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[Temple] Grandin likes the idea that there are two kinds of visual thinkers, because it helps make sense of differences between like-minded people. It takes visual skill to engineer a machine and to repair it; the engineer and the mechanic are both visual thinkers, and yet they differ. In Grandin’s account, an engineer is likely to be a spatial visualizer who can picture, in the abstract, how all the parts of the engine will work, while the mechanic is likely to be an object visualizer, who can at a glance understand whether a ding on an engine cylinder is functionally consequential or just cosmetic. Artists and artisans, Grandin suggests, tend to be object visualizers: they can picture exactly how this painting should look, how this finial should flow, how this incision should be sewn up. Scientists, mathematicians, and electrical engineers tend to be spatial visualizers: they can imagine, in general, how gears will mesh and molecules will interact. Grandin describes an exercise, conducted by the Marine Corps, in which engineers and scientists with advanced degrees were pitted against radio repairmen and truck mechanics in performing technical tasks under pressure, such as “making a rudimentary vehicle out of a pile of junk.” The engineers, with their abstract visual minds, tended to “overthink” in this highly practical scenario; they lost to the mechanics, who, in Grandin’s telling, were likely to be “object visualizers whose abilities to see it, build it, and repair it were fused.”

Joshua Rothman, “How Should We Think about Our Different Styles of Thinking?”

The knowledge gained by listening frequently moves contrary to the dictates of the dominant culture, drawing more on a form of knowing that is often associated with indigenous and genderqueer people. For most people, proper listening involves a humbling of the ego and often an acceptance of what is considered “woo woo” or “witchy” to patriarchal white supremacy. Indeed, learning to listen may even involve leaning into divination practices like astrology, the Tarot, or the I Ching, or similar spiritual or religious rituals. It may mean developing a greater relationship to land, animals, and plants. Learning to [listen] will likely be supported by journaling, dreamwork, active imagination, meditation, or simply time alone. It often requires paring back on external noise: socializing less, disengaging from technology, sleeping more, and healing from trauma and addictions that cloud one’s consciousness and alter the ability to hear or express one’s needs. Whatever one’s method, I think of this practice as putting up antennae to gather information on one’s life that wouldn’t have been easily heard before.

Satya Doyle Byock, Quarterlife: The Search for Self in Early Adulthood

Each of Pflaumen’s guests had been selected, as it were, for his allegorical possibilities, and every dinner was presented as a morality play in which art and science, wealth and poverty, business and literature, sex and scholarship, vice and virtue, Judaism and Christianity, Stalinism and Trotskyism, all the antipodes of life, were personified and yet abstract. Tonight there was John Peterson, who stood for criticism and also for official Communism. There was Jim Berolzheimer, a bright young man in one of the great banking houses, who represented capitalism, and his wife who painted pictures and was going to have a baby, and was therefore both art and motherhood. There was Henry Slater, the publisher, very flirtatious, with a shock of prematurely white hair, who was sex, and his wife, an ash-blond woman with a straight bang, who kept a stable full of horses and was sport. There was a woman psychoanalyst who got herself up in a Medici gown and used a cigarette holder. There was a pretty English girl named Leslie who worked on Time. There was the young Jew, Martin Erdman, who did not drink. There was Pflaumen himself, who stood for trade marks and good living, and you, who stood for literature and the Fourth International. After dinner there might be others: a biologist and his wife, a matronly young woman who wore her hair in a coronet around her head and was active in the League of Women Shoppers, a Wall Street lawyer, a wine dealer, a statistician.

And here was the striking effect produced by Pflaumen’s dinners: you truly felt yourself turning into an abstraction of your beliefs and your circumstances. Contradictions you had known in yourself melted away; challenged by its opposite, your personality hardened into something unequivocal and defiant—your banners were flying. All the guests felt this. If you asserted your Trotskyism, your poverty, your sexual freedom, the expectant mother radiated her pregnancy, the banker basked in his reactionary convictions, and John Peterson forgot about Montaigne and grew pale as an El Greco saint in his defense of Spanish democracy. Everybody, for the moment, knew exactly who he was. Pflaumen had given you all your identity cards, just as a mother will assign personalities to each of her brood of children: Jack is hard-working and steady, Billy is a flash-in-the-pan, never can finish anything he starts. Mary is dreamy, Helen is practical. While it lasted, the feeling was delightful; and at the dinner table everyone was heady with a peculiar, almost lawless excitement, like dancers at a costume ball.

