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Einstein on Kindness, Our Shared Existence, and Life’s Highest Ideals

Einstein on Kindness, Our Shared Existence, and Life’s Highest Ideals
by Maria Popova “Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind… life would have seemed to me empty.” In times of turmoil, I often turn to one of my existential pillars of comfort: Albert Einstein’s Ideas and Opinions — the definitive collection of the great thinker’s essays on everything from science and religion to government to human nature, gathered under the supervision of Einstein himself. It’s been a challenging week, one that’s reminded me with merciless acuity the value of kindness and compassion, so I’ve once again turned to Einstein’s timeless “ideas and opinions” on this spectrum of subjects. On the ties of sympathy: How strange is the lot of us mortals! On public opinion, or what Paul Graham might call prestige: One becomes sharply aware, but without regret, of the limits of mutual understanding and consonance with other people. On our interconnectedness, interdependency, and shared existence: On good and evil, creative bravery, and human value: On life’s highest ideals:

Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity by Maria Popova Why creativity is like LEGO, or what Richard Dawkins has to do with Susan Sontag and Gandhi. In May, I had the pleasure of speaking at the wonderful Creative Mornings free lecture series masterminded by my studiomate Tina of Swiss Miss fame. I spoke about Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity, something at the heart of Brain Pickings and of increasing importance as we face our present information reality. These are pages from the most famous florilegium, completed by Thomas of Ireland in the 14th century. In talking about these medieval manuscripts, Adam Gopnik writes in The New Yorker: Our minds were altered less by books than by index slips.” Which is interesting, recognizing not only the absolute vale of content but also its relational value, the value not just of information itself but also of information architecture, not just of content but also of content curation. You may have heard this anecdote. Kind of LEGOs. And I like this last part. Do stuff.

McSweeney’s: Lucky Peach Austin Kleon on Cultivating Creativity in the Digital Age by Maria Popova The genealogy of ideas, why everything is a remix, or what T.S. Eliot can teach us about creativity. UPDATE: Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist synthesizes his ideas on creativity and is absolutely fantastic. Austin Kleon is positively one of the most interesting people on the Internet. In this excellent talk from The Economist‘s Human Potential Summit, titled Steal Like an Artist, Kleon makes an articulate and compelling case for combinatorial creativity and the role of remix in the idea economy. Kleon, who has clearly seen Kirby Ferguson’s excellent Everything is a Remix, echoes the central premise of my own recent talk on networked knowledge and combinatorial creativity: Nothing is completely original. Amen. And even more in the vein of the Brain Pickings ethos, reminiscent of this favorite quote by iconic designer Paula Scher: We can pick our teachers and we can pick our friends and we can pick the books we read and the music we listen to and the movies we see, etcetera.

Ayahuasca Ayahuasca (UK: /ˌaɪ(j)əˈwæskə/, US: /-ˈwɑːskə/) or ayaguasca[1] (in Hispanicized spellings) from Quechua Ayawaska[2] (aya: soul, waska: vine), or yagé (/jɑːˈheɪ, jæ-/), is an entheogenic brew made out of Banisteriopsis caapi vine and other ingredients.[3] The brew is used as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin and is known by a number of different names (see below).[4] B. caapi contains several alkaloids that act as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Another common ingredient in ayahuasca is the shrub Psychotria viridis which contains the primary psychoactive, dimethyltryptamine (DMT). MAOIs are required for DMT to be orally active.[5] Nomenclature[edit] Ayahuasca is known by many names throughout Northern South America and Brazil. Ayahuasca is the hispanicized spelling of a word in the Quechua languages, which are spoken in the Andean states of Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. History[edit] Preparation[edit] DMT admixtures:

How Creativity Works by Maria Popova Inside the ‘seething cauldron of ideas,’ or what Bob Dylan has to do with the value of the synthesizer mind. In his 1878 book, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, Nietzsche observed: Artists have a vested interest in our believing in the flash of revelation, the so-called inspiration… shining down from heavens as a ray of grace. In reality, the imagination of the good artist or thinker produces continuously good, mediocre or bad things, but his judgment, trained and sharpened to a fine point, rejects, selects, connects… All great artists and thinkers are great workers, indefatigable not only in inventing, but also in rejecting, sifting, transforming, ordering.” Some 131 years later, Elizabeth Gilbert echoed that observation in her now-legendary TED talk. The origin, pursuit, and secret of creativity are a central fixation of the Idea Age. Lehrer writes in the introduction, echoing Nietzsche’s lament: How does one measure the imagination? Share on Tumblr

Letters of Note How Creativity in Humor, Art, and Science Works: Arthur Koestler’s Theory of Bisociation by Maria Popova “The discoveries of yesterday are the truisms of tomorrow, because we can add to our knowledge but cannot subtract from it.” At a recent TED salon, New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff presented his theory of humor as “a conflict of synergies,” which reminded me of a wonderful concept from Arthur Koestler’s seminal 1964 anatomy of creativity, The Act Of Creation (public library). Koestler coins the term bisociation to illustrate the combinatorial nature of creativity — the reason it operates like a slot machine, relies on the mind’s pattern-recognition machinery, and requires the synthesis of raw material into “new” ideas. Koestler diagrams his theory and explains: The pattern underlying [the creative act] is the perceiving of a situation or idea, L, in two self-consistent but habitually incompatible frames of reference, M1 and M2. Koestler goes on to discuss the forms this creative instability takes in humor, art, science. River delta image: “The Lagoon” by Jamie Meunier

The Difference Between Knowledge and Experience

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