“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Jobs’ celebrated motto for the original Mac team — “the journey is the reward” — could have been lifted from the pages of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. For Suzuki-roshi, the path was the goal: “with no gaining idea” — that is, with no hope that your next session on the cushion would bring about a shattering, life-changing flash of satori. Suzuki-roshi didn’t even claim to be enlightened himself, which was a shocking thing for a renowned Zen teacher to admit at the time (laughingly confirmed by his mischievous wife, Mitsu). You didn’t sit zazen to become a Buddha, Suzuki-roshi used to say:
“I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts.
And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” ~ Steve Jobs
than a good dancer.”
The “Übermensch” is the being that overcomes the “great nausea” associated with nihilism; that overcomes that most “abysmal” realization of the eternal return. He is the being that “sails over morality”, and that dances over gravity (the “spirit of gravity” is Zarathustra’s devil and archenemy). He is a “harvester” and a “celebrant” who endlessly affirms his existence, thereby becoming the transfigurer of his consciousness and life, aesthetically. He is initially a destructive force, excising and annihilating the insidious “truths” of the herd, and consequently reclaiming the chaos from which pure creativity is born. It is this creative force exemplified by the Übermensch that justifies suffering without displacing it in some “afterworld”.
“Inspiring fellow-rhapsodizers, encouraging them on to new secret paths and dancing places. Even under the influence of the narcotic draught, of which songs of all primitive men and peoples speak, or with the potent coming of spring that penetrates all nature with joy, these Dionysian emotions awake, and as they grow in intensity everything subjective vanishes into complete self-forgetfulness. In the German Middle Ages, too, singing and dancing crowds, ever increasing in number, whirled themselves from place to place under this same Dionysian impulse. […] There are some who, from obtuseness or lack of experience, turn away from such phenomena as from “folk-diseases,” with contempt or pity born of consciousness of their own “healthy-mindedness.” But of course such poor wretches have no idea how corpselike and ghostly their so-called “healthy-mindedness” looks when the glowing life of the Dionysian revelers roars past them.” “Birth of Tragedy,” Nietzsche, translated by Walter Kaufmann
(alt translation: “In these dancers of Saint John and Saint Vitus we can recognize the Bacchic choruses of the Greeks, with their prehistory in Asia Minor, as far back as Babylon and the orgiastic Sacaea. Some people, either through a lack of experience or through obtuseness, turn away with pity or contempt from phenomena such as these as from ‘folk diseases’, bolstered by a sense of their own sanity; these poor creatures have no idea how blighted and ghostly this ‘sanity’ of theirs sounds when the glowing life of Dionysiac revellers thunders past them.”)
In Ecce Homo Nietzsche refers to the poems in the Appendix of The Gay Science, saying they were,
“written for the most part in Sicily, are quite emphatically reminiscent of the Provençal concept of gaia scienza—that unity of singer, knight, and free spirit which distinguishes the wonderful early culture of the Provençals from all equivocal cultures. The very last poem above all, “To the Mistral”, an exuberant dancing song in which, if I may say so, one dances right over morality, is a perfect Provençalism.”
“This alludes to the birth of modern European poetry that occurred in Provence around the 13th century, whereupon, after the culture of the troubadours fell into almost complete desolation and destruction due to the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229), other poets in the 14th century ameliorated and thus cultivated the gai saber or gaia scienza. In a similar vein, in Beyond Good and Evil Nietzsche observed that,”
“love as passion—which is our European speciality—[was invented by] the Provençal knight-poets, those magnificent and inventive human beings of the “gai saber” to whom Europe owes so many things and almost owes itself. Section 260, Nietzsche, The Gay Science (The Wisdom of Ecstasy) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gay_Science
“Policies about motivation are outdated, unexamined, and rooted more in folklore than in science. The solution is not to entice people with a sweeter carrot or threaten them with a sharper stick. Intrinsic motivation makes work Interesting, part of something important.”
“Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters. Purpose: the urning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”
“Autonomy over time, team, technique: 20% time, ROW results only work environment (how you work, where you work, optional meetings). If then rewards often destroy creativity; the drive to do things for their own sake strengthens business, motivates creativity, and solves problems.”
“Compassion leads to happiness, compassion is fun. What if compassion is also profitable? What if compassion is good for business?
“Google is a company born of idealism. Expressions of corporate compassion start with a small group of Googlers, and they don’t usually ask for permission, then they get bigger and bigger until they become official.”
“Compassion creates highly effective business leaders: “I feel for you, I understand you, I want to help you.”
“Leaders highly ambitious for the greater good feel no need to inflate their own egos. Understanding, empathy, tones down the excesses of our own ego — creating leaders able to focus on a project rather than themselves.”
