psychic distance

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“… above all, the strange solitude and remoteness from the world, as it can be found only on the highest mountain tops; and the experience may acquire, in its uncanny mingling of repose and terror, a flavour of such concentrated poignancy and delight as to contrast sharply with the blind and distempered anxiety of its other aspects.”

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“… and we watch the consummation of some impending catastrophe with the marvelling unconcern of a mere spectator.”

-Edward Bullough, Psychic Distance

the age of insight / the summer of perspicacity

“The function of the modern artist was not to convey beauty, but to convey new truths.”

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“Science may explain aspects of art but it will not replace the inspiration that art evokes…”

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“Viennese life at the turn of the century provided opportunities in salons and coffeehouses for scientists, writers, and artists to come together in an atmosphere that was at once inspiring, optimistic, and politically engaged. …science was no longer the narrow and restrictive province of scientists but had become an integral part of Viennese culture. …a paradigm for how an open dialogue can be achieved.”

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-Eric Kandel, excerpted from The Age of Insight

tabula rasa

“Pärt likes bells, literally and figuratively in his music. He also likes space and silence.”

shack montana

“Part of Pärt’s breakthrough, Layton says, came from hearing just three notes in a supermarket.”

“Over the public address system one hears the sound ‘doo, doo doo’ — Layton sings three descending tones — ‘Could so-and-so please go to till No. 25?’ Now that sound is called a triad in music, but it’s actually the building block of all music in the Western world.”

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“Pärt realized the beautiful simplicity of the triad and ran with it. He called his newfound style ‘tintinnabuli,’ a word referring to little tinkling bells. Another ingredient in the recipe is silence.”

Going to the sun road Glacier NP

“On the one hand, silence is like fertile soil, which, as it were, awaits our creative act, our seed. On the other hand, silence must be approached with a feeling of awe.” — Arvo Pärt

–Adapted from The Silence and Awe of Arvo Part, NPR

science and society

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“There is something deeply rooted in the human soul that draws us to sites of unimaginable disaster. Pompeii, Antietam…”

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“But in the 21st century we hold a special awe for the aftermath of nuclear destruction. The splitting of the atom almost a hundred years ago promised to be the most important human advance since the discovery of fire. Unleashing the forces bound inside atomic nuclei would bring the world nearly limitless energy.”

— George Johnson, The Nuclear Tourist, National Geographic October 2014

the sublime

flower tote

“Beethoven is not only about suffering — it’s about many emotions, true happiness and ecstasy.”

Arrival at Temple after Pilgrimmage

“It’s not true that someone has to have been through extreme emotions to play the music, but you have to be able to sympathize and have empathy with the emotions. If I play a piece of Chopin or Schumann, it’s a one-to-one confession all the time, but with Beethoven, the slow movements are not so much a confession but more a kind of preaching. He has a bigger message about humanity. Earlier, I didn’t really understand and appreciate that expression.”
~Leif Ove Andsnes

Penitence -- Pilgrim in Tibet

“In a case like Schubert, who died at 31, he had enough sorrow for a lifetime. There is something about the subtext of his music — people say you have to suffer a little more.”
~Jeremy Denk

Rose sheet music

“Musicians often state that they should wait until they ‘have something to say’ before tackling pieces like Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ or late Beethoven or Schubert, although for the pianist Richard Goode the phrase ‘having something to say’ suggests ‘an act of will — something extrinsic to a genuine involvement,’ he said.”
~Viven Schweitzer, Adapted from “Wait, You Need to Suffer Some More”

Prayer Flags in Tibet

“Which master managed, as Beethoven did in his late music, to weld together present, past and future, the sublime and the profane?”
~Alfred Brendel

horizon from plane

entropy

“…soaring* above the bowing * of taut * nerves in haphazard double-stops* would be the one singing string of her determination.”

statue and shooting star

“… only then did he realize that the isolated system-galaxy, engine, human being, culture, whatever—must evolve spontaneously toward the Condition of the More Probable*”

heat death

“He found himself, in short, restating Gibbs’ prediction in social terms, and envisioned a heat-death for his culture in which ideas, like heat-energy, would no longer be transferred, since each point in it would ultimately have the same quantity of energy; and intellectual motion would, accordingly, cease.”

dead tree on hill

man and megalomania

cowboy boots

“Politics self-selects for certain traits, the most common of which is an essential neediness, an emotional hole many politicians are trying to fill that makes them crave attention, thrive on the artificial calories provided by superficial relationships, and make the personal sacrifices necessary for public life.”

— Jonathan Alter

blue

Philadelphia Museum of Art

“But he wanted to see the blue hour spread over a magnificent facade, and imagine that the cab horns, playing endlessly…”
~F. Scott Fitzgerald, Babylon Revisited

Logan Circle

“The blue hour is an oft-poeticized moment of the day – a lingering twilight that halos the sky after sundown but before complete darkness sets in. It is a time of day known for its romantic, spiritual, and ethereal connotations, and this magical moment has frequently inspired artists to attempt to capture its remarkable essence.”
~Jake Wallace, on Mackey’s Hymn to a Blue Hour

New York City rooftop

“It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattly-bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer — I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise… And there I suddenly heard, and even saw on paper –Rhapsody, from beginning to end. I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness.”
~George Gershwin on Rhapsody in Blue

Kelsey
“And drowned in yonder living blue
The lark become a sightless song”
~Tennyson

the road

Kansas road

“All roads indeed lead to Rome, but theirs also is a more mystical destination, some bourne of which no traveller knows the name, some city, they all seem to hint, even more eternal.”
~Richard Le Gallienne

“Receptive field mapping studies in cortical area V1 [the primary visual cortex of the brain] indicate that cells are selectively sensitive to orientation, spatial frequency, direction of motion, color, and eye of stimulation.”
~Nakayama, 1996

Colorado Highway

“It is true that… apparent depth can be added to the visual image of a single eye by using a number of indirect cues, such as the angular subtense of an object of known size, motion parallax, accommodative effort, and the obscuration of distant objects by nearer ones.”
~Barlow, 1967

“Each cell has a specific binocular receptive field bestowing it with the ability to respond selectively to real-world targets at specific distances… Assuming that the visual system could monitor the convergence of the eyes with accuracy and precision, the properties of disparity selective neurons could provide for the metrical encoding of perceived distance.”
~Nakayama, 1996

Utah Canyonlands Road

“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.”
~Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance