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robertogreco : restlessness   6

The Triumph of the Quiet Style - The Awl
"The clearest demonstration of the quiet style—the dominant, most provocative, most interesting aesthetic of our time—is in theater, where Annie Baker created a revolution by slowing everything down, inserting long pauses, setting plays at room temperature. Baker is, in America and for straight plays, the unquestioned superstar playwright of her generation. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 and a MacArthur Grant in 2017. Her success is so sweeping that it’s almost hard to remember how weird her style seemed five or ten years ago, and how much it ran against all the prevailing headwinds of playwriting, which, for decades, had been all about making plays faster, more shocking, edgier.

American plays were already fast-paced (quick cuts, overlapping dialogue) and then, in the 1970s, David Mamet figured out a syncopated style that made them even faster. (“Arrive late, leave early,” is his prescription for writing scenes). Neil LaBute, Mamet’s heir, starts his signature play, Reasons to Be Pretty, with the stage direction: “Two people in their bedroom, already in the middle of it. A nice little fight. Wham!” Edward Albee, the reigning granddaddy of American theater, admitted that he wrote The Goat, a play about a man’s love affair with a farm animal, more or less because he couldn’t think of any taboos left to break.

For Baker, studying playwriting at NYU, the contemporary approach to playwriting was a nightmare—a formula to get your turns and reveals as plentiful and as high up in the script as possible, and all of it about as artistic as working in the pit at Daytona. While in graduate school, she had a breakdown (by her accounting, one of many) and, stuck, declared to her mentor that what she really wanted to do was to write a play about her mom and her mom’s “hippie friends sitting around and talking about spirituality for two hours,” which, to Mamet and her NYU professors, would have been like saying that what she wanted most as a playwright was to make sure that her audience had the right atmosphere for a nice, peaceful nap."



"But it’s not as if the quiet style began ten years ago. Chekhov is quiet. Our Town is quiet. Beckett is quiet. French New Wave is quiet. Probably, in every era, ‘serious’ art is quieter and slower than commercial. What I am saying, though, is that something distinctive is happening, and it’s clearly resonating with audiences since the same tendencies are dominant in all these different mediums, producing what for years has been the the most unsettling, most challenging, most talked-about work.

The key figure for the quiet style, the one who lays its sociopolitical foundations, is J.M. Coetzee. In Coetzee, the ruling class relinquishes—reluctantly but voluntarily—all its entitlements and, in humility and debasement, acquires a kind of beneficence. “The alternatives [to the power structure] are not,” he writes in the Diary Of A Bad Year, “placid servitude on the one hand and revolt against servitude on the other. There is a third way, chosen by thousands and millions of people every day. It is the way of quietism, of willed obscurity, of inner emigration.”

For the protagonists of the quiet style, most of whom descend from generations of easy living (their privilege is so patent and so internalized that they rarely deign even to speak of it), institutions no longer have anything to offer them and need nothing from them. They tend to be very willing to relinquish whatever societal power they have to those who want it more than they do. It’s characteristic to be an ex-pat (as in Lerner and Greenwell) or to be in some sort of internal exile (Vermont in Baker’s plays) or to be adrift in the ghettos of the unpublished, unproduced artistic underclass (as in Jarmusch, Baumbach, Heti, Dunham, etc). In other words, to have opted out.

What’s crucial—and, ultimately, what defines the quiet style—is the gesture of abnegation, a recognition by its heroes that success either is not for them or doesn’t matter to them. In spite of its heavy use of naturalism, the quiet style is not realism. Fundamentally, the quiet style is a mode of religious expression and it leans heavily on its confessional aspect, its blind faith that the moments of most abject, most senseless humiliation are also the moments when we are at our funniest and truest and (ultimately) most divine. For me, the great attraction of the quiet style is that it takes the attributes of my much-maligned generation—our restlessness, fecklessness, envy, solipsism—and turns them into something like a prayer."
quiet  quietness  slow  pause  pauses  art  film  theater  samuelbeckett  frenchnewwave  jmcoetzee  2017  style  playwriting  writing  davidmamet  anniebaker  abnegation  restlessness  fecklessness  envy  solipsism  naturalism  realism  antonchekhov  jimjarmusch  sheilaheti  lenadunham  noahbaumbach  filmmaking  taolin  benlerner  mumblecore 
25 days ago by robertogreco
The Complacent Class (Episode 1/5) - YouTube
[See also: http://learn.mruniversity.com/everyday-economics/tyler-cowen-on-american-culture-and-innovation/ ]

"Restlessness has long been seen as a signature trait of what it means to be American. We've been willing to cross great distances, take big risks, and adapt to change in way that has produced a dynamic economy. From Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs, innovation has been firmly rooted in American DNA.

What if that's no longer true?

Let’s take a journey back to the 19th century – specifically, the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. At that massive event, people got to do things like ride a ferris wheel, go on a moving sidewalk, see a dishwasher, see electric light, or even try modern chewing gum for the very first time. More than a third of the entire U.S. population at that time attended. And remember, this was 1893 when travel was much more difficult and costly.

Fairs that shortly followed Chicago included new inventions and novelties the telephone, x-ray machine, hot dogs, and ice cream cones.

These earlier years of American innovation were filled with rapid improvement in a huge array of industries. Railroads, electricity, telephones, radio, reliable clean water, television, cars, airplanes, vaccines and antibiotics, nuclear power – the list goes on – all came from this era.

After about the 1970s, innovation on this scale slowed down. Computers and communication have been the focus. What we’ve seen more recently has been mostly incremental improvements, with the large exception of smart phones.

This means that we’ve experienced a ton of changes in our virtual world, but surprisingly few in our physical world. For example, travel hasn’t much improved and, in some cases, has even slowed down. The planes we’re primarily using? They were designed half a century ago.

Since the 1960s, our culture has gotten less restless, too. It’s become more bureaucratic. The sixties and seventies ushered in a wave of protests and civil disobedience. But today, people hire protests planners and file for permits. The demands for change are tamer compared to their mid-century counterparts.

This might not sound so bad. We’ve entered a golden age for many of our favorite entertainment options. Americans are generally better off than ever before. But the U.S. economy is less dynamic. We’re stagnating. We’re complacent. What does mean for our economic and cultural future?"

[The New Era of Segregation (Episode 2/5)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNlA_Zz1_bM

Do you live in a “bubble?” There’s a good chance that the answer is, at least in part, a resounding “Yes.”

In our algorithm-driven world, digital servants cater to our individual preferences like never before. This has caused many improvements to our daily lives. For example, instead of gathering the kids together for a frustrating Blockbuster trip to pick out a VHS for family movie night, you can simply scroll through kid-friendly titles on Netflix that have been narrowed down based on your family’s previous viewing history. Not so bad.

But this algorithmic matching isn’t limited to entertainment choices. We’re also getting matched to spouses of a similar education level and earning potential. More productive workers are able to get easily matched to more productive firms. On the individual level, this is all very good. Our digital servants are helping us find better matches and improving our lives.

What about at the macro level? All of this matching can also produce more segregation – but on a much broader level than just racial segregation. People with similar income and education levels, and who do similar types of work, are more likely to cluster into their own little bubbles. This matching has consequences, and they’re not all virtual.

Power couples and highly productive workers are concentrating in metropolises like New York City and San Francisco. With many high earners, lots of housing demand, and strict building codes, rents in these types of cities are skyrocketing. People with lower incomes simply can no longer afford the cost of living, so they leave. New people with lower incomes also aren’t coming in, so we end up with a type of self-reinforcing segregation.

If you think back to the 2016 U.S. election, you’ll remember that most political commentators, who tend to reside in trendy large cities, were completely shocked by the rise of Donald Trump. What part did our new segregation play in their inability to understand what was happening in middle America?

