The Heroism of Being a Contrarian: Jacob Bronowski on the Essential Character Trait of the Creative Person – Brain Pickings

Jacob Bronowski is a hero of mine for his Ascent of Man television series.  He is one of the most democratic and broad thinkers I have read.  This article challenges me as I am too relaxed and not contrarian to any great degree.  I recommend watching the television series, “The Ascent of Man.” (Though I would rename it, “The Ascent of Us”).

Source: The Heroism of Being a Contrarian: Jacob Bronowski on the Essential Character Trait of the Creative Person – Brain Pickings

(Book photo from Amazon)

Posted in Art, books, creativity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Get a better life: say NO.

This article is a useful counter balance to the “self help myth”.

I am clear, one day I will go into my doctor’s office and I will leave a dead man.  That is life, one day I will die.   What is more, I have learned that setting limits is necessary if I am to look after myself and be any use at all.  That is not to say that a useful self discipline is harmful but we must be real.  Positive thinking has limits.

So…  According to Professor Svend Brinkmann from the Department Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University in Denmark we must reconsider positive thinking mythology:

He suggests:  Relax about your health; Honestly learn from the bad stuff; Say no, “No!”; manage your emotions; read a novel (or biography), learn from your history, “Who are you”?

Let us consider that.

Say NO. Focus on the negative aspects. Repress your emotions. That kind of advice probably does not sound right to a lot of people, but it’s a better idea than following fanatically positive, self-help books, concludes a professor of psychology.

Source: Get a better life: say no

Duncan C Flickr

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I tracked my happiness for a year to get data on how to build a more joyful life

I am finding this a useful and thoughtful article.  Both as a technique I can use and the writer’s conclusions match what I think makes me happy.  Meeting personal stretch goals and time with family and friends and my guitar are when I am happiest.

It is also useful, because the analysis of happiness in this way, leads to the opportunity to make choices to gain more happiness.  Sounds like a great way to begin the year.  Or a change at any time.

Have a look, the ideas may help.

I spent a year recording every time I felt overwhelmingly happy—thereby figuring out the best ways to spend my time and energy.

Source: I tracked my happiness for a year to get data on how to build a more joyful life


Posted in creativity, education | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Consumer culture is dead. Long live creators | Aeon Essays

This is a fascinating and useful essay which I read in “A Culture Reader for Writers.  Ed. John Mark.  2014).  I found the Aeon version later after I had written notes.

The question is why does creative work help so much?  This essay helps with a number of clear thoughts.  I agree that creative action teaches “agency”.  The habit of acting to create anything, leads to confidence and agency in life.

Growth. That’s it!

Art, science, music, entrepreneurship, community work, education, industry; all begin with creative agency.

Here are my notes:

“Our longing to create that is our deepest drive and the one that makes us the most humans.  We ignore this at our own cost.”

“Any act that helps to empower a person creatively can ignite the imaginative spark without which life of any kind struggles – and in many senses fails – even to begin.”

“The simple idea, that creativity is central to our ongoing growth as human beings, opens up a very distinctive understanding of what it means to make something.”

“The growth that comes from progress through the stages of any artistic discipline provides a backbone for our intellectual and emotional development as human beings.”

“As much as our social hierarchies are about limiting and controlling access to wealth, they are also about limiting and controlling access to creativity.  Increasingly, the real benefit that money buys is the time, freedom and power to act creatively.”

“Our systems of government; business and education must make their mission to support the fulfilment of every human being.”

Infatuated by celebrity, stuck in dreary work, addicted to consumerism. Only a creator culture can save us

Source: Consumer culture is dead. Long live creators | Aeon Essays


Posted in Art, creativity, education, healthy, music, Science | Tagged , ,

What Does the World Oldest Surviving Piano Sound Like?: Watch Pianist Give a Performance on a 1720 Cristofori Piano | Open Culture

I cannot imagine the world without a piano.  So many hours listening to Sarah, my daughter, learn and play this amazing and expressive instrument. (Sarah has played on the Red Piano, pictured, when it was at Te Manawa, here in Palmerston North).

This is a recording of the earliest know piano.  Please listen and read the notes.

Imagine your favorite works for the piano—the delicate and haunting, the thundering and powerful. The minimalism of Erik Satie, the Romanticism of Claude Debussy or Modest Mussorgsky, the rapturous swooning of Beethoven’s concertos.

Source: What Does the World Oldest Surviving Piano Sound Like?: Watch Pianist Give a Performance on a 1720 Cristofori Piano | Open Culture

He Korero Purakau mo te Awanui o te Motu: story of a New Zealand river

He Korero Purakau mo te Awanui o te Motu: story of a New Zealand river

Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review: The Age of Wonder Richard Holmes

The age of wonder: How the romantic generation discovered the beauty and terror of science. Richard Holmes 2008. Pantheon Books, New York.

This is a different direction for me. Biography is outside my normal reading and as such a possibility and learning something new.

Richard Holmes has made of life writing biography, with a particular focus on the romantic poets and era.  That brought him into the area of science and scientists of that time; beginning with Joseph Banks and concluding with Humphry Davy.  The period’s discoveries included:   Cook’s voyages of discovery, the discovery of new comets, planets, galaxies,  laughing gas, human flight in balloons, the gas laws and invention of the safety lamp.

