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Love what you do in front of the kids in your life
"“Your kids… They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
—Jim Henson

“Attitudes are caught, not taught.”
—Fred Rogers

Fiona Apple once admitted that she doesn’t want kids, but she spends a lot of time buying and reading parenting books. The interviewer said, “So you’re the parent and the child.” Apple replied, “Well, I mean, you always have to be.”

Every time I read a piece like Pamela Paul’s “Let Children Get Bored Again,” I want to cross out the word “children” and write “us.”

Let children us get bored again.
Let children us play.
Let children us go outside.

Etc.

The problem with parenting tips is that the best way to help your children become the kind of person you want them to be is by surrounding them with the kinds of people you want them to be. This includes you.

You can’t tell kids anything. Kids want to be like adults. They want to do what the adults are doing. You have to let them see adults behaving like the whole, human beings you’d like them to be.

If we want to raise whole human beings, we have to become whole human beings ourselves.

This is the really, really hard work.

Want your kids to read more? Let them see you reading every day.

Want your kids to practice an instrument? Let them see you practicing an instrument.

Want your kids to spend more time outside? Let them see you without your phone.

There’s no guarantee that your kids will copy your modeling, but they’ll get a glimpse of an engaged human. As my twitter pal, Lori Pickert, author of Project-Based Homeschooling, tweeted a few years ago:
parents keep trying to push their kids toward certain interests when it works so much better to just dig into those interests yourself

oh, wait .. those aren’t YOUR interests? so you don’t want to dig into them? they aren’t your child’s interests either; why would THEY?

joyfully dig into your own interests and share all the ensuing wins, frustrations, struggles, successes

let your kids love what they love

when you share your learning and doing, you don’t make them also love (whatever); you DO show them how great it is to do meaningful work

If you spend more time in your life doing the things that you love and that you feel are worthwhile, the kids in your life will get hip to what that looks like.

“If adults can show what they love in front of kids, there’ll be some child who says, ‘I’d like to be like that!’ or ‘I’d like to do that!’” said Fred Rogers. He told a story about a sculptor in a nursery school he was working in when he was getting his master’s degree in child development:

[video: "Mister Rogers - attitudes are caught, not taught"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDojoOiKLuc]
There was a man who would come every week to sculpt in front of the kids. The director said, “I don’t want you to teach sculpting, I want you to do what you do and love it in front of the children.” During that year, clay was never used more imaginatively, before or after…. A great gift of any adult to a child, it seems to me, is to love what you do in front of the child. I mean, if you love to bicycle, if you love to repair things, do that in front of the children. Let them catch the attitude that that’s fun. Because you know, attitudes are caught, not taught.”

It’s like a Show Your Work! lesson for parenting: Show the kids in your life the work that you love."
workinginpublic  children  parenting  howeteach  howwelearn  education  learning  examples  loripickert  fionaapple  jimhenson  fredrogers  pamelapaul  austinkleon  modeling  interests  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  passion 
february 2019 by robertogreco
A year of drawing
"My son Jules woke up on Christmas last year and started drawing. He was 2. (His birthday is in March.)

Inspired by Sylvia Fein’s book Heidi’s Horse, which collects her daughters drawings from toddler to teenage years, I thought it’d be interesting to see how his drawings developed over the next 12 months."
childhood  children  drawing  art  children'sdrawings  austinkleon  2018  2019  juleskleon 
january 2019 by robertogreco
The distance I can be from my son
"We took the 5-year-old docent and his brother back to the Blanton Museum this afternoon. My favorite piece was Lenka Clayton’s The Distance I Can Be From My Son (2013). In three short videos, Clayton films her son walking away from her until she can’t stand it anymore and runs after him. The videos were part of Clayton’s “Artist Residency in Motherhood:” an attempt to “allow [motherhood] to shape the direction of my work, rather than try to work ‘despite it’.”

["The distance I can be from my son - Supermarket"
https://vimeo.com/54984971 ]

In Hannah Gadsby’s devastating Netflix special, Nanette, she deconstructs how jokes work on a system of tension and release — the setup is “artificially inseminated with tension” and the punchline releases it. Each of these videos is structured like a joke: You see the son toddling away, and at the very end of the video, the mother bolts after him. Tension and release. Setup and punchline.

["The distance I can be from my son - Park"
https://vimeo.com/49564932 ]

There are interesting layers here: Clayton is setting herself up to see how far she can let her son go, and she’s setting us up, too. (Gadsby points out that her job as a comedian is to build tension and release it and do that over and over again. “This is an abusive relationship!”) We watched the videos with our kids after spending an exhausting 30 minutes in the museum trying to keep them close, my wife restraining the 3-year-old from leaping onto the paintings. (Unfortunately, art museums do require “helicopter parenting.”) The joke, I think, is not on the kid, or the kid viewers: my sons laughed out loud during the videos — I think they were rooting for him to get away!

["The distance I can be from my son - Back Alley"
https://vimeo.com/54962435 ]

Then, you remember the news and the fact that our government has split thousands of families apart at the border. Suddenly, The Distance I Can Be From My Son takes on a completely different meaning. You laughed and now you want to scream."
art  austinkleon  parenting  freedom  lenkclayton  tension  releas  hannahgadsby  comedy  tragedy 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Reading right to left
After I wrote about looking at things upside down [https://austinkleon.com/2018/06/26/turn-it-upside-down/ ], a reader relayed what his daughter was learning in army cadet training: “In the field, troops are told to scan from right to left. As we generally read left to right, doing the opposite aids in detecting anomalies in the landscape and potential threats to safety.”

Here’s photographer Dale Wilson (emphasis mine):
One of the first tricks I learned many years ago had nothing to do with photography, but was drilled into me by an army sergeant. It only took a few smacks up the back of my head to learn how to look from right-to-left when scanning a landscape in an effort to see the hidden “enemy” in our mock battles. This process of reverse reading forced me to slow down and read each tree as if it were a syllable I was seeing for the first time. Even today, about thirty years after I called that sergeant every adjective not found in a descent dictionary, I still find myself scanning a landscape from right-to-left.

More on reading right-to-left here. [https://booktwo.org/notebook/reading-right-to-left/, previously posted here https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/132287071238/im-getting-more-radical-in-my-view-of-the ]"

[See also: https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/38278729921/this-is-how-i-read
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/tagged/how-we-read
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/t:howweread ]
howweread  seeing  austinkleon  2018  jamesbridle  dalewilson  looking  attention  process  reading  scanning  photography 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Ideas in cars, honking
[To these examples, I’d add what Earl Sweatshirt says about moments and his process in this interview:
https://www.npr.org/sections/microphonecheck/2015/03/24/394987116/earl-sweatshirt-im-grown
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:30b20a46fed3 ]

"There was one great spot in the Dave Chappelle episode, though, that I felt was worth transcribing and sharing. Seinfeld asks Chappelle whether he feels like, knowing he can do a great TV show, he shouldn’t try to do another one.
CHAPPELLE: Sometimes the offering drives. If I [have] an idea, it should drive. It’s like the idea says, “Get in the car.” And I’m like, “Where am I going?” And the idea says, “Don’t worry, I’m driving.” And then you just get there.

SEINFELD: The idea’s driving.

CHAPPELLE: Sometime’s I’m shotgun. Sometimes I’m in the f—ing trunk. The idea takes you where it wants to go.

SEINFELD: That’s great.

CHAPPELLE: And then other times, there’s me, and it’s my ego, like, “I should do something!”

SEINFELD: “I should be driving!”

CHAPPELLE: Yeah.

SEINFELD: That’s not good.

CHAPPELLE: No, ‘cause there’s no idea in the car. It’s just me. That formula doesn’t work.

SEINFELD: If the idea is in the car honking, going, “Let’s go…” It pulls up in front of your house.

CHAPPELLE: That’s exactly right.

SEINFELD: “You’re in your pajamas. Get dressed!”

CHAPPELLE: “I’m not ready!” “You can go like this.” “Where are we going? What are we doing?” “Don’t worry about it. You’ll see.”

Although, there’s another great story about cars and ideas, told by Elizabeth Gilbert:
Tom [Waits], for most of his life, he was pretty much the embodiment of the tormented contemporary modern artist, trying to control and manage and dominate these sort of uncontrollable creative impulses that were totally internalized.

But then he got older, he got calmer, and one day he was driving down the freeway in Los Angeles, and this is when it all changed for him. And he’s speeding along, and all of a sudden he hears this little fragment of melody, that comes into his head as inspiration often comes, elusive and tantalizing, and he wants it, it’s gorgeous, and he longs for it, but he has no way to get it. He doesn’t have a piece of paper, or a pencil, or a tape recorder.

So he starts to feel all of that old anxiety start to rise in him like, “I’m going to lose this thing, and I’ll be be haunted by this song forever. I’m not good enough, and I can’t do it.” And instead of panicking, he just stopped. He just stopped that whole mental process and he did something completely novel. He just looked up at the sky, and he said, “Excuse me, can you not see that I’m driving?”

“Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist, come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you. Otherwise, go bother somebody else today. Go bother Leonard Cohen.”

And his whole work process changed after that. Not the work, the work was still oftentimes as dark as ever. But the process, and the heavy anxiety around it was released when he took the genie, the genius out of him where it was causing nothing but trouble, and released it back where it came from, and realized that this didn’t have to be this internalized, tormented thing.

Gilbert interviewed Waits in 2002 and he elaborated on his attitude:
“Kids are always working on songs and throwing them away, like little origami things or paper airplanes. They don’t care if they lose it; they’ll just make another one.” This openness is what every artist needs. Be ready to receive the inspiration when it comes; be ready to let it go when it vanishes. He believes that if a song “really wants to be written down, it’ll stick in my head. If it wasn’t interesting enough for me to remember it, well, it can just move along and go get in someone else’s song.” “Some songs,” he has learned, “don’t want to be recorded.” You can’t wrestle with them or you’ll only scare them off more. Trying to capture them sometimes “is trying to trap birds.” Fortunately, he says, other songs come easy, like “digging potatoes out of the ground.” Others are sticky and weird, like “gum found under an old table.” Clumsy and uncooperative songs may only be useful “to cut up as bait and use ’em to catch other songs.” Of course, the best songs of all are those that enter you “like dreams taken through a straw.’ In those moments, all you can be, Waits says, is grateful.

Brian Eno puts it in terms of surrender and control:
On one side of Eno’s scale diagram, he writes “control”; on the other “surrender”. “We’ve tended to dignify the controlling end of the spectrum,” he says. “We have Nobel prizes for that end.” His idea is that control is what we generally believe the greats – Shakespeare, Picasso, Einstein, Wagner – were about. Such people, the argument goes, controlled their chosen fields, working in isolation, never needing any creative input from others. As for surrender, that idea has become debased: it’s come to mean what the rest of us do when confronted by a work of genius. “We’ve tended to think of the surrender end as a luxury, a nice thing you add to your life when you’ve done the serious work of getting a job, getting your pension sorted out. I’m saying that’s all wrong.”

He pauses, then asks: “I don’t know if you’ve ever read much about the history of shipbuilding?” Not a word. “Old wooden ships had to be constantly caulked up because they leaked. When technology improved, and they could make stiffer ships because of a different way of holding boards together, they broke up. So they went back to making ships that didn’t fit together properly, ships that had flexion. The best vessels surrendered: they allowed themselves to be moved by the circumstances.

“Control and surrender have to be kept in balance. That’s what surfers do – take control of the situation, then be carried, then take control. In the last few thousand years, we’ve become incredibly adept technically. We’ve treasured the controlling part of ourselves and neglected the surrendering part.” Eno considers all his recent art to be a rebuttal to this attitude. “I want to rethink surrender as an active verb,” he says. “It’s not just you being escapist; it’s an active choice. I’m not saying we’ve got to stop being such controlling beings. I’m not saying we’ve got to be back-to-the-earth hippies. I’m saying something more complex.”
austinkleon  davechappelle  jerryseinfeld  elizabethgilbert  tomwaits  brianeno  control  flow  ideas  howwethink  creativity  neoteny  children  surrender  tension  howwework  howwelearn  productivity  earlsweatshirt  2018  rap  hiphop  thebenerudakgositsile 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon on Twitter: "I think a lot about how the phone call — hearing the sound of a real human voice — is becoming a more intimate, meaningful option in the face of 24/7 text/image connection… https://t.co/dDx24gJ62v"
"I think a lot about how the phone call — hearing the sound of a real human voice — is becoming a more intimate, meaningful option in the face of 24/7 text/image connection

There’s a really interesting part of @dada_drummer’s THE NEW ANALOG, where he talks about how different phone calls became when they went digital — background noise was reduced, and so the sense of distance https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1620971976/

He points out that the iPhone has 3 microphones, but they're not used to capture extra sound, they're for noise-cancelling — they're used to isolate signal from noise [image]

On the iPhone, “*what* is being said is very clear — but *how* the message is delivered is lost. Is the voice loud or soft? Are we being addressed intimately or publicly? Can we hear hints of other meanings in the speaker’s voice, or does the delivery match the words exactly?”

There’s a “cell yell” that @dada_drummer points out: when we're out in the world on the phone, we tend towards shouting — even though we can be clearly heard in a noisy environ thanks to noise cancellation — b/c the phone doesn't feed our voice back to us, so we can’t regulate it

"essay idea: how the rise of podcasts corresponds to the decline of (personal) phone calls for millennials"
[https://twitter.com/popespeed/status/971940280709603328 ]

This is an interesting point. When I do podcast interviews, I have an extremely good USB mic and headphones to monitor my voice, so I can move closer to the mic, speak softer,

Maybe people like podcasts so much because they replicate more of what a real world or analog telephone conversation sounds like? Something to ponder!

Oh, I’m reminded now: @cordjefferson told a beautiful story at @PopUpMag about a voicemail message his mother left him, and how it changed the way he thought about phone calls. (I don’t think it exists online, or I’d link to it.)"
austinkleon  audio  microphones  mobile  phones  telephones  intimacy  voice  sound  recording  noise  noisecancellation  analog  conversation  phonecalls  humans  connection  2018  digital  iphone  podcasts 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Why I keep a diary
"Yesterday I wrote about how I keep my diaries. This morning, because commenters asked what they look like, I posted some of my diary pages on Instagram. Then a commenter asked, “But what is the point of this?”

Here’s what I wrote back, verbatim:
I keep a diary for many reasons, but the main one is: It helps me pay attention to my life. By sitting down and writing about my life, I pay attention to it, I honor it, and when I’ve written about it long enough, I have a record of my days, and I can then go back and pay attention to what I pay attention to, discover my own patterns, and know myself better. It helps me fall in love with my life.

So, primarily, keeping a diary is about paying attention to my life and then paying attention to what I pay attention to.

There are some other reasons I keep a diary.

I have a terrible memory for things that happen to me. I can remember books and quotes and movies and art and all of these inanimate things that I love, but I simply cannot seem to keep track of my own days. My experience of time is very slippery.

This quality got exacerbated when I had children. Infants destroy your memory through sleep deprivation, but toddlers and preschoolers play tricks on your sense of time and progress when you’re around them all day, because 1) having young children can be extremely monotonous, and 2) you’re seeing them morph in real time, so the change is gradual, and you don’t necessarily take notice of the leaps and bounds that can happen in even a week. (For an alternative perspective, see Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness: The End of a Diary.)

Diaries are evidence of our days. When I read a diary from even just a few months ago, I am regularly shocked by how much has and hasn’t changed in our house. It helps me take notice of just how far we’ve come. It also reminds me that life is seasonal, and we are inevitably doomed to repeat ourselves, a la Groundhog Day, so we must proceed without hope and without despair.

Finally, I find that my diary is a good place to have bad ideas. I tell my diary everything I shouldn’t tell anybody else, especially everyone on social media. We are in a shitty time in which you can’t really go out on any intellectual limbs publicly, or people — even your so-called friends! — will throw rocks at you or try to saw off the branch. Harsh, but true.

So you have to have a private space to have your own thoughts. A diary does that.

I wonder how many people forget that George Orwell’s 1984 literally begins when the character Winston Smith buys a paper diary and starts writing in it. I’ve heard that part of the goal of an autocratic regime is to get you to disbelieve your own perceptions. Again, here is where your diary comes in handy. You keep track of what’s happening, write your own history book, consult it when you feel like you’re going crazy."

[See also: "Notebook Turducken"
https://austinkleon.com/2018/02/19/notebook-turducken/ ]
austinkleon  diaries  routines  2018  memory  notetaking  attention  noticing 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The tools matter and the tools don’t matter
"What I love about Gardner and Barry is that they believe that the tools you use do matter, but the point, for them, is finding the proper tools that get you to a certain way of working in which you can get your conscious, mechanical mind out of the way so that your dreaming can go on, undeterred.

You have to find the right tools to help your voice sing.

For Lynda, it was the paintbrush that allowed her to get to the point where she could basically take dictation—“to dream it out” without editing—but it could’ve been anything, really. (I should note that Lynda happily details the exact sumi-e brush and ink she used to make One! Hundred! Demons! in the back of the book.) While I don’t myself use a brush and legal paper to draft my work, I keep a page from the manuscript hanging in my bedroom to remind me of the importance of handwriting and slowing down."



"As for non-fiction writing, my friend Clive Thompson took the “pencil vs. typewriter” thing literally and researched when you should write with a pencil and when you should type on the keyboard.

What he discovered was that handwriting is great for coming up with ideas, for note-taking and big picture thinking. So, when you’re at lectures or in meetings or brainstorming ideas, it’s a good idea to scribble or doodle in your notebook. So always carry a pencil. (Clive got me into Palamino Blackwings.)

Typing, on the other hand, is great for producing writing for other people, say, writing an article. The faster you type, Clive said, the better your ideas will be. There’s a thing called “transcription fluency,” which boils down to: “when your fingers can’t move as fast as your thoughts, your ideas suffer.” If you help people increase their typing speed, their thoughts improve. (Learn to type faster!)

So, yes, the tools matter, but again, it’s all about what you are trying to achieve. So a question like, “What brand of pen do you use?” is not as good as “How do you get that thick line quality?” or “How do you dodge Writer’s Block?”"
austinkleon  tools  writing  howwework  2018  advice  art  lyndabarry  johngardner  clivethompson  typing  handwriting  ideas  notetaking 
february 2018 by robertogreco
How to find your voice
"Young artists are always being told to “find your voice.”

Whatever that means!

I’ve never heard anyone explain it better than Billy Collins at a White House poetry workshop. I couldn’t find the text anywhere, so I transcribed it below. (If you’ve read Steal Like An Artist, this might sound really familiar…)
What I don’t like about the expression ‘finding your voice’ is that it’s very mystifying in the minds of young people. It makes you feel — made me feel when I first heard it — that your voice is tied up with your authenticity, that your voice lies deep within you, at some root bottom of your soul, and that to find your voice you need to fall into deep introspection… you have to gaze deeply into yourself. The frustration and the anxiety is that maybe you won’t find anything there. That you’re on this terrible quest to nowhere.

Let me reassure you that it’s not that mysterious. Your voice has an external source. It is not lying within you. It is lying in other people’s poetry. It is lying on the shelves of the library. To find your voice, you need to read deeply. You need to look inside yourself, of course, for material, because poetry is something that honors subjectivity. It honors your interiority. It honors what’s inside. But to find a way to express that, you have to look outside yourself.

Read widely, read all the poetry you can get your hands on. And in your reading, you’re searching for something. Not so much your voice. You’re searching for poets that make you jealous. Professors of writing call this “literary influence.” It’s jealousy. And it’s with every art, whether you play the saxophone, or do charcoal drawings. You’re looking to get influenced by people who make you furiously jealous.

Read widely. Find poets that make you envious. And then copy them. Try to get like them.

You know, you read a great poem in a magazine somewhere, and you just can’t stand the fact that you didn’t write it. What do you do? Well, you can’t get whiteout, and blank out the poet’s name and write yours in — that’s not fair. But you can say, “Okay, I didn’t write that poem, let me write a poem like that, that’s sort of my version of that.” And that’s basically the way you grow…

After you find your voice, you realize there’s really only one person to imitate, and that’s yourself. You do it by combining different influences. I think the first part of it is you do slavish imitations, which are almost like travesties, you know. But gradually you come under the right influences, picking and choosing, and being selective, and then maybe your voice is the combination of 6 or 8 other voices that you have managed to blend in such a way that no one can recognize the sources. You can take intimacy from Whitman, you can learn the dash from Emily Dickinson…you can pick a little bit from every writer and you combine them. This allows you to be authentic. That’s one of the paradoxes of the writing life: that the way to originality is through imitation.”


