On essential energies: George Saunders on the Rookie podcast

“If you have an essential energy, or a desire, even if it’s a little bit of a weird desire, I feel like, as somebody who’s almost 60, part of your job as a young person is to burn through that desire. Don’t look askance at it. If you want to be famous, alright, that’s how you were made — go for it. Whatever your desire is, as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, I think the idea is to burn through it quickly, cause then you find out what’s on the other side of it….

You can deny those essential energies, in which case they just fester your whole life and you’re frustrated, or you can say, “yea, I really want to be this.” And the quicker you do it — which means, if you’re gonna be something, be a good one — then I think you have the possibility of arriving at another place, where you’re like, “oh yea, actually, I don’t want fame, I want to be known for doing something good.” And you might burn through that into some other…. Throw down, a little bit.

…If you don’t take care of that stuff, then you’re not going to be fully present for the people who need you later. Even if you try and fail, you’re still gonna be free of that burden a little bit. So I think it can be a form of, I don’t know what you’d call it, sort of kindness to your future self, to go for it. If you want to go for it, go for it.”

Tavi Gevinson interviews George Saunders on the Rookie podcast, “The Split Second of Intuition,” May 16, 2017


5 hour energy inventor, on work and inventions, via ‘How I Built This’

“In order to make a good, worthwhile life you have to have confidence. The only way to have confidence is to do it yourself.”

“You have to be totally determined. I hate the word passionate because you get hit in the face a few times, passion seems to fade. Determination means your face hits the floor 20 times, you get up 21 times.”

Manoj on what you need: common sense, determination, and a sense of urgency. “Get it done, do it now, don’t delay.”

–Manoj Bhargava on How I Built This (5 Hour Energy inventor)


Sarah Oppenheimer talks about her art

“When you touch something you lose the distance and the self-containment required for a contemplative gaze, and I think that’s really, really interesting in relation to inhabiting architecture and specifically in relation to doors. The reason these works started to move, initially, is that I was very interested in the problem of a threshold, and the problem of a door, and how the door created the opportunity for change that had to do with how your body navigated passing through space. And I wanted the work to operate like a switch basically, like a door, that would allow you to enter once space and depart from another. …[The work] forces us to reconsider any primary orientation to the space we’re in, and also then, therefore, to this work itself.”

“I’ve been having a very long conversation about the possibility of the ‘door swing’ as a time-based trace. So if you look at how doors are represented in architectural drawings, they have this circular path that the door travels in. And it’s been interesting to think what happens when you’re drawing an eccentric rotation of a door. That simple circular path, first of all, is not so simple, it’s actually the trace of a time-based activity, crystallized into a single diagram. But when that motion becomes eccentric, meaning it doesn’t follow the axis of gravity, it starts to all sorts of unusual things. To me it became very, very interesting to think about how space mediated our engagement and our notion of memory and time and procession, as it evolved. And how every space in it had its own time, its own duration.”

“Glass is such an extraordinary material and I have found it endlessly surprising and challenging…. We often imagine that glass is marvelous when it has many different coatings but what is most extraordinary about it is that you see through it. And that points towards its dependency…. Things become dependent on other things; Like Matisse’s front is dependent on where the door lies in the room, I would say the transparency or reflectivity of the glass is dependent on where light is in relation to the glass. …It does all sorts of things and it really is a highly dependent condition. I suppose all things are, and somehow it feels like it performs its dependency in a more obvious way.”

–Sarah Oppenheimer on Tyler Green’s ‘Modern Art Notes’ on her new work #s334743

Listening: Mindfulness and Peace [On Being]

“Is your teaching any different if you’re speaking to members of Congress, or you’re speaking to Hollywood filmmakers, or you’re speaking to law enforcement officers?”

“The practice would be the same, but we need friends to show us how a certain group of people lead their lives; what type of suffering and difficulties they encounter in their lives, so that we can understand. And only after that we could offer the appropriate teaching and practice. That is why we continue to learn every day, with our practice and sharing.”

–Thich Nhat Hanh responds to a question from Krista Tippett on her podcast On Being

From a collection of diary entries from the 1960s entitled Fragrant Palm Leaves by Thich Nhat Hanh:

“If you tarnish your perceptions by holding on to suffering that isn’t really there, you create even greater misunderstanding. One-sided perceptions like these create our world of suffering. We are like an artist who is frightened by his own drawing of a ghost. Our creations become real to us, and even haunt us.”

Listening: On knowledge and meaning over time

“There is a really beautiful commencement address that Adrienne Rich gave in 1977 in which she said that, “an education is not something that you get, but something that you claim.” And I think that is very much true of knowledge itself. … We’ve been infected with this pathological impatience that makes us want to have the knowledge, but not to do the work of claiming it. The true material of knowledge is meaning, and the meaningful is the opposite of the trivial. The only thing that we should have gleaned by skimming and skipping forward [in a long article or a video] is trivia. And the only way to glean knowledge is contemplation. And the road to that is time. There’s nothing else. It’s just time. There’s no shortcut for the conquest of meaning. And ultimately, it is meaning that we seek to give to our lives.”

“We never see the world exactly as it is. We see it as we hope it will be or we fear it might be. And we spend our lives going through a sort of modified stages of grief about that realization. And we deny it, and we argue with it, and we despair over it, but eventually — and this is my belief — we come to see it not as despairing, but as vitalizing! We never see the world exactly as it is because we are how the world is. I think it was William James who said, “my experience is what I agree to attend to, and only those things which I notice shape my mind.” And so in choosing how we are in the world, we shape our experience of that world, or contribution to it; we shape our world: our inner world, our outer world, which is really the only one we’ll ever know. And to me, that’s the substance of the spiritual journey, and that’s not an exasperating idea, but an infinitely emboldening one.”

“Once again, I am gonna side with Thoreau. He said something like, “if the day and night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers, it’s more elastic and more starry and more immortal, that is your success.” And for me, that’s pretty much it. Waking up and being excited and curiously restless to face the day ahead and being very present with that day, and then going to bed feeling like it actually happened, that the day was lived; there’s nothing more than that really.”

–Krista Tippett speaks to Maria Popova, creator of Brain Pickings, in her podcast On Being