Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

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Too often, convinced of our own intelligence, we stay in a comfort zone that ensures that we never feel stupid (and are never challenged to learn or reconsider what we know). It obscures from view various weaknesses in our understanding, until eventually it’s too late to change course. This is where the silent toll is taken.

Each of us faces a threat as we pursue our craft. Like sirens on the rocks, ego sings a soothing, validating song— which can lead to a wreck. The second we let the ego tell us we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt. That’s why Frank Shamrock said, “Always stay a student.” As in, it never ends.

~ Ryan Holiday, excerpt from his new book “Ego is the Enemy” published June, 2016.


Notes:

 

 

A demanding mistress

You work and you work and you work and you work and you work, and you are determined to wrestle this thing to the ground, making art… But your vision is not yet formed, your work does not yet bear that distinctive mark, your unique hand, your DNA… In your despair, you toss and you turn, crying yourself to sleep night after night after night, endlessly doubting, endlessly doubting your ability and sometimes feeling like a motherless child. I have been there — I know. Searching high and low for your own voice, for your own expressive utterance, you lead yourself down paths that dissipate… Confused and fuzzy, you begin to imagine that all the forces of the world are conspiring against you…

And yet, and still, the pursuit — that driving thing called art — hounds you, and you don’t know any rest. And, determined to make a way out of no way every day, you rise up and you hit it, own it, go into your studio… Art is a demanding mistress.

~ Carrie Mae Weems, 2016 School of Visual Arts Commencement Speech


Sources: Photo – Gund Gallery. Quote: Brainpickings

WaterPassion

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Kerstin Kuntze, 50, is from Cologne, Germany. She is an artist who uses photography melded with graphic infusion.  She explains in Saatchi Art:

“…and most of all it’s about passion. Picture making has always been an internal compulsion; my first urges began as a child, “I was always drawing” – these impulses continuing through to the present. My search for the internal brilliance of subject matter drives me. My artwork displays a wide range of emotions embodying colors from darkest black to fieriest red. I sincerely desire that my passion and the intensities of my emotion will be conveyed through visual creations touching you in a personal way. There are a myriad of reasons to create – this quest has become my life.

Don’t miss her entire series: WaterPassionº

 

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call: A little country in between where I can be the king

Yoann-Lemoine

It’s uncomfortable because you’re never going to be an expert in every field. I’m not the best director and I’m not the best musician – and I don’t think I will ever be – but at least there is a little country in between where I can be the king. It’s probably going to be a small country, but at least I can live there happily…

I think that pressure of wanting to absolutely succeed precisely on the one thing is very toxic. I do want to succeed in general, but I’ve been asking myself, “What is success really to you?” And I’ve been thinking a lot about it and I think that success to me is to manage to be free, but also to do things that I like. It seems very stupid, but at the end of the day if I completely like and am proud of what I do, then to me it’s success.

~ Yoann Lemoine,I’m not there yet” (Director of Woodkid)


Notes:

  • Yoann Lemoine, 33, is a French music video director, graphic designer and singer-songwriter. His most notable works include his music video direction for Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”, Taylor Swift’s single “Back to December”, Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die” and Mystery Jets’ “Dreaming of Another World”.
  • Quote source: Clean Well Lighted Place.
  • Photo: Moving Image

Aspiring to be a (fill in the blank here)…

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You aspire to be a writer, a photographer, a painter, an actor, a journalist – an anything.  You need to take a few moments to read this excerpt and then continue on to the full post.

“I read those words, and had a sticky, squirmy reaction; I felt the way I do when I stand back and witness the horror of someone else’s undoing. It’s a tight kink in the stomach; a hard walnut in the throat. We’ve all been there, haven’t we: we’ve seen the speaker who loses the words. The young actor who blanks out on stage. The musician who forgets the chords. The writer — the food writer; science writer; academic; novelist; it doesn’t matter — blocked by fear. We wince. Who are they to even try, some whisper as we watch them tumble from their place. When it comes our time, we become that person, naked on the stage: doubtful, panicky, assured by the nagging, the poison, the gossipy gremlin chatter over our shoulders, promising that we too, will most certainly, most definitely, fail…”

Read entire post here: Elissa Altman @ Poor Man’s Feast.


Notes:

 

Your turn. Go ahead. Light up your particle episode.

  
It is through the individual brain alone that there passes the momentary illumination in which a whole country-side may be transmuted in an instant…Man’s mind, like the expanding universe itself, is engaged in pouring over limitless horizons…The great artist, whether he is a musician, painter, or poet, is known for this absolute unexpectedness.  One does not see, one does not hear, until he speaks to us out of that limitless creativity which is his gift.

