To be sane in a world of madmen is itself a kind of madness

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Switzerland/France, 1712-17

Last week, I went to the alumni day of my Master’s programme. Alumni days and school reunions, wisdom teaches, are always risky business. To put it blatantly, there is always a chance that you actually never liked turn out to be more successful than you are. Fortunately, the annoying people didn’t show up, and the content of the day was surprisingly good. This included a lecture where the professor quoted almost a dozen of philosophers. My favourite one was this one by Rousseau. Indeed, sometimes it is better to be mad and to go with the stream than to keep sanity and be isolated.

Yesterday, I went to see a documentary about a very peculiar story in European politics. Back in 2002, nobody would believe that Herman van Rompuy would be appointed President of the European Council seven years later.

And yet, it happened. The dull Belgian prime minister, a haiku poet with the ‘appearance of a low grade bank clerk‘, turned out to be the only candidate without any controversy. The Danish documentary, full of irony, tells a story of fading dreams, fights amongst friends and earthy compromises. Recommended!

Trailer

I think this blog can use some more visuals – it’s definitely an ambition of mine – and I am a huge fan of street art. So, this is a great place to share all the wonderful street art images that are around, both in our streets and on the Internet.

Street Art Utopia is one of my favourite websites. Their blog and their Facebook page are a daily source of inspiration. I also found these images by the TSF Crew street art collective through them.

Before

After

I have been looking forward to posting this Tuesday TED Talk for an entire week. Today, I would like to share two TED talks about animals – and how similar they are with human beings.

The first one is about ‘monkeynomics’. People have built complex economic systems. Human beings often display irrational behaviour. To summarise it, human beings have a ‘loss bias’, which means they may take (excessive) risks in order to avoid a loss. Laurie Santos researches whether monkey have the same kind of economically irrational behaviour.

But there is more animals have in common with human beings: some animals can cooperate and have empathy with each other, as Frans de Waal shows.

Liketivism

In the old days, it was clear what activism was: occupying the street to end nuclear weapons, to achieve equality for men and women, whites and blacks, to prevent a growing gap between rich and poor.

Nowadays, the advent of the Internet has changed everything. Activism has mutated to hacktivism (hacking websites of corporations or governments you don’t agree with), or the similar notions of ‘clicktivism’ and ‘liketivism’.

Liketivism is a very cynical practice. In our contemporary society, where every communication is an investment in future attention, we like causes not because we truly care, but to give the impression we do. Tens of millions of people have seen the Kony 2012 video, many have shared it through social media. But how many have actually changed their behaviour and tried to do something for child soldiers? Of course, everything starts with awareness. But isn’t it morally even more reprehensible to be aware and to do nothing, rather than not knowing anything at all? Isn’t it necessary to go beyond the easy presumption that the more likes NGOs have on their Facebook pages, the better the world is?

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.

Isaac Asimov, Russia/United States, 1920-1992

One of things WordPress uses to motivate people to maintain their blogs, is to formulate goals: the first goal is to have five posts, the second objective is to have ten. The count is kept via a field that appears once you have published a new post. They often include a quote in relation to writing.

The other day, it was the one above by Isaac Asimov. Writing naturally is a talent I have always admired. I wished to be a natural writer, for whom the words stream straight from the head to the fingers, onto the paper. Unfortunately, I have to do way more effort. But trying to keep my discipine, for myself or for the posts of wordpress helps. And maybe one day, I will have learnt to naturally think through my fingers.

I like new ideas. The moment you come up with something new is absolutely amazing.

It can be anything: a witty joke, a topic for an article, the meaning of a certain word, the planning of your day, a solution you’ve been facing for a while. Thinking, the moment of discovery, is a great sensation.

I have two favourite places to think. The shower is definitely my number one. With the warm water running, and myself waking up for a new day, I somehow feel stimulated to reflect on small daily issues. The other one is my bike. Here it is probably the movement, the energy I generate, that simultaneously moves my legs and my brain.