recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : boredom   93

« earlier  
🔠 Jack and the Magic Key | Buttondown
"It’s 2007: I’m sat in the kitchen watching a family friend and her four year old son talk to my mom. Over the course of a few minutes I notice how this kid, Jack, is starting to get bored; his eyes roll into the back of his head and all of his limbs begin to fidget independently of the host as if he’s possessed by the spirit of boredom itself.

In a flash my mom notices this before her friend does. Her eyes dart around the room, looking for something, anything, to entertain Jack with. Coming up short, my mom grabs the closest thing that was on the table: a key. I think it unlocked one of the older cabinets we had lying around back then so it was very nondescript and boring; it didn’t have any patterns on it, or engravings, and it certainly wasn’t imbued with ancient magic of any kind.

But my mom gets down to Jack’s level and hijacks his attention with the key. She twirls it between her fingers and Jack’s eyes expand to the size of saucers.

My mom whispers in his ear.

“This key opens a door somewhere in our home,” her hand outstretched, sweeps across the air as if our house was a castle in the Scottish highlands, a scary and adventurous place that little Jack might get lost in. “And this very special key opens a very special door. So Jack…” My mom pauses for emphasis “…you’re the only one that can help me find it.”

At this point all of Jack’s boredom had been converted into pure, unbridled excitement and his smile almost hopped off his round face in the rush of this new adventure. He spent the rest of the afternoon darting around the house trying the key on everything; on books and chairs, walls and fireplaces, and even his mother’s knee.

*******

I didn’t realize this until I was an adult but when I was a young kid my family went bankrupt and my father’s successful business disappeared almost over night. Our small family, just my dad, my mom, my brother and me, lost everything. Our grandparents died and we’d been ostracized from cousins, sisters and distant brothers before I was born and so there was no-one to call for backup.

After my dad finally relented in telling us the details decades later I remembered that for years my brother and I had slept on the floor without a mattress. We didn’t have wallpaper. We had no toys or even a television until we were much older.

Whilst my dad was throwing himself into the maw of tax collectors and shady debt men, my mom was left dealing with two young children almost entirely alone. And so she learned quickly how to entertain us on a budget. Without any money to pay for toys my mom had to make the ordinary extraordinary. Our empty bedroom became a jungle, the couch a train, the stairway a place where Pokémon could be found and fought. And yes, even boring nondescript keys became potent with magic and prophesy.

That unbound excitement in boring things, that sort of curiosity in the world around us is what we so desperately need more of. We need excuses to play, to experiment, to dream during the daytime. And I think it was that key that my mother held in her hand that afternoon that made me want to be a writer and a designer. It’s what ultimately sparked my curiosity in typography, letters, and writing as well because I knew that I wanted to give others that feeling of infinite hope and that sense of wonder, too.

This is most certainly going to be a non-sequitur but for some reason all of this reminds me of Mary Reufle’s Madness, Rack and Honey where the poet describes what the perfect English Literature class in a highschool might look like. In the book, Mary writes:
My idea for a class is you just sit in the classroom and read aloud until everyone is smiling, and then you look around, and if someone is not smiling you ask them why, and then you keep reading—it may take many different books—until they start smiling, too.
"
robinrendle  education  curiosity  boredom  2018  parenting  play  maryreuffle  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  engagement  resourcefulness  cv  experimentation  creativity  keys  scrappiness  lcproject  openstudioproject  nexttonothing 
july 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 52. John Michael Greer in “The Polymath” // Druidry, Storytelling & the History of the Occult
"The best beard in occultism, John Michael Greer, is in the house. We’re talking “The Occult Book”, a collection of 100 of the most important stories and anecdotes from the history of the occult in western society. We also touch on the subject of storytelling as well as some other recent material from John, including his book “The Coelbren Alphabet: The Forgotten Oracle of the Welsh Bards” and his translation of a neat little number called “Academy of the Sword”."



"What you contemplate [too much] you imitate." [Uses the example of atheists contemplating religious fundamentalists and how the atheists begin acting like them.] "People always become what they hate. That’s why it's not good idea to wallow in hate."
2017  johnmichaelgreer  druidry  craft  druids  polymaths  autodidacts  learning  occulture  occult  ryanpeverly  celts  druidrevival  history  spirituality  thedivine  nature  belief  dogma  animism  practice  life  living  myths  mythology  stories  storytelling  wisdom  writing  howwewrite  editing  writersblock  criticism  writer'sblock  self-criticism  creativity  schools  schooling  television  tv  coelbrenalphabet  1980s  ronaldreagan  sustainability  environment  us  politics  lies  margaretthatcher  oraltradition  books  reading  howweread  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  facetime  social  socializing  cardgames  humans  human  humanism  work  labor  boredom  economics  society  suffering  misery  trapped  progress  socialmedia  computing  smarthphones  bullshitjobs  shinto  talismans  amulets  sex  christianity  religion  atheism  scientism  mainstream  counterculture  magic  materialism  enlightenment  delusion  judgement  contemplation  imitation  fundamentalism  hate  knowledge 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Book Detail | Polity: The Scent of Time A Philosophical Essay on the Art of Lingering, by Byung-Chul Han
"In his philosophical reflections on the art of lingering, acclaimed cultural theorist Byung-Chul Han argues that the value we attach today to the vita activa is producing a crisis in our sense of time. Our attachment to the vita activa creates an imperative to work which degrades the human being into a labouring animal, an animal laborans. At the same time, the hyperactivity which characterizes our daily routines robs human beings of the capacity to linger and the faculty of contemplation. It therefore becomes impossible to experience time as fulfilling.

Drawing on a range of thinkers including Heidegger, Nietzsche and Arendt, Han argues that we can overcome this temporal crisis only by revitalizing the vita contemplativa and relearning the art of lingering. For what distinguishes humans from other animals is the capacity for reflection and contemplation, and when life regains this capacity, this art of lingering, it gains in time and space, in duration and vastness."



"Preface
1. Non-Time
2. Time without a Scent
3. The Speed of History
4. From the Age of Marching to the Age of Whizzing
5. The Paradox of the Present
6. Fragrant Crystal of Time
7. The Time of the Angel
8. Fragrant Clock: An Short Excursus on Ancient China
9. The Round Dance of the World
10. The Scent of Oak Wood
11. Profound Boredom
12. Vita Contemplativa
Notes"
books  toread  byung-chulhan  lingering  neoliberalism  idleness  humans  humanism  labor  work  contemplation  thinking  philosophy  life  living  culture  society  time  boredom  presence  latecapitalism  postcapitalism  capitalism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Equitable Schools for a Sustainable World - Long View on Education
"“The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.” bell hooks

Instead of writing a review of Different Schools for a Different World by Scott McLeod and Dean Shareski, I want to try reading it differently, from back to front. I’ll start with the last topic, equity, and then proceed to talk about: innovation, boredom, learning, economics, and information literacy. But first, I want to touch on the book’s epigraph: Seth Godin tells us to “Make schools different.”

Different is an interesting word. It’s certainly a different word from what people have used to call for educational transformation in the past. If we were to draw up teams about educational change, I’m confident that McLeod, Shareski, and I would all be against the authoritarian ‘no excuses’ strand of reform that fears student agency. We’re also for meaningful engagement over glittery entertainment.

Yet, we also part ways very quickly in how we frame our arguments. They argue that we should “adapt learning and teaching environments to the demands of the 21st Century.” Our “changing, increasingly connected world” speeds ahead, but “most of our classrooms fail to change in response to it.” I start from a different position, one that questions how the demands of the 21st Century fit with the project of equity."



"What makes McLeod and Shareski’s take different from the long history of arguments about schools? Here’s their answer:

“In some respects, the concerns in this book are no different from the concerns of the authors of A Nation at Risk… We agree schools need to change, but that change should have to do with a school’s relevance, not just with its achievement scores.”

I think that relevance is exactly the right word, but we must ask relevant to what?

Their answer is the “demands of the 21st Century” that come from “shifting from an industrial mode to a global model and innovation model.” In Godin’s book, he presents the data center as a source of individual opportunity. While that can be true, the number of well-paying jobs at Google and Youtube stars will always be limited. Freedom of expression and civic participation can’t flourish in an age of economic precarity.

So what are the alternatives?

Jennifer M. Silva writes a counter-narrative to the worship of self-sufficiency and competition, and exposes “the hidden injuries of risk”, which often lead to isolation, a hardening of the self, and tragedy. One of her interview subjects died because she lacked affordable health-care.

What Silva finds is that “working-class young adults… feel a sense of powerlessness and mystification towards the institutions that order their lives. Over and over again, they learn that choice is simply an illusion.” Writing in a global context, (2014), Alcinda Honwana gives a name – waithood – to this experience of youth who are “no longer children in need of care, but … are still unable to become independent adults.” Honwana explicitly rejects the idea that waithood represents a “failed transition on the part of the youth themselves,” and she carefully documents the agency of the youth she interviewed in South Africa, Tunisia, Senegal, and Mozambique.
“Young people I interviewed showed strong awareness of the broader socio-economic and political environments that affect their lives. They are acutely conscious of their marginal structural position and they despise and rebel against the abuse and corruption that they observe as the elites in power get richer and they become poorer … They are critical of unsound economic policies that focus on growth but do not enlarge the productive base by creating more jobs.”

There’s no sustainable future in Western countries measuring educational success by the extent to which they out-compete the globalized Other. In her conclusion, Silva presents Wally, who is like her other working-class interview subjects in every respect except his political activism, as a token of hope. Instead of privatizing his problems, he is able to translate them into political issues. The alternative lies not in making schools different, but making the world ‘different’, sustainable, and just."
benjamindoxtdator  2017  equality  equity  socialjustice  schools  sustainability  education  children  economics  globalization  competition  bellhooks  scottmcleod  deanshareski  litercy  infoliteracy  sethgodin  capitalism  digitalredlining  digitaldivide  chrisgilliard  marianamazzucato  hajoonchang  innovation  labor  work  rosslevine  yonarubinstein  jordanweissman  aliciarobb  carljames  race  class  boredom  richardelmore  mikeschmoker  robertpianta  johngoodlad  engagement  passivity  criticism  learning  howwelearn  technology  johndewey  democracy  efficiency  davidsnedden  neoliberalism  richardflorida  tonyagner  erikbrynjolfsson  andremcafee  carlbenediktfrey  michaelosborne  davidautor  inequality  surveillance  surveillancecapitalism  shoshanazuboff  jonathanalbright  henrygiroux  jennifersilva  alcindahonwana  change  precarity 
october 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
DIAGRAM >> The Structure of Boredom
"Part III, the structure of boredom, analogously, is as follows: The self (1) relates to the now or present actuality in the mode of immediate experiencing (2). When that present (3) is symbolized as being devoid of values regarded as necessary for one's existence, one experiences boredom (5). Boredom is the awareness that the essential values through which one fulfills himself are not able to be actualized under these present circumstances. To the degree to which these limited values are elevated to absolutes which appear to be unactualizable (6), one is vulnerable to intensive, depressive, demonic boredom."

[via: https://twitter.com/salrandolph/status/877349051049619457 ]
boredom  diagrams  thomasoden  psychology  theology  1969  now  present  awareness  presence  guilt  future  past  anxiety  responsiveness  imagination  trust  emptiness  meaning  meaningmaking 
june 2017 by robertogreco
'Capitalism will always create bullshit jobs' | Owen Jones meets Rutger Bregman - YouTube
"Rutger Bregman is the author of Utopia for Realists and he advocates for more radical solutions to address inequality in society. His ideas include the introduction of a universal basic income, a 15 hour working week and, one which will be hugely popular on YouTube, open borders.

When I went to meet him, he told me politicians have failed to come up with new, radical ideas, instead sticking to an outdated, technocratic form of politics. He argues this has allowed politicians like Geert Wilders and Donald Trump to slowly shift extreme ideas into the mainstream."
rutgerbregman  bullshitjobs  consumerism  utopia  work  labor  davidgraeber  universalbasicincome  2017  inequality  purpose  emotionallabor  society  socialism  leisurearts  artleisure  boredom  stress  workweek  productivity  policy  politics  poverty  health  medicine  openborders  crime  owenjones  socialjustice  progressivism  sustainability  left  us  germany  migration  immigration  capitalism  netherlands  populism  isolationism  violence  pragmatism  realism  privatization  monopolies  ideology  borders  ubi 
march 2017 by robertogreco
An Elegy for the Library - The New York Times
"Computers are much too costly for many families. Even books remain out of reach. The library’s website lists “uninterrupted lighting” as one of its services — a real draw in a city that suffers from frequent power cutoffs. This is a place of refuge. It offers a respite from the heat, from office life, from noisy households, from all the irritations that crowd in.

It also offers the intangible entanglements of a common space. One of my favorite descriptions of the public library comes from the journalist and academic Sophie Mayer, who has called it “the ideal model of society, the best possible shared space,” because there “each person is pursuing their own aim (education, entertainment, affect, rest) with respect to others, through the best possible medium of the transmission of ideas, feelings and knowledge — the book.”

Libraries may have their idiosyncrasies, but the fundamentals of their ecosystem are universal. They are places of long breaks, of boredom and reverie, of solace and deliberation. They offer opportunities for unobtrusive observation, stolen glances and frissons, anticipation and nudging possibilities. And when the sensible realization strikes that a thrilling plan is better left unaccomplished, they might also become sites of abandonment."
libraries  maheshrao  refuge  society  utopia  pocketsofutopia  boredom  reverie  2017  solace  liberation 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Bat, Bean, Beam: Against boredom
"There is a meme routinely shared on social media of passengers aboard a train, each absorbed in their own personal information and entertainment device. The caption reads ‘All this technology is making us antisocial’. The joke is that it is a very old photograph; what the passengers are holding are newspapers. It is generally posted without comment, as an ironic reminder of the cyclical nature of debates about dominant forms of communication, and about our social and personal habits.

Here is a typical, timeless complaint: nowadays we have lost the capacity to enjoy moments of calm or to engage in quiet contemplation. Bertrand Russell once wrote that children should be spared excessive trips to the theatre. Later it became comic books or pulp fiction. Then cinema and television. Then the internet. Now it is smartphones and the iPad. Every epoch has its technologies of distraction, and each time a new one comes around, we are told that younger generations are losing what the parents once enjoyed in abundance: boredom. Cue a steady, incessant stream of think pieces of varying length in defence or praise of this maligned emotion.

As in the case of the picture of the train passengers, it is not very clear what the ideal baseline level of societal boredom should be. The pattern of the complaint is that the each new technology shifts the boundary. Thus television – the passive diversion that once banished useful boredom from our lives – is said to have been usurped by newer technologies. But added on is a layer of nostalgia: commentators will recall with fondness the time they spent watching bad television in their childhood.

Evil nowadays resides in portable networked devices, which in the current crop of think pieces are often granted worrying levels of agency. ‘Our phones hurt us by killing our ability to listen to boredom,’ writes Mónica Guzmán in GeekWire. ‘The iPhone killed my creativity,’ intones Brian Hall in another defence of boredom for ReadWrite. This alarmist language masks an impoverished notion of what boredom is and how it affects different people.

The idea that creative thinking requires letting one’s mind wonder in repose has deep roots in the literature and may deserve some credit – all the more since the study of neuroscience is beginning to validate the philosophers’ theories. But what is being systematically elided here – in the process of granting supernatural levels of agency to our screens – are the material and historical dimensions of the question.

The closest common ancestor to most of these think pieces is Joseph Brodsky’s 1989 commencement address at Dartmouth College, entitled ‘Listening to Boredom’. It’s a worthy if maddening read, culminating in the Kierkegaardian insight that boredom is ‘a window on time’s infinity’ that ‘teaches you the most valuable lesson of your life: the lesson of your utter insignificance.’ And a lesson worth heeding it may be. However, consider how this message might sound if it had been delivered to an audience of fast-food workers or office clerks, rather than to the assembled freshmen of an Ivy League university.

The pursuit of creativity, with the attendant need to cultivate spaces for contemplation and reflection, is not available to everyone equally. And for the vast majority of people, boredom has a very different inflection.

I grew up between two worlds: the big city where my parents lived and where I went to school, and the rural village where my grandparents lived and where I spent every second weekend and part of the summer holidays. It is to the latter that I owe my strongest recollections of childhood boredom: interminable days spent idling or searching vainly for something – anything – to do.

Having grown into a literate adult, I may be tempted to romanticise this experience, and credit it with granting me a heightened sensibility for the quotidian and for what the French master Georges Perec called ‘the infra-ordinary’. But in that village without libraries or theatres, without social or cultural clubs, in that stolidly anti-intellectual place, I saw boredom turn directly into violence. I remember how a friend with whom I had laboured to while away those summer afternoons drove a motorcycle at speed into an iron gate as soon as he was old enough to do so.

My mother escaped the village and its lethal boredom through books: the fiction and school texts she consumed as a child gave her a literal way out – first to a neighbouring town with a high school, then to a city with a university and a different kind of life. She never romanticised those beginnings, and loathed any talk of the ‘good old days’. She became an intermediate school teacher and always blamed misbehaviour among her students as her own failure to awaken their interest.

If we must talk about boredom, we should start by talking about the cultural and social opportunities that might enable us to view it as a positive value worthy of recapturing, and – if we want to bring technology into it – of its role in foreclosing or opening up such opportunities. This would be a conversation worth having."
giovannitiso  2016  boredom  technology  creativity  culture  attention  history  georgesperec  violence 
july 2016 by robertogreco
9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us - Will Richardson
1. We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school.



2. We know that most of our students are bored and disengaged in school.



3. We know that deep, lasting learning requires conditions that schools and classrooms simply were not built for.



4. We know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success.



5. We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.



6. We know that curriculum is just a guess. The way we talk about “The Curriculum” you would think that it was something delivered on a gold platter from on high. In reality, it was pretty much written by 10 middle-aged white guys (and their primarily white, middle-aged friends) in 1894 called “The Committee of Ten.” They were from some of the most prestigious schools and universities at the time, and they fashioned the structure of much of what we still teach in schools today. But we know that much of what every student in 1894 was supposed to learn isn’t really what every student in 2015 needs to learn. Yet we seem loathe to mess with the recipe. And as Seymour Papert so famously asks, now that we have access to pretty much all there is to know, “what one-billionth of one percent” are we going to choose to teach in school?

7. We know that separating learning into discrete subjects and time blocks is not the best way to prepare kids for the real world.



8. We know (I think) that the system of education as currently constructed is not adequately preparing kids for what follows if and when they graduate.



9. And finally, we know that learning that sticks is usually learned informally, that explicit knowledge accounts for very little of our success in most professions."
willrichardson  2015  education  schools  curriculum  engagement  2016  memory  content  boredom  schooling  schooliness  deschooling  unschooling  mitchresnick  seymourpapert  emilymitchum  grades  grading  parenting  lcproject  openstudioproject  committeeoften  matthewlieberman  franksmith  learning  forgetting  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  pedagogy  hardfun  sfsh 
april 2016 by robertogreco
What Kids Need From Grown-Ups (But Aren't Getting) : NPR Ed : NPR
"Q: What is this phenomenon that you call "the preschool paradox"?

A: It is the reality that science is confirming on a daily basis: that children are hardwired to learn in many settings and are really very capable, very strong, very intelligent on the one hand. On the other hand, the paradox is that many young children are doing poorly in our early education settings.

We've got a growing problem of preschool expulsions, a growing problem of children being medicated off-label for attention problems. We have a lot of anecdotal evidence that parents are frustrated and feeling overburdened. So that's what interests me: What is going on?

We have very crammed [preschool] schedules with rapid transitions. We have tons of clutter on classroom walls. We have kids moving quickly from one activity to another. We ask them to sit in long and often boring meetings. Logistically and practically, lives are quite taxing for little kids because they're actually living in an adult-sized world.

On the other hand, curriculum is often very boring. A staple of early childhood curriculum is the daily tracking of the calendar. And this is one of those absolute classic mismatches, because one study showed that, after a whole year of this calendar work where kids sit in a circle and talk about what day they're on, half the kids still didn't know what day they were on. It's a mismatch because it's both really hard and frankly very stupid.

We're underestimating kids in terms of their enormous capacity to be thoughtful and reflective, and, I would argue, that's because we're not giving them enough time to play and to be in relationships with others.

Q: Why do you think so many educators and policymakers have come to see play and learning as mutually exclusive?

A: Yeah, it's incredibly weird — this fake dichotomy. The science is so persuasive on this topic. There's all kinds of research coming not only from early childhood but animal research looking at mammals and how they use play for learning.

I think there are two answers. There really has been tremendous anxiety about closing achievement gaps between advantaged and less advantaged children. You know, we're always as a society looking for quick fixes that might close those gaps. Unfortunately, it's had downstream consequences for early learning, where we're going for superficial measures of learning.

I think the other problem is that the rich, experience-based play that we know results in learning — it's not as easy to accomplish as people think. And that's because, while the impulse to play is natural, what I call the play know-how really depends on a culture that values play, that gives kids the time and space to learn through play.

Q: What does playful learning look like?

A: Playful learning is embedded in relationships and in things that are meaningful to children. I use the example of the iconic [handprint] Thanksgiving turkey. When you really get into what's behind those cutesy crafts, a lot of curriculum is organized around these traditions, things around the calendar, things that are done because they've always been done.

When you look at how kids learn, they learn when something is meaningful to them, when they have a chance to learn through relationships — and that, of course, happens through play. But a lot of our curriculum is organized around different principles.

It's organized around the comfort and benefit of adults and also reflexive: "This is cute," or, "We've always done this." A lot of the time, as parents, we are trained to expect products, cute projects. And I like to say that the role of art in preschool or kindergarten curriculum should be to make meaning, not necessarily things. But it's hard to get parents to buy into this idea that their kids may not come home with the refrigerator art because maybe they spent a week messing around in the mud.

Preschool teachers are very interested in fine motor skills, and so often they think that these tracing and cutting activities [are important]. I would argue that those are not the most important skills that we need to foster.

Q: What are the most important skills we need to foster?

A: I think the No. 1 thing is that children need to feel secure in their relationships because, again, we're social animals. And children learn through others. So I think the No. 1 thing is for kids to have a chance to play, to make friends, to learn limits, to learn to take their turn.

Q: You're talking about soft skills, non-cognitive skills ...

A: I actually won't accept the term non-cognitive skills.

Q: Social-emotional skills?

A: I would say social-emotional skills. But, again, there's a kind of simplistic notion that there's social-emotional skills on the one hand ...

Q: And academics on the other ...

A: Right, and I would argue that many so-called academic skills are very anti-intellectual and very uncognitive. Whereas I think a lot of the social-emotional skills are very much linked to learning.

I think the biggest one is the use of language. When kids are speaking to one another and listening to one another, they're learning self-regulation, they're learning vocabulary, they're learning to think out loud. And these are highly cognitive skills. But we've bought into this dichotomy again. I would say "complex skills" versus "superficial" or "one-dimensional skills."

To give you an example, watching kids build a fort is going to activate more cognitive learning domains than doing a worksheet where you're sitting at a table. The worksheet has a little pile of pennies on one side and some numbers on the other, and you have to connect them with your pencil. That's a very uni-dimensional way of teaching skills.

Whereas, if you're building a fort with your peers, you're talking, using higher-level language structures in play than you would be if you're sitting at a table. You're doing math skills, you're doing physics measurement, engineering — but also doing the give-and-take of, "How do I get along? How do I have a conversation? What am I learning from this other person?" And that's very powerful.

Q: What is high-quality preschool to you?

A: The research base is pretty clear. I'll start by telling you what it isn't. We start by looking at two variables. One set are called "structural variables" — things like class size, student-teacher ratios, or even the square-footage of the classroom and what kinds of materials are in the classroom.

And then there are so-called process variables, which are different. They tend to be more about teaching style. Is the teacher a responsive teacher? Does she use a responsive, warm, empathic teaching style? And then the other key process variable is: Does the teacher have knowledge of child development? And is that teacher able to translate that child development knowledge into the curriculum?

Q: Which seems like a hard thing to measure.

A: It's actually not. And there are many good measures — things like: Is the teacher on the floor with the child? Is the teacher asking open-ended questions? You know: "Tell me about your picture" versus "Oh, cute house, Bobby." It's actually not that hard to measure.

But here's the thing. The structural variables are easier to regulate. And, if you have a workforce problem where you're not paying teachers well and a pipeline problem where there aren't good career paths to get into teaching, it's much easier for us to focus on the structural variables when those have an indirect effect only. The direct effect is the process variables.

My colleague Walter Gilliam at Yale has come up with this wonderful mental health classroom climate scale, which really looks at these process variables in very granular detail — so, not only looking at the interactions between the teachers and the children but how the teachers are interacting with each other.

Q: You mount a spirited defense of unscheduled kid time [at home]. Less shuttling to and from sports practice, dance practice, swim lessons. Be sure, you say, to give your child time to sit on the floor and stare at the ceiling if that's what they want to do. I know a lot of parents who would find that view heretical.

A: That's because we don't have faith in young children. And we don't really have faith in ourselves. And we've been programmed to believe that the more enrichments we can add on [the better].

I think boredom can be a friend to the imagination. Sometimes when kids appear to be bored, actually they haven't had enough time to engage in something. We quickly whisk it away and move them along to the next thing. And that's when you say, "How can I help the child to look at this in a new way? To try something new, to be patient."

You've really kind of adultified childhood so kids really don't have those long, uninterrupted stretches of time to engage in fantasy play. And because we've kind of despoiled the habitat of early childhood, a lot of times they don't know what to do when given that time. So we kind of have to coach them.

I think there's a little bit of a repair process that we need to engage in. Because if you've got a kid who's used to going to a million lessons and only uses toys that have one way of using them and then, suddenly, you put them in a room with a bunch of boxes and blocks and say, "Have fun!", the kid's gonna say, "Are you kidding me? What?!""



"Now, I do want to be clear: There are all kinds of ways to respond to being hurt, including filing a police report, reporting to your supervisor or professor or RA in a dorm, talking with your friends, ignoring. To me, I think the social norming piece is really important because I believe we put way too much faith in these administrative guidelines, "suggestions."

Is that really how behavior change happens? I don't know. I think for some things, absolutely, legal recourse makes a difference. But for other things, I think, peer norming is highly effective, and to me, Halloween costumes would be in that category.

We can't … [more]
children  education  play  unstructuredtime  learning  preschool  school  curriculum  howwelearn  rules  structure  lcproject  openstudioproject  conversation  norms  behavior  howweteach  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  listening  coryturner  erikachristakis  relationships  boredom  imagination  parenting  guidelines  process  empathy  policy  transitions  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Joy: A Subject Schools Lack - The Atlantic
"Building on a child’s ability to feel joy, rather than pushing it aside, wouldn’t be that hard. It would just require a shift in the education world’s mindset. Instead of trying to get children to buckle down, why not focus on getting them to take pleasure in meaningful, productive activity, like making things, working with others, exploring ideas, and solving problems? These focuses are not so different from the things to which they already gravitate and in which they delight.

Before you brush this argument aside as sentimental fluff, or think of joy as an unaffordable luxury in a nation where there is dire poverty, low academic achievement, and high dropout rates, think again. The more dire the school circumstances, the more important pleasure is to achieving any educational success.

Many of the assignments and rules teachers come up with, often because they are pressured by their administrators, treat pleasure and joy as the enemies of competence and responsibility. The assumption is that children shouldn’t chat in the classroom because it disrupts hard work; instead, they should learn to delay gratification so that they can pursue abstract goals, like going to college. They should keep their hands to themselves and tolerate boredom so that they become good at being bored later on.

Not only is this a dreary and awful way to treat children, it makes no sense educationally. Decades of research have shown that in order to acquire skills and real knowledge in school, kids need to want to learn. You can force a child to stay in his or her seat, fill out a worksheet, or practice division. But you can’t force a person to think carefully, enjoy books, digest complex information, or develop a taste for learning. To make that happen, you have to help the child find pleasure in learning—to see school as a source of joy.

Adults tend to talk about learning as if it were medicine: unpleasant, but necessary and good for you. Why not instead think of learning as if it were food—something so valuable to humans that they have evolved to experience it as a pleasure? The more a person likes fresh, healthy food, the more likely that individual is to have a good diet. Why can’t it be the same with learning? Let children learn because they love to—think only of a 2-year-old trying to talk to see how natural humans’ thirst for knowledge is. Then, in school, help children build on their natural joy in learning.

