Links: Real art, fake science, philosophy nerds, etc.

There’s a bunch of links I want to post and comment on but they’re already getting days old and I gotta get this out:

1. An tale of an artist losing his artist’s voice in a move toward commercial success. I don’t think these two interests are always opposed, but I think it’s all too easy to subvert art to commerce.

2. On whether people are drawn to philosophy because they aren’t natural at enjoying life as they find it. Reminded me of this post of a couple years ago about some of the most remarkable thinkers becoming thinkers because they weren’t so good at understanding other people intuitively. Perhaps people turn to philosophy because they are less inclined to be social, but I’m also reminded of this recent theory — that “computational demands of living in large, complex societies that selected for large brains” — which would seem to suggest that philosophical thinking could be a social capacity turned in a new direction.  I’m not a scientist, but I do consider myself an introvert, and a little socializing fulfills me for quite a while. It sounds so selfish to talk about how interesting I find myself, how well I can occupy my own time, and yet …

3. Real science vs. fake science, a primer. Also, the TED institution considers fake science.

4. Poetry’s significance during U.S. Civil War era.

5. Mary Karr on meditation and ego.

6. The Dish picks out a couple interesting paragraphs from a piece about whether colleges can admit and educate artists. As someone who seen plenty of education (having earned my master’s degree, though a silly education one in the “arts of teaching,” and having taught high school for nearly 12 years), I’m tempted to say that the best thing schools can do is not impede true artists. Of course, teachers can introduce students to a wide range of things, some of which may “turn on” the student, many of which will not. But I was a student who mostly was glad that I could get by in my academic classes and still have free time to pursue my own interests in reading and writing. I suppose a school can teach a student to write like some other person, or to write to some standard of acceptable work, but I don’t know how a writer can become an artist — someone who really sees things in new ways, someone who challenges the status quo, the received wisdom, etc. — without doing so on one’s own. In fact, learning to rely on myself as my arbiter of what’s worth doing, of what’s valuable, seems like the most important step I had to go through as a writer. There’s probably more to say about this in a future post. And I don’t mean to deny that there could be more done by colleges to support creativity. I’ll have to think on this more.

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