Rahil Patel

| (• ◡•)|/ \(❍ᴥ❍ʋ).

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Reading is often Actionless

19 July 2014 by Rahil

[todo: add a link to this to the what should be read list. Add a link to lateral thinking post. Also written late night.]

and writing feels actionless
cone of learning
philosophy of action

Or, reading is often passive, merely consumption.

I consider research as action. For example, when one reads a concept of something in Wikipedia.

But I consider reading an entire book a passive experience. What parts of that book were necessary for one’s research? Could it have been skimmed? What is lost in skimming?

I feel in skimming (directed reading, action) one maintains their direction. If I were to write a book on a specific part of psychology, only those things that relate to that specific part are necessary.

One has ignore a great amount of knowledge. This is normal [find vocab].

A digression: Outside of books, the brain does this all of the time to rationalize the world.

But what I’ve come to recently understand, is that, while one does take action efficiently, there is a possibility that, ignoring some knowledge, one actually doesn’t an understanding of it, perhaps losing an opportunity to gain foundational long-term knowledge [link to why read the western philosophy canon] or, misunderstands it, and this leads to anti-intellectualism: action without sufficient knowledge.

As a highly empirical person whose read few books, and plans to write more blogs with large generalizations based on my empirical knowledge, I must understand that these are just generalizations, and the understanding is beyond me, and the amount of time to research and make a good argument is something I will likely value less and prioritize less than some other action.

I shall only write what I, up to current knowledge, understand, and live a normal life, without veering it toward research to write a big book to prove it.

Perhaps this is being lazy, but I value and therefore prioritize other actions more because reading does not satisfy [that feeling].

[missed the whole argument about reading is not social, a way communication, and I find it difficult to inquire. And the argument of reading being at the bottom of the cone of learning]

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Essays, Literature, Philosophy, Uncategorized

Inaction in a Bookshop in Taipei

24 June 2014 by Rahil

After a very active traveling life, I took a programming contract that altered me into a more passive person, or, active, but with non-humans. When I finished, I went to a nearby popular 24-hour bookstore a few times.

I was reading western philosophy at 3am, when, suddenly, I hear odd shrieks and thumping sounds, clearly a person suffering.

I go up to the person, find a bum shaking on the floor. I tell one person to call the cops (I’m in Taiwan, and that’s when I realized I didn’t know Taiwan’s emergency number). Soon, the bum started bleeding from the mouth, so I told the other person to help me get the bum to sit against the wall, so the person wouldn’t choke on his own blood. I was quite unsure what to do next. I froze a bit, then decided to search for anyone who seemed knowledgeable. As soon as I made that decision, finally, a person voluntarily came to help, a store employee, examined the bums mouth, figured the bum just bit his tongue, ingeniously stuck a pen between his teeth. A little later, the medics came (Taiwan’s emergency services is are amazing).

It terrible that I did not know how to further handle the situation, other then getting others to help, but it is more terrible that only one other person helped.

Out of the 20 or so people in that bookstore within audible distance, only one came on time, one came late, just before the medics did, and throughout the rest of the time, no one even came to see what was going on.

It was frightening. Not the bum bleeding, but the lack of action. Immediately, I felt reading was absolutely actionless [todo: link to post] and hoped to never do work that makes me passive again, afraid I would turn into one of those 20 or so people.

This is simply an instance of the bystander effect [link to wiki], which is even more plentiful in the suburbs with car accidents, but the time of it, with me going from an active to passive phase, made the situation highly contemplative.

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Philosophy, Uncategorized

Philosophy of Literature: What’s left?

04 June 2014 by Rahil

From Conciseness in Art [link]:

In single chapter of Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, I feel satisfied. I consumed enough to trigger my brain to begin contemplating, creating, mixing in with my own thoughts. The power of literature is not in detail, but in imagination.

If imagination is not the goal, I still feel conciseness is powerful. In Francis Bacon’s Essays, more about ethics is told in few words. Likewise in Borjes’s Ficciones, the stories are told only to display its mechanics. (Although, there is and I dislike the large amount of references)

Films replaced most of literature. Though, they are different experiences.