In terms of racial segregation, there are worrying trends. The variety and level of racism of we’ve seen in the past may be on the decline, but the data show less residential racial mixing among whites and minorities.

Why does this matter? For a dynamic economy, mixing a wide variety of people in everyday life is crucial for the development of ideas and upward mobility. If matching is preventing mixing, we have to start making intentional changes to improve socio-economic integration and bring dynamism back into the American economy."]
safety  control  life  us  innovation  change  invention  risk  risktaking  stasis  travel  transportation  dynamism  stagnation  economics  crisis  restlessness  tylercowen  fiterbubbles  segregation  protest  communication  disobedience  compliance  civildisobedience  infrastructure  complacency  2017  algorithms  socialmobility  inequality  race  class  filterbubbles  incomeinequality  isolation  cities  urban  urbanism 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Negative Capability - Keats' Kingdom
"A term used many times on this website...

'The concept of Negative Capability is the ability to contemplate the world without the desire to try and reconcile contradictory aspects or fit it into closed and rational systems.'

Keats was a romantic poet, full of intense passion and desire, yet shy and reserved. He was a young man with all the determination and melancholy of a teenager on a romantic quest to be among the English poets when he died.

He is an inspiration to all of us, full of colourful language and imagination. He battled through tuberculosis and only lived to be 25. He wanted to be famous, and he has well and truly lived up to his dream.

Keats longed to find beauty in what was often an ugly and terrible world. He was an admirer of Shakespeare, and his reading of the Bard is insightful and intriguing, illustrating the genius of Shakespeare's creativity. In a letter to his brothers, Keats describes this genius as 'Negative Capability':

'At once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously- I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties. Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.'

This description can be compared to a definition of conflict:

'An emotional state characterized by indecision, restlessness, uncertainty and tension resulting from incompatible inner needs or drives of comparable intensity.'

These two definitions are very similar; the meaning of conflict sounds very negative and hopeless. However, Keats' creative concept seems positive and full of potential by leaving out 'restlessness' by avoiding an 'irritable reaching after fact and reason'

In another letter, Keats says that the 'poetical character... has no self- it is everything and nothing- it has no character and enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated- it has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen. What shocks the virtuous philosopher delights the camelion Poet... A Poet is the most unpoetical of anything in existence, because he has no identity, he is continually filling some other body'

In order for Keats to be able to create true poetry, one had to be able to remain in what may be states of conflict without 'irritably' reaching after facts or reasons. By not imposing one self upon the doubts and uncertainties which make up a conflict, Keats would rather we were open to the Imagination.

The word 'doubt' it from the Latin, 'dubitare' and comes from 'two' as in two minds. In most conflicts, two people (i.e. two minds) oppose each other. Yet instead of fighting the other, Keats finds the situation to be one that is open for creativity.

In this sense, Negative Capability is a sublime expression of supreme empathy.

And empathy, is the capacity for participating in, experiencing and understanding another's feelings or ideas. It's a creative tool to help us understand each other, understand different points of views or different cultures so that we might be able to express them.

Being able to see thing from another's point of view, and to apply an open, imaginative creativity, are both critical, poetical methods to resolve conflicts creatively.

This phrase must confuse many people, who think it means 'being capable'. It actually means 'being capable of eliminating one's own personality, in order imaginatively to enter into that of another person, or, in extreme cases, an animal or an object'. The phrase was coined by Keats, in a letter- 22nd Dec 1817, to his brothers George and Thomas: 'it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievment, especially in literature and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously- I mean Negative Capability, that is when Man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after facts and reason'.

It looks, on the face of it, as if the kind of genius Keats is thinking about, simply cannot make up his mind, and that is partly the case; but the reason he cannot make up his mind is because his own identity is precarious, and he is continually being invaded by the identies of other people. The person of fixed opinion, such as Wordsworth, enjoys, or perhaps suffer from, 'egotistic sublime'.

