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robertogreco : delight   15

[Essay] | Punching the Clock, by David Graeber | Harper's Magazine
"In 1901, the German psychologist Karl Groos discovered that infants express extraordinary happiness when they first discover their ability to cause predictable effects in the world. For example, they might scribble with a pencil by randomly moving their arms and hands. When they realize that they can achieve the same result by retracing the same pattern, they respond with expressions of utter joy. Groos called this “the pleasure at being the cause,” and suggested that it was the basis for play.

Before Groos, most Western political philosophers, economists, and social scientists assumed that humans seek power out of either a desire for conquest and domination or a practical need to guarantee physical gratification and reproductive success. Groos’s insight had powerful implications for our understanding of the formation of the self, and of human motivation more generally. Children come to see that they exist as distinct individuals who are separate from the world around them by observing that they can cause something to happen, and happen again. Crucially, the realization brings a delight, the pleasure at being the cause, that is the very foundation of our being.

Experiments have shown that if a child is allowed to experience this delight but then is suddenly denied it, he will become enraged, refuse to engage, or even withdraw from the world entirely. The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Francis Broucek suspected that such traumatic experiences can cause many mental health issues later in life.

Groos’s research led him to devise a theory of play as make-believe: Adults invent games and diversions for the same reason that an infant delights in his ability to move a pencil. We wish to exercise our powers as an end in themselves. This, Groos suggested, is what freedom is—the ability to make things up for the sake of being able to do so.

The make-believe aspect of the work is precisely what performers of bullshit jobs find the most infuriating. Just about anyone in a supervised wage-labor job finds it maddening to pretend to be busy. Working is meant to serve a purpose—if make-believe play is an expression of human freedom, then make-believe work imposed by others represents a total lack of freedom. It’s unsurprising, then, that the first historical occurrence of the notion that some people ought to be working at all times, or that work should be made up to fill their time even in the absence of things that need
doing, concerns workers who are
not free: prisoners and slaves."



"The idea that workers have a moral obligation to allow their working time to be dictated has become so normalized that members of the public feel indignant if they see, say, transit workers lounging on the job. Thus busywork was invented: to ameliorate the supposed problem of workers not having enough to do to fill an eight-hour day. Take the experience of a woman named Wendy, who sent me a long history of pointless jobs she had worked:

“As a receptionist for a small trade magazine, I was often given tasks to perform while waiting for the phone to ring. Once, one of the ad- sales people dumped thousands of paper clips on my desk and asked me to sort them by color. She then used them interchangeably.

“Another example: my grandmother lived independently in an apartment in New York City into her early nineties, but she did need some help. We hired a very nice woman to live with her, help her do shopping and laundry, and keep an eye out in case she fell or needed help. So, if all went well, there was nothing for this woman to do. This drove my grandmother crazy. ‘She’s just sitting there!’ she would complain. Ultimately, the woman quit.”

This sense of obligation is common across the world. Ramadan, for example, is a young Egyptian engineer working for a public enterprise in Cairo.

The company needed a team of engineers to come in every morning and check whether the air conditioners were working, then hang around in case something broke. Of course, management couldn’t admit that; instead, the firm invented forms, drills, and box-­ticking rituals calculated to keep the team busy for eight hours a day. “I discovered immediately that I hadn’t been hired as an engineer at all but really as some kind of technical bureaucrat,” Ramadan explained. “All we do here is paperwork, filling out checklists and forms.” Fortunately, Ramadan gradually figured out which ones nobody would notice if he ignored and used the time to indulge a growing interest in film and literature. Still, the process left him feeling hollow. “Going every workday to a job that I considered pointless was psychologically exhausting and left me depressed.”

The end result, however exasperating, doesn’t seem all that bad, especially since Ramadan had figured out how to game the system. Why couldn’t he see it, then, as stealing back time that he’d sold to the corporation? Why did the pretense and lack of purpose grind him down?