I wonder, what’s left of literature? And by literature, I mean fiction.

It seems the only pieces of literature I have are those that are fantastic, thought-provoking, and perhaps philosophic.

I guess I will have to wait until I finish a Tolstoy novel.

Resources:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_and_literature

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_theory

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Literature, Philosophy, Uncategorized

Why I Love Tsai-Ming Liang’s Films

04 June 2014 by Rahil

[Could use more work!]

Why do I love Tsai Ming Liang’s films?

In answering this, I believe I can find what characteristics of aesthetics I personally love.

Because his work is told from a view of a person from the street, a person who has no culture. The perspectives of the lives in his films are rarely shown, especially for such lengths of time. When i am in a state of hypomania, I think about the poor, how they relate to the world, and what they do. When I go to another country there is a layer of alienation brought out by culture: the temples, prayers, customs , food, tv. Culture itself is alien to humans, it’s acquired; I always question how it came to be. How did the world come to the way it is. Lines of large apartment buildings in China, hours of commute time, betel nut stands, shopping malls, everything. When travelling through diverse areas, from indigenous to city, I keep questioning these things. In Tsai Ming Liang’s films, I feel I am similarly always questioning. Given a slow pace, the low class humans in society, devoid of culture, almost devoid of life, one gets a fresh travelers perspective again. How did the world come to be? What are people doing, and why?

Few films bring about these questions.

During highly active times of travel, including hypomanic times of being entirely irrational, I couldn’t stand any form of media because most films assume so much: film cliches, genres, reason films are made, and the most assumed of all: culture. Compared to going outside and actively doing something, only Tsai Ming-Liang was watchable.

Film reviews:

Leave a comment | Categories: Film Philosophy, Films, Uncategorized

Books, Passive Media, and The Internet

06 May 2014 by Rahil

[Old draft, posting anyway. I think at the time I was just too adhd to consume any long form media. Contrarily, I still feel books are quite a slow method of transmitting knowledge. I’ve now fit books alongside more modern forms of media.]

A continuation of the thoughts from

It’s been a long time since I’ve explored via traditional media, as opposed to empiricism (travel travel travel, and interactive art!).

A certain Peter told me about http://www.thegreatcourses.com/ (piratebay has it).

I always feel that going through anything historical is a waste of time (adhd adhd adhd, and creativity!), but there’s definitely some good things in there.

I enjoy the great ideas in philosophy lectures, which I apparently severely lack as a result of attending a non-liberal arts college. There’s 60 of them. I especially liked these: Wittgenstein (soo goood, probably because most modern), Alan Turing, Aesthetics, Theory of Good Life, Descartes, and Newton. I’ve skimmed through most of the rest.

It’s still a very passive thing, that requires a very passive time in life to actually listen to (programming indoors). You really have to select a narrow selection of interest to make any use of it. But it’s far more thought-provoking than, say, music. And more concise than most books (even with the convenience of audiobooks — I tried Guns, Germs, and Steel with interest and intent and still struggled), which allows more time to think. Still, it’s not up to date with any modern theories; For that of course, there’s Wikipedia (can transform text to audio!).

Which brings a question: If you work a lone job indoors, say an office environment, without cool people to be distracted by, what do you do with that free time, how and what do you explore? Or did you end up finding a creative outlet indoors?

tldr: books suck.

The conversation on Facebook that brought about this thought:

A person way smarter than me said:
History is one of the best fields to study if you want to figure out long-term
trends in human consciousness. I would argue that history is very interesting, but has problems with presentation. Case in point, I used to not be at all interested in the time period between the industrial revolution in american history, but now see it as fundamental in establishing movements in the Christian right and eventually leading to the moral majority and ultimately Sarah Palin. (This is an idea that’s far too big to contain here, obviously. I should probably write a book!) That’s just one aspect of the cultural shift in America as well. When someone says they think history is boring, I believe they aren’t reading it correctly, and are probably basing their opinion on the way history was taught to them, rather than how history actually is.