Joy should not be trained out of children or left for after-school programs. The more difficult a child’s life circumstances, the more important it is for that child to find joy in his or her classroom. "Pleasure" is not a dirty word. And it’s not antithetical to the goals of K-12 public education. It is, in fact, the sine qua non."
education  joy  susanengel  2016  howwelearn  schools  poverty  pleasure  responsibility  competence  rules  boredom  learning 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Rob Grayson - ““People whose governing habit is the...
““People whose governing habit is the relinquishment of power, competence, and responsibility, and whose characteristic suffering is the anxiety of futility, make excellent spenders,” wrote Wendell Berry in The Unsettling of America. “They are the ideal consumers. By inducing in them little panics of boredom, powerlessness, sexual failure, mortality, paranoia, they can be made to buy (or vote for) virtually anything that is ‘attractively packaged.’” And there are no shortages of experiences that, for a price, promise to stimulate us, make us powerful, sexy, invincible, admired, beautiful, and unique.”

— Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

[via: http://bettyann.tumblr.com/post/131415265782 ]
chrishedges  power  consumerism  boredom  powerlessness  mortality  paranoia  spectacle  literacy  government  politics  wendellberry  capitalism 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Back-to-School-Night Speech We'd Like to Hear* | Psychology Today
"Our top priority here -- and I mean a real, honest-to-goodness commitment, not just a slogan on the website or in a mission statement -- is to learn about and support each student's interests. What questions do they have about the world? How can we help them build on and find answers to those questions? When we meet as a staff, it's usually to think together about how best to do that, how to create a school that's not just academic but intellectual.

We don't want to write a detailed curriculum or devise a bunch of rules in advance and then spend the year demanding that kids conform to them. Our main concern is that what students are learning, and how they're helped to learn it, make sense for the particular kids in a given room. That's why our teachers spend a lot more time asking than telling -- and even more time listening to what the kids wonder about. The plan for learning is created with your kids, not just for them.

Take Ms. _______ and Mr. ________, who are both standing in the back of the room, over there near the fire alarm. (Say hello!) They teach the same grade and the same subjects, but do they have the same curriculum -- the same topics in the same order with the same reading list and assignments? Well, of course not! They teach different kids! And I happen to know that much of what each of them is teaching this year is different from what they were teaching last year. For the same reason.

A good way to tell how successful we are is how excited the students are about figuring stuff out and playing with ideas. Nurturing their desire to learn is more important to us than cramming them full of definitions and dates and details that they're likely to forget anyway. Plus, in my experience, when that excitement is there, academic excellence tends to follow – assuming they've been given the support and resources they need.

So if your children ever seem reluctant to come to school, if you get a sense that they see what they're doing here as a chore, please let us know! Hating school isn't a fact of life; it's a problem to be solved. We're not going to talk about "how to motivate them" or just expect them to "improve their attitude"; it's our responsibility to improve what happens in school. And if it turns out that the curiosity of our students is being smothered by practices that we've come to take for granted, well, we're not going to say, "Too bad. That's life." We're going to rethink those practices.

You want a couple of examples? Well, I think I can safely say -- and feel free, teachers, to contradict me here -- that all of us on the staff used to assume that things like grades, tests, homework, and textbooks were just part of the educational package. So we focused on the details of how we did them -- what seem to us now like piddly little questions. We would solemnly ask: Should grades be posted online -- and what's the best way to do that? Or: Exactly how many minutes of homework should be assigned? Should students be permitted to retake tests? Should textbooks be available digitally? (Boy, that's "innovation" for you, huh? The same collection of predigested facts from a giant publishing conglomerate but, hey, now it's on an iPad!)

Anyway, we gradually realized that because we were so busy asking how to implement x, y, and z, we had let ourselves off the hook by failing to ask whether x, y, or z should be done at all. For instance, a lot of studies have shown that when you give kids grades, they tend to lose interest in what they're learning – and also become less thoughtful in the way they learn it. So if we can offer kids (and also you parents) much more meaningful feedback about how they're doing in school – through written observations and, better yet, in-person conversations -- then why would we risk smothering their excitement about learning by slapping a letter or number on them? We were doing real damage by training kids to think that the point of going to school is to get A's. The solution wasn't to implement “standards-based grading,” or to change “A” to “greatly exceeds expectations,” or ramp up the use of rubrics (which basically take all that's wrong with grades and intensify it). No. The solution was to get rid of grading entirely and replace it with something better. So that's just what we've done. And the results have been nothing short of amazing.

The same thing is true with other old-fashioned practices. Homework creates frustration, anxiety, boredom, exhaustion -- and it's no fun for the kids either! (Ba-dum-bum). So we really paid attention when we discovered teachers -- some in our school, some in other schools -- who had completely stopped assigning homework and found real improvement in the way kids felt about school, about learning, about themselves, and about their teachers -- all without detracting from the quality of their learning. True, kids end up doing less drill and practice when they're free to do what they enjoy after school, but our teachers have gone way beyond the old drill-and-practice approach anyway!

We've seen similar benefits after educating ourselves about how to evaluate kids' understanding of ideas without using tests. And about how textbooks can be left on the shelves, to be consulted occasionally like reference sources, rather than dictating course content. What?? A school without tests or textbooks?? Yes. It's not only possible; it opens new possibilities for learning -- to the point that we wondered why we hadn't ditched these relics years ago.

Well, let's be honest. Some of us wondered that. Others of us are still a little, um, uneasy about completely getting rid of these traditional practices. Some of us understandably need help teaching with primary sources instead of textbooks. Or getting better at knowing how well students are doing (or how we're doing) without giving kids tests and quizzes. Or doing what needs to be done during class instead of saddling kids with more schoolwork after the school day is over.

So we're still struggling with some of this. But we're pretty sure at least we're asking the right questions now. And I'm happy to report that this shift is taking place in all the schools in our district -- elementary, middle, and high schools, since everything I'm talking about tonight is relevant to all grade levels. In fact, at the risk of making your head explode, I could mention that the same is true of a bunch of other features of Old Style education that we're also starting to look at skeptically now: segregating kids by age, or teaching different subjects separately, or even making kids raise their hands so that the teacher alone decides who gets to talk when. If there are solid reasons to keep doing these things, fine. If not, well, "that's the way things have always been done" is a pretty lame justification for not making a change, isn't it?"



"We talk a lot about the importance of creating a caring community of learners. Actually, I guess lots of schools use phrases like that, but one way we prove we really mean it is by making sure we don't do anything that disrupts a feeling of community -- like setting kids against each other in a contest for awards or recognition. The day we start publicly singling out one child as better than everyone else is the day we've given up on the ideal of community. This doesn't mean we don't care about excellence. Just the opposite! Real excellence comes from helping students to see one another as potential collaborators. Sorting them into winners and losers leads each kid to see everyone else as a rival. That undermines achievement (as well as caring and trust) for winners and losers alike. So instead of awards assemblies, you can expect to be invited to student-designed celebrations of what all of us have accomplished together. These ceremonies can be amazingly moving, by the way. If you're used to those rituals where a few kids are called up to the stage to be applauded for having triumphed over their peers, well, you're in for a real treat.

Because we take kids -- all kids -- so seriously here at _________, and because we treat them, and their ideas, with respect, we tend to have remarkably few discipline problems. Few, not none. When there is a problem, we don't talk about it in terms of a kid's "behavior" that needs to be changed; we ask what's going on beneath the behavior. Sometimes what's going on is that something about the school isn't working for that child. That's not a signal to fix the child, to lean on him until he does what he's told. You're sending us your children, not your pets, so we don't use rewards and consequences. We don't bribe or threaten them to make them behave. Hey, we don't like to be treated that way, so why would we treat our students that way? We don't use point systems, or dangle prizes in front of them, or use other strategies of control. Those gimmicks don't really work in the long run, and they're an awfully disrespectful way to treat people of any age. Besides, we find that when the learning is engaging, when our requests are reasonable, when we view students as people to be consulted rather than as bundles of behaviors to be reinforced, most of the time they live up to our expectations. Or even go beyond them.

As the year unfolds, we'll send you occasional letters and e-mails -- and update our website -- about how all this is playing out, about how your child is doing and, more important, what your child is doing. Some teachers host their own blogs or send out periodic newsletters. But don't be worried if sometimes they write things like, "We had a conflict in class that made some kids unhappy so we called a class meeting to work it out" or "Hey, I tried a new way to introduce an unfamiliar concept today, and it bombed so I'm not likely to do that again." If we sent you updates that were always upbeat, implying that every kid loved - and succeeded at - every activity, we'd quickly lose all credibility and you'd discount everything you heard from us. So we'll be tactful but honest in sharing … [more]
alfiekohn  emergentcurriculum  education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  children  schools  priorities  tcsnmy  agency  choice  homework  grades  grading  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  curriculum  reggioemilia  anxiety  boredom  exhaustion  play  democracy  textbooks  caring  progressive  discipline  behavior  competition  awards 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Children prefer simple pleasures to organised trips, research finds - Telegraph
"While parents shell out an average of £183 per child on day trips over the course of a six-week summer holiday, their children would be happier doing simple and free activities such as playing with friends or going for bike rides.

The findings are in a survey by the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which asked 1,500 children aged between 5 and 11 to rank their favourite summer-time activities in order of preference.

Playing in the park or in the garden was ranked as the top pastime. Mud pie-making, tree-climbing and feeding the ducks also came in the top ten.

The first activity that would cost children’s parents money was named as going to the cinema, which was the 12th most popular pastime and came after planting flowers and picking berries.

Psychologists said the survey proved that children enjoy simple outdoor pleasures more than organised trips, which often involve hours in the car. Meanwhile parents admitted they spend so much on activities because they feel guilty that their children might get bored.

Youngsters even said that they prefer flying kites and playing in a paddling pool to going to the zoo. Surprisingly, playing on a computer was ranked as one of the least favourite summer activities.

Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a child psychologist, said: “While parents are busy spending money on costly activities to ensure their kids have a good summer, children mostly value the simple pleasures that summer brings. In terms of pleasure per penny, it’s the everyday outdoor fun which takes little time or money to organise that far outweighs the more orchestrated expensive excursions.”

Almost half of the children said they preferred playing in familiar places such as the back garden or local park than places they have not been to before.

The supermarket also questioned 2,000 parents as part of its Kids’ Simple Pleasures Per Penny Index. Parents said that they book at least one day trip or paid-for excursion per week over the six-week summer holiday, spending an average of £183 per child per holiday.

A third of parents said that they organised weekly trips to make their lives easier over the holiday period.

Four in ten adults said they had increased their spending on holiday excursions compared with last year despite the economic downturn.

Despite spending so much on their children, seven in 10 parents admitted that their most cherished childhood memories involved playing with friends or having “simple” fun in the garden.
Dr Papadopoulos said: “Summer memories last us a lifetime and parents can learn a lot from what their children have told us in this study.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “The summer holidays can be particularly expensive, especially for families, but it doesn’t have to be a burden if we take the lead from our youngsters and reappraise the value of the simple everyday pleasures loved by all.”"
children  parenting  play  2012  boredom  entertainment  everyday  small  slow  childhood  memory  summer 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The History of Boredom | Science | Smithsonian
"Recent scientific research agrees: A host of studies have found that people who are easily bored may also be at greater risk for depression, anxiety disorders, gambling addictions, eating disorders, aggression and other psychosocial issues. Boredom can also exacerbate existing mental illness. And, according to at least one 2010 study, people who are more easily bored are two-and-a-half times more likely to die of heart disease than people who are not.

Why is unclear. Take depression: “One possibility is that boredom causes depression; another is that depression causes boredom; another is that they’re mutually causative; another is that boredom is an epi-phenomenon or another component of depression; and another is that there’s another third variable that causes both boredom and depression,” explains Dr. John Eastwood, a clinical psychologist at York University in Toronto. “So we’re at the very beginning stages of trying to figure it out.”

That’s partly because up until very recently, he says, psychologists weren’t working with a very good definition of boredom. Eastwood is one of a growing number of researchers dedicated to understanding boredom; in the October 2012 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, Eastwood and his colleagues published “The Unengaged Mind”, an attempt to define boredom.

The paper claimed that boredom is a state in which the sufferer wants to be engaged in some meaningful activity but cannot, characterized by both restlessness and lethargy. With that in mind, Eastwood says that it all is essentially an issue of attention. “Which kind of makes sense, because attention is the process by which we connect with the world,” explains Eastwood

Boredom may be the result of a combination of factors – a situation that is actually boring, a predisposition to boredom, or even an indication of an underlying mental condition. What that says about how the brain works requires more research.

“I’m quite sure that when people are bored, their brain is in a different state,” says Eastwood. “But the question is not just is your brain in a different state, but what that tells us about the way the brain works and the way attention works.”

Why is Boredom Good For You?

There has to be a reason for boredom and why people suffer it; one theory is that boredom is the evolutionary cousin to disgust.

In Toohey’s Boredom: A Living History, the author notes that when writers as far back as Seneca talk about boredom, they often describe it was a kind of nausea or sickness. The title of famous 20th century existentialist writer Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel about existential boredom was, after all, Nausea. Even now, if someone is bored of something, they’re “sick of it” or “fed up”. So if disgust is a mechanism by which humans avoid harmful things, then boredom is an evolutionary response to harmful social situations or even their own descent into depression.

“Emotions are there to help us react to, register and regulate our response to stimulus from our environment,” he says. Boredom, therefore, can be a kind of early warning system. “We don’t usually take it as a warning – but children do, they badger you to get you out of the situation.”

And though getting out of boredom can lead to extreme measures to alleviate it, such as drug taking or an extramarital affair, it can also lead to positive change. Boredom has found champions in those who see it as a necessary element in creativity. In 2011, Manohla Dargis, New York Times film critic, offered up a defense of “boring” films, declaring that they offer the viewer the opportunity to mentally wander: “In wandering there can be revelation as you meditate, trance out, bliss out, luxuriate in your thoughts, think.”

But how humans respond to boredom may have changed dramatically in the last century. In Eastwood’s opinion, humans have become used to doing less to get more, achieving intense stimulation at the click of a mouse or touch of a screen.

“We are very used to being passively entertained,” he says. “We have changed our understanding of the human condition as one of a vessel that needs to be filled.” And it’s become something like a drug – “where we need another hit to remain at the same level of satisfaction,” says Eastwood.

There is hope, however, and it’s back at the Boring Conference. Rather than turning to a quick fix – YouTube videos of funny cats, Facebook – the Boring Conference wants people to use the mundane as an impetus to creative thinking and observation.