You can watch video of the whole workshop below. (Collins speaks at around the half hour mark.)"

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVIOKLXK9uY ]

[via: https://twitter.com/austinkleon/status/950133096610967552 ]
2015  2011  austinkleon  billcollins  writing  voice  multitude  poetry  art  beauty  personhood  williamcarloswilliams  influence  influences  remixing  agglomeration  authenticity  interconnectedness  interconnected  interconnectivity 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Caveman drawings
"Our two-year-old, Jules, our little caveman, started drawing dozens of skeletons a few days ago, and in response to my posts about them, an Instagram follower commented, “They’re like ancient cave drawings.” I immediately thought of the work of Sylvia Fein, a painter who wrote two really interesting books about children’s artwork: Heidi’s Horse, a record of her daughter’s drawings of horses from the ages of 2 to 17, and First Drawings: Genesis of Visual Thinking, which compares children’s drawings to the cave paintings and drawings of our ancestors. The books can be hard to track down, so here are a few examples from First Drawings, below:

[images]

I love these books because they honor the work of children’s drawing — their play — by paying close attention to it, and they show how the development of children’s visual thinking echoes the development of our species’ visual thinking. Children do the work of developing powers that we have evolved over thousands of years, all in the span of a decade or two.

I also love these books because they are about intense looking and observation, and they explore their arguments through simple juxtaposition. I know of at least two other books — both favorites of mine — that use this method: David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge, which compares post-photography painting to medieval pre-optics paintings, and Norman Brosterman’s Inventing Kindergarten, which compares the art of kindergarteners to the art of modernist artists and architects.

Sylvia Fein is a terrific painter who, to my knowledge, is still working at the age of 98. Here’s a 2014 documentary about her life and work. There’s a wonderful moment when she speaks of discovering working in miniature when her daughter was very little: “I was just in heaven. Everything seemed to go together: my life and my painting.” I’m inspired by the way Fein was able to integrate motherhood and art-making. (Above is my favorite painting of hers, obviously a self-portrait, from 1947, called “Lady With Her Baby.”)

The only thing remotely similar to Fein’s book Heidi’s Horse that I can think of is a 1939 exhibit at the MoMA, Creative Growth, Childhood to Maturity, which showcased the work of Dahlov Ipcar, from the age 3 to 22. (She was, by the way, the first woman with a solo exhibition at MoMA.) Ipcar’s parents, William Zorach and Marguerite Zorach, were both artists, and they saved much of the artwork she made as a young child. The press release of the show outlines a goal very similar to Heidi’s Horse: “it shows the creative growth from infancy to adulthood of an individual who is neither a genius nor a prodigy.”

Ipcar wrote about her unique upbringing in her essay, “My Family, My Life, My Art”:
My parents had always encouraged me to develop my own style of art. They both had undergone conventional art school training, but when they became involved in the modern art movement, they found they had to unlearn everything they had been taught…. They had deliberately left me unschooled in art, wanting to see what would happen if I were left alone to develop in my own way.

Ipcar and Fein share another connection: they both found a way to integrate their life and art-making. It came naturally to Ipcar, who recalled painting in the studio alongside her mother, and later, painting with her own children:
People always ask me how I managed to paint when my two boys were small. My children were a joy to me, and there was no problem working with them around — I just let them play at my feet as I painted. They would even run toy fire engines up and down my easel, but it didn’t bother me.

This is very much what I am attempting here, at the kitchen table, at this very moment, while the two boys draw quietly beside me, long enough for me to press “Publish.”
children'sdrawings  children'sart  2017  austinkleon  sylviafein  parenting  dahlovipcar  drawing  children  art  artists  moma  childhood 
january 2018 by robertogreco
We have no art
"Corita Kent liked to quote a Balinese saying: “We have no art. We do everything as well as we can.” (I would guess that she read it in Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media.) She liked it so much she made it the slogan of the art department of Immaculate Heart College, where she taught for over 20 years. She explained: “You don’t have art off in a little niche someplace. You have no distinction between what is art and what is not art. You do everything as well as you can.”"
austinkleon  bali  sistercorita  coritakent  2017  mrshallmcluhan  art 
december 2017 by robertogreco
33 thoughts on reading
"I will make time for reading, the way I make time for meals, or brushing my teeth.

I will make an effort to carry a book with me at all times.

I will read whatever interests me. I will read novels. I will read poems. I will read essays. I will read short stories. I will read memoirs. I will read magazines. I will read newspapers. I will read comic books. I will read self-help. I will read street signs. I will read ads. I will read instruction manuals. I will read old love letters. Etc.

I will read whatever the hell I feel like. No guilty pleasures.

I will try to clear my mind of expectations before I sit down to read. I will give each book a chance.

I will turn off my fucking phone.

I will be a good date, but I will not let an author waste my time.

I will not finish books I don’t like.

I will let boredom ring like a gigantic gong.

I will throw a book across the room.

I will read with a pencil. I will underline. I will dog ear. I will write in the margins.

I will massacre a book if I need to.

I will copy down favorite passages in my own hand, to know what writing the words feels like.

I will re-read favorite books the way I watch favorite movies and play favorite records over and over.

I will make lists of books I want to read.

I will take a deep breath and understand that it is IMPOSSIBLE to read everything.

I will toss “The Canon” out the window.

I will keep a list of books I have read. I will share this list.

When I find a book I love, I will shout about it from whatever mountaintops I have access to.

When I find an author I truly adore, an author who makes my gutstrings vibrate, I will read everything they have written. Then I will read everything that they read.

If I hate a book, I will keep my mouth shut.

I will make liberal use of the phrase, “It wasn’t for me.”

I will ask people what they are reading. I will take notes.

I will keep stacks of unread books at the ready.

The minute I finish a book, I will start a new one.


I will go to the library. I will go to the bookstore. I will get lost in the stacks.

I will read bibliographies. I will let one book lead me to another.

If I need to read for information, I will browse and skim and Google book reviews.

As often as I can, I will read out loud to someone I care about.

I will not lend out a book if I ever want to see it again. If a friend asks to borrow a beloved book, I will buy and mail them a copy.

I will not harbor the delusion that being a reader makes me a superior person.

I will not suffer under the delusion that the act of reading alone makes me a better person.

If I don’t feel like reading, I’ll go do something else. Maybe even — gasp! — watch TV."
austinkleon  reading  howweread 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Learning how to learn again
"I continue to be fascinated by how slow, seemingly inefficient methods make my self-education more helpful and more meaningful.

Example: This week I was reading Jan Swafford’s introduction to classical music, Language of the Spirit, and I wanted to see the lives of all the composers on a timeline. Instead of googling for one, I decided to just make one for myself with a pencil in my notebook. It was kind of a pain, but I had a feeling I’d learn something. Pretty much immediately I was able to see connections that Swafford wrote about that just hadn’t sunken in yet, like how Haydn’s life overlapped both Bach’s and Beethoven’s while covering Mozart’s completely. Had I googled a pre-made timeline, I’m not completely sure I would’ve studied it closely enough to get as much out of it as the one I drew.

Another example: I copy passages of text that I like longhand in my notebook, and it not only helps me remember the texts, it makes me slow down enough so that I can actually read them and think about them, even internalize them. Something happens when I copy texts into my notebook that does not happen when I cut and paste them into Evernote or onto my blog.

A lot of this way of studying has been inspired by my son, Owen.

Even before I had kids, I wrote, “We learn by copying… Copying is about reverse-engineering. It’s like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works.” Funny now that I have a four-year-old budding mechanic, who actually spends a great deal of his time copying photos and drawings of cars, taking them apart in his mind and putting them back together on the page to figure out how they work.

What I love about my son’s drawings is that he does not really care about them once he’s finished them. To him, they are dead artifacts, a scrap of by-product from his learning process. (For me, they’re tiny masterpieces to hang on the fridge.) Milton Glaser says that “drawing is thinking.” I think that drawing is learning, too, and one thing Owen has taught me is that it is more valuable as a verb than it is as a noun.

I felt sure that my children would teach me more than I taught them. I was not anticipating that they would actually teach me how to learn again…"
austinkleon  education  learning  howwelearn  reading  howweread  notetaking  2017  children  parenting  miltonglaser  howethink  memory  notebooks  janswafford  drawing  unlearning  copying  closereading  attention  writing 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Silence is a space for something new to happen
The Quakers: “Do not speak unless you can improve upon the silence.”

Garry Shandling: “The world is too noisy and distracted to probably ultimately survive. Everyone needs to shut the fuck up. The answers are in the silence. Monks set themselves on fire to protest and to make this point. Just consider it.”

Depeche Mode: “Words like violence / break the silence…”

Morris Berman: “It takes silence and slow time to be creative, and those things are threatening to most Americans, because they understand on some level that that’s what health is about, and that they don’t have it.”

Ursula Franklin: “Silence is not only the space in which there’s no sound, but there’s no program. Nothing is there so that whatever is essentially unprogrammable can happen. How does anything new happen? In a world where everything is scheduled, everything is listed, everything is programmed, the first thing one needs is space… You have to be open. It doesn’t mean something enormous will happen, but nothing can happen until you clear that space… Nobody has time to even receive anything that is actually new, including their own thoughts.”

Bill Callahan: “When you’re starting a song the only thing you have is silence and silence is pretty damn sweet. Once you start making some sound, it better be good because you’re ruining the silence that makes you feel good and relaxed. I feel like you can only make a sound if it’s better than silence… [I’m] very conscious of the power of nothing, the power of nothing being there. You’ll notice it’s still about the best thing anyone playing with me on a record can do is just stop playing. Because you got this instrument in your hand and it’s really fun to make the noise with it, but it means so much more when you’re not playing it.”