In an earlier letter, of the 22nd November 1817, Keats had affirmed that 'Men of Genius' do not have 'any individuality' or 'determined character'. Another letter (27th October 1818) defines 'the poetic character' as taking 'as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen', adding 'what shocks the virtuous philosopher delights the camelion poet'. We see 'Negative Capability' in operation in Keats as he contemplates a bird on a gravel path, and he told Richard Woodhouse that he could even conceive of a billiard ball taking a sense of delight in 'its own roundness, smoothness, volubility and the rapidity of its motion'. When in a room with the dangerous, leopardess-like woman Jane Cox, he felt her identity pressing in upon him: 'I forget myself entirely because I live in her' (letter of October 1818).

Many writers have identified themselves as having 'Negative Capability', even if they have not always used the phrase. Coleridge speaks in a letter of November 1819 of 'a sort of transfusion and transmission of my consciousness to identify myself with the object'. Byron says, in a letter to Thomas Moore (4th March 1822) that he embodies himself 'with the character' while he is drawing it. Browning claims to be able imaginatively to enter other beings. Clough's main character in Amours de Voyage says '...I walk, I behold.../That I can be and become anything that I meet with or look at'. T.S.Elliot in Tradition and the Individual Talent writes that 'the progress of the artist is a continual self sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.' Mrs Ramsey, in Virginia Woolfe's 'To the Lighthouse', looks intently 'until she became the things she looked at'. Certainly it is a pervasive characteristic of the creative faculty. Margaret Atwood writes in Second Words (1982) of the writers desire to be teleported into somebody else's mind, but retaining one's own perceptions and memories.

Many artists long for such freedom of movement, but a central philosophical problem remains in all this: if other beings take over the artist's mind, how can the artist present them in a decisive, descriminating way; on the other hand, if the artist enters other beings with his or her own personality, perceptions and memories intact (like Satan entering the body of the serpent), how can it be claimed that they remain other beings?"
johnkeats  negativecapability  messiness  uncertainty  lordbyron  samueltaylorcoleridge  conflict  doubt  truth  restlessness  empathy  canon  cv  gray  grey  mystery  openmindedness  openminded  via:mattcallahan 
february 2017 by robertogreco
On Discernment | Ordinary Times
"La Jolla of 1970s was a long way away from Jersey City of the 1930s and 40s. It did not have the glitz and swank it has now (wealth was not so internationalized) but it was vastly more affluent than the world my father came from. My father used to regularly threaten to send me to the Imperial Valley to “pick lettuce with Caesar Chavez.” This was not threatened as punishment, but as a (possibly) needed corrective to the danger that growing up in La Jollla might give me a warped view of how people lived their lives.

But my father would also tell me, “David, you’re going to have to wake up every day and do something to earn a living. It will be easier if it’s something you enjoy.”

And somewhere between these two messages I came to understand that I had been born to great wealth; not so much in material wealth, but in circumstantial wealth; that it would have been impossible for my father’s 10 year-old self to imagine raising his own son, not in an Irish ghetto a few blocks away from the murky waters of the Jersey City waterfront, but in “the land of the lotus eaters” (that’s what my parents called La Jolla), a block from some of the best surf in the continental United States, and with the whole world of possibilities laid out before him; and that because I had been born to this great and accidental wealth I had an obligation to myself, to my grandparents, and in some cosmic way, to those who toiled without the same benefit of good fortune that had obviously blessed our family, to take make good use of the advantages to which I was born, and make a good life for myself."



"My wife notes in me a certain restless sense of purpose, and she doesn’t think I am always well-served by it. She notes that I seem to think that I am “supposed to do something special with my life,” and that sometimes that makes me impatient and intollerant with the mundane realities of life.

I don’t disagree, but I think her assessment is incomplete.