“Compassion also inspires co-workers and promotes collaboration, initiative, and creativity. “It makes us a highly effective company.”
“What is the secret formula for brewing compassion in a corporate setting? There are three ingredients:
“First, create a culture of compassionate concern for the greater good — how is your company, and your job serving the greater good? This awareness of serving a greater good is very self-inspiring, and, it creates fertile grounds for compassion to grow in.”
“The second ingredient is autonomy. “Google is a place where the inmates run the asylum.” If you already have a culture of compassion and idealism, and, you let your people run free? They will do the right thing.”
“The third ingredient is to focus on inner development and personal growth: self-awareness, self-mastery, empathy, and compassion. Leadership begins with character: attention training to create a calm, clear quality of mind as a foundation for emotional intelligence; developing self-knowledge and self-mastery as a high-resolution third-person perspective on one’s own thoughts; create new mental habits…your first impulse upon meeting someone: “I want you to be happy…I want you to be happy,” creating trust and compassion within the workplace.”
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
“Philip David Ochs (pronounced /ˈoʊks/) (December 19, 1940 – April 9, 1976) was an American protest singer (or, as he preferred, a topical singer) and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and haunting voice. He wrote hundreds of songs in the 1960s and released eight albums in his lifetime.
Ochs performed at many political events, including anti-Vietnam War and civil rights rallies, student events, and organized labor events over the course of his career, in addition to many concert appearances at such venues as New York City’s Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. Politically, Ochs described himself as a “left social democrat” who became an “early revolutionary” after the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago led to a police riot, which had a profound effect on his state of mind.”
1. Paint every day.
2. Paint until you feel physical strain- take a break and then paint some more.
4. When at an impasse, look at the work of masters.
5. Buy the best materials you can afford.
6. Let your enthusiasm show.
7. Find the way to support yourself.
8. Be your own toughest critic and best supporter.
9. Develop a sense of humor about yourself.
10. Develop the habit of work. Start early every day. When you take a break, don’t eat. Instead, drink a glass of water.
11. Don’t settle for yourself at your mediocre level.
12. Don’t allow yourself to be crushed by failure. Rembrandt had failures. Success grows from failure.
13. Be a brother (or sister) to all struggling artists.
14. Keep it simple.
15. Know your art equipment and take care of it.
16. Have a set of materials ready wherever you go.
17. Always be on time for work, for class, for an appointment.
18. Meet deadlines. Be better than your word.
19. Find a mate who is really a mate.
20. Don’t be envious of anyone who is more talented than you. Be the best you can.
21. Prizes are nice, but the real competition is with yesterday’s performance.
22. Give yourself room to fail and then fight like hell to achieve.
23. Go to sleep thinking about what you’re going to do first thing tomorrow.
24. Analyze the work of great painters. Study how they emphasize and subordinate.
25. Find out the fewest material things you need to live.
26. Remember: Michelangelo was once a helpless baby. Great works are the result of heroic struggle.
27. There are no worthwhile tricks in art: find the answer.
28. Throw yourself into each painting heart and soul.
29. Commit yourself to a life in art.
30. No struggle, no progress.
31. Do rather than don’t.
32. Don’t say “I haven’t the time.” You have as much time everyday as the great masters.
33. Read. Be conversant with the great ideas.
34. No matter what you do for a living, nurture your art.
35. Ask. Be hungry to learn.
36. You are always the student in a one-person art school. You are also the teacher of that class.
37. Find the artists who are on your wavelength and constantly increase that list.
38. Take pride in your work.
39. Take pride in yourself.
40. No one is a better authority on your feelings than you are.
41. When painting, always keep in mind what your picture is about.
42. Be organized.
43. When you’re in trouble, study the lives of those who’ve done great things.
44. “Poor me” is no help at all.
45. Look for what you can learn from the great painters, not what’s wrong with them.
46. Look, really look.
47. Overcome errors in observing by exaggerating the opposite.
48. Critics are painters who flunked out.
49. Stay away from put-down artists.
50. If you’re at a lost for what to do next, do a self-portrait.
51. Never say “I can’t.” It closes the door to potential development.
52. Be ingenious. Howard Pyle got his start in illustrating by illustrating his own stories.
53. All doors open to a hard enough push.
54. If art is hard, it’s because you’re struggling to go beyond what you know you can do. [which is good]
55. Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached.
