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Thoughts On And For A Structured Existence

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Thought

Eloquent Lives: Hans Ulrich Obrist As Cultural “Junction Maker”

“The Exchange.” section of WSJ Magazine is a window into what is beautiful and culturally vibrant in the world. The life of Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of Serpentine Galleries, maximizes spontaneity by living a purposeful structured existence:

“I believe in embracing chance in the process – serendipitous moments happen ever day” 

Three times a day he takes a 10-minute walk between the Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, separated by Serpentine Lake in Kensington Gardens, one of eight Royal Parks in London.

Meetings with, among others, poets, painters, architects and Neurologists are “weaved” into exhibits, symposiums and interviews of the most important modern artists.

hans-ulrich-obrist-walks-to-serpentine-galleries-in-wsj-magazine-september-2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-day-in-the-life-of-hans-ulrich-obrist-1472485717

The September 2016 article in WSJ is a must read along with:

new-yorker-profile-of-hans-ulrich-obrist-dec-8-2014

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/08/art-conversation

“Walking With Plato And Aristotle”: Physicist John A. Wheeler’s Dream To Unwrap Acoustic Memory

“Can a single stone from a time
That used to be
Hold the memories of conversations 
That mean so much to me”

Adapted from “Memory Motel” by The Rolling Stones (Jagger/Richards)

    Theoretical Physicist John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008) coined the term “black hole”, worked on the Manhattan Project that led to development of Atomic and Hydrogen bombs, and championed theories in gravity and relativity. In an interview late in his life he spoke of receiving a stone from the garden at Plato’s Academy (“Akademeia” c. 385 BC) in Athens:

John Archibald Wheeler Theoretical Physicist on a Machine that could unpeel Accoustic Memory

Albert Einstein wrote that “every true theorist is a kind of tamed metaphysicist”. Wheeler, who collaborated with Einstein, moved productively between Aristotelian Realism (Universals exist in things) and Platonic Realism (Universals can exist in abstraction). This “miracle creed” helped transform theoretical and quantum physics.

Wheeler was consumed by the idea that “human consciousness” shapes the past and present, a topic that he foreshadows might have been a topic of conversation between Plato and Aristotle:

Complexity Entropy and the Physics of Information

He asks: “Is existence thus built on ‘insubstantial nothingness’?”, directly referencing Shakespeare’s “The Tempest“, where Prospero tells us:

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. The Tempest

Imagine the shadowy voice of Plato asking Aristotle: “How come existence?”. Aristotle might look to John Wheeler for information on that.

Hemingway And Montaigne: Do Actions Or Thought Maketh A Man?

   It can be very useful to contrast human character types, such as in Ivan Turgenev’s “Hamlet and Don Quixote” essay (1860). The lives of Ernest Hemingway and Michel de Montaigne highlight the dual nature of what it is to be a man.

To Hemingway, it is “…much better to die in all the happy period of undisillusioned youth, to go out in a blaze of light, than to have your body worn out and old and illusions shattered…”. His writing venerated the “…macho façade of boxing, bullfighting, big-game hunting and deep-sea fishing…”, primarily outdoor activities requiring courage and “grace under pressure“. One had to stare danger in the face to feel alive.

As for Montaigne: There is no exercise that is either feeble or more strenuous…than that of conversing with one’s own thoughts. The greatest men make it their vocation, “those for whom to live is to think. He sought the contemplative life, inside his tower and surrounded by books, valuing contentment in “…a private sphere in which individuals can attempt to realize that happiness without having to contend with the interference of society..”.

Hemingway lived life on the outer edge, while Montaigne preferred the calm of the center.

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