Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

How did you come across the book?

This is my roommates book actually, and he’s traveling in Europe so I borrowed it while he’s gone… and I’m in love with it… it’s great!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… David Foster Wallace’s writing is amazing… his style, if you’re not familiar… it’s like he uses these end notes that are used to put jokes in the middle of… well not always jokes, sometimes their informatory… but uh, in the middle of the text, which is great. But the very first… as far as insight goes… it’s really his vocabulary… it’s amazing so it’s… I mean I’m a song writer so it helps me jot words through my mind. He’s also very funny and smart which I love; it’s great when someone can mix the two. It’s sad… unfortunately, he ended up committing suicide… but yes, he was very smart. The specific essay I’m on right now is about him covering the 2000 primaries when John McCain was going against Bush… so, he’s just talking about the times current politics in 2000 so it’s very interesting to read that from his perspective.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would recommend this for sure! To who? I mean, literally everyone! I think… it’s just…. all of it is amazing… but yeah, anybody who is interested in writing… his grammar is impeccable and his vocabulary is just amazing. So, like I said, as far as songwriting goes, it’s really helping me out a lot just purely through his vocabulary… it’s amazing!

‘The Man In The Arena’: Much More Than A Quote

As I write, I am under the assumption that most of you who will read this post will have also had prior exposure to the ambitiously moving quote from Theodore Roosevelt, known now more prominently as “The Man In The Arena”. Though expression of equal and greater value in regard to it’s surrounding content both initiates and further facilitates these words, given its lot in the grander scheme of oracle derive, for those who have not yet felt the quotes might, enjoy:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

As stated; Moving; Powerful; Inspiring. However, in this short piece of mine what I wanted to share with you all, as mentioned in the preceding passage, was content of equal or greater value, both prior and post Roosevelt’s illustrious recite. Below I will share with you words leading up to the discounting of the critic, to those eloquently following suit with the cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat; again, enjoy:

Prior to the discounted critic:

The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities – all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The role is easy; there is none easier, save only the role of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.

In short; Do yourself instead of talking of others doing. Act as opposed to remaining apprehensive. Remain indifferent to the words of others who merely contain the superficial expanse of aggressive words but very little, to non-existent, in their actions fruition. We all contain the ability to act, but we must be courageous in its implement and in its practice. It’s OK to be afraid, but fear more the consequence of idle and fear less the act itself.

Post those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat:

Let those who have, keep, let those who have not, strive to attain, a high standard of cultivation and scholarship. Yet let us remember that these stand second to certain other things. There is need of a sound body, and even more of a sound mind. But above mind and above body stands character – the sum of those qualities which we mean when we speak of a man’s force and courage, of his good faith and sense of honor. I believe in exercise for the body, always provided that we keep in mind that physical development is a means and not an end. I believe, of course, in giving to all the people a good education. But the education must contain much besides book-learning in order to be really good. We must ever remember that no keenness and subtleness of intellect, no polish, no cleverness, in any way make up for the lack of the great solid qualities. Self restraint, self mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution – these are the qualities which mark a masterful people. Without them no people can control itself, or save itself from being controlled from the outside. I speak to brilliant assemblage; I speak in a great university which represents the flower of the highest intellectual development; I pay all homage to intellect and to elaborate and specialized training of the intellect; and yet I know I shall have the assent of all of you present when I add that more important still are the commonplace, every-day qualities and virtues.

In short; development of the collective should remain the highest standard and consequential aim of a society. However, this starts with the individual, with the lone development and sustain of self-mastery. Thereafter, or in midst of, the greater pursuit of collective progression, not in terms of industry or of capital expansion, but in the realization and in the development of an aware, able, and self-mastered people. To interject with ever relevant and always comprehensible Stoic perspective, to quote Marcus Aurelius, “That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees.” We are the bees and our moment of existence, along with our universal position is the bee-hive. We are responsible, so as a people, let us become aware of this responsibility, for the hive and for the bees which make up that hive. “With great responsibility comes great power”, and that power is found in the human practice of doing.

The responsibility we all were handed from our first breath, or rather from our first insight of being and of aware, remains ours to our last breath, or rather in the passing on of character and of understanding on a generational basis; this will be difficult, this will be hard, and this will be ours. Own the duty or be owned by the duty’s in-acted upon declare. And, to further quote Theodore Roosevelt, in moments of our inevitable disbelief or refrain, find strength and courage in these words:

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

Attached below is a copy of Roosevelt’s entire speech, titled “Citizenship In A Republic”; I encourage you to read it. However, as with any reading, understand the context the best you can, take from it what you will and leave behind what you choose. Reading itself is an act of individual understanding, unique to you, your desires, your perspective and your ever evolving existence. And remember, enjoy!