John Cage: “[O]ne day I got into [a cab] and the driver began talking a blue streak, accusing absolutely everyone of being wrong. You know he was full of irritation about everything, and I simply remained quiet. I did not answer his questions, I did not enter into a conversation, and very shortly the driver began changing his ideas and simply through my being silent he began, before I got out of the car, saying rather nice things about the world around him.”

Austin Chapman, a man born deaf who, through hearing aids, was able to hear again: “Silence is still my favorite sound. When I turn my aids off my thoughts become more clear and it’s absolutely peaceful. I hope that one day hearing people get the opportunity to experience utter silence.”
silence  quakers  garryshandling  depechemode  morrisberman  ursulafranklin  billcallahan  johncage  austinchapman  austinkleon  quiet 
july 2017 by robertogreco
What is not machine-like
"
“REJOICE IN HUMANNESS! Machines can’t make mistakes. If you compete with a machine on its terms YOU LOSE! So don’t reduce your writing to be like type. YOU ARE NOT A TYPEWRITER! Admit mistakes, correct them, & go right on.
—Jacqueline Svaren, Written Letters

Andy Warhol said, “I want to be a machine,” but we’ve been there and done that, and besides, he was delight-full of crap, like all great artists, because when I stood in front of those big silk-screened flowers last week they sure didn’t feel like they were made by machines. You could sense the human behind them…

[blackoutpoem: "hire a heart with an eye
No tech can know its algorithm"]
“These are not yet automata.”
—Studs Terkel, Working

I remember a few years ago how triumphant I felt when the Twitter spam account @horse_ebooks turned out to be a human pretending to be a machine. Some were disappointed, but the feed seemed too weird and beautiful to me to be completely random. I was happy to see a human behind it.

[blackout poem: “Machines help you act machine like”]
“The next great division of the world will be between people who wish to live as creatures and people who wish to live as machines.”
—Wendell Berry

I like my machines just fine, but I’m not interested in turning into one. I’d like to remain a person. I truly believe one of the most subversive things you can do today is spend as much of your time as possible nurturing what is not machine-like in you."
austinkleon  2017  machines  cyborgs  humans  humanism  studsterkel  jacquelinesvaren  wendellberry  humanness  automata  imperfection  technology  automation 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Get out now
“GET OUT NOW. Not just outside, but beyond the trap of the programmed electronic age so gently closing around so many people…. Go outside, move deliberately, then relax, slow down, look around. Do not jog. Do not run…. Instead pay attention to everything that abuts the rural road, the city street, the suburban boulevard. Walk. Stroll. Saunter. Ride a bike, and coast along a lot. Explore…. Abandon, even momentarily, the sleek modern technology that consumes so much time and money now…. Go outside and walk a bit, long enough to forget programming, long enough to take in and record new surroundings…. Flex the mind, a little at first, then a lot. Savor something special. Enjoy the best-kept secret around—the ordinary, everyday landscape that rewards any explorer, that touches any explorer with magic…all of it is free for the taking, for the taking in. Take it. take it in, take in more every weekend, every day, and quickly it becomes the theater that intrigues, relaxes, fascinates, seduces, and above all expands any mind focused on it. Outside lies utterly ordinary space open to any casual explorer willing to find the extraordinary. Outside lies unprogrammed awareness that at times becomes directed serendipity. Outside lies magic.”

—John Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic
johnstilgoe  austinkleon  walking  noticing  looking  observing  seeing  exploration  landscape  attention  serendipity  outside  outdoors 
february 2017 by robertogreco
100 things that made my year
"3. Discovering and researching unschooling. Roberto Greco’s fantastic Tumblr and Pinboard archives. The work of John Holt, his books How Children Learn and How Children Fail, his 55-year-old journal entry, his thoughts on the true meaning of intelligence and how babies are scientists. John Taylor Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down. Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner’s Teaching As A Subversive Activity. Lori Pickert’s twitter. DH Lawrence on how to educate a child: “Leave him alone.” Manifesto of the idle parent."



"7. Doing my part to destroy that dumb cliché, “The enemy of art is the pram in the hall.” Trying to copy how my 3-year-old son makes art in the studio. His lettering. The way he copies signs. His art. Making masks out of Trader Joe’s bags. Collaborating. Baudelaire’s quote, “Genius is nothing more or less than childhood recaptured at will.” Toddler color theory. Do A Dot Art Markers. Crayola Slick Stix. Mid-century photos of children making art at the MoMA. Paul Klee’s handmade puppets for his son. Darwin’s children doodling on the back of his manuscripts. A fifth-grader’s cure for writer’s block."



"92. The difference between libraries and schools. Visiting the main branch of the Richland Library in Columbia, SC, their amazing children’s room, their new Steal-inspired maker spaces, and revisiting my time as a librarian when speaking at their staff day. Identifying the public library as the American institution I most want to protect and support."
austinkleon  2016  2017  unschooling  deschooling  ego  cv  libraries  schools  education 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Morris Berman, Why America Failed: The Roots of...
"Picked this up off a tip from @mattthomas​ — it’s a “post-mortem” of our nation, the third in a trilogy about the Decline of the American Empire (part one is The Twilight of American Culture, which I’m reading now, and part two is Dark Ages America). It’s a bleak portrait, one which I’m not sure a lot of people want to read about around the holidays, but for some perverse reason, I found it very enjoyable and oddly comforting — in the first book, Berman says “I’ll do my best not to entertain you,” but he fails.

The big idea here is that the dominate mode of America is a kind of “technohustling”—America is a “hustling” culture (“American English contains more than two hundred nouns and verbs referring to a swindle”) that believes in endless technological progress (“technology is not neutral”) and it’s left us with a hollowed-out nation —economically, spiritually, emotionally — in which a few have much and many have very little.

Berman points to a long “anti-hustler” tradition of people such as the Transcendentalists, Herman Melville (he sees Moby-Dick as maybe the greatest book about America), and Lewis Mumford, that culminates with Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech he delivered in 1979, which Berman regards as the tradition’s “last stand.” Here’s Carter:
In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

Berman sees very little that the individual can do to escape the “American Nightmare,” other than flee (he went to Mexico) or pursue what he calls the “monastic option” (which he explores in detail in the first book): “resisting the dominant culture and trying to do something meaningful with your life as opposed to living the mass dream.”

Made up a good reading list of books I’ve wanted to check out for a while:

• Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
• A General Theory of Love
• Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America
• E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
• Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization"

[See also: "How America's 'Culture of Hustling' Is Dark and Empty: Results-obsessed perspectives overlook meaning — and leave little room for creativity, pleasure, or accepting the importance of sadness."
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/how-americas-culture-of-hustling-is-dark-and-empty/278601/ ]
morrisberman  consumerism  jimmycarter  austinkleon  2016  2014  toread  hustle  hustling  hermanmelville  moby-dick  transcendentalism  us  culture  society  self-indulgence  consumption  materialism  technohustling  monasticism  cv  efschumacher  leismumford  barbaraehrenreich  toqueville  meaning  meaningmaking  sadness  emptiness  results  creativity  pleasure  leisurearts  artleisure  mobydick 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society Schools are...
"Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret; that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets.

Intense book to add to the unschooling shelf. Published in 1972, probably still as radical now as it was then, as many of the “symptoms” of the schooled society he describes have only gotten worse. Some of the big ones, below:

“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe you need the society as it is.”
The pupil is… “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work.

“School is an institution built on axiom that learning is the result of teaching.”
Teaching, it is true, may contribute to certain kinds of learning under certain circumstances. But most people acquire most of their knowledge outside school… Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting.

Most learning happens outside of the classroom.
Most learning happens casually, and even most intentional learning is not the result of programmed instruction. Normal children learn their first language casually, although faster if their parents pay attention to them. Most people who learn a second language well do so as a result of odd circumstances and not of sequential teaching. They go to live with their grandparents, they travel, or they fall in love with a foreigner. Fluency in reading is also more often than not a result of such extracurricular activities. Most people who read widely, and with pleasure, merely believe that they learned to do so in school; when challenged, they easily discard this illusion.

“The public is indoctrinated to believe that skills are valuable and reliable only if they are the result of formal schooling.”
School teaches us that instruction produces learning. The existence of schools produces the demand for schooling. Once we have learned to need school, all our activities tend to take the shape of client relationships to other specialized institutions. Once the self-taught man or woman has been discredited, all nonprofessional activity is rendered suspect. In school we are taught that valuable learning is the result of attendance; that the value of learning increases with the amount of input; and, finally, that this value can be measured and documented by grades and certificates.

“School initiates young people into a world where everything can be measured, including their imaginations, and, indeed, man himself…”
People who submit to the standard of others for the measure of their own personal growth soon apply the same ruler to themselves. They no longer have to be put in their place, but put themselves into their assigned slots, squeeze themselves into the niche which they have been taught to seek, and, in the very process, put their fellows into their places, too, until everybody and everything fits. People who have been schooled down to size let unmeasured experience slip out of their hands. To them, what cannot be measured becomes secondary, threatening. They do not have to be robbed of their creativity."
austinkleon  ivanillich  deschooling  unschooling  learning  schools  society  deschoolingsociety  life  living  self-directed  self-directedlearning  schooliness  fluency  reading  howwelearn  howweteach  education  sfsh  lcproject  openstudioproject  children  professionalization  ratings  rankings  grading  hierarchy  credentials  dependency  autoritarianism  freedom  autonomy  institutions  institutionalization  foreignlanguages  talking  specialization  personalgrowth  experience  experientiallearning 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — John Holt, How Children Fail No matter what tests...
"What I love about Holt’s writing is how much of it comes from direct observation of life, and how little of it comes from theory. (This book began as a series of memos Holt wrote to his teaching partner.) However, while I respect these stories and direct observations from the classroom, they can also make for a slower reading experience, and I found myself skipping a lot of sections where Holt describes the specifics of trying to teach his students mathematics.

The writing in this book seemed to me to be much more frustrated and somewhat angrier than the writing in How Children Learn, and there were a few sections that made me cringe a bit from their brutal honesty. (One also needs to keep in mind the book was published in the mid-60s, so some of Holt’s descriptions, particularly one about a retarded child, were a little bit of a shock to me.)

Still, I’ve learned from Holt more than anybody else about how children learn, and there’s a lot to glean from this book. My notes, below — will try my best not to repost the themes I’ve already noted from Teaching As A Subversive Activity, which was obviously much influenced by this book.



