Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets, and especially Celestial Voices (the part that starts after 07:00), as it was recorded live by the original band itself, is nowhere to be found on Youtube anymore; their corporate representatives seem to be taking good care of wiping clean all traces of humanity from their facade. They made sure that a wordless hymn to the sequence of birth, each person’s battle in life, death and the lamentation that such a thing as death even exists, was something to be excluded from the band’s catalogue online. All that is available now is cover versions, plenty of them, some not so bad, but most not even close to this one live recording from 1969 that bests them all.
Even the entire albumUmmagummais there on their official channel, apart from a single song: that one 12-minute track which has been made conspicuously unavailable.
I can’t fathom what the reasons for keeping this masterpiece from the general public in terms of profit could be, but one thing is for certain: it does stand out.
Phew! Finally done with this 500-page+ undertaking of a textbook. Reviewing textbooks is kind of weird, but I have to say that staying with this book and reading it bit by bit over almost a period of two years has made me seriously consider studying (cultural) anthropology more formally. I mean I already have a BA in Cultural Technology, why not add some cultural anthropology in there?
Seriously, after reading this book, my official position is that anthropology is for the humanities what physics is to the hard sciences—psychology would be mathematics and sociology would be chemistry. Just like studying physics, studying anthropology (especially combined with cultural studies) you can’t help but look at reality and your circumstances from a more detached standpoint, more objectively as it were. You get to see that your life is the result of the mixture of an endless array of possible sets of circumstances. It teaches humility, it teaches tolerance, curiosity, it awakens a deeper awareness of what being a human person in a world of human and non-human persons is all about.
I still think it’s about laughing, cooking and listening to/ playing music, but that’s just me.
My favourite chapters were on sex and marriage, art, patterns of subsistence food, language, cultural change and the anthropology of futurology. Any overlap with any of my more general interests, including what I believe to be the fundamentals of human culture as exposed above, is purely coincidental, I swear.
You don’t automatically have more motivation when you have more free time, but when you get rolling you’re more likely to keep working and keep creating.
The longer you’re away from the internet the less you miss it. Doing my half-hour per day wasn’t as inviting as I thought it would be.
My guess is that that is so because when you have a time limit, you have to prioritize. And prioritizing probably means excluding. It feels safer and easier to just avoid things rather than being forced to make decisions like including/excluding.
Cooking counts as creating. Oooh yes.
Media including movies is a bitch.
Next time we should probably do no books and see what happens. Julia Cameron had something to say about that, didn’t she? In The Artist’s Way, the theme for one of the weeks was not read a single text for a week. Again, back then there was no net.
This thingie below would have never existed if we hadn’t sat down with Daphne and said “okay, let’s make a collage”.
And this would have never existed if we hadn’t said “okay, what should we do now? Let’s paint!” — “OK, what?” — “eachother!”
But motivation is still a limited resource that can be separated into qualitative levels: you can have good motivation, bad (negative?) motivation, pure motivation and unstoppable motivation. All the lack of distraction does is bring forward the standard kind of motivation that under ordinary circumstances simply isn’t strong enough to become a greater priority than habit and addiction (media/internet). I suppose the kind of motivation we’re after is the one that needs no media fasts to rear its elusive head; it just trumps anything and everything!
But then again, you have people like Frank Herbert who just wrote— motivation, inspiration, or no… How about it, qb?
Thought you knew the real origin of the name Cubilone? Well, you thought wrong, because in the following video I reveal all for the first time.
Jokes aside, I prepared this video as part of the online preparation for the upcoming training in Olde Vechte in the Netherlands, the same place I did I SEE GREEN in February-March 2013 and REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE in November of the same year, for which I never wrote anything of note as far as I can recall, so clicking on the words will do nothing particularly significant.
