All Great Ideas Start with an Empty Brain, with Artist Maira Kalman

Because our state of existence is "limited time only," it's vital to seek out meaningful activities to make the most of what little time we have. That's why it's important to place your brain's focus on determining what's meaningful to you.

Maira Kalman: I can’t believe that we are all alive and we all know that we’re going to die and yet we go on doing what we’re doing in the, what might seem to be a completely meaningless exercise, this living thing. So it affects me because I am understanding that I’m in a state of temporary — it’s temporary. So what do you do in this temporary time? You try to do what’s really meaningful to you. You’re not always successful, of course, because sometimes you don’t know what’s really meaningful and it’s something that unfolds. And it’s something that changes all the time anyway, by the way, with experience and with age. So, you know, we’re all screwed. We really are. I always knew that I wanted to do something in this world that would create a job for me, that was a narrative of my life. And I thought it would be in writing, but then I became quite disenchanted with my writing and I thought wouldn’t it be great and easier to draw. So I started to draw and then it took me some years to realize that I could draw and paint and that was called books. And then, you know, the thing about finding your voice is that it should change. It should keep changing and you should keep finding a new voice. Not something that’s completely alien, but something that makes you feel as if you’re exploring a different part of yourself. So I’m still looking.

I take a lot of walks and that gives me a great sense of joy and a great sense of cleansing my brain and having an empty brain, which I talk about a lot as being a terrific thing to have. In the sense the state of not knowing and the state of just absorbing information, so I walk and that gives me a million ideas and a million visuals also and I’m photographing and I’m sketching. And I think also I read a great deal and that inspires me and I look at art. I go to museums. So between looking at trees and looking at art and looking at people and what they’re wearing and looking at dogs and chairs and buildings — well I could go on, but looking is a good thing to do. The only rule, if you’re going to follow a rule in my life — how it’s worked for my life — is that follow your instinct. I don’t think there’s anything else that I could say that means anything because I don’t think I’ve learned anything other than follow your instinct and persevere, which I think is a good thing for anybody. So persevere and don’t give up. If you don’t want to give up, don’t give up.

Because our state of existence is "limited time only," it's vital to seek out meaningful activities to make the most of what little time we have. That's why it's important to place your brain's focus on determining what's meaningful to you, says artist Maira Kalman. Most of all, it's a good idea to develop protocols for thinking. This way, your brain is ready to pursue the truths you seek.

Kalman's latest release is a new book titled Beloved Dog


.

‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

Surprising Science
  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Keep reading Show less

Lair of giant predator worms from 20 million years ago found

Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.

Credit: Jenny – Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
  • The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
  • The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
Keep reading Show less

What is the ‘self’? The 3 layers of your identity.

Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.

Videos
  • Who am I? It's a question that humans have grappled with since the dawn of time, and most of us are no closer to an answer.
  • Trying to pin down what makes you you depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. Some argue that the self is an illusion, while others believe that finding one's "true self" is about sincerity and authenticity.
  • In this video, author Gish Jen, Harvard professor Michael Puett, psychotherapist Mark Epstein, and neuroscientist Sam Harris discuss three layers of the self, looking through the lens of culture, philosophy, and neuroscience.
Keep reading Show less

Massive 'Darth Vader' isopod found lurking in the Indian Ocean

The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.

SJADE 2018
Surprising Science
  • A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
  • It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
  • The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
Keep reading Show less

Discovery of two giant radio galaxies hints at more to come

The newly discovered galaxies are 62x bigger than the Milky Way.

I. Heywood, University of Oxford / Rhodes University / South African Radio Astronomy Observatory / CC BY 4.0.
Surprising Science
  • Two recently discovered radio galaxies are among the largest objects in the cosmos.
  • The discovery implies that radio galaxies are more common than previously thought.
  • The discovery was made while creating a radio map of the sky with a small part of a new radio array.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast