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Learning Reimagined Conference: Why Unschooling as Decolonisation | Growing Minds
"Almost 600 words later and you still don’t know why unschooling as decolonisation. It’s simple. Because schooling is colonising. Compulsory schools are designed in the image of colonialism. Colonialism’s modality was power and violence. Compulsory Schools’ modality is power and violence. Colonialism was/is oppressive. Compulsory schooling is oppressive. Colonialism took away people’s freedoms to define the trajectory of their cultures and nations for themselves. Compulsory schooling takes away from young people the freedom to define their own growths and potentials. Colonialism imposed on nations and peoples an economic system that is rigged in favour of a minority to the detriment of the majority. Its values are competition, winning, control, profit, individualism. Schooling imposes on young people an education system that is rigged in favour of a minority and to the detriment of the majority. The values of schooling are competition, winning, control, results and individualism. We’re all hurting in this system.

That the schooling system is fashioned in the image of colonialism is not its worst attribute. It’s real danger is that compulsory schooling upholds and maintains colonialism by upholding colonial values that the colonising countries or settlers still benefit from. It is one of the master’s primary tools that keeps the master’s house intact. It is a system of separation of parents and siblings, separation of different groupings, of the creation of the ‘other’, of separating knowledge into subjects while devaluing some knowledge and privileging others, of the ‘class’room that maintains the class structure, of dominion of humans over nature, of endless wars, of poverty, of loneliness, of diminishing mental health, of……..

As unschoolers we can see that the master’s tool won’t dismantle the master’s house. But unschooling potentially can!

And that is why Unschooling as Decolonisation."
unschooling  education  schooling  schools  colonization  2018  compulsory  class  race  ethnicity  power  loneliness  poverty  relationships  families  agesegregation  colonialism  individualism  control  competition  interdependence  freedom  liberation  zakiyyaismail  deschooling  learning  culture  society  violence  decolonization 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Social Media and Loneliness | L.M. Sacasas
"In 1958, Hannah Arendt published The Human Condition in which she discussed the rise of the “social,” a realm she distinguished from the private and the public spheres. It was marked by anonymity. In The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, she argued that loneliness and isolation were the seedbeds of totalitarianism."



"In 1913, Willa Cather had one of her characters in O Pioneers! describe his life in the cities this way:
Freedom so often means that one isn’t needed anywhere. Here you are an individual, you have a background of your own, you would be missed. But off there in the cities there are thousands of rolling stones like me. We are all alike; we have no ties, we know nobody, we own nothing. When one of us dies, they scarcely know where to bury him. Our landlady and the delicatessen man are our mourners, and we leave nothing behind us but a frock-coat and a fiddle, or an easel, or a typewriter, or whatever tool we got our living by. All we have ever managed to do is to pay our rent, the exorbitant rent that one has to pay for a few square feet of space near the heart of things. We have no house, no place, no people of our own. We live in the streets, in the parks, in the theaters. We sit in restaurants and concert halls and look about at the hundreds of our own kind and shudder.


I could go on, but you get the point."



"I’ve never understood why we should be relieved when we read about a study which concludes that a majority of people do not experience some negative consequence of technology. What about the often sizable minority that does? Do they not matter?"



"Technological fixes rarely alleviate and often exasperate social disorders, especially those that involve the most deeply engrained desires of the human heart. We’re better off refusing to treat social media as a remedy for loneliness or even as a form of community. Chastened expectations may be the best way to use a tool without being used by the tool in turn."
lmsacasas  michaelsacasas  2018  socialmedia  loneliness  hannaharendt  technology  technosolutionism  willacather  social  cities  isolation  urban  urbanism  online  internet  web 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The Creative Process, by James Baldwin · SFMOMA
[via: https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/nothing-stable-under-heaven/ ]

"Perhaps the primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone. That all men are, when the chips are down, alone, is a banality—a banality because it is very frequently stated, but very rarely, on the evidence, believed. Most of us are not compelled to linger with the knowledge of our aloneness, for it is a knowledge that can paralyze all action in this world. There are, forever, swamps to be drained, cities to be created, mines to be exploited, children to be fed. None of these things can be done alone. But the conquest of the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.

The state of being alone is not meant to bring to mind merely a rustic musing beside some silver lake. The aloneness of which I speak is much more like the aloneness of birth or death. It is like the fearless alone that one sees in the eyes of someone who is suffering, whom we cannot help. Or it is like the aloneness of love, the force and mystery that so many have extolled and so many have cursed, but which no one has ever understood or ever really been able to control. I put the matter this way, not out of any desire to create pity for the artist—God forbid!—but to suggest how nearly, after all, is his state the state of everyone, and in an attempt to make vivid his endeavor. The state of birth, suffering, love, and death are extreme states—extreme, universal, and inescapable. We all know this, but we would rather not know it. The artist is present to correct the delusions to which we fall prey in our attempts to avoid this knowledge.

It is for this reason that all societies have battled with the incorrigible disturber of the peace—the artist. I doubt that future societies will get on with him any better. The entire purpose of society is to create a bulwark against the inner and the outer chaos, in order to make life bearable and to keep the human race alive. And it is absolutely inevitable that when a tradition has been evolved, whatever the tradition is, the people, in general, will suppose it to have existed from before the beginning of time and will be most unwilling and indeed unable to conceive of any changes in it. They do not know how they will live without those traditions that have given them their identity. Their reaction, when it is suggested that they can or that they must, is panic. And we see this panic, I think, everywhere in the world today, from the streets of New Orleans to the grisly battleground of Algeria. And a higher level of consciousness among the people is the only hope we have, now or in the future, of minimizing human damage.

The artist is distinguished from all other responsible actors in society—the politicians, legislators, educators, and scientists—by the fact that he is his own test tube, his own laboratory, working according to very rigorous rules, however unstated these may be, and cannot allow any consideration to supersede his responsibility to reveal all that he can possibly discover concerning the mystery of the human being. Society must accept some things as real; but he must always know that visible reality hides a deeper one, and that all our action and achievement rest on things unseen. A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven. One cannot possibly build a school, teach a child, or drive a car without taking some things for granted. The artist cannot and must not take anything for granted, but must drive to the heart of every answer and expose the question the answer hides.

I seem to be making extremely grandiloquent claims for a breed of men and women historically despised while living and acclaimed when safely dead. But, in a way, the belated honor that all societies tender their artists proven the reality of the point I am trying to make. I am really trying to make clear the nature of the artist’s responsibility to his society. The peculiar nature of this responsibility is that he must never cease warring with it, for its sake and for his own. For the truth, in spite of appearances and all our hopes, is that everything is always changing and the measure of our maturity as nations and as men is how well prepared we are to meet these changes, and further, to use them for our health.

Now, anyone who has ever been compelled to think about it—anyone, for example, who has ever been in love—knows that the one face that one can never see is one’s own face. One’s lover—or one’s brother, or one’s enemy—sees the face you wear, and this face can elicit the most extraordinary reactions. We do the things we do and feel what we feel essentially because we must—we are responsible for our actions, but we rarely understand them. It goes without saying, I believe, that if we understood ourselves better, we would damage ourselves less. But the barrier between oneself and one’s knowledge of oneself is high indeed. There are so many things one would rather not know! We become social creatures because we cannot live any other way. But in order to become social, there are a great many other things that we must not become, and we are frightened, all of us, of these forces within us that perpetually menace our precarious security. Yet the forces are there: we cannot will them away. All we can do is learn to live with them. And we cannot learn this unless we are willing to tell the truth about ourselves, and the truth about us is always at variance with what we wish to be. The human effort is to bring these two realities into a relationship resembling reconciliation. The human beings whom we respect the most, after all—and sometimes fear the most—are those who are most deeply involved in this delicate and strenuous effort, for they have the unshakable authority that comes only from having looked on and endured and survived the worst. That nation is healthiest which has the least necessity to distrust or ostracize these people—whom, as I say, honor, once they are gone, because somewhere in our hearts we know that we cannot live without them.

The dangers of being an American artist are not greater than those of being an artist anywhere else in the world, but they are very particular. These dangers are produced by our history. They rest on the fact that in order to conquer this continent, the particular aloneness of which I speak—the aloneness in which one discovers that life is tragic, and therefore unutterably beautiful—could not be permitted. And that this prohibition is typical of all emergent nations will be proved, I have no doubt, in many ways during the next fifty years. This continent now is conquered, but our habits and our fears remain. And, in the same way that to become a social human being one modifies and suppresses and, ultimately, without great courage, lies to oneself about all one’s interior, uncharted chaos, so have we, as a nation, modified or suppressed and lied about all the darker forces in our history. We know, in the case of the person, that whoever cannot tell himself the truth about his past is trapped in it, is immobilized in the prison of his undiscovered self. This is also true of nations. We know how a person, in such a paralysis, is unable to assess either his weaknesses or his strengths, and how frequently indeed he mistakes the one for the other. And this, I think, we do. We are the strongest nation in the Western world, but this is not for the reasons that we think. It is because we have an opportunity that no other nation has in moving beyond the Old World concepts of race and class and caste, to create, finally, what we must have had in mind when we first began speaking of the New World. But the price of this is a long look backward when we came and an unflinching assessment of the record. For an artist, the record of that journey is most clearly revealed in the personalities of the people the journey produced. Societies never know it, but the war of an artist with his society is a lover’s war, and he does, at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself and, with that revelation, to make freedom real."
jamesbaldwin  creativity  loneliness  aloneness  death  birth  society  art  artists  consciousness  philosophy  imagination  reality  stability  change  changemaking  freedom 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Gifted and Talented and Complicated - The New York Times
"Child prodigies are exotic creatures, each unique and inexplicable. But they have a couple of things in common, as Ann Hulbert’s meticulous new book, “Off the Charts,” makes clear: First, most wunderkinds eventually experience some kind of schism with a devoted and sometimes domineering parent. “After all, no matter how richly collaborative a bond children forge with grown-up guides, some version of divorce is inevitable,” Hulbert writes. “It’s what modern experts would call developmentally appropriate.” Second, most prodigies grow up to be thoroughly unremarkable on paper. They do not, by and large, sustain their genius into adulthood.

What happens to alter the trajectory of shooting stars like Follett? In “Off the Charts,” Hulbert attempts to capture the complicated lives of child prodigies without descending into voyeurism or caricature. She has tried to “listen hard for the prodigies’ side of the story,” to her great credit.

This is an arduous task, and it sometimes shows in the writing, which can be stilted in its reliance on quotes and documentation. But Hulbert’s diligence results in a surprising payoff: The best advice for managing a child prodigy may be a wise strategy for parenting any child, including the many, many nonbrilliant ones.

Hulbert, The Atlantic’s literary editor, wrote her last book, “Raising America,” about the tortured history of parenting advice. So she is appropriately wary of preachy morality tales. “My goal isn’t to pile on the stark cautionary fare. Nor am I aiming to crack some ‘talent code,’” she writes in the prologue for “Off the Charts,” to our great relief.

Instead, she tries to place each of the boys and girls featured in the book in a specific time and place; their celebrity reveals much about their particular moment in American history. For example, Bobby Fischer’s chess prowess might not have been impressive enough for adults to overlook his breathtaking egotism — but for the launching of Sputnik and America’s anxiety about creeping Soviet domination in education and science. One era’s prodigy is another’s anonymous misfit.

The book begins with the story of two gifted boys who attended Harvard at the same time, in the early 1900s. Norbert Wiener, a budding philosopher and mathematician, was 14, and William Sidis, a star in linguistics and mathematics, was only 11. They were not friends, which was a shame. Both suffered under the weight of their elders’ intellectual expectations, combined with the impossibility of fitting in as boys among men. They were told they were superior, but then punished if they acted like it. Their identities depended on superhuman smarts, which made any academic failure feel like a knife to the heart.

Wiener would struggle with depression for the rest of his life, but he did manage to eventually find professional fulfillment at M.I.T., where he helped invent the field of cybernetics. Sidis was not so successful; after fleeing a criminal charge related to a political protest, he did low-level accounting work in New York. He continued to alienate others with his stubborn arrogance before dying at 46 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

What would have helped these boys and the other struggling prodigies in this book? Maybe nothing. But after poring over their words and stories, Hulbert has concluded that they might all offer parents similar advice: Accept who they are.

That doesn’t mean protecting them from failure or stress; quite the opposite. “What they want, and need, is the chance to obsess on their own idiosyncratic terms — to sweat and swerve, lose their balance, get their bearings, battle loneliness, discover resilience,” Hulbert writes. Interestingly, this is the same advice contemporary psychologists tend to give to all parents, not just the parents of prodigies. Parents must hold children accountable and help them thrive, which is easier said than done; but if they try to re-engineer the fundamentals of their offspring, they will fail spectacularly, sooner or later. And this lesson is particularly obvious in the extremes.

“Extraordinary achievement, though adults have rarely cared to admit it, takes a toll,” Hulbert writes. “It demands an intensity that rarely makes kids conventionally popular or socially comfortable. But if they get to claim that struggle for mastery as theirs, in all its unwieldiness, they just might sustain the energy and curiosity that ideally fuels such a quest.”

The special challenge for prodigies is that they are exceptional in more ways than one. “Genius is an abnormality, and abnormalities do not come one at a time,” explains Veda Kaplinsky, a longtime teacher of gifted students, in Andrew Solomon’s “Far From the Tree,” a book that is cited by Hulbert. “Many gifted kids have A.D.D. or O.C.D. or Asperger’s. When the parents are confronted with two sides of a kid, they’re so quick to acknowledge the positive, the talented, the exceptional; they are often in denial over everything else.”

The very traits that make prodigies so successful in one arena — their obsessiveness, a stubborn refusal to conform, a blistering drive to win — can make them pariahs in the rest of life. Whatever else they may say, most teachers do not in fact appreciate creativity and critical thinking in their own students. “Off the Charts” is jammed with stories of small geniuses being kicked out of places of learning. Matt Savage spent two days in a Boston-area Montessori preschool before being expelled. Thanks to parents who had the financial and emotional resources to help him find his way, he is now, at age 25, a renowned jazz musician.

Interestingly, some prodigies may actually do better when their eccentricities are seen by loving adults as disabilities first — and talents second. Hulbert tells the story of Jacob Barnett, born in 1998, who withdrew into autism as a toddler in Indiana. His parents tried every form of therapy they could find, before finally discovering that he could be drawn out through his captivation with astronomy. His mother, Kristine, took him to astronomy classes at the local university — not to jump-start his genius but to help coax him back to life. “If I had stopped and let myself bask in the awe of Jake’s amazing abilities — if I had stopped to ponder how unusual he really is — I don’t think I could have been a good mother to him,” she explained.

The most vivid section of the book comes at the end, when Hulbert reunites with the musical prodigy Marc Yu, a decade after first interviewing him at age 6. With his mother’s support, Yu had tried to ease up on his musical career and live a more normal life, an approach that had worked for other prodigies, including the child actress Shirley Temple. But Yu found that the strategies that worked at the keyboard were useless in high school, where no amount of discipline and focus could make him cool. The adorable, joke-cracking boy she’d remembered had grown into a lonely teenager. “I always expected things to go my way,” Yu told Hulbert. “If I wanted it, I worked hard enough, I got it, and people loved me. That’s no longer true, and I feel I exist in the shadow of popular kids.”

Yu’s story reinforces one of Hulbert’s central, if unsatisfying, findings: Children’s needs change. If you think you’ve got a child figured out, you will be proved wrong momentarily. As Hulbert writes: “Prodigies offer reminders writ large that children, in the end, flout our best and worst intentions.” And adults always overestimate their own influence."
children  prodigies  2017  annhulbert  success  parenting  2018  sfsh  acceptance  psychology  resilience  loneliness  depression 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Rider by Naomi Shihab Nye - Poems | Academy of American Poets
"A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell."
naomishihabnye  loneliness  poems  poetry  1952 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Close Reading — Real Life
"In transitioning ambient intimacy from one mode to the other, it turns out that our desires are more ambient in text and more intimate when visual. Even among the rather ordinary set of people I follow on Instagram, there is an undercurrent of the erotic more immediate and obvious than on places like Twitter. An ambient sense of social desire is something else when it is visual; we aim to be seen, and are thus asked to be seen in certain ways. And if the camera asks you to be seen, it also offers a chance to determine how you are seen and by whom, this new insistence on the scopophilic turned back against the viewer. I have watched people I know who long seemed to avoid being looked at settle into a new idea of who they are: The ego, once pinched, releases and expands from the center to the skin, a kind of warm fluid of confidence, a body now radiating a newly-minted sense of self-possession. A watchful eye once avoided is reclaimed, welcomed, relished — and so of course, the connective tissue of our communication came to include the image of the body.

There is a tension in this, though. It is hard to separate visual culture from economies of various sorts, from systems of circulation and exchange. The demand to place yourself into the swirl of images comes with certain rules. These are the boundaries of our particular modal shift. One can, for example, embrace body acceptance, can challenge regimes of corporeal domination, but it helps to do so symmetrically, in fashionable clothing, against well-lit backgrounds, engaging in the logic of the rectangular image, augmenting one form of desire with another. When intimacy is a thing to be as much seen as felt, one must, if not contort oneself, at least turn one’s life to the camera. The lens is like a supportive mother believing she is simply doing the right thing: “Be who you are, dear, but at least make yourself presentable.”

Yet there is warmth in the feed of images, too: a steady cavalcade of tiny, precious detail, a gentle flood of affection for both others and ourselves. For the lonely, sitting by themselves in quiet rooms and apartments, it represents an emergent social field, a kind of extra-bodily space in which one communes. The modal shift of ambient intimacy from text to the image is itself a minor analog of the broader one, from mass media to the network, from the body to its holographic pairing. There is in it surveillance and self-surveillance, the insistent saturation of capital down to our most private core. In its most ideal state, the collection of stories on otherwise faceless platforms is like an auditorium of holograms, a community of bodily projections. In those rare moments, one does not find oneself simply alone in the dark and cold, barely lit by a glowing phone. Instead, if only for a fraction of time, it is a field of light made full by incandescent strands of connection, staving off a colourless abyss, an intimate ambience that is — temporarily at least — just enough."
ambientintimacy  socialmedi  twitter  instagram  clivethompson  2017  socialmedia  intimacy  capitalism  capital  loneliness  smartphones  bodies  presentationofself  communication  media  news  photography  imagery  imagessurveillance  self-surveillance  economics  body 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump | Literary Hub
"This year Hannah Arendt is alarmingly relevant, and her books are selling well, particularly On the Origins of Totalitarianism. She’s been the subject an extraordinary essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books and a conversation between scholar Lyndsey Stonebridge and Krista Tippet on the radio show “On Being.” Stonebridge notes that Arendt advocated for the importance of an inner dialogue with oneself, for a critical splitting in which you interrogate yourself—for a real conversation between the fisherman and his wife you could say: “People who can do that can actually then move on to having conversations with other people and then judging with other people. And what she called ‘the banality of evil’ was the inability to hear another voice, the inability to have a dialogue either with oneself or the imagination to have a dialogue with the world, the moral world.”

Some use their power to silence that and live in the void of their own increasingly deteriorating, off-course sense of self and meaning. It’s like going mad on a desert island, only with sycophants and room service. It’s like having a compliant compass that agrees north is whatever you want it to be. The tyrant of a family, the tyrant of a little business or a huge enterprise, the tyrant of a nation. Power corrupts, and absolute power often corrupts the awareness of those who possess it. Or reduces it: narcissists, sociopaths, and egomaniacs are people for whom others don’t exist.

We gain awareness of ourselves and others from setbacks and difficulties; we get used to a world that is not always about us; and those who do not have to cope with that are brittle, weak, unable to endure contradiction, convinced of the necessity of always having one’s own way. The rich kids I met in college were flailing as though they wanted to find walls around them, leapt as though they wanted there to be gravity and to hit ground, even bottom, but parents and privilege kept throwing out safety nets and buffers, kept padding the walls and picking up the pieces, so that all their acts were meaningless, literally inconsequential. They floated like astronauts in outer space.

Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters. This is about a need for which we hardly have language or at least not a familiar conversation."
politics  donaldtrump  rebeccasolnit  2017  equality  inequality  delusion  power  corruption  kistatippet  lyndseystonebridge  hannaharendt  occupywallstreet  ows  fscottfitzgerald  tyrants  loneliness  resistance  russia  parables  privilege  vldimirputin  pushkin  greed  overreach  democracy  society  collectivism  evil  morality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Why Millennials Are Lonely
"We’re getting lonelier.

The General Social Survey found that the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985. “Zero” is the most common number of confidants, reported by almost a quarter of those surveyed. Likewise, the average number of people Americans feel they can talk to about ‘important matters’ has fallen from three to two.

Mysteriously, loneliness appears most prevalent among millennials. I see two compounding explanations.

First, incredibly, loneliness is contagious. A 2009 study using data collected from roughly 5000 people and their offspring from Framingham, Massachusetts since 1948 found that participants are 52% more likely to be lonely if someone they’re directly connected to (such as a friend, neighbor, coworker or family member) is lonely. People who aren’t lonely tend to then become lonelier if they’re around people who are.

Why? Lonely people are less able to pick up on positive social stimuli, like others’ attention and commitment signals, so they withdraw prematurely – in many cases before they’re actually socially isolated. Their inexplicable withdrawal may, in turn, make their close connections feel lonely too. Lonely people also tend to act “in a less trusting and more hostile fashion,” which may further sever social ties and impart loneliness in others.

This is how, as Dr. Nicholas Christakis told the New York Times in a 2009 article on the Framingham findings, one lonely person can “destabilize an entire social network” like a single thread unraveling a sweater.
If you’re lonely, you transmit loneliness, and then you cut the tie or the other person cuts the tie. But now that person has been affected, and they proceed to behave the same way. There is this cascade of loneliness that causes a disintegration of the social network.

Like other contagions, loneliness is bad for you. Lonely adolescents exhibit more social stress compared to not lonely ones. Individuals who feel lonely also have significantly higher Epstein-Barr virus antibodies (the key player in mononucleosis). Lonely women literally feel hungrier. Finally, feeling lonely increases risk of death by 26% and doubles our risk of dying from heart disease.

But if loneliness is inherently contagious, why has it just recently gotten worse?

The second reason for millennial loneliness is the Internet makes it viral. It’s not a coincidence that loneliness began to surge two years after Apple launched its first commercial personal computer and five years before Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

Ironically, we use the Internet to alleviate our loneliness. Social connection no longer requires a car, phone call or plan – just a click. And it seems to work: World of Warcraft players experience less social anxiety and less loneliness when online than in the real world. The Internet temporarily enhances the social satisfaction and behavior of lonely people, who are more likely to go online when they feel isolated, depressed or anxious.

The Internet provides, as David Brooks wrote in a New York Times column last fall, “a day of happy touch points.”

But the Internet can eventually isolate us and stunt our remaining relationships. Since Robert Putnam’s famous 2000 book Bowling Alone, the breakdown of community and civic society has almost certainly gotten worse. Today, going to a bowling alley alone, Putnam’s central symbol of “social capital deficit,” would actually be definitively social. Instead, we’re “bowling” – and a host of other pseudo-social acts – online.

One reason the Internet makes us lonely is we attempt to substitute real relationships with online relationships. Though we temporarily feel better when we engage others virtually, these connections tend to be superficial and ultimately dissatisfying. Online social contacts are “not an effective alternative for offline social interactions,” sums one study.

In fact, the very presence of technology can hinder genuine offline connection. Simply having a phone nearby caused pairs of strangers to rate their conversation as less meaningful, their conversation partners as less empathetic and their new relationship as less close than strangers with a notebook nearby instead.

Excessive Internet use also increases feelings of loneliness because it disconnects us from the real world. Research shows that lonely people use the Internet to “feel totally absorbed online” – a state that inevitably subtracts time and energy that could otherwise be spent on social activities and building more fulfilling offline friendships.

Further exacerbating our isolation is society’s tendency to ostracize lonely peers. One famous 1965 study found that when monkeys were confined to a solitary isolation chamber called the "pit of despair" and reintroduced to their colony months later, they were shunned and excluded. The Framingham study suggested that humans may also drive away the lonely, so that “feeling socially isolated can lead to one becoming objectively isolated.”

The more isolated we feel, the more we retreat online, forging a virtual escape from loneliness. This is particularly true for my generation, who learned to self-soothe with technology from a young age. It will only become more true as we flock to freelancing and other means of working alone.

In his controversial 1970 book The Pursuit of Loneliness, sociologist Phillip Slater coined the “Toilet Assumption”: our belief that undesirable feelings and social realities will “simply disappear if we ignore them.” Slater argued that America’s individualism and, in turn, our loneliness, “is rooted in the attempt to deny the reality of human interdependence.” The Internet is perhaps the best example to date of our futile attempt to flush away loneliness.

Instead, we’re stuck with a mounting pile of infectious isolation."
online  internet  socialmedia  loneliness  2017  isolation  social  phillipslater  1970  1965  contagion  psychology  technology  smartphones  robertputnam  2000  web  nicholaschristakis  trust  hostility 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Is the Gig Economy Working? - The New Yorker
"Many liberals have embraced the sharing economy. But can they survive it?"



"In a competitive market, though, advantaged people still end up leveraging their advantages: that is why Happy Host exists. Today, every major Airbnb city (among them London, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New Orleans) has multiple Happy Host equivalents to help meet rising market expectations. A two-year-old New York competitor, MetroButler, has twenty-two contractors and two cleaners, and last year bought the clientele of another competitor, Proprly. MetroButler’s co-founder Brandon McKenzie had been using Airbnb to pay down law-school debts when he realized that short-term rentals could support an entire service industry. “We’re sort of in the business of pickaxes during the Gold Rush,” he said."



"Normally, every efficiency has a winner and a loser. A service like Uber benefits the rider, who’s saving on the taxi fare she might otherwise pay, but makes drivers’ earnings less stable. Airbnb has made travel more affordable for people who wince at the bill of a decent hotel, yet it also means that tourism spending doesn’t make its way directly to the usual armies of full-time employees: housekeepers, bellhops, cooks.

To advocates such as Lehane, that labor-market swap is good. Instead of scrubbing bathrooms at the Hilton, you can earn directly, how and when you want. Such thinking, though, presumes that gigging people and the old working and service classes are the same, and this does not appear to be the case. A few years ago, Juliet B. Schor, a sociology professor at Boston College, interviewed forty-three mostly young people who were earning money from Airbnb, Turo (like Airbnb for car rentals), and TaskRabbit. She found that they were disproportionately white-collar and highly educated, like Seth F. A second, expanded study showed that those who relied on gigging to make a living were less satisfied than those who had other jobs and benefits and gigged for pocket money: another sign that the system was not helping those who most needed the work.

Instead of simply driving wealth down, it seemed, the gigging model was helping divert traditional service-worker earnings into more privileged pockets—causing what Schor calls a “crowding out” of people dependent on such work. That distillation-coil effect, drawing wealth slowly upward, is largely invisible. On the ground, the atmosphere grows so steamy with transaction that it often seems to rain much needed cash."



"Calls for structural change have grown loud lately, in part because the problem goes far beyond gigging apps. The precariat is everywhere. Companies such as Nissan have begun manning factories with temps; even the U.S. Postal Service has turned to them. Academic jobs are increasingly filled with relatively cheap, short-term teaching appointments. Historically, there is usually an uptick in 1099 work during tough economic times, and then W-2s resurge as jobs are added in recovery. But W-2 jobs did not resurge as usual during our recovery from the last recession; instead, the growth has happened in the 1099 column. That shift raises problems because the United States’ benefits structure has traditionally been attached to the corporation rather than to the state: the expectation was that every employed person would have a W-2 job.

“We should design the labor-market regulations around a more flexible model,” Jacob Hacker told me. He favors some form of worker participation, and, like Mulcahy, advocates creating a single category of employment. “I think if you work for someone else, you’re an employee,” he said. “Employees get certain protections. Benefits must be separate from work.”

In a much cited article in Democracy, from 2015, Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist, and David Rolf, a union president, proposed that workplace benefits be prorated (someone who works a twenty-hour week gets half of the full-time benefits) and portable (insurance or unused vacation days would carry from one job to the next, because employers would pay into a worker’s lifelong benefits account). Other people regard the gig economy as a case for universal basic income: a plan to give every citizen a modest flat annuity from the government, as a replacement for all current welfare and unemployment programs. Alternatively, there’s the proposal made by the economists Seth D. Harris and Alan B. Krueger: the creation of an “independent worker” status that awards some of the structural benefits of W-2 employment (including collective bargaining, discrimination protection, tax withholding, insurance pools) but not others (overtime and the minimum wage).

I put these possibilities to Tom Perez. He told me that he didn’t like the idea of eliminating work categories, or of adding a new one, as Harris and Krueger suggest: you’d lose many of the hard-won benefits included with W-2 employment, he said, either in the compromise to a single category or because current W-2 companies would find ways to slide into the new classification. He wanted to move slowly, to take time. “The heart and soul of the twentieth-century social compact that emerged after the Great Depression was forty years in the making,” he said. “How do we build the twenty-first-century social compact?”"



"One afternoon, I accompanied a Hello Alfred tasker named Phillip Pineno as he went to service apartments in Kips Bay. A placid guy with tiny silver hoops in his ears and a hipster’s dusky beard, Pineno does tasking four days a week and, like Bobby Allan, works in his remaining time as an actor. In the lobby of a building facing Bellevue South Park, he gathered packages and ascended to a client’s apartment—one of eleven he’d visit that day. A bag of Trader Joe’s Veggie & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips went in a cupboard. A box of cereal was tucked into position on the counter. Pineno used to be a caterer, doing events at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Natural History. The work was fine, he said, but unpredictable, different from Hello Alfred. “You get to feel more like a human,” he told me. He could take time every week to work toward his dream without gambling his future on it. He had found some sense of workplace comfort—of being valued and known.

For many gig workers, as for Seth F., that dream remains elusive. When Seth F. had finished hanging art work in my living room, I led him to the dining room. He took a small electric drill and some screws out of his backpack, and started driving them into the plaster. We were hanging a small print of a Sol LeWitt drawing, squares in squares in squares. He extracted a laser level, and projected it across the wall. “This is my favorite tool,” he told me, with a moving tenderness. He rarely met other taskers, he said; there were no colleagues in his life with whom he could share experiences and struggles. The flexibility was great, if you had something to be flexible for.

“The gig economy is such a lonely economy,” he told me. He left his drill behind after he finished the work, but I was out when he returned the next day to get it. I never saw him again."
gigeconomy  economics  nathanheller  2017  work  labor  precarity  taskrabbit  uber  lyft  postmates  sustainability  airbnb  inequality  servicework  loneliness 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Architect Who Became a Diamond - The New Yorker
"Barragán was a devout Catholic, and his work is characterized by a mixture of opulence and abnegation. “Where do you find more eroticism than in the cloister of a convent?” he once asked. His buildings are mostly residential, with anonymous perimeter walls that protect modestly sized but lavish interiors. Louis Kahn recalled that, in the sixties, he asked Barragán to help him design the courtyard garden at the Salk Institute and flew him out to San Diego to see the site. Barragán took one look at the expanse of concrete and said, “You are going to hate me, but there should be no tree here,” and went home, forsaking a commission from one of his most famous living colleagues.

Tall, blue-eyed, and bald from a young age, Barragán lived beautifully and tyrannically. He wore English sports jackets, silk shirts, and knitted ties; he had a Cadillac and employed a chauffeur. He enjoyed melon halves drizzled with sherry, and was known to have his maid prepare entirely pink meals. An architect friend recalled being disinvited to tea on several occasions because the light in the garden wasn’t right.

“You have no idea how much I hate small things, ugly things,” Barragán told the journalist Elena Poniatowska. “Yet the fragility of some women moves me.” Though he never married (and is thought by some to have been gay), his taste in women was particular: willowy, dark, with, as Poniatowska put it, “the big, hollow eyes of someone who has suffered.” Women recounted trying to lose weight in the weeks before visiting him. Barragán was generous with gifts, bringing small tokens of appreciation—silver boxes, flowers, packages of dates—even to casual lunches. He spoke gently and smiled often. He liked to read Proust, listen to classical music, and fantasize about the Russian gentry. Famously private, he despised his contemporaries’ infatuation with “uninhabitable” glass houses and thought that shadows were “a basic human need.” His work, likewise, was hidden: the residences were often within gated communities, the fountains protected by private courtyards. If there is a recurring criticism of Barragán, it is that he was undemocratic. He spent Sundays at an equestrian club, and when someone accused him of “only designing homes for rich people,” he allegedly replied, “And horses.”

