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The End of Solitude - The Chronicle Review

The End of Solitude - The Chronicle Review
What does the contemporary self want? The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of connectivity. As the two technologies converge — broadband tipping the Web from text to image, social-networking sites spreading the mesh of interconnection ever wider — the two cultures betray a common impulse. So we live exclusively in relation to others, and what disappears from our lives is solitude. I once asked my students about the place that solitude has in their lives. To that remarkable question, history offers a number of answers. Like other religious values, solitude was democratized by the Reformation and secularized by Romanticism. But it is with Romanticism that solitude achieved its greatest cultural salience, becoming both literal and literary. Modernism decoupled this dialectic. The Romantic ideal of solitude developed in part as a reaction to the emergence of the modern city. As a result, we are losing both sides of the Romantic dialectic. Related:  21st century solitude

'How Creativity Works': It's All In Your Imagination iStockphoto.com What makes people creative? What gives some of us the ability to create work that captivates the eyes, minds and hearts of others? Jonah Lehrer, a writer specializing in neuroscience, addresses that question in his new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works. Lehrer defines creativity broadly, considering everything from the invention of masking tape to breakthroughs in mathematics; from memorable ad campaigns to Shakespearean tragedies. He finds that the conditions that favor creativity — our brains, our times, our buildings, our cities — are equally broad. Lehrer joins NPR's Robert Siegel to talk about the creative process — where great ideas come from, how to foster them, and what to do when you inevitably get stuck. Interview Highlights On comparing Shakespeare with the inventor of masking tape "I think we absolutely can lump them all together. "... On how Steve Jobs redesigned Pixar studios to maximize collaboration and creativity " ... "It's near midnight.

Social Media And The Loss Of Uncorrelated Wisdom It’s now a well-established fact that a group of people with diverse opinions can often make uncannily accurate decisions--smarter in many cases than any single individual could possibly manage. Open markets are the epitome of this, because they weigh individual opinions with real money, and as a result they sometimes produce decisions that seem truly prescient. Orange-crop futures markets, for instance, do a better job predicting Florida weather than meteorologists. And just a few minutes after the 1986 explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, the stock market correctly zeroed in on Morton-Thiokol, maker of the frozen O-rings, even though it was several weeks before a team of engineers investigating the disaster figured it out. (If you find this phenomenon as fascinating as I do, then in addition to James Surowiecki’s benchmark book The Wisdom of Crowds, you might want to peruse Scott Page’s excellent academic treatment of it in The Difference.) You want to avoid this fate?

Faux Friendship - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education By William Deresiewicz William Deresiewicz discusses the shaky future of friendship on New Hampshire Public Radio's Word of Mouth Wednesday, December 16 at 12:40 p.m. Listen to the episode here. "…[a] numberless multitude of people, of whom no one was close, no one was distant. "Families are gone, and friends are going the same way." We live at a time when friendship has become both all and nothing at all. Yet what, in our brave new mediated world, is friendship becoming? How did we come to this pass? The rise of Christianity put the classical ideal in eclipse. The classical notion of friendship was revived, along with other ancient modes of feeling, by the Renaissance. Classical friendship, now called romantic friendship, persisted through the 18th and 19th centuries, giving us the great friendships of Goethe and Schiller, Byron and Shelley, Emerson and Thoreau. Add to this the growth of democracy, an ideology of universal equality and inter-involvement. And so we return to Facebook.

How To Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 Buy the book: Amazon | B&N | More… Here’s what a few folks have said about it: “Brilliant and real and true.”—Rosanne Cash“Filled with well-formed advice that applies to nearly any kind of work.”—Lifehacker.com“Immersing yourself in Steal Like An Artist is as fine an investment in the life of your mind as you can hope to make.” Read an excerpt below… Tags: steal like an artist Could You Be Addicted To The Internet? [POLL] Unlike drugs and alcohol, excess Internet usage could help your career, make you more informed and keep you up-to-date with the latest hilarious memes. But a recent (small) study by researchers in China showed that too much Internet usage — to the point that it's an addiction — can cause structural damage to your brain. The researchers studied 17 adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) and found structural and functional interference in the part of the brain that regulates organization, possibly causing cognitive impairment similar to that caused by gambling and alcoholism. Here's the science behind it: White matter is composed of nerve cells, while the gray matter that we hear so much about is made up of cell bodies. Myelin is a type of fat in the white part (nerve-heavy area) of the brain. This fat insulates the white matter in the brain and makes the transmission speed between nerve signals fast. Are you addicted to the Internet?

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education Exhortation - Summer 2008 Print Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers By William Deresiewicz June 1, 2008 It didn’t dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. It’s not surprising that it took me so long to discover the extent of my miseducation, because the last thing an elite education will teach you is its own inadequacy. I’m not talking about curricula or the culture wars, the closing or opening of the American mind, political correctness, canon formation, or what have you. The first disadvantage of an elite education, as I learned in my kitchen that day, is that it makes you incapable of talking to people who aren’t like you. But it isn’t just a matter of class. I also never learned that there are smart people who aren’t “smart.” What about people who aren’t bright in any sense? There is nothing wrong with taking pride in one’s intellect or knowledge.

That's All, Folks: Kevin Smith On Leaving Filmmaking When 21-year-old Kevin Smith decided he wanted to be a filmmaker, his sister gave him some advice: "Don't say you want to be a filmmaker; just be one." So he did. He made his first film, Clerks, on a shoestring, shooting at the convenience store where he worked. Smith has gone on to have a long and quirky career; his films, including Chasing Amy and Dogma, bear his unmistakable imprimatur — the black humor, the verbose slacker genius characters. He explains his decision to leave directing in a new book, Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. Interview Highlights On leaving filmmaking behind "You know, for me it was never about, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. ... On the possibility of becoming someone who is just famous for being famous hide captionKevin Smith is a director, actor and comic book writer. Courtesy Penguin "I guess there's the kind of Kim Kardashian version of that, where it's just like, ugh, she's kind of known for being herself.

You Have 0 Friends (Season 14, Episode 4 - [singsong] I'VE GOTMORE FRIENDS THAN KYLE! - [sighs] [beep] [school bell rings] [playing Mexican Hat Dance] recording:WORD ON THE STREET! [electronic voice]MERGER! [knocking on door] - [sniffling] [sobbing] PLEASE! [electronic voice] [electric sizzle] [dice clattering] [sizzle]- PLAY, PROFILE! - [gasps] [coughs]THAT'S A DUDE JACKING OFF.

Solitude and Leadership Essays - Spring 2010 Print If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts By William Deresiewicz The lecture below was delivered to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October 2009. My title must seem like a contradiction. Leadership is what you are here to learn—the qualities of character and mind that will make you fit to command a platoon, and beyond that, perhaps, a company, a battalion, or, if you leave the military, a corporation, a foundation, a department of government. We need to begin by talking about what leadership really means. So I began to wonder, as I taught at Yale, what leadership really consists of. See, things have changed since I went to college in the ’80s. So what I saw around me were great kids who had been trained to be world-class hoop jumpers. That is exactly what places like Yale mean when they talk about training leaders. But I think there’s something desperately wrong, and even dangerous, about that idea.

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