Guns Germs and Steel’s author has a long-winded style; he likes to cover all the bases, all the time. Don’t judge non-fiction by that.

Also, books are awesome. You engage differently when faced with long-form text than you do when you are listening. One isn’t better than the other because they are different scales.

I’d be interested in the “modern theories” you allude to that Wikipedia fulfills, but Hofstadter doesn’t.

I naively replied:
So much to learn from Sir Ben.

It’s probably my fault for failing to share my thoughts on reading, which even then should result in writing out thoughts. Perhaps it’s because it’s not as sensational as other media. It usually just feels goalless, where does reading huge texts lead to?

Oh god American history was always the least interesting of all histories to me, hah. Probably because it’s span is short relative to other countries.

Hahahah The Formation of Sarah Palin. That would be one disgusting yet interesting book.

Guns, Germs, and Steel is quite alright, mostly because I’m really interested in it’s huge scope of anthropology. I’ll probably regain the interest when I’m interested in the subject again, or doing something related to it.

Listening vs reading. That’ll require some research.

I meant The Great Courses doesn’t have much modern material, Hofstadter I haven’t read yet. Modern theories, I guess I mean philosophy and research of life-related things: happiness, mental illness (and it’s biology — esp. dopamine-related ones), learning, playing, etc. Hence my recent urge for non-fiction books.

It just seems to be so much more fun and efficient exploring Wikipedia, and a more active (I have more choice than just skimming) way of learning, and finding interesting, specific subjects. I think it would be very easy to have a Wikipedia session on American History, hop around links, and figure out The Formation of Sarah Palin. All of that in a more efficient and fun manner than fat books in a library on American History.

THE INTERNETS!

I guess the target books are: non-narrative, non-fiction, broad in scope, like Guns.., Godel…, Thinking Fast and Slow, Antifragile, etc. Not the most playful things, haha.

Leave a comment | Categories: Education, Literature, New Media, Technology, Uncategorized

A Self-assessment

15 December 2013 by Rahil

2014
Taiwan, then New York?
The year I go back to work. Will I be able to balance work and life, America and Asia? Work on the streets, sleep on the streets. Vive l’amour.

December 2013
India
Break time.

September 2013 – November 2013
Study in Taiwan
Back to my travel’s first love. Learn Chinese. 加油!

July 2013 – September 2013
Travel East Asia
I quickly went through Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan to determine which is the best place to live and work. I spent around two weeks in Hong Kong and Japan, and the rest of the time in Seoul because I was working on Crystal Brawl. I still travelled, but developed East Asia is not nearly as social and fun as undeveloped South Asia. I talked to or tried talking to people from contemporary art institutions and universities, checking out the art scene from a public perspective, trying to push myself in to no avail. Despite their advances in development, I decided Taiwan is best.

June – July 2013
Living in India
Less work, more life.

May – June 2013
Travel in Nepal and northeast India
I escaped the heat of Gujarat, India and went to Nepal and northeast India with a childhood friend. I spent some more time living in small towns enjoying the relaxed nature of people of mountainous regions whilst making games when everyone slept.

February – April 2013
Living in India
The idea was to be a hermit independent game developer in India, rent-free and worry-free. The idea failed for several reasons realized afterwards. I cannot work alone; I must work with local people. Working alone leads to an unhealthy daily life, especially working on computers. It just didn’t make sense. I need to have a community of people to live and work regularly.

A friend from New York came for a month. We were slated to make a game, but we both came to the conclusion that making a game in India did not make sense and instead created a game development workshop and game jam at a nearby university.

August 2011 – February 2012
Travel in Taiwan and Indochina
An unhealthy amount of overconsumption in sights, food, and life. After volunteering at the school in Taiwan, I travelled around the island that is Taiwan (some via CouchSurfing), made a short film in Malaysia (see Roti Delivery), and pondered in Bangkok, deciding to give up work and do some proper traveling. I left my crap at a hostel and made a short motorcycle trip in northwest Thailand. Wanting to further distance myself from development, I seeked indigenous people in Laos, staying in their villages.