The flash of lightning in a single brain also flickers along the horizon of our more ordinary heads. Without that single lightning stroke in a solitary mind, however, the rest of us would never have known the fairyland of The Tempest, the midnight world of Dostoevsky, or the blackbirds on the yellow harvest fields of Van Gogh. We would have seen the blackbirds and endured the depravity of our own hearts, but it would not be the same landscape that the act of genius transformed. The world without Shakespeare’s insights is a lesser world, our griefs shut more inarticulately in upon themselves. We grow mute at the thought – just as an element seems to disappear from sunlight without Van Gogh. Yet these creations we might call particle episodes in the human universe – acts without precedent, a kind of disobedience of normality, unprophesiable by science, unduplicable by other individuals on demand. They are part of that unpredictable newness which keeps the universe from being fully explored by man.

Loren Eiseley, “Strangeness in the Proportion” from The Night Country


Image: eikadan

di·lem·ma (n)

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And it occurs to me that
there is a proper balance between
not asking enough of oneself and
asking or expecting too much.
It may be that I set my sights too high
and so repeatedly end a day in depression.
Not easy to find the balance,
for if one does not have wild dreams of achievement,
there is no spur even to get the dishes washed.
One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude


Notes: Image Source: Mennyfox55. Related posts: May Sarton

They’re simply too good. Better to close your eyes and carry on with your own work.

Karl-Ove-Knausgaard

Before I begin this review, I have to make a small confession. I have never read Michel Houellebecq’s books. This is odd, I concede, since Houellebecq is considered a great contemporary author, and one cannot be said to be keeping abreast of contemporary literature without reading his work. His books have been recommended to me ever since 1998, most often “The Elementary Particles,” by one friend in particular, who says the same thing every time I see him. You have to read “The Elementary Particles,” he tells me, it’s awesome, the best book I’ve ever read. Several times I’ve been on the verge of heeding his advice, plucking “The Elementary Particles” from its place on my shelf and considering it for a while, though always returning it unread. The resistance to starting a book by Houellebecq is too great. I’m not entirely sure where it comes from, though I do have a suspicion, because the same thing goes for the films of Lars von Trier: When “Antichrist” came out I couldn’t bring myself to see it, neither in the cinema nor at home on the DVD I eventually bought, which remains in its box unwatched. They’re simply too good. What prevents me from reading Houellebecq and watching von Trier is a kind of envy — not that I begrudge them success, but by reading the books and watching the films I would be reminded of how excellent a work of art can be, and of how far beneath that level my own work is. Such a reminder, which can be crushing, is something I shield myself from by ignoring Houellebecq’s books and von Trier’s films. That may sound strange, and yet it can hardly be unusual. If you’re a carpenter, for instance, and you keep hearing about the amazing work of another carpenter, you’re not necessarily going to seek it out, because what would be the good of having it confirmed that there is a level of excellence to which you may never aspire? Better to close your eyes and carry on with your own work, pretending the master carpenter doesn’t exist.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, from his review of Michel Houellebecq’s “Submission


Since the emergence of the six volumes of My Struggle, which began in 2009 and continues as the books are translated into dozens of languages, Karl Ove Knausgaard, 46, has become one of the 21st century’s greatest literary sensations. […] It was jarring to think that this unassuming guy, driving a scuffed van cluttered with toys, old CDs and a baby seat, is quite probably in line to receive a Nobel Prize in literature for his epic saga of what he describes as “the tormented inner life of one male.”

~ Liesl Schillinger, Why Karl Ove Knausgaard Can’t Stop Writing

Amateurs. Seeking mastery? Here’s our Truth.

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TRUTH. In a second.

He’s the spark for this share.  Greg Cowles, editor of the NY Times Book Review, reviews Mary Karr’s new book The Art of Memoir.  One sentence in his review (also titled The Art of Memoir) summarizes his thoughts on the book:

It is not, alas, a very good book. Repetitive, unorganized, unsure of its audience or tone, it can’t decide whether it wants to be a how-to guide or a work of critical analysis.

Here’s my review of the book review in fewer words: BAH!

Now on to the Truth, our Truth, Truth for anyone seeking mastery of anything – with the most illuminating excerpt from Karr’s new book.


[Read more…]

Burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be

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I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be.

Martha said to me, very quietly: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. As for you, Agnes, you have so far used about one-third of your talent.”

“But,” I said, “when I see my work I take for granted what other people value in it. I see only its ineptitude, inorganic flaws, and crudities. I am not pleased or satisfied.”

“No artist is pleased.”

“But then there is no satisfaction?”

“No satisfaction whatever at any time,” she cried out passionately. “There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

~ Agnes de Mille, The Life and Work of Martha Graham


Credits: Quote Source: Brainpickings. Image: Your Eyes Blaze Out

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