Intelligence is a way of operating.



Humans are born intelligent, and children are natural learners.



Small children do not worry about success or failure.



Good thinkers are comfortable with uncertainty and not-knowing.



School make us unintelligent — primarily through fear.



Worst of all: we know how bad school can be, but no matter how bad it is, we still think it’s good for kids.



"Though I didn’t enjoy this book as much as How Children Learn, in the past few months, John Holt has had a tremendous impact on my thinking about how I should go about educating my kids, but more importantly, and maybe more surprisingly, he has had an enormous impact on how I think about my own work, so much of which is based on self-guided, self-directed learning. Even, and maybe especially, as someone who liked and excelled at school and is now moderately successful in my chosen career, he’s made me rethink why it is that I do what I do, re-examine some of my “teacher-pleasing” habits, why it was I “succeeded” in school in the first place, and how my “success” in my career, has been, mostly, attributable to methods and ways of operating that I didn’t learn in school, and how, in fact, a great deal of my best work was done outside of school, when I turned my back on formal education, and struck out on my own."
austinkleon  children  johnholt  learning  unschooling  howelearn  howchildrenfail  education  schools  teaching  deschooling  parenting  howweteach  self-directedlearning  self-directed  success  uncertainty  not-knowing  intelligence  fear  schooling  schooliness  process  observation  science  curiosity  questionasking  askingquestions  johntaylorgatto  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  dumbingusdown  teachingasasubversiveactivity  howchildenlearn 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — “That airport state of mind.”
[quoting: https://longform.org/posts/longform-podcast-75-george-saunders ]

"You know when you’re saying goodbye to somebody at the airport that you love and you get all soft? You’re like, “Oh my god, I hardly knew ya.” You know, that kind of feeling? What if that’s the truth? That that times ten is the mode that we should exist in all the time? Then another day you’re just yourself. There’s a big gap between those two people.

So, my regret would be how much time did I spend in that regular, old, stupid habitual mindset of taking everything for granted, as opposed to this exalted state of being super-tenderized to the people you care about.

I’m guessing that, you know, if there’s a heaven, it’s that at the airport times ten or twenty or a thousand.

The regret would be that you, like a lunkhead, spent so much time in that normal state. “Oh, I wonder what I’m going to do today? I hope my book is selling! How do I look? Oh, I’m going bald.” That mode is habitual, but we know from the occasional foray into it, that the other mode is possible.

[Congratulations, By The Way] basically says: “Hurry up! Take my advice, hurry up, try to get into that higher state while you can.”

How do you do it? I don’t know I’m stupid. I’m like a latecomer. But there’s these thousands of years of spiritual traditions that wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

A lot of times in our culture there’s this de facto humanist swagger that says, “Oh yeah, Religion. We used to do that shit.” But my advice would be, to anyone who wanted it: reconfigure your understanding of “Religion,” and make it exactly that which will give you that airport state of mind more often. And then go into the existing traditions and cull through them to make it that. Or to try to find the authentic elements of those traditions that are really about that. Cos that’s really what they’re about."
austinkleon  georgesaunders  spirituality  religion  2016  heaven  humanism  truth  softness  love  immediacy 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner, Teaching as a...
"The game is called “Let’s Pretend,” and if its name were chiseled into the front of every school building in America, we would at least have an honest announcement of what takes place there. The game is based on a series of pretenses which include: Let’s pretend that you are not what you are and that this sort of work makes a difference to your lives; let’s pretend that what bores you is important, and that the more you are bored, the more important it is; let’s pretend that there are certain things everyone must know, and that both the questions and answers about them have been fixed for all time; let’s pretend that your intellectual competence can be judged on the basis of how well you can play Let’s Pretend."



"Almost any sensible parent knows this, as does any effective top sergeant. It is not what you say to people that counts; it is what you have them do…. What students do in the classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say), and what they learn to do is the classroom’s message (as McLuhan would say). Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly, they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe in authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly, they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true."



"A syllabus not only prescribes what story lines you must learn…. It also prescribes the order in which your skills must be learned."



"The good teacher “regards learning as a process, not a terminal event… he assumes that one is always in the process of acquiring skills, assimilating new information, formulating or refining generalizations.”"

[See also Matt Thomas's Neil Postman posts (linked within):
https://submittedforyourperusal.com/tag/neil-postman/ ]
austinkleon  neilpostman  charleswingartner  teaching  education  teachingasasubversiveactivity  2016  1969  crapdetection  hemingway  criticalthinking  howweteach  pedagogy  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  alanwatts  linear  linearity  nonlinear  textbooks  tests  testing  non-linear  alinear 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Tove Jansson, Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary...
"Tove Jansson, Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition

When my son Owen was born, all I seemed to be able to read was old collections of Nancy comics. After my son Jules was born a few months ago, I would lie down and read a few pages of Moomin.

The comics are so, so wonderful. (See this documentary about Tove Jansson’s life.) My wife and I have been joking a lot that we’re Moominmama and Moominpapa:

The only downside to the collection is that it’s a big honking book and can be kind of cumbersome to read in bed:

I ended up splurging and buying a bunch of these “Enfant” editions, which have been colorized by Drawn & Quarterly and come in nice little paperbacks (one story per book). Here are some images from Moomin on the Riviera:

Highly, highly, highly, recommended."
tovejansson  austinkleon  moomin  2015  comics 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — the only mofos in my circle are people that I CAN...
"the only mofos in my circle are people that I CAN LEARN FROM. i believe THAT is the first and foremost rule to a successful life. you are going to be as educated and successful as the 10 most frequented people you call/text on your phone"

[See also: http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/142031465032 ]
questlove  learning  howwelearn  2011  friendship  success  education  austinkleon 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Bliss Station
"It’s felt impossible lately not to be distracted and despondent. I’m trying to spend as much time at my bliss station as I can.

What’s a bliss station? Here’s Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth:
You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

My wife pointed out to me that Campbell says you must have a room OR a certain hour — whether Campbell really meant this or not, she suggested that maybe it’s possible that a bliss station can be not just a where, but a when. Not just a sacred space, but also a sacred time.

The deluxe package would be having both a special room and a special hour that you go to it, but we started wondering whether one would make up for not having the other.

For example, say you have a tiny apartment that you share with small children. There’s no room for your bliss station, there’s only time: When the kids are asleep or at school or day care, even a kitchen table can be turned into a bliss station.

Or, say your schedule is totally unpredictable, and a certain time of day can’t be relied upon — that’s when a dedicated space that’s ready for you at any time will come in handy.

What’s clear is that it’s healthiest if we make a daily appointment to disconnect from the world so that we can connect with ourselves.

“Choose the time that’s good for you,” says Francis Ford Coppola. “For me, it’s early morning because I wake up, and I’m fresh, and I sit in my place. I look out the window, and I have coffee, and no one’s gotten up yet or called me or hurt my feelings.”

The easiest way I get my feelings hurt by turning on my phone first thing in the morning. And even on the rare occasion I don’t get my feelings hurt, my time is gone and my brains are scrambled.

“Do not start your day with addictive time vampires such as The New York Times, email, Twitter,” says Edward Tufte. “All scatter eye and mind, produce diverting vague anxiety, clutter short term memory.”

Every morning I try to fight the urge, but every morning my addiction compels me.

“The new heroin addiction is connectivity,” says V. Vale. “The only solution is not one that most people want to face, which is to become lovers of solitude and silence… I love to spend time alone in my room, and in my ideal world the first hour of every day would be in bed, writing down thoughts, harvesting dreams, before anyone phones or you have any internet access.”

Kids, jobs, sleep, and a thousand other things will get in the way, but we have to find our own sacred space, our own sacred time.

“Where is your bliss station?” Campbell asked. “You have to try to find it.”"
2016  austinkleon  josephcampbell  time  space  solitude  aloneness  francisfordcoppola  vvale  attention  socialmedia  howweowork  connectivity  internet  web  online  addiction  silence  mobile  phones  focus  workspaces  distraction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden...
"This sentence put a big lump in my throat: “eventually you have to come to be part of a place — part of its hills and streets and waters and people — or you will live a very, very sorry life as an exile forever.”

Networks are not communities

In a sneaky way, this part of the book shook me most profoundly — because it was written before social media, it doesn’t mention “social networks” explicitly, but so much of it applies to Facebook, Twitter, etc., and how we often mistake those virtual places as real places, with real community.

A real community allows you to be a whole person:
A community is a place in which people face each other over time in all their human variety: good parts, bad parts, and all the rest. Such places promote the highest quality of life possible — lives of engagement and participation.

A network, however, requires only a piece of you:
it asks you to suppress all the parts of yourself except the network-interest part — a highly unnatural act although one you can get used to. In exchange, the network will deliver efficiency in the pursuit of some limited aim. This is, in fact, a devil’s bargain, since on the promise of some future gain one must surrender the wholeness of one’s present humanity. If you enter into too many of these bargains, you will split yourself into many specialized pieces, none of them completely human. And no time is available to reintegrate them. This, ironically, is the destiny of many successful networkers and doubtless generates much business for divorce courts and therapists of a variety of persuasions.

Over time, too much networking leads to a feeling of malnourishment:
If the loss of true community entailed by masquerading in networks is not noticed in time, a condition arises in the victim’s spirit very much like the “trout starvation” that used to strike wilderness explorers whose diet was made up exclusively of stream fish. While trout quell the pangs of hunger — and even taste good — the eater gradually suffers for want of sufficient nutrients.

We all know that feeling from being on Twitter too long.

I’m also thinking now of the ways that a website like NextDoor attempts to bring community together, but really just re-organizes a community as a network — most of the stuff I see happening on my neighborhood message board is atomization, or splitting apart of the community: all you people who aren’t putting out your garbage vs. those of us who are, mom’s groups, cyclists, craigslist-like transactions, etc.
Networks divide people, first from themselves and then from each other, on the grounds that this is the efficient way to perform a task. It may well be, but it is a lousy way to feel good about being alive. Networks make people lonely. They cannot correct their inhuman mechanism and still succeed as networks.