“It’s not the most amazing idea in the world, but I think it’s a nice idea – to look around, notice things,” says Ward, the conference organizer. “I guess that’s the message: Look at stuff.”"
2012  boredom  via:anne  depression  attention  manohladargis  johneastwood  psychology  engagement  petertoohey 
june 2015 by robertogreco
magazine / archive / Barbara Visser | MOUSSE CONTEMPORARY ART MAGAZINE
"Contemporary capitalism prods us to make the most of our potential, sticking with the program and doing our best. Sven Lütticken offers fascinating insights into the concepts of sleep and boredom and the potential of refusal as a counter-politics of the times, whose hero might be Melville’s Bartleby, the scrivener who not only stops writing but also explains that he would “prefer not to.” Intuition tells us that these modern concepts developed between the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution are as anachronistic as they are absolutely timely today."



"The music video shows the band performing in front of a giant silhouette of a cassette tape. Bow Wow Wow, with their “pirate” look, promoted a medium associated with pirating music, but also a medium that was creating new markets and contributed to making music ever more portable, ever more intimate (the Sony Walkman was introduced globally in 1980), thus helping to make the day a “media day.” Technology may be an emancipatory force and hasten the demolition of patriarchy, but this hardly means that “school’s out forever,” as the song has it: if anything, school is everywhere and learning is life-long, a permanent retooling of the subject. Of course, the song was released in a period with mass (youth) unemployment, with old industries in decline. If a sizable (well-educated) part of the no future generation would go on to have careers in the economic bubble produced by deregulation, mass unemployment nevertheless became structural in western European states, which are still shuffling around members of the former working class from one pseudo-job to the next."



"Meanwhile, popular discourse tends to dream of boredom as a psycho-temporal mode that is under threat and that is as important as sleeping, being a sort of waking equivalent of sleep: “It’s sad to think kids of this generation won’t be able to experience boredom like we have. Consider how boredom was handled at a younger age, as though it was a matter of solving a problem. Do children really need to worry about that, or can they just boot up their iPad? […] Instead of embracing boredom and using it as a creative application, we choose to replace it with some ‘busy’ activity. Instead of sitting in thought, we impulsively pull out our phones.”(21) However, relearning how to be bored is not a Craryesque exercise in imagining a different future beyond catastrophe, but rather an attempt at improving one’s performance: “It probably sounds a little counterintuitive to suggest to anyone that they start slacking off, but in reality it’s about as important to your brain’s health as sleeping is. Being bored, procrastinating, and embracing distraction all help your brain function. In turn, you understand decisions better. You learn easier.”(22)

Boredom is a modern concept. Just as people had gay sex before modern notions of homosexuality were around, this does of course not mean that premodern people never experienced states that we would now characterize as boredom. Rather, it means that boredom “in the modern sense that combines an existential and a temporal connotation” only become a theoretical concept and a problem in the late 18th century—in fact, the English term boredom emerged precisely in that moment, under the combined impact of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. As Elizabeth Goodstein puts it, boredom “epitomizes the dilemma of the autonomous modern subject,” linking “existential questions” to “a peculiarly modern experience of empty, meaningless time.”(23) Boredom became a crucial notion for the 1960s avant-garde in different ways. On the one hand, the Cagean neo-avant-garde (Fluxus) embraced boredom as a productive strategy; on the other, the Situationist International attacked boredom as a disastrous symptom of capitalism.

In the late 1960s, Situationist and pro-situ slogans such as “Boredom is always counter-revolutionary” and “there’s nothing they won’t do to raise the standard of boredom” made the term a battle cry, though it is not particularly prominent in Debord’s writings. Boredom for the SI was a symptom of the inhuman nature of capitalism. As Raoul Vaneigem put it: “We do not want a world in which the guarantee that we will not die of starvation is bought by accepting the risk of dying of boredom.”(24) Boredom is a kind of byproduct of industrial labor that creates new markets for entertainment, for while boredom during working hours is unavoidable and can only be alleviated in part by half-hearted measures (playing music to the workers), boredom also infects “free time,” where various leisure activities and the products of the entertainment industry are ready to help—if only, as the slogan has it, “to raise the standard of boredom.”"



"Thus Bartleby, or Bartleby’s phrase, exists in a now-time for many of today’s real-time, just-in-time workers. But does its potential remain just that? Do we ultimately prefer to “not do” anything with it and about it? What are the possibilities and the limitations of an anachronistic politics and aesthetics of boredom, sleep, laziness, and “preferring not to?” The imperative to perform non-stop is insidious; we are constantly reminded that we may miss out altogether if we don’t get with the program. Recently, Nobel Prize winner Peter Higgs noted that “Today, I wouldn’t get an academic job. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think I would be regarded as productive enough.”(34) He would, in other words, be seen as slothful, and rejected in favor of more promising and productive candidates. Today’s academia is marked by a drive for quantification and control; immaterial labor needs to become measurable. The increasing integration of art in the academic system, with the rise of artistic PhD programs, is another example of this. The seeming paradox is that we are dealing with a form of labor that is already beyond measure, that is intensified and permanent (24/7). However, what is measured is not temporal input (as in the days of punch cards) but output. When a university transforms its offices into “flex-work stations” with a “clean-desk-policy,” the hidden agenda seems to be to make sure that employees stay away from the office as much as possible—making the whole world their potential office.

In the edu-factory, as elsewhere, “associations of liberated time” need to be formed that go beyond individual qualms about the system’s insane extension and intensification of labor—qualms that must remain inefficient if they remain individual. While it is obvious that an aesthetic-political liberation of time will never be linear, and is always ready to collapse under the contradictory temporal demands made on its various participants, this does not make the project any less crucial and urgent. A genuine “association of liberated time” should not only comprise artists and academics, but also their less visible counterparts: migrants workers performing jobs that combine rote routine with the “dynamic” precarity of neoliberalism, or illegal sans-papiers whose motto is a state-imposed “never work,” as they are forbidden from “taking away jobs” and terrorized into boredom while struggling to find a place to sleep.(35)"
laziness  sloth  capitalism  liberation  freedom  2014  svenlütticken  labor  work  resistance  anarchism  bartlebythescrivner  hermanschuurman  demoker  guydebord  karlmarx  marxism  communism  dedollehond  paullafargue  situationist  malcomclaren  bowwowwow  pirating  music  1980s  lifelonglearning  unemployment  idleness  leisure  leisurearts  artleisure  sleep  boredom  learning  raoulvaneigem  freetime  openstudio  openstudioproject  lcproject  revolution  fluxus  productivity  giorgioagamben  potentiality  hermanmelville 
july 2014 by robertogreco
What four months on Mars taught me about boredom– Kate Greene – Aeon
"On Mars I learned that boredom has two sides – it can either rot the mind or rocket it to new places"
boredom  2014  kategreen  creativity  exploration  psychology 
march 2014 by robertogreco
In Conversation with Raoul Vaneigem | e-flux
"HUO: You have written a lot on life, not survival. What is the difference?

RV: Survival is budgeted life. The system of exploitation of nature and man, starting in the Middle Neolithic with intensive farming, caused an involution in which creativity—a quality specific to humans—was supplanted by work, by the production of a covetous power. Creative life, as had begun to unfold during the Paleolithic, declined and gave way to a brutish struggle for subsistence. From then on, predation, which defines animal behavior, became the generator of all economic mechanisms.

HUO: Today, more than forty years after May ‘68, how do you feel life and society have evolved?

RV: We are witnessing the collapse of financial capitalism. This was easily predictable. Even among economists, where one finds even more idiots than in the political sphere, a number had been sounding the alarm for a decade or so. Our situation is paradoxical: never in Europe have the forces of repression been so weakened, yet never have the exploited masses been so passive. Still, insurrectional consciousness always sleeps with one eye open. The arrogance, incompetence, and powerlessness of the governing classes will eventually rouse it from its slumber, as will the progression in hearts and minds of what was most radical about May 1968."



"RV: The moralization of profit is an illusion and a fraud. There must be a decisive break with an economic system that has consistently spread ruin and destruction while pretending, amidst constant destitution, to deliver a most hypothetical well-being. Human relations must supersede and cancel out commercial relations. Civil disobedience means disregarding the decisions of a government that embezzles from its citizens to support the embezzlements of financial capitalism. Why pay taxes to the bankster-state, taxes vainly used to try to plug the sinkhole of corruption, when we could allocate them instead to the self-management of free power networks in every local community? The direct democracy of self-managed councils has every right to ignore the decrees of corrupt parliamentary democracy. Civil disobedience towards a state that is plundering us is a right. It is up to us to capitalize on this epochal shift to create communities where desire for life overwhelms the tyranny of money and power. We need concern ourselves neither with government debt, which covers up a massive defrauding of the public interest, nor with that contrivance of profit they call “growth.” From now on, the aim of local communities should be to produce for themselves and by themselves all goods of social value, meeting the needs of all—authentic needs, that is, not needs prefabricated by consumerist propaganda."



"RV: The crisis of the ‘30s was an economic crisis. What we are facing today is an implosion of the economy as a management system. It is the collapse of market civilization and the emergence of human civilization. The current turmoil signals a deep shift: the reference points of the old patriarchal world are vanishing. Percolating instead, still just barely and confusedly, are the early markers of a lifestyle that is genuinely human, an alliance with nature that puts an end to its exploitation, rape, and plundering. The worst would be the unawareness of life, the absence of sentient intelligence, violence without conscience. Nothing is more profitable to the racketeering mafias than chaos, despair, suicidal rebellion, and the nihilism that is spread by mercenary greed, in which money, even devalued in a panic, remains the only value."



"HUO: My interviews often focus on the connections between art and architecture/urbanism, or literature and architecture/urbanism. Could you tell me about the Bureau of Unitary Urbanism?

RV: That was an idea more than a project. It was about the urgency of rebuilding our social fabric, so damaged by the stranglehold of the market. Such a rebuilding effort goes hand in hand with the rebuilding by individuals of their own daily existence. That is what psychogeography is really about: a passionate and critical deciphering of what in our environment needs to be destroyed, subjected to détournement, rebuilt.

HUO: In your view there is no such thing as urbanism?

RV: Urbanism is the ideological gridding and control of individuals and society by an economic system that exploits man and Earth and transforms life into a commodity. The danger in the self-built housing movement that is growing today would be to pay more attention to saving money than to the poetry of a new style of life.

HUO: How do you see cities in the year 2009? What kind of unitary urbanism for the third millennium? How do you envision the future of cities? What is your favorite city? You call Oarystis the city of desire. Oarystis takes its inspiration from the world of childhood and femininity. Nothing is static in Oarystis. John Cage once said that, like nature, “one never reaches a point of shapedness or finishedness. The situation is in constant unpredictable change.”2 Do you agree with Cage?

RV: I love wandering through Venice and Prague. I appreciate Mantua, Rome, Bologna, Barcelona, and certain districts of Paris. I care less about architecture than about how much human warmth its beauty has been capable of sustaining. Even Brussels, so devastated by real estate developers and disgraceful architects (remember that in the dialect of Brussels, “architect” is an insult), has held on to some wonderful bistros. Strolling from one to the next gives Brussels a charm that urbanism has deprived it of altogether. The Oarystis I describe is not an ideal city or a model space (all models are totalitarian). It is a clumsy and naïve rough draft for an experiment I still hope might one day be undertaken—so I agree with John Cage. This is not a diagram, but an experimental proposition that the creation of an environment is one and the same as the creation by individuals of their own future."



"HUO: Will museums be abolished? Could you discuss the amphitheater of memory? A protestation against oblivion?

RV: The museum suffers from being a closed space in which works waste away. Painting, sculpture, music belong to the street, like the façades that contemplate us and come back to life when we greet them. Like life and love, learning is a continuous flow that enjoys the privilege of irrigating and fertilizing our sentient intelligence. Nothing is more contagious than creation. But the past also carries with it all the dross of our inhumanity. What should we do with it? A museum of horrors, of the barbarism of the past? I attempted to answer the question of the “duty of memory” in Ni pardon, ni talion [Neither Forgiveness Nor Retribution]"

[long quote]

HUO: Learning is deserting schools and going to the streets. Are streets becoming Thinkbelts? Cedric Price’s Potteries Thinkbelt used abandoned railroads for pop-up schools. What and where is learning today?

RV: Learning is permanent for all of us regardless of age. Curiosity feeds the desire to know. The call to teach stems from the pleasure of transmitting life: neither an imposition nor a power relation, it is pure gift, like life, from which it flows. Economic totalitarianism has ripped learning away from life, whose creative conscience it ought to be. We want to disseminate everywhere this poetry of knowledge that gives itself. Against school as a closed-off space (a barrack in the past, a slave market nowadays), we must invent nomadic learning.

HUO: How do you foresee the twenty-first-century university?

RV: The demise of the university: it will be liquidated by the quest for and daily practice of a universal learning of which it has always been but a pale travesty.

HUO: Could you tell me about the freeness principle (I am extremely interested in this; as a curator I have always believed museums should be free—Art for All, as Gilbert and George put it).

RV: Freeness is the only absolute weapon capable of shattering the mighty self-destruction machine set in motion by consumer society, whose implosion is still releasing, like a deadly gas, bottom-line mentality, cupidity, financial gain, profit, and predation. Museums and culture should be free, for sure, but so should public services, currently prey to the scamming multinationals and states. Free trains, buses, subways, free healthcare, free schools, free water, air, electricity, free power, all through alternative networks to be set up. As freeness spreads, new solidarity networks will eradicate the stranglehold of the commodity. This is because life is a free gift, a continuous creation that the market’s vile profiteering alone deprives us of."
raoulvaneigem  art  politics  economics  life  living  situationist  humans  consumerism  learning  education  unschooling  deschooling  curiosity  power  anarchism  anarchy  totalitarianism  creativity  johncage  détournement  psychogeography  models  derive  servitude  love  oarystis  humanity  everyday  boredom  productivity  efficiency  time  temporality  money  desire  chaos  solidarity  networks  guydebord  freedom  freeness  museums  culture  hansulrichobrist  2009  nomadiclearning  lcproject  openstudioproject  work  labor  artleisure  leisure  leisurearts  artwork  profiteering  explodingschool  cityasclassroom  flow  universallearning  cedricprice  thinkbelts  dérive  shrequest1 
january 2014 by robertogreco
BruceS — Predicting 2014
"From 1964, in the New York Times: August 16, 1964, "Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014" by Isaac Asimov"

"The situation will have been made the more serious by the advances of automation. The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders. Schools will have to be oriented in this direction. Part of the General Electric exhibit today consists of a school of the future in which such present realities as closed-circuit TV and programmed tapes aid the teaching process. It is not only the techniques of teaching that will advance, however, but also the subject matter that will change. All the high-school students will be taught the fundamentals of computer technology will become proficient in binary arithmetic and will be trained to perfection in the use of the computer languages that will have developed out of those like the contemporary “Fortran” (from “formula translation”).

Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014. The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.

Indeed, the most somber speculation I can make about A.D. 2014 is that in a society of enforced leisure, the most glorious single word in the vocabulary will have become work!"
2014  isaacasimov  leisurearts  artleisure  automation  work  labor  universalbasicincome  predictions  boredom  society  ubi 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Twitter Shows Epidemic of School Boredom | New Republic
"We do know that boredom is its own unique emotion. In research studies, people tend to describe boredom as something different than the absence of stimulation; they describe a feeling that is aggressively unpleasant, characterized by a desire to escape, to make the feeling go away. Because researchers love to name things, they have recently identified five types of boredom, from indifferent (the most benign) to reactant (the most negative version, characterized by anger or aggression).

In general, boredom of all kinds seems to be caused by repetitive, pointless tasks over which people have little control, according to studies of conducted over the past few decades (nicely summarized by Jennifer Vogel-Walcutt and her colleagues at the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training). But some people are more likely to experience boredom than others. Boredom is a function, then, not only of a dull situation but of a person’s general disposition—just like anxiety. The teacher, in other words, is not the only one responsible for boredom in a classroom.

Students who get bored a lot at school also tend to get bored a lot at home. (Twitter is littered with bored-at-home Tweets, too, some of them from kids cutting class.) Boys are more likely to be disengaged in school than girls through middle school, according to Gallup Student Poll data, but girls catch up by high school. (By then, about six in ten students say they were not engaged in school.) Then the genders diverge again in adulthood, with men typically reporting that they get bored more easily than women. No one is sure why, but regardless of age or gender, the tendency to get bored easily is related to all kinds of other miseries.

There are exceptions, as always. The list of successful people who were bored in school—and thrived as adults--is long. Legendary New Yorker cartoonist Al Frueh doodled in shorthand class, turning the symbols into faces of his fellow students. Jonah Hill wrote his own Simpsons scripts to entertain himself in middle school, hiding his drafts in his textbooks. Steve Jobs deployed less constructive tactics, unleashing snakes and exploding bombs in third grade (or so he told Playboy in 1985). We can only imagine what would have happened had he gotten hold of a Twitter account in high school.

The good news is that kids seem to have more control over boredom than they might think. In the 2010 Nett study, most of 976 German teenagers surveyed fell into one of two main groups: the “evaders” were the kids who tended to avoid feeling bored by distracting themselves or talking to someone else, the kind who might be quick to Tweet or text at the first sign of monotony. Then there were the “reappraisers”—the kids who coped with boredom by basically talking themselves out of it. They tried to remind themselves of the value of what they were doing and reframe the situation in their heads.

All of the students used multiple coping devices, with varying degrees of success. But the evaders, it turns out, got the worst results. They did more poorly in school and experienced more boredom overall. It’s impossible to say which came first—the evasion or the problems—but it was clear which kids you’d rather your child be. The reappraisers experienced boredom far less often and did the best in school."
boredom  education  schools  teens  adolescence  2013  highschool  learning  twitter  instagram  vine 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Preschool lessons: New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire.
"In the first study, MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues looked at how 4-year-olds learned about a new toy with four tubes. Each tube could do something interesting: If you pulled on one tube it squeaked, if you looked inside another tube you found a hidden mirror, and so on. For one group of children, the experimenter said: "I just found this toy!" As she brought out the toy, she pulled the first tube, as if by accident, and it squeaked. She acted surprised ("Huh! Did you see that? Let me try to do that!") and pulled the tube again to make it squeak a second time. With the other children, the experimenter acted more like a teacher. She said, "I'm going to show you how my toy works. Watch this!" and deliberately made the tube squeak. Then she left both groups of children alone to play with the toy.

All of the children pulled the first tube to make it squeak. The question was whether they would also learn about the other things the toy could do. The children from the first group played with the toy longer and discovered more of its "hidden" features than those in the second group. In other words, direct instruction made the children less curious and less likely to discover new information.

Does direct teaching also make children less likely to draw new conclusions—or, put another way, does it make them less creative? To answer this question, Daphna Buchsbaum, Tom Griffiths, Patrick Shafto, and I gave another group of 4-year-old children a new toy. * This time, though, we demonstrated sequences of three actions on the toy, some of which caused the toy to play music, some of which did not. For example, Daphna might start by squishing the toy, then pressing a pad on its top, then pulling a ring on its side, at which point the toy would play music. Then she might try a different series of three actions, and it would play music again. Not every sequence she demonstrated worked, however: Only the ones that ended with the same two actions made the music play. After showing the children five successful sequences interspersed with four unsuccessful ones, she gave them the toy and told them to "make it go."

Daphna ran through the same nine sequences with all the children, but with one group, she acted as if she were clueless about the toy. ("Wow, look at this toy. I wonder how it works? Let's try this," she said.) With the other group, she acted like a teacher. ("Here's how my toy works.") When she acted clueless, many of the children figured out the most intelligent way of getting the toy to play music (performing just the two key actions, something Daphna had not demonstrated). But when Daphna acted like a teacher, the children imitated her exactly, rather than discovering the more intelligent and more novel two-action solution.

As so often happens in science, two studies from different labs, using different techniques, have simultaneously produced strikingly similar results. They provide scientific support for the intuitions many teachers have had all along: Direct instruction really can limit young children's learning. Teaching is a very effective way to get children to learn something specific—this tube squeaks, say, or a squish then a press then a pull causes the music to play. But it also makes children less likely to discover unexpected information and to draw unexpected conclusions."
psychology  play  parenting  lifestyle  toys  2011  via:lukeneff  learning  directinstruction  motivation  discovery  boredom  alisongopnik  pedagogy  howweteach  wcydwt  constructivism  lauraschulz  daphnabuchsbaum  tomgriffiths  patrickshafto  teaching  noahgoodman 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Messages The City Wants Us To Hear – The New Inquiry
"Some excerpts from Timothy “Speed” Levitch’s Speedology (2002)

1. The Fastest Way to Adventure is to Stand Still

Boredom is an illusion. Boredom is the continuous state of not noticing that the unexpected is constantly arriving while the anticipated is never showing up. Boredom is anti-cruise propaganda.

2. The City as Autobiography

We are not visitors, tourists, nor inhabitants of New York City; we are New York City. The city is our moving self-portrait and a living art installation carved out on an island of rock, even the cracks of the sidewalk are crying out on the topic of our lives. The city is a profound opportunity to understand ourselves.

3. This is No Time for Historical Accuracy

Nothing I say can possibly be defended. I am not interested in being right or wrong; my priority is to be joyous.

As a tour guide, I approach history the same way Charlie Parker would approach a jazz standard. I am not here to recapitulate the notes exactly as they were composed but to find myself within the notes and collaborate with what has been before me to chase after everything I could ever be. My study of history is mostly an attempt to impress women.

4. Fear is Joy Paralyzed

Society— the greatest self-hatred the earth has ever witnessed— is a mediocre improv comedy piece we’re all living despite ourselves, one that would be impossible without fear effectively taking on ingenious disguises throughout the adventure of each and every day […] We do not have agendas, agendas have us.

5. Gregariousness is Great

New York City is a summoning of souls and a tribal ceremony of collected ancient agonies and conflicts brought to a new landscape for healing. A New Yorker is someone who runs wild with healing.

6. The Soul is the Only Landmark

Salvation is seeing everything as it already is.

7. Being Alive is Sexy

The world is an involuntary orgy.

8. What is Created is Destroyed

Many decry the destruction of Pennsylvania Station, the great beaux arts railroad terminal that was knocked down and replaced by the fourth Madison Square Garden. They ask, “If the city is a great teacher, why would it destroy a great building and put a lousy one in its place?” the answer: Pennsylvania station was too beautiful. The anecdote may be a catastrophe from a preservationist’s point of view, but it is a masterpiece from a dramatist’s. It’s just the way Tennessee Williams would have written it. Many will then ask, “Why is the city issuing forth these dramas?” The answer: the city wants to entertain us.

9. The Most Significant Thing About Suffering is That We’re All Doing It

[…]

10. Our True Selves Are the Greatest Parties Ever Thrown

You are a better party than you have ever been to. […] To live in a city is to realize that life is a procession of different versions of ourselves that we meet over time. Evolving is the meeting between who you were and who you just became.

11. Having Faith in Humanity is Supposed to be Fun

Fun is active faith. Faith is the celebration of “I don’t know.” The city is a bravely unfolding movie entertaining us so effectively we are hypnotized by it. The movie is a comedy about mammals in a movie taking the movie seriously and deciding it is a tragedy.

12. I Am Not Getting Laid

I want to make it clear, from the beginning, that I am not currently getting laid as I write this and this fact colors everything I say. It’s the one statement that makes perfect sense of Nietzsche’s work.

Bennett Miller’s 1998 documentary, The Cruise is one of the greatest films ever made about New York City."
boredom  cities  nyc  history  accuracy  fear  joy  society  life  living  2010  timothylevitch  speedology  2002  suffering  humanity  faith  nietzsche  bennettmiller  destruction  creativity 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Phoenix live on Q | Q with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio
[Audio here: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/qpodcast_20130326_57910.mp3 ]

"We just tried to… let it be what it is supposed to be."

"We love to be control freaks in the studio. And then after that we let it go, but in the studio can be a neurotic experience sometimes."

"The idea is that there is no consensus because consensus leads to something in the middle, something that's not really interesting. It's more four strong political forces that try to make their point… We know each other so well since we were kids that we don't really need to talk… We just argue."

"It's the only record we made that revealed itself at the end… the last two weeks. … We accepted the songs… they became songs at the end."

"We are slaves to that thing we are reaching for."

"We are looking for something that we don't know what it is. But when it's there, there's a feeling of evidence — here it is finally. So exhausting it can be because you don't know how far you are. You always have the impression that you are very far. Sometime it just happens. [It's exhausting] Especially if you are not sure it exists."

"I like the [artistic] plateau image."

"We're no good alone as individual musicians. It's the foursome that brings the magic."

"We don't know how to play with other musicians. I tried with friends to do sessions a few times times and it was always a disaster."

"You know those big architectural masterpieces that they [ants] can built, but separately they are just ants. … We are a very small colony [of ants]."

"I wouldn't even want to do them [sessions with other musicians]. I wouldn't be good at it, I think I would be sad."

"We grew up with this idea that being skilled musicians wasn't the point really, it was about making good records. It made so much more sense than just spending twelve hours a day just ruining your fingers on an instrument."

"We were one of the first generations that could make an album in their bedroom that sounded good. We were lucky about that because that allowed us to be bad musicians."

"Boredom is the enemy of the human being."

"Our trick is to keep it very amateur, in a way. It demands actually a lot of effort. It is easier to be pro than to be semi-pro."

"When we have the choice between doing something on our own or doing it with very skilled individuals, we always prefer the amateur route, which brings more charm. We believe in charm more than in perfection. And, also the hardest part is on tour. Touring can bring you the most boring life ever, which is the rock star life. People should know it's the most boring thing ever, so we fight very hard every day to make something interesting. ["How do you do that?] We have bikes. You have to just escape this block where you our. We love sake [the drink]. One of our tricks is that we check where the best sake is in town. This is the starting point. Then hopefully you get advice from the people that own the shop."

["What would be the collective goal for Phoenix at this point? What are you reaching for as a band? What would you like to happen? Where would you like to be a few years from now?"] "I'm not sure we want to know what this would be. We like questions more than answers, I think. I'm not sure we want to know. Right now we are taking it a week ahead. There are some festivals coming that I don't think we are ready, but it makes it exciting that there's this tension, that there's a sense of danger, this idea that you can fail. That's something that you need to make something out of it. You need this possibility to fail."

"We see this big mountain and we immediately look for the north face because it's going to be more exciting. And then we climb it barefoot. And that's the beginning. And then we are there, hopefully, we go down and then there's another mountain. And that's another week."
phoenix  music  jianghomeshi  interviews  collaboration  creativity  life  glvo  cv  2013  process  howwework  teamwork  boredom  amateurs  professionals 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Lonely, but united: Sherry Turkle and Steven Johnson on technology's pain and promise | The Verge
"As the authors were offering their final points at the end of the Q&A;, Johnson hit on a metaphor that, for once, everyone could agree on: the city.

The city, like the internet, is noisy, distracting, overwhelming, and potentially isolating. But people choose the city for its stimulus and connection, says Johnson, "and for me technology is like that: I know the cost, but I choose it."

Turkle jotted down the metaphor on her notepad before responding:

"The best artists learned to find solitude in the middle of the metropolitan space," she said. And "we need to learn to find solitude in the technological space.""
paulmiller  etiquette  attention  tradeoffs  connection  stimulus  boredom  distraction  internet  cities  2012  stevenjohnson  sherryturkle 
october 2012 by robertogreco
As Children’s Freedom Has Declined, So Has Their Creativity | Psychology Today
"Kyung Hee Kim’s recent research report documenting a continuous decline in creativity among American schoolchildren over the last two or three decades

"Creativity is nurtured by freedom and stifled by the continuous monitoring, evaluation, adult-direction, & pressure to conform that restrict children’s lives today.  In the real world few questions have one right answer, few problems have one right solution; that’s why creativity is crucial to success in the real world. But more and more we are subjecting children to an educational system that assumes one right answer to every question and one correct solution to every problem, a system that punishes children (and their teachers too) for daring to try different routes. We are also, as I documented in a previous essay, increasingly depriving children of free time outside of school to play, explore, be bored, overcome boredom, fail, overcome failure—that is, to do all that they must do in order to develop their full creative potential."
intelligence  standardization  standardizedtesting  kyungheekim  torrancetestofcreativethinking  ttct  learning  us  trends  control  boredom  schools  petergray  2012  education  children  creativity  freedom  parenting 
september 2012 by robertogreco
My life after LulzSec: 'I feel more fulfilled without the internet' | Technology | The Observer
"Things are calmer, slower and at times, I'll admit, more dull. I do very much miss the instant companionship of online life, the innocent chatroom palaver, and the ease with which circles with similar interests can be found. Of course, there are no search terms in real life – one actually has to search. However, there is something oddly endearing about being disconnected from the digital horde.