Supposedly, this video is for presenting myself to the rest of the international group and what fulfills me in life. That was the mission. Do you think I managed to do it? I set off with high expectations but the impressions I’ve got from other people (apart from you Daphne and Mario!) have left me wondering. I can certainly say I had high expectations from the idea, and still do (the things I can write about Cubilonia! I could fill books with interesting things about that place) but I’m disappointed in, you know… why should I do it?
Looking for inspiration; maybe find it, proceed to let other people influence outcome too much; idea that felt awesome looks ridiculous in the space of a single hour when faced with awkward reception and blank stares. Artists shouldn’t listen to what other people think. Right? Artists and creatives don’t create for anyone but themselves. Right? Self-expression is of top importance. Right?
Got this from Audible. Actually, no: I got it for free as a kind of gift for being a subscriber but got tired of Audible and its DRM bullshit so I downloaded and listened to a pirated version of this and subsequently unsubscribed from Audible. Ahem.
In this surprisingly old book (it was written in 2002) journalist and plant aficionado Michael Pollan takes the well-worn trope of humans using the evolution of plants for their own benefit (i.e. agriculture) and turns its on its head: what if plants have actually used the evolution of humans for their own benefit?
Just to clarify, and Mr. Pollan was well-aware of this too, anthropomorphising evolution or nature and endowing it with such properties as intelligence and design (or intelligent design) is a figure of speech: as far as we know evolution is as purposeful as the flowing of the rivers and the burning of the stars. I’ll leave that one to you.
So, Michael Pollan’s idea was to take four species of plants–the tulip, cannabis, the apple and the potato– and examine how not just we humans have used them for our own needs, but also how the plants themselves, in an evolutionary tango with our own species, played on our desires and took advantage of us, too. The book has four chapters, one for each human desire responsible for the propagation of each of the four species of plant: sweetness for apples, beauty for tulips, intoxication for cannabis and control for potatoes.
“Great art is born when Apollonian form and Dionysian ecstasy are held in balance.”
In the first part of the book, I enjoyed Pollan’s comparison between the Dionysian and the Apollonian; chaos and order; female and male; yin and yang; nature and culture; the apple’s story and the tulip’s story, which both hold the sperms of their opposite inside them, in true dualist nature. I found this quote particularly interesting: “Great art is born when Apollonian form and Dionysian ecstasy are held in balance”, and it becomes more and more relevant as one goes through the book, seeing in every plant’s story the art manifesting itself through the tug–which at the same time is a balancing act–between human structures imposed on nature and nature’s tendency to defy control. Then there’s structure in nature’s chaos and a part that is natural in human structures and so on.
The chapter on cannabis was a little more daring, given marijuana’s legal status (which is, however slowly, changing around the world) and Mr. Pollan shares his insights on that topic and how human societies brought a species underground, where it’s found new life, too. The Apollonian has won, even though the desire itself is Dionysian. Hm. Are all human desires Dionysian, I wonder?
The last chapter was about GMOs and Monsanto’s control on patented potato seeds, including many many other agricultural plants of course. It’s amazing and telling that this chapter, written 12 years ago, seems to sketch the current situation so eloquently. Even though I come from a family background which is 100% anti-GMO, the arguments posited here about the pros and cons of GMOs as well as the pros and cons of organic agriculture seemed very well balanced and neutral to me, and most of all well-argued; in a few words, as close to an objective view as I could hope for. It’s still pro-organic, but cleverly so: it adds an interesting twist from a philosophical, pragmatical and experiential perspective–e.g. the story of the writer’s own batch of GMO potatoes. I would even suggest reading this chapter alone for a nice eagle’s eye view of what’s wrong with GMOs, what they’re supposedly trying to solve and why they’re most probably not going to solve it, creating other unforeseeable problems along the way.
Pollan managed to blend personal experience with journalistic research quite seamlessly and enjoyably, and I feel as though I came out of this read listen more complete and with a greater sense of appreciation for agriculture. Cause you can’t have agriculture without culture. I’m not giving it five stars because… oh I can’t come up with a reason, but hey, I don’t have to give you one, it’s my gut score! It might have to do with the reader of the audiobook whose voice and intonation sometimes annoyed me. I’d give it a 4.5 though, easily.