Gatto says that, yes, networks have their place, but that they lack any real “ability to nourish their members emotionally.” He says “the only ones I consider completely safe are the ones that reject their communal facade, acknowledge their limits, and concentrate solely on helping me do a specific and necessary task.” (LinkedIn? Ha.)
I want to repeat this until you are sick of hearing it. Networks do great harm by appearing enough like real communities to create expectations that they can manage human social and psychological needs. The reality is that they cannot. Even associations as inherently harmless as bridge clubs, chess clubs, amateur acting groups, or groups of social activists will, if they maintain a pretense of whole friendship, ultimately produce that odd sensation familiar to all city dwellers of being lonely in the middle of a crowd. Which of us who frequently networks has not felt this sensation? Belonging to many networks does not add up to having a community, no matter how many you belong to or how often your telephone rings.

Gatto sees compulsory school as an “involuntary network with strangers.”

We need less schooling, not more.

When you stop thinking about individual schools as “failing” or “underperforming” and you start seeing our school system as an institution doing exactly what it was designed to do, it, in the words of Zoolander’s Hansel, “changes your whole perspective on shit.” You stop thinking about how you can improve schools, and start wondering if there’s another alternative entirely."
2016  austinkleon  johntaylorgatto  education  community  networks  schools  schooling  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  self-directedlearning  children  parenting  agesegregation  place  socialnetworking  socialnetworks 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — John Holt, How Children Learn Children do not...
"After I re-read that section, I was reminded of Laurence Weschler writing about David Hockney, and how “interest-ing” for Hockney is a verb: it is the continual projection of interest. (The more you look at something, the more interesting it gets.) This was certainly the case with me after I started reading this book, and Holt in general: I, who felt like a somewhat enlightened parent, started noting all the ways I wasn’t paying attention to them, and over time, they have become more interesting to me, not because I’m doting on them more, or even spending more time with them, but because I am looking at them like little scientists, or just little people, who are worthy of interest. (It sounds so stupid: of course a parent should find their kids interesting, but think about how many parents and teachers and adults you know — maybe including yourself — who, secretly, probably don’t.)

Holt’s work has really shaken me up, blown my mind, and given me a different way of thinking about my kids. Some of my favorite bits, below."
johnholt  howchildrenlearn  education  learning  children  trust  austinkleon  lawrencewescheler  davidhockney  art  interestedness  interested  interesting  attention  payingattention  noticing  parenting  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  librarians  teachers  purpose  belonging  work  community  conversation  cv  pacing  meaningmaking  unschooling  deschooling  departmentalization  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  control  independence  anxiety  howchildrenfail  testing  assessment  reggioemilia  punk  games  play  standardizedtesting  love  2016  listening 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Just don’t lose the magic
"“We cannot have a meaningful revolution without humor.”
—bell hooks

In a terrific piece about his writing education, George Saunders talks about getting into the MFA program at Syracuse and hanging out with his new mentor, Tobias Wolff:
At a party, I go up to Toby and assure him that I am no longer writing the silly humorous crap I applied to the program with, i.e., the stuff that had gotten me into the program in the first place. Now I am writing more seriously, more realistically, nothing made up, nothing silly, everything directly from life, no exaggeration or humor—you know: “real writing.”

Toby looks worried. But quickly recovers.

“Well, good!” he says. “Just don’t lose the magic.”

I have no idea what he’s talking about. Why would I do that? That would be dumb.

I go forward and lose all of the magic, for the rest of my time in grad school and for several years thereafter…

He later sums it up:
[S]omehow, under the pressure of suddenly being surrounded by good writers, I went timid and all the energy disappeared from my work–I’ve lost the magic indeed, have somehow become a plodding, timid, bad realist.

You see this pattern over and over with many creative people: they have this little bit of magic, a spark of something that comes naturally to them, and it’s often messy and weird and a little bit off, and that’s why they catch our attention in the first place. The odd magic is what we love about them.

Then, something happens. They decide it’s time, now, to be serious.

The wild painter whose Instagram you love goes to grad school and all of the sudden her posts get boring. A brilliant illustrator decides to write a book, a real book, one without any pictures in it, and it comes out and bores you to tears. Etc.

(Preston Sturges sends up this impulse in his great movie about a comedy director who decides he wants to make a serious film, Sullivan’s Travel’s.)

It happened to me: before I went to college, I loved poetry, drawing, and art with a sense of humor. Then, after I got to college, I decided, It’s time, now, to be serious. I started to believe in the following misguided equations:

1. fiction > poetry
2. words > pictures
3. tragedy > comedy

Eventually, I got so miserable that I threw those equations out the window, bought a sketchbook, and started reading comics again. When I graduated college, I started making my weird, occasionally funny, blackout poems. Slowly, a little bit of the magic came back.

But whenever that impulse returns, that impulse to come on now be serious, I lose the magic again. It happened most recently getting ready for my upcoming art show. That stupid voice started saying: This is a gallery show. This is Art. I need to be serious.

Cue the choke.

A few years ago, Bill Murray gave a speech to a bunch of baseball players and he ended it with this perfect bit of Zen:
If you can stay light, and stay loose, and stay relaxed, you can play at the very highest level—as a baseball player or a human being.

I keep this goofy picture of him in my studio:

[image]

It’s up there to remind me: Stay at it, but stay light. Don’t be afraid to do what comes naturally. Fight the urge to be serious. Don’t let it destroy the very thing that makes you you.

Like Tobias Wolff said, “Just don’t lose the magic.”"
austinkleon  self-care  writing  creativity  personality  billmurray  tobiaswolff  prestonsturges  georgesaunders  howwewrite  smartness  audience  messiness  weirdness  magic  individuality  playfulness  seriousness 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Would I had phrases that are not known in new...
"“Would I had phrases that are not known in new language that has not been used not an utterance which has grown stale, which men of old have spoken.”

—The Egyptian poet Khakheperresenb, 2000 B.C.E. (Quoted by John Barth in “Do I Repeat Myself?” Yes, friends, the idea that “nothing is original” is about 4,000 years old. Completely unoriginal! Says Barth: “If I could time-travel back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, I would console Khakheperresenb with the familiar paraphrase of Walt Whitman: “Do I repeat myself? Very well then, I repeat myself.” Or André Gide’s comforting remark, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” Originality, after all, includes not only saying something for the first time, but re-saying (in a worthy new way) the already said: rearranging an old tune in a different key, to a different rhythm, perhaps on a different instrument. Has that been said before? No matter: on with the story!”)"
belatedness  originality  khakheperresenb  austinkleon  2011  johnbarth 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — How to graciously say no to anyone
"A couple of years ago, I was getting sent this article, “Creative People Say No,” at least twice a day. The idea was that creative geniuses say “no” to a lot of requests (like, a psychology professor researching processes of creative genius) in order to get their work done, so if you want to be a creative genius, you have to say no a lot so you can get your work done.

A bunch of people asked me what I thought about it, and I said, “It’s good advice for the rich and famous. Creative people say yes until they have enough work that they can say no.”"
no  advice  austinkleon  ebwhite  robertheinlein  carlsandburg  rejection  raw  zyzzyva  howardjunker  edmundwilson  bernardshaw  evelynwaugh  grouchomarx  sayingno  ianbogost  time  attention  correspondence  letters 
june 2015 by robertogreco
If you’re 18 right now, you think you invented... - Austin Kleon
[For the record…

1. I like mood boards.
2. This *and* that. There is room for and beauty in both naivité and knowing.
3. I lean Bill Cunningham on this.
4. I also like remix culture.
5. We all are, have been, and will be belated. ]

"
If you’re 18 right now, you think you invented platform shoes. You think you’re doing something new. You think you’ve invented something so ugly that it’s beautiful. When we were young, we knew things. We knew basic history, even as it related to fashion. Now, when something reappears, an 18 year old has no clue that it’s a revival. Despite the fact that they’re almost always online they don’t get references. I think that’s part of why visual things are becoming so derivative. Designers now, they all have these things called mood boards. I suppose they think a sense of discovery equals invention. It would be as if every writer had a board with paragraphs of other writers—’Oh, I’ll take a little bit of this, and that, he was really good.’ Yes, he was really good! And that is not a mood board, it is a stealing board.

— Fran Lebowitz being delightfully cranky. (As for the stealing board, good idea, I think Phil Pullman would call that “reading.”) Like she says in her Paris Review interview, “I wouldn’t say that I dislike the young. I’m simply not a fan of naïveté.” Fun to compare with Bill Cunningham, who has 20 years on her, on seeing a youthful art show: “It gave me the greatest hope for our civilization.” I liked later in the interview, where she makes fun of young people for having a good relationship with their parents. (“Our parents weren’t our friends. They disapproved of us.”) Reminded me of Stafford Beer: “If we can understand our children, we’re all screwed.”"
austinkleon  franlebowitz  youth  philippullman  billcunningham  2015  staffordbeer  children  generations  naivité  parenting  hope  moddboards  derivation  design  remixing  remixculture  culture  history  discovery  invention  belatedness 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Pablo Neruda on originality annfriedman:I’ve been... - Austin Kleon
"INTERVIEWER

You have often said that you don’t believe in originality.

NERUDA

To look for originality at all costs is a modern condition. In our time, the writer wants to call attention to himself, and this superficial preoccupation takes on fetishistic characteristics. Each person tries to find a road whereby he will stand out, neither for profundity nor for discovery, but for the imposition of a special diversity. The most original artist will change phases in accord with the time, the epoch.

annfriedman:
I’ve been thinking a lot about the illusion of pure originality ever since I read this comment [http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4091/the-art-of-poetry-no-14-pablo-neruda ] from Pablo Neruda… I’m putting this here to remind myself that next time I feel the desire to defend and clamp down on my work, it might be time to try making something new instead. And accept that even the new-for-me thing is not going to be totally original.

Nice thoughts from Ann. (Her newsletter rules.) Another bit from Neruda’s Memoirs:
I don’t believe in originality. It is just one more fetish made up in our time, which is speeding dizzily to its collapse. I believe in personality reached through any language, any form, any creative means used by the artist. But out-and-out originality is a modern invention and an electoral fraud.
"
pabloneruda  originality  belatedness  annefriedman  2015  austinkleon  fraud 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How will I pay the bills?
"This mini-rant was originally posted on Twitter, but people really responded to it, so I’m archiving it here.