It is not so much the sudden simplicity of daily life – as you can imagine, trivial tasks have been made much more difficult – but the feeling of being able to close my eyes without being bombarded with flashing shapes or constant buzzing sounds, which had occurred frequently since my early teens and could only be attributed to perpetual computer marathons. Sleep is now tranquil and uninterrupted and books seem far more interesting. The paranoia has certainly vanished. I can only describe this sensation as the long-awaited renewal of a previously diminished attention span."
via:anne  onlinelife  online  boredom  disconnectedness  adolescence  time  companionship  behavior  attention  slow  web  internet  offline  2012  jakedavis  anonymous  Lulzsec 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Warren Ellis » How To See The Future [What? Not yet bookmarked?] [Purposely tagged 'boredome'.]
"Can you even consider being part of a culture that could go to space and then stopped?

If the future is dead, then today we must summon it and learn how to see it properly.

[more examples]

We live in the future. We live in the Science Fiction Condition, where we can see under atoms and across the world and across the methane lakes of Titan. …

Understand that our present time is the furthest thing from banality. Reality as we know it is exploding with novelty every day.

To be a futurist, in pursuit of improving reality, is not to have your face continually turned upstream, waiting for the future to come. To improve reality is to clearly see where you are, and then wonder how to make that better.

Act like you live in the Science Fiction Condition. Act like you can do magic and hold séances for the future and build a brightness control for the sky.

Act like you live in a place where you could walk into space if you wanted. Think big. And then make it better."

[Video now here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLTs4RXM3vE ]
boredom  boredome  spacetravel  jgballard  philipkdick  takealookaroundyou  appreciation  science  sciencefictioncondition  rearviewmirror  space  nasa  voyager  voyager1  vintage  vintagespace  magic  weliveinamazingtimes  perspective  atemporality  iphone  googlegloves  googleglass  manufacturednormalcy  venkateshrao  reality  marshallmcluhan  noticing  hereandnow  now  lookaround  futurism  sciencefiction  2012  scifi  technology  future  warrenellis 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Better - Merlin Mann
"What makes you feel less bored soon makes you into an addict. What makes you feel less vulnerable can easily turn you into a dick. & the things that are meant to make you feel more connected today often turn out to be insubstantial time sinks - empty, programmatic encouragements to groom & refine your personality while sitting alone at a screen."

"To be honest, I don’t have a specific agenda for what I want to do all that differently, apart from what I’m already trying to do every day:

* identify & destroy small-return bullshit;
* shut off anything that’s noisier than it is useful;
* make brutally fast decisions about what I don’t need to be doing;
* avoid anything that feels like fake sincerity (esp. where it may touch money);
* demand personal focus on making good things;
* put a handful of real people near the center of everything.

[Previously referenced here: http://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:2d41ea9e1e4d pointing to http://kottke.org/08/09/some-recent-merlin-mann-goodness ]
writing  media  culture  2008  sincerity  emptiness  addiction  boredom  noise  relationships  small  slow  meaningmaking  meaning  signaltonoise  attention  productivity  via:lukeneff  purpose  merlinmann  gtd 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Against School - John Taylor Gatto
"Once you understand the logic behind modern schooling, its tricks & traps & fairly easy to avoid. School trains children to be employees & consumers; teach your own to be leaders & adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically & independently. Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they'll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology - all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, & they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, & through shallow friendships quickly acquired & quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, & they can."
arifleischer  ellwoodcubberley  capitalism  karlmarx  georgepeapody  compulsory  alexanderinglis  standardizedtesting  jamesbryantconant  oretesbrownson  williamjames  christopherlasch  marktwain  hermanmelville  margaretmead  boredom  horacemann  society  culture  philosophy  psychology  economics  learning  education  deschooling  schooling  unschooling  2003  johntaylorgatto 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Question. Why is it that no other species but man... - more than 95 theses
Thought Experiment: Imagine that you are a member of a tour visiting Greece. The group goes to the Parthenon. It is a bore. Few people even bother to look — it looked better in the brochure. So people take half a look, mostly take pictures, remark on the serious erosion by acid rain. You are puzzled. Why should one of the glories and fonts of Western civilization, viewed under pleasant conditions — good weather, good hotel room, good food, good guide — be a bore? Now imagine under what set of circumstances a viewing of the Parthenon would not be a bore. For example, you are a NATO colonel defending Greece against a Soviet assault. You are in a bunker in dowtown Athens, binoculars propped on sandbags. It is dawn. A medium-range missile attack is under way. Half a million Greeks are dead. Two missiles bracket the Parthenon. The next will surely be a hit. Between columns of smoke, a ray of golden light catches the portico.
writing_prompt  boredom  via:lukeneff 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The most boring culture on Earth
"The Baining, an indiginous group of Papua New Guinea, shun play and basically don't do anything but work.
According to Fajans, the Baining eschew everything that they see as "natural" and value activities and products that come from "work," which they view as the opposite of play. Work, to them, is effort expended to overcome or resist the natural. To behave naturally is to them tantamount to behaving as an animal. The Baining say, "We are human because we work." The tasks that make them human, in their view, are those of turning natural products (plants, animals, and babies) into human products (crops, livestock, and civilized human beings) through effortful work (cultivation, domestication, and disciplined childrearing).

The Baining believe, quite correctly, that play is the natural activity of children, and precisely for that reason they do what they can to discourage or prevent it. They refer to children's play as "splashing in the mud," an activity of pigs, not appropriate for humans. They do not allow infants to crawl and explore on their own. When one tries to do so an adult picks it up and restrains it. Beyond infancy, children are encouraged or coerced to spend their days working and are often punished -- sometimes by such harsh means as shoving the child's hand into the fire -- for playing. On those occasions when Fajans did get an adult to talk about his or her childhood, the narrative was typically about the challenge of embracing work and overcoming the shameful desire to play. Part of the reason the Baining are reluctant to talk about themselves, apparently, derives from their strong sense of shame about their natural drives and desires.

But maybe Americans are becoming more boring as our children's freedom to explore is curtailed:…"

[Peter Gray's article is here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201207/all-work-and-no-play-make-the-baining-the-dullest-culture-earth ]
culture  via:lukeneff  boredom  boringness  baining  papuanewguinea  psychology  anthropology  petergray  2012  parenting  children  stoicism  allworknoplay  play  adderall  jasonkottke 
july 2012 by robertogreco
- How We Will Read: Clay Shirky
"It was only later that I realized the value of being bored was actually pretty high. Being bored is a kind of diagnostic for the gap between what you might be interested in and your current environment. But now it is an act of significant discipline to say, “I’m going to stare out the window. I’m going to schedule some time to stare out the window.” The endless gratification offered up by our devices means that the experience of reading in particular now becomes something we have to choose to do."
annotation  ebooks  publishing  books  media  future  howweread  2012  boredom  clayshirky  reading 
june 2012 by robertogreco
A week of a student's electrodermal activity - Joi Ito's Web
"Obviously, this is just one student and doesn't necessarily generalize, but I love that the electrodermal activity is nearly flatlined during classes. ;-) (Note that the activity is higher during sleep than during class...)

"Changes in skin conductance at the surface, referred to as electrodermal activity (EDA), reflect activity within the sympathetic axis of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and provide a sensitive and convenient measure of assessing alterations in sympathetic arousal associated with emotion, cognition, and attention.""
measurement  deschooling  unschooling  learning  yourbrainonschool  brain  boredom  engagement  sleeping  2012  joiito  quantifiedself  academia  education 
may 2012 by robertogreco
A Sontag Sampler - NYTimes.com
["Art is Boring"]

"Maybe art has to be boring, now… We should not expect art to entertain or divert anymore. At least, not high art. Boredom is a function of attention. We are learning new modes of attention — say, favoring the ear more than the eye — but so long as we work within the old attention-frame we find X boring ... e.g. listening for sense rather than sound…

If we become bored, we should ask if we are operating in the right frame of attention."

["On Intelligence"]

"I don’t care about someone being intelligent; any situation between people, when they are really human with each other, produces “intelligence.”"

["Why I Write"]

"There is no one right way to experience what I’ve written.

I write — and talk — in order to find out what I think.

But that doesn’t mean “I” “really” “think” that. It only means that is my-thought-when-writing (or when- talking). If I’d written another day, or in another conversation, “I” might have “thought” differently."
attention  glvo  opinions  understanding  wisdom  life  sharing  conversation  humanism  intelligence  thinking  writing  obsession  love  art  boredom  susansontag  via:robinsonmeyer 
april 2012 by robertogreco
world-weary, adj. : Oxford English Dictionary
Nothing new here, but the timing (that it pops up in my Pinboard network) is interesting:

"Weary of the world; feeling or indicating feelings of weariness, boredom, or cynicism as a result of long experience of life."
language  cv  words  via:preoccupations  weariness  boredom  cynicism  world-weariness 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Art of Distraction - NYTimes.com
"Biological determinism is one of psychology’s ugliest evasions, removing the poetic human from any issue."

"As we as a society become desperate financially, and more regulated and conformist, our ideals of competence become more misleading and cruel, making people feel like losers. There might be more to our distractions than we realized we knew. We might need to be irresponsible. But to follow a distraction requires independence and disobedience; there will be anxiety in not completing something, in looking away, or in not looking where others prefer you to. This may be why most art is either collaborative — the cinema, pop, theater, opera — or is made by individual artists supporting one another in various forms of loose arrangement, where people might find the solidarity and backing they need."
anxiety  conformism  confomity  medication  medicine  ritalin  psychology  frustration  boredom  humiliation  diversity  human  labels  labeling  education  schools  attention  winners  losers  winnersandlosers  stigma  society  2012  hanifkureishi  dyslexia  adhd  learning  distraction 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Is boredom good for us? | a review of Boredom: A Lively History by Peter Toohey | Wunderkammer
"Toohey differentiates between two types of boredom. The first he calls simple boredom, brought on by dull, inescapable situations or by an overexposure to something. Momentary tedium, we might say. He links this sort of boredom with disgust: “Boredom is a social emotion of mild disgust produced by a temporarily unavoidable and predictable circumstance.” This is the boredom that Steve Jobs was referring to, and this is the boredom that primarily interests Toohey. Simple boredom “has a direct bearing on our ordinary emotional lives, keeping company (as I hope to show), with depression and anger while protecting us from their ravages.” Boredom is a warning system, keeping us from tedious, potentially damaging situations by spurring us to resituate ourselves."
books  2012  petertoohey  boredom 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Aporeticus - by Mills Baker · [We have forgotten] leisure as “non-activity” —an...
"And as networks extend their influence, it is ever-harder to experience real repose, the deep communion with reality that produces authentic meaning and enduring culture. We live in a de-cultured culture, subsumed beneath an avalanche of transitory, ephemeral, temporary meanings, soon to be buried by new posts, new photographs, new digital artifacts of those acquisitive, performative “leisure activities” which are now the primary source of meaning in our lives…

Even if one prefers the dynamic, competitive, addictive, temporary cultures of portrayal and enactment that prevail now, it is hard to imagine life without even the possibility of repose. Yet it is harder still to imagine how such repose could ever be possible without the sort of radical disconnection from the expanding technopoly which, perversely, is considered a turning-away from the world, rather than a return to it."
markets  technology  online  media  consumption  content  happiness  joy  interiority  understanding  stillness  non-activity  josefpieper  utilitarianism  materialsm  theessential  ephemeral  philosophy  living  life  purpose  meaning  marxism  technolopoly  neilpostman  competition  society  web  internet  mediation  culture  selfhood  boredom  idleness  productivity  leisure  leisurearts  2011  millsbaker  ephemerality  artleisure 
january 2012 by robertogreco
russell davies: again with the post digital
"And then, this morning, when struggling to think of a good ending to this, I heard a brilliant talk by George Dyson – describing the early history of computing unearthed from correspondence between Turing and Von Neumann. And I thought I heard him cite this quote from Turing. I wasn’t quite fast enough with my pen to be 100% sure and I can’t find it on Google, but I think this is what he said. And, if it is, it’s exactly what I mean and we can leave it at that. What I think he said is this: “being digital should be more interesting than just being electronic”. I’m sure that meant something slightly different in the middle of the last century but the words are useful and simple now, they’ll do for me as a tiny rallying cry; being digital should be more interesting than just being electronic."
russelldavies  2011  alanturing  georgedyson  andyhuntington  papernet  internetofthings  brucesterling  mattjones  screenfatigue  newspaperclub  boredom  materials  physical  digital  embodiment  embodieddata  spimes  post-digital  iot 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Developing Your Creative Practice: Tips from Brian Eno :: Tips :: The 99 Percent
"1. Freeform capture. Grab from a range of sources without editorializing…

2. Blank state. Start with new tools, from nothing, and toy around…

3. Deliberate limitations. Before a project begins, develop specific limitations…

4. Opposing forces. Sometimes it’s best to generate a forced collision of ideas…

5. Creative prompts. In the ‘70s Eno developed his Oblique Strategies cards, a series of prompts modeled after the I Ching to disrupt the process and encourage a new way of encountering a creative problem. On the cards are statements and questions like: “Would anybody want it?” “Try faking it!” “Only a part, not the whole.” “Work at a different speed.” “Disconnect from desire.” “Turn it upside down.” “Use an old idea."…

In the end, don’t underestimate your personal feelings about a project. Eno states: “Nearly all the things I do that are of any merit at all start off as just being good fun.” Amen to that."
art  creativity  music  productivity  brain  neuroscience  via:preoccupations  brianeno  2011  jonahlehrer  ideation  classideas  innovation  noticing  limitations  constraints  making  doing  glvo  howwework  process  idleness  boredom  thinking  ideas 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Boredom Can Fuel Hostility Toward Outsiders - Miller-McCune
"New research explains how feelings of boredom can both strengthen solidarity within your in-group and heighten hostility toward outsiders."

[via: http://stevemiranda.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/fascinating-study-on-the-impact-of-boredom-on-peoples-behavior/ ]
boredom  hostility  meaning  meaninglessness  2011  research 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Adam Kirsch On The Literature Of David Foster Wallace | The New Republic
"Can reading—more to the point, can writing—be a kind of drug, a distraction from an otherwise insufferable existence? Is it possible to be addicted to writing?"

"The Pale King is Wallace’s attempt to find out if fiction can sustain this kind of attention to boring, banal reality, without contracting into the solipsistic fugues of Brief Interviews or expanding into the manic inventions of Infinite Jest. In fact, Wallace only occasionally tries to make his book itself rebarbatively dull—to enact the boredom he writes about."

