Sculpting

The sculptor must paint with his chisel: Half his touches are not to realize, but to put power into, the form. They are touches of light and shadow, and raise a ridge, or sink a hollow, not to represent an actual ridge or hollow, but to get a line of ight, or a spot of darkness.

~ John Ruskin

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A tiny commitment

To suddenly “go mindful” and try to be present all the time is about as easy as running a marathon when you’ve never even run around the block. Since most of us are not present the vast majority of the time, occasional stabs at “being in the moment” are quickly overrun by the colossal momentum of a lifetime of being lost in thought.

~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2010/03/how-to-make-mindfulness-a-habit- with-only-a-tiny-commitment/

There’s much worth reading on David Cain’s Raptitude website. For example, his How to walk across a parking lot, is one of the greatest things I’ve ever read. But the piece I’ve quoted from above stands out as a terrific “how to…” for working on mindfulness.

I’ve been actively working on first self-awareness, then self-assesment and finally mindfulness, for many years. (And writing about my journey as I’ve done so.) But mindfulness is still something that comes and goes for me.

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Rewriting

Rewriting [is] very painful. You know it’s finished when you can’t do anything more to it, though it’s never exactly the way you want it… The hardest thing in the world is simplicity. And the most fearful thing, too. You have to strip yourself of all your disguises, some of which you didn’t know you had. You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal.

~ James Baldwin

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Not in a vacuum

It can be easy to look at great geniuses like Newton and imagine that their ideas and work came solely out of their minds, that they spun it from their own thoughts—that they were true originals. But that is rarely the case.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/2020/04/shoulders-of-giants/

There’s a perennial discussion around creativity that gets described various ways: “Steal like an artist.” “Repurpose what’s been done before.” “Creating new from the old.” I like Parrish’s point, (in the article but not the quote above,) that “geniuses” first mastered the best that others had to offer. Then they go onward and farther to create something new.

If the only thing someone has ever done is sample and remix others’ work… meh. But if someone has mastered some field—art, math, music, whatever—and then recombines and extends, (or pares down or transmogrifies)… then, ok. My distinction feels very close to the, No true Scotsman, logic fallacy, and yet I think it’s a useful distinction.

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Vignettes

I was chatting with my old friend Arthur over a continental breakfast at the Hotel Palomar.

~ Dave Pell from, https://nextdraft.com/2017/04/02/the-cell-phone-time-machine/

I’m deeply in lust for vignettes. I’ve quoted the opening of the short piece and I’m saying nothing further about it. Although, I’ll happily arrange a few more bytes about vignettes.

You see, I’m a sucker for cuts; Cuts in the sense where one visual transitions to another exactly in the way that the real world doesn’t. (With a hat tip to Douglas Adams if that last turn of phrase feels familiar.) Movies like Up, or Bicentennial Man—which I love, but most people seem to pan—or check out the “Epilogue” in the movie, Cherry, (on AppleTV. Get AppleTV for a month just to watch this movie.) I’m a sucker for Vignettes that give you just enough information for you to navigate… and leave to your own devices to pull up your own memories, and to yank on your own heart strings.

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The effort is real

If you are going to be a writer there is nothing I can say to stop you; If you’re not going to be a writer nothing I can say will help you. What you really need at the beginning is somebody to let you know that the effort is real.

~ James Baldwin

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Choose two

Life is about tradeoffs. When we know what to say no to, and we know why, we can say yes with comfort and confidence to the things that matter. To the things that last. Work, family, scene. You can have two if you say no to one. If you can’t, you’ll have none.

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/work-family-scene/

The words “work”, “family”, and “scene” are of course maleable. I’d argue there’s a fourth—”self” or “health” would be the word I’d choose—and the admonition should be expanded to, “choose any three.” None the less, there something that feels to me very true about it being necessary, in the way the gravity is necessary to obey, about picking two of those three. There was a time when I chose work and scene. It was interesting, for a while. It wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. What’s your list, and which are you choosing?

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This is not amusing

I grew up with maps showing how cities would be obliterated by a nuke. They’re back.

~ Clive Thompson from, https://clivethompson.medium.com/the-return-of-1980s-era-nuclear-strike-maps-a7aa292f7702

As did I. And, The Day After, for those who don’t know what that is, … well to be candid, I’m not sure how to describe it. Absolutely, scientifically and viscerally real. I know what it looks like when civilization collapses; and it’s not some kitschy zombie scenario. Disease disables, maims and kills. But nuclear war would return us to Medieval times. I would have been 12 or so when The Day After aired on TV, and I’m confident we watched it. I know I’ve also seen it several times on VHS, (and possibly on Beta as we had one of those for a while too.) There’s an interesting, unresolved question about why don’t we see signs of other intelligent beings… and one legit thought is that, quite possibly, all but vanishingly few races obliterate themselves in a sort of technology limiting event.

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