Tag Archives: Art

What Is Essential Is Invisible to the Eye

Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

The quote above is from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. The best English translation I’ve found is “Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” This tattoo may well be my all-time favorite.




On the art of Emily Dickinson, Anne Frank and Sylvia Plath

I answered this question on Quora a while ago. I’d be interested in your opinion.

The Question
Do you believe that the sad experiences of Emily Dickinson, Anne Frank and Sylvia Plath have created more net value through the generation of their art for all people than their personal sacrifice?

My Answer
Wow. This is a great question. These women undoubtedly suffered, from the heavy (in the case of most) to inhuman (in the case of Frank) burdens placed on them by their circumstances. I think some of them (Dickinson and Plath) were bound to suffer in almost any circumstances due to their mental constitution.

Human life is incommensurable. For a healthy human being, it’s impossible to compare human life or human suffering against anything other than itself.

It’s not merely that human life (and freedom from suffering) is so valuable that it’s hard to put a value on it. Human life is, or should be, the root of our values system, an end in itself. You cannot compare means (e.g. suffering) to such ends. Art is beyond valuation as well, but it’s possible to consider art as a means to an end, with the end being truth or beauty. Forgive me if I’m being unclear here, but I wanted to write this in hopes someone can criticize and help me clarify my thinking. It’s impractical for me to wait till I completely understand this.

Am I happy that these women existed and contributed to the world as they did? Of course. Would I put them through what they experienced in order to extract their art? Of course not. That would make me a monster.

One Thing Computers Cannot Do

The most creative innovations of the digital age came from those who were able to connect the arts and sciences. They believed that beauty mattered.

Steve Jobs Speaks At Apple Web Developer Conference

This short essay from Walter Isaacson is well worth reading. I believe he’s right about the necessary intersection between art and science. I like to say that science makes our lives possible but art makes them worth living.

Turkish Citizens Brighten Istanbul with Rainbow of Colors


A summary from the Good News Network details this wonderful action as well as I could.

“A 64 year-old man in Istanbul decided to brighten people’s days by painting rainbow colors on the old, gray, crumbling stairs near his house.

When municipal officials sent workers after nightfall to hurriedly repaint the stairs gray, a quiet revolution started on Twitter.

Not only did volunteers come out to repaint those stairs that Huseyin Cetinel had spent hundreds of dollars on, they started painting other stairs and walkways in other cities around Turkey posting photos on social media.

A very colorful Pandora’s Box had unwittingly been opened.”

This New York Times article has the full story.

I would wholly support such a movement here. My personal tastes run to “plain” colors, but I love to see people express themselves in vibrant colors and shapes, in their appearance, possessions, and (as here) on their surroundings. It’s a quintessential part of being human. 

Resentment, Elitism, and Literature


I mostly agree with this article about resentment, elitism, and literature (in that order). The world, and the United States in particular, is full of people who are insecure of their intelligence and understanding, too lazy or otherwise unwilling to improve their state, and resentful of anyone who creates something that reminds them of their inadequacy.

I respect people, including my wife, who prefer simple pleasures that are easy to come by and require minimal effort to obtain, and are not self-conscious about their preferences or their relative educational status. These people, again including my wife, generally respect people who are different from them and prefer to live among the giants of human intellect. They tend to instinctively grok the idea of how different we can be in our drives and pleasures. I may not be able to talk about some of my greatest intellectual loves with such people, but they understand how to be human and how to share their humanity as well as anyone. For discussion of Goethe, Plato, and Lem, there is the Internet, connecting me to others with these interests.

It takes all kinds to make a world. I have trouble only with those who resent or actively hate those who are more or less erudite than themselves.

Llorando – From Mulholland Drive

This is the most beautiful song from one of the most amazing movies I’ve ever seen. This song takes me to a place where everything is possible and nothing is certain. I hope it does the same for you.

Interesting Note: Rebekah Del Rio, who popularized the Spanish version and who received her first recording contract on the basis of the song, stated that Director David Lynch flew to Nashville where she was living, and she sang the song for him once and did not know he was recording her. Lynch wrote a part for her in the film and used the version she sang for him in Nashville.
Source – http://www.rebekahdelrio.com/llorando.html

No Man Is An Island

No man is an Island, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

This famous text is from John Donne’s series of meditations and prayers on health, pain, and sickness (written while Donne was convalescing from a nearly fatal illness) that were published as a book in 1624 under the title Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. This text is from Meditation XVII.