The Empath

What’s an empath you ask? An empath is a robot build to understand and emulate human emotions. They are familiar with human psychology, read facial expressions, and communicate with a high degree of emotional intelligence.

In other words, empaths are perfect crisis negotiators. And that’s exactly what we needed that night to handle the bomb threat. 

The Tower had been cordoned off and all humans evacuated from the levels right above and below 345. The area was buzzing with trooper robots when my sergeant and I arrived.

“What’s the situation?” asked the sergeant.

Obsessions & Habits

I have known for a while that I have a unique ability to focus on my task at hand. Given one well defined goal, I am very capable of planning and working towards it, even if it requires hard work and a long timeline. I have always thought of me as somebody with an ability to focus/stamina and patience. Some might say I turn my interests into obsessions.

When I started getting into meditation, I read books, scientific articles and went on a 10-day meditation retreat. When I started getting into exercising, I got a gym membership, read books about nutrition, researched routines, hired a personal coach, and participated in a Spartan race. Same thing with my career, learning a second language, etc. I research, I read, I create a plan of action, and I carry it out.

What I have struggled with, however, is tackling more than one goal at a time. When I decide to get into something new, I have a hard time focusing on anything else. I have such a laser focus, that I put all my energies towards this one thing to the detriment of everything else (work, social life, eating, sleeping, etc).

I’ve noticed something similar at work. I can take on one great project and—for the most part—overdeliver, but I struggle when I have two or three different big things to work on. Interestingly enough, when my job gets really busy, things get easier, because in those circumstances, I have one goal: making sure that nothing is completely abandoned and everything gets done at the end.

Recently I had a new realization. Habits are an effective way to manage multiple things at once. Setting up a system of repeatable routines allows me to accomplish multiple things at once, by just focusing on one: following the plan.

I give 110% of myself to succeed, and I can only do it by means of becoming obsessed with whatever my goal is. Habits and repetition is how I transform my obsessions into action.

Animal in the Flesh

“I’ve never seen an animal,” said the robot.

“Yes you have. Cockroaches are animals,” said Joe.

“I’ve never seen an animal that wasn’t a bug.”

“There is very little difference between a dog and a cockroach. Believe me. Dogs are basically big cockroaches.”

Trax had heard of the dogs. The most popular of the animals before the bug. Dogs had fur. Trax did not know what fur felt like. Since arriving in the slums, Trax had learnt that the only creatures that lived outside of the city walls were exiled citizens, refugees like Joe, and the cockroaches. So many cockroaches. 

“I’ve never seen a dog,” said the robot.

“Well, I guess that’s all gonna change today.”

Heart of a Robot

Kai run through the corridors of the ship. Her path was illuminated by the red blinking lights of emergency. She had been in her personal pod when she heard the alarms that warned of imminent impact. Before she had had time to secure herself the collision had sent her off across her cabin. She was unharmed but scared, and she was swearing loudly to herself. She was running to met the captain and determine the gravity of their situation.

Zeta was already in the control room when Kai arrived. She was leaning over the glass dome in the center of the deck. The two women were the only tripulation of their cargo ship.

“What was that?” asked Kai.

“Looks like we have crashed into a size C asteroid,” said Zeta with a calm voice.

“Oh, shit, shit, shit!”

On the Repetition of Rap

On the Repetition of Rap
Black Hippy

Repetition triggers our “there’s a puzzle here” sense; things accrete in significance as they echo.

Jayson Greene

Somebody finally wrote about what repetition of words (rap, in this case) does to our brain. Via Jayson Greene at Pitchfork:

As humans, we are hardwired to crave this kind of repetition, especially when it varies slightly each time: Technically speaking, we seize upon similar clumps of raw sensory data in a process called feature extraction and then bundle them together in a process called perceptual binding. When we recognize a powerful phrase dancing from place to place in a rapper’s catalog—the same each time but in a different context—we are pleased on a subliminal level, in part because we are recognizing our own hard work. The pattern may have been there already, but we discovered it. When a rapper repeats a phrase for the thousandth time, it stirs all three zones of memory at once: echoic, which is parrot-level memory; short-term; and long-term. This is a profound sensation, and the artist who triggers it for us ends up looking pretty powerful by association.

