What tricks do illusions play on the mind?

Thanks to the internet, optical illusions again become popular. Maybe there’s some irony about the revived interest in these visual tricks: the most popular illusions rely on people not looking too closely — and not looking too closely is one of the key side effects of internet-based media use. They are obviously fascinating if you […]

What tricks do illusions play on the mind?

Walter Benjamin on mass distraction!

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was a German philosopher who committed suicide for not being able to escape under sieged France. The text was below was taken from his books The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936), an essay on cultural criticism on mass reproduction that undervalues the uniqueness of art.

“The mass is a matrix from which all traditional behavior toward works of art issues today in a new form. Quantity has been transmuted into quality. The greatly increased mass of participants has produced a change in the mode of participation. The fact that the new mode of participation first appeared in a disreputable form must not confuse the spectator. Yet some people have launched spirited attacks against precisely this superficial aspect. Among these, Duhamel has expressed himself in the most radical manner. What he objects to most is the kind of participation which the movie elicits from the masses. Duhamel calls the movie “a pastime for helots, a diversion for uneducated, wretched, worn-out creatures who are consumed by their worries a spectacle which requires no concentration and presupposes no intelligence which kindles no light in the heart and awakens no hope other than the ridiculous one of someday becoming a ‘star’ in Los Angeles.” Clearly, this is at bottom the same ancient lament that the masses seek distraction whereas art demands concentration from the spectator. That is a commonplace.

Distraction and concentration form polar opposites which may be stated as follows: A man who concentrates before a work of art is absorbed by it. He enters into this work of art the way legend tells of the Chinese painter when he viewed his finished painting. In contrast, the distracted mass absorbs the work of art. This is most obvious with regard to buildings. Architecture has always represented the prototype of a work of art the reception of which is consummated by a collectivity in a state of distraction. The laws of its reception are most instructive.

The distracted person, too, can form habits. More, the ability to master certain tasks in a state of distraction proves that their solution has become a matter of habit

Reception in a state of distraction, which is increasing noticeably in all fields of art and is symptomatic of profound changes in apperception, finds in the film its true means of exercise”. 

Drawing instead of writing

As I wrote in an older post, I belong to the paper generation. Typing a post on the computer requires from me some scratching on a paper. I believe there is a mechanism which goes from the hand to the brain making my ideas flow much better than typing on the cold keyboard.

Putting aside the romantic in me or the child in me who loves stationary shops, the writer in me is blocked. I tried to focus but there is so much going on in the world that I can’t grasp nor process.

While the world has eyes on the U.S presidential elections, while a french history teacher was slaughtered for bringing up a delicate subject, the freedom of speech, while racist and anti racist dialogues have been everywhere on the news, while feminism is becoming an extreme feminism, while wars are on a bit everywhere, while #covid19 still striking… I found myself drawing with my blue inked pen.

In fact, I love drawing with a pen. It is more difficult because erasing is not possible. Anyway, there was something liberating about doing it. My mind was clearer: the world is a mad men place! The clearer this idea was, the more I drew lines.

It didn’t solve the problems of the world and it certainly didn’t make people more aware but it surely made me happy for a while.

I hope you will like my drawings!

On minimalistic sketches

Minimalism is everywhere on social media. Suddenly, people realized that abundance is somehow a burden especially in times of lockdown. How many pairs of shoes does one need? It all goes back to the need and desire dilemma. A world based on marketing, desire and compulsion is indeed marketing abundance.

In this perspective, without being completely for minimalism nor against it, I try to draw minimalistic sketches.

It takes such a short time to be done with one uninterrupted line. I loved the exercise. It takes precision, practice and a sharp observation.

Same is required for minimalism in general. It takes precision, experience, practice and a sharp observation in order to look put together.

Creativity’s backup

Self-expression is one click away. Anyone can show up to their beliefs, ideas and crafts.

Talents are overpraised and overrated.

There’s no such thing as a talent. There is potential to be cultivated.

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. However the beholder doesn’t see the backstage tremendous effort.

A great result requires a great work!

It’s not about finding a passion then starting to work on it. It’s about doing everything (or almost everything) passionately. It’s about showing up every single day.

Procrastination is the fear of failing.

Only hard work is the creativity’s backup.

The need of a “Bedtime story”

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Studio on dribbble.com

The amount of routine preachers is by millions on social media. There are tips on every minute spent of the day. One would tell you to wake up early and drink water with lemon. Then, some yoga or some stretching would follow. If allowed, drinking coffee would be thirty minutes after waking up (usually in these types of blogs/vlogs coffee is not advised). Furthermore, there are tips on how to be creative, how to spend a productive day, how to eat smart, how to sleep, how to love and the list goes on.

When is too much too much? Are we that free that we need routines? Are we that alike that we all need the same routines?

Worse, why must we all be productive? Aren’t we allowed to be lazy?

Not only we must wear masks outside, not only the world scene looks like a sci-fi movie scene, but also we are robotized.  Useless “freeless” life, isn’t it?

Sing along:

Today is the last day
That I'm using words
They've gone out, lost their meaning
Don't function anymore
Traveling, leaving logic and reason
Traveling, to the arms of unconsciousness
Traveling, leaving logic and reason
Traveling, to the arms of unconsciousness

The lyrics were written by the Icelandic singer and songwriter Bjork to Madonna whom she criticized for being a control freak. The chorus is a powerful message of letting go:

Let's get unconscious honey
Let's get unconscious
Let's get unconscious honey
Let's get unconscious

What if I hate water and lemon in the morning? What if I want to drink plain water then coffee? What if I want to listen to music as soon as I wake up? What if I hate Keto? What if I can’t write every day?

Words are useless
Especially sentences
They don't stand for anything
How could they explain how I feel

And inside
We're all still wet
Longing and yearning
How can I explain how I feel?

And all that
You've ever learned
Try to forget
I'll never explain again

Freedom is lost somewhere down the road and actions are calculated. Maybe we need to daydream again, to be intuitive and imaginative. I guess we do.

 

High Hopes by Pink Floyd: Did they see the global disaster coming?

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When art tells reality and predicts the future with poetry, imagination and music (all in a broader sense), it fulfills its highest role.  The Division Bell is my favorite Pink Floyd’s album, contrary to many people’s opinions out there. The song High Hopes describes the world we knew, and to push the interpretation further, the world before the pandemic maybe:

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary

And the global sanitary shift started the division of our life into old and new normal, taking our dreams away:

The ringing of the division bell had begun
Along the Long Road and on down the Causeway
Do they still meet there by the Cut
There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before times took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay

Back then the grass was greener and the memory of our old life brings light images to our minds:

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
When friends surrounded
The nights of wonder

 

Yes, we all dreamed bigger because we thought the world was somehow safe and ambition was indeed unsatisfied, actions were endless, restless global movements:

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide
At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we've been so many times

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river
For ever and ever

It is a beautiful song, deep and rich with meanings like all Pink Floyd’s and to keep the pleasure ongoing, that’s the link to the musical video:

The influence of The Joker

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Few months ago, exactly in October, when Lebanon’s protests started, a politician linked street riots to the movie The Joker. Couple of weeks beforehand, I had watched it and wrote a review about it on here: The Joker, or how to watch a movie through concepts

I didn’t give much attention to the politician who blamed the movie for the happening protests for two main reasons: first, not everyone had watched the movie; second, people were protesting against corruption, so the movie was irrelevant here. However, world news has become a replica of the movie: now, I see everywhere The Joker.

Did the movie predict the state of the world or did it influence a certain worldwide ambiance, at least for the people who watched it?

It is difficult to answer these questions accurately, but one thing is sure: there is a correlation between riots and the movie. Apart from the Gilets Jaunes in France that started late 2018 beginning 2019, alongside some movements here and there, what’s commonly referred to as the Global Wave Protests started around October 2019. Again, was it a prediction or is it a replica? Honestly, a part of me is happy to see that art is impacting the world, especially after a long trend of pop commercial mainstream art, insignificant and shallow in its majority.

The Joker is an eponymous movie about a mentally ill man who considers himself as a joker, living in a corrupted and forgotten city. The socially invisible and bullied joker, forced to become a criminal for he has no choice, and a hero figure for a whole population as forgotten as invisible by the government as he was. So, the joker is each person unfairly treated, relentlessly claiming for long awaited and somehow out of reach rights.

Surely, there were some predictions in the movie while in the making alongside the start of some moving parts of the world. Maybe the brutality and the depth of The Joker _ not to forget the huge talents of all the working team_ had influenced protesters.

However, one question remains unanswered: did the working team on the movie expect the shifting in the world?

 

The sacrificial creativity: the misconception of creativity in the modern world

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During lockdown, there was a massive pressure on people to be creative since time is the thing we needed to kill. While this is not a bad idea and creativity is thrived in moments of silence and slowness, the whole marketed creativity was more perceived as an obligation. However, creativity is not an obligation. What is creativity then?

Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. It is the synonym of originality, inventiveness, progressiveness, imagination.

Consequently, there are two main goals to creativity: aesthetics and necessity. For the latter, creativity is essentially an obligation and that’s how humans evolved and survived as specie. But for aesthetics and intellectual pleasure how can creativity become an obligation? It is almost a paradox. Therefore where did conception come from?

In ancient times, creativity was never an issue except for poets who were inspired by muses. There was a natural way to let creativity develop by simply letting it be. It was more like a dance with creativity whenever anyone was inspired. Nature is creativity without an issue, hence the peaceful relationship humans had with it.

In modern times, since the 17th century, a man was defined as a free conscience being in total mastery of his own thoughts and actions. Creativity started to be an issue because it had to me mastered and under the command of the ego. Then a person had to be creative. The relationship to creativity became a struggle, pushing artists to sacrifices and artificial ways to reach it. Most artists still beat themselves up to create something. How many artists did commit suicide? How many others were/are addicted?

Forced creativity and commercialization of art in general turned creativity into an obligation and a burden.  As Nietzsche said it once:

I want to know whether you are a person devoted to creating or to exchanging in some respect or other: as a creator you belong to the free, as an exchanger you are their slave and instrument.

Parasite. The movie

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It’s the endless story of the battle of the poor; but this time not against the rich. It’s the mentality of being a parasite, living off others’ goods.

This movie shuts down many clichés we know: rich are bad, poor are good. By the end of it, one can’t tell who is bad and who is good. These values as depicted in the movie depend on situations. Life throws all characters in situations where each one has to choose the least evil. That being said, it is realistic and so is the description of the ways of being and thingking of both the rich and the poor.

Alongside the smooth storytelling, interrupted by surprising elements, and the filming itself, this movie deserves all the awards it got. It is the story of the less than ordinary brought to amplifications for the best and the worst.

It is a very good movie, but not for the faint at hearts.