Age of information
Greek & Latin
Mind & Brain
Science & Art
☞ A Box Of Stories
An abstract gets close scrutiny
“What I think is so interesting about this photograph is the way that the girls are responding to the space of the modern art gallery: they are not merely ignoring the art on the walls, but literally looking beyond those walls. It is not a quick glance or sneaky peek, either. This is intense, curious looking that requires them to physically crouch down and brace themselves against the grate in order to get the closest possible view through the vent. The square grid-like vent seems congruous with the canvasses of the modern art gallery, and the children are inspired to look beyond the surface of lines and shapes. (…)
As Clement Greenberg, that stalwart champion of abstract expressionism, once said: “To hold that one kind of art must invariably be superior or inferior to another kind means to judge before experiencing; and the whole history of art is there to demonstrate the futility of rules of preference laid down beforehand: the impossibility, that is, of anticipating the outcome of aesthetic experience.” (From his Art and Culture (Boston: Beacon, 1961), pp. 133).
So, the girls might not be looking at the abstract art on the gallery walls, but who is to say that their examination of whatever lay beyond that vent is any less of a valid aesthetic experience?”
The Future Belongs to the Curious
“We’re all born with it. Albert Einstein dubbed it “holy,” Alistair Cooke called it “free-wheeling intelligence.” It’s that piquing force that nudges us to try it again, explore it some more, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out. From the moment we open our eyes, it fuels our existence. With each new answer we find, our world expands and our passions grow. We can’t wait to share what we’ve learned and teach others how to do it themselves. (…) The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out.”
The beauty keeps us from looking away, tickling those dopaminergic neurons and dorsal hairs. Like curiosity, beauty is a motivational force, an emotional reaction not to the perfect or the complete, but to the imperfect and incomplete. We know just enough to know that we want to know more; there is something here, we just don’t what. That’s why we call it beautiful.”
Pointless, really…”Do the stars gaze back?” Now that’s a question.”
"Q: Can something as vast and as complex as the universe ever be reduced to the scope of human mental capacities, or are there natural limits to what we can know?
That is a difficult question. Every time we discover something, we open the door to new knowledge but find new sets of questions that are more complex and dig deeper into the subject. So there is no real limit, the process of discovery never stops. Maybe the time to answer these questions, i.e. to open these new doors, will increase, but eventually we will be able to open them. "
Neither do I believe that the spirit of adventure runs any risk of disappearing in our world. If I see anything vital around me, it is precisely that spirit of adventure, which seems indestructible and is akin to curiosity.”
“I think we have become too shortsighted. (…) When everything is moving fast, the future looks like it is next week. But what really counts is the future ten or hundred years from now. And we should also bear in mind that the history that matters is not only yesterday’s news but events from a decade or a century or a millennium ago. (…)
When NASA released the first photographs of the earth from space in the 1960s, people changed their frame of reference. (…) We began to talk more about “humans” and less about Germans or Americans. We began to start talking about the planet as a whole. That, in a way, gave us the ability to think about global problems like climate change. (…)
We like to think that we are living in a very violent time, that the future looks dark. But the data says that violence has declined every millennium, every century, every decade. The reduction in cruelty is just astounding. (…)
The internet is better than any catalogue or encyclopedia could ever be. (…) When you give internet access to people in the developing world, they immediately start forming educational networks. They expand their horizons, children teach their parents how to read and write. (…)
Q: “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. Why?
It proposes that a beginner’s mind is the way to look at new things. We need a combination of confidence and of curiosity. (…) It means putting aside the explanations provided by social constructs and ideologies. (…)
Ideologies are stories we like to tell ourselves. That’s fine, as long as we remember that they are stories and not accurate representations of the world. When the story gets in the way of doing the right thing, there is something wrong with the story. (…) Marvin Minsky has once said to me that the only real evil is the idea of evil. Once you let that go, the problems become manageable. (…) No theory can be coherent and comprehensive enough to provide a direct blueprint for practical actions. That’s the idea of foolishness again: You work with imperfect theories, but you don’t base your life on them. (…)
Good is what creates more life and more options. That’s a useful frame. The opposite of that would not be evil, but less life and fewer options.”