The form demands three things: a nose for interesting facts, the ability to construct a taut narrative arc, and a Dickens-level gift for concisely conveying personality. Click.
Three things she said to James Fallows in the June issue about paying attention in the 21st century:
1. We learn by imitation, from the very start. That’s how we’re wired. Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia Kuhl, professors at the University of Washington I-LABS, show videos of babies at 42 minutes old, imitating adults. The adult sticks his tongue out. The baby sticks his tongue out, mirroring the adult’s behavior. Children are also cued by where a parent focuses attention. The child’s gaze follows the mother’s gaze. Not long ago, I had brunch with friends who are doctors, and both of them were on call. They were constantly pulling out their smartphones. The focus of their 1-year-old turned to the smartphone: Mommy’s got it, Daddy’s got it. I want it. We may think that kids have a natural fascination with phones. Really, children have a fascination with whatever Mom and Dad find fascinating. If they are fascinated by the flowers coming up in the yard, that’s what the children are going to find fascinating.
2. What we’re doing now is modeling a primary relationship with screens, and a lack of eye contact with people. It ultimately can feed the development of a kind of sociopathy and psychopathy.
3. When we learn how to play a sport or an instrument; how to dance or sing; or even how to fly a plane, we learn how to breathe and how to sit or stand in a way that supports a state of relaxed presence. My hunch is that when you’re flying, you’re aware of everything around you, and yet you’re also relaxed. When you’re water-skiing, you’re paying attention, and if you’re too tense, you’ll fall. All of these activities help us cultivate our capacity for relaxed presence. Mind and body in the same place at the same time.
The other day on campus at commencement: "We learn that vulnerability is our primary human attribute and that risking failure is an inherent aspect of an authentically human intellectual and moral life. We learn that arrogance is the enemy of genuine curiosity, that simple answers almost never do justice to the complexity of the facts, that seeking real knowledge takes real resilience and real, heart in your hand courage. We learn that all knowledge begins with a hunch, an experiment, a leap of faith. We learn that truths we have inherited and always believed can be so, so wrong, that new knowledge can transform us, and that being a responsible heir sometimes means being a rebellious one."
Three sentences from the June Harper's:
1. The extinct Seychelles mud turtle was found never to have existed.
2. Anesthetic injected into the gums of children may retard the growth of wisdom teeth.
3. Women with MBAs do less work.
Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, in the new New York mag, on why TV's gotten so good: "The difference now is that writers are allowed to get away with more. We're allowed to go darker. Thank God we don't have what they had in the fifties, which was a sponsor reading all the scripts and saying, 'I don't think this character should be black.' But we could very easily have that situation again, because TV commercials get skipped over on TiVo. Ad agencies could once again take over sponsorship of individual series, and suddenly writers will be answering to them all over again."
1. Don't try to make the poem look pretty. You're not decorating cupcakes, Cupcake.
2. Don't think you don't have to read. You read in order to steal. Read more, steal better.
3. Never wish you were there. Wish you were here.