A bullshit job—where one is treated as if one were usefully employed and forced to play along with the pretense—is inherently demoralizing because it is a game of make-­believe not of one’s own making. Of course the soul cries out. It is an assault on the very foundations of self. A human being unable to have a meaningful impact on the world ceases to exist."
davidgraeber  2018  work  bullshitjobs  capitalism  karlgroos  purpose  well-being  life  living  labor  play  pleasure  delight  employment  depression  slave  wageslavery  wages  freedom  humans  psychology  obligation  morality  care  caring  despair  consumerism 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Adrian Searle on John Berger: 'Art for him was never apart from being alive' | Books | The Guardian
"I cannot overestimate John Berger’s importance to me. It wasn’t so much his critical opinions or insights I valued, so much as the man himself, whose vitality and receptiveness to the things about him had a force I have rarely encountered.

It was his freedom as a writer I admired most. He had both backbone and playfulness, approaching things at tangents but always illuminating his subjects in unexpected and often disconcerting ways. In his groundbreaking 1972 television series, Ways of Seeing, Berger described the purposes of art, and artists’ intentions, in ways that felt flexible, undogmatic and grounded both in experience and in delight. He helped us look for ourselves, which is the best a critic can do.

Berger provoked intense loyalties and animosities. There were those who saw his defence of vernacular art as waging war against modernism, a man fighting a rearguard action against all kinds of artistic progress. This was oversimplistic, as his writing shows. I got to know Berger largely through our mutual friendship with the late Spanish artist Juan Muñoz. In the mid 1990s Muñoz and Berger collaborated on a radio play, which won a big prize in Germany and in 2005 was turned into a stage production at the Casa Encendida in Madrid. Berger, acting the part of a radio chatshow host, fielded imaginary calls and talked about illusion and presence and Goya’s dog, while an elderly Turkish foley artist, seated on the edge of the stage, provided sound effects. Already almost 80, Berger performed under sweltering stage lights in the Madrid summer heat and never lost his cool. Although there were several other actors in the work, it was almost a solo performance. John carried it; he had presence.

I asked Berger if he had ever wanted to be an actor and he admitted that he had been approached by an agent who encouraged him to go on the stage after seeing him perform in the annual Chelsea School of Art student revue. His stage presence and manner reminded me, disconcertingly, of Frankie Howerd. He was a natural and one of the reasons Ways of Seeing was so good was that he never came over as the patrician smart-arse superior critic. He made you feel he was thinking on his feet, right there in front of you. John would screw up his face and affect an expression somewhere between bewilderment and anguish, before launching into an argument that seemed to arrive fully formed. He was enormously compelling. He made me aware that writing itself was performative.

He reminisced about his time sharing a Paris apartment with the young David Sylvester, who never let go of an early falling out. It had something to do with Berger’s complaints about Sylvester leaving his “voluminous underpants” draped over a chair in a shared room in the early 1950s. Sylvester, I always thought, was jealous of Berger’s abilities as a writer of fiction as well as of art, though his career-long public animosity was also about Berger’s left-wing politics and his championing of socially engaged art.

It strikes me that art for Berger was the beginning of a journey of his own, a way of igniting responses and provoking thoughts. He approached art with a kind of innocent curiosity. He had enthusiasms I couldn’t share (from Soviet artist Ernst Neizvestny to British painter Maggi Hambling) but was open to work as diverse as Rachel Whiteread’s House and Muñoz’s enigmatic figurations. There are things I wish he had written on, but never did. If he was wrong about Picasso (whom he called a “vertical invader”, slicing through tradition) or just plain weird about Francis Bacon (whose paintings he once compared to Walt Disney animations – though Berger later revised his opinion) it didn’t matter. His ideas remained useful, because they always felt part of a bigger, ongoing conversation. It is healthy for a critic to beware of fixed opinions.

Whatever he did, Berger was a teller of stories, and alert to the complexities of all kinds of art-making and writing. Dip into him anywhere – an essay on Courbet, on drawing hands, or Roman Egypt funerary portraiture – whatever it is, his subject is vivid on the page. His writing is filled with insights. That he trained as a painter gave him a sympathy and understanding of the act of making and its difficulties – rare among critics now.

Intensely observant, Berger had the ability to focus the smallest quotidian detail – a penknife in a boy’s pocket, or a pear grown inside a bottle in a farmer’s orchard, bringing in the cows or sharpening a pencil – in order to tell us something about life and human relations, in an unending chain of acts and expressions. Everything he wrote has humour in it as well as sorrow. His writing never forgets the vagaries of the everyday. He revelled in all this.

Art for him was never something apart from the business of being alive. He was grounded. He struck me as a man who was both supremely astute and perceptive, and a sentimentalist. He could be a wonderfully engaging companion. A 1983 television debate with Susan Sontag – both wrestling with what a story could be – remains electrifying, mostly because they were both struggling with thoughts and ideas rather than trading certainties. Always worth reading, even when one disagrees with him, Berger went his own way, which was the only way to go."
johnberger  adriansearle  2017  art  everyday  publishing  life  living  susansontag  thinking  howwethink  storytelling  conversation  politics  lowbrow  highbrow  presence  performance  waysofseeing  delight  experience  vitality  companionship 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Fr. Greg Boyle — The Calling of Delight: Gangs, Service, and Kinship | On Being
"A Jesuit priest famous for his gang intervention programs in Los Angeles, Fr. Greg Boyle makes winsome connections between service and delight, and compassion and awe. He heads Homeboy Industries, which employs former gang members in a constellation of businesses. This is not work of helping, he says, but of finding kinship. The point of Christian service, as he lives it, is about “our common calling to delight in one another.”"

[On SoundCloud:
edited https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/greg-boyle-the-calling-of-delight-gangs-service-and-kinship
unedited https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/unedited-greg-boyle-with-krista-tippett ]
gregboyle  losangeles  homeboyindustry  interviews  2015  thewhy  compassion  service  religion  humanism  christianity  jesuits  kinship  kristatippett  scars  wounds  delight  burnout  salvation  mentoring  courage  mutualsupport  mutualaid  love  kindness  being  life  living  onbeing 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: The day the rabbits died
"Somewhere around the end of February my Nabaztag rabbit stopped doing the only thing it did any more - announcing the time in odd, amusing ways, in a strange English accent.

It was an act any of you could have built with a couple of line of javascript and a voice over artist but it felt different because it was embedded in a plastic rabbit.

And, although I didn't notice straight away the sound of the Nabaztag not doing anything because one a routine failure faded into the sound of the Nabaztag not doing anything because they'd switched the servers off and I noticed it had died and I was sad.

I've owned three iterations of the Nabaztag/Karotz thing - each bought and connected in the fond hope that it would finally make the network talk to me rather than just appear on a screen. And each didn't quite work, and each attempt at hacking around it didn't quite work either and then they just became Minimum Viable Talking Things muttering to themselves in the corner of the room.

But there was still something to love about them.

Not least because they suggested there were alternatives to the Silicon Valley object design axis where everything sits somewhere on a line between Useful and Delightful. They found another interesting place to be, a line between Useless and French, and they explored what it meant to make the network into something funny, social and decorative. They didn't fail because no one wants that. They failed because the technology wasn't good enough and because hardware is hard.

This still feels to me, like fresh and unexplored territory - the network talking to you, not you talking to it. It doesn't need speech recognition, it just needs to connect to your feeds and friends and occasionally tell you what's happening. The Nabaztag took that further by embedding that capability in something charming and odd, something that didn't look and feel like 'technology'.

Now, though, the servers are off and it looks like my only option is to learn how to run it off a Raspberry Pi.

The rabbits have fallen apart."
2015  russelldavies  nabaztag  magic  uselessness  useful  delight  delightfulness  technology  ambient  karotz  hardware 
march 2015 by robertogreco
6, 12: Tiles
"Thinking about gaps.

