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How to Be an Explorer of the World

How to Be an Explorer of the World
by Maria Popova “Every morning when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. What a precious gift!” As a longtime fan of guerrilla artist and illustrator Keri Smith’s Wreck This Box set of interactive journals, part of these 7 favorite activity books for grown-ups, I was delighted to discover her How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum (public library) — a wonderful compendium of 59 ideas for how to get creatively unstuck by engaging with everyday objects and your surroundings in novel ways. From mapping found sounds to learning the language of trees to turning time observation into art, these playful and poetic micro-projects aren’t just a simple creativity booster — they’re potent training for what Buddhism would call “living from presence” and inhabiting your life more fully. It all began with this simple list, which Smith scribbled on a piece of paper in the middle a sleepless night in 2007: Eventually, it became the book. Spread photos via Geek Dad

Austin Kleon on 10 Things Every Creator Should Remember But We Often Forget by Maria Popova What T.S. Eliot has to do with genetics and the optimal investment theory for your intellectual life. Much has been said about the secrets of creativity and where good ideas come from, but most of that wisdom can be lost on young minds just dipping their toes in the vast and tumultuous ocean of self-initiated creation. So widely did the talk resonate that Kleon decided to deepen and enrich its message in Steal Like an Artist — an intelligent and articulate manifesto for the era of combinatorial creativity and remix culture that’s part 344 Questions, part Everything is a Remix, part The Gift, at once borrowed and entirely original. (This piece of truth is available as a print from 20×200, one of the best places for affordable art.) The book opens with a timeless T.S. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.” Kleon writes in the introduction: Donating = Loving

The Art of Wisdom and the Psychology of How We Use Categories, Frames, and Stories to Make Sense of the World by Maria Popova The psychology of how we use frames, categories, and storytelling to make sense of the world. “It’s insulting to imply that only a system of rewards and punishments can keep you a decent human being,” Isaac Asimov told Bill Moyers in their magnificent 1988 conversation on science and religion. And yet ours is a culture that frequently turns to rigid external rules — be they of religion or of legislature or of social conduct — as a substitute for the inner moral compass that a truly “decent human being” uses to steer behavior. So what can we do, as a society and as individual humans aspiring to be good, to cultivate that deeper sense of right and wrong, with all its contextual fuzziness and situational fluidity? Schwartz and Sharpe write: External rules, while helpful in other regards, can’t instill in us true telos. People who are practically wise understand the telos of being a friend or a parent or a doctor and are motivated to pursue this aim. The world is gray.

Write-Brained: The Neuroscience of Writing and Writer’s Block This page provides an outline of what each part of the Write-Brained series will contain. You can bookmark and revisit this page for up-to-date links to each part. Preface: My Background and the Mandatory Disclaimer When I transitioned to full-time freelance work, my inability to complete work until the last minute before deadline was no longer just an inconvenience: It was the source of significant emotional and economic distress. I studied productivity and, eventually, the human mind. Part 1: Finding the Creative Space in the Human Mind To understand what happens neurologically when we write (or when we can’t write), we have to understand some brain basics. The human brain is composed of three major parts: The “reptilian brain,” the “mammalian brain,” and the “neo-mammalian brain.” While both hemisphere are important in communication when using the neo-mammalian brain, it’s the right hemisphere that allows us to think in the ways we most commonly associate with creative writing. Rob

The Science of “Chunking,” Working Memory, and How Pattern Recognition Fuels Creativity by Maria Popova “Generating interesting connections between disparate subjects is what makes art so fascinating to create and to view… We are forced to contemplate a new, higher pattern that binds lower ones together.” It seems to be the season for fascinating meditations on consciousness, exploring such questions as what happens while we sleep, how complex cognition evolved, and why the world exists. Joining them and prior explorations of what it means to be human is The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning (public library) by Cambridge neuroscientist Daniel Bor in which, among other things, he sheds light on how our species’ penchant for pattern-recognition is essential to consciousness and our entire experience of life. To illustrate the power of chunking, Bor gives an astounding example of how one man was able to use this mental mechanism in greatly expanding the capacity of his working memory. Donating = Loving Share on Tumblr

