The Lies And Infidelities Of Translation


“In translation, a discontent with reality expresses itself forcefully and most hauntingly by the longing to reproduce this one. The fabrication of a new, parallel reality flies in the face of the already created and as such is based on negation, and what should be the vacuum of a dream becomes continually replete as the source of dreams.”

The Neuroscience Of Drumming: Why Drummers Drum And What It Does For Them


Drumming ultimately has therapeutic value, providing the emotional and physical benefits collectively known as “drummer’s high,” an endorphin rush that can only be stimulated by playing music, not simply listening to it. In addition to increasing people’s pain thresholds, Oxford psychologists found, the endorphin-filled act of drumming increases positive emotions and leads people to work together in a more cooperative fashion.

What Emotion Produces The Best Creativity?


But what can we do, then, to increase states of creativity? Inducing states of both positive and negative emotions (“emotional ambivalence”) is suggested, as is creating an environment that is unusual. This may be why you’ve never heard someone say, “Cubicles?

The Key To Real Creativity? Study Says Persistence


“Researchers report that people consistently underestimate how many creative ideas they can come up with if they continue to work on a problem, rather than giving up in the wake of mediocre initial results. What’s more, the study finds the most creative ideas tend to arise after many others have been considered and discarded. If you give up too soon, chances are you’re not allowing your most promising notions to emerge.”

When People Have The ‘Porcupine Problem’ (As Schopenhauer Called It)

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“Imagine a group of porcupines trying to survive a cold winter. They huddle together for warmth, only to then poke one another with their quills and withdraw. Schopenhauer wrote that human relationships are like this: Much as cold drives the animal porcupines together, ‘the need of society drives the human porcupines together, only to be mutually repelled by the many prickly and disagreeable qualities of their nature.'”

“Micro-Aggressions” – Are Our College Campuses Shutting Down Intellectual Debate?


This new climate is slowly being institutionalized, and is affecting what can be said in the classroom, even as a basis for discussion. During the 2014–15 school year, for instance, the deans and department chairs at the 10 University of California system schools were presented by administrators at faculty leader-training sessions with examples of microaggressions. The list of offensive statements included: “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”

What Matters Isn’t What Happened – It’s The Stories We Tell Ourselves About What Happened That Make Us Who We Are

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“Though perhaps the facts of someone’s life, presented end to end, wouldn’t much resemble a narrative to the outside observer, the way people choose to tell the stories of their lives, to others and – crucially – to themselves, almost always does have a narrative arc. In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you’re on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are.”

Can Envy Be Good for You? (Definitely, Sometimes)


“Admiration is seen as a noble sentiment – we admire people for admiring others, detecting, in their admiration, a suggestion of taste and humility. Envy, by contrast, is thought to be inherently bad … Is that really the case? Or can something frustrating and painful lead, almost in spite of itself, to positive ends – to even better ends, perhaps, than its more admired counterpart? Not all envy, we are learning, is created equal.”

Computers Have Changed The Way We Explain The World


“As yet, we have few powerful techniques for taking a computer-assisted proof or model, extracting the most important ideas, and answering conceptual questions about the proof or model. But computer-assisted explanations are so useful that they’re here to stay.”

The Utopian Planned City (Possible?)


There have been numerous attempts to build planned cities that can be better places than cities that develop organically and haphazardly. Few have succeeded (and not for lack of trying)

How The Brain Erases Ugly Memories

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“New research has identified a neuronal circuit responsible for the brain’s ability to purge bad memories, findings that could have implications for treating PTSD and other anxiety disorders.” It’s all about the amygdala and prefrontal cortex …

How Morality Is Brokered By Attention On The Internet


“The mere act of choosing to look at something online generates real value for a company, materially helping to support its staff, its content, and the social interactions that a platform plays host to. This is why a website like Do Not Link exists: It promises a way to share a link from a website without boosting that site’s standing in search rankings.”

Do Whales And Dolphins Have Culture?

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Barbara J. King talks to two scientists who say the answer is definitely yes, although the way they define culture may severely irk some anthropologists.

Mind-Bending: The Psychology Of Awe


“Awe is not an everyday emotion. You don’t wake up awestruck. A satisfying lunch doesn’t leave you filled with awe. Even a great day is unlikely to leave you in a state of jaw-dropped, consciousness-opening fear and trembling. Perhaps that’s why, up until about ten years ago, psychology had surprisingly little to say about awe.” So Jonathan Haidt and Dacher Keltner set out to change that.

An Old Guy Rant About The Anti-Intellectualism Of Youth


“We’re creating a world of dummies. Angry dummies who feel they have the right, the authority and the need not only to comment on everything, but to make sure their voice is heard above the rest, and to drag down any opposing views through personal attacks, loud repetition and confrontation.”

What You Going To Do When The Machines Take Over Your Job?


“Adapting to this change is going to require us to understand how man-machine partnerships are going to evolve. This is tricky, but not impossible. We know that machine learning is going to be used to automate many, if not most, low-level cognitive tasks. Our goal is to use our high-level cognitive ability to anticipate what parts of our work will be fully automated and what parts of our work will be so hard for machines to do that man-machine partnership is the most practical approach.”

Needed: A Coordinated Scientific Exploration Of Human Creativity


Getting more specific, the report lays out two “research objectives” worthy of cross-disciplinary study. The first: to “discover and describe the neurobiological correlates and conditions under which different kinds of creative experiences occur, using a carefully orchestrated, mixed-methods study design.”

25 Years Ago Francis Fukuyama Declared The End Of History. A Lot Has Happened Since


“After the initial celebration, he quickly lost favor, his argument often treated as little more than a rhetorical punching bag. Commentators of varying leanings could all agree that the end of history thesis was willfully naive, a relic of post-1989 triumphalism that had been rapidly overtaken by harsher political realities. Fukuyama, for his part, turned to somewhat more modest topics in the years after End of History, writing books on trust, biotechnology and U.S. foreign policy.”

What Drives Trophy Hunters Like The Man Who Killed Cecil The Lion?


“The question, then, is why? What motivates Palmer and other trophy hunters, as they’re called, to fly thousands of miles and spend tens of thousands of dollars, all for the sake of killing an animal like Cecil? The answer is complex, but, largely, it can be thought of as a demonstration of power and prestige, says Amy Fitzgerald, a sociologist at the University of Windsor.”

Our Culture Is Dead. (No, Really)

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Thanks to the “massification” or “democratization” of culture, we can all claim to be cultured even if we have never read a book, listened to a symphony, or attended an art gallery. Eliot said that “higher culture” is the domain of an elite. Vargas Llosa is in favor of putting an end to “morally repugnant” elites which are at variance with our egalitarian ideals. In doing so, however, we achieve “a pyrrhic victory” whereby we dumb down and become too all-inclusive: “everything is culture and nothing is.”

What’s The Job Of Philosophy? To Make You Happy? Or…


“It is an oft-repeated idea that philosophy in its modern, professional form has become detached from what was, in ancient times, a founding ideal: to teach people how to live well. In today’s university, the emphasis is on the search for the truth about whichever subject lies at hand, regardless of how, if at all, such truths change what you do when you leave the classroom. So while students often report finding philosophy “therapeutic,” they do so in passing, somewhat guiltily.”

Is Silicon Valley’s Creativity In Danger Of Stunting Itself?


“The enormous, disruptive creativity of Silicon Valley is unlike anything since the genius of the great 19th-century inventors. Its triumph is to be celebrated. But the accumulation of so much wealth so fast comes with risks. The 1990s saw a financial bubble that ended in a spectacular bust. This time the danger is insularity. The geeks live in a bubble that seals off their empire from the world they are doing so much to change.”

A New (Important) Role For Libraries?


“Public libraries are becoming a one-stop shop for manufacturing in the digital age. Because libraries are investing in machines like 3-D printers, someday soon everyone with access to a public library could become an inventor or create something.”

You Can’t Force Creativity. Here’s What Creative People Do


“Most creative geniuses don’t start with a specific goal and follow it through with deliberate practice. Instead, they maintain an openness to discovering whatever arises. Although this openness to new ideas might sound like just waiting around for serendipity to strike, it’s a more deliberate process.”