An overall psychologically menacing trip for a introverted personality who enjoys late night brainy work and despises conspicuous consumption. I constantly struggled to find value for my time. The language barrier of Southeast Asia undeniably blocked my desire to closely connect with lower class people on many occasions. But as usual, I don’t regret it.

August – September 2012
Volunteer at 達達美語補習班 (Dada School) in 中壢 (ZhongLi), 台湾 (Taiwan)
This was my first gig during travel. One of the things I wanted to do while traveling was to try things that I value more than private sector work, in this case, teaching. Perhaps it’s why I avoided to take a job at a psychologically abusive social game startup and instead chose to travel and ultimately live and work independently in India.

It was a work exchange at an independent school run by a fantastic couple: John and Ching. I assisted in teaching kids English by creating activities for younger students and having conversation with elder students. I also did general work: house chores, cooking, and babysitting. It felt like living with a great family rather than working. I wish I did more. Perhaps it was the heat (and lack of air conditioner), or the mosquitoes at night, or Ching’s delicious food that hindered me. I stayed until my visa nearly ran out.

March 2012 – July 2012?
Independent Game Developer in San Francisco
I went back without a job to see what San Francisco really offered me. I spent most of the time working on Pinkies Up, and staying open for collaboration. I concluded San Francisco is too gentrified and too business oriented, consisting of shallow business-card trading meetups and funding the next Instagram clone. The city lost its heart. The only exception: The MADE in Oakland and Creative Coders.

January – February 2012
Volunteer at Babycastles in Brooklyn, NY
Ahhh my first love. Amazing people doing amazing things. It was specifically what I was interested in, but had no idea a community for it existed. It was what I was looking for all along. At the time I was just beginning to create things myself (game prototypes), figuring out what games are, what it means to be an artist, and really delve into fine arts. The things these people accomplished on a daily basis was unbelievable. I merely helped setup and facilitate art game installations, and helped (or worsened) with organizational development. I regret leaving New York because of these people, and I will come back, despite disliking the city.

January – February 2012
Intern at zdLLdz in Brooklyn, NY
Interning with Zack. Woo! I assisted with a film shoot in the freezing cold and researched stereoscopy in film and games (read: ate pizza and watched dope movies). Still, it was inspiring to just be around Zack. Zack is the future, and the other interns are equally futuristic.

February – May 2011
QA and Release Engineer at Perfect World Entertainment in Foster City, CA
From suburb to city, I picked up a new job too quickly, perhaps afraid of financial risk. I oversaw day-to-day tasks for the engineering department. The department creates and manages websites and web servers for a bunch of shitty Asian MMORPGs. It was a cumbersome process in a large company. Unrealistic goals, overtime, hasty testing, shoving out *milestones*; The stereotyped horrifically inefficient software company. I knew and warned that I was going to leave within the first week, but I stuck to the job because I was still absorbing the experience, mainly related to living in San Francisco. I tried to help the company as much as I could but I came to the conclusion that my radical (in their perspective) input was meaningless in a large company, and my desire for something more meaningful, or at least more meaningful than managing websites for terribly bland MMORPGs, made me leave.

February – October 2010
Software Developer at Segin Systems in Virginia Beach, VA
My first “professional” job. I developed code for their flagship web based real estate software. Most of the time was spent implementing interfaces to scrape data from ancient third party title software databases to be sent via web services. The rest of the time was spent extending the superbly coded web site, written by the lead developer who made fine use of the .NET framework. An amazing first programming job as there were only two other developers, and most of the time was spent programming. I knew I was going to leave my hometown, but I thought it was best to have a little “experience” before doing so.

August 2005 – May 2009
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA
I wasted a lot of time. Only one class was okay, the one where our class was told to build a web forum with few restrictions. I did, however, value the time I watched artsy movies and spent with my friends, often playing games, almost solely Super Smash Bros. Melee.

2003 – Death
Temporary Manager at Village Motel in Chesapeake, VA
This is my Dad’s motel. Yep, I’m the second generation of the stereotype Indian immigrant hospitality-business owning family. It’s what paid for my raising, including college. A stable business to raise a family. It takes a surprising amount of civil engineering and hackery to maintain motels.

Childhood:
Playing games with friends, biking, exploring neighborhoods, eating, family vacations, family events (Indian marriages), fixing computers, fixing other things, staying up late, waking up late, always doing something.

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Travels End: The Return of Unsocial Life

25 November 2013 by Rahil

[Old draft. Did not read. Looks like interesting personal history / thought.]

When I arrived in Taipei I was excited, to travel, to create, to learn Chinese, to socialize. It started with the normal intense feelings of travel where I’d consume everything and think at incredible speeds to continually have new experiences; Life is an adventure. I especially consumed Chinese as it was one of my goals, furthering my social life. I was extremely happy and extremely social. I’d go out with hostelmates, schoolmates, meet artists, and even talk to people on the street (Humans of Taiwan). I had several ideas I was excited to share and begin.

It worked well, for about two weeks. I felt a slow decline. I forced myself to continue. First, Humans of New York stopped, I was unable to talk to strangers again. Many weeks later, I don’t care to talk to strangers. I don’t care to talk to anyone really, anymore.

“Do I want to be a normal member of society, or should I be my hermit self, ignoring the world?”

“I ignored everyone in Hampton Roads, why should I spend time with people in Taipei? Unless it’s a small town feel.”

“Focus on art: film studio, humans, Vincent moon, etc. Stop going out for social situations. Explore instead.”

“Be social to keep speed to life.”

10/5
Transforming into my former hard-working self. Need to relax, stay outside, be social, work at a cafe or school, freelance art and programming.

No! Don’t be so anti-social. Talk to people on a daily basis. It’s how you keep track of time.

Get a scooter. Buses are a waste of time.

Teach at a nearby school, work at a nearby cafe, be social, stay outside, be creative as you were while traveling.

Be quick like the guy from Toronto.

10/6
Yesterday and Today, I feel great, relaxed. A direction was chosen. The problem of last week was indecision.

I still feel extremely restless every morning, but learning languages, talking to people, walking outside, eases it.

I can’t wait to find an apartment, get a scooter, make things. Still, I have to be careful of time. The other classmates have already found an apartment!

Today I felt on top of the world. No deadline. Nothing needed to be done. No stress. Worry free life. Is that what I need for art? Is that why India did not work? Was it too emotional for me? Consuming without creating?

Fuck. Wasted more time. Need to control myself. 8 hour workdays, including cafe and tutor

I need to control my time. That’s my greatest problem. Follow the plan.bless wanderlust.

10/7
Take time to sleep, think creatively, then make a move. But make decisions quick! Keep living.

Learning a language requires routine. There’s no way around it.

I have no idea of what life is. Should I care for the less fortunate? Innovate? Live happily in a third world country? It seems all I can do is live. Spend less time in indecision and do as much as I can, while still taking the time to design and plan.

Nap anywhere anytime. But try to stay up during the day, to do work with people.

Schedule yourself

Don’t worry about money. Freelance programming! Focus time on learning, work, and travel.

Plan less, do more? Need more projects! Need more life!

我不喜歡commuting in Taipei, or, I’m being indecisive again, as usual. I need to calm down, stay in my neighborhood, make stuff. Work more, walk less.

I’m missing out on so much life.

Create stickies of humans, Vincent moon, edward yang, babycastles, languages, and calavino at home and at my workplace.

Power generator, food cart, projector.

Keep exploring, keep taking on new projects, keep talking to people, keep enjoying life.

10/8
Consuming the things around me as opposed to something specific. Have to learn when to consume around and specific. Time self.

10/9
I didn’t do much today. My brain was slow. Social life stopped after 6pm. I slept in an air conditioned library and computered a little. I accomplished nothing. Caffeine withdrawal? At least when I have caffiene, I’m fighting for life, doing something. Without it, I have no social energy or interest.

I need to maintain one of he following to stay active: social life and excitement, caffiene, or exercise.

There was so much time in a day. What the fuck happened to it today? I need to consume more of the world around me. I was ignoring too much. If I ignore the world, I can always watch a film, but I failed to do that. I just went through the day, meaningless.

After taking a nap, one should do something social.

Difficult to live and create simultaneously. Study hard at night. All phrases, vocab, writing, listening.

I’m waking up without reason, creativity. I really miss that. I’m unable to balance life and work. It distracts me from my personal direction. My motivation.

Learning a language without a motivation is really difficult. I need reason to talk to people, not just for the sake of practicing.

Dont let anyone take you in the wrong direction. You don’t have to spend time learning chinese with classmates if it doesn’t motivate you. Learn it in your own way. It’s more fun, more serious, much more interesting, in my view. See the beauty in the world.

Being with people, I lose interest in people, and I lose creativity.

Remember, you don’t have to do anything. It’s up to you. It’s okay to sleep, explore, in fact, it’s necessary.

I should be social about things I love. That’s why babycastles worked. They were people with similar interests. I need to hang with people with similar interests, or, completely foreign people that no one knows.

Use 30 minutes of memrise in the morning and evening for each language. Watch some TV. No, that’s unsocial. Spend time with people. Get a professional or social job. Fuck the library.

Never overwork yourself.

school, very social

Half way through the class I made the decision that, although I failed to do what I set out to do — join or create a new media company — I would finish the Chinese class. Feeling that my classmates would do better by going to class and studying after school, I started to go back to class, and hang out with my classmates. Besides, they were my closest friends. My Taiwanese friends all have jobs.

I was social. I’d go to class. Hang out with the classmates after school, and often at night. Sometimes after class I’d go to the Language Corner, which is something a few people at school started to help people learn Chinese. I started going there because I realized I didn’t feel like talking to strangers, so I started talking to them.

With the class, after-class activity, and hanging out with the people at my hostel, my day was booked. I’d be social until I needed to sleep. I’d drink with hostel mates at the hostel, or a nearby bar. I didn’t mind spending time with people. In fact, I want to.

I made sure whatever I did was interactive. I doing things with people. That’s all that mattered. I felt that if I weren’t doing something with someone, then it was meaningless, as if the moment in time wouldn’t exist.

I moved to an apartment. This made me quite lonely.

Near the end of class I basically gave up on Chinese. I started using English, thinking in English, not caring for the class. The intrinsic motivation was completely gone. I wasn’t traveling, I didn’t want to talk, so why learn Chinese? It didn’t make sense. I need the urge to talk to Chinese-only speaking people to learn Chinese. This is why I don’t like school. But this is also my failure, as I was unable to retain motivation for three months, barely one.

I wasn’t fighting for time. I wasn’t maximizing my time in a country that I would never be in again. I didn’t have a project I was striving for. I wasn’t fighting to make every hour of my life count. I started to become lazy. Forgetting that I am in debt. I needed some kind of reality check, but it never came. I just decided to give up until class ended. After that, I’d have to do something. I’d have to get a job.

after school, alone

Was I social for the sake of learning a language? For the sake of traveling? So I don’t forget about other people? The Humans project? A normal social life?

Half way through class I felt I consumed all I could from Taipei. I’ve seen everything. Nothing excited me. So, I stuck to my classmates. I followed them. Zero creativity. I just followed. It was fun, socially normal. The problem was whenever I was alone, I had trouble be social with other people. I just wasn’t interested in the rest of the world anymore. I tried movies, but movies were still too far from life. It was a tough time. I didn’t feel like doing anything at times. I’d just “study” Chinese. I didn’t care for the Humans project. I didn’t care for making games. I didn’t care for art. A depression, for sure.

After the class ended, I stopped waking up on time. I lost circadian rhythm immediately. I lost social life. I didn’t contact anyone. I failed to use technology to maintain a social life. I failed to be creative. I failed to be social enough to new people.