The Man In The Arena – Citizenship In A Republic – Theodore Roosevelt

Infinite Jest

How did you come across the book?

Well it’s really famous… I mean, it’s considered one of the great american novels… so I knew about it. It’s one of my very good friend’s favorite book… and everyone kind of shits on it for being like a really liberal, douche-bag kind of book and I was just like, “OK, I should definitely read it before I judge it.”

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Umm… it has a lot of really complex characters who are very… endearing; I like that. It also goes across time, so it’s a little bit confusing… but in a nice way.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh! That is a hard question! Umm… I would recommend it to people who don’t really pay attention to a book’s reputation before they read it… because if they do pay attention to the book’s reputation then what I recommend doesn’t matter because this book has a really notorious reputation. But, for someone who likes being disoriented and appreciates a… a genius… I mean, he really was a master at what he did… then yeah, I would recommend that they try it.

Under Milk Wood

How did you come across the book?

Well, it was written as sort of a poetic radio play by Dylan Thomas. Strangely enough it was first performed here in New York City in 1953. He was Welch but, uh… he occasionally came here and he lived here… in fact, he was a terrible alcoholic and he drank himself to death here. There’s a famous pub up in, uh… near the Meat Packing District where he would frequent. Well, anyways, I’ve known about it for many years and I think I probably heard it on the radio when I was a small… young, boy. And I haven’t really read it for a long, long time. So, as I was in the pub the other week I thought, “hmm… I’ll get a copy of ‘Under Milk Wood‘ and read it.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

It’s really about the kind of individuality and eccentricity of people… and how that should be just love and admired, regardless of any kind of moral judgement. So it’s… it’s pretty amazing; it’s a great read.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Well, funny… I would recommend it to anyone, but… my daughter lives here in New York and she’s not a great reader, so first thing I’m going to say to her when she gets home is, apart from reading Raymond Calvel, which I’ve also given her… she must read this. She’s 32 and she’s not been a great reader of fiction… which is her loss so far.

Howl’s Moving Castle

How did you come across the book?

You know what? I’m a big Miyazaki fan… I don’t know if you’re familiar with him or not. He is an animator and makes movies… and he turned this one into a movie a while back. But… I’ve seen the movie a couple times, and you know what?… It just… it was literally face up on a table in a bookstore labeled “Your Next Favorite Book“… and I had just finished reading something else, so I was like, “yeah, alright, I’ll give that a shot… why not?” I’ve always dug the movie so I guess I’ll give the book a try.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Oh man! Perspective I have gained from the book? Umm… I mean… perspective. Well, ok… so listen this book is about magic and how magic works… and, I think more than perspective what this one has done is actually really confirm a lot of things that are going on in my life. You know… every once in awhile you pick up a book that you just needed to pick up and it sort of starts talking to you, and through the book you start having a conversation with yourself about what you’re up to… and so this book is about magic. It’s about how most magic is rooted in belief, cause I mean like… duh! Most magic is… if you want to think of prayer as magic, then you know, that’s how it works… faith. And also, the main character in this is sort of trying to reconcile where he’s from, where he’s going, what he’s doing… all from the same place. So… I guess it’s just got me really thinking about who I am and where I am and where I’m heading and what I’m doing…. if that makes sense.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh, so far so good… yeah! If you’re a fan of fantasy… it’s definitely YA fantasy… and then it’s like there’s some coming of age elements in it. One of the main characters is someone who is sort of figuring out how powerful she is… and in her particular society, they have always told her that… so she’s the oldest of three sisters and the caveat in their society is the oldest of three sisters will never amount to anything. And so, one day she sort of accidentally goes off to seek her fortune and continues to find out more and more how powerful she actually is… and how much she can get done. So, I think I would recommend it to anyone who’s a little lost… anyone who knows that they belief in some things but isn’t quite sure why… and really anybody who wants just to take a trip… I mean… it is a trip! It is just a really, really great world. It’s so hard, I mean… this book is fairly old but it’s so difficult now that fantasy has become so mainstream to happen upon  a world that feels different than Hogwarts or Middle Earth… and it’s really nice and refreshing to be sort of bamfing in and out of… and also one of the fantasy worlds is rooted in our own reality which I always really enjoyed how Hogwarts does as well… I guess Middle Earth does as well…you’ve gotta die and sail across the seas to us… but uh, yeah… so I guess really, anybody who wants to sort of expand their horizons… pick it up and give it a read. I do not read quickly and I am crushing this!

A Haitian Proverb

“Behind mountains are more mountains.”

In the presence of mountains, simply observe. Do they stand alone, isolated and surrounded by terrain of less impressive and of less daunting physique? No. They instead are surrounded by more mountains, though different in stature and in design, mountains still; every peak, valley, and edge providing their own set of challenges in quest towards their overcoming. Further, upon reach of ones summit, what is awaiting our array? More mountains to climb. Rest for now, enjoy this moment.