I met Andrés Casillas, an architect now in his eighties who was a protégé of Barragán’s, at his home, an hour and a half from Mexico City. He had perfectly coiffed white hair and wore a fine cashmere sweater. His home had an austere, siesta-like feel that was unmistakably Barragánesque. He spoke slowly and with exaggerated gallantry. “This is stupid to say, but Barragán was a gentleman,” he told me. Casillas talked about meeting Barragán for the first time. He was eight years old, and had wandered around the “magical” garden of Barragán’s house for half an hour, after which Barragán presented him with a small glass of rompope, an eggnog-like liquor prepared by nuns. “I left absolutely mesmerized,” he said.

The hypnosis was by design. Barragán believed that architects should make “houses into gardens, and gardens into houses.” He made blueprints premised on surprise and an almost perverse protraction of pleasure. Low, dark corridors open into blindingly bright rooms with church-high ceilings. Floor plans only gradually make themselves evident to the visitor. He called it “architectural striptease.”

Walking through Barragán’s home, which was declared a unesco World Heritage site in 2004, one feels a sense of coercion, and Barragán himself never completely disappears. Keith Eggener, an architectural historian who made a pilgrimage to Barragán’s house soon after he died, recalled his impressions with the hesitant laughter of someone who’s embarrassed to tell the truth. “Even when it was run-down, it was a ravishing house,” he said. “I remember having this feeling of really wanting to spend the night there—not just to sleep in the house but to sleep with the house.”"



"In 2002, as an artist in residence at the Rijksakademie, in Amsterdam, Magid began noticing the large number of surveillance cameras in the city—anonymous gray boxes, mounted on everything from the corners of buildings to coffee-shop awnings. One February morning, she went to the police headquarters and explained that she was an artist interested in decorating the municipal cameras with rhinestones. She was directed to the appropriate police administrators, who told her that they did not work with artists. She thanked them and left. A few weeks later, Magid returned, armed with business cards and a corporate-speak sales pitch, presenting herself as the Head Security Ornamentation Professional at System Azure, a company that she had made up. The police not only allowed her to bedazzle the cameras but even paid her a couple of thousand dollars. “I realized that they could not hear me when I spoke as an artist,” Magid later said. “This had nothing to do with what I proposed but with who I was.”

The impish venture touched on a theme that Magid has returned to again and again, in increasingly ambitious ways. Her aim with most of her work is to humanize institutional power structures, subtly undermining them while adhering to the letter of their regulations: exploiting legal escape clauses and other red tape, and forging relationships with civil servants. She has ensconced herself in the Dutch secret service and been trained by a New York City cop. She once got members of a surveillance team from Liverpool’s police force to direct her through a public square with her eyes closed. In 2008, she told me, a Dutch government official warned her that she was considered a national-security threat. Though she cares deeply about how her work looks, she has less in common with other artists than with people whose jobs are not typically thought of as artistic: spies, investigative journalists, forensic experts.

Magid’s work can seem like a series of extended pranks, but when I suggested this to her she was aghast. “No!” she exclaimed. She laughed but seemed genuinely distressed. “I hate mean-spirited work,” she said. “It’s about the engagement. A prank doesn’t engage. A prank is: you throw something in and watch what happens. This is a commitment.” Still, people often ask Magid why anyone ever agrees to collaborate with her. She has said that she thinks it is “due to some combination of vanity, pride, and loneliness.”"



"Magid heard about the archive by coincidence: her gallery in Mexico City, Labor, is across the street from Casa Barragán. “It intrigued me as a gothic love story,” she has said, “with a copyright-and-intellectual-property-rights subplot.” In early 2013, Magid contacted Zanco through an intermediary, to introduce herself as an artist working on a project about Barragán, and asked if she might visit the archive. Zanco replied that she was “completely unable to allow access to the collection, nor be of any help to third parties.” A few months later, Magid sent a handwritten request, explaining that she had an upcoming show on Barragán in New York. She invited Zanco to curate pieces from her archive for inclusion. She signed off, “With Warmth and Admiration.” Zanco declined to collaborate, and warned, “I trust you would make yourself aware of the possible copyright implications of any sort of reproduction, and clear the related permissions, procedure and mandatory credits.”

That November, in Tribeca, Magid produced an exhibition about the impasse, “Woman with Sombrero,” which later travelled to Guadalajara. The show was a multimedia installation, with images of Barragán’s work, slide projections, and an iPad displaying the correspondence between Magid and Zanco. Objects were placed in teasing juxtaposition, in a way that suggested connections and narratives without insisting on them. Copies of books that Barragán had sent to various women lay on a bedside table that Magid had fabricated based on one of his designs. In what a press release described as “flirtation with the institutional structures involved,” Magid went to extreme lengths to stay just the right side of copyright law. Rather than reproduce Barragán images from Zanco’s book, for instance, Magid framed a copy of the book itself. The show was written up in the Times, and the article was not flattering to Zanco. Magid was quoted asking, “What’s the difference between loving something and loving something so much that you smother it?”

After the Times took an interest, Magid and Zanco’s correspondence became friendlier—either because Zanco now appreciated Magid’s work or because she realized that anything she wrote could end up as material in future shows. “Thank you for your company,” Zanco wrote at one point. “I feel definitely less lonely down in the archives.” The tone of their letters became familiar but measured. At no point did Magid mention her plan to make a diamond out of Barragán.

Magid agrees with those who argue that the Barragán archive should be open to the public and returned to Mexico, but she insists that this is not her focus. “If that’s what my intentions were, I don’t think I’d make art,” she told me. “I’ve always called the archive her lover. To marry one man, she negotiated owning another man, whom she’s devoted her life to. It’s a weird love triangle, and I’m the other woman.”"



"Magid was disconcerted; she’d expected Zanco to be alone. She followed Zanco in. Fehlbaum was there, seated, his back to a glass wall, and greeted her warmly. Zanco sat down beside him and gestured for Magid to take a seat across from them.

“I brought you this,” Magid said, taking a bottle of champagne from her bag. It was wrapped in an announcement of her St. Gallen show. Zanco removed the paper and thanked her. For the next hour, over lunch, the three of … [more]
2016  jillmagid  luisbarragán  architecture  art  archives  performanceart  laurapoitras  film  bureaucracy  institutions  casaluisbarragán  barraganfoundation  federicazanco  switzerland  guadalajar  mexico  mexicocity  mexicof  df  sfai  sanfrancisco  death  copyright  elenaponiatowska  pranks  engagement  performance  loneliness  journalism  alicegregory  mexicodf 
december 2016 by robertogreco
fille de glissant: WOC vs. Black Women
"Why did these writers herald the film as a site of progressive representation of blackness despite Céline Sciamma's illuminating statements, despite the film itself and above all despite the criticisms of the film made by black French girls? Why did they keep praising the film after Céline Sciamma said that it was a traditional coming-of-age story, using alarming words like “universality,” confirming black French girls contextualized suspicion that this was just another white interpretation of the black suburban experience in France? Why was the spectatorship of non-black women of color centered instead of that of black women?  What lead to this usurpation?

The truth is that the film, being uncurious and vague about the black bodies and the suburban space it is looking at, was the fertile ground for the kind of appropriative, corny and self-indulgent pieces that were written about it by non-black women of color. The film used and decontextualized black, suburban French bodies to make a boring and botched statement on the universality of girlhood and these writers used and decontextualized a film that used and decontextualized black French bodies to make their own points about “brown girl exclusivity,” black female friendships or the importance of representation.

This specific lane swerving is not an isolated case but it was the first time that I seriously started asking myself questions about the meaning of solidarity between black women and non-black women of color.  How does solidarity serve black women? How does this solidarity manifest itself concretely in the world?"



"Are we supposed to feel grateful or flattered?
I only feel despair and disgust.

We are reduced to passive spectators whose voices are despoiled, asked to applaud and watch brown writers patting themselves on the back for pretending to care about black women’s humanity. Do they have any idea of what it looks like from where the rest of us stand? Maybe they believe that they are extending a hand. The intended results might be solidarity and inclusivity, and it might be within the small and self-absorbed writing bubbles these writers navigate in, but it produces quite the opposite: exclusion not exclusivity.

There is a dearth of published and paid black writers. There aren't enough spaces given to black film, art, music critics for you to think that you can speak over us and center yourself on issues that specifically concern black people.

Black women should have been paid to write on Girlhood. In France, thanks to institutional and constitutional colorblind ideology, most of the reviews were written by white men. In the U.S., thanks to WOC colorblindness and solidarity, most of the acclaimed and shared reviews written for so-called inclusive spaces were written by non-black women of color.

(Ironically, one of the only good and necessary reviews of the film written for a mainstream American publication was written by Richard Brody, a white man, for the New Yorker.)"



"The black experience is not universal. Black girlhood is not universal. A specific kind of racism and misogyny inform our experience. While it is true that people of color share the experience of marginalization, black women are on the periphery of the margins. The singularity of our experiences makes it almost impossible to appropriate them without diluting them, narrowing them, erasing them. Something that I have been confronting is that being a black girl, in the West, is very lonely. Being a French black girl in the suburbs of a major city is painfully lonely. Loneliness characterizes the human condition but it seems that black women are made to be conscious of this truth sooner than everyone else."



"Social media has exacerbated the idea that blackness is common property, a public good that must be shared and consumed by everyone. A public good to be profited off of — unless you're actually black. Black people shouldn't own anything. Nothing belongs to us — not even what we produce and invent. Not even our experience, our existence. Everything ours is yours (is there even such as thing as “ours”?). Blackness is constantly flied over by vultures, under threat of being decomposed, consumed and annihilated. When we do claim ownership, we are told we are venal, greedy. When we refuse this looting of our identity, experience and culture we are selfish and capricious.

Well, I am refusing. I am claiming my experience as mine. I am asking for black women to claim their experiences as their own. In an antiblack and misogynistic context there isn’t such a thing as being a capricious or territorial black woman. Our experience is the territory on which we should be sovereign. The loneliness that comes with being a black woman and the apathy the rest of the world has for our existence make us the only witnesses to our lives and it should afford us the right to be the only authorities on our experiences."



"I do not care about the pictures of black celebrities plastered all over your blog. I do not care about your Rihanna and Kanye West worshipping. I don’t care about your black friends. More than anything, I do not care about your compulsive James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Claudia Rankine and bell hooks quoting. It doesn’t signify anything. It doesn’t demonstrate that you have challenged your antiblackness. Fetishization is not love, it’s not respect. Turning black people into figurines and objects that you can use, and throw away as soon as you are done with them is not appreciation.

Here is what I want: instead of jumping on any opportunity to voice your “enthusiasm” for everything black, you should study the weird, neurotic, utilitarian relationship you have with blackness. You can take the Kardashians with you. Until then, until you do this introspective and analytical work, until you decolonize your idea and practice of solidarity, I’d very much like for you to stay away from us. "
girlhood  film  culture  blackness  fanta  fantasylla  célinesciamma  2015  fetishization  appropriation  poc  sarabivigou  woc  feminism  azealiabanks  mia  iggyazalea  heems  blackwomen  hiphop  loneliness 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Whitney Houston and the music of loneliness / Snarkmarket
[via a small collection on loneliness by Tim Carmody: https://twitter.com/tcarmody/status/609837487414988800 ]

"After the death of Whitney Houston, our reflections on Twitter included these thoughts on pop music, loneliness and connection."



"So many of Whitney Houston's hits, even the happy ones, are about loneliness."

"Yes. I've been nursing a theory that some of the best pop songs - dance songs particularly - have loneliness at their core."

"I mean, it's also ultimately about desire being the cause of loneliness and the engine that overcomes it. But the appeal to loneliness is how the song gets into your head. It's how you suture yourself into its world."

"We bind ourselves most strongly to characters that seem to express our particular vulnerabilities."

"Yeah, that's kind of what I mean by "suture" -- it's how we stitch ourselves into, imagine/identify ourselves in that world."

"Whitney is really about loneliness, shyness, insecurity, uncertainty -- and hope."

"It's like Proust; the other person doesn't really matter as much as the emotion, the memory, the first-person resolution."
loneliness  timcarmody  2013  mattthompson  whitneyhouston  music  desire  beachboys  royorbison  vulnerability  insecurity  shyness  uncertainty  emotions  love  connection  humans  beinghuman  hope  proust 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Calvin And Hobbes embodied the voice of the lonely child · For Our Consideration · The A.V. Club
"There is a mythic Calvin And Hobbes strip that’s been bouncing around the internet for years. No one’s quite sure where it came from or who’s responsible for it. Part of its mystery is likely because it’s purported to be the lost final installment of the series, drawn by Bill Watterson himself. In it, a serious looking Calvin toils away at his schoolwork while Hobbes looks on. The tiger is curious that his friend is being so diligent about his studies, and the boy responds that “the pills” he’s taking have started working. Hobbes then asks Calvin to go play, but Calvin is too absorbed in his project to take notice. The final panel is the tiger as “just” a stuffed animal, with Calvin indifferent to the change. It is, in every sense of the word, an abomination.

This is not an actual installment of Calvin And Hobbes, and is instead a repurposed strip with a preachy message warning against the dangers of medicating children and ruining their creativity forever. There are any number of ways that this goes against the inherent spirit of the comic, but I will focus my disdain to a single point. Calvin And Hobbes was never about hyperactivity and Hobbes himself was never a manifestation of undiagnosed mania: He was a manifestation of pure, unadulterated loneliness.

Loneliness is a funny thing because generally it has less to do with being alone and more to do with not having other people around. That sounds paradoxical, but being alone and being isolated from your peers are two very different things. The former is a choice, the latter a decree. In truth, it’s even more complicated than that, as loneliness can strike at any time, even when surrounded by people. That niggling sense that maybe you don’t belong is all it needs to gain a foothold.

For as much as the brain of a child is growing and changing and maturing, for as many distractions as the world provides to developing minds, kids aren’t stupid, particularly children as highly sensitive and attuned to the world around them as Calvin. Disappearing into his own world is a coping mechanism for dealing with a world that seems to have little patience or place for him. His isolation breeds fantasy, which breeds isolation, which does him no favors at school or at home. To be a lonely child in the world means creating your own fun, your own friends, your own magic.



Calvin didn’t have trouble focusing on the world around him, he had trouble reconciling himself to the fact that the world around him was such a disappointment. The reason the strip appealed to people both young and old is because Calvin was feeling underwhelmed at a college graduate level. It’s not unheard of for children to experience this, particularly those who are more sensitive to their surroundings, and for many it was a relief to know that seeing the world without the luster and facade constantly created for us wasn’t so unusual. Calvin made it okay to be disheartened and disappointed by life and normalized the inherent loneliness that childhood can bring. He was there for us as we grew up and while we learned that things were capable of getting so much better and so much worse as we experienced puberty and beyond, he was still mired in the first grade, raging against the machine.

It’s quite the thing to sit down and read 10 years of a comic strip at once. It’s a comfort, like going home, the jokes warm and familiar. You grin when you come across the Sunday strips that served as the inspiration for the book collection titles, “Something Under The Bed is Drooling,” “Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.” And though the strips are the same as they’ve ever been, you’ve come to them as a different person. Reading Calvin And Hobbes when you’re 33 is different from reading it when you’re 13. Now you’re struck by the struggle Calvin’s parents must have had keeping their child in line and loving him even as he drove them out of their minds, and you wonder if their single-income home would still be feasible in the current economic climate. But more than anything, you notice the sorrow buried in the strips, and you wonder how you missed how sad the children in the strips were the whole time.

Loneliness and sadness aren’t new fare for comic strips. If anything, Watterson’s characters are merely carrying on in the grand tradition of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts, where preternaturally clever children are nevertheless stymied by the world they live in. Like Peanuts, Calvin And Hobbes is timeless for the exact same reason: It appealed to adults just as much as it appealed to children. It spoke of things not always acknowledged in polite company, how people are mean, how we wish we had more friends, how being grown up seems weird and being a child even weirder, how the world doesn’t make sense, and how it’s hard to believe in things even though we desperately want to believe in them.