Mary McCarthy, “The Genial Host”, in Novels and Stories 1942–1963, edited by Thomas Mallon

What [Jonah] Hill came to realize while making “Stutz” […] is that his true subject isn’t his therapist or the tools he has learned. The real action is found in the sui generis nature of the patient-therapist relationship itself—one that is vulnerable, endearing and genuinely moving to watch. Those of us doing the watching are mere viewers engaged in a risk-free parasocial relationship, connecting to someone else’s connection.

Zachary Siegel, “Is It Toxic to Tell Everyone to Get Therapy?”

At one level the point is simple. We don’t expect systems of representation to replace one another. They help each other out; they interest themselves in what one system can do that the other can’t, or can do only limpingly; they go on thinking about what it is in the human condition that calls up—calls on—such a diversity of languages. A performance of a painting is no doubt aware that in the end it is nothing but words on a page, and will be judged as such; but judged (at any rate, this is how I respond to Williams on Bruegel) by some new kind of arrest or movement in the words, brought on by a reaching out—an exposure—to what in the world can’t be said. New phrasing, a new tempo, new kinds of rubato. A performance of a painting ought also to signal ar every point […] that it’s a rendering of something that is being looked back at, time after time as the performance continues, and being found incomprehensible. […]

Go back to the idea that a poem about a painting is, at its best, something like a performance. The analogy is worth proposing, at least as counter to the ekphrasis line of thought, but of course it breaks down. Music is (mostly) composed to be performed, pictures are (mostly) not. A musical performance is of the notes on the page, maybe later traditions of rendering and so on. A poetic performance is not of notes at all, but of an existing complete (anti-)text—a performance that has already taken place, and whose sound is inaudible. Nonetheless poems about paintings regularly seem to want the kind of closeness—the obedience, the accuracy, the technicality—of great non-virtuoso interpretations. But interpreting what is the question.

T.J. Clark, “What Is the Burglar After?”

[P]eople just aren’t meant to talk to one another this much. They shouldn’t have that much to say, they shouldn’t expect to receive such a large audience for that expression, and they shouldn’t suppose a right to comment or rejoinder for every thought or notion either. From being asked to review every product you buy to believing that every tweet or Instagram image warrants likes or comments or follows, social media produced a positively unhinged, sociopathic rendition of human sociality. That’s no surprise, I guess, given that the model was forged in the fires of Big Tech companies such as Facebook, where sociopathy is a design philosophy.

Ian Bogost, “The Age of Social Media Is Ending”

Housework and a book review or two are not effective substitutes for sixteen hours of classes a week.

Mary McCarthy, letter to Frani Blough, in Mary McCarthy, Novels and Stories 1942–1963, edited by Thomas Mallon

Reading was such a wonderful thing that to have made a life around the experience was almost criminal it was so fortunate.

Elizabeth Hardwick, in Maggie Doherty, “Elizabeth Hardwick’s Master Class on Literature and Life”

Imagine an Andrea [Dworkin] who had, somehow, set it all aside, all the violence and assaults on her dignity: an Andrea who had simply got on, as Dworkin had planned to do as a young girl, with the business of writing poetry, of making something beautiful. This is an Andrea, I think we can say, who would have failed to rise to her moment. But she would have also been, in some ways, freer.

Amia Srinivasan, “Andrea Dworkin’s Conviction”

I think training is mis-pitched: it should be called “teaching.” It is not about tricks; it is about a worldview. We encourage—even expect—some kind of teaching of children, and for a good reason: so that they can understand the world into which they have been born and the civilization in which they are going to be a participant. So, too, for dogs: teaching should be about what they need to know to live in the world of humans, and what they need to learn in order to more fully enjoy life. The behaviors taught today are a mash-up of those important for safety, important for the sanity of the human, totally unimportant for any reason, possibly offensive, and actually fun for dog and person. What I want to teach Quid, most of all, is how to be a dog in this family in this place in this time—while still letting her be her unruly self. Maybe that last part is something I have to learn.

Alexandra Horowitz, The Year of the Puppy: How Dogs Become Themselves

              Not the bell, I said—one of us did;
Not the bell, but the smaller sounds, barely noticeable,
trapped inside it. It seemed the kind of thing I might say
to remind myself, when I’ve forgotten again, what I want
to believe, even now, matters most—precision; though it’s hard,
these days, to know for sure what’s true. Isn’t every season,
no matter what we call it, shadow season? Didn’t timothy
use to mean a meadow—a common name, back then at least,

              for the sweetest grass? I keep making the same avoidable
few mistakes that I’ve always made, and then regretting them,
and then regretting them less. Think of all the suffering
happening everywhere, all the time, for nothing.
What if memory’s just the dead, flourishing differently
              from how they flourished alive?

Carl Phillips, “Stop Shaking”