ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


Imagination Is A Superpower

Aristotle called this imaginative power phantasia. We might mistakenly think that phantasia is just for artists and entertainers, a rare and special talent, but it’s actually a cognitive faculty that functions in all human beings. The actor might guide us, but it’s our own imagination that enables us to immerse fully into the story. If we activate our power of phantasia, we voluntarily summon up the real emotions we see on stage: fear, anxiety, rage, love and more. - Aeon

The Strange Concept Of The Polymath

"The Digital Age has supplied a vast overload of information. “A well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. But are we now living in a time when so much free-floating information has in subtle ways become a tyranny in itself? One could argue that this overflow of information has been accompanied by a simultaneous reduction of intellectual talent." - Commentary

How Clubhouse Took Off

Clubhouse arrived at a perfect moment. It delivered spontaneous conversations and chance meetings to people stuck at home. For those weary of tidying and curating backgrounds for Zoom, its audio-only format is a virtue. Even being iPhone-only and invitation-only hasn’t held back its popularity. New users often become obsessed with it, spending 20, 30, even 40 hours a week on the app. - Wired

How Artists, The Arts, And The Culture In General Are Surviving After A Shutdown Pandemic Year In The UK

In some cases, artists will never work again; some venues have shut down; and the cultural life of Britain has taken a beating. Artists including Ai Weiwei explain how the year worked, or didn't. - The Guardian (UK)

How Libraries Are Dealing With, And Helping Solve, Digital Inequity

Pandemic-related shutdowns mean that the people who need help printing, filling out, and scanning documents - "There are lots of forms, which demand lots of one-on-one help from library staff to find and complete" - can't get it directly, but there's still Wi-Fi in the parking lots ... and long lines of people each time the libraries re-open. - The Atlantic

How A Japanese AI Used In Bakeries Ended Up Fighting Cancer

In early 2017, a doctor at the Louis Pasteur Center for Medical Research, in Kyoto, saw a television segment about the BakeryScan. He realized that cancer cells, under a microscope, looked kind of like bread. He contacted BRAIN, and the company agreed to begin developing a version of BakeryScan for pathologists. - The New Yorker

Lost Music, Lost Books, Lost Culture

"Most music from the past is lost. Written, performed, then fading into obscurity, like the millions of books in our libraries that no one reads, as forgotten as the titles of the lost Library of Alexandria. Lostness is bound up with temporal limits; we cannot maintain an iron grip on the past. The inevitability of time’s erosion of things may frustrate us, but we know that this is simply how it is." - First Things

The Lessons Of Generation X Seem Even More True Today

When Generation X was published, Douglas Coupland observed: “information overload meant 50 TV stations instead of ten.” In the current era where internet connections give access to a previously unimaginable wealth of content, this seems rather quaint. Nonetheless, Generation X’s intuitions help us understand the destabilising effects that the online world has on our sense of self today. - The Conversation

The Problem When Everyone Is Right

We are aware, of course, that we might be wrong, because we know that on certain issues we have changed our minds, and therefore must have been wrong at least once.  Nonetheless, at any given moment, we believe that we are right. The contrary would be ridiculous. - 3 Quarks Daily

The Pandemic Has Shown Us That We Need A Lot More Art

Yes, we need food and water, air and health care. And we're desperate for cultural nourishment as well. For one family at an outdoor event, "After weeks of seeing very little but the inside of our house, it felt almost impossibly bright and colourful. When we reached a magical glade hung with giant, sparkling thistledown, my eight-year-old tugged on my hand. 'Artists are so clever,' he said, his eyes like saucers." - The Guardian (UK)

The Shocking Case Against Private Prep Schools

Parents at elite private schools sometimes grumble about taking nothing from public schools yet having to support them via their tax dollars. But the reverse proposition is a more compelling argument. Why should public-school parents—why should anyone—be expected to support private schools? Exeter has 1,100 students and a $1.3 billion endowment. Andover, which has 1,150 students, is on track to take in $400 million in its current capital campaign. And all of this cash, glorious cash, comes pouring into the countinghouse 100 percent tax-free. - The Atlantic

Embracing Ambivalence

Even though ambivalence is a common experience, as a concept it’s frequently misunderstood. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about something or that you’re indifferent. Ambivalence refers to the presence of strong feelings, but in opposition. You love your parents but find them annoying. Your successful colleague inspires you, but you also envy her. - Psyche

Using Lockdown Boredom For Good

"During this period of soul-crushing boredom, it would be valuable to pay more attention to what people are feeling and thinking, rather than trying to distract and lull them; to collect our daydreams, reveries and thoughts from this time, and let expectations and desires find common expression." - The Guardian

The Artistic Power Of AI

"AI as scientist conception runs the risk of missing out on a — the — characteristic feature of AI, particularly machine learning. Once this feature of machine learning is thrown into relief, AI as artist seems a more fitting conception." - 3 Quarks Daily

Research: The Intricacies Of Detecting Bullshit

Recently, researchers have begun to treat bullshitting as having two separate dimensions. “Persuasive bullshitting” is motivated by a desire to impress or persuade. “Evasive bullshitting” is different — as a “strategic circumnavigation of the truth”, it’s the sort that a politician might engage in when trying to cover up a mistake, for example. By definition, the creation of either type of bullshit is intentional, though of course the spreading of bullshit may not be. - Research Digest

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