Posts Tagged ‘BrainPickings’

I was struggling this morning with the blog and was just about to say enough and just move on to my work when I came across the latest entry on BrainPickings.  It is a poem from the late Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska (July 2, 1923–February 1, 2012) called Possibilities.  It is basically a laundry list of her personal preferences.   Some are small and some significant but all contribute mightily to her wholeness as a person.  We are all the totality of our own laundry lists of preferences that define our character and personality  just as our DNA determines our physical characteristics.

It’s a simple yet thought-provokingly complex poem that leave me wondering about my own preferences, my own possibilities.  What are those small things that give you shape, make you who you are?

The poem is below but if you would prefer the spoken version there is a recording at read by performer Amanda Palmer.


I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

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IterationsI came upon this lovely animated film on Brain Pickings this morning.  It’s titled Iterations and is produced by hitRECord, a global creative community and mulitmedia production company formed a decade ago by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  You might remember him as the teen Tommy on the sitcom Third Rock From the Sun but he has matured into a very fine actor and director with an eye for challenging material.  His work at hitRECord falls into that category.

It’s a sweet film that concerns its self with self transformation, a theme that is visited often here on this blog.  The idea that each phase, each new iteration, of our life is an experiment and that it is under constant recalibration appeals to me.

Change is a part of who we are.  At least, I know it is part of who I am.  For a while, I came to view it as a weakness, this need for constant change.  I mistakenly thought that finding a state of being static was the answer.  This little film reminds me that it is not.

Below is a description of the film along with the names of the many artists involved in its making from Gordon-Levitt and below the video are the lyrics to the tune.  Hope you’ll enjoy.


“….are very pleased to present ITERATIONS — a short musical film to come out of our collaboration regarding ‘The Road.’ The road can represent many things including escapism, change, and personal growth. And, while many people may identify the themes of ‘The Road’ with artists like Jack Kerouac and others of the beat generation, the story told in ITERATIONS is a slightly different interpretation. Based on ‘The Journey of Jeanine’ by hitRECord artist, SophieRumi (Hungary) and developed in collaboration with mirtle (Cyprus), ITERATIONS tells the coming of age story of a girl’s sometimes difficult and sometimes reluctant path to adulthood. Jeanine has a guide (Wolfred the wolf) and gets help and support along her journey, but in the end must set off on her own path. The piece is set to Metaphorest’s (Scotland) wonderful song, ITERATIONS and orchestrated by Robo_J (USA). The eye-popping animation is provided by the incredibly talented artist, fajigajiga (Canada). The worldwide community of hitRECord artists provided additional illustrations and instrumentation.”

Have you seen my old self?
I think I must have lost her
I wonder if I cost her
Her life?

Have you seen my second self?
She seems to grow younger
More delicate than ever
But never better

I’m an experiment
Each trial is a test
Constant recalibration

I am recycled cells
I learn to like myself
more with each iteration

Where is my restore point?
I found an old sore point
All disjointed
My file corrupted

Where is my replacement part?
I need another new heart
The other one’s beat was

I am recycled cells
I learn to like myself
more with each iteration

I’m an experiment
Each trial is a test
Constant recalibration

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Jerome Bruner On Knowing CoverToday, October 1, is the 99th birthday of groundbreaking psychologist Jerome Bruner, who, by the way, still teaches at NYU.  To be honest, I don’t know a lot about Bruner or his work.  But on the BrainPickings site today, Maria Popova wrote a wonderful essay about one of Bruner’s articles, Art As a Mode of Knowing, from his 1962 book, On Knowing: Essays For the Left Hand.  In it she describes how : Bruner considers the unique language of art and how it complements that of science. He outlines the four psychological aspects of the art experience — connectedness, which deals with the reward of grasping the essential ideas a work of art communicates; effort, which we exert to draw meaning from the ambiguity of art; conversion of impulse, which makes an object of beauty move us; and generality, which deals with the universal aspects of what we find beautiful and moving.

It’s a great article, one that I highly recommend for anyone who has wondered about what defines the difference between art and decoration and why we are moved by some works and left emotionally unsatisfied before others.  I know that I am often perplexed by work that I see that is incredibly crafted and beautiful to look at yet doesn’t raise any response from within me.  What is it that makes this beautiful thing so cool and vacant?  Is it art or is it just a wonderful decorative piece?  Popova’s article sheds some light on Bruner’s insights into this matter and it rings true for me.

Happy birthday, Professor Bruner, and thank you for these wonderful observations.

Click here to see the article.

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