I’m on the edge of my 40th birthday. It brings a sharp focus on the time spent and questions about how best to use what’s left. I’m working on a number of new paintings that reflect on some new direction I’ve taken in recent years in building healthy habits and refining the way in which I use my time. The clock ticks a little louder these days. I’ve learned that without context even the greatest information is often useless. At this late stage in my life I’m learning that the things you learn are most valuable in their application not in their accumulation or storage.
I completed the first “Brain in a jar” painting earlier this month. For years I’ve been asking people, and myself, “What are you doing with your mind?” Seems an appropriate question for us all. Are you giving it the proper chemical bath?How are you treating it or letting it treat you? Does it tell you who you are or the other way around? Identity is so very slippery. And then there are all the stories. Between a person and their brain there are all kinds of narratives interfering with our ability to see the real world. The very structure of stories is deceptive to what we might expect of real life. Terrible fears of being wrong or looking stupid guide us into hours and then life long habits of resignation to an uninvolved life. Addictions and self abuses to tell us it doesn’t really matter, none of it really matters. Just ring the pleasure bell again and all the other stuff will eventually fade away. I’m reminded of Vonnegut’s musings in “Galapagos” about the strange problems that arise from having such a large brain. My curiosity is driven by what a bizarre thing we are and how we have arisen from such a world and what future we are laying ahead of us.
The comparison of our minds/brains to computers is a tired one for sure but it seems the implications of such an idea are severely neglected. For example, what kind of program(ming) might bring about the life we want? What are the optimal conditions for this computer to work properly? How might a properly working computer running and building good programs change how we use our time? As far as a brain is like a computer these seem like good questions to follow up on. With the world perched on the edge of an AI revolution these are just a few questions that really need our attention. What are we going to tell our invented gods that we want if we don’t know ourselves. Or in the immediate, how do you allocate your time when you don’t know what you want?
I get a better picture of what I want with every passing year….. and less time to live it with every passing year. I want a healthy mind with which to enjoy the puzzles of existence. I want to refine my compassion and to nurture rich and meaningful relationships. I want to build useful thinking tools and understand when to use them and for what. I want to make compelling art work that shares all of this and how if feels and why it is important.
This whole being a human thing is so strange. I wish you and your brain meat all the best in this uncertain world. I hope you guys will take care of each other.