Calvin was a lot of things, just like every child. He was a budding inventor, a gifted artist, an enterprising entrepreneur, and a self-taught pundit. He was a good friend, an annoying neighbor, clever and conniving, lonely and loyal and, yeah, maybe a little hyperactive. But whatever he was, he taught an entire generation of children that though sadness and disappointment and loneliness may come prepackaged in life, that all could be weathered, so long as you had hope and a really good friend to see you through. For Calvin, that was Hobbes. For us, it was Calvin And Hobbes. And when the strip ended its 10 year run in 1995, it left in its wake a generation of children who, though now grown, could move forward in life confident that their magical friend would be with them always."

[Update: Tim Carmody put this in a small collection about loneliness: https://twitter.com/tcarmody/status/609837487414988800 ]
calvinandhobbes  loneliness  childhood  friendship  billwatterson  2015  libbyhill  comics  isolation  aloneness  life  living  children 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Maisonneuve | Collective Independents
"A FEW MONTHS AGO I moved into a one-bedroom basement apartment. The landlord penciled the stipulation “one person only” into the lease. I superimposed memories of Anna’s perfectly appointed home over the windowless, lineoleum-floored, beige-walled reality that is my new place. But how exciting to live without anonymous hair clogging the drain! I imagined little designer flourishes that would soon fill my space—an Edison lightbulb for the stucco ceiling perhaps, or a hanging plant that will likely die from the lack of light.

It took weeks for me to stop hoarding my possessions in the bedroom and claim the terrain of the new kitchen, bathroom, living room. Here, on top of the microwave, I will put my laundry money, important receipts, my wallet and cell phone. Here, on my bedside table, I will keep my passport, diary and what I’m reading. This floating shelf above my bed will house my most presentable books. Not only will the electric kettle, with its crusty metal coil, be thrown away, but I will purchase a shiny new whistling model that will sit proudly on the gas stove.

The inside of my new refrigerator appears mammoth; sometimes there’s only one item to a shelf. So much time I’ve wasted digging through shared fridges, only to discover diseased-looking tubs of yogurt and yellowing broccoli inside that cold jungle. What a pleasure to buy food that needs preserving.

How I love these little groupings of objects, all in their appropriate places where I might need them most. Playboy’s description of the bachelor pad is an understatement—this space feels as intimate as the compartments of my brain. I delight in the quirks of my domain—the way the gas element clicks three times, with a little stutter on the third beat, before bursting into blue flames. The silence around me has deepened to such an extent that I startle at the sound of water moving through the pipes or, when I’m lying in the bath, the sound of footsteps which turn out to be my own heartbeat.

But, a month and a half into living alone, I woke feeling wretched. Overnight, a throat tickle had morphed into full-on infection; my lymph nodes had hardened into painful, pronounced gills. I could barely swallow. I was nauseated and weak. Dirty dishes accumulated in the sink. My hair exploded into a greasy rat’s nest. I rotated sleeping shifts on the couch and the bed, never changing out of my sick-person uniform of the same sweat pants and flannel shirt.

By the third day, the novelty had worn off. Who cared that I could watch and re-watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes for days on end? I missed the outside world and, worse, I was nowhere near coming out of quarantine. That night, my throat as raw as a ragged tailpipe, I tossed and turned until dawn. When I woke the next afternoon, the sun was already low in the sky. My apartment was dark and silent. The fridge and cupboards were bare. No one had called or emailed or texted or tweeted or Facebooked.

As I lay in bed spinning dark thoughts, like how long it would take someone to find my body if I died right then and there, grunts and groans and sighs came through the ceiling. The couple upstairs was having sex. Now? Of all times? I took a deep breath and dived into a downward spiral of self pity. In my mind, beloved friends and family acquired dark shadows. If they were sick and lonely, I certainly would have taken care of them—so where were they now? As soon as I got better, I resolved to look out for myself and only myself. Why stick your neck out for people if they only leave you in the end? These thoughts, at the time, felt all-consuming and true. That is the self-reinforcing power of loneliness."
loneliness  isolation  modernism  2015  lauratrethewey  housing  introverts  community  intimacy  independence 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The future of loneliness | Olivia Laing | Society | The Guardian
"Loneliness centres on the act of being seen. When a person is lonely, they long to be witnessed, accepted, desired, at the same time as becoming intensely wary of exposure. According to research carried out over the past decade at the University of Chicago, the feeling of loneliness triggers what psychologists call hypervigilance for social threat. In this state, which is entered into unknowingly, the individual becomes hyperalert to rejection, growing increasingly inclined to perceive social interactions as tinged with hostility or scorn. The result is a vicious circle of withdrawal, in which the lonely person becomes increasingly suspicious, intensifying their sense of isolation.

This is where online engagement seems to exercise its special charm. Hidden behind a computer screen, the lonely person has control. They can search for company without the danger of being revealed or found wanting. They can reach out or they can hide; they can lurk and they can show themselves, safe from the humiliation of face-to-face rejection. The screen acts as a kind of protective membrane, a scrim that allows invisibility and transformation. You can filter your image, concealing unattractive elements, and you can emerge enhanced: an online avatar designed to attract likes. But now a problem arises, for the contact this produces is not the same thing as intimacy. Curating a perfected self might win followers or Facebook friends, but it will not necessarily cure loneliness, since the cure for loneliness is not being looked at, but being seen and accepted as a whole person – ugly, unhappy and awkward, as well as radiant and selfie-ready.

This aspect of digital existence is among the concerns of Sherry Turkle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has been writing about human-technology interactions for the past three decades. She has become increasingly wary of the capacity of online spaces to fulfil us in the ways we seem to want them to. According to Turkle, part of the problem with the internet is that it encourages self-invention. “At the screen,” she writes in Alone Together (2011), “you have a chance to write yourself into the person you want to be and to imagine others as you wish them to be, constructing them for your purposes. It’s a seductive but dangerous habit of mind.”

But there are other dangers. My own peak use of social media arose during a period of painful isolation. It was the autumn of 2011, and I was living in New York, recently heartbroken and thousands of miles from my family and friends. In many ways, the internet made me feel safe. I liked the contact I got from it: the conversations, the jokes, the accumulation of positive regard, the favouriting on Twitter and the Facebook likes, the little devices designed for boosting egos. Most of the time, it seemed that the exchange, the gifting back and forth of information and attention, was working well, especially on Twitter, with its knack for prompting conversation between strangers. It felt like a community, a joyful place; a lifeline, in fact, considering how cut off I otherwise was. But as the years went by – 1,000 tweets, 2,000 tweets, 17,400 tweets – I had the growing sense that the rules were changing, that it was becoming harder to achieve real connection, though as a source of information it remained unparalleled.

This period coincided with what felt like a profound shift in internet mores. In the past few years, two things have happened: a dramatic rise in online hostility, and a growing awareness that the lovely sense of privacy engendered by communicating via a computer is a catastrophic illusion. The pressure to appear perfect is greater than ever, while the once‑protective screen no longer reliably separates the domains of the real and the virtual. Increasingly, participants in online spaces have become aware that the unknown audience might at any moment turn on them in a frenzy of shaming and scapegoating.

The atmosphere of surveillance and punishment destroys intimacy by making it unsafe to reveal mistakes and imperfections. My own sense of ease on Twitter diminished rapidly when people began posting photos of strangers they had snapped on public transport, sleeping with their mouths open. Knowing that the internet was becoming a site of shaming eroded the feeling of safety that had once made it seem such a haven for the lonely.

The dissolution of the barrier between the public and the private, the sense of being surveilled and judged, extends far beyond human observers. We are also being watched by the very devices on which we make our broadcasts. As the artist and geographer Trevor Paglen recently said in the art magazine Frieze: “We are at the point (actually, probably long past) where the majority of the world’s images are made by machines for machines.” In this environment of enforced transparency, the equivalent of the Nighthawks diner, almost everything we do, from shopping in a supermarket to posting a photograph on Facebook, is mapped, and the gathered data used to predict, monetise, encourage or inhibit our future actions.

This growing entanglement of the corporate and social, this creeping sense of being tracked by invisible eyes, demands an increasing sophistication about what is said and where. The possibility of virulent judgment and rejection induces precisely the kind of hypervigilance and withdrawal that increases loneliness. With this has come the slowly dawning realisation that our digital traces will long outlive us."



"This space, the future now, is characterised, he believes, by a blurring between individuals and networks. “Your existence is shared and maintained and you don’t have control over all of it.”

But Trecartin feels broadly positive about where our embrace of technology might take us. “It’s obvious,” he said, “that none of this stuff can be controlled, so all we can do is steer and help encourage compassionate usage and hope things accumulate in ways that are good for people and not awful … Maybe I’m being naive about this, but all of these things feel natural. It’s like the way we already work. We’re making things that are already in us.”

The key word here is compassion, but I was also struck by his use of the word natural. Critiques of the technological society often seem possessed by a fear that what is happening is profoundly unnatural, that we are becoming post-human, entering what Turkle has called “the robotic moment”. But Surround Audience felt deeply human; an intensely life-affirming combination of curiosity, hopefulness and fear, full of richly creative strategies for engagement and subversion."



"Somehow, the vulnerability expressed by Laric’s film gave me a sense of hope. Talking to Trecartin, who is only three years younger than me, had felt like encountering someone from a different generation. My own understanding of loneliness relied on a belief in solid, separate selves that he saw as hopelessly outmoded. In his worldview, everyone was perpetually slipping into each other, passing through ceaseless cycles of transformation; no longer separate, but interspersed. Perhaps he was right. We aren’t as solid as we once thought. We are embodied but we are also networks, living on inside machines and in other people’s heads; memories and data streams. We are being watched and we do not have control. We long for contact and it makes us afraid. But as long as we are still capable of feeling and expressing vulnerability, intimacy stands a chance."
2015  olivialaing  loneliness  internet  isolation  urbanism  edwardhopper  online  presentationofself  sherryturkle  behavior  shaming  scapegoating  vulnerability  honesty  conversation  connection  web  socialmedia  facebook  twitter  surveillance  sousveillance  trevorpaglen  brucebenderson  aloneness  technology  future  anxiety  jeancocteau  ryantrecartin  peterschjeldahl  laurencornell  joshkline  frankbenson  art  film  jenniferegan  aurroundaudience  compassion  oliverlaric  intimacy  networks  collectivism  individualism  transformation 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Mary Oliver — Listening to the World | On Being
"Often quoted, but rarely interviewed, Mary Oliver is one of our greatest and most beloved poets. At 79, she honors us with an intimate conversation on the wisdom of the world, the salvation of poetry, and the life behind her writing."



"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place in the family of things."

[Spoken: https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/wild-geese-by-mary-oliver ]
maryoliver  onbeing  wisdom  poetry  2015  poems  writing  place  religion  rumi  spirituality  life  living  howwewrite  discipline  creativity  language  process  staugustine  attention  reporting  empathy  fieldguides  clarity  death  god  belief  cancer  kindness  goodness  nature  prayer  loneliness  imagination  geese  animals  slow  posthumanism 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Loneliness is a modern epidemic in need of treatment - opinion - 30 December 2014 - New Scientist
"In recent decades, social isolation has been recognised as a major risk to our health and longevity. It's twice as bad for you as being obese and nearly as bad as smoking. The rising number of people who say they are affected, across a wide range of ages, is startling. Yet obvious mechanisms – such as self-neglect – do not explain the full health toll. So what else is going on?

To answer this question it is worth noting that you can suffer the ill effects of loneliness even if you are not socially isolated. It is essentially an emotional state, and recognising the brain's role is vital to understanding much of the harm that can be caused.

Comedian Robin Williams made a salient observation in 2009: "I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone." Tracking large groups over time indicates that perceived social isolation carries its own risk for morbidity and mortality, independent of actual social isolation. What could drive this surprising effect?

Safety in numbers

The perception of isolation from others – of being on the social perimeter – is not only a cause of unhappiness, it also signals danger. Fish have evolved to swim to the middle of their group when predators approach, mice housed in social isolation show sleep disruptions and reduced slow-wave sleep and prairie voles isolated from their partners then placed in an open field explore their surroundings less and concentrate on predator evasion.

These behaviours reflect an increased emphasis on self-preservation when on the social perimeter. For instance, fish on the edge of a school are more likely to be attacked by predators because they are easier to isolate and prey upon. Such observations reflect a more general principle, that perceived social isolation in social animals activates neural, neuroendocrine and behavioural responses that promote short-term self-preservation. However, these responses bring a cost for long-term health and well-being.

The range of harmful neural and behavioural effects of perceived isolation documented in adults include increased anxiety, hostility and social withdrawal; fragmented sleep and daytime fatigue; increased vascular resistance and altered gene expression and immunity; decreased impulse control; increased negativity and depressive symptoms; and increased age-related cognitive decline and risk of dementia.

A little less lonesome

Sadly, to date, attempts to reduce loneliness have met with limited success. A meta-analysis of different strategies studied in randomised controlled trials, showed they had only a small effect. Among the four types of interventions examined, talking therapy that focused on inappropriate thought processes – a lack of self-worth, a lack of perspective and a skewed idea of how trustworthy others are and how they perceive you - had the largest impact. Social skills training, social support and increased opportunities for social contact were much less effective.

This finding is consistent with the idea that perceived social isolation can still put us in self-preservation mode – a hangover from ancient times when isolation would have left us very vulnerable to attack – which can lead to harmful thought processes and behaviour that is at odds with thriving in a modern society.

There is no pharmacological treatment for loneliness, although animal research is shedding light on this possibility. Given the scale of the problem today, the hunt for better treatments of all types deserves high priority."
loneliness  2014  psychology  isolation  johncacioppo  stephaniecacioppo  mentalhealth 
january 2015 by robertogreco
When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson – review | Books | The Observer
I picked up When I Was a Child… with a curiosity about Marilynne Robinson equal only to her disinclination to give anything away – in a homespun, ordinary, autobiographical sense – about herself. This book is not, as its title might suggest, a memoir. Nor is it about childhood. She says there is a difference – for a writer as well as for readers – between "knowing" a person and "knowing about" them, and the extraordinary experience of reading these idiosyncratic, high-minded theological essays is about the former. It is the equivalent of an uncommon library ticket, an admission to the subjects that most obsess her: the frail human enterprise, faith and its absence, mysteries that elude language.




"And she tells us, in passing, about a scientific experiment of her own. She was educated at a centre of behaviourist psychology where they "pestered" rats (in a maze-learning experiment) and attempted to "lure" them with Cheerios – her rat turned out not to be easy to bribe. It seems appropriate that her rat was a rebel for there is nothing Robinson likes less than facile conclusions about motivation. She deplores "so-called rational choice economics which assumes we will all find the shortest way to the reward". She has no truck with the selfish gene – if anything, she seems to think a selfless gene more likely. She asks why society is full of arrangements that "seem to inhibit or defeat self-interest?" Yet, at the same time, she is anti "austerity" as a policy (and is especially eloquent about its deleterious effects on American universities)."



"There is a subtle tension throughout the book between society and solitude. She describes poetry as "a highly respectable use of solitude", the writings of Edgar Allan Poe have an "almost hallucinatory loneliness", and, she reveals – wonderful detail – that, in Iowa, the word "lonesome" has positive connotations. Yet what makes this book is Robinson's belief in community, her feeling that "it is in the nature of people to do good to one another" (as well as to sin), and that the world is, to quote Louis MacNeice, "incorrigibly plural" (even if, for her, it has only one God). Robinson is adept at studying the small print and reading between the lines but she never forgets to look up at the stars."
marilynnerobinson  katekellaway  2012  community  lonesomeness  loneliness  solitude  economics  christianity 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Marilynne Robinson’s ‘When I Was a Child I Read Books’ - NYTimes.com
"Robinson grew up in Idaho and now lives in Iowa — places where, as she puts it in her new collection of personal and critical essays, “When I Was a Child I Read Books,” “ ‘lonesome’ is a word with strongly positive connotations.” In her lexicon, lonesomeness means the opposite of isolation. It envelops the mind and heart in unsullied nature, allowing focused apprehension of the miracle of creation, as when she remembers kneeling alone as a child “by a creek that spilled and pooled among rocks and fallen trees with the unspeakably tender growth of small trees already sprouting from their backs, and thinking, there is only one thing wrong here, which is my own presence, and that is the slightest imaginable intrusion — feeling that my solitude, my loneliness, made me almost acceptable in so sacred a place.”