A few depressing days followed in which I’d wake up late, not be social, not want to create my own direction, overeat, oversleep, plan a lot, but do nothing in reality. Everything is in my head. No actions are taken. Just thoughts. Over-thinking, over-planning, over-researching, indecision. Failing to “just do it”. Social interaction is how I track time. Without people’s feedback, I’m unable to see progress. I need people. I did absolutely nothing, or, I was radically changing, again.

I started to create my own path. More things to do. More in my own direction. I was okay with being alone. I could think quite clearly. I exercised. I still slept whenever I wanted, but I felt good. My former self. On top of the world in a different way. My own way. I didn’t consume anything. I did what I wanted.

Which life is better? A social conformist one or a loner creative? Why am I unable to balance the two? All I need to do is spend a few hours being social, and a few hours being myself, yet I fail and fall into extremes. As always. I’m too obsessive.

The solution? Have someone to schedule my life everyday. Or, create a timer and follow it. Somehow.

Or continue to be social during the day and do my personal work at night, when everyone is asleep.

Leave a comment | Categories: Personal, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Uncategorized

Flexibility

25 November 2013 by Rahil

[todo: I think I was getting at adaptation in nature and humans, but never completed.]

“Populations differ in their phenotypic plasticity, which is the ability of an organism with a given genotype to change its phenotype in response to changes in its habitat, or to move to a different habitat.[69][70]

To a greater or lesser extent, all living things can adjust to circumstances. The degree of flexibility is inherited, and varies to some extent between individuals. A highly specialized animal or plant lives only in a well-defined habitat, eats a specific type of food, and cannot survive if its needs are not met. Many herbivores are like this; extreme examples are koalas which depend on eucalyptus, and pandas which require bamboo. A generalist, on the other hand, eats a range of food, and can survive in many different conditions. Examples are humans, rats, crabs and many carnivores. The tendency to behave in a specialized or exploratory manner is inherited – it is an adaptation.

Rather different is developmental flexibility: “An animal or plant is developmentally flexible if when it is raised or transferred to new conditions it develops so that it is better fitted to survive in the new circumstances”.[71] Once again, there are huge differences between species, and the capacities to be flexible are inherited.”

I’m a flexible person raised in an inflexible environment.

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Universalism in Art

27 May 2012 by Rahil

I recently saw an elderly person perform stand-up comedy and it triggered the thought of universalism in art.

Humor from elderly people is almost always universal from my experience. Everyone probably has a humorous uncle that’s able to make the whole family laugh.

I personally wouldn’t ever want to create something targeted to a specific audience. For example, I wouldn’t want to create an movie based on a manga, which is likely targeted at the Japanese and Otaku population. I’d want to create a Miyazaki film. I don’t even think of anime when Miyazaki comes to mind. Yet, Miyazaki’s films possess many common characteristics of anime. Why? Because his work is universal; It’s able to reach to everyone.

This thought reminds me of when Jenova Chen mentioned wanting to create an experience that is as universal as Miyazaki.

Another example of universalism in art is Pokemon. Pokemon do not conform to any culture. They are creatures, quite different from real animals, having somewhat unique names (maybe they mean something in Japanese?). My mom doesn’t know anything about the show but when she hears “pikachu” in Ash’s pikachu’s voice, she associates it with the pokemon in her mind. That’s powerful. I believe the reason Pokemon was a success is because it is universal.

The same goes for many Disney films, and other things often revered by the public — The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, etc.

Universalism is achieved by avoiding references, cliches, and things that would limit the audience.

A digression
Hmm. Perhaps a method to create something universal is to figure out how to introduce something innovative to the broadest audience. Finding something specific in the world that you think is beautiful, and trying to show it to the world by making it more accessible.

Yeah. That sounds like the virtue of commercial art. Fine art doesn’t care for everyone else. It’s a little more pretentious.

I guess it’s a choice. Should one strive to create something universal (commercial) or not (fine)? I guess that’s up to the artist. Sometime’s it’s nice to have positive feedback from the public, instead of that 1% who actually understand the importance of those things in museums.

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