How Rejection Breeds Creativity In 2006, Stefani Germanotta had hit a turning point in her career. She had quit a rigorous musical theatre program at an elite college to focus on her musical passion and, after a year of hard work and little income, had signed a deal with Def Jam records. But this promise wouldn’t last. Just three months after signing, Def Jam changed its mind about Stefani’s unusual style and released her from her contract. Rejected, Stefani went back the drawing board, working in clubs and experimenting with new performers and new influences. These experiments produced a new sound that was drawing positive attention from critics and fans. Rejection happens and, when it does, how we respond to it matters. In a series of experiments, researchers led by Sharon Kim of Johns Hopkins University sought to examine the impact of rejection on individuals’ creative output. Rejection happens and, when it does, how we respond to it matters. What’s Your Experience? How do you respond to being rejected?

Zentangle: Pattern-Drawing as Meditation by Maria Popova If greater creativity and more mental balance are among your new year’s resolutions, look no further than Zentangle — a type of meditation achieved through pattern-making, created by artist duo Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. Each pattern is built one line at a time, organically combining simple patterns into complex zentangles in unplanned, unexpected ways that grow, change and unfold on the page as you enter an immersive state of flow. Totally Tangled offers a fantastic introduction to the relaxing and beautiful practice through step-by-step instructions and over 100 original tangles. We’re particularly taken with Zentagle because its basic principle — building on simple shapes and combining different patterns into complex creativity — is such a beautiful visual metaphor for our core philosophy of combinatorial creativity. Donating = Loving Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. Share on Tumblr

Creation in the Workplace Humans are at their best when they are creating. We are wired to create—there’s no feeling like the sense of satisfaction from stepping back after working hard to create something–whether framing a house, building a Powerpoint deck or baking a cake. For the purposes of this article, I want to expand the way we might classically use the word ‘create’ it and then apply the expanded definition to the workplace. When we think about ‘creating’ we probably think about building something with our hands. Why does this matter? a. and: b. If you are in such a situation at work, consider the possibility that it is because you are not creating.

10 Ways to Help Your People Shine image: Paul Stevenson, from flickr, Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 When the members of the non-profit Group Pattern Language Project developed the 91-card Group Works deck [download 1-page summary of all 91 patterns; download a deck free; buy a professionally printed deck], we intended it mainly to help facilitators and participants in meetings and other deliberative work to use their time more effectively and to improve their collaborative processes. But we’ve discovered that this Pattern Language is being applied by some of the 2000+ people and organizations using it in ways we had never imagined. 1. image: chart from City of Calgary Cultural Transformation Project Dream Phase 2013 draft report The City of Calgary consulted with a large proportion of their workers, and with a group of the City’s citizens, and used the 91 pattern cards to identify the top 7 Shared Values of each group (they’re illustrated above). What are your people’s shared values? 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ramon Bruin's 3D Drawings Jump Off The Page (PHOTOS) Artist Ramon Bruin is taking hyperrealistic drawings to another dimension. The third dimension to be exact. The Dutch illustrator is creating realistic 3D renderings of snakes, birds and bridges using a pencil, paper and what we imagine is a vivid imagination. From creeping insects to sprawling structures, Bruin draws impressive cartoons that seem to jump right off the paper. To create the pictures, Bruin uses a technique called anamorphosis, reports The New York Daily News. It involves drawing a detailed but distorted image that appears like a three-dimensional scene when viewed from a certain angle. Scroll down for more of Bruin's cartoon creations in the slideshow below, and head to his web site for more work. Loading Slideshow Come out and PlayCaterpillarHold the CandleSpider and the ChickSnake and the PuppetThe Optical TowerBookshelf RatsSnakeFeather of a Raven

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