One inference to be drawn from Robinson’s essays is that her novels contain a good deal of self-portraiture. When she was young, she seems to have been a prairie version of one of J. D. Salinger’s Glass children — except that rather than urbanity, her precociousness took the form of piety. “I looked to Galilee for meaning,” she tells us, “and to Spokane for orthodonture.” Only such a reverent child could have felt, as Ruth, the narrator of “Housekeeping,” feels when the boat she’s in seems about to capsize, that “it was the order of the world that the shell should fall away and that I, the nub, the sleeping germ, should swell and expand.” This kind of high-mindedness can appear a little chastising to those of us who would have worried about drowning.

But if Robinson writes with a devoutness that can alienate those who don’t share it, she also avers that wisdom is “almost always another name for humility.” Not only in Christian Scripture but throughout the Hebrew Bible, she finds a “haunting solicitude for the vulnerable.” Like many conservative critics, with whom she would otherwise disagree, she is angry at America for its putative betrayal of its founding principles. She condemns “condescension toward biblical texts and narratives, toward the culture that produced them, toward God.” She decries the diminution of religion as “a primitive attempt to explain phenomena which are properly within the purview of science.” But her anger arises not on behalf of some fanciful notion that America was once a monolithic Christian nation. She is angry, instead, at our failure to sustain the capacious conception of community with which, as she shows in a brilliant essay entitled “Open Thy Hand Wide: Moses and the Origins of American Liberalism,” America began — a community founded not on the premise that human beings are motivated primarily by greed, but as an experiment in building a society on the principle of love. She persists in believing that this experiment has not been futile: “The great truth that is too often forgotten is that it is in the nature of people to do good to one another.”"



"“I think we all know,” she remarks near the beginning of the book, “that the earth might be reaching the end of its tolerance for our presumptions.” In that word “presumptions” there is great force, amplified by the plural possessive pronoun that precedes it and that underscores everyone’s “inevitable share in human fallibility.” Like every good preacher, Marilynne Robinson judges others while including herself — in theory, at least — in the judgment."
marilynnerobinson  2012  andrewdelbanco  christianity  lonesomeness  loneliness  solitude  isolation  presumptions  humanism  humility  grace  religion  belief 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Meta is Murder - Mills Baker's Internet Haus of Cards
"One such principle is well phrased by Marilynne Robinson in her essay “When I was a Child,” in her collection When I Was a Child I Read Books:
"It may be mere historical conditioning, but when I see a man or a woman alone, he or she looks mysterious to me, which is only to say that for a moment I see another human being clearly."

The idea that a human seen clearly is a mystery is anathema to a culture of judgment —such as ours— which rests on a simple premise: humans can be understood by means of simple schema that map their beliefs or actions to moral categories. Moreover, because there are usually relatively few of these categories, and few important issues of discernment —our range of political concerns being startlingly narrow, after all— humans can be understood and judged at high speed in large, generalized groups: Democrats, Republicans, women, men, people of color, whites, Muslims, Christians, the rich, the poor, Generation X, millennials, Baby Boomers, and so on.

It should but does not go without saying that none of those terms describes anything with sufficient precision to support the kinds of observations people flatter themselves making. Generalization is rarely sound. No serious analysis, no serious effort to understand, describe, or change anything can contain much generalization, as every aggregation of persons introduces error. One can hardly describe a person in full, let alone a family, a city, a class, a state, a race. Yet we persist in doing so, myself included."



"One of the very best things Nietzsche ever wrote:
"The will to a system is a lack of integrity."

But to systematize is our first reaction to life in a society of scale, and our first experiment as literate or educated or even just “grown-up” persons with powers of apprehension, cogitation, and rhetoric. What would a person be online if he lacked a system in which phenomena could be traced to the constellation of ideas which constituted his firmament? What is life but the daily diagnosis of this or that bit of news as “yet another example of” an overarching system of absolutely correct beliefs? To have a system is proof of one’s seriousness, it seems —our profiles so often little lists of what we “believe,” or what we “are”— and we coalesce around our systems of thought just as our parents did around their political parties, though we of course consider ourselves mere rationalists following the evidence. Not surprisingly, the evidence always leads to the conclusion that many people in the world are horrible, stupid, even evil; and we are smart, wise, and good. It should be amusing, but it is not.

I hate this because I am doing this right now. I detest generalization because when I scan Twitter I generalize about what I see: “people today,” or “our generation,” I think, even though the people of today are as all people always have been, even though they are all just like me. I resent their judgments because I feel reduced by them and feel reality is reduced, so I reduce them with my own judgments: shallow thinkers who lack, I mutter, the integrity not to systematize. And I put fingers to keys to note this system of analysis, lacking all integrity, mocking my very position.

I want to maintain my capacity to view each as a mystery, as a human in full, whose interiority I cannot know. I want not to be full of hatred, so I seek to confess that my hatred is self-hatred: shame at the state of my intellectual reactivity and decay. I worry deeply that our systematizing is inevitable because when we are online we are in public: that these fora mandate performance, and worse, the kind of performance that asserts its naturalness, like the grotesquely beautiful actor who says, "Oh, me? I just roll out of bed in the morning and wear whatever I find lying about" as he smiles a smile so practiced it could calibrate the atomic clock. Every online utterance is an angling for approval; we write in the style of speeches: exhorting an audience, haranguing enemies, lauding the choir. People “remind” no one in particular of the correct ways to think, the correct opinions to hold. When I see us speaking like op-ed columnists, I feel embarrassed: it is like watching a lunatic relative address passers-by using the “royal we,” and, I feel, it is pitifully imitative. Whom are we imitating? Those who live in public: politicians, celebrities, “personalities.”

There is no honesty without privacy, and privacy is not being forbidden so much as rendered irrelevant; privacy is an invented concept, after all, and like all inventions must contend with waves of successive technologies or be made obsolete. The basis of privacy is the idea that judgment should pertain only to public acts —acts involving other persons and society— and not the interior spaces of the self. Society has no right to judge one’s mind; society hasn’t even the right to inquire about one’s mind. The ballot is secret; one cannot be compelled to testify or even talk in our criminal justice system; there can be no penalty for being oneself, however odious we may find given selves or whole (imagined) classes of selves.

This very radical idea has an epistemological basis, not a purely moral one: the self is a mystery. Every self is a mystery. You cannot know what someone really is, what they are capable of, what transformations of belief or character they might undergo, in what their identity consists, what they’ve inherited or appropriated, what they’ll abandon or reconsider; you cannot say when a person is who she is, at what point the “real” person exists or when a person’s journey through selves has stopped. A person is not, we all know, his appearance; but do we all know that she is not her job? Or even her politics?

But totalizing rationalism is emphatic: either something is known or it is irrelevant. Thus: the mystery of the self is a myth; there is no mystery at all. A self is valid or invalid, useful or not, correct or incorrect, and if someone is sufficiently different from you, if their beliefs are sufficiently opposed to yours, their way of life alien enough, they are to be judged and detested. Everyone is a known quantity; simply look at their Twitter bio and despise.

But this is nonsense. In truth, the only intellectually defensible posture is one of humility: all beliefs are misconceptions; all knowledge is contingent, temporary, erroneous; and no self is knowable, not truly, not to another. We can perhaps sense this in ourselves —although I worry that many of us are too happy to brag about our conformity to this or that scheme or judgment, to use labels that honor us as though we’ve earned ourselves rather than chancing into them— but we forget that this is true of every single other, too. This forgetting is the first step of the so-called othering process: forget that we are bound together in irreducibility, forget that we ought to be humble in all things, and especially in our judgments of one another.

Robinson once more:
"Only lonesomeness allows one to experience this sort of radical singularity, one’s greatest dignity and privilege."

Lonesomeness is what we’re all fleeing at the greatest possible speed, what our media now concern themselves chiefly with eliminating alongside leisure. We thus forget our radical singularity, a personal tragedy, an erasure, a hollowing-out, and likewise the singularity of others, which is a tragedy more social and political in nature, and one which seems to me truly and literally horrifying. Because more than any shared “belief system” or political pose, it is the shared experience of radical singularity that unites us: the shared experience of inimitability and mortality. Anything which countermands our duty to recognize and honor the human in the other is a kind of evil, however just its original intention."
millsbaker  canon  self  reality  empathy  humility  howwethink  2014  generalizations  morality  nietzsche  integrity  marilynnerobinson  mystery  grace  privacy  categorization  pigeonholingsingularity  lonesomeness  loneliness  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  beliefs  belief  inimitability  humanism  judgement  familiarity  understanding 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Share This With All the Schools, Please | Momastery
"Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who doesn’t even know who to request?

Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot –  and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.

As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.

Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine."
groupdynamics  teaching  glennonmelton  howweteach  children  bullying  seatingcharts  2014  friendship  citizenship  socialemotional  loneliness  sociallife  socialemotionallearning 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Materialism: a system that eats us from the inside out | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Perhaps I'm projecting my prejudices. But an impressive body of psychological research seems to support these feelings. It suggests that materialism, a trait that can afflict both rich and poor, and which the researchers define as "a value system that is preoccupied with possessions and the social image they project", is both socially destructive and self-destructive. It smashes the happiness and peace of mind of those who succumb to it. It's associated with anxiety, depression and broken relationships.

There has long been a correlation observed between materialism, a lack of empathy and engagement with others, and unhappiness. But research conducted over the past few years seems to show causation. For example, a series of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion in July showed that as people become more materialistic, their wellbeing (good relationships, autonomy, sense of purpose and the rest) diminishes. As they become less materialistic, it rises."
consumerism  loneliness  materialism  wealth  capitalism  2013  via:anne  consumption  richkidsoninstagram  instagram  conspicuousconsumption  happiness  mentalhealth  psychology 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Why This Shepherd Loves Twitter - Herdy Shepherd - The Atlantic
"I'm not really an “early-adopter.” In fact, I'm the exact opposite. I'm a Luddite and a shepherd.

Our shepherding work in the English Lake District is all about continuity and being part of a living cultural tradition that stretches back into the depths of time. Our work is often little changed from the way things were done when the Vikings first settled these valleys. Even our dialect is peppered with Norse words.

I like old things, old ways of doing things, old stories, old places, and old people. I'm deeply conservative with a small 'c'. Ask any half decent economist and they'll tell you that most new ideas are a waste of time, most new ideas fail. Our way of life results in fairly conservative people suspicious of pointless chatter and new technologies for the sake of newness.

I am, in short, about as unlikely to get excited by something like Twitter as anyone alive.



I tweet anonymously because that's how I like it. My feed is not really about me: I’m just a narrator. It’s about the way my people farm an amazing landscape, the sheep, the land, the sheepdogs, and the characters in our valley. It’s not really in the spirit of my community to self promote... The individual is not that important here compared to the collective way of life. At the start of my tweeting I feared that my farming peers would disapprove of it, so its been amusing to discover that they worked out who I was very quickly, many follow me on Twitter, and funniest of all they ask me to post pictures of their sheep or to tell the wider world things ‘that need to be said.’

Now we have close to 13,000 followers. We’ve been featured on many of the world’s leading news channels, had features written about us in many magazines, hosted film crews from around the world, and featured on several radio programmes. Weird for something that everyone here thinks is normal, and ‘Just what we do.’

Three things work for me about Twitter:

1) The 140 character limit forces a brevity that suits my way of life;

2) Sharing my world through photos is even quicker, and my world is, I’ve learnt, exotic, strange and beautiful to other people who are disconnected from the land;

3) It works on my smartphone so I can tweet whilst I work outdoors, without needing to stop work to do so. If I spend more than 20 seconds taking photos or tweeting then I’m not doing my real job properly. My tweeting is, and has to be, quick, dirty and real.

The combination of these three elements means that my world has become shareable in real time with other people. I'm no Robert Capa but the combination of a very good smart phone camera, an amazing landscape and working life, and Twitter letting me post pics in 2 or 3 clicks means that my world can be in your world within 10 seconds. And some of you appear to like my world.



On one level, the answer might be ‘not much’. Tweeting doesn’t affect the basic economics of what we do (it's a lousy way to make money), or how cold the rain or snow is, so some folk will never be interested. That’s fine. But tweeting surprised me, because it does sometimes give you heart to know so many other people respect and appreciate what we do. Sometimes it just makes you feel a little less lonely. It gives you a kind of courage to carry on.

Tweeting is kind of an act of resistance and defiance, a way of shouting to the sometimes disinterested world that you’re stubborn, proud, and not giving in as everywhere else is turned into a clone of everywhere else.

* * *

I’m not alone, there are some amazing people tweeting about their lives on Twitter. They are fascinating unique lives that were often invisible before the ability to self-publish on social media. I’d like to think that Twitter has given people that had disappeared from view — obscured and crowded out by the loud noise of modernity — the chance to raise their voice, tell their stories, share their lives, and to say "Hey, we didn’t go away, we are still here, and you might just be interested because what we do is important to everyone."

Twitter gives you an amplifier for your voice (albeit not necessarily an audience if you are tedious, and let's face it: lots of people are). It cuts out the middleman (I don't need you to interpret and translate my life and my work for other people – sorry journalists but I’m a shepherd not an idiot). It lets you find your niche (and that niche can be massive). It lets you sell things (we sell sheep, wool and visits to our farm on Twitter). And it lets you connect with weirdly interesting other people (widening your sphere of influence through collaborations with artists or writers).



Most new ideas may fail, and most new ideas might be rubbish... but sometimes a new idea, a new technology, empowers you to defend the old against the new, and some old things are worth defending."
socialmedia  twitter  resistance  loneliness  farming  herdyshepherd  shepherds  sheep  2013  connection  whyweteet  expression  communication  technology  iphone  voice  defiance  stubbornness  pride  life  living  isolation  agriculture 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Louis C.K. Was Almost Right About Smartphones, Loneliness, Sadness, the Meaning of Life, and Everything | The Frailest Thing
"“I think these things are toxic, especially for kids …” That’s Louis C.K. talking about smartphones on Conan O’Brien last week. You’ve probably already seen the clip; it exploded online the next day. In the off-chance that you’ve not seen the clip yet, here it is. It’s just under five minutes, and it’s worth considering.

Let me tell you, briefly, what I appreciated about this bit, and then I’ll offer a modest refinement to Louis C.K.’s perspective.

Here are the two key insights I took away from the exchange. First, the whole thing about empathy. Cyberbullying is a big deal, at least it’s one of the realities of online experience that gets a lot of press. And before cyberbullying was a thing we worried about, we complained about the obnoxious and vile manner in which individuals spoke to one another on blogs and online forums. The anonymity of online discourse took a lot of the blame for all of this. A cryptic username, after all, allowed people to act badly with impunity.

I’m sure anonymity was a factor. That people are more likely too act badly when they can’t be caught is an insight at least as old as Plato’s ring of Gyges illustration. But, insofar as this kind of behavior has survived the personalization of the Internet experience, it would seem that the blame cannot be fixed entirely on anonymity.

This is where Louis C.K. offers us a slightly different, and I think better, angle that fills the picture out a bit. He frames the problem as a matter of embodiment. Obviously, people can be cruel to one another in each other’s presence. It happens all the time. The question is whether or not there is something about online experience that somehow heightens the propensity toward cruelty, meanness, rudeness, etc. Here’s how I would answer that question: It’s not that there is something intrinsic to the online experience that heightens the propensity to be cruel. It’s that the online experience unfolds in the absence of a considerable mitigating condition: embodied presence.

In Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, his unnamed protagonist, the whiskey priest, comes to the following realization: “When you visualized a man or woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity … that was a quality God’s image carried with it … when you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate.”

This is, I think, what Louis C.K. is getting at. We like to think of ourselves as rational actors who make our way through life by careful reasoning and logic. For better or for worse, this is almost certainly not the case. We constantly rely on all sorts of pre-cognitive or non-conscious or visceral operations. Most of these are grounded in our bodies and their perceptual equipment. When our bodies, and those magical mirror-neurons, are taken out of play, then the perceptual equipment that helps us act with a measure of empathy is also out of the picture, and then, it seems, cruelty proceeds with one less impediment.

