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POLYMATHS: 20 LIVING EXAMPLES | More Intelligent Life
A main feature for the autumn issue of Intelligent Life magazine looks at the decline of the polymath. The author, Edward Carr, argues that in this age of specialisation, the polymath has become an endangered species. For an accompanying table, we set
lists  polymaths 
september 2019 by po
Da Vinci code: what the tech age can learn from Leonardo
April 26, 2019 | Financial Times | by Ian Goldin.

While Leonardo is recognised principally for his artistic genius, barely a dozen paintings can be unequivocally attributed to him. In life, he defined himself not as an artist but as an engineer and architect......History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes. The Renaissance catapulted Italy from the Medieval age to become the most advanced place on Earth. Then, as now, change brought immense riches to some and growing anxiety and disillusionment to others. We too live in an age of accelerating change, one that has provoked its own fierce backlash. What lessons can we draw from Leonardo and his time to ensure that we not only benefit from a new flourishing, but that progress will be sustained? When we think of the Renaissance, we think of Florence. Leonardo arrived in the city in the mid 1460s, and as a teenager was apprenticed to the painter Verrocchio. The city was already an incubator for ideas. At the centre of the European wool trade, by the late 14th century Florence had become the home of wealthy merchants including the Medicis, who were bankers to the Papal Court. The city’s rapid advances were associated with the information and ideas revolution that defines the Renaissance. Johann Gutenberg had used moveable type to publish his Bible in the early 1450s, and between the time of Leonardo’s birth in 1452 and his 20th birthday, some 15m books were printed, more than all the European scribes had produced over the previous 1,500 years.

..as Leonardo knew, and the Silicon Valley techno-evangelists too often neglect, information revolutions don’t only allow good ideas to flourish. They also provide a platform for dangerous ideas. The Zuckerberg information revolution can pose a similar threat to that of Gutenberg.

In the battle of ideas, populists are able to mobilise the disaffected more effectively than cerebral scientists, decently disciplined innovators and the moderate and often silent majority. For progress to prevail, evidence-based, innovative and reasoned thinking must triumph.
.....Genius thrived in the Renaissance because of the supportive ecosystem that aided the creation and dissemination of knowledge — which then was crushed by the fearful inquisitions. Today, tolerance and evidence-based argument are again under threat.
accelerated_lifecycles  architecture  broad-based_scientific_enquiry  capitalization  cross-disciplinary  cross-pollination  curiosity  dangerous_ideas  digital_economy  diversity  engineering  evidence_based  Florence  genius  globalization  human_potential  ideas  immigrants  Italy  industry_expertise  Johan_Gutenberg  lessons_learned  Leonardo_da_Vinci  Medicis  medieval  physical_place  polymaths  observations  Renaissance  Renaissance_Man  Silicon_Valley  silo_mentality  tolerance  unevenly_distributed  visionaries 
april 2019 by jerryking
Researchers have discovered how Leonardo Da Vinci was able to create masterpieces
Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci may have had an eye condition that gave him an unusual ability to recreate three-dimensional shapes in his sculptures and paintings, a study has found. With this condition known as strabismus, a person's eyes appear to be pointing in different directions, with only one eye being used to process the visual scene at any one time.This allowed Da Vinci to switch between using two eyes (stereoscopic vision) to give him depth perception, and using just one eye (monocular vision) when he wanted to interpret a three-dimensional image on a flat, two-dimensional canvas.
medical  artists  paintings  icons  polymaths  ophthalmology 
october 2018 by thomas.kochi
Juxtapoz Magazine - Red Bull Arts New York Produces “RAMMELLZEE: It’s Not Who But What,” Examining the Groundbreaking Artist
"Elaborating on the ornate and abstract visual language of wild style graffiti, Rammellzee decided to create his own Alphabet, arming the letter for assault against the tyranny of our information age. A visionary, polymath and autodidact, Rammellzee infused urban vernacular with a complex and hermeneutic meta-structure that was informed equally by the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, the history of military strategy and design, radical politics and semiotics.

A persistent and formidable figure in New York’s Downtown scene since he moved from his childhood home in the Rockaways and relocated to a studio in Tribeca in the late ’70s, Rammellzee garnered a legion of followers (notably including A-One, Toxic and Kool Koor) to his school of Gothic Futurism and stormed public consciousness with his performances in films like Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style and Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise. His most famous collaboration, however, was with his one-time friend and life-long nemesis Jean-Michel Basquiat, who immortalized him in his masterwork Hollywood Africans and produced Rammellzee’s signature single “Beat Bop,” releasing it on his own label, Tar Town Records. To this day, it is considered one of the foundational records of hip hop. After enjoying much success in the art world in the ’80s, Rammellzee would turn his back on the gallery system and spend the rest of his life producing the Afrofuturist masterpiece The Battle Station, in his studio loft.