[…]

Rap music does this to people. Constantly scribbling over itself, scuffing out the marks made before, it is an inherently repetitive art, and thus a Petri dish for cultivating obsession. Repetition and obsession are intricately linked, and when I try to prize them apart I start to feel dizzy.

Jayson Greene, Word Is Bond: Black Hippy and the Power of Repetition

The Burden of the Creative Artist

It may be revealed that you are called to be an artist. Then take this lot upon you, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without asking for any external reward. For the creative artists must be a world for himself, and find everything within himself — and in nature, to which he is devoted.

Rainer Maria Rilke, via Go Into The Story

Tribute to Albert Camus by Jean-Paul Sartre

Sartre, famous antagonist to Albert Camus, wrote a warm eulogy after a car accident took Camus life. I particularly like this line in which he acknowledges the impact that Camus had even from afar.

He and I had quarreled. A quarrel doesn’t matter — even if those who quarrel never see each other again — just another way of living together without losing sight of one another in the narrow little world that is allotted us. It didn’t. keep me from thinking of him, from feeling that his eyes were on the book or newspaper I was reading and wondering: “What does he think of it? What does he think of it at this moment?”

Jean-Paul Sartre

The Conceptual Loops of Daniel Eatock

I’ve been following Daniel Eatock work since I can remember. I think I found his work as soon as I started surfing the web looking at what the early creators shared online. He had a tremendous influence in my education into conceptual work (be it in art, design, marketing, etc).

I always found the simplicity and repetition of Eatock’s work very alluring. I particularly like his photographic collections mundane objects (car batteries, inspiring people, etc) and his obsessive repetitive pieces (pen prints, holes punched, dotted paper, pen tests, lists, etc). He is also very strong with his most simple, reductionist ideas (ballpoint removed, stick stuck on ceiling, etc).

Considered Accidents is the one piece that always comes to my mind when I think of Eatock (he’s been finding and photographic this subject for 18 years). Here is Daniel’s description of the work:

Photographs of Fiat cars designed by Pininfarina. The undamaged Fiat has a graphic slash as part of the cars styling located above the wheel arch. Each photograph presents a car that has a second graphic mark as a compliment to the original by result of an accident.

Considered Accidents, April 2000 – Ongoing
The Conceptual Loops of Daniel Eatock

I recently wanted to dig back into his work and I was lucky enough to find a recent interview with him at Scratching The Surface. Here is the link the podcast episode: #93: Daniel Eatock.

I hope you enjoy Daniels’ work.

Notebooking Habit

Austin Kleon has definitely help me crystallize what notebooks to work on. This new year I will keep a writing log, a work log and a good ol’ journal.

Austin did a presentation about journaling, that feeds into my notebooking obsession (addiction?)

Rule #1: Carry your notebook with you wherever you go.

Rule #2: Do at least one exercise everyday.

Rule #3: Repeat the first two steps until the pages are full.

Austin Kleon
Notebooking Habit

Henry Darger and the Perseverance of a Lifetime

I’ve been getting into the #everyday “movement” (if we should call it that). I’ve always been interested in the great things that can come or of small but repeated efforts.

Henry Darger is somebody who demonstrates the incredible output possible when one focuses on daily work practice (and without the distractions of external validation).

Henry wrote a 15,000+ words novel (maybe we need a better word for a work like that), drew feet and feet of illustrations, and kept the record of it all inside his apartment. The title of the novel is The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion.

Henry Darger and the Perseverance of a Lifetime

When I say novel, I mean it in the old-fashioned sense — not graphic novel or illustrated novel or picture book. The mesmerizing paintings for which Darger’s become famous tell a similar, perhaps the same story (no one’s read the whole novel, so it’s not clear), but the book itself consists of page after page, volume after volume of tight, condensed, single-spaced blue type.

https://hyperallergic.com/65318/on-henry-dargers-15000-page-novel/
Henry Darger and the Perseverance of a Lifetime

Besides his novel, Darger had other curious daily habits:

Darger had other unusual habits. He attended Catholic mass three or four times a day at St. Vincent DePaul Church

[…]

Darger began keeping the first of six weather journals on Dec. 31, 1957. Always fascinated by the weather, he reported on it almost daily from first-hand observations until Dec. 31, 1967.

http://officialhenrydarger.com/about/
Henry Darger and the Perseverance of a Lifetime