Image via Ander Burdain

The foundation pen: it slows down your writing thereby strengthening the complexity/simplicity of your thoughts. At some point the prose will need to be digitized.  

Global warming: it accelerates the seasons so the weather is fickle all the time. We are living in the data without imminent catastrophe, hence the lack of urgency. 

Nationalism: its rerise imbalances world order, making countries ripe to engage in games of zero-sum. An empire falls. 

We sacrifice the long-game for short-term gains. The little things add up until they trigger an emergency. Yet, the alarm was on the whole time. 

Searching for solitude

Image via Elisabetta Foco

We live in an era of the abundance of information, disinformation, and echo chambers where “people select their own reality by deliberately avoiding information that threatens their happiness and wellbeing.”

The main reason I stopped using Twitter was that it hijacked my focus, made me think in 140 characters which is a beautiful constriction but also one bereft of context. Twitter also made me feel trapped in a room of sameness, where people agreed with each other and sang each other’s hosannas. In the search for silence and deeper thinking, I had to remove myself from contributing to the noise.

Says co-authors Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz in a recent HBR article: searching for silence in the era of distraction is more important than ever.

Cultivating silence, as Hal Gregersen writes in a recent HBR article, “increase[s] your chances of encountering novel ideas and information and discerning weak signals.” When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda—what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next—it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found.

Perhaps I was short-sighted in arguing a few years ago that we should produce as much as we consume. We snack in excess and therefore feel compelled to create/reshare in abundance. Perhaps more significant is saying and doing nothing with our time.

It is in boredom we find ourselves and originate our own private thoughts.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Culture’s (im)permanency

Stacks of culture. (Image via David Grandmougin

“I love what Terence McKenna thought about culture: it’s not your friend, it’s like furniture, you can sit in it, enjoy it and walk away from it.” – Calibre, drum n bass legend

Culture is the by-product of timelessness. It is too rigid to change within itself but pliable enough to influence the birth of something new.

Take hip-hop for instance. It emerged from the blues and soul genres before it. Today, hip hop lives on through new forms of music like UK grime, which also shares elements of reggae.

Similarly, black culture continues to sows the seeds of American culture to this day.

Some cultures, like some genres and old technologies (e.g. vinyl), stand the test of time. They matter, unlike the fads and interim successors that appear original only to get lost tomorrow.

Culture is a hodgepodge of durable ingredients. It is built on top of something else but stands on its own.

Newsletter: ‘Competence without comprehension’


web gems

    1. “Riddim from the ghetto, lyrics from the streets.” That’s how Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry described reggae. Here he is producing from his Kingston, Jamaica studio in 1977.
    2. Burberry’s Britishness. Red Bull’s energy and fearlessness. Prada’s edginess and bold product design. This is what the German composer Richard Wagner called leitmotiv, the signature concept of a brand that makes it impossible to ignore. Read The Power Of Leitmotiv Note: Wagner the man was “rightly considered an indelible and embarrassing stain.”
    3. We are skilled without even thinking — what Thomas H. Huxley in 1874 called ‘conscious automata’ and what American philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett calls, ‘competence without comprehension’ in his new book From Bacteria to Bach: The Evolution of Minds.
    4. “If you put someone in front of a slot machine, their brain will look qualitatively the same as when they take heroin,” says the author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology. This is why we’re hooked on our phones.
    5. Waltham, Massachusetts was an outsider town along the Underground Railroad. Its residents were considered the first industrial middle class in America. “The Waltham Watch Factory made the first mass-produced watch. The iPhone of its day, it was responsible for mechanizing the movements of the Union Army during the Civil War.” Read Sight Unseen A neighborhood along the Underground Railroad
    6. I visited the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors this week. Amazing.
    7. You are not our thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. But you are your actions. How you determine what’s reasonable and worth doing versus what’s irrational and worth ignoring demonstrates the emotional strength of your thinking mind. Read 5 Questions That Will Make You Emotionally Strong
    8. Chewing on this quote: “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

digging in the crates

      1. “I honestly don’t see music, I just see information, data, programming, electricity, biochemistry.” Peep the new track ‘X22RME’ from Wolverhampton electronic producer Actress | Listen
      2. Sherwood & Pinch are London-based dub producers Adrian Sherwood and Rob Ellis aka Pinch. This is the second collaboration from the duo that originally met at the Fabric London night club. ‘Itchy Face’ is one of the standout arrangements on the latest record Man Vs. Sofa, trickling with their trademark bassline punches before stepping into soft touches of the piano. | Listen
      3. Joakuim is an electronic producer from Marseille, France. He apparently spent some time in Mexico City where some friends introduced him to the liquid drum n bass sounds of Alix Perez and Lenzman. The influence is evident, while he’s personalized his vibe with smooth-house touches. | Listen

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Lacing the blogs 

Image via Mikhail Pavstyuk

I see blogs as projects for unique avenues of thinking.

This blog is my thinking blog. It focuses on what I’m reading and chewing on. It’s a collection provocative ideas and observations.

My music blog is like my music shelf. It’s an ongoing library of new music finds from the current year. The post art is just as significant as the music. I like to dig around on the artist sites and social networks to select images of the musician. The stream — whether it’s from Bandcamp or SoundCloud, contains the song/album art.

My blog focuses on creative ways to respond to prompts. WordPress does a great job in galvanizing its community by inspiring people to show their angle on a variety of topics and photography challenges. For the latter, rummage through my Google Photos to see what works.

Meanwhile, my Tumblr blog is more or less an aggregator. I cross-post there but also play natively within the platform by posting quotes and resharing cool GIFs from others. I also use my Instagram to dice up the array of posting.

Nevertheless, all of feeds tie together. They are ways of seeing, of which nothing becomes clear until I write it down and publish it.

“Blogs are like ham­mers. They are tools for building stuff.”

— Hugh MacLeod

Blogs permit me to show my work. The writing can be repetitive and thematic, which often means I’m trying to nail down the nugget or UBI (unifying big idea) of my approach. But at the end of the day, I want to say ‘this is what I made today.’

In short, blogging is another way to connect the dots on screen.

Outsmart your worries

Image via Eric Hartsock

You are not our thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. But you are your actions. How you determine what’s reasonable and worth doing versus what’s irrational and worth ignoring demonstrates the emotional strength of your thinking mind.

As Eric Barker writes on his blog:

You’re not your brain; you’re the CEO of your brain. You can’t control everything that goes on in “Mind, Inc.” But you can decide which projects get funded with your attention and action. So when a worry is nagging at you, step back and ask: “Is this useful?”

Worrying is the attempt to control future events that rarely–wait, never happen! Anxiety is a thinking problem for which there are thinking solutions.

Socratic questioning will help you reframe negativity, as will the practice of acceptance. Permitting a bad thought, even exaggerating it, diminishes its effect: you get bored of it. Playing with dialectical forces ultimately reveals the truth.

You can strengthen your emotion muscle through some of methods outlined below: