Edward Tufte, Complicated: yellow, print on canvas, 29 ½” x 29 ½”, edition of 3
Many people today find it easy to use the vocabulary of entrepreneurialism, whether they are in business or social entrepreneurs. This is a utilitarian vocabulary. How can I serve the greatest number? How can I most productively apply my talents to the problems of the world? It’s about resource allocation.
People are less good at using the vocabulary of moral evaluation, which is less about what sort of career path you choose than what sort of person you are.
In whatever field you go into, you will face greed, frustration and failure. You may find your life challenged by depression, alcoholism, infidelity, your own stupidity and self-indulgence. So how should you structure your soul to prepare for this? Simply working at Amnesty International instead of McKinsey is not necessarily going to help you with these primal character tests.
[…] It’s worth noting that you can devote your life to community service and be a total schmuck. You can spend your life on Wall Street and be a hero. Understanding heroism and schmuckdom requires fewer Excel spreadsheets, more Dostoyevsky and the Book of Job.
Wes Anderson’s Arrested Development. Interesting criticism here. This led to an aha! moment for me:
Nothing more perfectly evokes the feeling of both a child’s literal interpretation of the world and youthful big ambition on a frustratingly small scale like a school play, and Anderson smartly adopts this style.
[…] We don’t lose ourselves in the emotion of the production, and for the same reason we’re not meant to lose ourselves in the story of an Anderson film. Like in a children’s play, we are meant to be aware at all times of creative effort, for this is where its true value lies. Anderson’s ability to blend substance and form and communicate this feeling is his greatest skill. His films look like a stage plays: Sets look like sets, the frame becomes the proscenium arch (with a symmetry in the set that exaggerates and enhances the frame’s boundaries), and the action is kept in the center of the frame, usually directed out toward the audience in mainly medium or wide shots.
And I like this:
Anything that helps to enlarge an understanding is important, as large thinking is contagious and will contaminate all other areas of your life, so that eventually nothing will be allowed to remain simple and small.
Post-Popchips reflections. Anil Dash is awesome.
One of the great struggles in trying to challenge racist aspects of culture is that we’ve moved from overt, obvious, overbearing racist practices to things that are much more nuanced, and which are often the result of bad habits or ignorance from otherwise well-intentioned people.
If we can manufacture a good guy, we can exalt him. If we can manufacture a bad guy, we can degrade him. If we can’t decide, we can argue and call each other names. But more than anything complicated, the dialectic is always about deciding who is the bigger asshole.
If there are more stories about this, in-depth ones, I am afraid Glass is going to conclude We wanted to believe. That is going to be his deepest comment on this. I hope I’m wrong. I don’t agree with that assessment. I think the real problem is We wanted things to be simple.
Stories, to work, have to be simple, easily grasped, easily told to others, easily remembered. So stories will serve dual and conflicting purposes, and very often they will lead us astray.