On Being Scrappy and Clever

I just came out of a talk by Danielle Feinberg (Pixar’s Director of Photography for Lighting) titled ‘The Art of Science’. It was beautiful and inspiring as one would expect from Pixar.

The one concept that caught my attention was this idea of making do with what you can. Building something apparently very complex doesn’t necessarily need to be a complicated process. Danielle talked about using small, simple ideas as building blocks for more elaborate solutions. Sometimes you don’t need a very complex element to communicate an idea. Less is more.

She also reiterated that technique should go unnoticed, and always be in service of the story.

No Comments

I removed the comments from this blog. The trigger was the GRDP law and how it affects sites that capture user data (via the comments form), but also the realization that I have zero comments on the site, so why bother. And do I really want comments on the site? Isn’t there some sort of freedom that comes knowing you have the last word.

I don’t link to this blog from anywhere, and my only visitors are a bunch of lost robots. This is really a small place. A quiet place to speak out loud. A place of discovery, and learning.

Like for instance: I meet John Harris today (digitally speaking, virtually?), who is a fucking master. Just look at this stuff:

So there you have it. Any comments? That’s what I thought.

Writing can save your life

Writing can save your life. Writing, at its best, is a way of thinking. You put words down on a page to discover who you are and what you think. Writing is an ancient practice that helps you make sense of yourself and the world.
Austin Kleon

I just been discovering lately (very late, I know), that writing is a special kind of activity. To me it falls somewhere between drawing, meditating and therapy. It’s a pause, a moment away from everything and everybody, a small bubble of quiet comfort that helps me reflect and put my thoughts in order. And it is also a physical activity. It is a play of words and language, yes, but when I write longhand it is also an experience close to the visual arts.

And yes, I have only lately been aware of all this.

On Tom Wolfe

The NYT published a great obituary for Tom Wolfe with many quotes from Wolfe himself.

Regarding the term “New Journalism”, that he was associated with,

In an author’s statement for the reference work World Authors, Mr. Wolfe wrote that to him the term “meant writing nonfiction, from newspaper stories to books, using basic reporting to gather the material but techniques ordinarily associated with fiction, such as scene-by-scene construction, to narrate it.”

Regarding his work ethic:

Every morning he dressed in one of his signature outfits — a silk jacket, say, and double-breasted white vest, shirt, tie, pleated pants, red-and-white socks and white shoes — and sat down at his typewriter. Every day he set himself a quota of 10 pages, triple-spaced. If he finished in three hours, he was done for the day.

“If it takes me 12 hours, that’s too bad, I’ve got to do it,” he told George Plimpton in a 1991 interview for The Paris Review.

And finally, regarding this style:

But as an unabashed contrarian, he was almost as well known for his attire as his satire. He was instantly recognizable as he strolled down Madison Avenue — a tall, slender, blue-eyed, still boyish-looking man in his spotless three-piece vanilla bespoke suit, pinstriped silk shirt with a starched white high collar, bright handkerchief peeking from his breast pocket, watch on a fob, faux spats and white shoes. Once asked to describe his get-up, Mr. Wolfe replied brightly, “Neo-pretentious.”

And to end this, a quote from another author, Norman Mailer, who wrote in The New York Review of Books:

“Tom may be the hardest-working show-off the literary world has ever owned,” Mr. Mailer continued. “But now he will no longer belong to us. (If indeed he ever did!) He lives in the King Kong Kingdom of the Mega-bestsellers — he is already a Media Immortal. He has married his large talent to real money and very few can do that or allow themselves to do that.”

Damn, somebody is bitter! Norman, don’t be sore.

Read the full text at the NYT: Tom Wolfe, Pyrotechnic ‘New Journalist’ and Novelist, Dies at 88, and subscribe to your favorite newspaper to support journalists like Wolfe.

Roosevelt on victory and defeat

Roosevelt on victory and defeat

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

—Theodore Roosevelt, excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”

r.H. Sin on using Instagram as a writer

r.H.Sin is a best selling author that uses Instagram to post poems in the form of screenshots of text. In this article he explains his numerous experiments on the Internet until he landed the current formula. He specially emphasizes the effect hard work had in his success.

r.H. Sin on using Instagram as a writer

“That’s what they call it in the beginning, ‘we’re just talking,’ yet no one is saying anything,” he wrote. “People aren’t discussing things of substance. They’re not asking questions. All these forms of communication but no one communicates. Social media has become a way of window shopping, of watching other people love one another.”

“I am a workhorse. I think a lot of people in my industry are content with the ‘struggling artist’ ideology. I’m not. On any given day, my account brings in 600,000 to one million ‘likes.’ The object is to be seen or heard, and I make a lot of noise.”

“Your account should be growing, you should also be growing. Evolving is the point,” he said. “People bullshit in our niche, they say follower count doesn’t matter but how in the hell do you expect to reach this generation if they’re not following you in some form or capacity?”

—r.H. Sin, The Life of an Instagram Poet

Fiction: Space Parasite

Fiction: Space Parasite

Val put on the spacesuit, patted the pup on the head and approached the hatch. One of the propellers was down and she couldn’t stir the ship. She would have to go into space to investigate the damage from the outside. She checked the oxygen tank, and tested the magnetized boots. She set up a long rope attached to her belt. If something should fail, she could be back inside in a few seconds.

Val had been out in space less than 10 minutes when she saw it. A dark shadow behind the ship. It was crouching and moving along the hull towards her. It got closer. It came out from the shadow of the propeller. Val could see it clearly now.

It was a black and red slimy ball. It had long articulated extremities that looked like spidery tentacles. Val’s breathing stopped. It was a big one. The space parasite extended two of the bony tentacles and wrapped them around her right leg and arm. Before Val could pull back on her rope, the parasite jumped towards her.

Val thought of her dog. For one last fleeting instant she wondered if she had left enough food on the bowl to last four days until the next shift arrived.

—max zsol


Word of the day: Logotherapy

A useful term for an existentialist like me:

Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one’s life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans.
Logotherapy on Wikipedia

Viktor Frankl is a psychiatrist that introduces the topic of logotherapy based on his experiences as a Holocaust survivor.

Carl Richards On Judging Your Own Work

I had this experience enough times to realize that I was simply terrible at judging whether my work was good or not. And guess what? So are you. You’re just too close to it.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to matter, as your job now officially has nothing to do with deciding if the work is good. Your job is to do the work, put it out there and let the world decide.

Now, I know that sounds scary. But let’s be dead clear about something: You’re not John Steinbeck (and neither was he, at the start). You have to get there first. And the only way to do that is through practice and criticism. But the only way to get practice and criticism is to make and share your work.

—Carl Richards, Free Yourself of Your Harshest Critic, and Plow Ahead