Socially and politically, English society was at the forefront of science and the enlightenment’s expansion.  This was underpinned by social and cultural progress but not all positive.  Early on, Richard describes the fate of early feminists, marginalised and rejected by those in power, to suffer poverty and early death.  And, of course, this was the time of Mary Shelly author of Frankenstein.  A fear of consequences still relevant and central to policymaking  today.  And, I’m disturbed by the influence Banks had on the careers and lives of so many as President of the Royal Society, picking favour and disfavour.

As a story of science and scientists this book is fascinating.  How discoveries were made against the backdrop of the times and the stories of the friendships and marriages of the subjects.  And a sense of time passing.

For me, the most poignant thing was the way the Royal Society was developed by the passion and persistence of men; particularly, Banks; for better and worst.  And how things I think obvious: the periodic table and anaesthetics, for example, were struggled with.   I was particularly struck when the use of nitrous oxide as an anaesthetic was missed by the early chemists, and of the descriptions of child birth and surgery without pain relief.  We take so much as normal that was developed in this period.

That brings me to one final point; the way institutions we take for granted, struggled in their early years and the way they can fail.

I think reading biography is useful and fascinating.  I recommend this book.



Posted in Beautiful, books, community, education, leadership, Science | Tagged , | Leave a comment

wanderingspace » Blog Archive » Saturnati XII

Just a beautiful photograph to expand our perspective.



wanderingspace » Blog Archive » Saturnati XII.

Posted in Beautiful, community, Curiosity, Science | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Laura Mvula warns school cuts will leave music as preserve of the wealthy

This is a thoughtful piece from the Guardian by Laura Mvula on the need to continue supporting and encouraging a broad base of subjects in school.  Especially music.

Those of you who know me will know, I play the guitar, badly, and music is a big part of our family.  As we seek sustainable ways of life, creative ways of living will be important and everyone having access to training and opportunity will be essential.

What is more, music is one place we learn grit; practising over time encourages long term vision and practice.  Another important factor.

So support the arts in schools, especially music.

Children’s cultural horizons will be limited to the X Factor, says singer and former teacher

Source: Laura Mvula warns school cuts will leave music as preserve of the wealthy

My Cellist


Posted in Art, Beautiful, cooperative, music | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Grit: the power of passion and perseverance. Angela Duckworth

Book Review: Grit: the power of passion and perseverance. Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania.
This book is also the subject of a thoughtful TED talk…, “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance.”
I was bought up with the thought, “If at first you don’t succeed; try, try, try again.” I did not release at the time but I was learning to stick at things, to be “gritty”. Why is this important? Many believe that grit is a personal strength that leads to resilience and long term success.
Grit is defined in the Webster dictionary as, “Courage and resolve; strength of character.” That is, gritty people are more likely to continue working hard toward challenging goals. Angela Duckworth finds that “Gritty people” are more likely to succeed academically and professionally. She writes, “… achievement is the product of talent and effort, the latter a function of the intensity, direction, and duration of one’s exertions toward a long term goal.”
In her book, and TED talk, Angela outlines what grit is, how and why grit leads to success and how to encourage development of grit. It’s a useful concept, loved by many. Elizabeth Gilbert author of the best selling book, “Eat, Prey, Love” puts it this way, “Happiness is a consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist on it.” And J.K. Rowling put it, “I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” Both these successes came after decades of practice. No overnight successes here.
But is this the whole story? I think we must take care. My personal story is that I am successful because I stick to things; however, I am not a secondary teacher because I burned out. Sometimes a strategic retreat is the best thing. Blindly sticking to a dream can be stupid and unhealthy. I like the Law of holes, “When you are in one. Stop digging.”
In New Zealand were encouraged to worship our All Backs. Colin Meads, an All Black Captain, once finished a game with a broken arm. Personally I think that is just stupid. Gritty people are interested in long term success, sometimes that means; stop and reassess the intermediate goal. I am pleased that Angelia does develop this idea in her book, with a chapter on resetting short and intermediate goals but I am not sure if that goes far enough. But I think that sometimes the thing to do is to quit.
There is no sense in beating a dead horse. Balance is always a sensible idea; be gritty, work hard; maybe, even obsessively toward your goals and remember to look after yourself and those you love.
I recommend this book and the TED talk. And I encourage the reader to be ‘gritty’ and to seek balance in your life.


Posted in creativity, Curiosity, education, healthy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Clitoris vs vagina: When studying the female orgasm, the whole is more than the sum of its parts

This is a taboo area for me.

I’m nervous about this stuff but as we seek sustainable and beautiful ways of life honest and loving relationships are essential.   So we must be more open about our sexuality.  What is more, we are increasingly seeing the results of scientific studies that complicate simple (read traditional) views on human sexual behavior.

Why is this important?  As a general rule, the more individuals know about sexuality and the more control they have with their sexuality the fewer children they have (sustainability) and the happier they are (beauty).

The conclusion stated below is no surprise to me; and the conclusion is true for men too.

The female orgasm can’t be understood by focusing on a single part of the body, says research.

Source: Clitoris vs vagina: When studying the female orgasm, the whole is more than the sum of its parts

warm calm light


Posted in community, cooperative, education, healthy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment