Did you know…


… that today is Pop Art Day? On the birthdays of abstract painter Jackson Pollack (1912 in Cody, Wyoming) and pop artist Claes Oldenburg (1929 in Stockholm, Sweden), we celebrate and honor all pop artists.

Thank you Gratitude 🙏🙏🙏150043 !!!❤❤❤ Day 261 !


Dear Readers, BFFFs, Viewers – My humble thanks to all of you for making this possible which I did not even think in my dreams.

I was astonished to see 150043 Views!!! 28097 Visitors 1400 comments and 124111 Likes.

I am blessed to have 878 followers like you, 3 email subscribers and 3133 Registered Subscribers.

I am humble and Grateful for your encouragement and support.

Keep coming, You are welcome.  Your comments are always welcome.

Regards.

Jay

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Maha village, which witnessed a string of farmer suicides, to boycott polls | Lok Sabha election | Maharashtra village | boycott polls | Wagda Izara village


via Maha village, which witnessed a string of farmer suicides, to boycott polls | Lok Sabha election | Maharashtra village | boycott polls | Wagda Izara village

Courtesy: Newsletter from Transfin


Newbie RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das met Heads of various Public Sector Banks (PSBs) today to convey the “regulator’s expectation from the banking sector in general.”

Now that is rather cute. Think about it. A record low inflation and talks of a rate cut doesn’t really complement well with a subdued PSB ecosystem, boggeddown by RBI’s own Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework. (Tweet This)

Moreover, PSB Heads weren’t too excited when FM criticized the CBI for pursuing “investigative adventurism” vs. ICICI, while choosing to stay silent when the agency cracked the whip against PSBs earlier last year.

Seems its the government who needs to manage expectations…and not the other way round.

Now to Today’s End of Day Wrap Up:

ZEE
Zee confirms that there has been no default in repayment of loans by the parent Essel Group.

The What: Zee MD Punit Goenka confirmed that there has not been any default so far in the repayment of loans by its parent Essel Group.The news comes as Essel reached an agreement with its lenders wherein they would not sell off any more pledged shares even if their value fell.

Up Close: Pledge-holders had sold off 60 basis points of promoter stake on Friday, resulting in Zee Enterprises crashing c. 31%, Dish TV falling c. 37% and Essel Propack slumping c. 11%.

Also This: Goenka also said that the moratorium for repayment of loans had been extended beyond April 2019. Meanwhile, he noted that the stake sale process in Zee was on course.

Hard Fact: Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund is the biggest investor in Zee, with an exposure of INR2,936cr (37% of the total debt fund) spread across 28 schemes.

In Other News: As per a Business Standard report, Reliance Jio is likely to compete with the likes of Amazon, Apple, Tencent, Alibaba, AT&T, Singtel, Comcast and Sony Pictures to buy half of promoter Subhash Chandra’s stake in Zee Entertainment.

Hit Refresh: Zee Group on Friday suffered a loss in market capitalisation after shares of its entertainment arm crashed over 30% in light of a media report, which alleged links between its promoter company Essel Group and Nityank Infrapower and Multiventures, a company that is under the scrutiny for deposits of over INR3,000cr after demonetisation.

Zee Limited share price chart here.

AGRI
NITI Aayog proposes area-based income compensation (ABIC) scheme for distressed farmers. Last budget may include INR10,000 per farmer income transfer.

The Plan: As per the proposed area-based income compensation scheme, farmers will be paid the difference between the actual price they get and the state-mandated minimum support price (MSP) on a per acre basis.

Then There’s This: Centre likely to announce a ₹10,000 per-farmer income transfer scheme in the Interim Budgetamongst other steps to pacify agrarian distress in the country.

STARTUP

Ola cuts investment in Foodpanda, to focus on private labels and cloud kitchen instead.

Expanding Horizons: Ola has more than halved its investment in food delivery platform Foodpanda and will hereafter focus on its own private labels and cloud kitchens including The Great Khichdi Experiment, Lovemade and FLRT brands, and continue to leverage its customer base for efficient growth.

Ola also plans to focus on scaling its payments, lending, and core transportation portfolio, which includes scooters, international business and electric vehicles.

Add On:  Read this fascinating article to know how messaging platform Telegram has replaced more popular competitors Facebook and WhatsApp to become a go-to platform for test-prep in India.

You’re Halfway There

TIMEOUT

#GetSetGo

Which insurance company has come up with India’s first ever insurance cover for individual victims of cyber crime?

(Answer at the end of the newsletter)

#ShareYourLink

Liked What You’ve Read So Far? Copy-paste and share your unique invitation link to recommend this email digest to your friends: https://transfin.in/emaildigest-invite?code=dhananjay

GHOSN
SEC probes Nissan over Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s pay disclosures.

Under Watch: US Securities and Exchange Commission has begun apreliminary investigation against Nissan Motor in connection with Carlos Ghosn’s pay disclosures, and has requested documents from both the car maker and its former Chairman.

Backstory: Nissan and Mr. Ghosn have been charged in Japan with underreporting his compensation by more than $80m on eight years of the company’s financial reports.

France Voices Concern: French President Emmanuel Macron voices concern over Carlos Ghosn’s conditions in jail, stating that the detention was ‘too long and too hard’.

SPACE

Scientists fear that NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover may have ‘died’ in dust storm.

Opportunity’s last communication with Earth was received June 10, 2018, after which a dust storm blanketed the solar-powered rover’s location, eventually blocking out sunlight and leading to a discharge of its batteries.

NASA’s robotic rover, Opportunity (also known as MER-B or MER-1), and its twin craft, Spirit landed on Mars on 24 Jan, 2004.

Bonus: Read this fascinating study by Rice University scientists which discusses how Earth is likely to have received the bulk of its carbon, nitrogenand other life-essential elements from the planetary collision that created the moon more than 4.4 billion years ago. (Tweet This) Check out a more detailed article on the study here.

TIMEOUT ANSWER: Bajaj Allianz
FINIS (If you found today’s Newsletter share-worthy…seriously…don’t hold back.)

Startpreneurs’ Morning Briefing


IndiaTech, a lobby group that aims to create a level playing field for domestic startups, is now seeking the support of various government departments to ease listing norms for consumer internet ventures.
Cisco’s chairman emiritus John Chambers was awarded the one of the most prestigious civilian honours of the country – the Padma Bhusan award – in light of his contributions and support to India-US trade relations.
Gurugram-headquartered online travel company MakeMyTrip posted financial results for the third quarter of the FY2018-19 with a 31.4% Y-o-Y growth in adjusted revenue, reaching $179.9 Mn.
Fact Sheet
The deals and funding in 2018 may have been lower than 2017, but what more than made up for it was the fact that 2018 saw the making of the largest number of unicorns in a single year in India. Without any further ado, let’s take a look at the Indian companies which entered the unicorn club in 2018.
With advertising technology evolving more rapidly and getting more sophisticated than ever before, new channels and devices are now offering more opportunities for advertisers to connect with customers in many ways. Now as we move in 2019, let’s take a moment to look at some of the interesting AdTech trends ahead of us this year.
Report Subscription
Urgently, the roadside assistance startup that connects car owners who need help with tow truck and other services, has raised $21 million in a Series B round that includes the venture arms of BMW, Porsche  and Jaguar Land Rover.
Vizio has announced (via Engadget) that smart TV owners can sign up for a beta for its SmartCast 3.0 update, which it will roll out this spring, bringing with it Apple Airplay 2 and HomeKit support to eligible smart TVs.
Last week, we learned that the FTC is considering slapping Facebook with a reported “record-setting” fine for abusing its users’ data and privacy. This week, two more things happened that make it seem like that cloud will be staying around for a while.

You will like this BrainPicking.


This is the Brain Pickings midweek pick-me-up: Once a week, I plunge into my 12-year archive and choose something worth resurfacing and resavoring as timeless nourishment for heart, mind, and spirit. (If you don’t yet subscribe to the standard Sunday newsletter of new pieces published each week, you can sign up here – it’s free.) If you missed last week’s edition – an illustrated meditation on love, loss, and what it means to be human – you can catch up right here. And if you find any value and joy in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation – over these twelve years, I have spent tens of thousands of hours and tremendous resources on Brain Pickings, and every little bit of support helps keep it going. If you already donate: THANK YOU.

FROM THE ARCHIVE | Ursula K. Le Guin on Being a Man

leguin_waveinthemind.jpg?w=180Who are we when we, to borrow Hannah Arendt’s enduring words, “are together with no one but ourselves”? However much we might exert ourselves on learning to stop letting others define us, the definitions continue to be hurled at us — definitions predicated on who we should be in relation to some concrete or abstract other, some ideal, some benchmark beyond the boundaries of who we already are.

One of the most important authors of our time, Ursula K. Le Guin has influenced such celebrated literary icons as Neil Gaiman and Salman Rushdie. At her best — and to seek the “best” in an altogether spectacular body of work seems almost antithetical — she blends anthropology, social psychology, and sheer literary artistry to explore complex, often difficult subjects with remarkable grace. Subjects, for instance, like who we are and what gender really means as we — men, women, ungendered souls — try to inhabit our constant tussle between inner and outer, individual and social, private and performative. This is what Le Guin examines in an extraordinary essay titled “Introducing Myself,” which Le Guin first wrote as a performance piece in the 1980s and later updated for the beautifully titled, beautifully written, beautifully wide-ranging 2004 collection The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination (public library). To speak of a subject so common by birth and so minced by public discourse in a way that is completely original and completely compelling is no small feat — in fact, it is the kind of feat of writing Jack Kerouac must have had in mind when he contemplated the crucial difference between genius and talent.

ursulakleguin.jpg?w=600

Ursula K. Le Guin by Laura Anglin

Le Guin writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngI am a man. Now you may think I’ve made some kind of silly mistake about gender, or maybe that I’m trying to fool you, because my first name ends in a, and I own three bras, and I’ve been pregnant five times, and other things like that that you might have noticed, little details. But details don’t matter… I predate the invention of women by decades. Well, if you insist on pedantic accuracy, women have been invented several times in widely varying localities, but the inventors just didn’t know how to sell the product. Their distribution techniques were rudimentary and their market research was nil, and so of course the concept just didn’t get off the ground. Even with a genius behind it an invention has to find its market, and it seemed like for a long time the idea of women just didn’t make it to the bottom line. Models like the Austen and the Brontë were too complicated, and people just laughed at the Suffragette, and the Woolf was way too far ahead of its time.

humanbody13.jpg?w=600

Illustration from ‘The Human Body,’ 1959. Click image for details.

Noting that when she was born (1929), “there actually were only men” — lest we forget, even the twentieth century’s greatest public intellectuals of the female genderused the pronoun “he” to refer to the whole lot of human beings — Le Guin plays with this notion of the universal pronoun:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngThat’s who I am. I am the generic he, as in, “If anybody needs an abortion he will have to go to another state,” or “A writer knows which side his bread is buttered on.” That’s me, the writer, him. I am a man. Not maybe a first-rate man. I’m perfectly willing to admit that I may be in fact a kind of second-rate or imitation man, a Pretend-a-Him. As a him, I am to a genuine male him as a microwaved fish stick is to a whole grilled Chinook salmon.

Le Guin turns to the problem of the body, which is indeed problematic in the context of this Generic He:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngI admit it, I am actually a very poor imitation or substitute man, and you could see it when I tried to wear those army surplus clothes with ammunition pockets that were trendy and I looked like a hen in a pillowcase. I am shaped wrong. People are supposed to be lean. You can’t be too thin, everybody says so, especially anorexics. People are supposed to be lean and taut, because that’s how men generally are, lean and taut, or anyhow that’s how a lot of men start out and some of them even stay that way. And men are people, people are men, that has been well established, and so people, real people, the right kind of people, are lean. But I’m really lousy at being people, because I’m not lean at all but sort of podgy, with actual fat places. I am untaut.

manmeetswoman_yangliu2.jpg?w=600

Illustration by Yang Liu from ‘Man Meets Woman,’ a pictogram critique of gender stereotypes. Click image for details.

For an example of someone who did Man right, Le Guin points to Hemingway, He with “the beard and the guns and the wives and the little short sentences,” and returns to her own insufficient Manness with a special wink at semicolons and a serious gleam at the significance of how we die:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngI don’t have a gun and I don’t have even one wife and my sentences tend to go on and on and on, with all this syntax in them. Ernest Hemingway would have died rather than have syntax. Or semicolons. I use a whole lot of half-assed semicolons; there was one of them just now; that was a semicolon after “semicolons,” and another one after “now.”

And another thing. Ernest Hemingway would have died rather than get old. And he did. He shot himself. A short sentence. Anything rather than a long sentence, a life sentence. Death sentences are short and very, very manly. Life sentences aren’t. They go on and on, all full of syntax and qualifying clauses and confusing references and getting old. And that brings up the real proof of what a mess I have made of being a man: I am not even young. Just about the time they finally started inventing women, I started getting old. And I went right on doing it. Shamelessly. I have allowed myself to get old and haven’t done one single thing about it, with a gun or anything.

But between the half-assed semicolons and the guns lies the crux of the gender-imitation problem — the tyranny of how we think and talk about sex:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngSex is even more boring as a spectator sport than all the other spectator sports, even baseball. If I am required to watch a sport instead of doing it, I’ll take show jumping. The horses are really good-looking. The people who ride them are mostly these sort of nazis, but like all nazis they are only as powerful and successful as the horse they are riding, and it is after all the horse who decides whether to jump that five-barred gate or stop short and let the nazi fall off over its neck. Only usually the horse doesn’t remember it has the option. Horses aren’t awfully bright. But in any case, show jumping and sex have a good deal in common, though you usually can only get show jumping on American TV if you can pick up a Canadian channel, which is not true of sex. Given the option, though I often forget that I have an option, I certainly would watch show jumping and do sex. Never the other way round. But I’m too old now for show jumping, and as for sex, who knows? I do; you don’t.

Le Guin parlays this subtle humor into her most serious and piercing point, partway between the tragic and the hopeful — the issue of aging:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngHere I am, old, when I wrote this I was sixty years old, “a sixty-year-old smiling public man,” as Yeats said, but then, he was a man. And now I am over seventy. And it’s all my own fault. I get born before they invent women, and I live all these decades trying so hard to be a good man that I forget all about staying young, and so I didn’t. And my tenses get all mixed up. I just am young and then all of a sudden I was sixty and maybe eighty, and what next?

Not a whole lot.