Guided by his treatise on “Ikonoklastik Panzerism,” the first manifesto he wrote while still a teen, Rammellzee was at once the high priest of hip hop and a profoundly Conceptual artist. In his expansive cosmology, born of b-boy dynamics, the wordplay of rap and the social trespass of graffiti, Rammellzee inhabited multiple personae in an ongoing performance art where identity and even gender became fluid and hybrid. Over the past two decades of his life, increasingly focused on his studio practice, he created a mind-blowing universe of Garbage Gods, Letter Racers, Monster Models and his surrogate form, the vengeful deity of Gasolier. Though his art, working with toxic materials, and lifestyle brought about an early death in 2010, his ideas and art remain a legacy we’ll be trying to figure out for generations to come. —Carlo McCormick"

[video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjAfVHSeIvY ]

[See also:

"The Spectacular Personal Mythology of Rammellzee"
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/05/28/the-spectacular-personal-mythology-of-rammellzee

"The Rammellzee universe"
https://boingboing.net/2018/05/23/the-rammellzee-universe.html

"Art Excavated From Battle Station Earth" (2012)
https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/arts/design/rammellzees-work-and-reputation-re-emerge.html

http://redbullartsnewyork.com/exhibition/rammellzee-racing-thunder/press/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rammellzee ]
rammellzee  via:subtopes  nyc  history  art  music  1970s  artists  video  basquiat  afrofuturism  jimjarmusch  charlieahearn  gothicfuturism  autodidacts  polymaths  jean-michelbasquiat  middleages  illuminatedmanuscripts  streetart  graffiti  edg  costumes  performance  glvo 
june 2018 by robertogreco
5 books worth reading this summer
May 21, 2018 | | LinkedIn| Bill Gates

Leonardo da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson. I think Leonardo was one of the most fascinating people ever. Although today he’s best known as a painter, Leonardo had an absurdly wide range of interests, from human anatomy to the theater...... A worthy follow-up to Isaacson’s great biographies of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs.

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler.

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about Abraham Lincoln, but this novel made me rethink parts of his life. It blends historical facts from the Civil War with fantastical elements—it’s basically a long conversation among 166 ghosts, including Lincoln’s deceased son.

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything, by David Christian.

Factfulness, by Hans Rosling, with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund.
billgates  books  booklists  Abraham_Lincoln  biographies  cancers  facts  Hans_Rosling  Leonardo_da_Vinci  origin_story  polymaths  summertime  Walter_Isaacson  Geoge_Saunders 
may 2018 by jerryking
OCCULTURE: 52. John Michael Greer in “The Polymath” // Druidry, Storytelling & the History of the Occult
"The best beard in occultism, John Michael Greer, is in the house. We’re talking “The Occult Book”, a collection of 100 of the most important stories and anecdotes from the history of the occult in western society. We also touch on the subject of storytelling as well as some other recent material from John, including his book “The Coelbren Alphabet: The Forgotten Oracle of the Welsh Bards” and his translation of a neat little number called “Academy of the Sword”."



"What you contemplate [too much] you imitate." [Uses the example of atheists contemplating religious fundamentalists and how the atheists begin acting like them.] "People always become what they hate. That’s why it's not good idea to wallow in hate."
2017  johnmichaelgreer  druidry  craft  druids  polymaths  autodidacts  learning  occulture  occult  ryanpeverly  celts  druidrevival  history  spirituality  thedivine  nature  belief  dogma  animism  practice  life  living  myths  mythology  stories  storytelling  wisdom  writing  howwewrite  editing  writersblock  criticism  writer'sblock  self-criticism  creativity  schools  schooling  television  tv  coelbrenalphabet  1980s  ronaldreagan  sustainability  environment  us  politics  lies  margaretthatcher  oraltradition  books  reading  howweread  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  facetime  social  socializing  cardgames  humans  human  humanism  work  labor  boredom  economics  society  suffering  misery  trapped  progress  socialmedia  computing  smarthphones  bullshitjobs  shinto  talismans  amulets  sex  christianity  religion  atheism  scientism  mainstream  counterculture  magic  materialism  enlightenment  delusion  judgement  contemplation  imitation  fundamentalism  hate  knowledge 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Review: New biography Leonardo da Vinci examines the archetypal Renaissance Man - The Globe and Mail
MICHAEL HARRIS
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 3, 2017