The second insight I appreciated centered on the themes of loneliness and sadness. What Louis C.K. seems to be saying, in a way that still manages to be funny enough to bear, is that there’s something unavoidably sad about life and at the core of our being there is a profound emptiness. What’s more, it is when we are alone that we feel this sadness and recognize this emptiness. This is inextricably linked to what we might call the human condition, and the path to any kind of meaningful happiness is through this sadness and the loneliness that brings it on.



But the smartphone is not altogether irrelevant. It is part of a practice that is itself a manifestation of the problem. The problem is not the smartphone, it’s this thing we’re doing with the smartphone, which, in the past, we have also done with countless other things."
louisck  michaelsacasas  via:tealtan  2013  culture  digital  internet  behavior  empathy  commenting  alanjacobs  anonymity  blaisepascal  grahamgreene  cyberbullying  loneliness  sadness  humancondition  humans  human  happiness  web  online  meanness  rudeness  cruelty  smartphones  tolstoy  lmsacasas 
november 2013 by robertogreco
How Not to Be Alone - NYTimes.com
"Everyone wants his parent’s, or friend’s, or partner’s undivided attention — even if many of us, especially children, are getting used to far less. Simone Weil wrote, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” By this definition, our relationships to the world, and to one another, and to ourselves, are becoming increasingly miserly."



"We often use technology to save time, but increasingly, it either takes the saved time along with it, or makes the saved time less present, intimate and rich. I worry that the closer the world gets to our fingertips, the further it gets from our hearts. It’s not an either/or — being “anti-technology” is perhaps the only thing more foolish than being unquestioningly “pro-technology” — but a question of balance that our lives hang upon.

Most of the time, most people are not crying in public, but everyone is always in need of something that another person can give, be it undivided attention, a kind word or deep empathy. There is no better use of a life than to be attentive to such needs. There are as many ways to do this as there are kinds of loneliness, but all of them require attentiveness, all of them require the hard work of emotional computation and corporeal compassion. All of them require the human processing of the only animal who risks “getting it wrong” and whose dreams provide shelters and vaccines and words to crying strangers.

We live in a world made up more of story than stuff. We are creatures of memory more than reminders, of love more than likes. Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be messy, and painful, and almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die."
simoneweil  attention  technology  loneliness  2013  jonathansafranfoer  empathy  messiness  life  living  attentiveness  compassion  human  humans  relationships  cv 
june 2013 by robertogreco
the lonely city - Olivia Laing
"I'm now starting work on my third book, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. It will be published by Canongate in the UK and Picador in the US.

You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of strangers. And while The Lonely City will be a roving cultural history of urban loneliness, it will be centred on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that tiny, teeming island of gneiss and concrete and glass.

Like my previous two books, this will be a hybrid work of non-fiction, bringing together elements of cultural history, biography, travelogue and memoir. It’s a story about what it feels like to be lonely in a city, and about the complex connections that exist between loneliness, sexuality and art.

Among the residents of the lonely city, I'll be looking at Hopper and Hitchcock, Andy Warhol and Henry Darger, at David Wojnarowicz, Michael Jackson and Klaus Nomi. I'll be thinking about communication and sexuality, about apocalyptic cities, Aids and the art of the machine age.

The Lonely City is not just a map, but a celebration of the state of loneliness. It’s a voyage out to a strange and sometimes lovely island, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but visited by many – millions, say – of souls."
via:kio  books  loneliness  cities  urban  urbanism  strangers  olivialaing  experience  human  humans  michaeljackson  klausnomi  davidwojnarowicz  henrydarger  andywarhol  alfredhitchcock  edwardhopper  alone 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Poetry No. 91, Jack Gilbert
"He failed out of high school and worked as an exterminator and door-to-door salesman before being admitted, thanks to a clerical error, to the University of Pittsburgh. There he met the poet Gerald Stern, his exact contemporary. Gilbert started writing poetry, he says, because Stern did."



'INTERVIEWER: Do you think it’s important for American writers to live abroad?

GILBERT: At least at some point—so you have something to compare to what you think is normal, and you encounter things you aren’t used to. One of the great dangers is familiarity."



"INTERVIEWER: Did being removed from the literary community benefit you?

GILBERT: Sure.

INTERVIEWER: What did you like most about it?

GILBERT: Paying attention to being alive. This is hard—when I try to explain, it sounds false. But I don’t know any other way to say it. I’m so grateful. There’s nothing I’ve wanted that I haven’t had. Michiko dying, I regret terribly, and losing Linda’s love, I regret equally. And not doing some of the things I wanted to do. But I still feel grateful. It’s almost unfair to have been as happy as I’ve been. I didn’t earn it; I had a lot of luck. But I was also very, very stubborn. I was determined to get what I wanted as a life.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think that your idea of happiness differs from most people’s idea of happiness?

GILBERT: Sure. I’m vain enough to think that I’ve made a successful life. I’ve had everything I’ve ever wanted. You can’t beat that."



"INTERVIEWER: Did school influence you as a young writer?

GILBERT: No, I failed high school; I got into college by mistake. I failed freshman English eight times. I was interested in learning, but I wanted to understand too, which meant I was fighting with the teachers all the time. Everybody accepted the fact that I was smart but I wouldn’t obey. I didn’t believe what they said unless they could prove it.

INTERVIEWER: Was your defiance—your resistance—ultimately an advantage?

GILBERT: Yes and no. It takes much longer if you have to find it all and do it all for yourself. My mind was not available for the impress of teachers or other people’s styles. The other arts were important to me. At one time I was working in photography with Ansel Adams. He offered to help me with my photographs if I would help him write his books, which was fine until we ran short of money and the woman I was with finally said she was tired of cooking pancakes.

INTERVIEWER: How did you get involved with Ansel Adams?

GILBERT: I was teaching a class and some of his students got to know me. I wish I’d been able to continue working with him, but it was either him or the woman. I chose the woman. After that I went to Italy and everything went into my falling in love for the first time. I did some painting there and won a fourth prize. I wish I had continued with painting and photography—novels too. But I was excited.

INTERVIEWER: What was Ansel Adams like?

GILBERT: Very German.

INTERVIEWER: Have you ever looked to other writers for inspiration?

GILBERT: I liked many writers but never found a teacher."



"INTERVIEWER: Do you think this has anything to do with the fact that so many poets come out of M.F.A. programs and go right on to teach?

GILBERT: If I answer that I’ll get into a rant, but I’ll tell you—I think poetry was killed by money. When I started out, no poet in America could make a living in poetry except Ogden Nash. And he did it with light verse."



INTERVIEWER: You taught in universities very rarely, only when you had to—just enough so that you could travel and write. Do you think writing poetry can be taught?

GILBERT: I can teach people how to write poetry, but I can’t teach people how to have poetry, which is more than just technique. You have to feel it—to experience it, whether in a daze or brightly. Often you don’t know what you have. I once worked on a poem for twelve years before I found it."



"INTERVIEWER: What, other than yourself, is the subject of your poems?

GILBERT: Those I love. Being. Living my life without being diverted into things that people so often get diverted into. Being alive is so extraordinary I don’t know why people limit it to riches, pride, security—all of those things life is built on. People miss so much because they want money and comfort and pride, a house and a job to pay for the house. And they have to get a car. You can’t see anything from a car. It’s moving too fast. People take vacations. That’s their reward—the vacation. Why not the life? Vacations are second-rate. People deprive themselves of so much of their lives—until it’s too late. Though I understand that often you don’t have a choice."



"INTERVIEWER: It sounds like even in your San Francisco days you sustained a rather remote life away from others. Is solitude important for you?

GILBERT: I don’t know how to answer that because I’ve always lived a life with a lot of quiet in it—either alone or with someone I’m in love with."



"INTERVIEWER: Is being childless good for a poet?

GILBERT: I could never have lived my life the way I have if I had children. There used to be a saying that every baby is a failed novel. I couldn’t have roamed or taken so many chances or lived a life of deprivation. I couldn’t have wasted great chunks of my life. But that would be a mistake for other people. Fine people. Smart people."



"INTERVIEWER: Do you keep to a work schedule?

GILBERT: No, I have an approximate rhythm, but I don’t like the idea of anything creative being mechanical. That’ll kill you. On the other hand, if I was not satisfied with how much I’d written in a year, then I would set out to write a hundred poems in a hundred days. I force myself to write poems even though I don’t approve of it because it does keep something alive. So I guess I have a little bit of a pattern that I live by. For instance, the other day I woke up at one in the morning and worked until four in the afternoon. I do that a lot. I can do that because I don’t have to accommodate anybody but me.

INTERVIEWER: So discipline is important to you?

GILBERT: Yes, because I’m lazy. If you have it in you, you want to create, but I won’t force myself—because it’s dangerous. People who are organized are in danger of making a process out of it and doing it by the numbers."



"INTERVIEWER: What’s your relationship with the contemporary literary community now?

GILBERT: I don’t have one.

INTERVIEWER: Does that bother you?

GILBERT: No. Why? Why would it bother me? Those people are in business. They’re hardworking.

INTERVIEWER: Don’t you work hard?

GILBERT: Not in the same meaning of the word hard. I put in a lot of effort because it matters to me. Many of these people who teach would do anything not to teach. I don’t have any obligations. I don’t have a mortgage. These people are working hard at a great price.

INTERVIEWER: I’m struck by how rarely I see your poems in anthologies and how 
often I see the same poems by other poets over and over again. Do you think there’s a disadvantage to spending most of your life abroad or outside of literary circles?

GILBERT: It’s fatal, which is all right with me.

INTERVIEWER: Do you ever feel any professional antagonism toward other writers?

GILBERT: Them toward me or me toward them?

INTERVIEWER: You toward them.

GILBERT: No.

INTERVIEWER: Do you feel it from them toward you?

GILBERT: Sure. I contradict a lot of what they’re doing. I don’t go to the meetings and dinners. I don’t hang out."



"INTERVIEWER: Have you ever followed a particular religion?

GILBERT: Presbyterianism. Till I was about seven, I guess. My mother never went to church, but she was a believer. She loved God and believed God would be good to her. She sang when she cleaned the house on Sunday mornings.

INTERVIEWER: Do you consider yourself religious now?

GILBERT: I’d like to be. I think I’m very religious by temperament. I think it would be a great comfort to believe. But you don’t have a choice. Either you believe or you don’t. It’s not a practical matter. Religion is a beautiful idea, but I don’t have a choice.

INTERVIEWER: Where does your preoccupation with mythology and the gods come from?

GILBERT: Careless reading. I never read mythology or any fiction as if I were in a class. Myths give shape to what I feel about the world and my instinct about what I’m looking at. They inform what I think about the past."



"INTERVIEWER: Have you ever thought of writing your memoirs?

GILBERT: Yes. Every once in a while someone asks to do it for me. Sometimes I’m interested because I’ve forgotten so much of the past and I like the idea of walking through my life. What’s more, it’s a profound experience to be with people from my past again. To be with my memories. Things that I thought I’d forgotten all of a sudden become visible, become present.

INTERVIEWER: Like a film?

GILBERT: Different than that. It’s more like a feeling rising from the tops of my knees. Then I start remembering. It’s complicated; a child seldom remembers anything before he’s four years old. I just wonder how much I know, how much I’ve been through, that I no longer remember."



"INTERVIEWER: Does the United States—Northampton—feel like home to you now?

GILBERT: No, I don’t have a home. Not anymore. When Linda’s not teaching anymore we’ll probably leave this lovely Massachusetts world for another fine world. To be happy. Very happy."
jackgilbert  jackspicer  allenginsberg  anseladams  poems  poetry  writing  howwewrite  teaching  learning  dropouts  education  life  living  happiness  loneliness  solitude  quiet  love  children  parenting  community  purpose  experience  travel  livingabroad  expatriates  business  mfa  mfas  obligations  work  labor  howwework  relationships  inspiration  geraldstern  familiarity  difference  routine  process  success  photography  ogdennash  aging  death  organization  laziness  schedules  interviews  parisreview  nomads  nomadism  belonging  place  memory  memories  forgetting  religion  belief  myths  reading  howweread  mythology  sarahfay  idleness 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Departures, Cont. - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic
"I felt myself as horrifyingly singular there. A language is more than grammar and words, is the movement of The People, their sense of appropriate laughter, their very conception of space. In Paris the public space was a backyard for The People and The People's language was not mine. Even if I learned the grammar and vocab so part of it must be off-limits to me. it could never really be "mine." I had a native language of my own. I felt like a distant friend crashing a family reunion. Except the family was this entire sector of the city. I could feel their nameless, invisible bonds all around me, tripping my every step."



"I got my ticket, boarded the train. and descended further into the European continent.

The loneliness was intense. I knew at a least few people in Paris. But this train winding through high and gorgeous country, leaving behind small Hallmark towns, was truly taking me into foreign depths. For most of the ride there were English translations. But when I transferred at Lausanne, the pretensions dropped away and there was only French. I have spent almost as much time away from my family in the past year as I've spent with them. Is this how it's supposed to be? Is learning forever winding through these strange and foreign places? Is study the opposite of home?

In Vevey, I was met at the station by a mother and her daughter. They gave me the layout of the town. They showed me how to catch the train to school. They told me how to lock up their house. They poured me red wine, served bread and cheese. This was immersion. I was given a room. I called my wife then went to bed. That night everyone in my dreams spoke French.  I could not understand a word they said."
paris  switzerland  language  learning  ta-nehisicoates  2013  dreams  dreaming  french  france  languagelearning  languageacquisition  solitude  cultureclash  loneliness  belonging  safety  risk 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Sol LeWitt’s Advice to Eva Hesse: Don’t Worry About Cool, Make Your Own Uncool | gwarlingo
"The unromantic truth is that being an artist in any field is hard work. Because artists need a lot of time alone in order to create, they wrestle with loneliness and insecurity. They face continual self-doubt, as well as the criticism of others. Many artists work with no financial safety net or healthcare. Those who do have some financial stability often work day jobs that drain precious time and energy from their creative work."

"Making space and time to create without interruption is difficult but essential. Our competitive culture rarely rewards stillness and imagination. From childhood, we are programmed to stop day dreaming and told to be constructive and busy instead."

"Artist Sol LeWitt understood fear and the importance of doing better than anyone.

In 1960 he met Eva Hesse, and the two artists formed a decade-long friendship. As Stephanie Buhmann details, “despite superficial disparities (LeWitt’s oeuvre is usually thought of as idea-driven while Hesse’s works reflect the opposite: intimacy, personal gesture, and physical sensuality),” the two artists shared a lot in common. “While Hesse drew inspiration from Minimalist aesthetics and the conceptual clarity that characterized LeWitt’s work, LeWitt respected Hesse’s devotion to the trace of the human hand in art.”"

The letter:
Dear Eva,

It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!

From your description, and from what I know of your previous work and you [sic] ability; the work you are doing sounds very good “Drawing-clean-clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful – real nonsense. Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!

I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working – then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to DO!

It seems I do understand your attitude somewhat, anyway, because I go through a similar process every so often. I have an “Agonizing Reappraisal” of my work and change everything as much as possible = and hate everything I’ve done, and try to do something entirely different and better. Maybe that kind of process is necessary to me, pushing me on and on. The feeling that I can do better than that shit I just did. Maybe you need your agony to accomplish what you do. And maybe it goads you on to do better. But it is very painful I know. It would be better if you had the confidence just to do the stuff and not even think about it. Can’t you leave the “world” and “ART” alone and also quit fondling your ego. I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before your work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that.

You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself. Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can’t understand why you are so bothered by it. But you can see the next ones and I can’t. You also must believe in your ability. I think you do. So try the most outrageous things you can – shock yourself. You have at your power the ability to do anything.

I would like to see your work and will have to be content to wait until Aug or Sept. I have seen photos of some of Tom’s new things at Lucy’s. They are impressive – especially the ones with the more rigorous form: the simpler ones. I guess he’ll send some more later on. Let me know how the shows are going and that kind of stuff.

My work had changed since you left and it is much better. I will be having a show May 4 -9 at the Daniels Gallery 17 E 64th St (where Emmerich was), I wish you could be there.

Much love to you both.