This thing standing in your way, the one you have been chiseling away at for an enduring duration of both time and of being; finished. Time to enjoy the fulfillment of conquering that which has, at moments, made you doubt your own ability, your own will, your own worth. No more. It is done; for now but not for long.

Take time to reflect the moments of past and to survey the best you can the moments of ahead. Then prepare for the work, for that is the only truth which we know the next mountain to contain; the work demanded for the overcoming of its presented challenge.

Whether of the mind, or of the laws which dictate nature, we know the road ahead will not remain as tranquil as the moment of now. We aren’t done; we never were. Only the relaxation of our dynamic experience was upon us; the state which lies between the highs and the lows of our worlds natural tendencies, a moments stagnancy pro tem between the opposite ends of the same spectrum. We are only momentarily experiencing the serenity before the collapse of a pillar or before the proliferation of yet another blockade; both obstacles in their own respects, both challenges to overcome. Don’t be scared, for this is only again the beginning. You’ve been here before, and you will be here again.

“Live on in your blessings, your destiny’s been won. But ours calls us on from one ordeal to the next.”

– Virgil

Do not fear this. What more is life than in the overcoming of whatever lie ahead, whether of the physical or of the psychological world. Take for instance, the story of Sisyphus, a prince punished by Zeus to an eternal battle of will, perseverance and physical sustain, doomed to the task of pushing a boulder up a hill, only for that boulder to once again roll down. Our lives are no different. Whereas Sisyphus’ moments of tranquility came in form of reaching the top of the hill, and in the calm before the realization of the boulders decent to the re-positioning of yet another beginning, our lives compare in both method and madness. We will reach peaks of our choosing and of our fate, we will have moments of reward and of serenity because of this, and we will fall back down to yet again another beginning; again, and again, and again. So the question is, if this is the fate with which we are presented and with which we are left to face, what do we do? We begin again.

Whatever the mask the new obstacle in front of us chooses to wear, remember it is only that; a mask, one we do not have to view  in its chosen presentation. Rather, through the power of perception, we can reveal its true being and manipulate its power over us accordingly. It doesn’t have to be a monster, which is largely a determination of the subconscious mind. It can simply be an impediment of nature, wearing a mask depicting our fear, a mask we can chose to remove with the power of our conscious being. We may not have decisive power over its presence, but we do have that power over its meaning and over its control of us. However, perception, like any other quality of the mind we possess, must be understood, practiced, and applied, for other wise it will remain nothing more than a mystery of our untapped and undeveloped conscience. We have choice over meaning, and in this, limitless control of our perception. Circumstances, though good at establishing environment, do not provide context; only we can do that.

“You don’t have to turn this into something. It doesn’t have to upset you. Things can’t shape our decisions by themselves.”

— Marcus Aurelius

Remember, “Behind mountains, are more mountains”, but also, “Behind our overcoming, is our earned ability to overcome again.”

This piece was inspired by the reading of Ryan Holiday’s, ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’A great read!

Korea, Women, Graphic Designers 11

Korean Text: 한국, 여성, 그래픽 디자이너 11

How did you come across the book?

Umm… well… I’m on Twitter now and then and I follow designers… female designers… and it was something that was being mentioned often, so I kind of wanted to check it out. Here I never get to find Korean books, so whenever I visit home I try to get as many books as I can… and this was one of them.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… I’ve just found it really interesting that, although I expected a really aggressive feminism in the design field in Korea, it was actually… like some people were not feeling or experiencing the discrimination… and that some female designers thought themselves lucky enough to have male supporters… like within their family or colleagues. Oh… I also have found it interesting to have female designers, of different age groups, or of different positions in their field… talking to each other in interview format… which was easier for me to read and to understand their perspectives, instead of just long, long writings from one persons perspective… I thought that interview conversation format to be way better for me to absorb. Also… this book looks into the mystery of “where did all the female art students go?”, illustrating why some had to stop… and how the survivors survived… since the stats show that the majority of the design students are female yet the notable and established designers are highly consisted of men. It really shows how there are different shapes of feminism… that the individuals experience… and how they deal with it.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes, definitely… I would probably recommend it to guys… like, male designers… or non-designers as well. But… I think… you know how guys… I mean I’m not trying to be offensive about this, but… guys would have less experiences of what we experience… and they would probably take it for granted… of what they get in the field. So, if not, that’s great… but in my experience I would not say that, so… yeah… yeah… I think I would recommend it to my designer friends… my male designer friends. Also, I would recommend it to both male and female designers of director positions… thinking and hoping they would gain a better idea of how to enhance the growing female designers to balance their work and life as women better… without having to give one up.

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