“How will I pay the bills?” is a perfectly reasonable question from a young person, worth a thoughtful answer.

“How will I pay the bills?” is not a question of the scared or cowardly, it’s a question of the sane and responsible.

1. Make a budget. Start a spreadsheet and figure out exactly how much you’ll need to live on. It might be more or less than you think.

2. Figure out how to get ahold of that money. For many, it will be a day job, or doing things that aren’t sexy and/or fun. (You know, work.)

3. Budget your time. Find every free second you have that you can devote to what you really want to be doing. Use that time best you can.

* * *

Write the following quotes on index cards and stick them above where you work:

“The key to eternal happiness is low overhead and no debt.”
—Lynda Barry

“If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do, kid.”
—Bill Cunningham

* * *

The next time someone tells you to “do what you love no matter what,” ask to see their tax return.

Anybody who tells people to “do what you love no matter what” should also have to teach a money management course.

Low overhead + “do what you love” = a good life.

“I deserve nice things” + “do what you love” = a time bomb.

* * *

In summary: Live below your means. Don’t go into debt. Jam econo. Do the best you can with what you have."
2015  austinkleon  homeeconomics  life  debt  living  creativity  thegoodlife  happiness  money  finance  budgets  dayjobs 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Borrow a kid
"This weekend we visited the Umlauf Sculpture Garden here in Austin. Towards the end of our visit, I spent at least half an hour at the very edge of the garden with my back to the beautiful art and scenery, watching the cars whiz by on Robert E. Lee Road.

Going to an art museum with a two-year-old will make you rethink what’s interesting and what’s art. (After all, what are cars but fast, colorful, kinetic sculptures?) This, of course, should be the point of museums: to make us look closer at our everyday life as a source of art and wonder."



"Borrow a kid. Spend some time trying to see through their eyes. You will discover new things."
austinkleon  children  kids  2015  noticing  looking  seeing  art  museums  comments  discovery  exploration  everyday  perspective  sistercorita  coritakent 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Kay Ryan on creative writing "workshops" - Austin Kleon
"Kay Ryan on creative writing "workshops" [http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/article/171211 ]
Workshop. In the old days before creative writing programs, a workshop was a place, often a basement, where you sawed or hammered, drilled or planed something. You could not simply workshop something. Now you can. You can take something you wrote by yourself to a group and get it workshopped. Sometimes it probably is a lot like getting it hammered. Other writers read your work, give their reactions, and make suggestions for change. A writer might bring a piece back for more workshopping later, even. I have to assume that the writer respects these other writers’ opinions, and that just scares the daylights out of me. It doesn’t matter if their opinions really are respectable; I just think the writer has given up way too much inside. Let’s not share. Really. Go off in your own direction way too far, get lost, test the metal of your work in your own acids. These are experiments you can perform down in that old kind of workshop, where Dad used to hide out from too many other people’s claims on him.


See also: Brian Kitely on the subject [http://www.austinkleon.com/2009/06/24/how/ ]:
The standard American workshop is a lazy construction. The teacher asks students to bring in stories or poems to class, sometimes copied and handed out ahead of time, sometimes not. The class and its final arbiter (usually the teacher) judge the merits of the story or poem. Few ask the question, “Where does a story come from?” The standard American workshop presumes that you cannot teach creativity or instincts or beginnings. It takes what it can once the process has already been started. Most writing teachers say, “Okay, bring in a story and we’ll take it apart and put it back together again.” I say, “Let’s see what we can do to find some stories.” The average workshop is often a profoundly conservative force in fiction writers’ lives, encouraging the simplifying and routinizing of stories….I use exercises in my workshops to derange student stories, to find new possibilities, to foster strangeness and irregularity, as much as to encourage revision and cleaning up after yourself, and I don’t worry much about success or failure.
"
austinkleon  2010  kayryan  briankitely  writing  workshops  sharing  process  peerreview  storytelling  strangeness  makingthestrange  irregularity  discovery  revision  howwewrite 
october 2014 by robertogreco
3 thoughts on kindness - Austin Kleon
"1) “Real kindness is an exchange with essentially unpredictable consequences. It is a risk precisely because it mingles our needs and desires with the needs and desires of others…”

2) “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.”

3) “There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise.”"
marklarson  georgesaunders  austinkleon  2014  kindness  emilesfahanismith 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Dedicated
"A collection of interesting dedications and art made for an audience of one."

"About this project

dedicated |ˈdediˌkātid|

1. devoting time, effort, and oneself to a particular task or purpose

2. a book or other artistic work cited as being issued or performed in someone’s honor

This project is a work-in-progress. I sort of know what it is, but I’m not sure where it’s going."
austinkleon  audiencesofone  dedications  art  writing 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Twitter / austinkleon: 100% of humans should practice ...
"100% of humans should practice an art.

Probably 0% should try to make money off it."
may2014dl  leisurearts  artleisure  austinkleon  culture  humans  human  life  howwelive  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Searching for Poetry in Prose - NYTimes.com
"Popularized in recent years by writer and artist Austin Kleon, blackout poetry encourages readers to create poems by redacting words from ordinary texts. During the last week of National Poetry Month, we will feature snippets of Times articles you can use to create and share your own short poems."
austinkleon  newspapers  blackoutpoetry  excavation  via:lukeneff  online  nytimes  2014  poems  poetry  diy 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Brian Eno’s Diary: A Year With Swollen... - Austin Kleon
"Art is about scenius, not genius.

Eno rails against what he calls the “Big Man” theory of history, “where events are changed by the occasional brilliant or terrible man, working in heroic isolation.” Instead Eno believes that the world is “a cooperative enterprise,” “constantly being remade by all its inhabitants.”
The reality of how culture and ideas evolve is much closer to the one we as pop musicians are liable to accept — a continuous toing and froing of ideas and imitations and misconstruals, of things becoming thinkable because they are suddenly technically possible, of action and reaction, than the traditional fine-art model which posits an inspired individual sorting it all out for himself and then delivering it unto a largely uncomprehending and ungrateful world.

Art is not an object, but a trigger for experience.
Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences (Roy Ascott’s phrase). That solves a lot of problems: we don’t have to argue about whether photographs are art, or whether performances are art, or whether Carl Andre’s bricks or Andres Serranos’s piss or little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ are art, because we say, ‘Art is something that happens, a process, not a quality, and all sorts of things can make it happen.’ (…_ Suppose you redescribe the job ‘artist’ as ‘a person who creates situations in which you can have art experiences’.

“Try to make things that can become better in other people’s minds than they were in yours.”

Eno rejects the term “interactive,” and suggests “unfinished” instead. He suggests that new culture-makers will move away from providing “pure, complete experiences to providing the platforms from which people then fashion their own experiences.”
Once we get used to the idea that we are no longer consumers of ‘finished’ works, but that we are people who engage in conversations and interactions with things, we find ourselves leaving a world of ‘know your own station’ passivity and we start to develop a taste for active engagement. We stop regarding things as fixed and unchangeable, as preordained, and we increasingly find ourselves practising the idea that we have some control. Most importantly, perhaps, we might start to think the same way about ourselves: that we are unfinished (and unfinishable) beings whose task is constantly to re-examine and remix our ideas and our identities.

Art is where we go to become our best selves.
What a bastard Beethoven sounds — arrogant, paranoid, disagreeable. Why am I still surprised when people turn out to be not at all like their work? A suspicion of the idea that art is the place where you become what you’d like to be… rather than what you already are…

Stop obsessing over all the possible journeys you could take, and just start off on one.

Over and over, Eno expresses a desire for less choices in the process of art-making, not more. ”Less exploring of all the possible journeys you could make; more determination to take one journey (even if the choice of it is initially rather arbitrary) and make it take you somewhere.“
My ideal is probably based on the story I heard years ago of how the Japanese calligraphers used to work — a whole day spent grinding inks and preparing brushes and paper, and then, as the sun begins to go down, a single burst of fast and inspired action.
That cultural image — which you find throughout Japanese culture from Sumo to Sushi — is very interesting and quite different from ours. We admire people who stick at it doggedly and evenly (I also admire them) and put in the right amount of hours. But more and more I want to try that Japanese model: to get everything in place (including your mind, of course) first, and then to just give yourself one chance. It seems thrilling.

“If you don’t call it art, you’re likely to get a better result.”

Eno says, “people do much better when they don’t think they’re being artists,” and when they do think decide they’re being artists, they “suddenly turn out crap.”
Oldenburg’s earlier stuff — before he knew what he was doing — looked best. So often the case that people work best when they are stretching out over an abyss of ignorance, hanging on to a thin branch of “what-is-still-possible”, tantalized by the future.
"
brianeno  austinkleon  objects  art  experience  process  glvo  unfinished  interactive  royascott  culture  scenius  genius  andresserrano 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Manso: Jay Porter Interview #3, Part 2
[Also available here: http://jayporter.com/dispatches/san-diego-exit-interview-part-2/ ]

"I talk to people about this a lot. Because of the interviews we’ve done in the past, I know about the business, and I’m a Linkery booster. People tell me, “I really like the idea of the Linkery.” I say, “yeah, it’s an awesome idea.” But they say “I like the idea of the Linkery more than I like the Linkery itself.” And because it was a huge idea that existed in a very robust way, virtually, people could experience it without ever going there.

It was principally an idea. It was an Internet-operated idea. The thing was real, it was real people and real products, but the operations were very much facilitated by the Internet. Our fundamental marketing plan was to do remarkable things and share them in this very transparent way through a blog and by talking honestly about what we were doing. Which in 2005 was a radical idea for a restaurant.

The idea that you could start a blog and newsletter and get people into your local restaurant by saying, hey we got this one pig from this farm, and here’s what we’re doing in the kitchen today, and here’s who we want to win the soccer match…it all feels like Portlandia now, but in 2005 even Portland wasn’t doing it!

My background was, I had really followed where “Web 2.0” companies were going, and how they were communicating with their audiences, and how they were transforming the relationship between companies and their customers. And the Open Source movement really came together at that time. The essay The Cathedral and The Bazaar was such an influential thing for me, I think I read that right before we started the restaurant.

I read that. We probably read it at the exact same time.

Open Source was really catching fire. I was using all the Gnu tools because I was a geek. But it wasn’t long until, for example, my Mom knew what Linux was. Open Source was exploding. It informed so much of how I conceived of the business.