"His posthumous book shows that when Wallace died he was in the middle of the ordeal of purging and remaking his style. This is the kind of challenge that only the best writers set themselves. One of the many things to mourn about Wallace’s death is that we will never get to know the writer he was striving to become."
davidfosterwallace  adamkirsch  infinitejest  thepaleking  2011  books  boredom  depression  writing  reading  philosophy  reinvention 
august 2011 by robertogreco
One big yawn: boredom is not just a state of mind | Books | The Observer
"Boredom is an integral part of the human condition that has vexed philosophers since the Enlightenment. But why is Britain one of Europe's most bored nations, and has boredom been given a bad press? Yes, says a new book, which argues that lying around staring at the ceiling can be a vital spur to creativity"
culture  history  books  psychology  philosophy  boredom  petertoohey  andrewanthony  creativity 
july 2011 by robertogreco
m. molly backes: How to Be a Writer
"Let her be bored. Let her have long afternoons with absolutely nothing to do. Limit her TV-watching time and her internet-playing time and take away her cell phone. Give her a whole summer of lazy mornings and dreamy afternoons. Make sure she has a library card and a comfy corner where she can curl up with a book.Give her a notebook and five bucks so she can pick out a great pen. Insist she spend time with the family. It’s even better if this time is spent in another state, a cabin in the woods, a cottage on the lake, far from her friends and people her own age. Give her some tedious chores to do. Make her mow the lawn, do the dishes by hand, paint the garage. Make her go on long walks with you and tell her you just want to listen to the sounds of the neighborhood.

Let her be lonely. Let her believe that no one in the world truly understands her. Give her the freedom to fall in love with the wrong person, to lose her heart, to have it smashed and abused and broken…"

[via: http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2011/07/make-your-kid-a-writer/241870/ ]
writing  children  howto  parenting  boredom  failure  practice  classideas  mollybackes 
july 2011 by robertogreco
You’ve got the sickness, I’ve got the medicine « Snarkmarket
"These two blockquotes, curated by Andrew Simone and Alan Jacobs respectively, arrived in my RSS reader within moments of each other. I liked Jacobs’s adjective, which applies to Simone’s selection, too: “Kierkegaardian.”"
boredom  jimrossignol  timcarmody  alanjacobs  andrewsimone  walkerpercy  tv  television  2010  kierkegaard  idleness 
july 2011 by robertogreco
‘…The really fine science is to forget one’s learning.’ | This Moi
"Our age tends to confuse boredom with seriousness, and to suspect anything that does not remind it that it is a grown-up, ashamed of amusing itself. This was summed up by the famous remark that Picasso and I heard from a spectator about outrage over Parade: ‘If I had known that it was so silly, I would have brought the children.’…

Alain Resnais writes to me ‘What a lesson in freedom you give all of us!’ – a remark of which I am proud. It is no doubt this freedom that our critics describe as childishness. Do they, our critics, know how to walk lightly on the surface of deep waters? Do they, in their passion for modernism, know that people will soon smile at the knights of space as they do at the first motorists, hidden behind their glasses and their fur coats? Do they know what is implied in being a judge? Do they know that the really fine science is to forget one’s learning?…"
jeancocteau  childhood  learning  unlearning  picasso  freedom  boredom  seriousness  children  unschooling  deschooling 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Everything is Interesting - Aphorisms and Paradoxes
"Paging through an accounting textbook, walking past a wig shop, or listening to a lecture on early American basket-making, I never say "that is uninteresting" but rather "I am uninterested", for it is always more reasonable to assume that I fail to see what is there than that devotees see what is not there. I love to hear of people devoting their lives to pursuits that sound dull to me, for I know that their enthusiasm is right and my boredom is wrong, and I am happy for the rebuke. I convert my specific boredoms into general fascination with passion's possibilities, reflecting that, under altered alignments of choice and chance, I might have given my days to different causes. There is more worth loving than we have strength to love.

A foolish trope of modernity is that experience leads to disenchantment and ennui. Boredom with life does not result from exhausting life's riches, but from skimming them. Nothing is boring, except people who are bored."
boredom  brianjaystanley  interesting  interestingness  interested  toshare  boring  boringness  details  ignorance  love  interestedness 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Flavorwire » In Praise of “Boring” Films
"“Long movies,” Dargis writes, “take time away even as they restore a sense of duration, of time and life passing, that most movies try to obscure through continuity editing. Faced with duration not distraction, your mind may wander, but there’s no need for panic: it will come back. In wandering there can be revelation as you meditate, trance out, bliss out, luxuriate in your thoughts, think.”"
boredom  boring  boringness  film  via:rushtheiceberg  towatch  lists  slow  distraction  wanderingmind 
june 2011 by robertogreco
The Book Bench: Ask an Academic: Boredom : The New Yorker
"The identity of Tanonius Marcellinus has been lost, Peter Toohey writes in “Boredom: A Lively History,” but the sort of restlessness experienced by the inhabitants of Beneventum is still with us today. Boredom is universally viewed as an affliction, he argues, but the dreary feeling can also be useful—as long as it is in short supply."
boredom  research  categorization  madelieineschwartz  tanoniusmarcellinus  petertoohey  sensemaking  existentialboredom  simpleboredom  chronicboredom  existentialism  isolation  emptiness  alienation  helplessness  dopamine  philosophy  books  toread  animals  human  humans  instinct  social  emotions  psychology  alertness  sentimentality 
may 2011 by robertogreco
‘The Pale King’ by David Foster Wallace - Book Review - NYTimes.com
"Told in fragmented, strobe-lighted chapters that depict an assortment of misfits, outsiders & eccentrics, the novel sometimes feels like the TV show “The Office” as rewritten with a magnifying glass by Nicholson Baker."

"In this, his most emotionally immediate work, Wallace is on intimate terms with the difficulty of navigating daily life, & he conjures states of mind with the same sorcery he brings to pictorial description. He conveys the gut deep sadness people experience when “the wing of despair” passes over their lives, & the panic of being a fish “thrashing in the nets” of one’s own obligations, stuck in a miserable job & needing to “cover the monthly nut.”"

"This novel reminds us what a remarkable observer Wallace was — a first-class “noticer,” to use a Saul Bellow term, of the muchness of the world around him, chronicling the overwhelming data and demands that we are pelted with, second by second, minute by minute, and the protean, overstuffed landscape we dwell in."
davidfosterwallace  via:lukeneff  thepaleking  noticing  observation  boredom  boring  boringness  novels  books  2011  michikokakutani  infinitejest 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Review: The Pale King - Look-Listen - March 2011 - St. Louis MO
"You've heard that this is a book about boredom, and the potential for transcendence that exists beyond the featureless horizon of boredom's endless Midwestern field. That if we fight our instincts to distract ourselves from the reality of our adult lives, which are not by nature "fun," and instead pay complete and focused attention to that reality, boredom might reveal to the most focused of us a kind of heaven, a constant atomic bliss."

"Nor will you be surprised that The Pale King is about America and our hyper-advanced economic system. About the paradox of our nation, a unit proudly singular, united and indivisible, and yet premised on a religion of individual freedom. How our deification of independence has opened moral and legal gateways to acts of grotesque selfishness."
via:coldbrain  davidfosterwallace  thepaleking  books  reviews  boredom  selfishness  economics  us  society  freedom  independence  capitalism  adulthood  psychology  2011 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Expanding « Playground
"Curiosity might be pictured as being made up of chains of small questions extending outwards, sometimes over huge distances, from a central hub composed of a few blunt, large questions. In childhood we ask, “why is there good and evil?”, “how does nature work?”, “why am I me?” If circumstances and temperament allow, we then build on these questions during adulthood, our curiosity encompassing more and more of the world until at some point we may reach that elusive stage where we are bored by nothing. The blunt large questions become connected to smaller, apparently esoteric ones. We end up wondering about flies on the sides of mountains or about a particular fresco on the wall of a sixteenth-century plate. We start to care about a foreign policy of a long-dead Iberian monarch or about the role of peat in the Thirty Years’ War." — Alain de Botton “The art of travel”, 2002
alaindebotton  travel  curiosity  questions  learning  boredom  adulthood  adults  childhood  children  education  unschooling  deschooling  existentialism  2002 
february 2011 by robertogreco
wounded by school | www.kirstenolson.org | Kirsten Olson is an author, teacher, consultant www.oldsowconsulting.com
"controversial new book says the way we educate millions of American children alienates students from a fundamental pleasure in learning, & that pleasure in learning is essential to real engagement, creativity, intellectual entrepreneurship, & a well lived life.

Based on almost a decade of intensive autobiographical interviews w/ 100+ "ordinary" students, teachers, & parents, Wounded By School describes some of the dilemmas of those in school now. Students talk about intensive boredom & daily disengagement, while knowing that school "matters" more than ever.  Students & teachers describe a grinding lack of meaning in their work, combined w/ intensive labeling, tracking & shrink-wrapping of learners based on cursory tests & poor understanding of many kinds of minds.

Wounded By School identifies 7 kinds of common school wounds, & tells stories of those who have experienced them…Wounds of Creativity…Compliance…Rebelliousness…That Numb…Underestimation

…Perfectionism…of the Average"
education  books  creativity  toread  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  learning  teaching  schools  policy  kirstenolson  via:irasocol  us  agesegregation  sorting  tracking  assessment  diversity  boredom  woundedbyschool 
february 2011 by robertogreco
The Time Hack — Day 11: Watch paint dry
"But researchers argue that boredom, or taking breaks from the chaos of daily life, may actually be beneficial for you.

With the use of brain imaging technology, neuroscientists have found that our brains may be highly active when in a state of rest, or when you are “bored”. In fact, the brain only uses 5% less energy in its resting state, compared to moments when a person is actively engaged in an activity.

Additionally, psychologists argue the slight change in brain activity could have a dramatically positive influence on an individual’s perception of time. Like when you are asleep, time seems to slip by just a bit faster when you’re bored – making constructive, active moments in your day seem that much more dynamic and memorable."
boredom  psychology  brain  time  perception  neuroscience  via:rushtheiceberg 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Boring 2010 | A boring conference taking place in London on December 11th
"Boring 2010 is taking part on December 11th in London.

A series of people will talk about boring things to a roomful of people."
culture  london  conferences  humor  boredom 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation - WSJ.com
"Boring 2010 is the handiwork of James Ward, 29 years old, who works for a DVD distribution and production company. In his other life, as the envoy of ennui, Mr. Ward edits a blog called "I Like Boring Things." He is also co-founder of the Stationery Club, whose 45 members meet occasionally to discuss pens, paper clips and Post-it Notes.

For another of his projects, Mr. Ward over the past 18 months has visited 160 London convenience stores and made careful notes about a popular chocolate bar called Twirl, including the product's availability, price and storage conditions. He publishes the details online.

Boredom has become a serious subject for scientific inquiry. For example, a 25-year study of British civil servants published earlier this year found that some people really can be bored to death: People who complain about "high levels" of boredom in their lives are at double the risk of dying from a stroke or heart disease, the study concluded."
boredom  humor  culture  politics  psychology  jamesward  conferences 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Myths Related to Learning in Schools
"This chapter focuses on the intellectual stultification of learners, the first of three fundamental problems that limit the quality of thinking and efficacy of the educational experience. Students in increasingly lower grades and educators at increasingly earlier points in their careers lose their joy for their work. They become jaded by the limitations on their imaginations, frustrated by the questions they are not allowed to pursue, and depressed by the more experienced peers around them who seem uninterested in their ideas. Somewhere along the way, we—educators, parents, and students alike—decided that schooling was supposed to feel this way, that the drudgery of school was necessary in order for learning to happen. We are all culpable for perpetuating this reality."
unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  learning  schools  education  via:hrheingold  drudgery  pedagogy  teaching  lcproject  tcsnmy  criticalthinking  curiosity  engagement  boredom  coping  wastedtime  attention  homework  superficiality  myths  grades  grading  motivation  speed  slowlearning  slowness  slowpedagogy  slow  intelligence  pace  risk  riskaversion  treadmill  treadmilleducation  racetonowhere  sageonthestage  hierarchy  freedom  autonomy  burnout  creativity  curriculum 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader [.pdf]
"1. Never read where your children can see you.
2. Put TV or computer in every room. Don’t neglect bedrooms & kitchen.
3. Correct your child every time she mispronounces a word.
4. Schedule activities every day after school so your child will never be bored.
5. Once your child can read independently, throw out picture books. They’re for babies…
7. Give little rewards for reading. Stickers & plastic toys are nice. Money is even better.
8. Don’t expect your children to enjoy reading. Kids’ books are for teaching vocabulary, proper study habits & good morals.
9. Buy only 40-watt bulbs.
10. Under no circumstances read your child the same book over & over. She heard it once & should remember it.
11. Never allow your child to listen to books on tape; that’s cheating.
12. Make sure your kids only read books that are “challenging.” Easy books are a complete waste of time. That goes double for comics & Mad mag.
13. Absolutely, positively no reading in bed."
reading  books  literacy  children  parenting  teaching  humor  sarcasm  via:thelibrarianedge  tcsnmy  toshare  topost  boredom  cheating  audiobooks  rewards  filetype:pdf  media:document 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Achievement, Performance and Statistics « The Free School Apparent
"It was mentioned at the end of the film that we are at a tipping point. But I think we have already crashed. Part of changing this diversion of balance is to reevaluate education. What does it mean to learn? How does one learn? We need to look at all the things that have been cast aside by this modern institution: play, free time, boredom, curiosity, creativity, social interaction, self motivation. These are what made the leaders of the past. Inventions come from people who get time to sit around and just think. I once read about a guy who invented a computer game by staring at his bathroom floor tiles while sitting on the toilet. Where is the space in all this racing around to get a reward that is not there?

