#064 Cabin Pressure
Common Discourse is a project designed to help others (and ourselves) think through creativity, focus, and intentional work—from Alex Tan & Alice Otieno.
Every Tuesday we share words from a few ideas, a quote from somebody else, and links worth sharing. On Fridays we invite a guest to share images from their camera roll and a sound that resonates with them. Words from the journal will come at least twice a month.
Hi! Happy Tuesday.
A couple months ago, Alice wrote about how we’re contemplating on moving forward in this project. One thing we’ve realized is how positively readers are responding to long-form writing in the journal section that we put before the weekly briefing. Ramblings on what it’s like making friends in LA and the benefits of being brave have really resonated, which is amazing to see. On the other hand, we’re also not at the stage where we can put that type of thoughtful writing out every single week. It is quite difficult and always takes more time than I initially account for.
For the sake of momentum and consistency, we’re planning to move forward with Weekly Briefings every Tuesday, limiting them to just a few ideas, a quote from somebody else, and links worth sharing. We’ll also continue to do Sights & Sounds every Friday as that’s been a fun visual break and look under the hood of some people that inspire us.
Long-form writing will be included in a new type of post called The Journal, which we’ll put out at least twice a month on whatever day feels like a good fit for us.
Common Discourse is 100% free and keeps growing thanks to the people who read, share, and interact with it. We’re so thankful you spend a few moments out of your week to engage with the things we find ourselves chewing on.
This is a long way of us saying thank you. Let us know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions around this new format. And if you could, take a moment to share Common Discourse with 1 person you think might find this project useful to them so we can keep doing what we do.
Back to this week…
I’m back in Los Angeles after 4 weeks of travel. From LA to NYC to Paris to Florence to Sicily to Lisbon back to NYC, and now finally home.
It feels good to slip back into routine. To put my suitcase back in the closet for the time being. To see friends. To get back on the tennis court. To drink water. To buy groceries. To look at Mackenzie and feel completely at peace knowing that I’ll spend the rest of my life with her. To lose track of time at the dinner table. To play pool every week at Crawfords. To go on walks in the morning in our neighborhood. To make espresso on the Bialetti at home. To watch dust float through a beam of light. To call my dad on the way back from the office. To stand outside for 5 minutes and feel the sun touch my skin. To sit down and continue to write this growing project.
At some point the things I chose to do became the things I needed to do.
A few ideas
I. THE SHIFT
The visual above, created by Jason Allen, recently won the Colorado State Fair’s annual art competition.
The competition typically awards pieces in traditional categories such as painting, quilting, and sculpture. But this year, Allen’s creation using the AI software, Midjourney, took home the cake.
Of course people are upset, claiming “We’re watching the death of artistry unfold right before our own eyes—if creative jobs aren’t safe from machines, then even highly-skilled jobs are in danger of becoming obsolete. What will we have then?”
As if painters never bashed on sculpture. As if those in Hollywood were never critical of television. Or even as if traditional photographers have always welcomed high quality cameras in everyone’s pocket.
And as the list goes, artists now hate AI.
It’s a better use of energy to remain curious and open to new ways of doing.
Ursula le Guin says “What goes too long unchanged destroys itself. The forest is forever because it dies and dies and so lives.”
The greater challenge is not in finding initial success, but rather being brave enough to continue to change and innovate once you’ve assumed the position of comfortability.
III. WHEN LESS IS MORE
Less cannot be more when we don’t know what more is.
What are the implications of more? What does more say about this? What will more change this into?
There’s a difference between conscious decision making and ruling out something we have yet to know.
A quote from somebody else
"The surfer waits for the big wave because he values the challenge it presents. He values the obstacles the wave puts between him and his goal of riding the wave to the beach. Why? Because it is those very obstacles, the size and churning power of the wave, which draw from the surfer his greatest effort. It is only against the big waves that he is required to use all his skill, all his courage and concentration to overcome; only then can he realize the true limits of his capacities. At that point he often attains his peak. In other words, the more challenging the obstacle he faces, the greater the opportunity for the surfer to discover and extend his true potential. The potential may have always been within him, but until it is manifested in action, it remains a secret hidden from himself. The obstacles are a very necessary ingredient to this process of self-discovery. Note that the surfer in this example is not out to prove himself; he is not out to show himself or the world how great he is, but is simply involved in the exploration of his latent capacities. He directly and intimately experiences his own resources and thereby increases his self-knowledge.”
— W. Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis
Links worth sharing
😵💫 149 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena + Explanations (where possible), shows us what we can learn about optical illusions and what they reveal about our individual ways of percieving things.
🏃♂️ No Longer Running From My Emotions, NYT
🤔 Should I Work For Free? is a tool by Jessica Hische that helps you identify whether or not you should take on a project. A similar iteration of this by Noah Baker has also been circulating around the internet the last couple weeks.
🧩 Why Adobe acquiring Figma is not as interesting as every twitter thinkboi says it is, Why Is This Interesting?
📱 Websites Are Just Places to Talk about TikTok, Garbage Day
Thanks for consuming!
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🗂 Here is every Common Discourse weekly briefing to date.
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🗣️ This project is more fun when there is dialogue amongst those who are reading. Use the comment feature at the bottom of this article to start a conversation, we’ll use your ideas for future briefings and food for thought.