Art by algorithm

An average increase; Eric Kassel’s 24 hrs in Photos in which he exhibited 24 hours worth of photos uploaded to Flickr. Photo by Boris Horvat/Getty. From book critiques to music choices, computation is changing aesthetics. Does increasingly average perfection lie ahead? Ed Finn is the founding director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University where he is an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English. His latest book is What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing (2017). When IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer defeated the world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, … Continue reading Art by algorithm

The Courage to Be Yourself: E.E. Cummings on Art, Life, and Being Unafraid to Feel

Page from Enormous Smallness by Matthew Burgess “To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.” BY MARIA POPOVA “No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,”wrote the thirty-year-old Nietzsche. “The true and durable path into and through experience,” Nobel-winning poet Seamus Heaney counseled the young more than a century later in his magnificent commencement address, “involves being true … to your own solitude, true to your own secret knowledge.” Every generation … Continue reading The Courage to Be Yourself: E.E. Cummings on Art, Life, and Being Unafraid to Feel

The Search for a New Humility: Václav Havel on Reclaiming Our Human Interconnectedness in a Globalized Yet Divided World

Illustration from Alice and Martin Provensen’s vintage adaptation of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey “Our respect for other people… can only grow from a humble respect for the cosmic order and from an awareness that we are a part of it… and that nothing of what we do is lost, but rather becomes part of the eternal memory of being.” BY MARIA POPOVA In his clever 1958 allegory I, Pencil, the libertarian writer Leonard Read used the complex chain of resources and competences involved in the production of a single pencil to illustrate the vital web of interdependencies — economic as well as ethical — undergirding … Continue reading The Search for a New Humility: Václav Havel on Reclaiming Our Human Interconnectedness in a Globalized Yet Divided World

Readers of the world unite

Reading in a tea shop in Istanbul. Photo by Louis Grandadam/Getty How markets, Marx, and provincial elites created world literature to fight both empire and nationalism by Martin Puchner holds the Byron and Anita Wien Chair in drama and in English and comparative literature at Harvard University. As general editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature, he has brought 4000 years of literature to students across the globe. His latest book is The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, and Civilization (Random House, 2017). On the afternoon of 31 January 1827, a new vision of literature was born. On that … Continue reading Readers of the world unite

The Ancient Art of Imbibing

Sketch of Tang dynasty poet Li Po | Artwork by Eisai Rinzan. Ink and colors on paper. © The Trustees of the British Museum “What happened to controlled, contemplative tippling?” By Leath Tonino Browsing through an anthology of classical Chinese poetry the other day, I happened upon a lyric by Li Po entitled “Drinking Alone beneath the Moon.” At the risk of reducing expansive literature to a single interpretation, we might say that the poem is a paean to the power of alcohol—to understanding alcohol as a tool that can help relax ego consciousness and facilitate a kind of selfless merger … Continue reading The Ancient Art of Imbibing

The Vampire Problem: A Brilliant Thought Experiment Illustrating the Paradox of Transformative Experience

Art by Edward Gorey from his special illustrated edition of Dracula “Many of [life’s] big decisions involve choices to have experiences that teach us things we cannot know about from any other source but the experience itself.” BY MARIA POPOVA To be human is to suffer from a peculiar congenital blindness: On the precipice of any great change, we can see with terrifying clarity the familiar firm footing we stand to lose, but we fill the abyss of the unfamiliar before us with dread at the potential loss rather than jubilation over the potential gain of gladnesses and gratifications we fail to … Continue reading The Vampire Problem: A Brilliant Thought Experiment Illustrating the Paradox of Transformative Experience

Don’t look away

Opposition troops during heavy fighting, shelling and airstrikes near the oil refinery in Ras Lanuf in Eastern Libya, 11 March 2011. Photo by Lynsey Addario/Getty Images Reportage Photography came of age amid the wars and atrocities, as well as the humanitarian aspirations, of the modern world Jeremy Adelman is the Henry Charles Lea professor of history and director of the Global History Lab at Princeton University. His latest books are Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O Hirschman (2013) and the co-authored Worlds Together, Worlds Apart (4th ed, 2014).  Mathew Brady, the great 19th-century American photographer, said: ‘The camera is the eye of history.’ The power … Continue reading Don’t look away