Sustainable Pace

September 22nd, 2014

Zen and the Art of Consciousness

You may have read my review of Susan Blackmore's book "Consciousness - a very short introduction". As I'm keen on getting a better idea about the purpose of meditation, I was delighted she had written a book in which she describes her approach to understanding consciousness through meditation. Although Susan Blackmore is not a Buddhist, she has many years of Zen meditation practice. She discusses her meditations on ten Zen koans related to consciousness, and how her insights have developed over the years: Am I conscious now? What was I conscious of a moment ago? Who is asking the question? Where is this? How does thought arise? There is no time. What is memory? When are you? Are…

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September 3rd, 2014

A Rembrandt in your living-room

When you find yourself strolling along the Amstel river in Amsterdam, make sure to peek through the windows of the rather unremarkable building at Amstel 218: They have an original Rembrandt painting in their living-room. It is the Portrait of Jan Six, one the most remarkable paintings of the 17th century. What is even more remarkable is, that both painting and building still belong to the Six family, who even live in this house. Maybe Jan Six X just passed you on his folding bike. Jan Six I was a lawyer and came from a wealthy merchant family. He had always been a great admirer of art. Apparently he was a friend of Rembrandt's, and often helped him with money issues. But the portrait is…

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August 31st, 2014

Art is Therapy

When you go to a museum, they have a very clear idea about how art should be experienced: You follow a pre-defined route through several anti-septic rooms, and take a short glimpse on far too many exhibits, and move on quickly. Everything is labeled meticulously with the artist name and the creation date. You are currently being monitored. "Do not sit down here! Do not touch! Drinking is not allowed! No photographs!" When I was at the Rijksmuseum last Thursday, I saw a lot of exhausted people, who seemed to visit the museum just to check an item on their to-do-list (The Rijksmuseum is number four on the list of sites in Amsterdam, according to TripAdvisor). About a million people visit each…

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August 24th, 2014

Consciousness - A very short introduction

Having been inspired by the book "The Meme Machine" in the past, I was happy to find out its author Susan Blackmore had also written a book on consciousness, a subject I wanted to learn more about. When you think about it, it's problematic to define what consciousness is, as consciousness itself seems inherent to the process of understanding it. But the book showcases a large variety of takes on the subject while still being opinionated, and is understandable for amateurs like myself. A criteria that stands out most is subjectivity, something like "How do things seem to me", opposed to how they are objectively (if there even is a thing as objectivity). Related to subjectivity, Susan…

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August 18th, 2014

Organize for Complexity

The first time I came along the distinction between "complex" and "complicated" was in Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0: The difference is that the outcome of complicated systems is still predictable, while that of complex systems is not. In our age of connectedness and rapid change we have to deal with complex systems more often than maybe a hundred years ago, when most of today's management ideas were conceived. There is nothing wrong with these management ideas, but they were created to target complicated systems exclusively, which are now mostly obsolete. This is where Niels Pflaeging and his new book "Organize for Complexity" enter: The author proposes a whole new approach to management.…

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