“We should have felt it to be not merely wrong, but unpleasant not to work every morning for seven days a week and for about eleven months a year. Every morning, therefore, at about 9:30 after breakfast each of us, as if moved by a law of unquestioned nature, went off and “worked” until lunch at 1. It is surprising how much one can produce in a year, whether of buns or books or pots or pictures, if one works hard and professionally for three and a half hours every day for 330 days.”—Leonard Woolf, in the fourth volume of his autobiography, quoted in Janet Malcolm’s Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers. (via somethingchanged)
We are here to witness the creation and abet it. We are here to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed. Together we notice not only each mountain shadow and each stone on the beach but, especially, we notice the beautiful faces and complex natures of each other. We are here to bring to consciousness the beauty and power that are around us and to praise the people who are here with us. We witness our generation and our times. We watch the weather. Otherwise, creation would be playing to an empty house.
According to the second law of thermodynamics, things fall apart. Structures disintegrate. Buckminster Fuller hinted at a reason we are here: By creating things, by thinking up new combinations, we counteract this flow of entropy. We make new structures, new wholeness, so the universe comes out even. A shepherd on a hilltop who looks at a mess of stars and thinks, ‘There’s a hunter, a plow, a fish,’ is making mental connections that have as much real force in the universe as the very fires in those stars themselves.
At Nextness, we believe that content doesn’t have to be new to be meaningful. So for the next few weeks, we’re going to go back through more than a year’s worth of Linkness reading round-up posts and pull some out when we think they still have relevance. The first one we’ve named “self-help.” It’s tongue-in-cheek, but as our popular side-project WHY? showed, working in communications and the creative industry can be hard. Here’s our favourite advice for how to get out of a slump.
Bring back the 40-hour work week (it’s actually unproductive to work more than that) | Salon.com
“The things that are meant to make you feel more connected today often turn out to be insubstantial time sinks – empty, programmatic encouragements to groom and refine your personality while sitting alone at a screen.” Better | The classic essay by Merlin Mann
“The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists. Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little.”—Banksy.
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.”—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Author Ray Bradbury Dies At 91 (via npr)
“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”—Maurice Sendak. RIP. (Via Catherine Campbell, Michelle.)
“None of us were real copywriters. I don’t think I got a single piece of copy accepted all the time I worked there. We used to write copy all day, but then our boss would come down from meetings and put on his cardigan, which was a sign that he was going to be creative, and he would rewrite everything we’d done… we couldn’t imagine why we were not being fired.”—Author Peter Carey on working in advertising.
“If you’re writing and you get stuck, and you then make tea, while waiting for the kettle to boil the chances are good ideas will occur to you. Seeing that a sentence has to have a particular shape can’t be forced; you have to wait for your own judgment to inform you, and it usually does, in time. Some interruptions are worth having if they create a space for something to work in the fertile unconscious. Indeed, some distractions are more than useful; they might be more like realizations and can be as informative and multilayered as dreams. They might be where the excitement is. You could say that attention needs to be paid to intuition; that one can learn to attend to the hidden self, and there might be something there worth listening to. If the Ritalin boy prefers obedience to creativity, he may be sacrificing his best interests in a way that might infuriate him later. A flighty mind might be going somewhere.”—The Art of Distraction | Hanif Kureishi, NYTimes.com