56. There is art in any endeavor done as well as it can be done: shoemaking, cooking, painting.
57. If you’ve been able to put a personal response into your work, others will feel it and they will be your audience.
58. Money is OK, but it isn’t what life is about.
59. Spend less than you earn.
60. Be modest; be self-critical, but aim for the highest.
61. Don’t hoard your knowledge, share it.
62. Try things against your grain to find out just what your grain really is.
63. Inspiration doesn’t come when you are idle. It comes when you have steeped yourself in work.
64. Habit is more powerful than will. If you get in the habit of painting every day, nothing will keep you from painting.
65. There are three ways to learn art: Study life, people and nature. Study the great painters. Paint.
66. Remember, Rembrandt wasn’t perfect. He had to fight against mediocrity.
67. Don’t call yourself an artist. Let others name you that. “Artist” is a title of great weight.
68. Be humble; learn from everybody.
69. Paintings that you work hardest at are the ones you learn the most from, and are often your favorites.
70. Read values relatively. Find the lightest light and compare all other light values to it. Do the same with the darks.
71. Grit and guts are the magic ingredients to your success.
72. Let your picture welcome the viewer.
73. Add new painters to your list of favorites all the time.
74. Study especially those artists who are dealing with the same problems that you’re trying to solve.
75. Have a positive mind-set when showing your work to galleries.
76. Don’t look for gimmicks to give your work style. You might be stuck with them for life. Or, worse yet, you might have to change your “style” every few years.
77. If what you have to say is from your deepest feelings, you’ll find an audience that responds.
78. Try to end a day’s work on a picture knowing how to proceed the next day.
79. Don’t envy others success. Be generous-spirited and congratulate whole-heartedly.
80. Your own standards have to be higher and more scrupulous than those of critics.
81. Pyle said, “Throw your heart into a picture and jump in after it.”
82. Vermeer found a life’s work in the corner of a room.
83. Rembrandt is always clear about what is most important in a picture.
84. If, after study, the work of an artist remains obscure, the fault may not be yours.
85. Critics don’t matter. Who cares about Michelangelo’s or Rembrandt’s critics?
86. Structure your day so you have time for painting, reading, exercising and resting.
87. Aim high, beyond your capacity.
88. Try not to finish too fast.
89. Take the theory of the “last inch” holds that as you approach the end of a painting, you must gather all your resources for the finish.
90. Build your painting solidly, working from big planes to small.
91. See the planes of light as shapes, the planes of shadows as shapes. Squint your eyes and find the big, fluent shapes.
92. Notice how, in a portrait, Rembrandt reduces the modeling of clothes to the essentials, emphasizing the head and the hands.
93. For all his artistic skills, what’s most important about Rembrandt is his deep compassion.
94. To emphasize something means that the other parts of a picture must be muted.
95. When painting outdoors, sit on your hands and look before starting.
96. Composing a picture, do many thumbnails, rejecting the obvious ones.
97. Study how Rembrandt creates flow of tone.
98. If you teach, teach the individual. Find out when he or she is having trouble and help at that point.
99. Painting is a practical art, using real materials — paints, brushes, canvas, paper. Part of the practicality of it is earning a living in art.
100. So – most painters I know teach, do illustrations or other work in an art-related field. Don’t be an art snob-survival is the game.
“Like a lot of realist painters, I started teaching as a way to stabilize my income. I was amazed to discover that it would be one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Somehow everything I had learned in my life found a place in the studio classroom. In addition, teaching forced me to objectify my thoughts and make them comprehensible to my students. But the greatest reward by far was getting to know that special kind of person, the art student. Their hunger to learn, and commitment to what Henri called the art spirit, has been a never-ending inspiration to me. I’m sure I got the larger share in the exchange.
The list that follows was an effort to crystallize some of the things I’ve learned in over thirty years of teaching. It makes up a kind of horse wisdom about painting, practical advice rather than fancy aesthetics. This “survival kit” has proved useful to generations of young painters as well as its author. There is an awful lot of blather about art, not at all helpful to students. I hope these aphorisms are something of an antidote.
Several people have felt confused by number ten. By “drink a glass of water” I mean, “avoid running to the refrigerator every hour or so.” As I reread the list, I remembered the source of many of the ideas. So, here’s a “thank you” to Ben Franklin, Frederick Douglass, Robert Henri, Howard Pyle, Abraham Ginsburg, Ernest Hemingway, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.”
”Those with positive moods, turn out to be more likely to solve the puzzles with sudden insight than with trial and error.”
“…students solved word-association puzzles after watching a short video of a stand-up routine by Robin Williams. The students solved more of the puzzles over all, and significantly more by sudden insight, compared with when they’d seen a scary or boring video beforehand.”
“found that the visual areas in people in positive moods picked up more background detail, even when they were instructed to block out distracting information during a computer task.”