Things that are interesting to a lot of people who are interested in things I am, and which I always enjoy hearing them talk about, but which I don’t go out of my way for on my own:

• Disney

• cyborgs

• architecture

Distinctions that many people in my position care about but I don’t:

• Typeface v. font. Desktop publishing ruined this; it’s over; it’s fine.

• “Photograph” for a unitary exposure v. “image” for everything else. I call push-broom and whisk-broom–acquired pixels photos in my head sometimes, and feel no shame. Satellite imagery is heavily processed before it looks like what we see, but so is a conventional photograph: film chemistry and Bayer demosaicing are quite elaborate and, often, less controlled and less eye-mimicking than many of the composites that are, to the pedant, mere images. (And oh, the long history of photomanipulation! Pull up some high-res scans of old negatives from the Library of Congress and sometimes you can see brushwork where something was fixed up. Ansel Adams was dodging and burning with what we would now think of as a heavy hand.)

• Jacket v. coat. I think one is longer? I don’t care.

Gaps and being willing to say no. It’s so admirable when someone has decided not to do something important but unnecessary. I know people who buy only one kind of each item of street clothes, people who refuse to follow the news, who never drive, who will not talk with anyone the least bit trollish, who teetotal without a particular medical or religious reason, who won’t get a smartphone, and so on. I can’t remember someone telling me one of these things that didn’t make me happy to hear. I think the value in these nos is mostly in the very small scale, where it lets people talk with themselves and find their own edges. I can see this as a political act but it helps to understand it as personal first."



"Michael Yahgulanaas has been doodling in the margins of Hokusai. For a sense of what he’s up to, here he is punching a little humanity through a smotheringly dumb TV profile."



"The archaeologist Beverley McCulloch’s description of the heavy-footed moa, quoted by Nic Rawlence on RNZ’s Our Changing World, which incidentally is a paragon of science broadcasting (the interviewer, Veronika Meduna, used the word “poo”, ★★★★☆, and, instead of playing dumb, asked questions showing that she was trained in a relevant field, ★★★★★), just as their Spectrum is a paragon of general-interest broadcasting, and so on. If you share a desire to enjoy Radiolab and The Moth and such but just can’t, I commend RNZ to you. Without ever using the words, they connected the new kiwi bird cladistics study that’s been making the rounds with pressing issues of the anthropocene. Something good and strange is in New Zealand’s water lately."
charlieloyd  2014  gaps  knowledge  delight  newzealand  radio  michaelyahgulanaas  radiolab  themoth  npr  rnz  notknowing  unknowing  blindspots  ignorance  typefaces  fonts  conversation 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Making Friends: On Toys and Toymaking — dConstruct Audio Archive
"Toys are not idle knick-knacks: they allow us to explore otherwise impossible terrain; fire the imagination; provide sparks for structured play. They do not just entertain and delight; they stimulate and inspire. And always, they remind us of the value - and values - to be found in abstract play.

Toymaking is not an idle habit. Toys are a fertile ground for creators to work in. They offer a playful space to experiment and explore. They are a safe ground to experiment with new techniques, skills, or ideas. Though they emerge from no particular purpose, they expose purpose and meaning through their making. Toymaking ranges from making realistic simulations of life to producing highly abstract playthings. And everyone who makes things - out of paper, wood, metal, plastic, or code - has something to gain from making them.

