Reminded me of an exchange between Rohit and myself, where we quipped:
Life is all about trying new things and repeating the good ones.
An excellent visualisation of time, starting from 24 hours (today) and going all the way back to the creation of the universe. Created by Luke Twyman.
More such relative comparisons of scale that I really like:
An “instagram [sic] based graphic novel” that takes us on a stark and introspective ride through contemporary middle-class Delhi. By someone who returned to a city he used to call home and found a lot had changed while he was away.
Enlightening piece on how we humans go about learning.
A traditional science instructor concentrates on teaching factual knowledge, with the implicit assumption that expert-like ways of thinking about the subject come along for free or are already present. But that is not what cognitive science tells us. It tells us instead that students need to develop these different ways of thinking by means of extended, focused mental effort. Also, new ways of thinking are always built on the prior thinking of the individual, so if the educational process is to be successful, it is essential to take that prior thinking into account.
Most of us have undergone this multiple times over the course of our lives, but we’ve probably not been aware of the process in conscious details.
Sciences describe the world. As far as I see, there is no way to describe the world absolutely; there is no description without language. Language is relative, language is contextual, language is human, language is faulty.
Any language is faulty. Even math, or better: maths, since there is not one math. There are many maths. Math is a mess. Math is as much a (basis of) natural science as it is (a basis of) a human science. Math describes us as much as it describes what we try to understand.
Which, again is a pretty wild claim that will make a lot of people angry. Not only scientists. But let them get angry while we move on to even more outrageous things.
Picking up right where we left off (wondering about objectivity in subjects) comes this provocative thought from Oliver Reichenstein — there doesn’t exist a clear separation between the subject and the object.
Or, this wonderful simplification:
“We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.”
At first I didn’t understand. What did she mean by “too much moisture”? She explained that the film looked too wet, that it was always raining, that there was… too much moisture. I didn’t [know] what to say.
Baradwaj Rangan has a “Bodhi-tree burst of enlightenment” that makes me ponder — can art ever be consumed objectively? Can anything?
The city of Delhi sometimes reminds me of an onion, imperfectly taken apart - many layered, veined and maimed. The layers are not coherent or even tightly packed - scattered stray wisps forlornly curl at the edges in some corner, many centuries lie bunched together in another. Yet within them lie hidden vapours of many pasts, rising unbidden to sting you into an awareness of a different time.
Delhi has an extremely rich heritage, but ever changing hands from one disparate ruler to the next, it has never been one to linger on its past. Yet ignored as they may be, some traces do remain; faintly in the city’s culture but very visibly in its monuments.
An ordinary man, covering many kilometres in suffocatingly crowded public transport, does not retain the will to perceive former Delhis, smothered in the pursuit of the Delhi of today.
Which is a pity and ultimately, a great loss. Why not “[integrate] these former Delhis into the Delhi of today”, urges Anisha, while suggesting a plan for just such a process.
(via Dilli Dallying)
It’s been a while since I’ve written about a movie here, but it hasn’t been for a lack of memorable movies. If anything, it may be due to the spike in the number of movies that have been competing for my thinking time. But here is one that managed to persist – Hugo.
It is fascinating to see a movie such as Hugo come from the director of Taxi Driver and The Departed. I remember Rakesh once making a remark that these directors (then referencing Steven Spielberg) are just kids who now have the skill and resources to play out their fantasies in the grandest way possible. Hugo personifies that more beautifully than I can explain.
A Paris railway terminal (which the camera takes full advantage of) and the nostalgic 1900s time period would itself make for compelling backdrops to any movie, let alone one with an orphaned kid as the protagonist. So you would be forgiven for assuming that is what the film is all about after watching its misleading trailer. The real beauty of Hugo however, lies in its story. That fundamental human trait of curiosity, the joy of making things, tinkering, creating and storytelling all bound together beautifully (if a little indulgently) with the history of cinema itself. Hugo makes you fall in love with cinema, twice over again.