It is truly a race to nowhere. And we need to erase the blackboard and start again. We need to stop looking at the statistics, and start looking at the children."
education  learning  lcproject  achievement  performance  statistics  standardizedtesting  standardization  racetonowhere  children  schools  schooliness  policy  curiosity  invention  boredom  creativity  unschooling  deschooling  self-motivation  intrinsicmotivation  charterschools 
december 2010 by robertogreco
If we try to engineer perfect children, will they grow up to be unbearable? - By Katie Roiphe - Slate Magazine
"In the long sticky hours of boredom, in the lonely, unsupervised, unstructured time, something blooms; it was in those margins that we became ourselves…our new ethos of control…contains a vision of right-minded child rearing that is in its own enlightened way as exclusive & conformist…Built into this model of the perfectible child is, of course, an inevitable failure. You can't control everything, the universe offers up rogue moments that will make your child unhappy or sick or ­broken-hearted, there will be faithless friends & failed auditions & bad teachers…All I am suggesting is that it might be time to stand back, pour a drink, & let the children ­torment, or bore or injure each other a little. It might be time to dabble in the laissez faire; to let the imagination run to art instead of art projects; to let the imperfect universe & its imperfect ­children be themselves." [Read it all.]
parenting  children  imperfection  learning  identity  boredom  supervision  control  unschooling  deschooling  perfection  failure  happiness  unhappiness  risk  risktaking  laissezfaire  imagination  glvo  self  teaching  cv  unstructuredtime 
november 2010 by robertogreco
education should be inefficient [Great post from Astra Taylor, way too much to pull quotes, but here are two anyway.]
"I think one reason highly educated and credentialed people latch on to alt ed theories is there’s a sense that we are at heart autodidacts, despite schooling.…

I was unschooled without highspeed Internet (first logged on freshman year of highschool); my youngest sister doesn't remember life without constant highspeed access. I would say for both of us though, unschooling has been more about slowness, about paying attention, immersing ourselves bizarre art projects, volunteering, staring off into space, talking to friends, and reading books, reading books, reading books. We sometimes learned quickly, when motivated or excited to master some skill, but typically we learned at our own pace, which was often slow (sometimes so slow it looked as though we were doing nothing at all) and with lots of detours."

[A reply is here: http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc/1877 ]
astrataylor  unschooling  slow  inefficiency  learning  deschooling  glvo  slowlearning  boredom  credentials  schools  schooling  education 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Text Patterns: lethargie
"In my last post about Infinite Jest I mentioned the philosophical-theological-spiritual problem of the interesting. With that in mind, it’s . . . um . . . interesting? — no, let’s say it’s thought-provoking to note this excerpt from The Pale King, the novel Wallace left unfinished at his death. Here Lane Dean, Jr., a worker for the IRS, is thinking about boredom — and I will indicate by ellipsis the many sentences I am leaving out, which (as you will see if you read the excerpt) tell us about all the things that are (of course) distracting Lane Dean, Jr. as he tries to think about boredom:

"Donne, of course, called it lethargie, and for a time it seems conjoined somewhat with melancholy, saturninia, otiositas, tristitia; that is, to be confused with sloth and torpor and lassitude and eremia and vexation and distemper and attributed to spleen""
davidfosterwallace  alanjacobs  thepaleking  interesting  boredom 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Memex 1.1 » Something for the weekend
"“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London”, said Samuel Johnson. “No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

Much the same might be said about the Web. Here, for example, is a brief list of remarkable things I encountered on it today."

Similar "Upside of information overload: I haven't been bored in a decade." —Adam Greenfield http://twitter.com/agpublic/status/19416322355
via:preoccupations  ilovetheweb  web  online  internet  boredom  theworldisamazing  infinitegames  infiniteinterestingness  interestingness  samueljohnson  london  place  cities  life  cv  johnnaughton 
august 2010 by robertogreco
This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities / Jim Rossignol
"Fernando Pessoa [...] identifies boredom as “the feeling that there’s nothing worth doing.” The bored are those people for whom no activity seems satisfactory. The problem is often not that there is a lack of things to do in general but, rather, that there is a lack of things that are worthwhile. Boredom can arise in all kinds of situations, but it usually makes itself known when we cannot do what we want to do or when we must do something we do not wish to do or something we cannot find a satisfactory reason for. “Boredom is not a question of idleness,” suggests Svendsen, “but of meaning.” Boredom does not, however, equate to the kind of meaninglessness found in depression. The bored are not necessarily unhappy with life; they are simply unfulfilled by circumstances, activities, and the things around them."

[via: http://snarkmarket.com/2010/5832 ]
boredom  happiness  meaning  depression  fernandopessoa  idleness 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Coming Barbarism | Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters
“People feel they can rely on the irrational. It offers the only guarantee of freedom from all the cant and bullshit and sales commercials fed to us by politicians, bishops and academics. People are deliberately re-primitivizing themselves. They yearn for magic and unreason, which served them well in the past and might help them again. They’re keen to enter a new Dark Age. The lights are on, but they’re retreating into the inner darkness, into superstition and unreason. The future is going to be a struggle between vast systems of competing psychopathies, all of them willed and deliberate, part of a desperate attempt to escape from a rational world and the boredom of consumerism.”
adbusters  freeculture  geny  internet  politics  generations  generationy  millennials  consumerism  unreason  magic  superstition  boredom  rationality  mysticism  altermodern  capitalism  globalization  postmodern  postmodernism  culture  ideology  philosophy  future  music  art  nicolasbourriaud 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Chat Roulette - Vex Appeal
"Cocks aside, the instantly frustrating thing with the experience is the level of passivity from most participants - clicking “next” endlessly, demanding the internet give them something to see, without considering what others might be seeing in them. I exhausted myself trying to emit a gigawatt of sunshine, big smiles and thumbs-up every two seconds, then, when my face started aching, playing everyone the 7th chord from the beginning of “Hard Days Night.”

But occasionally when I found someone who was doing a fun thing of their own (see above) or who was at least receptive, it was mildly rewarding, and the randomly rewarding nature of that experience meant I did spend a good hour doing my best to make the odd person smile.

Even so, by the end, the endless wave of humanity ground me down, and before I knew it I was clicking Next with the same indifference as the next bored guy, after bored guy, after bored guy."
via:blackbeltjones  chatroulette  internet  culture  society  entertainment  boredom 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Philosophy Now | La Vie D’Ennui
"This kind of boredom sucks the life from you. It has none of the hallmarks of the grand boredom that I’m after – the sort with a rousing soundtrack as you emerge from the darkness of sloth into the light of inspiration. The sort that illuminates new questions: Why not go and live in another country? Why shouldn’t I write a novel? That sort of boredom is the equivalent of a long bath with French soap and frangipani flowers floating on the surface; something so relaxing and pleasurable that you really don’t want it to end. And yet, when the bathwater has cooled and the flowers have gone mushy, you’re happy to lift your glowing self from the tub and move forward into the stream of life with renewed vigour. Such is la vie d’ennui."
boredom  thinking  philosophy 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Joe Moran's blog: Banging the drum for boredom
"Boredom is a modern notion: if our ancestors suffered from it, they didn’t call it boredom. The verb “to bore” was first used in the late 18th century, while the noun “boredom” dates only from the mid-19th century. By then, it was often seen as an illness … Patricia Meyer Spacks traces a shift from 18th-century notions of boredom, which saw it as an individual’s personal responsibility or moral failing, to more modern notions which situated the sources of boredom outside the self. … Boredom was one way of making sense of modernity: the repetitiveness of work, the monotony of bureaucracy, the regimented time of clocks and timetables. Boredom was also the luxury of people whose lives had become relatively comfortable. … begin to notice this commonplace, everyday world that we normally regard as unworthy of our attention … [and] We might even find boredom quite interesting."
via:preoccupations  language  history  boredom  modernity  repetition  bureaucracy  time  comfort 
january 2010 by robertogreco
The Howling Fantods! - The Pale King MLA09 Update
"“The subject of the novel is boredom. The opening of the book instructs the reader to go back and read the small type they skipped on the copyright page, which details the battle with publishers over their determination to call it fiction, when it’s all 100% true. The narrator, David Foster Wallace, is at some point confused with another David F. Wallace by IRS computers, pointing to the degree to which our lives are filled with irrelevant complexity.”"
davidfosterwallace  thepaleking  boredom  complexity  life  irs  fiction  truth  irrelevance 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Let's face it, science is boring - science-in-society - 21 December 2009 - New Scientist
"ASTONISHING discoveries in space, revelations about human nature, frightening news on the environment, medical advances that will banish life-threatening diseases: an inexhaustible stream of wonders runs through the pages of New Scientist. All tell the same tale. Science is exciting. Science is cutting-edge. Science is fun.

It is now time to come clean. This glittering depiction of the quest for knowledge is... well, perhaps not an outright lie, but certainly a highly edited version of the truth. Science is not a whirlwind dance of excitement, illuminated by the brilliant strobe light of insight. It is a long, plodding journey through a dim maze of dead ends. It is painstaking data collection followed by repetitious calculation. It is revision, confusion, frustration, bureaucracy and bad coffee. In a word, science can be boring."
science  boring  boredom  misconception  patience  frustration  bureaucracy  repetition  knowledge  learning 
december 2009 by robertogreco
3quarksdaily: When the “Trophy Kids” Can’t Find Work [Quotes from the comments}
"There is fundamentally less to do. Automation does...free up labor. & w/ more people than ever, there is just less work per person. In long term, shrinking job market will cause more fundamental shift in human society than global climate change...& almost nobody wants to talk about it." "Or maybe kids who did want to be there found that adults had so thoroughly taken over responsibility for kids' performance that their was none left over for the kids." "There will be very few good jobs in the future for any but the well-connected." "The good jobs of the future, for those actually getting through the bottle neck, or "Malthusian Correction", will be in food production & if we are lucky, bicycle repair. I'm watching my nieces & nephews, well educated from major universities, shell shocked as to what to do as this thing is gradually collapsing" "What would happen if instead of scheduling or entertaining kids' every moment, they were allowed to get good & bored at regular intervals?"
education  society  children  unschooling  deschooling  schooling  schools  learning  parenting  coaching  sports  competition  future  millennials  geny  generationy  generations  boredom  tcsnmy  lcproject 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Can These Parents Be Saved: The Growing Backlash Against Over-Parenting - TIME
"Helicopter parents can be found across all income levels, races & ethnicities...even...grandparents...Why do grownups have to take over everything?...What boredom does is take away the noise...leave them w/ space to think deeply, invent their own game, create their own distraction...useful trampoline for children to learn how to get by...Other studies reinforce importance of play as essential protein in child's emotional diet...persisted across species & millenniums, perhaps as way to practice for adulthood, build leadership, sociability, flexibility, resilience...managers at JPL noticed younger engineers lacked problem-solving skills, though had top grades & test scores. Realizing older engineers had more play experience as kids...JPL eventually incorporated questions about job applicants' play backgrounds into interviews. "what produces learning & memory & well-being, play is as fundamental as any other aspect.''..."hurried lifestyle is source of stress & anxiety...depression.""
children  parenting  stress  anxiety  helicopterparents  play  neuroscience  problemsolving  criticalthinking  overparenting  childhood  families  unschooling  deschooling  boredom  tcsnmy  lcproject  helicopterparenting 
november 2009 by robertogreco
David Foster Wallace - Telegraph
""The thrust of [The Pale King] is an attempt to look at the dark matter of tedium & boredom & repetition & familiarity that life is made of & through that to find a path to joy & art & everything that matters. Wallace has set himself the task of making a moving & joyful book out of the matter of life that most writers veer away from as hard as they can. & what he left of it is heartbreakingly full & beautiful & deep. He was looking at how one survives.”...Pressed for more details, Pietsch cites a commencement speech that Wallace gave at Kenyon in 2005, which he says is "very much a distillation" of the novel's material. "The really important kind of freedom involves attention & awareness & discipline, & being able truly to care about other people & to sacrifice for them over & over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom...The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, & lost, some infinite thing."

[via: http://kottke.org/09/08/the-pale-king-and-that-kenyon-commencement-speech ]
davidfosterwallace  via:kottke  thepaleking  life  meaning  writing  philosophy  survival  joy  art  boredom  repetition  familiarity  freedom  attention  caring  awareness  discipline  consciousness  books  commencementspeeches 
august 2009 by robertogreco
The Brain: Stop Paying Attention: Zoning Out Is a Crucial Mental State | Memory, Emotions, & Decisions | DISCOVER Magazine
"The fact that both of these important brain networks become active together suggests that mind wandering is not useless mental static. Instead, Schooler proposes, mind wandering allows us to work through some important thinking. Our brains process information to reach goals, but some of those goals are immediate while others are distant. Somehow we have evolved a way to switch between handling the here and now and contemplating long-term objectives. It may be no coincidence that most of the thoughts that people have during mind wandering have to do with the future."
psychology  via:kottke  learning  science  brain  attention  neuroscience  thinking  memory  creativity  concentration  boredom  flow  daydreaming  cognition  mind 
july 2009 by robertogreco
The Civil Heretic - Freeman Dyson - Profile - NYTimes.com
"All 6 Dysons describe eventful child­hoods w/ people like Feynman coming by...father...always preaching virtues of boredom: “Being bored is the only time you are creative”...Around the Institute for Advanced Study, that intellectual Arcadia where the blackboards have signs on them that say Do Not Erase, Dyson is quietly admired for candidly expressing his doubts about string theory’s aspiration to represent all forces and matter in one coherent system. “I think Freeman wishes the string theorists well,” Avishai Margalit, the philosopher, says. “I don’t think he wishes them luck. He’s interested in diversity, and that’s his worldview. To me he is a towering figure although he is tiny — almost a saintly model of how to get old. The main thing he retains is playfulness. Einstein had it. Playfulness & curiosity. He also stands for this unique trait, which is wisdom. Brightness here is common. He is wise. He integrated, not in a theory, but in his life, all his dreams of things.”"
freemandyson  skepticism  science  play  curiosity  diversity  tcsnmy  physics  futurism  future  climate  globalwarming  time  weather  boredom  creativity  sandiego  geneticengineering  tinkering  learning  habitsofmind  howwework  richardfeynman  generalists  attention  nuclearweapons  algore  optimism  intellect  genius  interdisciplinary  problemsolving  ingenuity  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  orthodoxy  heretics  belief  debate 
march 2009 by robertogreco
The End of Alone - The Boston Globe
"At our desk, on the road, or on a remote beach, the world is a tap away. It's so cool. And yet it's not. What we lose with our constant connectedness." ... "DESCARTES, NEWTON, LOCKE, Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard -- they share the distinction of having been some of the greatest thinkers the world has known. They also share this: None of them ever married or had their own families, and most of them spent the bulk of their lives living alone. In his provocative 1989 book Solitude: A Return to the Self, British writer and psychiatrist Anthony Storr made a persuasive case for the value of deep, uninterrupted alone time. He found it in ample supply in the lives of not just philosophers and physicists, but also some of the greatest poets, novelists, painters, and composers."
technology  solitude  society  facebook  email  gmail  bogs  online  internet  connectivity  mobile  phones  twitter  slow  well-being  idleness  boredom  quiet  etiquette  missedconnections  anxiety  strangers  life  philosophy  thoreau  reflection  via:hrheingold 
february 2009 by robertogreco
« earlier      
per page:    204080120160

Copy this bookmark:





to read