Trying to draw a thread through what, it turns out, has been a lifetime first shaped by toymaking, and then spent making toys in idle moments, Tom will take in…"
playthings  making  simulations  meaning  purpose  delight  inspiration  play  srg  edg  glvo  practice  experimenting  prototyping  tinkering  2012  dconstruct2012  dconstruct  toymaking  toys  tomarmitage 
september 2012 by robertogreco
43f Podcast: John Gruber & Merlin Mann's Blogging Panel at SxSW | 43 Folders
"My pal, John Gruber (from daringfireball.net), and I presented a talk at South by Southwest Interactive on Saturday, March 14th. We talked about building a blog you can be proud of, trying to improve the quality of your work, reaching the people you admire, and maybe even making a buck (in a way that doesn’t blow your deal). Here’s what we had to say:"
art  writing  creativity  business  media  blogging  delight  obsessiveness  obsession  passion  2009  sxsw  adamlisagor  purpose  risktaking  trying  making  doing  web  online  internet  twitter  credibility  favar  howwework  audience  idealreader 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Beyond the “smart city,” part II: A definition | Urbanscale
"What do we call places where the above things apply? In recognition of the increasing ubiquity, everydayness and unremarkability of the technologies involved, we call them cities."
data  cocities  sustainability  adamgreenfield  smartcities  urbancomputing  definitions  2011  networkedobjects  services  efficiency  mobility  enhancedmobility  transparency  information  access  urban  urbanism  everyware  resources  urbanscale  serendipity  delight  citymagic  socialequity  inclusion  citizenagency  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
march 2011 by robertogreco
The Shape of Design, a new book by Frank Chimero
"It’s a field guide for makers, a book for the people who believe that the world is not yet done. It’s a handbook for the emerging skillset: improvisation, storytelling, embracing paradox, honoring craft, and delighting audiences.<br />
<br />
More than anything, it’s a book of suggestions to how we can make things that help us to live better."
theshapeofdesign  books  frankchimero  design  improvisation  storytelling  paradox  craft  delight  kickstarter 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero - Cooking, Magic, Jamming Your Own Stuff Through the Machine & Changing Everything
[Frank: Thanks. That Grant Achatz piece came along while digging around online after seeing "A Day at El Bulli" [Phaidon] at the bookstore—some old-fashioned serendipity there. Don't miss this (bookmarked a year ago): http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6105.html &, for the record, on Sunday, my kids were remarking about my actual sense of smell.]

"I’m not sure I know specifically what magic is, but maybe it is encountering a good impossibility. We don’t run into many Willy Wonkas or Walt Disneys in our lives: someone who has a completely different viewpoint than our own, & somehow, through sheer talent or brute force, builds a temple to that point of view."… "I think the future belongs to designers who can create their own content; to designers who have a point of view about the world. To folks who can make people respond to what they make and build an audience and then let them support that point of view." … "At this point in my life, I believe the future of design is the polymath."
frankchmero  magic  design  ferranadrià  elbulli  vision  meaning  purpose  ego  serendipity  frankchimero  polymaths  generalists  future  cv  glvo  experience  surprise  delight  creativity  imagination  personality  audience 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Rands In Repose: The Shop I Want
"The shop I want is owned by a person I know and respect. Inside of this shop are two button-up shirts, a pair of jeans, three pens, a desk, & a small white marble polar bear. Each of these items is picked out specifically for me, & more importantly, they are items that, given my own devices, I would never choose or possibly even discover for myself...
consumerism  ikea  google  twitter  sales  shopping  internet  marketing  materialism  ecommerce  ebay  curation  consumption  experience  relationships  trust  joelspolsky  2010  surprise  delight 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Blog: Frank Chimero (Here)
"I’ve said before attention is the most limited resource we have. We’re spread too thin, like too little butter over too much bread. I still believe that’s true, and there are a lot of people talking about how to alleviate that situation. But, often times the discussion stops too soon: we wrongly think that we’re just here to put up fences around certain areas so we’re not spread too thin.

We forget that the opportunity isn’t just to build up walls in certain areas, but to tear them down in others to give us the opportunity to care, to teach, and to just be present for a little while. Bad writers give mediocre advice that tell you to build up walls. The best writers tell you to tear walls down in the areas that matter to you. Because being available leads to incredible things: not only to unforeseen requests like Irwin’s, but also unexpected opportunities like _why’s teaching kids programming on a train ride. Availability is a mindset."
presence  frankchimero  availability  attention  delight  wonder  robertirwin  teaching  serendipity  play  focus  grazing  writing  programming  wisdom  singletasking  monotasking 
may 2010 by robertogreco

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