in the 21st century would be desirable, it seems to be rather unlikely at this moment.”—
From the catalogue for the Abstraction Now Exhibition in 2003.
“Time is a rubber band. The more you stretch it out, and the more you put off what you really want in favor of indecisiveness or not pissing anybody off or… anything, really, the more likely it is that it will just snap and hit you in the eye. You’re going to get hurt one way or another. Why, though, is it so often that the wounds are self-inflicted?”—Last lines in a review of the season finale of Girls on AV Club. Resonated. That’s all.
As much as I like the show Girls, its association with the writer Lesley Arfin makes me uncomfortable.
Mostly because she is a piece of shit who is representative of the privileged youth culture who thinks they can get away with anything and everything if they hide behind the veil of irony. This isn’t just relegated to racism. “Oh, I’m not a privileged yuppie asshole, look how I dress!” It’s the identification, adoption and transformation of a counter-culture uniform to more subversively express your values without consequence.
And then they justify it by telling everyone to quit whining, man up, deal with it, and to take the stick out of your ass, etc. Or with a “whatever, psh, I don’t give a fuck what you think attitude” As if their total detachment or their presumably obscure intentions make whatever they do or say okay. It’s some vulgar distortion of a shocking punk attitude but with some twisted ironic sincerity that makes it okay to be racist or bigoted or classist.
This behavior is disgusting bullshit and Lesley Arfin and people like her can go fuck themselves. What a piece of shit.
Disclaimer: my ideas on the New Aesthetic might be considered somewhat eccentric and divergent from the larger conversation that is occurring. I apologize before hand for what might be a muddled and confused idea.
“… the biggest single reason [these players] were misvalued was that the experts did not pay sufficient attention to the role of luck in baseball success. Players got given credit for things they did that depended on the performance of others: pitchers got paid for winning games, hitters got paid for knocking in runners on base. Players got blamed and credited for events beyond their control. Where balls that got hit happened to land on the field, for example.
Forget baseball, forget sports. Here you had these corporate employees, paid millions of dollars a year. They were doing exactly the same job that people in their business had been doing forever. In front of millions of people, who evaluate their every move. They had statistics attached to everything they did. And yet they were misvalued — because the wider world was blind to their luck.”—
On Wednesday I’ll be giving a talk here at #eyeo about luck.
It’s a really tough talk to assemble; I’m deep in something that I’m trying to understand myself, never been been this far outside my own experience and expertise. This is a tangent that extends from the thinking about algorithms, but right now it’s difficult to explain just how I got here.
In my research, however, one thing I’ve learned is that part of what makes you lucky is having the widest vision possible, to make yourself — keep yourself —open to everything all the time.
This was made manifest today when three different people sent me this very same talk by Michael Lewis, which is itself about luck. They sent it to me because they know what I’m thinking about, and that’s one way to stay open: be promiscuous with your thinking.
Lewis’ address is wise, and well-delivered, and I hope that my own take on this will contribute something as well.
“We have grown older, not only in years, but also in goals. We have gone all the way out to time’s borders, and thousands have rattled at its barriers. It is time we reined ourselves in. Spring’s pale endlessness we have invented is a lie, and our bleeding hands show the insurmountability of the last walls. But neither may we send our poor dreams out beyond them like doves with olive branches; they will not return. We must be human. We need eternity, for it alone provides our gestures room; and yet we know ourselves in cramped finality. We must, then, create an infinity within these barriers, since we no longer believe in boundlessness. Rather than dreaming of the spacious, flowering countryside, we must remind ourselves of the enclosed garden, which has its infinity as well: summer. Help us to gain it. To found a summer, that must be our goal.”— Rainer Maria Rilke, Diaries of a Young Poet