Da Vinci was the archetypal Renaissance Man, ignoring the borders of science and art. His promiscuous curiosity was – well, the stuff of genius......Isaacson argues that da Vinci is history's greatest creative genius and, given the evidence amassed in this 600-page work, one would be hard-pressed to argue.....da Vinci's genius springs from his disregard for categories. Whereas a visual artist today would be encouraged by a hundred confounding factors to "stay in her lane" and pursue visual art for its own sake, da Vinci would have been disgusted by such constraints. Science was no distraction; in fact, science fed his paintings.....da Vinci had a reverence for the wholeness of nature and a feel for the harmony of its patterns, which he saw replicated in phenomena large and small."......Da Vinci's was a world where life held knowable patterns. Dig deep enough, expend enough honest curiosity, and the mysteries of the universe began to unfurl. .....The book – as approachable as it is enlightening – achieves something similar; it inspires the reader to become more curious about the patterns underlying its subject – just as da Vinci was curious about the patterns underlying everything else.
biographies  books  book_reviews  creativity  genius  Leonardo_da_Vinci  Medici  patterns  pattern_recognition  polymaths  Renaissance  Renaissance_Man  transgressiveness  Walter_Isaacson 
december 2017 by jerryking
Biographer Walter Isaacson explains what made Leonardo da Vinci a genius - The Globe and Mail
RUSSELL SMITH
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 4, 2017

What we can learn from Leonardo constitutes the peculiar last chapter of this otherwise sober and cautious biography. At its end Isaacson moves from his role as historian into something closer to self-help guru. He lists a set of Leonardish attributes for us to emulate that sound a lot like advice to tech startups: "Retain a childlike sense of wonder… Think visually… Avoid silos… Collaborate…" Add this to repeated comparisons to Steve Jobs, a previous biographee of Isaacson's, and one is reminded that this is a very American biography (Isaacson was managing editor of Time magazine for years), one that sees "creativity" as primarily a corporate asset.
Russell_Smith  books  biographies  genius  Leonardo_da_Vinci  Walter_Isaacson  Steve_Jobs  polymaths  foxes  hedgehogs  renaissance  cross-disciplinary  cross-pollination  generalists  curiosity  creativity  collaboration  silo_mentality 
december 2017 by jerryking
For workers, challenge is all to easily ducked
July 2017 | Financial Times | Tim Harford

Cal Newport: Deep Work
Robert Twiggs : Micromastery

The modern knowledge worker — a programmer, a lawyer, a newspaper columnist — might appear inoculated from Adam Smith’s concern. We face not monotony but the temptations of endless variety, with the entire internet just a click away. All too easily, we can be pulled into the cycle of what slot-machine designers call a “ludic loop”, repeating the same actions again and again. Check email. Check Facebook. Check Instagram. Check Twitter. Check email. Repeat....what is a ludic loop but “performing a few simple operations, of which the effects, too, are perhaps always the same”?

Smith was concerned about jobs that provided no mental challenge: if problems or surprises never arose, then a worker “has no occasion to exert his understanding, or to exercise his invention, in . . . removing difficulties which never occur.”

For the modern knowledge worker, the problem is not that the work lacks challenge, but that the challenge is easily ducked. This point is powerfully made by computer scientist Cal Newport in his book Deep Work. Work that matters is often difficult. It can be absorbing in mid-flow and satisfying in retrospect, but it is intimidating and headache-inducing and full of false starts.

[Responding to ] Email is easier. And reading Newport’s book I realised that email posed a double temptation: not only is it an instant release from a hard task, but it even seems like work. Being an email ninja looks professional and seems professional — but all too often, it is displacement activity for the work that really matters.

A curious echo of Smith’s warning comes in Robert Twigger’s new book Micromastery. Mr Twigger sings the praises of mastering one small skill at a time: not how to cook, but how to make the perfect omelette; not how to build a log cabin, but how to chop a log. We go deep — as Newport demands — but these sharp spikes of skill are satisfying, not too hard to acquire and a path to true expertise.

They also provide variety. “Simply growing up in the premodern period guaranteed a polymathic background,” writes Twigger. To prosper in the premodern era required many different skills; a smart person would be able to see a problem from many angles. A craft-based, practical upbringing means creative thinking comes naturally. “It is only as we surge towards greater specialisation and mechanisation that we begin to talk about creativity and innovation.”

Three lessons:
(1) learning matters. Smith wanted schooling for all; Twigger urges us to keep schooling ourselves. Both are right.
(2) serious work requires real effort, and it can be tempting to duck that effort. Having the freedom to avoid strenuous thinking is a privilege I am glad to have — but I am happier when I don’t abuse that freedom. [Mavity says: “If you need to produce an idea, isolating yourself can be enormously beneficial.”......“How you do that in a big open-plan office with 100 other people trying to be creative at the same time?.......Solitude is in hopelessly short supply at a time when companies are captivated by the financial allure of the open-plan office and its evil twin, hot-desking. ]
(3) old-fashioned craft offered us something special. To Smith it was the challenge that came from solving unpredictable problems. To Twigger it is the variety of having to do many small things well. To Newport, it is the flow that comes from deep immersion in a skill that requires mastery. Perhaps all three mean the same thing.

Smith realised that the coming industrial age threatened these special joys of work. The post-industrial age threatens them too, in a rather different way. ....“The understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments,” wrote Smith. So whether at work or at play, let us take care that we employ ourselves wisely.
Adam_Smith  books  busywork  Cal_Newport  distractions  expertise  GTD  hard_work  industrial_age  knowledge_workers  lessons_learned  productivity  polymaths  premodern  procrastination  skills  solitude  thinking_deliberatively  Tim_Harford  what_really_matters 
august 2017 by jerryking
Tyler Cowen on inequality, Canada, and the state of global superpowers
Eva Salinas | May 1, 2015.

Tyler Cowen is an economist, academic and writer. His popular blog, Marginal Revolution, co-written with Alex Tabarrok, a colleague at George Mason University, turned Cowen into “an economics celebrity,” in the words of one LA Times writer. More recently, Cowen and Tabarrok ventured into the world of online education with their creation of Marginal Revolution University in 2012.
The author of ‘Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation’ was in Toronto earlier this year as the keynote speaker at the University of Toronto’s conference on Inequality.
Tyler_Cowen  economists  income_inequality  Canada  innovation  Silicon_Valley  averages  digital_economy  knowledge_economy  economic_stagnation  clusters  polymaths  the_Great_Decoupling 
may 2015 by jerryking
In the Age of Information, Specializing to Survive - NYTimes.com
By J. PEDER ZANEMARCH 19, 2015

Artists from Picasso to Bob Dylan and entrepreneurs including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs changed the world by finding “radically new ways of looking at old problems,” Mr. Galenson said. “They cut through all the accumulated stuff — forget what’s been done — to see something special, something new.”

It is why, Mr. Galenson added, the historian and physicist Stanley Goldberg said of Einstein, “It was almost as if he were wearing special glasses to make all that was irrelevant invisible."
polymaths  Renaissance  information_overload  fresh_eyes  specialization  sense-making  reconceptualization  Pablo_Picasso  Bob_Dylan  billgates  Steve_Jobs 
march 2015 by jerryking
The Quietus | Features | Tome On The Range | Doors Of Appropriation: Teju Cole Interviewed
"Birds play a big part in the book and elsewhere in your journalism. Why is that?

TC: I like them because they represent other life. About a year ago I did an event with Vijay Iyer, one of America’s leading jazz musicians and Himanshu Suri, the rapper from Das Racist. Iyer and I did a suite called Open City, ten parts that he and I built around all the bird passages in the book and I did readings in between. It opens with geese then sparrows looking for a place to eat, starlings forming a vast cloud. There’s one moment with a hawk and then the final passage with the wrens, smashing into the Statue of Liberty.

I’m interested in birds as a different form of life which has as little understanding of what it's about as we do, and the fact that they’re aerial, so have a different point of view."
tejucole  2014  interviews  opencity  everydayisforthethirf  lagos  nigeria  africa  socialmedia  culture  polymaths  birds  perspective 
november 2014 by robertogreco
2020 Science
In the summer of 2005, an international expert group was brought together for a workshop to define and produce a new vision and roadmap of the evolution, challenges and potential of computer science and computing in scientific research in the next fifteen years. The resulting document, Towards 2020 Science, sets out the challenges and opportunities arising from the increasing synthesis of computing and the sciences. It seeks to identify the requirements necessary to accelerate scientific advances –particularly those driven by computational sciences and the 'new kinds' of science the synthesis of computing and the sciences is creating. Already this synthesis has led to new fields and advances spanning genomics and proteomics, earth sciences and climatology, nanomaterials, chemistry and physics.
polymaths  polymathsecosystem  computerscienceresearch  scientificcomputing 
december 2013 by researchknowledge

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