TIL that the term “Abracadabra” is actually a Hebrew phrase meaning “I create what I speak.”
According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one experiment, the social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer asked 83 German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images, or fantasies on the subject of transition into work life, graduating from university, looking for and finding a job.” Two years later, they approached the same students and asked about their post-college job experiences. Those who harbored positive fantasies put in fewer job applications, received fewer job offers, and ultimately earned lower salaries. The same was true in other contexts, too. Students who fantasized were less likely to ask their romantic crushes on a date and more likely to struggle academically. Hip-surgery patients also recovered more slowly when they dwelled on positive fantasies of walking without pain…
Fantasies hamper progress [because] they dull the will to succeed: “Imagining a positive outcome conveys the sense that you’re approaching your goals, which takes the edge off the need to achieve.”
The negative side of positive thinking.
Pair with similar wisdom from The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.
Fascinating and beautiful.
Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us—a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain—it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I’m deep in my own. To say “going through the motions”—this isn’t reduction so much as acknowledgment of the effort—the labor, the motions, the dance—of getting inside another person’s state of heart or mind.
This confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always arise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones.
The billionth digit of pi is 9,
The last month without a full moon,
This morning I am making a list
Of the last lines of parables
About the work of numbers, about
Calculations, marking the speed
With which blood travels, as if three feet
Per second were like the blessings
Likewise, the scrupulous archeological ethic of unending patience and monastic devotion to detail—seamlessly mirrored in its preferred optic, that of the clinical close-up—is, in spirit, close to the obsessive labor or “science” of art-making that often requires plodding through hours, days, and weeks of menial rubble-and-manure-shoveling before something that may (or may not) resemble a work of art emerges. Michelangelo’s sculptures of dying slaves wresting themselves free from the marble in which the artist “found” them captive continue to provide what is perhaps the archeological paradigm’s most gripping image.5Furthermore, there can also be no archeology withoutdisplay—the modern culture of museum display (if not of the museum itself) is as much “produced” by the archeologist’s desire to exhibit his or her findings as it is by the artist’s confused desire to communicate his or hers. After all, the logical conclusion of all excavatory activity is the encasing of History’s earthen testimony within a beautiful, exquisitely lit, amply labeled glass box—an apt description, indeed, of much artistic and meta-artistic or curatorial activity of the last decade and a half.6Finally (and most importantly, perhaps), art and archeology also share a profound understanding—and one might say that they are on account of this almost “naturally” inclined to aMarxist epistemology—of the primacy of thematerialin all culture, the overwhelming importance of mere “matter” and “stuff” in any attempt to grasp and truly read the cluttered fabric of the world. The archaeologist’s commitment is to earth and dirt, hoping that it will one day yield the truth of historical time; the artist’s commitment is to the crude facts of his or her working material (no matter how “virtual” or, indeed,immaterialthis may be), which is equally resistant to one-dimensional signification and making-sense, equally prone to entropy—yet likewise implicated in a logic of truth-production.
This is one of the most brilliant things you will read about art & aesthetic.