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What I say when I don’t know what to say
A few gems from Austin Kleon: "No matter how much you love to talk, conversation can be difficult, and every conversation, in person or online, has the potential to turn ugly or needlessly confrontational or boring or painful and so on. It’s for this reason that I keep handy a collection of conversational shortcuts, to help me know what to say when I don’t know what to say."
austinkleon  conversation 
february 2019 by warnick
Love what you do in front of the kids in your life
"“Your kids… They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
—Jim Henson

“Attitudes are caught, not taught.”
—Fred Rogers

Fiona Apple once admitted that she doesn’t want kids, but she spends a lot of time buying and reading parenting books. The interviewer said, “So you’re the parent and the child.” Apple replied, “Well, I mean, you always have to be.”

Every time I read a piece like Pamela Paul’s “Let Children Get Bored Again,” I want to cross out the word “children” and write “us.”

Let children us get bored again.
Let children us play.
Let children us go outside.


The problem with parenting tips is that the best way to help your children become the kind of person you want them to be is by surrounding them with the kinds of people you want them to be. This includes you.

You can’t tell kids anything. Kids want to be like adults. They want to do what the adults are doing. You have to let them see adults behaving like the whole, human beings you’d like them to be.

If we want to raise whole human beings, we have to become whole human beings ourselves.

This is the really, really hard work.

Want your kids to read more? Let them see you reading every day.

Want your kids to practice an instrument? Let them see you practicing an instrument.

Want your kids to spend more time outside? Let them see you without your phone.

There’s no guarantee that your kids will copy your modeling, but they’ll get a glimpse of an engaged human. As my twitter pal, Lori Pickert, author of Project-Based Homeschooling, tweeted a few years ago:
parents keep trying to push their kids toward certain interests when it works so much better to just dig into those interests yourself

oh, wait .. those aren’t YOUR interests? so you don’t want to dig into them? they aren’t your child’s interests either; why would THEY?

joyfully dig into your own interests and share all the ensuing wins, frustrations, struggles, successes

let your kids love what they love

when you share your learning and doing, you don’t make them also love (whatever); you DO show them how great it is to do meaningful work

If you spend more time in your life doing the things that you love and that you feel are worthwhile, the kids in your life will get hip to what that looks like.

“If adults can show what they love in front of kids, there’ll be some child who says, ‘I’d like to be like that!’ or ‘I’d like to do that!’” said Fred Rogers. He told a story about a sculptor in a nursery school he was working in when he was getting his master’s degree in child development:

[video: "Mister Rogers - attitudes are caught, not taught"]
There was a man who would come every week to sculpt in front of the kids. The director said, “I don’t want you to teach sculpting, I want you to do what you do and love it in front of the children.” During that year, clay was never used more imaginatively, before or after…. A great gift of any adult to a child, it seems to me, is to love what you do in front of the child. I mean, if you love to bicycle, if you love to repair things, do that in front of the children. Let them catch the attitude that that’s fun. Because you know, attitudes are caught, not taught.”

It’s like a Show Your Work! lesson for parenting: Show the kids in your life the work that you love."
workinginpublic  children  parenting  howeteach  howwelearn  education  learning  examples  loripickert  fionaapple  jimhenson  fredrogers  pamelapaul  austinkleon  modeling  interests  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  passion 
february 2019 by robertogreco
A year of drawing
"My son Jules woke up on Christmas last year and started drawing. He was 2. (His birthday is in March.)

Inspired by Sylvia Fein’s book Heidi’s Horse, which collects her daughters drawings from toddler to teenage years, I thought it’d be interesting to see how his drawings developed over the next 12 months."
childhood  children  drawing  art  children'sdrawings  austinkleon  2018  2019  juleskleon 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Reading with a pencil
Patricia Lockwood put it this way:

 There’s a way of reading that is like writing. You feel in collaboration… You have a pen in your hand, you’re going along in a way that’s, like, half creating it as you go. And you’re also strip-mining it for anything you can use… you’re sifting for what could be gold.
AustinKleon  writing  reading 
august 2018 by jbertsche
5 thoughts on self-help
"I want to point out something else that bothers me about a certain type of self-help book or self-help approach…. [A] lot of self-help books tell you don’t be skeptical about the advice I’m giving you because that skepticism is going to stand in the way of you accomplishing what you want to do. But you’re reading some of these books and you’re just filled with skepticism and, you know, turning it off means approach this uncritically, and why would you approach anything uncritically like that?" - Terry Gross
SelfHelp  AustinKleon 
august 2018 by jbertsche
The distance I can be from my son
"We took the 5-year-old docent and his brother back to the Blanton Museum this afternoon. My favorite piece was Lenka Clayton’s The Distance I Can Be From My Son (2013). In three short videos, Clayton films her son walking away from her until she can’t stand it anymore and runs after him. The videos were part of Clayton’s “Artist Residency in Motherhood:” an attempt to “allow [motherhood] to shape the direction of my work, rather than try to work ‘despite it’.”

["The distance I can be from my son - Supermarket" ]

In Hannah Gadsby’s devastating Netflix special, Nanette, she deconstructs how jokes work on a system of tension and release — the setup is “artificially inseminated with tension” and the punchline releases it. Each of these videos is structured like a joke: You see the son toddling away, and at the very end of the video, the mother bolts after him. Tension and release. Setup and punchline.

["The distance I can be from my son - Park" ]

There are interesting layers here: Clayton is setting herself up to see how far she can let her son go, and she’s setting us up, too. (Gadsby points out that her job as a comedian is to build tension and release it and do that over and over again. “This is an abusive relationship!”) We watched the videos with our kids after spending an exhausting 30 minutes in the museum trying to keep them close, my wife restraining the 3-year-old from leaping onto the paintings. (Unfortunately, art museums do require “helicopter parenting.”) The joke, I think, is not on the kid, or the kid viewers: my sons laughed out loud during the videos — I think they were rooting for him to get away!

["The distance I can be from my son - Back Alley" ]

Then, you remember the news and the fact that our government has split thousands of families apart at the border. Suddenly, The Distance I Can Be From My Son takes on a completely different meaning. You laughed and now you want to scream."
art  austinkleon  parenting  freedom  lenkclayton  tension  releas  hannahgadsby  comedy  tragedy 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Reading right to left
After I wrote about looking at things upside down [ ], a reader relayed what his daughter was learning in army cadet training: “In the field, troops are told to scan from right to left. As we generally read left to right, doing the opposite aids in detecting anomalies in the landscape and potential threats to safety.”

Here’s photographer Dale Wilson (emphasis mine):
One of the first tricks I learned many years ago had nothing to do with photography, but was drilled into me by an army sergeant. It only took a few smacks up the back of my head to learn how to look from right-to-left when scanning a landscape in an effort to see the hidden “enemy” in our mock battles. This process of reverse reading forced me to slow down and read each tree as if it were a syllable I was seeing for the first time. Even today, about thirty years after I called that sergeant every adjective not found in a descent dictionary, I still find myself scanning a landscape from right-to-left.

More on reading right-to-left here. [, previously posted here ]"

[See also: ]
howweread  seeing  austinkleon  2018  jamesbridle  dalewilson  looking  attention  process  reading  scanning  photography 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Ideas in cars, honking
[To these examples, I’d add what Earl Sweatshirt says about moments and his process in this interview: ]

"There was one great spot in the Dave Chappelle episode, though, that I felt was worth transcribing and sharing. Seinfeld asks Chappelle whether he feels like, knowing he can do a great TV show, he shouldn’t try to do another one.
CHAPPELLE: Sometimes the offering drives. If I [have] an idea, it should drive. It’s like the idea says, “Get in the car.” And I’m like, “Where am I going?” And the idea says, “Don’t worry, I’m driving.” And then you just get there.

SEINFELD: The idea’s driving.

CHAPPELLE: Sometime’s I’m shotgun. Sometimes I’m in the f—ing trunk. The idea takes you where it wants to go.

SEINFELD: That’s great.

CHAPPELLE: And then other times, there’s me, and it’s my ego, like, “I should do something!”

SEINFELD: “I should be driving!”


SEINFELD: That’s not good.

CHAPPELLE: No, ‘cause there’s no idea in the car. It’s just me. That formula doesn’t work.

SEINFELD: If the idea is in the car honking, going, “Let’s go…” It pulls up in front of your house.

CHAPPELLE: That’s exactly right.

SEINFELD: “You’re in your pajamas. Get dressed!”

CHAPPELLE: “I’m not ready!” “You can go like this.” “Where are we going? What are we doing?” “Don’t worry about it. You’ll see.”

Although, there’s another great story about cars and ideas, told by Elizabeth Gilbert:
Tom [Waits], for most of his life, he was pretty much the embodiment of the tormented contemporary modern artist, trying to control and manage and dominate these sort of uncontrollable creative impulses that were totally internalized.

But then he got older, he got calmer, and one day he was driving down the freeway in Los Angeles, and this is when it all changed for him. And he’s speeding along, and all of a sudden he hears this little fragment of melody, that comes into his head as inspiration often comes, elusive and tantalizing, and he wants it, it’s gorgeous, and he longs for it, but he has no way to get it. He doesn’t have a piece of paper, or a pencil, or a tape recorder.

So he starts to feel all of that old anxiety start to rise in him like, “I’m going to lose this thing, and I’ll be be haunted by this song forever. I’m not good enough, and I can’t do it.” And instead of panicking, he just stopped. He just stopped that whole mental process and he did something completely novel. He just looked up at the sky, and he said, “Excuse me, can you not see that I’m driving?”

“Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist, come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you. Otherwise, go bother somebody else today. Go bother Leonard Cohen.”

And his whole work process changed after that. Not the work, the work was still oftentimes as dark as ever. But the process, and the heavy anxiety around it was released when he took the genie, the genius out of him where it was causing nothing but trouble, and released it back where it came from, and realized that this didn’t have to be this internalized, tormented thing.

Gilbert interviewed Waits in 2002 and he elaborated on his attitude:
“Kids are always working on songs and throwing them away, like little origami things or paper airplanes. They don’t care if they lose it; they’ll just make another one.” This openness is what every artist needs. Be ready to receive the inspiration when it comes; be ready to let it go when it vanishes. He believes that if a song “really wants to be written down, it’ll stick in my head. If it wasn’t interesting enough for me to remember it, well, it can just move along and go get in someone else’s song.” “Some songs,” he has learned, “don’t want to be recorded.” You can’t wrestle with them or you’ll only scare them off more. Trying to capture them sometimes “is trying to trap birds.” Fortunately, he says, other songs come easy, like “digging potatoes out of the ground.” Others are sticky and weird, like “gum found under an old table.” Clumsy and uncooperative songs may only be useful “to cut up as bait and use ’em to catch other songs.” Of course, the best songs of all are those that enter you “like dreams taken through a straw.’ In those moments, all you can be, Waits says, is grateful.

Brian Eno puts it in terms of surrender and control:
On one side of Eno’s scale diagram, he writes “control”; on the other “surrender”. “We’ve tended to dignify the controlling end of the spectrum,” he says. “We have Nobel prizes for that end.” His idea is that control is what we generally believe the greats – Shakespeare, Picasso, Einstein, Wagner – were about. Such people, the argument goes, controlled their chosen fields, working in isolation, never needing any creative input from others. As for surrender, that idea has become debased: it’s come to mean what the rest of us do when confronted by a work of genius. “We’ve tended to think of the surrender end as a luxury, a nice thing you add to your life when you’ve done the serious work of getting a job, getting your pension sorted out. I’m saying that’s all wrong.”

He pauses, then asks: “I don’t know if you’ve ever read much about the history of shipbuilding?” Not a word. “Old wooden ships had to be constantly caulked up because they leaked. When technology improved, and they could make stiffer ships because of a different way of holding boards together, they broke up. So they went back to making ships that didn’t fit together properly, ships that had flexion. The best vessels surrendered: they allowed themselves to be moved by the circumstances.

“Control and surrender have to be kept in balance. That’s what surfers do – take control of the situation, then be carried, then take control. In the last few thousand years, we’ve become incredibly adept technically. We’ve treasured the controlling part of ourselves and neglected the surrendering part.” Eno considers all his recent art to be a rebuttal to this attitude. “I want to rethink surrender as an active verb,” he says. “It’s not just you being escapist; it’s an active choice. I’m not saying we’ve got to stop being such controlling beings. I’m not saying we’ve got to be back-to-the-earth hippies. I’m saying something more complex.”
austinkleon  davechappelle  jerryseinfeld  elizabethgilbert  tomwaits  brianeno  control  flow  ideas  howwethink  creativity  neoteny  children  surrender  tension  howwework  howwelearn  productivity  earlsweatshirt  2018  rap  hiphop  thebenerudakgositsile 
july 2018 by robertogreco
You don’t have to live in public
Lots of good advice about working (as opposed to living) in public online.
austinkleon  work  life  socialmedia 
july 2018 by philgyford
How I put my weekly newsletter together
Every week, I get emails that start, “I think your newsletter readers would be interested in…”

Let me stop you right there. That’s not how this works.

I don’t send out a list of 10 things I think my readers would find interesting. I send out a list of 10 things I find interesting that I think my readers would find interesting, too.
newsletter  howto  AustinKleon  Bestof2018  GettingStarted 
june 2018 by peroty

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