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A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about. Ask me anything you can't Google.



Posts tagged "time"

Jul 22, 2014
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It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away.”
Abraham Lincoln, 1859

Jun 17, 2014
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Seneca, On The Shortness of Life

I really love the Penguin Great Ideas series of nicely designed skinny paperbacks. (I particularly like the Montaigne edition.)

I didn’t finish this one, only read 2 out of the 3 essays. (One of the promises I’ve made myself this year is that I won’t continue on with a book if it’s become a chore reading it.) But I liked the title essay (well, not really an essay, but a letter to Seneca’s friend, Paulinus).

On guarding your time (“Nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing.):


  Men do not let anyone seize their estates, and if there is the slightest dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms; but they allow others to encroach on their lives — why, they themselves even invite in those who will take over their lives. You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life! People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.


This is followed by a passage that haunts me, when Seneca says to “hold an audit of your life”:


  Call to mind when you ever had a fixed purpose; how few days have passed as you had planned; when you were ever at your own disposal; when your face wore its natural expression; when your mind was undisturbed…


On not mistaking age for wisdom or a well-lived life:


  You must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long. For suppose you should think that a man had had a long voyage who had been caught in a raging storm as he left harbor, and carried hither and thither and driven round and round in a circle by the rage of opposing winds? He did not have a long voyage, just a long tossing about.


The case for reading:


  [Those who read] not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs. All the years that have passed before them are added to their own…. We are excluded from no age, but we have access to them all.. why not turn from this brief and transient spell of time and give ourselves wholeheartedly to the past, which is limitless and eternal and can be shared with better men than we?


On climbing your own family tree (realizing now I basically plagiarized Seneca for Steal Like An Artist):


  We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us, that they were given to us by chance. But we can choose whose children we would like to be. There are households of the noblest intellects: choose the one into which you wish to be adopted, and you will inherit not only their name but their property too. Nor will this property need to be guarded meanly or grudgingly: the more it is shared out, the greater it will become.


On worrying about your “legacy”:


  Some men, after they have crawled through a thousand indignities to the supreme dignity, have been assailed by the gloomy thought that all their labors were but for the sake of an epitaph.


And some good one-liners:

Life is long if you know how to use it.
We are not given a short life but we make it short.
You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.
Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die.
The man who… organizes every day as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day.
The present is short, the future is doubtful, the past is certain.
Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.
They lose the day in waiting for the night.
Filed under: my reading year 2014

Seneca, On The Shortness of Life

I really love the Penguin Great Ideas series of nicely designed skinny paperbacks. (I particularly like the Montaigne edition.)

I didn’t finish this one, only read 2 out of the 3 essays. (One of the promises I’ve made myself this year is that I won’t continue on with a book if it’s become a chore reading it.) But I liked the title essay (well, not really an essay, but a letter to Seneca’s friend, Paulinus).

On guarding your time (“Nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing.):

Men do not let anyone seize their estates, and if there is the slightest dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms; but they allow others to encroach on their lives — why, they themselves even invite in those who will take over their lives. You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life! People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.

This is followed by a passage that haunts me, when Seneca says to “hold an audit of your life”:

Call to mind when you ever had a fixed purpose; how few days have passed as you had planned; when you were ever at your own disposal; when your face wore its natural expression; when your mind was undisturbed…

On not mistaking age for wisdom or a well-lived life:

You must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long. For suppose you should think that a man had had a long voyage who had been caught in a raging storm as he left harbor, and carried hither and thither and driven round and round in a circle by the rage of opposing winds? He did not have a long voyage, just a long tossing about.

The case for reading:

[Those who read] not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs. All the years that have passed before them are added to their own…. We are excluded from no age, but we have access to them all.. why not turn from this brief and transient spell of time and give ourselves wholeheartedly to the past, which is limitless and eternal and can be shared with better men than we?

On climbing your own family tree (realizing now I basically plagiarized Seneca for Steal Like An Artist):

We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us, that they were given to us by chance. But we can choose whose children we would like to be. There are households of the noblest intellects: choose the one into which you wish to be adopted, and you will inherit not only their name but their property too. Nor will this property need to be guarded meanly or grudgingly: the more it is shared out, the greater it will become.

On worrying about your “legacy”:

Some men, after they have crawled through a thousand indignities to the supreme dignity, have been assailed by the gloomy thought that all their labors were but for the sake of an epitaph.

And some good one-liners:

  • Life is long if you know how to use it.
  • We are not given a short life but we make it short.
  • You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.
  • Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die.
  • The man who… organizes every day as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day.
  • The present is short, the future is doubtful, the past is certain.
  • Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.
  • They lose the day in waiting for the night.

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Jun 09, 2014
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I needn’t rush myself, for that does no good — but I must carry on working in calm and serenity, as regularly and concentratedly as possible, as succinctly as possible. I’m concerned with the world only in that I have a certain obligation and duty, as it were — because I’ve walked the earth for 30 years — to leave a certain souvenir in the form of drawings or paintings in gratitude.
— Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, August 7, 1883

Jan 20, 2014
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thinkprocessnotproduct:

Studio Visits: Wayne White

“Catch things that have been falling for a thousand years.”

thinkprocessnotproduct:

Studio Visits: Wayne White

“Catch things that have been falling for a thousand years.”

Dec 28, 2013
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Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the battles of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something that happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time.
— Richard Walker, Twenty-Four Hours A Day

Sep 10, 2013
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If you put a drop in a bucket every day, after three hundred and sixty-five days, the bucket’s going to have some water in it.

Jun 09, 2013
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How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.
— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life (via)

May 13, 2013
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HERE IS TODAY

An interactive art/science HTML5 site illustrating the scale of time on Earth.

In case you needed reminding of your insignificance.

(thx gwenda)

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Be contemporary. Have impact. Strive for it. Be of the world. Move it. Be bold, don’t hold back. Then the moment you think you’ve been bold, be bolder. We are all alive today, ever so briefly here now, not then, not ago, not in some dreamworld of a hypothetical future. Whatever you do, you must make it contemporary. Make it matter now. You must give us a new path to tread, even if it carries the footfalls of old soles. You must not be immune to the weird urgency of today.

May 06, 2013
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90 minutes

Is 90 minutes the magic amount of time you need for a productive work session? explore-blog posted this bit of Tony Schwartz’s article, “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive”:

In the 1950s, the researchers William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that we sleep in cycles of roughly 90 minutes, moving from light to deep sleep and back out again. They named this pattern the Basic-Rest Activity Cycle or BRAC. A decade later, Professor Kleitman discovered that this cycle recapitulates itself during our waking lives.

The difference is that during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves — the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.

Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.

I was immediately reminded of John Cleese’s lecture on creativity:

Cleese specifically advocates taking 90 minutes to create space and time. It takes him about 30 minutes to calm down and open his mind, leaving an hour of creative time working on something.

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