I keep thinking there must have been something that a real man could have done about it. Something short of guns, but more effective than Oil of Olay. But I failed. I did nothing. I absolutely failed to stay young. And then I look back on all my strenuous efforts, because I really did try, I tried hard to be a man, to be a good man, and I see how I failed at that. I am at best a bad man. An imitation phony second-rate him with a ten-hair beard and semicolons. And I wonder what was the use. Sometimes I think I might just as well give the whole thing up. Sometimes I think I might just as well exercise my option, stop short in front of the five-barred gate, and let the nazi fall off onto his head. If I’m no good at pretending to be a man and no good at being young, I might just as well start pretending that I am an old woman. I am not sure that anybody has invented old women yet; but it might be worth trying.

The Wave in the Mind, like Le Guin’s mind, is joltingly original in its totality, Chinook salmon in the wild. Complement this particular bit with Anna Deavere Smith on how to stop letting others define us.

FORWARD TO A FRIEND/READ ARTICLE ONLINE/Like https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/10/17/ursula-k-le-guin-gender/ on Facebook

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I pour tremendous time, thought, heart, and resources into Brain Pickings, which remains free and ad-free, and is made possible by patronage. If you find any joy, stimulation, and consolation in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation. And if you already donate, from the bottom of my heart: THANK YOU.

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IF YOU MISSED THEM:

The Best of Brain Pickings 2018

The Loveliest Children’s Books of 2018

Overall Favorite Books of 2018

Accelerated Learning via : Mission Newsletter.


“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” -Leonardo da Vinci
Food For Thought
How To Master Anything

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” -Abigail Adams

Do you learn for the sake of learning, or do you learn for a purpose?

Learning in a way to level up your professional skills or personal hobbies, and requiresdedication and a sense of curiosity. Curiosity is the kindling under the fire of true understanding. And dedication keeps that fire alive.

Learning, like everything in life, needs a goal. Unfettered exploration and curiosity is a good thing, but quick skill-building requires intent and direction.

Why am I learning this? How will this lesson help me reach my goal? What is my goal?

Learning with that kind of awareness can radically transform how quickly and deeply you master a skill.

To hear more about how learning can level up your life, check out our special Friday Hangout below. ⤵️

Mission Daily
Friday Hangout With Salesforce Essentials


Ian, Chad, Stephanie, and Dylan are joined in-studio by… a camera crew?

The videography team from Salesforce Essentials joined us at Mission HQ! In this Friday hangout, we discuss what we’ve learned working with the Salesforce crew and what you can learn from Mission Studios’s unsung hero, Dylan Langlois.

Deep Dive
Seven Steps To Learn and Master Anything As Quickly As Possible

“I wanted to learn how to start a business. I wanted to learn more about investing. I wanted to learn computer programming, how to make a TV show, how to write a book, how to speak to a large audience, how to do standup comedy…

Every time I ended up crying.

And then I learned to learn…”
Read the essay.

Bookmark This
The 30 Point Checklist to Accelerate Your Learning


Here’s the Elon-Musk-inspired 30-point checklist for accelerated learning.

Be yourself to the point where you get picked on and bullied.
1) If you’re interested in something, binge on it, become obsessed, addicted, and then pull yourself out and get clean.
2) Drop out of college or drop back in if it makes sense.
3) Move from your hometown and travel the world.
4) Ask your family for help (it’s the only way you’ll discover how much they care).

Read the rest of the list.

#FunFactFriday
Information Theory – A 10 Second Explanation


Ever wondered how DVDs work? How the heck do they miraculously cram data for a 2-hour movie onto a little disk?

In the 1940s, Claude Shannon identified that the most fundamental unit of information was the state of either ‘true’ or ‘false’. These took the value of 1 or 0, respectively, and became the basis of ‘compression algorithms’ that allow us to turn sounds or pictures into codes of ones and zeroes.

Learn more.

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Happy Friday!

Congrats – you made it through another week! Enjoy your weekend. We will see you again on Monday! ✌️

Courtesy: Inc42 Newsletter


Inc42

Dear reader,

On a frigid winter evening some 4 years ago, three friends sat at the corner table of a Coffee House in Delhi. With hot cups of coffee in their hands and gleaming hope in their eyes, they had gathered to discuss an ‘idea’.

An idea that they all believed in, an idea that they all wanted to pursue but didn’t have enough courage to pursue alone. They knew they had to pluck the courage from each other and that’s what they were meeting for.

As the evening progressed, the fervour of their discussion intensified, more cups of coffee ensued and as their ‘idea’ took a firm shape, each of them dashed off notes in their half-filled-half-empty notebooks.

By the time the discussion concluded, it was apparent that this ‘idea’ had to see the light of the day.

Two weeks later, Inc42 was born.


As a company, we took our first steps four years ago and believe it or not, we’ve fumbled, screwed up and even reached a point where we didn’t know what lied ahead.

Seriously, I’ve seen those times of uncertainty when we weren’t sure if we’ll be in business until the following month.

But all three of us (the co-founders of Inc42) had an immovable conviction in our ‘idea’ and unwavering trust in each other, which not only helped us realise our ambitions but also helped us in building India’s leading media and information platform that you have subscribed to.

