Pixar Cofounder Ed Catmull on Failure and Why Fostering a Fearless Culture Is the Key to Groundbreaking Creative Work by Maria Popova Why the greatest enemy of creative success is the attempt to fortify against failure. “Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before,” Neil Gaiman urged in his commencement-address-turned-manifesto-for-the-creative life. “The chief trick to making good mistakes is not to hide them — especially not from yourself,” philosopher Daniel Dennett asserted in his magnificent meditation on the dignity and art-science of making mistakes.
Being vs. becoming, Wendell Berry on solitude and our creative demons, the best biographies, memoirs, and history books of the year, and more Hey Peggy Fleming! If you missed last week's edition – the best art, design, and photography books of the year, how Rilke can help us befriend our mortality and live more fully, a tender wordless story about how we ennoble each other in friendship, and more – you can catch up right here. And if you're enjoying this, please consider supporting with a modest donation – every little bit helps, and comes hugely appreciated. An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence by Maria Popova Wisdom on overcoming the greatest human frustration from the pioneer of Eastern philosophy in the West. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” Annie Dillard wrote in her timeless reflection on presence over productivity — a timely antidote to the central anxiety of our productivity-obsessed age. Indeed, my own New Year’s resolution has been to stop measuring my days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence. But what, exactly, makes that possible?
Ray Bradbury on Writing, Emotion vs. Intelligence, and the Core of Creativity by Maria Popova “You can only go with loves in this life.” Between 1973 and 1974, journalist James Day hosted the short-lived but wonderful public television interview series Day at Night. Among his guests was the inimitable Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920–June 5, 2012) — beloved writer, man of routine, tireless champion of space exploration, patron saint of public libraries, passionate proponent of doing what you love and writing with joy. Highlights from the interview, which has been kindly digitized by CUNY TV, are transcribed below. On the misunderstood, and often dismissed, value of the fantasy genre:
Are Deontological Moral Judgments Rationalizations? In 2007, Chris Matthews of Hardball interviewed David O'steen, executive director of a pro-life organization. Matthews asked: I have always wondered something about the pro-life movement. Seth Godin on Vulnerability, Creative Courage, and How to Dance with the Fear: A Children’s Book for Grownups by Maria Popova “If you just pick one human you can change for the better, with work that might not work — that’s what art is.” At the 2014 HOW conference, Debbie Millman, host of the excellent interview show Design Matters and a remarkable mind, sat down with the prolific Seth Godin to discuss courage, anxiety, change, creative integrity, and why he got thrown out of Milton Glaser’s class. She used an unusual book of Godin’s as the springboard for their wide-ranging conversation: V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone (public library) — an alphabet book for grownups illustrated by Hugh MacLeod with a serious and rather urgent message about what it means and what it takes to dream, to live with joy, to find our purpose and do fulfilling work. I had the pleasure of seeing and recording the conversation — transcribed highlights below.
Mark McGuinness Mark Mark McGuinness I’m a poet, coach and creative entrepreneur, living in London, UK and coaching creatives worldwide via the magic of the internet. Why creativity? I’ve always loved creating. 6 Steps To Set Good Boundaries In the past two months, I have learned more about the importance of boundaries than I have in my entire adult life. I used to keep adjusting my boundaries to fit each relationship. Now I understand that boundaries are about your relationship with yourself and your own values, and that they shouldn't be so fluid. Today, I want to share what I have learned and break it down for you in five incredibly simple steps. I have gained so much understanding about this topic from the book Boundaries by Dr.
The Art of Looking: What 11 Experts Teach Us about Seeing Our Familiar City Block with New Eyes by Maria Popova “Attention is an intentional, unapologetic discriminator. It asks what is relevant right now, and gears us up to notice only that.” “How we spend our days,” Annie Dillard wrote in her timelessly beautiful meditation on presence over productivity, “is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And nowhere do we fail at the art of presence most miserably and most tragically than in urban life — in the city, high on the cult of productivity, where we float past each other, past the buildings and trees and the little boy in the purple pants, past life itself, cut off from the breathing of the world by iPhone earbuds and solipsism. Horowitz begins by pointing our attention to the incompleteness of our experience of what we conveniently call “reality”:
IN DEFENSE OF BUDDHIST HUMANISM The Virtues of Asian Humanism Nick Gier Department of Philosophy University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844-3016 Keynote Address at the 40th Annual Meeting Institute of Oriental Philosophy, Soka University, Japan Bird by Bird: Anne Lamott’s Timeless Advice on Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity by Maria Popova “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (public library) is among my 10 favorite books on writing — a treasure trove of insight both practical and profound, timelessly revisitable and yielding deeper resonance each time. Lamott adds to the collected wisdom of great writers with equal parts candor and conviction, teaching us as much about writing as she does about creativity at large and, even beyond that, about being human and living a full life — because, after all, as Lamott notes in the beginning, writing is nothing more nor less than a sensemaking mechanism for life: One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore.
10 Signs You Have WAY Too Much Cortisol We all know stress is bad for us, yet many of us wear it like a badge of honor. We claim to want inner peace, but if life gets too calm, we go seeking our next hit of cortisol and epinephrine. It’s almost as if being stressed makes us feel important, valuable, and useful.
Debunking the Myth of the 10,000-Hours Rule: What It Actually Takes to Reach Genius-Level Excellence by Maria Popova How top-down attention, feedback loops, and daydreaming play into the science of success. The question of what it takes to excel — to reach genius-level acumen at a chosen endeavor — has occupied psychologists for decades and philosophers for centuries. Groundbreaking research has pointed to “grit” as a better predictor of success than IQ, while psychologists have admonished against the dangers of slipping into autopilot in the quest for skill improvement. In recent years, one of the most persistent pop-psychology claims has been the myth of the “10,000-hour rule” — the idea that this is the amount of time one must invest in practice in order to reach meaningful success in any field. But in Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence (public library), celebrated psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman, best-known for his influential 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, debunks the 10,000-hour mythology to reveal the more complex truth beneath the popular rule of thumb:
WITTGENSTEIN AND DECONSTRUCTION Nicholas F. Gier, Professor Emeritus Department of Philosophy, University of Idaho Presented at the Northwest Conference on Philosophy Lewis & Clark College, November, 1989 published in Review of Contemporary Philosophy 6 (2007) "You could say of my work that it is phenomenology." --Wittgenstein to M.