Thanks go to Karina for first telling me about this book two years ago or so.
The Artist’s Way is one of those books that change you – one of those that are made to change you, and you buy them because you yourself want to change. It’s a course in self-discovery, acceptance and creative birth.
These are the basics: for every morning of every week for the 12-week duration of the course -one chapter for each week-, the blocked artists choosing to follow the Way have to:
1)Do three pages of free writing every morning, a daily ceremony known as the Morning Pages. This acts as a mind-clearing meditation routine, a brainstorming machine and a way of spotting trends: weeks after writing the pages the artist on the Way may analyse his or her morning pages and notice trends in his or her daily writings: unfulfilled artistic urges, changes that need to be made for the person to reach harmony and happiness, sudden ideas and other great things.
2) Take themselves out to at least one Artist’s date per week, in which they have to indulge in whatever it is they love doing but would not normally allow themselves to be lost in (remember, this book is meant for blocked artists -read: most of us-).
3) Complete tasks in personal archaeology and self-discovery, wherein they have to dig up favourite creative childhood pass-times they gave up because of humiliation, “growing up” or other creativity-killing reasons.
I completed my 12(+1 lazy one) weeks a few days ago. I can safely say that it had great effects on me. Doing morning pages has now become more of a good habit of mine, and even if I didn’t do all of the tasks, it’s one of the books you have to go through at some point again for inspiration. It says so in the end, too.
If you’re a blocked artist, believe you can’t do art because you think you’re too old to start or “can’t draw” (or are “tonedeaf” or “terrible at writing” or “have no ideas” ad nauseam), think whatever you do needs to be perfect from the beginning or don’t bother because what you would create wouldn’t appeal to the masses, you should really try following The Artist’s Way.
The only thing I would add to the course itself would be a special NoSurf task or, even better, a complete revisit to the book that takes what the world looks like in 2013 into account; I strongly feel the internet is becoming, at the same time, the most important invention and the single strongest creativity and motivation killer mankind has ever known. I mean, in the 1993 edition that I have, there’s already a no-reading week included in the course for eliminating distractions and for focusing time and energy on the creative juices within, but the internet is proving to be a distraction magnitudes greater than reading the paper or a book could ever be. We come in contact with the works of the world’s most talented and creative on a basis of addiction, almost.
What I really mean is that I’ve grown tired of and alarmed at the great artists I personally know who keep getting demotivated by seeing someone else’s graphic, photo or drawing on Tumblr or listening to that fantastic song or watching that clever video on Youtube, instead of getting inspired, as they claim they should be. It’s more “look how much others have progressed instead of me” and much less “this is possible and I could do it too.”
Above: a photograph of my own copy of The Art of Looking Sideways.
This book is a valuable collection of experiences, quotes, designer-gasms, observations and insights into life, the aesthetic, artistic and general human experience, by late master graphic designer Alan Fletcher.
I got it more than a year ago like new (yes, it took me this long to go through its 1000+ pages reading/enjoying on and off) for around €30. Most of that must have been the shipping costs: when it arrived I really couldn’t believe the sheer mass of it. I tried to scan some of it, once; the results: my current profile picture, and a scanner which since then has been occassionally malfunctioning, the book’s weight having left a permanent scar in its life of digitisation. This is actually the only reason I haven’t been lugging it around more often, showing it to each and every one of my friends — artistically inclined or no.
This book is so thick with inspiration it’s almost impossible to deal with: you can’t open it randomly to catch the creative spark (supposedly Alan Fletcher’s point in making it) without wanting to read it all. Though I suppose this mindless and distracted consumption is a personal demon I have to deal with!
Anyway. I’ll make this short and to the point: this treasure chest of a book is one of my most prized and proud possessions — and believe you me, as a rule I don’t take particular pride anymore in owning things.