And now, after having published more than 15,000 stories, 20 reports and thousands of interviews with entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders of the startup world, I’m very proud to present to you our fruits of labour… The ‘best of the best’ we’ve published so far..

READ THE BEST STORIES OF INC42

These timeless stories have been read and shared by hundreds of thousands of Inc42 readers, from the biggest business leaders of the world to the Prime Minister of India and countless media organisations.

Take a look at who reads and shares our stories…

And listen, don’t forget to let me know if a particular story catches your fancy. Our team loves hearing good words from our dear readers like you. 🙂

Bill Gate's Tweet
Narendra Modi Tweets Inc42 Story
John Mcafee's Tweet
Suresh Prabhu's Tweet
READ THE BEST STORIES OF INC42

Talk Soon,

Pooja Sareen  

Co-founder & Editor-in-chief of Inc42 Media

P.S – Ok, so I changed my mind a bit…

Instead of later, let me share with you the three most read articles on Inc42 website.

(See, it pays to read these messages from beginning to end) 😉

Here you go:

Wait for my next email, something interesting incoming…

 

Inc42 Logo
What Fintech Startups Want In Budget 2019: Tax Rebate, Liquidity And Policy Reforms
As Aadhaar-enabled eKYC by private companies has been suspended by the Supreme Court and the applicability of the new amendment is limited to the banking and telecom sector only, in this Budget, fintech startups are expecting the government to incentivise sectors such as payments and lending further. Here is a detailed look at what fintech startups want from the upcoming Budget.
While addressing startups’ concerns on angel tax in a Facebook Live with Inc42, Pai claimed that such a draconian law does not exist in any other part of the world except in India. In other countries, angel investments are usually incentivised but in India, it is dis-incentivised, thanks to angel taxation.
Given the importance of the agricultural sector and the disruption it is witnessing, it is Inc42’s responsibility to keep track of the developments in the segment. We have also been keeping a hawk’s eye on the existing and upcoming agritech startups in India. Here are some agritech startups to watch out this year.
Report Subscription
The Centre’s Startup India programme is under serious threat; the situation is grave, and it will become worse if immediate structural policy measures are not taken to address the angel tax issue, startups recently wrote in a joint letter addressed directly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Let’s take a look at the growing wings of angel taxation and its clipping by the DIPP in recent months —angel tax timeline!
To address any queries an entrepreneur may have while toying with open source, we speak to Prasanna Krishnamoorthy, founder of Upekkha Accelerator, in this week’s Startup 101. Krishnamoorthy, who runs an accelerator that helps B2B SaaS startups reach product-market fit, tells us how to make the right decision in open sourcing.

Courtesy: Medium Newsletter


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VIA : Brainpickings.org Newsletter


This is a special edition of the brainpickings.org weekly digest by Maria Popova, to commemorate one of the great poets and great spiritual geniuses of our time. If you missed last week’s edition — Mary Oliver: “The most regretful people… are those… who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” — you can read it here. (ALSO: Don’t miss the annual review of the best of Brain Pickings 2018.) And if you are enjoying this newsletter, please consider supporting my labor of love with a donation – this year, I spent innumerable hours and tremendous resources on it, and every little bit of support helps enormously. If you already donate: THANK YOU.

Hermann Hesse on Solitude, the Value of Hardship, the Courage to Be Yourself, and How to Find Your Destiny

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“No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,” the young Nietzsche wrote as he contemplated what it takes to find oneself. Somehow, this man of stark contradiction, cycling between nihilistic despondency and electric buoyancy along the rim of madness, has managed to inspire some of humanity’s most surefooted spirits — among them, the great German poet, novelist, painter, and Nobel laureate Hermann Hesse (July 2, 1877–August 9, 1962), who drew from Nietzsche’s philosophy the most humanistic ideas, then magnified them with his own transcendent humanity.

Some of Hesse’s most emboldening ideas about our human responsibility to ourselves and the world unfold in his “Letter to a Young German,” written to a dispirited youth in 1919 and later included in his 1946 anthology If the War Goes On… (public library), published the year he received the Nobel Prize — the same stirring piece that gave us Hesse on hope, the difficult art of taking responsibility, and the wisdom of the inner voice.

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Hermann Hesse

Decades before E.E. Cummings asserted that “to be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight,” Hesse writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngYou must unlearn the habit of being someone else or nothing at all, of imitating the voices of others and mistaking the faces of others for your own.

[…]

One thing is given to man which makes him into a god, which reminds him that he is a god: to know destiny.

[…]

When destiny comes to a man from outside, it lays him low, just as an arrow lays a deer low. When destiny comes to a man from within, from his innermost being, it makes him strong, it makes him into a god… A man who has recognized his destiny never tries to change it. The endeavor to change destiny is a childish pursuit that makes men quarrel and kill one another… All sorrow, poison, and death are alien, imposed destiny. But every true act, everything that is good and joyful and fruitful on earth, is lived destiny, destiny that has become self.