In the Spring of 1992 it was becoming clear that it was time for me to leave my mentor’s studio and strike out on my own. To that end David Loveall and I went down to the studio on a Saturday and took every single piece of gear off the storage racks and then one-by-one put pieces away in our attempt to formulate the absolutely smallest kit that I could hope to have and still be able to execute assignments with a modicum of aplomb. The result of this exercise is that in short order I went from being a foot-loose, care-free photo-assistant with about $5,000 in savings and who spent his off days kayaking, climbing, or fishing, to an unemployed freelance photographer who was about $17,000 in debt, with no savings, and barely enough photo gear to hope to service the debt, let alone make a living.

In the midst of this transition my father sent me a copy of North Shore Chronicles, a book that told the story of the renaissance of big wave surfing. The front piece of the book had an inscription:

“A life spent surfing big waves would not be wasted. — Dad”"
davidryan  2013  discernment  lajolla  1970s  class  wealth  opportunity  privilege  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  restlessness  davidloveall 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The Charisma of Steve Jobs - Meta is Murder - Quora
[Cross-posted here: http://metaismurder.com/post/44155254813/the-charisma-of-leaders ]

"William James identifies the union of "conscience" and "will" in leaders as one of their defining attributes in The Varieties of Religious Experience. To say that their conscience and their will are identical is to say that their values, their morality, their meaning-systems are in harmony with their their daily volition, their constant intentionality.

For most of us, this is not so: there is a frustrating gap between them, such that we're not in accord with our own values, no matter how badly we wish to be; our moral commitments are overwhelmed routinely, and our behavior subverts, distracts, and disappoints us. Perhaps we accept a remunerative job rather than dedicating our lives to what we feel is most important; or we pursue the important, but we get sleepy and head home from the office earlier than we suspect we should; we call in sick when we're perfectly well. We are not as dedicated in friendship as we aspire to be; we grow irritated by what we know is superficial, meaningless; and so on ad nauseum. Because this is one of the defining qualities of human life, examples abound and more are likely unneeded."

"In an age in which religious values are, even by the religious, not considered sufficient for a turn from society —an age of "the cross in the ballpark," as Paul Simon says, of churches that promise "the rich life," of believers who look in disgust at the instantiation of their religions' values— the leader emerges as our most prominent solution to the problem of meaning. She is the embodiment of values and an agent of their transformative influence on the world. She has the energy of purpose, the dedication of the saint but remains within the world, and often improves it."

"The toll leaders take is fearsome, but we admire them for using us up: better to be used, after all, than useless. This is why those who worked for Jobs so often cannot even begin to justify how he reduced so-and-so to tears, how he stole this or that bit of credit, how he crushed a former friend whom in his paranoia he suspected of disloyalty, and they scarcely care. What we admire about saints and leaders is not solely the values they exemplify but the totality with which they exemplify them, a totality alien to all of us whose lives are balanced between poles of conformity and dedication, commitment and restlessness."
georgebernardshaw  stevejobs  millsbaker  2013  paulsimon  vision  values  purpose  williamjames  will  work  conformity  dedication  commitment  restlessness 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Geoff Vuleta Says 100-Day Plans Build Consistency - NYTimes.com
"I try to uncover what people are really good at doing and then give them a hell of a lot of that to do. I really, truly believe in that. I am the sort of person who’s never really believed in obsessing over trying to get people to do things that they are no good at anyway. … We’re looking for an inquisitive, restless mind and eclectic interests. And you’ve got to prove restlessness rather than saying restlessness. Prove to me that restlessness in a breadth of ways. If you have narrow interests, you’re probably not going to be right.

And the other thing is, are they the sort of person who thinks that being right is important? You don’t have time to be right where we are. We’re developing conceptual things. We’re inventing things that don’t yet exist. We’re working with enormously complex things all the time. And if you’re obsessed with being right, you won’t get there."
geoffvuleta  farenheit212  hiring  generalists  restlessness  cv  curiosity  interested  complexity  interestedness 
november 2010 by robertogreco

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