(Official Site | Wikipedia | Apple Trailers)
I finally got around to watching Sergio Leone’s epic western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly earlier this week (at a screening in a furniture studio no less). This film has a lot of things worth talking about (the music and the wide-angled cinematography being the least of which), but what stood out instantly to me was the fantastic opening titles sequence. Watching the work of Italian designer Iginio Lardani was like discovering a spring that has fed an entire genre of graphic design aesthetic.
Amitav Ghosh ponders on the changing relation between a writer and their readers against the background of a democracy questioning its government’s commitment to freedom of expression.
(via Pooja Saxena)
Nidhi on photography, storytelling and memories:
You see, I believe that photographs make for good stories, but not great memories.
I’m not saying the human eye sees reality/things exactly as they are. Everything is a perception, be it a photograph or a memory. I’m just saying a memory usually turns out to be very different from a photograph.
I’ve noticed that I often refrain from (and rarely miss) using my camera when going through some of the most incredible experiences during my day-to-day life. The top of a mountain peak, the edge of a cliff, that warm partner on the cold 3 a.m. walk, the lip-smacking chole bhature, that stunning piece of architecture, the captivating live performance…
I’m not sure of the exact reason, but I think it’s a combination of things. A bit of wanting to surrender myself completely to the moment, some hesitance in attempting to replicate something so unique, and the feeling of futility in trying to capture and preserve the moment as a mere photograph. (This, by the way, is also why I’ve been reluctant (so far) to share photos from two recent influential and extremely stimulating trips to Hampi and Fatehpur Sikri.)
Yet this insecurity of doing justice to a real, lived moment lies at the heart of my fascination with art. When you stop trying to document the entirety of your emotions and choose instead to express, to tell a story—your story—is when art shines best. And I have nothing but admiration for the artists who manage this feat.
Be it a tweet, a painting, a book, a photograph or even a film, there are always constraints. The great storytellers manage their way around—nay, embrace these constraints, and they do it so well that they’re able to evoke emotions so vague and diverse that you might just find yourself pointing to their work to indicate the way you feel.
I’m a web designer and I help build the web. I love my job, absolutely and utterly.
Jon Tangerine puts this a lot more eloquently.
The Music Project is a series of video portraits, documenting independent music in the country.
An excellent project by Tehelka.
The indie music scene in India is gathering momentum every day, but much of the music is still very hard to come across. Initiatives such as this and NH7 are doing a great job at bridging this gap between the artists and the listeners. Great not just because their work supports upcoming musicians and gives shape to a new culture, but also because of the quality, care and taste with which this work is carried out.
With The Music Project for instance, Tehelka has done a really nice job of selecting a diverse and interesting group of bands & individual artists, but they have done an equally good job with the production itself. Intimate, patiently shot video sessions, very high quality sound recordings and just enough art direction — all set in various eccentric urban spaces across contemporary India. And they have uploaded and shared these episodes on YouTube for us to enjoy (in high-definition, no less).
Pity then how all of this goodness goes largely unnoticed on a Facebook page. My only gripe. Yes that platform is popular, but it is not the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.
Ah well. Not-realising-the-internet’s-tremendous-potential rant aside, this really is a wonderful project. Go listen to some new music.
If you create, if you have good taste (and no, I do not agree that taste is purely subjective), you know about The Gap. If you’re in it right now or just starting out, Ira Glass shares something he wishes he had been told when he was a beginner.
In March 2011 the two of us set out to travel around India and make a film. The film you see here is a teaser of sorts, edited from footage of the first two months of travel - mostly around Himachal Pradesh, and a bit of Rajasthan.
From an unsuccessful house hunt in Chennai to documenting performers and artisans up and down the country, somethingwehavealwayswantedtodo. Wow.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, music is in the ear of the listener. Delightful little travelogue. The whole thing is done quite well, but the editing just shines through. If this is just the teaser, I’m excited to see what they come up with next.
John Gruber provides a good primer on attributing your sources, giving credit where it’s due and not being an ass.