Echoing Nietzsche’s insistence that a fulfilling life requires embracing rather than running from difficulty, Hesse exhorts the young to treat their suffering with respect and curiosity, and adds:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngMight your bitter pain not be the voice of destiny, might that voice not become sweet once you understand it?

[…]

Action and suffering, which together make up our lives, are a whole; they are one. A child suffers its begetting, it suffers its birth, its weaning; it suffers here and suffers there until in the end it suffers death. But all the good in a man, for which he is praised or loved, is merely good suffering, the right kind, the living kind of suffering, a suffering to the full. The ability to suffer well is more than half of life — indeed, it is all life. Birth is suffering, growth is suffering, the seed suffers the earth, the root suffers the rain, the bud suffers its flowering.

In the same way, my friends, man suffers destiny. Destiny is earth, it is rain and growth. Destiny hurts.

Long before Simone Weil contemplated how to make use of our suffering, Hesse holds up hardship as “the forge of destiny” and adds:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngIt is hard to learn to suffer. Women succeed more often and more nobly than men. Learn from them! Learn to listen when the voice of life speaks! Learn to look when the sun of destiny plays with your shadows! Learn to respect life! Learn to respect yourselves! From suffering springs strength…

Writing fifteen years after he made his exquisite case for breaking the trance of busyness, Hesse returns to the sandbox of selfhood — solitude:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngTrue action, good and radiant action, my friends, does not spring from activity, from busy bustling, it does not spring from industrious hammering. It grows in the solitude of the mountains, it grows on the summits where silence and danger dwell. It grows out of the suffering which you have not yet learned to suffer.

[…]

Solitude is the path over which destiny endeavors to lead man to himself. Solitude is the path that men most fear. A path fraught with terrors, where snakes and toads lie in wait… Without solitude there is no suffering, without solitude there is no heroism. But the solitude I have in mind is not the solitude of the blithe poets or of the theater, where the fountain bubbles so sweetly at the mouth of the hermit’s cave.

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Photograph by Maria Popova

Learning to be nourished by solitude rather than defeated by it, Hesse argues, is a prerequisite for taking charge of our destiny:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngMost men, the herd, have never tasted solitude. They leave father and mother, but only to crawl to a wife and quietly succumb to new warmth and new ties. They are never alone, they never commune with themselves. And when a solitary man crosses their path, they fear him and hate him like the plague; they fling stones at him and find no peace until they are far away from him. The air around him smells of stars, of cold stellar spaces; he lacks the soft warm fragrance of the home and hatchery.

[…]

A man must be indifferent to the possibility of falling, if he wants to taste of solitude and to face up to his own destiny. It is easier and sweeter to walk with a people, with a multitude — even through misery. It is easier and more comforting to devote oneself to the “tasks” of the day, the tasks meted out by the collectivity.

In a sentiment the poet May Sarton would echo in her stunning ode to solitude two decades later, Hesse adds:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngSolitude is not chosen, any more than destiny is chosen. Solitude comes to us if we have within us the magic stone that attracts destiny.

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Photograph by Maria Popova

Two millennia after Seneca admonished that “all your sorrows have been wasted on you if you have not yet learned how to be wretched,” Hesse exults:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngBlessed be he who has found his solitude, not the solitude pictured in painting or poetry, but his own, unique, predestined solitude. Blessed be he who knows how to suffer! Blessed be he who bears the magic stone in his heart. To him comes destiny, from him comes authentic action.

In consonance with Seamus Heaney’s lyrical insight that “the true and durable path into and through experience involves being true… to your own solitude, true to your own secret knowledge,” Hesse addresses the young:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngYou were made to be yourselves. You were made to enrich the world with a sound, a tone, a shadow.

[…]

In each one of you there is a hidden being, still in the deep sleep of childhood. Bring it to life! In each one of you there is a call, a will, an impulse of nature, an impulse toward the future, the new, the higher. Let it mature, let it resound, nurture it! Your future is not this or that; it is not money or power, it is not wisdom or success at your trade — your future, your hard dangerous path is this: to mature and to find God in yourselves.

A century later, the entire piece remains a spectacular and deeply insightful read, as does the whole of Hesse’s If the War Goes On…. Complement this particular fragment with Ursula K. Le Guin on suffering and the other side of pain, Louise Bourgeois on how solitude enriches creative work and Elizabeth Bishop on why everyone should experience at least one long period of solitude in life, then revisit Hesse on the discipline of savoring life’s little joyswhy books will survive all future technologythe three types of readers, and what trees teach us about belonging and life.

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Poet and Philosopher David Whyte on Love and Resisting the Tyranny of Relationship Labels

consolations_davidwhyte.jpg?w=680In the prelude to Figuring — a book at the heart of which are the complex, unclassifiable personal relationships animating and haunting historical figures whose public work has shaped our world — I lamented that we mistake our labels and models of things for the things themselves.

Poet and philosopher David Whyte examines these distorting yet necessary containers of concepts in one of the lovely short essays in Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words (public library) — a book I have long cherished.

