The “Red Book”. A feverishly-written, obtuse and deeply personal set of journal entries documenting one man’s descent into the bowels of his subconscious. For nearly a century, this remarkable story has remained a closely-guarded secret, despite it having given birth to one of the most significant psychotherapy methods in history.
That man, in case you were wondering, was Carl Gustav Jung; the Red Book is a documentation of the psychiatrist’s “creative madness” in 1913– during which he experienced vivid hallucinations and underwent a radical transformation as he grappled with his own inner world, emerging finally with the seeds of radical new theories of mythology, collective consciousness, dream interpretation and the imagination.
This text– along with Jung’s bizarrely vivid and intricate drawings– will be made available to the public this October, in what is sure to be a strange and unusual journey for readers.
“The text is dense, often poetic, always strange,” writes a wonderful New York Times article on the story. But there is no doubt– “Once it’s published, there will be a ‘before’ and ‘after’ of Jungian scholarship.”
Once again I am impressed by the courage this must have taken to complete– much less publish nearly 100 years later. Can’t wait!
Think every idea for an internet startup is taken? Think all the “good stuff” on mobile platforms has been squeezed out of the Web, so that all we’ll be left with are lolcats and iFart?
There are still hundreds of ways to provide solid value to people– and more all the time. To prove the point, I decided to spend an hour and think up some new ideas– none of which are (at this point) taken. Feel free to develop them as you wish
This is the second excerpt from The Anatomy of Awareness, my 260-page book illustrating a groundbreaking, mindbending new theory of human consciousness known as Wave/Containment (recently completed, and currently seeking publication). Be sure to read Part One, entitled “Notes on Dying”. For more information, look here.
An old master was once asked, ‘What is the Way?’
‘The Way is right before your eyes,” he replied.
“Because you are thinking of yourself.”
Flustered, the student continued. “What about you: do you see it?”
To which the master responded: “So long as you are double, saying I don’t and you do, your eyes are clouded.”
The student nodded and departed, apparently satisfied with the answer. Yet after several days, he came back to the masters home and asked: “When there is neither I nor You, can one see it?”
The master smiled and shook his head in amusement.
“When there is neither I nor You, who is the one that wants to see it?”
New Years’ Eve always fills me with optimism: the chance to look back and pick apart the year and decide where to focus next. The tradition of New Years’ resolutions certainly isn’t new, but I try to treat each New Year as a totally blank slate, cut off from past events and energies. Doing so has two advantages: one, that you define exactly what you want first, and allow that vision to sustain itself (and change, if necessary) through the events of the year. The second advantage is that it immediately places control in your hands, rather than in the vagaries of time. You’re entirely responsible for what happens.
This year seems particularly conducive to optimism: with the election of Obama, the global economic avalanche, and (on a more personal note) my graduation from college, the future is anything but certain. With all that ambiguity comes a special kind of potential: anything can happen now. I’ve also had a special feeling about the year 2009 for as long as I can remember, so I hope that intuition holds true.
I recently came upon the term “post-digital”, here described by its (presumed) creator, John Maeda.
I am often asked what my term “post digital” signifies. It is a term that I created as a way to acknowledge a distinction between those that are passed [sic] their fascination with computers, and are now driven by the ideas instead of the technology. It is not an expression of Luddite-ism nor is it a loaded term like that icky “post modernism” business. If we are to consider the book by Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital, as an affirmation that the computer has arrived, then the “post digital” generation refers to the growing few that have already been digital, and are now more interested in Being Human. Buying a good computer is easy. Being a good person is something that cannot be merely bought… even on the great god of eBay.
This idea is really interesting for a few reasons: for one, it’s important to realize that technological “breakthroughs” don’t necessarily signify real progress. The only progress we can measure is what happens in our own heads, the awareness we have of ourselves and our world, the new thinking that comes with these new technologies. If we don’t acquire a fundamentally new (or fundamentally more complete) reality as a result of our technologies, we are actively losing ground.
Axel Peemoeller’s phenomenal treatment of Melbourne’s “Eureka” carpark uses distorted signage splayed across entire walls, beams, and floors; nearly illegible at close range, at the right height and distance the words become two-dimensional, literally “popping out” of the walls and directing drivers where to go.
Peemoeller says that the design has one “numerous international awards” but has not mentioned which. The amount of work that went into this is clearly worthy of such awards! I’m still not entirely sure how a project like this gets put together.
I would especially love to see this in motion–watching the perfectly-clear letters begin to distort and flicker into meaninglessness would be amazing. Any Australians want to put up some video?
I realize now that living in New York has instilled in me a sense of impending doom.
Not doom in the sense of the world ending (sure, we have those issues with planes blowing up the neighborhood); I mean doom in the context of going somewhere with one’s life. Doom in the very real sense that every second we have is valuable (and, potentially, profitable).
New York breeds some of the most determined and hardest-working people on earth. From the street cleaners to CEOs, everyone is trying to get ahead, and the only way to do that (given that we all live a roughly equal number of days) is to work harder, or faster, or better. Being surrounded by this energy, especially living somewhere like Wall Street, gave me the constant signal that everything should be very very important. Work when you’re on break. Work when you’re on the train. Every second you aren’t working is a second someone else is.
The thing is, far from being neurotic (though my friends might beg to differ), I think this energy helps me prioritize. It’s true, I always claim to be busy. It’s also true that I always claim to be having fun. This is no accident.
In truth, people become more lazy and more unmotivated the more “breaks” they take. Why go back to work at all, after a certain point? If your work requires you to stop so often, it’s probably not something you want to be doing. If it was really tailored to your energy levels and tapped into your real drive, hours would go by before you even considered stopping. The fact is that 99% of what we do is irrelevant to our core motives, detached from our real passions. But this is something you can change. You can choose to move forward towards your goals, or you can choose to have the same day over and over again until you die. Which do you choose?
Next time you’re faced with a decision about what to do next, which “next action” to cover, ask yourself this:
Which choice will put me in a position of greater knowing? Which choice will I look back on and say, ‘that was important’?
You’d be surprised at how much that clears up.
Most of our lives, we’re caught up in an endless loop of consistently choosing the least-useful path, simply because it requires less effort. We’re not just creatures of habit, we’re creatures of laziness. What did you do today that was dramatically different from yesterday? Can you name five things? Three? Even one?
It takes courage to do something unique, something difficult, every single day. But damn, is it worthwhile.
Every morning when I wake up, I ask myself if I’m truly moving forward. If I’m not, I want to know it as soon as my day starts, and address it right then and there–not after 14 hours are wasted on projects I don’t care about, or whose outcomes don’t affect me.
New York may be a hell of a bizarre place to live, but at least it’s been a good teacher.
Are you better prepared today than you were yesterday? Are you closer to the things you want? Are you working, or just surviving?
No matter how overworked you might be, or how tired you feel, or how much you hate the idea of challenging yourself with new directions, there’s still time to learn something new today. This is the internet. Read something worthwhile. Just one new piece of information a day will mean you’ve learned 30 new things in a month. And at least one of those things might completely change your ideas about yourself and your career.
It’s worth the effort.
Much has been made of our universe’s seeming repetition of form, of nature’s unerring patterns splayed out in galaxies and electron orbits; wherever we look, we find clues written in the same language. Infinite and infintesimal seem not such polar opposites when one encounters the glow of nebulae within a cell, the roots of trees echoed in your iris. What does it mean, that these designs scale so endlessly?
On a warm summer night in upstate New York, the crackling lights of fireflies floated like lanterns in the darkness; I remember being astonished by the amount of activity they generated, the constancy of their flashing, their sheer ludicrous numbers. Several were flickering overhead, but as they began to flash and group in more geometric patterns I realized that they weren’t fireflies at all– they were a plane.
Without a sense of scale, fireflies and airplanes become the same symbol, the same candles in an unending night: are we really so different from them? Are our lights, or theirs, anything more than signals thrown against the unknowable?
Arthur C. Clarke, one of the pioneering minds of science fiction and a significant scientist and inventor, passed away at the age of 90 today. Many of his words have served me in my deepest inspirations over the years, and his startlingly prescient novels somehow become more relevant with time. From 2001 to Childhood’s End to (my favorite) The Light of Other Days (coauthored with Stephen Baxter), Clarke’s stories entangled Eastern thought with a Science both powerful and savagely human; his characters, flawed and often unaware of the significance of their actions, confronted awe-inspiring and immeasurable ethical, spiritual, and moral challenges with ingenuity, maturity, and of course, incredible new technologies that, more often than not, caused more problems than they solved. Ultimately mankind, at least in Clarke’s mind, would always rise to the occasion… even if it meant growing up a little.
Rest in peace, Arthur. We owe our future to you.
The great and terrible secret of our culture–indeed, of the world–is that our financial and social rewards are directly proportional to the percentage of our lives that we “hand over”. Long before we are able to conceive of the future, we are asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. Long before we are able to understand why or how we’ll get there, we are asked, “where do you want to go to college?”. And at some seemingly-random point, we are asked “what are you going to do?”
What am I going to do? I’m going to be alive; to dream and explore and experience as much as possible. Is that not good enough? Is that not a life lived richly?