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Monthly Archives: March 2015

My Messy Desk

Einstein had a messy desk. Behind the messy desk were messy bookshelves with piles of reports, journals, and loose papers. A study published in the September 2013 issue of Psychological Sciences suggests, strongly, that a clean and tidy desk, or office space, leaves one doing socially acceptable things, having normative ideas, and, for want of a better set of terms, doing the right things, thinking the right things, and behaving. Those who worked in, or, in this case, filled out a form in, a messy room, with a messy desk, had less normative ideas, made more creative connections and reported being willing to try things much much further afield. They didn’t see the need to do the right things, think the right things or behave as expected.

I may never clean my desk. It does not make me smart. It doesn’t make me a creative genius. I may clean my desk. It does not make me dumb. It doesn’t make me dull. But the messier side of life is about being indicative of webs of connections. Not graphs. Not charts. Webs of ideas, concepts, facts, which may seem unrelated but later are pulled together to solve a mystery, a problem, a puzzle no straight lines or charts could solve and shine light upon an answer no single beam could illuminate.

It is why one needs to learn things that are of no immediate use. Of no seeming use at all. Because the more of those things we know, the more errata we have, the more connections can be made, the greater our potential for creativity. Connecting things no one had thought to connect in ways no one had before seen. That is how the unsolvable becomes solved. That is how the unanswerable becomes answered. That is the creative process.

That is the gift of a broad liberal education – one of curiosity and not direction. It is why America was a creative powerhouse. Losing that is why we no longer are. It now costs too much to be curious. It doesn’t result in a job. And we all lose.

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Posted by on March 29, 2015 in Culture, Education, philosophy, psychology, Social

 

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Seven Questions for Adam: An Interview by Craig Smith

Seven Questions for Adam: An Interview by Craig Smith.

 

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Silence

I have taken a break to grab some lunch. A small Chinese restaurant. A family of four sits across from me, one table ahead.

This is the family that typifies an average – a mother, a father, both middle aged, a daughter of late teens, a son nearly a teen or recently so.

Each eats without word, but the only silence is among them. Within each there is a shield of sound. Each has headphones on. Earbuds, full phones, hangers, and, for the father, Bluetooth speakers reminiscent of Uhura at the communications console on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. Each is listening to music. It bleeds beyond the headphones and earbuds, mixes into a pandemonic of sounds. Loud enough to carry the treble to my table of each individual island at theirs, as they listen, look down, fork, plate, food, mouth, plate, food, mouth, down, up, down, up, wordless, silent.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Culture, Family, Social

 

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Revival

There is a woman preaching to the river. Standing on the sidewalk, next to the new blue Toyota, gospel music blaring from the car speakers and open doors, she holds her Bible high in the air yelling to the dolphins, the cranes, the pelicans, and any tree that may hear. Any flower that may be blooming. Anyone.

She is a revival of none with a tent of clouds, looking to redeem the river, an evangelist for the fish, witnessing to the water, which, already holy, laps at the shore, listening, leaving, returning, receding, in no need of being saved.

No one listens. A few look, perhaps wondering from where comes the music so disrupting the call of the gulls, susurration of trees, the sounds of creation.

In white sneakers, dungarees and T-shirt of bright red, she holds a meeting to the open space. On her shirt, bright white letters front and back tell anyone who looks she is a Christian Soldier. Her short afro bounces as she jumps up and down. She is buxom and not slight, waving her arms in the air – the bible, flashing back and forth, thrust now and then toward the waves, black and shiny, as though it is sweating, like her, is held at the bottom, upright, so tightly, or so often, one can see the wear at the edge. The curling. The discoloration. And the cross on the cover has begun to wear faint.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Culture, Religion

 

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Don’t Touch the Lava

Tenth graders jump in the halls,
leap
from one sparse gray tile
to the next,
avoiding the vast field of
lava
that has magically appeared
during lunch.
White tiles burn.

I poke one in the back
as I walk by.
He staggers,
lurches forward,
touches lava,
screams and falls,
pretending to burn into nothing but
giggles.
Leapers, one by one,
stagger, fall, burn
as the whole corridor descends into
giggles.

High school.
Tenth grade.
They write code.
Build robots.
Judge science fairs and

they still play fort
I bet. I know
I do.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2015 in Culture, Education, Poetry

 

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This Story

This garden is the story
Told and retold.
The good work,
After the thaw.
Of digging into it,
Thick and deep,
With both hands.
Dark and heavy
Dirt under the nails,
The stains of soil that speak
of productive labour.
Our blisters,
Backs,
Aching, though
We have dug here before
And will dig here again.
Again, the flowers will grow,
Blooms open to beauty,
Ebullience, awe,
Warm our hearts,
Blooms grow to fruit,
Leaf to vegetable,
Fill our stomachs,
Sate our hungers,
Our hopes of harvest not for
Nothing
Until cold comes,
Until day is short,
Night is long,
Longer,
The heady high,
The heart of joy of autumn ends in
Leafless trees.
Grey seems forever.
Hope is lost.
In this cold,
Nothing grows
Nothing blooms.
This is the story told and told again.
This garden. These trees.
This labour.
This.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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