Even when, say, Michael came on as GM, or our chefs would start with us, that was just part of working for our business: We’re super transparent. We blog about things. We take pictures of things. Communication is an essential part of our jobs. We’re building enthusiasm for this kind of food. And then there was the part where we were finding farmers on the Internet, and saying, hey, we think you’re selling what we want to buy, or we think that you might be able to grow what we want to buy. And that was all very tech-driven.

But I think that, as with a lot of these kinds of projects, we also discovered the limits of this approach. Which was, it became too easy to consume the Linkery without actually experiencing the Linkery.

That’s also where I lost interest with a lot of the infrastructure of reviews and critics – I personally like the critics in town, but the infrastructure, including Yelp or whatever, is set up to treat what the restaurant does only as content to be reviewed, in order to generate more content.

Our online presence became its own, free, content that we were delivering to people who then added their own content around it, and then they sold it one way or another, without anybody ever just fucking eating a hot dog. And in the end, the guy who makes the hot dogs has to get fucking paid, no matter how many Yelp reviews get written, or how many articles get written about my blog post or whatever.

Now, the opportunity to build a new business from scratch is a great opportunity, and what’s become clear as we put the new place together is this: as a restaurant operator, I am not in the business of content. I’m not in the business of making things for people to write about. I’m in the business of creating fantastic experiences around local food. And, those experiences are really hard to have on the Internet. You gotta show up for that shit.

So we’re intentionally building our new restaurant to not have a strong online component, or a content-generation component.

But hey, if you want to pay me to write something for you, I’m happy to do that.

If you’re getting paid to write something, then that’s what you’re selling.

There’s a great quote from when Alec Baldwin had Seinfield on his podcast. Alec Baldwin says, “you could have your entire channel. Your own production company, you produce all your own shows, and you could be raking it in, because, it’s all produced by Jerry Seinfeld.” And Seinfeld says, “you could not even sell me that. You know why I wouldn’t do that.”

Baldwin says – I think in legitimate confusion – “I don’t understand.” And Seinfeld says, “because that’s not the thing. I want to connect with my audience. I want to write. That’s the thing.” And then he used this great metaphor, he says, “if you want to experience the ocean, do you want to be on a surfboard or do you want to be on a yacht? I want to be on a surfboard. People have a yacht so they can say, hey, look at my yacht.”

You realize the thing that you’re trying to do and the thing that you’re building have nothing to do with each other.

Yeah, I really misjudged. It started out as a really great way to distinguish ourselves as being different from other restaurants and to communicate what we were really about. It was highly effective for that. But in the end it became its own thing with its own overhead. I stopped feeding that beast a year or two before we sold the restaurant, I really just put up pictures at that point.

Which I think is an amazing thing about technology now. Instagram really is all you need. You can be like, “here, we made something awesome.” It takes you three seconds.

And now, the contextual cues make it clear what you’re about. In 2006, we had to really explain, here is what we believe, this is why we do this, this is who we’re buying from. But now, people understand a restaurant that blogs its ingredients and dishes. You could start a restaurant called “A Blog of Ingredients and Dishes” and people would know exactly what kind of food you serve.

Naming what farms you’re sourcing from and all that. People get it.

Yeah, it’s cool, I don’t want to eat differently than that. But there’s not much needed in terms of explaining what it’s all about. A Tumblr will do the trick fine.

You don’t need to host your own Wordpress blog anymore.

Do you know who Austin Kleon is? He’s really popular on Tumblr. He wrote a book called “Steal Like An Artist”.

I’ve seen that book.

He has a new book coming out called “Show Your Work.” Which I haven’t read obviously because it’s not out yet. But I’m already taking issue with it. Show your work, yes, because there’s real value in that, but that’s also work. To show your work, is also more work that isn’t your work. If you’re not getting paid for it, and if it’s distracting from what you’re actually trying to do, then don’t.

I just think a big thing right now is that, the Internet, and everyone who sits at work googling shit, and reads Facebook and their RSS reader – and I’m part of that Borg – it just creates such a demand for content that nobody’s ever satisfied. You’re not giving them enough free content.

This was a discussion that we’d have sometimes with people who wanted to review us, or write about us, or with Yelp or whoever. I’d say, you know, I don’t really care. I’m not in the business of giving you something to write about.

Look, a restaurant lives in an ecosystem of reviewers and there’s a give-and-take. It’s an environment, and you work with the restaurant media to make sure that they have enough content to keep interest in restaurants alive, and to keep their jobs going. And they in turn are respectful of the realities of restaurants, they don’t run hatchet pieces all the time. Those are the professionals, the professional restauranteurs and the professional writers, and they understand that this is how this thing works. There is a demand for written content and restaurant experiences, and together the restaurant media and the restaurants can create a really positive environment around it. The core professionals understand this.

But in a slightly more outer circle, there may be some slightly less sophisticated people, maybe they are working in the media – whether it’s print or small blogs or whatever – and some of those people really just look at the restaurants as ways of generating content. And when this happens, I’m kind of like, dude, not only do I not really want to help you with this, I don’t want you in my place. You’re not helping this guy, who’s sitting next to you at the bar, who just had a shitty day at work and he came to his favorite local place to be around friends and enjoy some food that he really likes – you’re not helping him have a better time. You’re not helping my employees do their jobs better or make a better living. You’re just kind of in here, trying to improve your own career on top of something that has nothing to do with you and that’s – that makes you kind of a dick.

Because he’ll be trying to create something, “there’s a narrative here”, and maybe there is, but it’s probably not what he’s going to write about…

There actually is a really interesting parallel with what I’ve been reading a lot lately, this kind of “new generation” of highly intelligent sportswriting. Writers like Spencer Hall of SBNation, David J Roth who started a magazine called the Classical…

I don’t know shit about sports, so –

Well, sports is just a way that society expresses itself. A lot of these writers see within sports how society is expressing itself and they write about that.

It’s a vessel to describe society.

So a topic that’s come up with some of these more interesting sportswriters is how sports now serves this purpose, for shitty media outlets to read narrative into everything. Today, nobody just scores a touchdown, instead the touchdown marks a point in … [more]
jedsundwall  jayporter  meta  metadata  making  doing  internet  content  sports  journalism  criticism  2014  interviews  narrative  storytelling  instagram  twitter  data  documentation  thelinkery  restaurants  process  austinkleon  alecbaldwin  howweowork  food  opensource  workinginpublic  nassimtaleb  privilege  luck  business  success  blackswans  emergence  jamesfowler  sethgodin  kurtvonnegut  vonnegut 
march 2014 by robertogreco
No more guilty pleasures
"More than 400 years ago, Michel de Montaigne, in his essay “On Experience,” wrote, “In my opinion, the most ordinary things, the most common and familiar, if we could see them in their true light, would turn out to be the grandest miracles . . . and the most marvelous examples.”

All it takes to uncover hidden gems is a clear eye, an open mind, and a willingness to search for inspiration in places other people aren’t willing or able to go.

We all love things that other people think are garbage. You have to have the courage to keep loving your garbage, because what makes us unique is the diversity and breadth of our influences, the unique ways in which we mix up the parts of culture others have deemed “high” and the “low.”

When you find things you genuinely enjoy, don’t let anyone else make you feel bad about it. Don’t feel guilty about the pleasure you take in the things you enjoy. Celebrate them.

When you share your taste and your influences, have the guts to own all of it. Don’t give in to the pressure to self-edit too much. Don’t be the lame guys at the record store arguing over who’s the more “authentic” punk rock band. Don’t try to be hip or cool. Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too."
austinkleon  taste  guiltypleasures  2014  davegrohl  nelsonmolina  micehldemontaigne  highbrow  lowbrow  punk 
february 2014 by robertogreco
“It wasn't for me.” - Austin Kleon
"I’ve become fond of the phrase “it wasn’t for me,” when referring to books (music, movies, etc.) that I don’t get into.

I like the phrase because it’s essentially positive: underlying it is the assumption that there is a book, or rather, books, for me, but this one just wasn’t one of them. It also allows me to tell you how I felt about the book without me shutting down the possibility that you might like it, or making you feel stupid if you did like it.

It just wasn’t for me. No big deal.

And “me” changes, so when you say, “It wasn’t for me,” maybe it’s not for the “me” right now—maybe it’s for future Me, or Me lounging in a beach chair in Jamaica, or Me at fourteen.

Responding to art is so much about the right place and right time. You have to feel free to skip things, move on, and (maybe) come back later.

And you have to be okay with saying, “It wasn’t for me.”"
austinkleon  timing  taste  readiness  2013  filtering  kindness  criticism  haters  notforme  it'snotforme  itwasn'tforme 
september 2013 by robertogreco
How I give presentations with the iPad by Austin Kleon
"I took back my first iPad because it didn’t support full mirroring via a projector, but I’ve given several presentations using only my iPad 2, and so far, it’s always worked like a charm. I just double-check with the venue that they have a projector with a VGA input, and I’m good to go — often making adjustments up until the last minute. I love the simplicity of Keynote on iOS and I love being able to illustrate a point by drawing onscreen with my Boxwave stylus in Adobe Ideas. Simple. Easy.

Here’s how I do it. (Drawn with Adobe Ideas — see it bigger on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deathtogutenberg/6038943626/in/photostream .)"
ipad  presentations  howto  austinkleon  via:lukeneff  drawing  keynote  adobeideas  applications  ios 
august 2011 by robertogreco
How To Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me) - Austin Kleon
"All advice is autobiographical.

It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past. This list is me talking to a previous version of myself.

Your mileage may vary…

1. Steal like an artist… 2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things…  3. Write the book you want to read… 4. Use your hands… 5. Side projects and hobbies are important… 6. The secret: do good work and put it where people can see it… 7. Geography is no longer our master… 8. Be nice. The world is a small town… 9. Be boring. It’s the only way to get work done… 10. Creativity is subtraction…"
glvo  howto  wisdom  austinkleon  design  creativity  writing  work  howwework  calendars  routine  life  kindness  invention  make  making  do  doing  geography  location  boring  boringness  sharing  cv  projects  sideprojects  hobbies  manual  starting  via:steelemaley 
april 2011 by robertogreco

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