Dull the senses

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Image via Cecilia Par 

Alcohol dulls the senses. Movies dull the senses. Scrolling Twitter dulls the senses. These things relieve excess brain action, distracting us from the honesty of focus.

We don’t like to be stranded alone with our own thoughts because we’re scared of what they might say. But a little movement helps tame the monkey mind.

“To you, clerk, literary man, sedentary person, man of fortune, idler, the same advice. Up!” — Walt Whitman

That is to say, go for a walk. Take acknowledgment of the senses. Whatever exercises the body, relieves the mind.

Newsletter: Continuous partial attention

web gems

    1. More than a hundred years ago, the father of modern neuroscience, Santiago Ramón y Cajal used his skills as an artist to illustrate the neuron doctrine, proving that information is the output of messy internal wiring provided by the brain’s chemical synchronicity.
    2. Posted three years ago but this is still one of my favorite John Peel quotes. #classic.
    3. “Language is used every day, and easily becomes shopworn, and it takes a poet to recall it to its freshness…Music is not as shopworn, and thus may cut straight to the heart.” —Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on On Anger, Disgust, and Love
    4. It’s the constant state of becoming. It’s both liberating and oppressive. It counts the ticks, which oscillate into the currency of modern life. Time is of the essence, ticking away… Good read: Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation
    5. Quotes I’m chewing on: “Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur.” — Muriel Spark + “Creativity and ego cannot go together.” —Buddhist Chef Jeong Kwan
    6. The Mathematician ➕➖➗✖️ + Amazing illustrations by Timno Kuilder
    7. Hangry at The Arsenal

digging in the crates

    1. Andy Mac is a Bristol-based electronic music producer. While his past solo projects focused on deep house and broken beat, his most recent release Diving Bird sees him pay respects to Bristol’s dub heritage. | LISTEN
    2. Italy’s Clap! Clap! (aka Cristiano Crisci) continues his genre-smashing success on his new album  A Thousand Skies, out now on Black Acre. Once again, he takes us on a sonic journey, wanting us to imagine a “young girl’s journey through the stars.” | LISTEN
    3. Gulu singing legend and ‘Acholi folk pop’ pioneer Otim Alpha teamed up with London producer Jesse Hackett and multi-instrumentalist Albert Ssempeke to produce Ennanga Vision“deconstructed musical forms from the kingdoms of Uganda.” | LISTEN
    4. 20-year-old Scottish producer Sam Gellaitry is back with the beats on his new single ‘Jungle Waters,’ dropping on the Escapism III album this April. | LISTEN

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The magic of music

Image via Alice Moore

Music is powerful because of its ability to galvanize emotions.

As Oliver Sachs demonstrated, music is therapy; familiar sounds trigger memory and can help people feel like their former selves.

Music can also suspend doubt and fear. Your workout playlist can push you the extra mile. Ambient noise can boost your concentration and thus productivity levels. In short, music can free your mind so you can do anything from dancing with fear to get stuff done.

There’s something instinctive about music that tugs directly at the heart. It needs little if no processing. Even a plant doesn’t need a mind to dance toward the sun.

“Language is used every day, and easily becomes shopworn, and it takes a poet to recall it to its freshness, its ability to embody eudaimonistic insights in a meaningful way. Music is not as shopworn, and thus may cut straight to the heart.”

Martha Nussbaum

Hidden proof

Santiago Ramón y Cajal (via The New York Times)
More than a hundred years ago, the father of modern neuroscience, Santiago Ramón y Cajal demonstrated that information is the output of messy internal wiring provided by the brain’s chemical synchronicity. He used his trained skills as an artist to illustrate the neuron doctrine.

Images via Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal
He called the connection between the neural impulses synapses, the gaps between the neurons that allowed them to talk to each other. However, he couldn’t identify the synapses under the microscope like we can with 200X magnification today.

You can still walk across an invisible bridge even if you can’t physically see it there. All you need to know is that the magic is working.

Read Hunched Over a Microscope, He Sketched the Secrets of How the Brain Works

A clash of sameness

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Image via Eric Nopanen

Now when the phone rings on the train, everyone instinctively checks their pockets. People used to personalize their ringtones so that their incoming calls were unique. Ringtones were a badge of individuality, demonstrating your music tastes and personality. The passengers with the Ghostbusters ringtone anthem always made seatmates chuckle.

The standardization of sound is one indication that the fascination with mobile phones has petered out. Instead, it’s the apps that live on our screens that determine what type of person we are.

LinkedIn, SnapChat, Instagram, Tumblr– these ‘places‘ allude to where we like to live, work, and play. We are uniform on the outside but raging in our little worlds, filter bubbles, or echo chambers on the inside.

It’s only when we chat with a stranger or go the polls do we realize that the digital and physical realities don’t match up. The world is not as it seems.

There is no such thing as a virtual utopia, a second life. If you’re not acting as the person online and off, you’ll inevitably run into frustration and subjugation. The real world runs on tribes until the creative minority once again breaks it back into pieces to retain their originality.

Newsletter: Disinformation and Frappuccinos™

web gems

  1. What an American football team in southeastern Ukraine can teach the US about the perils of disinformation, a term created by the KGB in the 1950s.
  2. In 1992, George Howell AKA “The Coffee Shaman” created the Frappuccino™. In 1994, he sold his twelve Boston-based Coffee Connection stores to Starbucks for $24 million. He still hates cold brews.
  3. Technology shapes us. Cities shape us. But urbanites across the world are all becoming the same. Read Future Life in the City and the Growing Spaces Between Us
  4. The cubicle was intended to be the action of office. What we got instead was “a mania for uniformity.
  5. Moving to a virtual utopia is saving the disabled from ‘information porn.
  6. Polish artist continues to make his thought-provoking illustrations.
  7. “The darker the night, the brighter the stars.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

digging in the crates

  1.  “I still have a lot of time for putting out 12 inches.” Joy Orbison wasn’t lying. It’s been five years since his last solo release, but Joy Orbison is back with all new EP on his own label TOSS PORTAL. ‘Rite Ov’ steps into a dub groove that even Mark Ernestus would appreciate. I just wish I had a better sound system to do the bass justice. |
    LISTEN
  2. The Peter Franks Group is an instrumental and jazz beat collective from Bournemouth, England. The fresh and crisp flute-driven track ‘Leaving This Place’ is one of the standout tracks off the band’s album Days Past. ‘Inner Most’ is also a moody gem. | LISTEN
  3. “In 2005, while making his Saturday morning yard sale rounds around town, collector Blake Oliver stumbled upon a box of curiously marked tapes. At first, Oliver thought he’d found the lost masters from Clem Price and George Beter’s Columbus-based Prix label.” | LISTEN

Want to enjoy more exclusive reads, new music, and other goodies? 

Sign up to the newsletter to receive a weekly digest of interesting articles and new music delivered directly to your inbox. See past issues.