💬“Peace of the sort that brings wholeness, harmony, and health to our lives only happens when chaos, confusion, and conflict are included and transcended.”

    • Harrison Owen, creator of Open Space Technology.

    Read more.

    Work as if writing is the only thing that matters

    “Work as if writing is the only thing that matters. Having a clear, tangible purpose when you consume information completely changes the way you engage with it. You’ll be more focused, more curious, more rigorous, and more demanding. You won’t waste time writing down every detail, trying to make a perfect record of everything that was said. Instead, you’ll try to learn the basics as efficiently as possible so you can get to the point where open questions arise, as these are the only questions worth writing about. Almost every aspect of your life will change when you live as if you are working toward publication. You’ll read differently, becoming more focused on the parts most relevant to the argument you’re building. You’ll ask sharper questions, no longer satisfied with vague explanations or leaps in logic. You’ll naturally seek venues to present your work, since the feedback you receive will propel your thinking forward like nothing else. You’ll begin to act more deliberately, thinking several steps beyond what you’re reading to consider its implications and potential.”

    • Tiago Forte’s summary of How to Take Smart Notes, by Sönke Ahrens
    A spiral design by Google Bard, in the style of a woodblock print

    💬 “The real issue with speed is not just how fast can you go, but where are you going so fast? It doesn’t help to arrive quickly if you wind up in the wrong place.” - Walter Murch, In The Blink of an Eye.

    Found at Austin Kleon’s post, Hurry Slowly

    💬"At what point does something become part of your mind, instead of just a convenient note taking device?"

    A question discussed with philosopher David Chalmers, on the Philosophy Bites podcast.

    🎙️Technophilosophy and the extended mind

    So much of this depends on what ‘the mind’ means. Meanwhile, we do seamlessly interact with our note-making tools, to achieve more than we could without them.

    Give it, give it all, give it now

    Manton Reece has updated his excellent and inspiring book on Indie Microblogging.

    This 1660 description of the Royal Society well describes micro.blog methinks:

    💬 “Their first purpose was no more, then onely the satisfaction of breathing a freer air, and of conversing in quiet one with another, without being ingag’d in the passions, and madness of that dismal Age”. The fediverse is an opportunity learned societies can’t ignore

    📷 Day 14| statue #mbsept

    Food for thought.

    An ancient Greek marble statue of a woman regards a museum sign with a quote from Plato's Republic, which reads: Any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another.

    As 9/11 is commemorated again it’s worth reflecting on why some people are wary of US foreign policy. This 9/11 is also the 50th anniversary of the Nixon/Kissinger coup in Chile.
    If you think human rights is all ‘liberal crap’, as Nixon did, that right there is why we remain wary.

    ¡Nunca más!” 💬

    The dream is diversity

    diagram of the chemical composition of coal, which is referenced in Stuart Kauffman's article

    “We co-create with one another and with nature, but by the very creativity of the Universe and us in it, we cannot know what we will co-create.

    Then what can guide us? Our guide can be a new founding mythic structure that reflects our full enlivenment: humanity in a creative universe, biosphere and human individual, and social lives that are fully lived and that keep becoming. The dream is diversity, more ways of being human as our 30 or so civilisations across the globe weave together gently enough to honour their roots and allow change to unfold gracefully. Our global woven civilisation is ours to create, ever-unknowing, facing, as Immanuel Kant said, the crooked timber of our humanity."

    Stuart A. Kauffman, ‘Why science needs to break the spell of reductive materialism’. Aeon 💬

    See also: Stuart A. Kauffman (2016) Humanity in a Creative Universe. Oxford University Press.

    Image: Chemical composition of coal.

    Walter Benjamin on the obsolete book

    “Already today, as the current scientific mode of production teaches, the book is already an obsolete mediation between two different card file systems. For everything essential is found in the index box of the researcher who wrote it, and the scholar who studies it assimilates it in his own card file.”

    “Und heute schon ist das Buch, wie die aktuelle wissenschaftliche Produktionsweise lehrt, eine veraltete Vermittlung zwischen zwei verschiedenen Kartotheksystemen. Denn alles Wesentliche findet sich im Zettelkasten des Forschers, der’s verfaßte, und der Gelehrte, der darin studiert, assimiliert es seiner eigenen Kartothek."

    Walter Benjamin - Attested Auditor of Books, in One Way Street (1928) 💬


    Was the book really already obsolete in 1928, as the German cultural theorist Walter Benjamin claimed?

    If so, it has nevertheless enjoyed a long and distinguished afterlife. And Benjamin’s sly reference to what ‘the current scientific mode of production’ teaches, may suggest a certain irony in his claim.

    But the real irony is that the card index was sooner for obsolescence than the book. During the 1980s and accelerating into the 1990s millions of index cards were thrown out, to be replaced with computer databases. Despite a very niche resurgence of interest in the quaint technologies of the ‘Zettelkasten’ (German for ‘index card box’, there’s no real sign of a come-back. The book, meanwhile, has been assailed mightily by the e-book, but as Monty Python fans would say: “It’s just a flesh wound”.

    However, another way of viewing this technological transition would be to say that the card index, in the new form of the electronic database, has utterly triumphed. Now everything is just the front-end of a database, including books.

    A cardboard box on the street, containing a set of card index drawers for disposal. An attached hand-written note says: Rubbish - please clear away.


    Benjamin, W. (2016[1986]) One Way Street, Trans. E. Jephcott. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. P. 43.