Under the word “NAMING,” Whyte considers the difficult art of giving love the breathing room to be exactly what it is and not what we hope, expect, or demand it to be by preconception, tightness of heart, or adherence to societal convention.

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David Whyte (Photograph: Nicol Ragland)

He writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngNaming love too early is a beautiful but harrowing human difficulty. Most of our heartbreak comes from attempting to name who or what we love and the way we love, too early in the vulnerable journey of discovery.

We can never know in the beginning, in giving ourselves to a person, to a work, to a marriage or to a cause, exactly what kind of love we are involved with. When we demand a certain specific kind of reciprocation before the revelation has flowered completely we find ourselves disappointed and bereaved and in that grief may miss the particular form of love that is actually possible but that did not meet our initial and too specific expectations. Feeling bereft we take our identity as one who is disappointed in love, our almost proud disappointment preventing us from seeing the lack of reciprocation from the person or the situation as simply a difficult invitation into a deeper and as yet unrecognizable form of affection.

To sit with a shape-shifting, form-breaking love is a maddening endeavor that rattles the baseboards of our being with its earthquakes of uncertainty and ambiguity, its uncontrollable force and direction. Only the rare giants of confidence — giants like Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann, in their beautiful love beyond label — manage to savor the sweetness of such unclassifiable, unnameable love rather than grow embittered at its nonconformity to standard templates of attachment and affection.

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Art by Olivier Tallec from Jerome by Heart — an illustrated celebration of love beyond label

The realest love, Whyte suggests, is one we get to know from the inside out — a love that defines itself in the act of loving, rather than contracting and conforming to a pre-definition:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngThe act of loving itself, always becomes a path of humble apprenticeship, not only in following its difficult way and discovering its different forms of humility and beautiful abasement but strangely, through its fierce introduction to all its many astonishing and different forms, where we are asked continually and against our will, to give in so many different ways, without knowing exactly, or in what way, when or how, the mysterious gift will be returned.

While naming may confer dignity upon the named, names and labels are containers. They file concepts and constructs — often messy and always more tessellated, more replete with mystery than their linguistic package — into neat semantic cabinets. But language cups only with loose fingers what it is trying to contain and classify as nuance and complexity drip past the words. We contain in order to control, and whenever we control, we relinquish the beautiful, terrifying mystery of being.

White writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngWe name mostly in order to control but what is worth loving does not want to be held within the bounds of too narrow a calling. In many ways love has already named us before we can even begin to speak back to it, before we can utter the right words or understand what has happened to us or is continuing to happen to us: an invitation to the most difficult art of all, to love without naming at all.

Consolations, which also gave us Whyte on anger, forgiveness, and what maturity really means and the true meaning of friendship, love, and heartbreak, is a revelatory, recalibratory read in its entirety. Complement this particular fragment with Carl Sagan on how to live with the unknown, Kahlil Gibran on the courage to weather the uncertainties of love, and Annie Dillard on living with mystery, then revisit Whyte’s beautiful ode to working together in a divided world.

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Music, Feeling, and Transcendence: Nick Cave on AI, Awe, and the Splendor of Our Human Limitations

“All truth is comprised in music and mathematics,” Margaret Fuller proclaimed as she transfigured the cultural and political face of the 19th century. Her contemporary and admirer Walt Whitman considered music the profoundest expression of nature, while Nietzsche bellowed across the Atlantic that “without music life would be a mistake.” But something curious and unnerving happens when, in the age of artificial intelligence, mathematics reaches its human-made algorithmic extensions into the realm of music — into the art Aldous Huxley believed grants us singular access to the “blessedness lying at the heart of things” and philosopher Susanne Langer considered our foremost “laboratory for feeling and time.” When music becomes a computational enterprise, do we attain more combinatorial truth or incur a grave existential mistake?

That is what musician and feeling-artisan Nick Cave addresses with great thoughtfulness and poetic sensitivity in answering a question from a Slovenian fan named Peter, posed on Cave’s blog:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngConsidering human imagination the last piece of wilderness, do you think AI will ever be able to write a good song?

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Nick Cave in Belgium, 1986 (Photograph by Yves Lorson)

Nearly two centuries after Ada Lovelace wrote the world’s first algorithm and celebrated the human imagination as that wild faculty which “seizes points in common, between subjects having no very apparent connexion, & hence seldom or never brought into juxtaposition” — Cave responds:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngDear Peter,

In Yuval Noah Harari’s new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, he writes that Artificial Intelligence, with its limitless potential and connectedness, will ultimately render many humans redundant in the work place. This sounds entirely feasible. However, he goes on to say that AI will be able to write better songs than humans can. He says, and excuse my simplistic summation, that we listen to songs to make us feel certain things and that in the future AI will simply be able to map the individual mind and create songs tailored exclusively to our own particular mental algorithms, that can make us feel, with far more intensity and precision, whatever it is we want to feel. If we are feeling sad and want to feel happy we simply listen to our bespoke AI happy song and the job will be done.

