"For me, language is a freedom. As soon as you have found the words with which to express something, you are no longer incoherent, you are no longer trapped by your own emotions, by your own experiences; you can describe them, you can tell them, you can bring them out of yourself and give them to somebody else. That is an enormously liberating experience, and it worries me that more and more people are learning not to use language; they’re giving in to the banalities of the television media and shrinking their vocabulary, shrinking their own way of using this fabulous tool that human beings have refined over so many centuries into this extremely sensitive instrument. I don’t want to make it crude, I don’t want to make it into shopping-list language, I don’t want to make it into simply an exchange of information: I want to make it into the subtle, emotional, intellectual, freeing thing that it is and that it can be."
— Jeanette Winterson

THE TALENT CODE - By Daniel Coyle

A very interesting (to say the least) book that I accidentally stumbled upon on Amazon as I was purchasing a different book. The idea seemed attractive; “Greatness isn’t born, it’s grown”, so I took a chance on it.

Coyle spends much, if not the whole book, centered on the idea that deep practice produces a biological action in which a cool little fellow called “myelin” insulates neural circuits, this neural coating creates “broadband” for the firing of said neural circuits. So basically when you practice deeply myelin is insulating certain neural circuits (by the continuos firing of them), and therefore wrapping them so that they can be fired faster and more precisely. Which brings the question, “Are you firing the right neural circuits (and thus coating it with myelin) when you practice?” Coyle makes sure to define what he means by “deep practice”.

Deep practice is built on a paradox: struggling in certain targeted ways - operating at the edges of your ability, where you make mistakes - makes you smarter.

"You can do the same practice two different ways. The brilliant way is the way of thinking, learning, and building. The other is just a waste of time."

"You will become clever through your mistakes."

Now, to be straightforward, I was off put by all the scientific and neurological terms/ideas, but Coyle was very aware of this potential brick wall for his readers. He swiftly introduces it, and then hastily moves on to a more pragmatic approach.

All in all this book seems to be more geared towards athletes and musicians, and other skill-based professions that involve a direct and clear way of practicing. I had trouble trying to integrate the information into the art world, where subjectivity makes “mistakes” complicated. It seems that all modern art is, nowadays, are just glorified mistakes. “Well I was trying to paint a cat, but instead I messed up and painted this abstract masterpiece.” But that’s more or less the nature of creativity, mistakes are welcomed, encouraged even.

So yes I struggled trying to imagine what “deep practice” looked like to me, as an actor, especially an actor who thrives on creativity and the mystery of the unknown. I enjoyed the stretching of my mind though, because it did birth in me some very tangential ideas which I found very appropriate and timely (somehow). It’s funny how that works. I learned a lot from this book, maybe not exactly what Daniel Coyle intended, but in the end it seems trivial for that to matter. 

A challenging, yet surprisingly docile, read. I finished it in about 4 days total over the course of a week.

(My struggle with integrating the ideas Coyle presented. Stretching is an understatement. )

Want to borrow or a recommendation for another book? Just ask. 

"Being highly motivated, when you think about it, is a slightly irrational state. One foregoes comfort now in order to work toward some bigger prospective benefit later on. It’s not as simple as saying “I want X”. It’s saying something far more complicated: “I want X later, so I better do Y like crazy now”."
Daniel Coyle “The Talent Code”

Highly recommended for any entrepreneur or artist who dares to hold on to their creative voice while still taking over the world. #hughmacleod #reading #isiahrecs

"Art has to be a kind of confession. I don’t mean a true confession in the sense of that dreary magazine. The effort it seems to me, is: if you can examine and face your life, you can discover the terms with which you are connected to other lives, and they can discover them, too — the terms with which they are connected to other people. This has happened to every one of us, I’m sure. You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discovered it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that they are alone. This is why art is important. Art would not be important if life were not important, and life is important. Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to them from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it’s true for everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace. They have to disturb the peace. Otherwise, chaos."
James Baldwin, 1961 (via manufactoriel)
cjwho:

Layered Glass Table Concept Creates a Cross-Section of the Ocean by Duffy London | via
With multiple layers of stacked glass and wooden slices, Duffy London has built ‘the abyss table’, replicating the dramatic depths of an indigo ocean. the design creates a geological cross-section of the sea, completing the table as a 3-dimensional model of a geological map.
‘I was looking into sheets of thick glass at my glass manufacturer’s factory, and noticed how the material darkened as they added more layers – the same way the sea does as it deepens.’ designer christopher duffy describes ‘I wanted to use this effect to replicate a real piece of the earth’s sea bed. like a mythical power had lifted a perfect rectangle straight from the earth’s crust to use as his personal ornament.‘ traditional to the design studio’s aesthetic, the furniture piece acts as both a conversation piece as much as it does a functional one.
CJWHO:  facebook  |  instagram | twitter  |  pinterest  |  subscribe
cjwho:

Layered Glass Table Concept Creates a Cross-Section of the Ocean by Duffy London | via
With multiple layers of stacked glass and wooden slices, Duffy London has built ‘the abyss table’, replicating the dramatic depths of an indigo ocean. the design creates a geological cross-section of the sea, completing the table as a 3-dimensional model of a geological map.
‘I was looking into sheets of thick glass at my glass manufacturer’s factory, and noticed how the material darkened as they added more layers – the same way the sea does as it deepens.’ designer christopher duffy describes ‘I wanted to use this effect to replicate a real piece of the earth’s sea bed. like a mythical power had lifted a perfect rectangle straight from the earth’s crust to use as his personal ornament.‘ traditional to the design studio’s aesthetic, the furniture piece acts as both a conversation piece as much as it does a functional one.
CJWHO:  facebook  |  instagram | twitter  |  pinterest  |  subscribe
cjwho:

Layered Glass Table Concept Creates a Cross-Section of the Ocean by Duffy London | via
With multiple layers of stacked glass and wooden slices, Duffy London has built ‘the abyss table’, replicating the dramatic depths of an indigo ocean. the design creates a geological cross-section of the sea, completing the table as a 3-dimensional model of a geological map.
‘I was looking into sheets of thick glass at my glass manufacturer’s factory, and noticed how the material darkened as they added more layers – the same way the sea does as it deepens.’ designer christopher duffy describes ‘I wanted to use this effect to replicate a real piece of the earth’s sea bed. like a mythical power had lifted a perfect rectangle straight from the earth’s crust to use as his personal ornament.‘ traditional to the design studio’s aesthetic, the furniture piece acts as both a conversation piece as much as it does a functional one.
CJWHO:  facebook  |  instagram | twitter  |  pinterest  |  subscribe
cjwho:

Layered Glass Table Concept Creates a Cross-Section of the Ocean by Duffy London | via
With multiple layers of stacked glass and wooden slices, Duffy London has built ‘the abyss table’, replicating the dramatic depths of an indigo ocean. the design creates a geological cross-section of the sea, completing the table as a 3-dimensional model of a geological map.
‘I was looking into sheets of thick glass at my glass manufacturer’s factory, and noticed how the material darkened as they added more layers – the same way the sea does as it deepens.’ designer christopher duffy describes ‘I wanted to use this effect to replicate a real piece of the earth’s sea bed. like a mythical power had lifted a perfect rectangle straight from the earth’s crust to use as his personal ornament.‘ traditional to the design studio’s aesthetic, the furniture piece acts as both a conversation piece as much as it does a functional one.
CJWHO:  facebook  |  instagram | twitter  |  pinterest  |  subscribe
cjwho:

Layered Glass Table Concept Creates a Cross-Section of the Ocean by Duffy London | via
With multiple layers of stacked glass and wooden slices, Duffy London has built ‘the abyss table’, replicating the dramatic depths of an indigo ocean. the design creates a geological cross-section of the sea, completing the table as a 3-dimensional model of a geological map.
‘I was looking into sheets of thick glass at my glass manufacturer’s factory, and noticed how the material darkened as they added more layers – the same way the sea does as it deepens.’ designer christopher duffy describes ‘I wanted to use this effect to replicate a real piece of the earth’s sea bed. like a mythical power had lifted a perfect rectangle straight from the earth’s crust to use as his personal ornament.‘ traditional to the design studio’s aesthetic, the furniture piece acts as both a conversation piece as much as it does a functional one.
CJWHO:  facebook  |  instagram | twitter  |  pinterest  |  subscribe

cjwho:

Layered Glass Table Concept Creates a Cross-Section of the Ocean by Duffy London | via

With multiple layers of stacked glass and wooden slices, Duffy London has built ‘the abyss table’, replicating the dramatic depths of an indigo ocean. the design creates a geological cross-section of the sea, completing the table as a 3-dimensional model of a geological map.

‘I was looking into sheets of thick glass at my glass manufacturer’s factory, and noticed how the material darkened as they added more layers – the same way the sea does as it deepens.’ designer christopher duffy describes ‘I wanted to use this effect to replicate a real piece of the earth’s sea bed. like a mythical power had lifted a perfect rectangle straight from the earth’s crust to use as his personal ornament.‘ traditional to the design studio’s aesthetic, the furniture piece acts as both a conversation piece as much as it does a functional one.

CJWHO:  facebook  |  instagram | twitter  |  pinterest  |  subscribe

Transgress perspective. #fearlessla (at Arts District, Los Angeles)

"But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: so the darkness shall be light, and the stillness the dancing." -T.S. Eliot #fourquaters #poetry #coffee #reallife (at Dulce Pop Up Hold Up!)

"I’ve always had the feeling that life loves the liver of it. You must live and life will be good to you, give you experiences. They may not all be that pleasant, but nobody promised you a rose garden. But more than likely if you do dare, what you get are the marvelous returns. Courage is probably the most important of the virtues, because without courage you cannot practice any of the other virtues, you can’t say against a murderous society, I oppose your murdering. You got to have courage to do so. I seem to have known that a long time and found great joy in it."
— Maya Angelou

Extinguish both my eyes: I see you still;
Slam shut my ears: I can still hear you talking;
Without my mouth i can implore your will
And without feet: Towards you i keep on walking.
Break off my arms: I shall still hold you tight;
My heart will yet embrace you all the same.
Suppress my heart: My brain knows no deterrent;
And if at last you set my brain aflame
I carry you still on my bloodstream’s current.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Every now and then we imagine the worst that could happen to us. What would that be like? And in that fantasy we find a special courage.

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QuestionWould you be interested in mentoring young artists? More so than you already have with your public writing and thoughts? I have been plotting, for a while now, how I would approach you with this. Maybe it's as simple as "asking you anything"? Answer

austinkleon:

I was lucky and got some really good teachers coming up, but most of my real mentors were Mentors From Afar. Here’s Seth Godin:

I think that heroes are more important than mentors. A hero is somebody who you can emulate; somebody who raises the bar for you. Heroism scales, so one person can be a hero for a lot of people. Mentoring is over-rated in that there’s this myth that they will pick you, cover for you when you make mistakes, encourage you, and be at your side until you become your true, best self. There are very few of those relationships in the world.

Emphasis mine. Scale is a big problem. I can’t even answer all my email, let alone take on mentees or interns or whatever. If I did, I’d have no time to actually make the stuff that makes you want me as a mentor, you know?

Here’s a bit from Show Your Work:

As a human being, you have a finite amount of time and attention. At some point, you have to switch from saying “yes” a lot to saying “no” a lot. “The biggest problem of success is that the world conspires to stop you doing the thing that you do, because you are successful,” writes author Neil Gaiman. “There was a day when I looked up and realised that I had become someone who professionally replied to email, and who wrote as a hobby. I started answering fewer emails, and was relieved to find I was writing much more.”

I find myself in the weird position now where I get way more email from people than I could ever answer and still do everything I need to do. The way I get over my guilt about not answering email is to hold office hours. Once a month, I make myself available so that anybody can ask me anything on my website, and I try to give thoughtful answers that I then post so anyone can see.

You just have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done. 

Trying my best…

Thanks to the internet I was able to have open dialogue with one of my heroes austinkleon on the subject of “Mentors”. Check out his brilliant response. 

"Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing." 

-Salvador Dali

If you have one person you’re influenced by, everyone will say you’re the next whoever. But if you rip off a hundred people, everyone will say you’re original.”

-Bary Panter

"You don’t want to just look like your heroes, you want to think like them." This would explain, perhaps, why I think so similarly to Christian Bale and Daniel Day Lewis. I can confidently say I have read and seen every interview they have ever done. There was a time about 3 or 4 years ago where I had nothing better to do then read everything about these guys, my heroes. And now, when I see or read an interview of them, I feel like I connect on a whole different level. “They think just like me!” “Wow, I feel like I would have said the same thing!” “Man, they really understand me. That’s why I love these guys.” Except what I don’t realize is that I have just been learning to think and see like them.

"Our failure to copy our heroes is where we discover where our own thing lives."

Copy your heroes. Examine where you fall short. What’s in there that makes you different? That’s what you should amplify and transform into your own work.

[Most of this taken from Austin Kleon's “Steal Like An Artist”]

Jazz lyfe | #jazz #urbanraddish #caravan (at Urban Radish)

"There’s another way to be in this world… what I have to offer is me. What you have to offer is you."

"And if we can’t be the best at it, then why are we doing it at all?"

1.) What can you particularly do better than any other person in your field?

2.) What can you not do very well in your field?

These two questions can birth a simple crystalline concept to guide your life choices by. And in that simplicity comes greatness. What’s more simple than e=mc^2 ?

Every company would like to be the best at something, but few actually understand - with piercing insight and egoless clarity - what they actually have the potential to be the best at and, just as important, what they cannot be the best at.” - Jim Collins