    Source: www.heise.de/tp/featur…

    Cited in Stop Taking Regular Notes; Use a Zettelkasten Instead - Hacker News

    See also: Researching Benjamin Researching

    I have elephants

    1795 handbill announcing a live elephant

    A chapter of Sarah Bakewell’s book Humanly Possible considers the life and times of Renaissance scholar Petrarch. Petrarch, she says, wrote a book called Remedies for Fortune Fair and Foul (1360), which is a dialogue between three embodied figures: Reason, Sorrow and Joy. Reason’s job here is both to cheer up Sorrow and to settle down Joy.

    At one point, Joy says, “I have elephants.”

    Reason replies, “May I ask for what purpose?”

    Bakewell’s comment: “No answer is recorded.”

    (Bakewell, 2023: 52)

    💬 📚

    To build something big, start with small fragments

    Building something big from something small. That’s how everything big gets built. 💬

    Traditionally, a writer identifies a subject of interest and researches it, then writes about it. In the (my) blogging method, the writer blogs about everything that seems interesting, until a subject gels out of all of those disparate, short pieces.

    Blogging isn’t just a way to organize your research — it’s a way to do research for a book or essay or story or speech you don’t even know you want to write yet. It’s a way to discover what your future books and essays and stories and speeches will be about.

    💬 “In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act”.

    • A magic spell that protects the user against advertising of all kinds. Use wisely.

    💬 “Energy moves in waves…”

    A notecard with a handwritten quote from dancer Gabrielle Roth.

    We think best when we bring opposites together

    “We think best when we bring opposites together, when we realize that all these realities, one inside the other, are somehow connected. That’s how the wonder and amazement that are so necessary to both poetry and philosophy come about.” Charles Simic, Paris Review, quoted by Austin Kleon

    I’m constantly amazed that something I just saw or read in one context appears again in another, completely different context. And then it appears again. Synchronicity? The availability bias? Magic? Whatever, it certainly enhances my sense of wonder at the world.

    You don't build art, you grow it

    Finished reading: Dancing with the Gods by Kent Nerburn 📚

    This book is advice on the artistic life from an experienced sculptor and writer. I found one section particularly striking. It contrasted two approaches to making art: that of the architect and that of the gardener.

    “The architect designs and builds; he [sic] knows the desired outcome before he begins. The gardener plants and cultivates, trusting the sun and weather and the vagaries of change to bring forth a bloom. As artists we must learn to be gardeners, not architects. We must seek to cultivate our art, not construct it, giving up our preconceptions and presuppositions to embrace accident and mystery. Let moments of darkness become the seedbed of growth, not occasions of fear.”

    I remembered these words while visiting the new exhibition spaces at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. It’s hard to imagine an artwork that could have more clearly illustrated the cultivation approach to art that Nerburn wrote of.

    In a huge, mysterious, and very dark underground space called The Tank, Argentinian sculptor Adrián Villar Rojas was exhibiting a series of extraordinary sculptures entitled The End of Imagination. These pieces, apparently four years in the making, seemed really ancient, but of the deep future, organic, not constructed, more biological than artificial, and they appeared to be growing there in the darkness.

    Rojas undertook an exhaustive computer simulation of deep-time environmental processes in imagined extraterrestrial contexts, to shape and weather each piece, prior to creating their physical representation. So the outcome was not so much sculpted as weathered and sedimented into existence - yet not by any kind of earthly processes.

    A large sculpture in the Adrian Villar Rojas exhibition entitled The End of Imagination, in the Tank at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The sculpture is partially lit, while the rest of the gallery is dark.

    Earlier thoughts on Dancing with the Gods.

    What I learned from Austin Kleon about sharing what you know

    Learning and sharing, sharing and learning. It’s a virtuous circle. That’s what I learned, and that’s what I’m sharing.

    “it’s not about being credentialed or being an expert, it’s about seeing a space open up, starting to do work that needs doing, sharing your ideas, and sticking around long enough so people show up and you can interact with them in a meaningful way and build something lasting.” Austin Kleon

    I think there are four levels of expertise, and everyone is potentially standing on one of these four steps:

    • Learn - “Here’s what I’ve learnt.” Curator
    • Share - “Here’s what I’ve found.” Expert
    • Tell - “Here’s what I’ve done.” Mentor
    • Be - “Here’s who I am.” Role model

    When someone believes they have no expertise, that doesn’t mean they have nothing useful to say. We often learn best from those who are just one step ahead of us on the learning journey, so telling others, “Here’s what I learned today” may well be really helpful.

    photograph of a stone staircase on a forest trail. The steps curve away upwards and are strewn with fallen leaves

    You can get a lot done by writing slowly

    “People say to me, ‘Oh, you’re so prolific’…God, it doesn’t feel like it—nothing like it.  But, you know, you put an ounce in a bucket each day, you get a quart.”

    John McPhee (quoted by Cal Newport)

    Journalist John McPhee rarely wrote more than 500 words a day, but his secret was the power of repetition. He did this seemingly small amount of writing nearly every day throughout his long career. By writing a little, a lot, he achieved an enormous amount, including countless articles, 29 books and a Pulitzer Prize.

    That's what writing slowly is about. It doesn't mean being lazy. It means cultivating the discipline to keep writing. Five hundred words a day adds up to 182,500 words a year. It's not hard to write a lot. Quantity is not the issue. The only two obstacles are the difficulty of maintaining the habit, and the little voice in your head that tells you your scribbling will never amount to anything.