But, I am not sure that this is all songs do. Of course, we go to songs to make us feel something — happy, sad, sexy, homesick, excited or whatever — but this is not all a song does. What a great song makes us feel is a sense of awe. There is a reason for this. A sense of awe is almost exclusively predicated on our limitations as human beings. It is entirely to do with our audacity as humans to reach beyond our potential.

More than half a century after computing pioneer Alan Turing posed playfully the most serious and abiding question about AI in wondering whether a computer could ever enjoy strawberries and cream, and two centuries after Frankenstein author Mary Shelley raised the most fundamental questions about what makes us human, Cave writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngIt is perfectly conceivable that AI could produce a song as good as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” for example, and that it ticked all the boxes required to make us feel what a song like that should make us feel — in this case, excited and rebellious, let’s say. It is also feasible that AI could produce a song that makes us feel these same feelings, but more intensely than any human songwriter could do.

But, I don’t feel that when we listen to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” it is only the song that we are listening to. It feels to me, that what we are actually listening to is a withdrawn and alienated young man’s journey out of the small American town of Aberdeen — a young man who by any measure was a walking bundle of dysfunction and human limitation — a young man who had the temerity to howl his particular pain into a microphone and in doing so, by way of the heavens, reach into the hearts of a generation. We are also listening to Iggy Pop walk across his audience’s hands and smear himself in peanut butter whilst singing 1970. We are listening to Beethoven compose the Ninth Symphony while almost totally deaf. We are listening to Prince, that tiny cluster of purple atoms, singing in the pouring rain at the Super Bowl and blowing everyone’s minds. We are listening to Nina Simone stuff all her rage and disappointment into the most tender of love songs. We are listening to Paganini continue to play his Stradivarius as the strings snapped. We are listening to Jimi Hendrix kneel and set fire to his own instrument.

What we are actually listening to is human limitation and the audacity to transcend it. Artificial Intelligence, for all its unlimited potential, simply doesn’t have this capacity. How could it? And this is the essence of transcendence. If we have limitless potential then what is there to transcend? And therefore what is the purpose of the imagination at all. Music has the ability to touch the celestial sphere with the tips of its fingers and the awe and wonder we feel is in the desperate temerity of the reach, not just the outcome. Where is the transcendent splendour in unlimited potential? So to answer your question, Peter, AI would have the capacity to write a good song, but not a great one. It lacks the nerve.

Love, Nick

And if an AI were to ever sign a letter to a human being who cherishes its music with “Love, Nick,” would that not be a mere simulacrum of the human experience the word love connotes and of the sense of self with which we imbue our own names? Alan Turing laid the foundation for these perplexities with the central question of his famous Turing test — “Can machines think?” — but it is impossible to consider the implications for music without building upon Turing’s foundation to ask, “Can machines feel?” Cave’s insightful point comes down to the most compelling and as-yet poorly understood aspect of human consciousness — the subjective interiority of experience known as qualia. Nina Simone knew this when she sang I wish you could know what it means to be me in her iconic 1967 civil rights anthem, which might well be the supreme anthem of qualia and the paradox of AI. Franz Kafka knew it when he told his young walking companion that “music is the sound of the soul, the direct voice of the subjective world.”

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We don’t yet know, and we might never know, how to algorithmically map, dissect, project, and replicate what it feels like to have a particular subjective experience — we only know how to feel it. This knowledge is non-transferrable with the current tools of science. It is most closely relayed to another consciousness through the language and poetics of art, which Ursula K. Le Guin well knew is our finest, sharpest “tool for knowing who we are and what we want.” And if Susan Sontag was right, as I feel she was, in insisting that music is “the most wonderful, the most alive of all the arts,” then music would be the art least susceptible to machine creation.

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One of Arthur Rackham’s rare 1917 illustrations for the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm

Complement with German philosopher Josef Pieper on the hidden source of music’s singular power and Regina Spektor’s lovely reading of Mark Strand’s poem “The Everyday Enchantment of Music,” then go listen and feel to some AI-irreplicable Nick Cave.

Qotd


Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

via Today’s Quote http://bit.ly/2yk5ij6 January 21, 2019 at 11:34AM
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Walter Cronkite

“And that’s the way it is.”

via Today’s Quote http://bit.ly/2DWm6gz January 22, 2019 at 11:32AM
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Elizabeth Kenny

“It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.”

via Today’s Quote http://bit.ly/2BjrTJX January 23, 2019 at 11:41AM
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Horace

“Don’t think, just do.”

via Today’s Quote http://bit.ly/2Gd9T7Z January 24, 2019 at 11:41AM
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Jules Renard

“It is not how old you are, but how you are old.”

via Today’s Quote http://bit.ly/2ykY91Q January 25, 2019 at 11:40AM
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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

“Without wearing any mask we are conscious of, we have a special face for each friend.”

via Today’s Quote http://bit.ly/2wVM3Yl January 26, 2019 at 11:40AM
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Jean Anouilh

“Our entire life – consists ultimately in accepting ourselves as we are.”

via Today’s Quote http://bit.ly/2k37m9y January 27, 2019 at 11:45AM
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