Sol
sollewitt  evahasse  chuckclose  gwarlingo  michellealdredge  2011  art  artists  glvo  work  doing  making  makersschedule  childhood  creativity  time  focus  iraglass  stephaniebuhmann  insecutiry  loneliness  self-doubt  howwework  criticism  miltonglaser  canon  1965  inspiration  letters  correspondence  motivation  psychology 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Big Red & Shiny: Did someone say 'Adhocracy'? An interview with Ethel Baraona Pohl
"…how are you working with Joseph Grima…around the idea of 'adhocracy', something that "captures opportunities, self-organizes and develops new and unexpected methods of production. ""

"…the concept of adhocracy is almost inherent in design. Work tools, new technologies and forms of communication, and strategies that facilitate self-organization—like DIY projects—are readily developable, urban actions that have a real impact on our environment."

"…there was some confusion on the part of the participants on the topic 'imperfection'—the overall theme of the Biennial—and the concept of adhocracy was brought up as a response to the proposals."

"…Peter Gadanho…recently said…"curating is the new criticism""

"…the most beautiful aspect of our times (and this is also related to the adhocracy), is that there is room and respect for all."

"multi-connected society can be very saturating for some people, but it also allows them, from their loneliness and isolation, to find what they need…"
ebooks  print  kindle  bottomup  bottom-up  hierarchy  tumblr  paufaus  laciudadjubilada  wikitankers  mascontext  quaderns  postopolisdf  postopolis  openconversation  conversation  stories  dpr-barcelona  anamaríaleón  klaus  tiagomotasaravia  nereacalvillo  claranubiola  amazon  booki  github  publishing  epub  domus  léopoldlambert  aurasma  communication  online  internet  digital  books  crowdfunding  douglascoupland  linkedin  pinterest  vimeo  twitter  youtube  facebook  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  socialmedia  society  networkedsociety  networks  web  loneliness  cv  isolation  shumonbasar  markusmiessen  opencalls  collaboration  curating  curation  diy  participation  petergadanho  josephgrima  ethelbaraona  2012  istanbulbiennial  istanbul  adhocracy  adhoc  epubs 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Charlie Kaufman: Screenwriters Lecture | BAFTA Guru
"we try to be experts because we’re scared; we don’t want to feel foolish or worthless; we want power because power is a great disguise."

"Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to."

"This is from E. E. Cummings: ‘To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.’ The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind."

[Giving up, too much to quote.]
danger  risktaking  risk  failure  simplification  fear  fearmongering  materialism  consumerism  culture  marketing  humannature  character  bullying  cv  meaningmaking  meaning  filmmaking  creating  creativity  dreaming  dreams  judgement  assessment  interpretation  religion  fanaticism  johngarvey  deschooling  unschooling  unlearning  relearning  perpetualchange  change  flux  insight  manifestos  art  truth  haroldpinter  paradox  uncertainty  certainty  wonder  bullies  intentions  salesmanship  corporatism  corporations  politics  humans  communication  procrastination  timeusage  wisdom  philosophy  ignorance  knowing  learning  life  time  adamresnick  human  transparency  vulnerability  honesty  loneliness  emptiness  capitalism  relationships  manipulation  distraction  kindness  howwework  howwethink  knowledge  specialists  attention  media  purpose  bafta  film  storytelling  writing  screenwriting  charliekaufman  self  eecummings  2011  canon 
august 2012 by robertogreco
2001: An Interview with Kathleen Dean Moore | Derrick Jensen
[via: http://randallszott.org/2012/07/05/philosophy-a-living-practice-grace-place-and-the-natural-world-kathleen-dean-moore-the-ecology-of-love/ ]

[broken link, now here: https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/303/a-weakened-world-cannot-forgive-us

and here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FDgoxH2-YWV1mqQH5mjNF3tvV_jLzgrcXmBTnb68SbM/edit (and a copy in my Google Drive)]

“Philosophers fretted that the world would disappear if they turned their backs, but when I closed their finely argued books and switched off the light, it was their worries that disappeared, not the world.”

"Not just our bodies, but our minds – our ideas, our emotions, our characters, our identities – are shaped, in part, by places. Alienation from the land is an alienation from the self, which causes sadness. And the opposite is true, too: there’s a goofy joy to finding ourselves in places that have meaning for us."

"So, to a certain extent, it’s your memories that make us who we are. For example, I am the person who remembers seeing a flock of white pelicans over Thompson Lake and the apple tree in the backyard of my house. And every time I notice something, every time something strikes me as important enough to store away in my memory, I add another piece to who I am. These memories and sense impressions of the landscape are the very substance of my self. In this way, I am – at the core of my being – made of the earth."

"Memories do live in places, and if you go there, you can find them. Sometimes, if your memory is as unreliable as mine, you can find them only if you go there."

"Environmental destruction is a kind of self-destruction. If we go around systematically destroying the places that hold meaning for us, that hold our memories, then we become fragmented and don’t have a sense of who we are."

"One of my colleagues says that, if there is eternal life, it isn’t found in the length of one’s life, but in its depth. That makes sense to me. I have no doubt that each life has a definite limit, an endpoint, but I don’t think there is any limit to the potential depth of each moment, and I try to live in a way that reaches into those depths. I want to live thickly, in layers of ideas and emotions and sensory experience. I recommend a way of life that is rich with noticing, caring, remembering, embracing, and rejoicing – in the smell of a child’s hair or the color of storm light."

"We lead lives of relentless separation – comings and goings, airport embraces, loneliness, locked doors, notes left by the phone. And the deepest of all those divides is the one that separates us from the places we inhabit. Everywhere I go, I encounter people who have come from someplace else and left behind their knowledge of that land. Universities, which should study connections, specialize in distinctions instead. Biologists in their laboratories forget that they are natural philosophers. Philosophers themselves pluck ideas out of contexts, like worms out of holes, and hold them dangling and drying in the bright light. We lock ourselves in our houses and seal the windows and watch nature shows on tv. We don’t go out at night unless we have mace, or in the rain without a Gore-Tex jacket. No wonder we forget that we are part of the natural world, members of a natural community. If we are reminded at all, it’s only by a sense of dislocation and a sadness we can’t easily explain."

"You have to be careful how you generalize about Western philosophy, because there are so many different branches of it, and what’s true of one branch might not be true of another.

That said, I think the problem is summed up by Socrates’ statement that philosophy seeks “the true nature of everything as a whole, never sinking to what lies close at hand.” A philosopher, Socrates said, may not even know “what his next-door neighbor is doing, hardly knows, indeed, whether the creature is a man at all; he spends all his pains on the question [of] what man is.”

The implication of his statement is that, if philosophy is concerned with big, abstract ideas, then it must be di-vorced from the details of our lives. I believe that is a huge mistake. If philosophy is about big ideas, then it must be about how we live our lives. If I find out what a human being is, to borrow Socrates’ example, then I will know what makes one human life worth living."

"Jensen: I would like a philosophy that teaches me how to live: How can I be a better person? How can I live my life more fruitfully, more happily, more relationally?

Moore: These are traditionally the most significant philosophical questions, but they’ve been washed off the surface of philosophy by the twentieth century.

It’s a failure of courage, I think. Real-life issues are messy and ambiguous and contradictory and tough. But their complexity should be a reason to engage them, not a reason to turn away. The word clarity has two meanings: one ancient, the other modern. In Latin, clarus meant “clear sounding, ringing out,” so in the ancient world, clear came to mean “lustrous, splendid, radiant.” The moon has this kind of clarity when it’s full. But today that usage is obsolete. Now clear has a negatively phrased definition: “without the dimness or blurring that can obscure vision, without the confusion or doubt that can cloud thought.” For probably twenty years, I thought that this modern kind of clarity was all there was; that what I should be looking for as a philosopher was sharp-edged, single-bladed truth; that anything I couldn’t understand precisely wasn’t worth thinking about. Now I’m beginning to understand that the world is much more interesting than this."

"I’m always surprised when a nature writer describes going off alone to commune with nature. That way of relating to nature is all about isolation, and I don’t have much patience with it. To me, that’s not what being in nature is about at all.

In my life, the natural world has always been a way of connecting with people – my children, my husband, my friends. The richness of my experience in the natural world translates immediately into richer relationships with people.

I think one of the most romantic and loving things you can say to another person is “Look.” There is a kind of love in which two people look at each other, but I don’t think it’s as interesting as the love between two people standing side by side and looking at something else that moves them both.

Let’s think about this in terms of what we were saying about memory and identity: If we are our memories, then to the extent that two people share memories, they become one person. The whole notion of the joining of souls that’s supposed to happen in marriage may come down to those times when we say, “Look,” to our partner, so the two of us can capture a memory to hold in common."
2001  well-being  fluidity  consistency  truth  landscape  connectivism  ecology  ecologyoflove  surroundings  education  learning  community  socialemotional  lcproject  relationships  nature  cv  philosophy  slow  local  highereducation  highered  academia  isolationism  loneliness  isolation  kathleendeanmoore  place  leisurearts  leisure  meaning  geography  memory  memories  space  sharing  environment  environmentalism  looking  seeing  noticing  sharedexperience  beauty  communing  identity  humans  humanism  canon  reconciliation  forgiveness  life  rivers  communities  dams  artleisure  socialemotionallearning  derrickjensen 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Agnes Martin Interview (20:00 version, 1997) on Vimeo
"An interview done by Chuck Smith & Sono Kuwayama with painter Agnes Martin at her studio in Taos in Nov. 1997."

[Shorter version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-JfYjmo5OA ]

[Via: https://twitter.com/CaseyG/status/223499478819287041 ]

Some highlights:

“I paint with my back to the world.”

"I think education is wrong. Education wants us to think that we are capable and we can do anything, teaches us to be ambitious, but that's the way to failure. To think to win and be ambitious instead of thinking what you're doing. The people that think they're ambitious and capable, they don't know they're only capable of repeating something that's already been done."

"The worst thing you can think about when you're working at anything is yourself."

"You can't think about beating the rest of them when you are painting. You have to keep a picture in your mind."
glvo  brucenauman  self  clarity  agnesmartin  inspiration  howwecreate  howwework  vacanmind  ideas  sonokuwayama  chucksmith  via:caseygollan  interviews  1997  loneliness  alone  life  painting  art  evolution  education  ambition  failure 
july 2012 by robertogreco
How Silence Works: Emailed Conversations With Four Trappist Monks | The Awl
[via Caren]
Sometimes I think silence is one way of not letting our differences define who we are for one another.

[T]he habit of silence keeps me from seeking additional noise.


[via Migurski]

"If by “complexity” you mean the extraordinary diversification of forms of experience and the myriad ways they meet and interact in the course of living life, all of this is inexpressibly beautiful and it would be hard to see how it could be a challenge to anyone's faith. Probably, by “complexity” you mean rather the perplexing, self-defeating… binds we get ourselves into individually and collectively because of the influence of sin. It is sin that makes the world complicated, and sin comes from us. But if sin comes from in us, then a monk, living in silence and solitude, is sitting in the eye of the storm.

My own impression is that life in the world provides many diversions which guard a person from really engaging the battle with sin, and can even render him quite insensible of its existence. Such a person is not so much engaging the complexity of the world as becoming numb to it. In the cloister, on the other hand, you engage the Adversary face to face. It is hard for me to imagine where in the world a person more directly engages “the world in all its complexity” than battling with the very source of evil in one's own heart in the solitude and silence of the cloister.

As regards “grappling” with the world, in its present state, I will frankly confide to you two very personal vulnerabilities which would make living outside the cloister very difficult for me. First is my impression of the general formlessness of life in America today. So many people today live without a coherent language, symbol system, tradition, or rituals to give concrete expression to what they believe and so speak of seeking “happiness,” “contentment, “light,” “fulfillment”… The abstract formlessness of how Americans talk about matters of ultimate concern wearies me deeply.

The other is the loneliness that characterizes life in America today. Mother Theresa, visiting the U.S. for the first time in the 70s, said she had never seen poverty like what she saw here and she meant the loneliness of Americans. The breakdown and relinquishment of shared value systems and traditions, has left individuals adrift in a private search for God and meaning. This is a terribly lonely way to live. In America, loneliness can become like the blueness of the sky. After a while, people don't think about it anymore."
thinking  playlist  via:litherland  silence  noise  jeremymesiano-crookston  monks  trappists  trappistmonks  buddhism  complexity  simplicity  slow  attention  loneliness  sharedvalues  meaning  meaningmaking  happiness  contentment  fulfillment  solitude  mothertheresa  us  culture  society 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Aporia. Writing and lesser things by Mills Baker. Friendship.
"1. Before real friendship comes lucid self-awareness…

2. But we do not deserve the consolations of friendship if they are based on misrepresented or misunderstood expressions of selfhood…[or] secret needs…

3. Know yourself or know none, know nothing, disappear…high school as I remember it was mostly the exchange of blinded and unarticulated selves for approximations of friendship…

4. …it is necessary to be mercilessly ‘objective,’…with oneself: do not admit into evidence subjectively sympathetic excuses, do not contextualize one’s own actions with justificatory narratives…be endlessly ‘subjective,’ again so to speak, with others: imagine anything and everything one can to excuse them, explain them, understand and love them…

5. When I have been lonely, I have thought of myself subjectively and others objectively. This is the only real means to the self-pity which defines loneliness: to think of oneself as the world…

6. Friendship is something one exercises, like compassion; it is a solitary choice, requiring the approval or affection of no one at all. Every desire which seeks a psychological state as its result should be suspected of superficiality at least, but in the case of those who seek friendship as an antidote to loneliness, it is not merely a vice but a countermanding of what’s sought. One is not a friend, of course, when one’s friends are means to an end: means to escape solitude, tools rather than accomplices.

(To consider: “Friendship should be a gratuitous joy like those afforded by art or life.” What sort of joys are those? What does it mean that they’re gratuitous?)."
listening  understanding  grace  simoneweil  2012  wisdom  happiness  relationships  selflessness  love  highschool  loneliness  friendship  millsbaker 
june 2012 by robertogreco
My Parents Were Home Schooling Anarchists - NYTimes.com
"What my parents did embrace were countercultural values. Or, as my father likes to say, quoting Gerard Manley Hopkins, “all things counter, original, spare, strange.” (My dad’s father once grew corn in his backyard for the sole purpose of taking weekend naps among the stalks.) My mom maintains that she didn’t consider herself “an activist or anything like that. I was just part of a current that was happening, fertile ground for all the new ways of thinking.”

At the time, home schooling was almost virgin territory. My dad was attracted to home schooling because he felt “stifled” during his 16 years of formal education. “I was a poor student,” he says. “School was something I endured because I had no choice.” Not wanting his offspring to suffer the same fate, he informed my mom soon after she became pregnant with Mary that none of his children were ever going to school. “We were educational anarchists,” he says."

[via: http://hourschool.tumblr.com/post/12568871390/its-not-the-method ]
unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  travel  yearoff  glvo  cv  parenting  anarchism  radicals  1970s  children  sumerhill  ivanillich  johnholt  lcproject  counterculture  frugality  growingwithoutschooling  freedom  laissezfaire  homeschool  history  makedo  loneliness  displacement  progressive  margaretheidenry 
november 2011 by robertogreco
‪How To Be Alone‬‏ - YouTube
"A video by fiilmaker, Andrea Dorfman, and poet/singer/songwriter, Tanya Davis.

Davis wrote the beautiful poem and performed in the video which Dorfman directed, shot, animated by hand and edited. The video was shot in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was produced by Bravo!FACT http://www.bravofact.com/

For more information on Tanya, go to http://www.tanyadavis.ca or visit her facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Tanya-Davis/8063194647?ref=sgm You can purchase her first two CDs Make A List and Gorgeous Morning on iTunes and look out for her third CD which will be released in the fall!

For more information on Andrea Dorfman, visit her facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrea-Dorfman-Films/110789945626226?ref=mf or http://www.andreadorfman.com "
alone  solitude  andeadorfman  tanyadavid  howto  art  psychology  film  animation  poetry  society  stillness  loneliness  silence  acceptance  well-being  peace 
july 2011 by robertogreco
this is the frontier.
"The Lone Ranger is dead.

We are a generation that no longer rides alone into the sunset. We are an era of collaborators, a union of communities. We are redefining what it is to be.

But the frontier is still here, it has always been here; it is the only constant. It is we who are changing, redefining, re-articulating.

So I ask you: What is the frontier?

THIS IS A COLLABORATION.

You can do one or both of the following:

OPTION ONE: Submit a word or phrase which answers the above question. When you participate, you will see other efforts of this kind. If you leave an address, I will send you a piece of our collaboration.

OPTION TWO: Click HERE and see what others have submitted. You can choose a word or phrase that someone else has submitted, maybe something that you resonate with, maybe not, and make something with it. There are examples. The idea is to redefine, articulate, invent an discover."

[Videos hosted here: http://vimeo.com/10357234 ]

[The two options: at http://www.thisisthefrontier.org/about/ AND http://www.thisisthefrontier.org/frontier/ ] [Via: http://flaneursociety.tumblr.com/post/5155960095/ ]
collaboration  frontier  exploration  genrations  classideas  video  photography  interactive  community  change  society  loneliness  togetherness 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: Palm-of-the-Hand Stories (9780865474123): Yasunari Kawabata, Lane Dunlop, J. Martin Holman: Books
"Nobel laureate Kawabata is best known in the West for such novels as Snow Country and Thousand Cranes, yet his short stories, written over 50 years, seem to contain his essence as a writer. Here sensitively translated are 70 of them, most written in Kawabata's youth and usually no more than a page or two in length, though the last one, "Gleanings from Snow Country," is somewhat longer and was written just before Kawabata's suicide in 1972; it is a miniaturization of the highly praised novel of the same name. The tales are variously realistic, allegorical and fantastic; and, as in the novels, the principal themes are love, loneliness, social change, man's relation with nature and death. Each story exhibits some sharp and often subtle perception of life (in Kawabata's world, stillness can "resound" and men listening to a woman's laugh can experience "a strange kind of aural jealousy"); and each, like a haiku or classic Zen painting, suggests far more than it states."
books  via:maryannreilly  literature  shortstories  japan  japanese  yasunarikawabata  toread  haiku  loneliness  death  socialchange  nature  love 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Calvin and Hobbes and the Trouble with Nostalgia | Splitsider
"In an explanation of Hobbes’s dual reality (a living, breathing, wiseass wild tiger to Calvin, and a stuffed animal to everyone else), Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson explains “I show two versions of reality, and each makes complete sense to the participant who sees it. I think that’s how life works.” We see the world through Calvin’s eyes. This perspective distinguishes the strip from Peanuts, in which kids talk like adults, or Cathy or Doonesbury, in which adults talk like adults. Watterson constantly fought with Universal Press Syndicate and newspapers to get more space, and to break the rigid rules of comic strip formats in order to formally explore Calvin’s imagination. As a result, no daily comic in wide circulation during the Nineties provided such regular and creative insights into a child’s interior life. In Calvin and Hobbes, Watterson takes us inside Calvin’s dreams, his fears, and the stories that he makes up for himself."
calvinandhobbes  nostalgia  comics  books  edg  srg  classideas  perception  billwatterson  reality  children  childhood  multiplicity  parenting  intelligence  imagination  memory  1990s  patience  ondemand  2011  sadness  loneliness  alienation  school  experience  structure  confusion  ajaronstein 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Happiness, Freedom, and Autonomy - Will Wilkinson - Prefrontal Nudity - Forbes
"When offered the chance to get out, to choose our own communities, to choose our own friends, to relate to our families on our own terms, to get out from under inherited obligations of status and obedience, many of us choose to get out. But this is not to eschew commitment. This is not to give up on happiness. Few of us can live happily wholly unencumbered by commitment. To know freedom from the life of the tribe is to demand more from our lovers and our friends because we have chosen them; they are really ours. The flip-side is that we owe more, too. It’s true that commitments of choice are more tenuous than commitments of fate… Some of us are very lucky and would freely affirm, again and again, the bonds we fell into as children, or at birth. But some of us, the weirdos especially, are less lucky and fall mostly into loneliness when young…" [via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/4055442956/when-offered-the-chance-to-get-out-to-choose-our ]
happiness  economics  psychology  policy  willwilkinson  autonomy  freedom  relationships  community  communities  toshare  davidbrooks  cv  control  loneliness  life  well-being  thesocialanimal  self-employment  entrepreneurship  satisfaction  hierarchy  work  self-directedlearning  self-directed 
march 2011 by robertogreco
The power of lonely - The Boston Globe
"But an emerging body of research is suggesting that spending time alone, if done right, can be good for us — that certain tasks and thought processes are best carried out without anyone else around, and that even the most socially motivated among us should regularly be taking time to ourselves if we want to have fully developed personalities, and be capable of focus and creative thinking. There is even research to suggest that blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them. Just as regular exercise and healthy eating make our minds and bodies work better, solitude experts say, so can being alone."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/3876384185/but-an-emerging-body-of-research-is-suggesting ]
psychology  solitude  loneliness  culture  social  society  2011  creativity  focus  health 
march 2011 by robertogreco
The Mavenist | What should young people do with their lives...
"What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured." —Kurt Vonnegut
loneliness  vonnegut  youth  community  stability  well-being  life  wisdom  quotes  kurtvonnegut 
march 2011 by robertogreco
What is social information? « Snarkmarket
"Wallace has already signaled that this is going to be a paragraph about repetition to exhaustion or even injury before he even does it. You could say he needs to keep clarifying & repeating these things because his sentences are so convoluted that otherwise you couldn’t follow them, but 1) his syntax is pretty clear 2) it’s not like he’s a freak about specifying everything… But it’s also just Wallace — who understands all of this, by the way, better than we do: communication, information, redundancy, efficiency, purity, the dangers of too much information, and especially the fear of being alone and the need to find connection with other human beings — creating a structure that allows him to ping his reader, saying “I am here”… and waiting for his reader to respond in kind, “I’m alive right now; I’m a person; look at me.” 
timcarmody  snarkmarket  davidfosterwallace  infinitejest  language  solitude  loneliness  human  need  information  redundancy  efficiency  purity  clarity  communication  infooverload  connectedness  connection  freemandyson  malcolmgladwell  devinfriedman  ycombinator  dailybooth  expression  jamesgleick  congo  kele  languages  words  pinging  drums  2011  northafrica  revolution  revolutions  media  raymondcarver  history  cannon  signaling 
february 2011 by robertogreco
The philosophical underpinnings of David Foster Wallace's fiction. - By James Ryerson - Slate Magazine
"To understand the fiction of David Foster Wallace, it helps to have a little Wittgenstein."<br />
<br />
"for someone as obsessed with isolation as Wallace, he was "obviously a social novelist, a novelist of noticed details, on a near-encyclopedic scale." Where other novelists dealing with solipsism, like Markson and Beckett, painted barren images with small compressed sentences, Costello observed, "Dave tackled the issue by massively overfilling his scenes and sentences to comic bursting"—indeed to the point of panicked overstimulation. There was a palpable strain for Wallace between engagement with the world, in all its overwhelming fullness, and withdrawal to one's own head, in all its loneliness. The world was too much, the mind alone too little. "You can't be anything but contemptible living for yourself," Costello said, summing up the dilemma. "But letting the world in—that sucks too."<br />
<br />
It's not exactly what you'd call an intellectual conundrum. But it was the lived one."
books  writing  language  philosophy  davidfosterwallace  wittgenstein  depression  solipsism  isolation  overstimulation  loneliness 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Grandma's Superhero Therapy (18 photos) - My Modern Metropolis
"A few years ago, French photographer Sacha Goldberger found his 91-year-old Hungarian grandmother Frederika feeling lonely and depressed. To cheer her up, he suggested that they shoot a series of outrageous photographs in unusual costumes, poses, and locations. Grandma reluctantly agreed, but once they got rolling, she couldn't stop smiling."
photography  superheroes  art  humor  elderly  depression  therapy  loneliness 
november 2010 by robertogreco
All the lonely people - Roger Ebert's Journal
"But back to loneliness. I have to reveal a truth about myself: I've never felt particularly lonely. I was an only child. I came from a happy, stable home. The school bus dropped me off at 3, and my parents weren't home until after 5, but those two hours alone were treasure to me. I was a curious little boy. I always had something going…

A few weeks ago, something happened. Chaz needed emergency surgery. There were two nights when I was alone and she was in the hospital, just as there were months when she was alone and I was in the hospital. And in the middle of the night a great fear enveloped me. If "anything happened" (as they say), I would be so terribly, terribly alone, and sad. I would miss her so much. This feeling came over me in a wave. I pulled the covers tighter around me. Then I would know what loneliness was."
rogerebert  loneliness  introversion  isolation  solitude  intorverts 
november 2010 by robertogreco
SHORT FILM: I'm Here  | The Spectator
"I’m Here is the underrated short film by director Spike Jonze. As with all his previous projects, Jonze plays with camera tricks, miniatures, molds and models rather than special effects and it is more than evident here that he’s one of the most gifted and unusual directors out there. He’s a director who prefers exploring unmarked territory. He goes where no one has dared before and his latest short is so original that midway through you’ll wonder why this has never been done before.

The plot revolves around a humanoid robot who works at a library in an alternative world where machines and humans co-exist. Nope, this isn’t another robots taking over the world kind of movie: it’s a bittersweet love story with an all-robot cast. Even though the world displayed onscreen most probably takes place in the future, the robots here look retro, which provides a nostalgic touch to this subtle and emotional short…"
spikejonze  film  imhere  robots  retrofuture  future  shorts  loneliness  love  emotions  storytelling  classideas 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Under Pressure: The Search for a Stress Vaccine | Magazine
"The emergence of stress as a major risk factor is largely a testament to scientific progress: The deadliest diseases of the 21st century are those in which damage accumulates steadily over time. (Sapolsky refers to this as the “luxury of slowly falling apart.”) Unfortunately, this is precisely the sort of damage that’s exacerbated by emotional stress. While modern medicine has made astonishing progress in treating the fleshy machine of the body, it is only beginning to grapple with those misfortunes of the mind that undo our treatments."

[later on some conspiracy about the stress vaccine article: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/08/the-brain-eating-vaccine-conspiracy/ ]

[previously: http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/07/stress.php ]
anxiety  fear  loneliness  stress  jonahlehrer  cognition  drinking  science  sleep  psychology  meditation  happiness  health  inequality  brain  2010  vaccines 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Bookshelf: An Interview With David Foster Wallace
"I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. I guess a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves. Since an ineluctable part of being a human self is suffering, part of what we humans come to art for is an experience of suffering, necessarily a vicarious experience, more like a sort of “generalization” of suffering. Does this make sense? We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy’s impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside."
via:preoccupations  davidfosterwallace  2005  empathy  reading  writing  fiction  alone  loneliness  identity  suffering  humanexperience  humans  imagination  self  comfort  discomfort  nourishment 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Kathy Freston: A High Protein Diet Won't Make You Lose Weight Long Term: In Fact, It May Make You Fatter
"The real epidemic in our country is not only obesity but also depression, isolation, and loneliness. As one patient told me, "When I feel lonely and depressed, I eat a lot of fat. It fills the void. Fat coats my nerves and numbs the pain." People often overeat when they're feeling stressed, lonely, and depressed --"comfort foods.""
exercise  food  health  nutrition  us  depression  loneliness  society  isolation 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Futurist Richard Watson's predictions for 2010 - Speakers Corner
"Constant partial stupidity ... Digital isolation ... Hunger for shared experiences ... Flight to the physical ... Expecting less ... Conspicuous non-consumption ... Unsupervised adults ... Localism ... Re-sourcing ... Fear fatigue" + "Ten things on the way out: Dining rooms, Letter writing on paper, Paper statements and bills, Optimism about the future, Individual responsibility, Intimacy, Humility, Concentration, Retirement, Privacy"
future  libraries  predictions  2010  richardwatson  fear  human  multitasking  conspicuousconsumption  consumption  frugality  outsourcing  localism  isolation  social  twitter  sharedexperience  physical  books  distraction  attention  non-consumption  postconsumerism  re-sourcing  paper  optimism  responsibility  safety  health  comfort  greed  loneliness  via:TheLibrarianEdge 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Relevant History: On "Growing Up on Facebook"
"This also connects with an excellent William Deresiewicz essay about social media's erosion of solitude-- which in our pop psychology moments we tend to equate with loneliness and want to banish, but which serves a tremendous psychic need. Humans are social creatures who seem to grow in equal parts through being with others and learning to be on their own-- my children are currently both going through a phase in which they spend a non-trivial amount of time in their rooms-- and Deresciewicz argues that solitude offers a chance (as Orenstein puts it) "to establish distance from their former selves, to clear space for introspection and transformation.""
loneliness  children  society  facebook  online  socialsoftware  solitude 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Loneliness
"Social isolation can be as harmful to your health as smoking or a sedentary lifestyle. A large part of this effect is driven by the subjective sense of social isolation we call loneliness. New research shows that human beings are simply far more intertwined and interdependent—physiologically as well as psychologically—than our cultural prejudices have allowed us to acknowledge. “If you want to go fast,” says an African proverb, “go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”"
loneliness  society  culture  happiness  socialcapital  social  books  science  interconnectivity  interdependent  human  psychology  sociology  interconnected 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Against Networked Learning « Learn Online
"This great school crisis is interlinked with a greater social crisis in the community. Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to a degree without precedent. Nobody talks to them anymore, and without children and old people mixing in daily life, a community has no future and no past, only a continuous present. In fact, the name community hardly applies to the way we interact with each other at all. We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that." - John Taylor Gatto
unschooling  deschooling  community  loneliness  life  learning  schools  schooling  education  johntaylorgatto  networks  isolation  society  social 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Is Urban Loneliness a Myth? -- New York Magazine
"Manhattan is the capital of people living by themselves. But are New Yorkers lonelier? Far from it, say a new breed of loneliness researchers, who argue that urban alienation is largely a myth."
urban  urbanism  cities  loneliness  psychology  nyc  sociology  happiness  culture  community  life  society 
november 2008 by robertogreco
gapingvoid: "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards": "good ideas have lonely childhoods"
"1. "Good ideas have lonely childhoods". When I say, "Ignore Everybody", I don't mean, "Ignore all people, at all times, forever". No, other people's feedback plays a very important role...It's more like, the better the idea, the more "out there" it initially will seem to other people, even people you like and respect. So there'll be a time in the beginning when you have to press on, alone, without one tenth the support you probably need...2. "GOOD IDEAS ALTER THE POWER BALANCE IN RELATIONSHIPS, THAT IS WHY GOOD IDEAS ARE ALWAYS INITIALLY RESISTED."...Especially in industries that are more relationship-driven, than idea-driven...6. Human beings are messy creatures...hard bit of having a "good idea" is not the invention of it, nor selling of it to end-user, but managing the myriad of politics and egos of the people who are supposedly on the same team as yourself. Managing the vast oceans of human chaos that all enterprises ultimately are, underneath the thin veneer of human order."
lcproject  education  learning  ideas  change  tcsnmy  strategy  advice  creativity  life  business  work  people  management  administration  leadership  patience  loneliness  innovation  psychology  gapingvoid  reform  unschooling  deschooling  unlearning  vision  perseverance 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Wired News - AP News: Study Finds Dogs, Robots Cheer Elderly
"Robotic competition is nipping at [dogs'] heels in the man's-best-friend department...study by Saint Louis U found lovable pooch named Sparky & robotic dog AIBO, were about equally effective at relieving loneliness of nursing home residents"
robots  dogs  animals  loneliness  elderly  technology  society  robotics  health  comfort 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Interview: Parallel lives can never touch - opinion - 24 November 2007 - New Scientist
"Mark Everett, known as E, is the creative force behind the rock band Eels. His latest project is a documentary film about the father he barely knew - the physicist Hugh Everett, originator of the "many worlds" view of quantum mechanics. Peter Aldhous ask
markeverett  hugheverett  paralleluniverses  relationships  parenting  families  physics  music  quantumphysics  death  research  learning  documentary  interviews  childhood  genius  depression  philosophy  loneliness  thinking 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog - TV & radio: Last night's TV: Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives
"Mark Everett was undertaking what he called a fantastic journey into his father's brain. He is a celebrated rock musician, in the band Eels. Hugh Everett, his father, was the unrecognised genius who developed the theory of parallel universes."
markeverett  hugheverett  paralleluniverses  relationships  parenting  families  physics  music  quantumphysics  death  research  learning  documentary  childhood  genius  depression  philosophy  loneliness  thinking 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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