Exploit or explore?
10 things worth sharing: doing what you know vs. discovering what you don’t, the harmony of tensions, life advice, ear candy, and more...
I know I keep saying it, but I’m blown away by how many of you have become paid subscribers. Thank you, thank you. (If the comments on Tuesday’s letter are any indication, we are going to have an absolute ball together.)
Here are 10 things I thought were worth sharing this week:
How do you know when to exploit what you know and explore what you don’t?
Heraclitus on the harmony of tensions.
So many of you responded to my love letter to date stamps, I had to collect some of your responses on the blog. (BTW, I treated myself to the Trodat Professional and I love it.)
Artist Craig Damrauer shared a little book of advice he wrote for his 18-year-old daughter. It contains wisdom for all ages: part one, part two, part three.
An interview with composer JJJJJerome Ellis. (Ellis inspired me to re-think my son’s stutter as “our stutter.” I just ordered the deluxe book and 2XLP of his latest, about stuttering, blackness, and time: The Clearing.)
“Seasons change in the mind and the body before they change in the world.... The Japanese word ‘fuubutsushi’ refers to this gap, capturing the feeling of longing for a new season at the first signs of its emergence.”
A bonkers documentary about filmmaking: Jodorowsky’s Dune. (An ultra rare copy of the Dune book Jodorowsky made with Jean Giraud is up for auction and Taika Waititi is making a movie based on The Incal comics.)
Ear candy: I love old Philly Soul, so I’m a bit obsessed with Silk Sonic’s “Smokin Out The Window.” (Their album drops today.) Something completely different: the saxophone blasts of Hidemi by Patrick Shiroishi.
RIP actor Dean Stockwell. (Terrific appreciation thread.) RIP designer Bob Gill. (I think often of what he wrote about “inevitability” or “I could’ve done that!”)
Your assignment this weekend: “Declare it art.”
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Further to "exploit or explore": I yearned to "stop playing the hits" for years, but was too scared to deviate from what I knew would *work* (and let's be clear... it had nothing to do with rolling in the dough). But I started a big project about my mother's Lewy Body dementia that somehow organically turned into working on a graphic memoir about it, and that entailed exploring a world I knew little about. At the same time—maybe *because* I was in uncharted territory?—I found myself more and more in the right brain mode I'd been yearning for. Less afraid to make "imperfect" art. More attuned to inner prompts, even if they didn't "make sense". And very invigorated in a way I'd never been with my art making!
But what I actually started out wanting to say is that it wasn't a choice, as in: "Hmm, let's see. Should I exploit or should I explore?" For me it was definitely a case of finally being ready to let go of the safety of what I knew, due to the confluence of a few different factors.
The JJJJJJerome Ellis piece is amazing. Listening to those recordings was an immersive experience. I found myself slowing down as I listened, enjoying the space. The music he built around his stutter showed the continuation of thought, of flow, of communication. But I especially enjoyed the recordings where there wasn't music. And of course, his words are brilliant.