In the News 24.03.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Friday 24th March, 2017
Survival of the Friendliest
Violence has been the sire of all the world’s values,” wrote poet Robinson Jeffers in 1940. “What but the wolf’s tooth whittled so fine the fleet limbs of the antelope? What but fear winged the birds, and hunger jeweled with such eyes the great goshawk’s head?”
We’ve taken these metaphors for evolution to heart, reading them to mean that life is a race to kill or be killed. “Darwinian” stands in for “cutthroat,” “survival of the fittest” signifies survival of the ruthless. We see selective pressures that hone each organism for success and drive genetic innovation as the natural order of things.
But we know now that that picture is incomplete. Evolutionary progress can be propelled both by the competitive struggle to adapt to an environment, and by the relaxation of selective forces. When natural selection on an organism is relaxed, the creative powers of mutation can be unshackled and evolution accelerated. The relief of an easier life can inspire new biological forms just as powerfully as the threat of death.
One of the best ways to relax selective forces is to work together, something that mathematical biologist Martin Nowak has called the “snuggle for survival.” New research has only deepened and broadened the importance of cooperation and lifting of selective pressures. It’s a big, snuggly world out there.
Read the rest of this article at Nautilus
In Defence of Hierarchy
The modern West has placed a high premium on the value of equality. Equal rights are enshrined in law while old hierarchies of nobility and social class have been challenged, if not completely dismantled. Few would doubt that global society is all the better for these changes. But hierarchies have not disappeared. Society is still stratified according to wealth and status in myriad ways.
On the other hand, the idea of a purely egalitarian world in which there are no hierarchies at all would appear to be both unrealistic and unattractive. Nobody, on reflection, would want to eliminate all hierarchies, for we all benefit from the recognition that some people are more qualified than others to perform certain roles in society. We prefer to be treated by senior surgeons not medical students, get financial advice from professionals not interns. Good and permissible hierarchies are everywhere around us.
Yet hierarchy is an unfashionable thing to defend or to praise. British government ministers denounce experts as out of tune with popular feeling; both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders built platforms on attacking Washington elites; economists are blamed for not predicting the 2008 crash; and even the best established practice of medical experts, such as childhood vaccinations, are treated with resistance and disbelief. We live in a time when no distinction is drawn between justified and useful hierarchies on the one hand, and self-interested, exploitative elites on the other.
Read the rest of this article at aeon
Werner Herzog: The Art of Being a Death-Defying, Gonzo Filmmaking Genius
Not far from the big round dome atop the Griffith Observatory, leaning on a railing that overlooks the Greater Los Angeles sinkhole, the German director Werner Herzog, 74, removes a tissue from his pocket and dabs at his eyes. His eyes are leaking. They’ve been leaking for the past hour or so. The tear fluid builds up in the corner of one of his blue eyes, then starts to cascade down his cheeks, halted only when he dab, dab, dabs.
He does not explain this. In fact, him being Herzog, he would never explain this, if only because it’s not in his nature to even think about something so trivial and beside the point. Only one thing matters to him: his movies. He’s got two new feature films coming out: Salt and Fire, an ecological thriller, and Queen of the Desert, a biopic about the British explorer Gertrude Bell. Plus, just yesterday, he returned from Austria, where he opened a Herzog retrospective that includes everything he’s ever done, from his early career-establishers (1972’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God and 1982’s Fitzcarraldo) to his more recent documentaries (2016’s Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, about the possible existential consequences of an Internet-driven world), along the way revealing much about what interests and fascinates him – in brief, everything. He’s made movies about nomads, auctioneers, televangelists, monks, hot-air balloonists, ski-jumping woodcarvers, volcanic eruptions, cave paintings, grizzly-loving (and eventually grizzly-eaten) loner outdoorsmen, desolate Antarctic snowscapes – the list does not end. He’s been called “a genius,” “a madman,” “a visionary,” “the last great hallucinator in cinema” – and that list does not end either.
Read the rest of this article at RollingStone
Michael Stipe on Having Multiple Creative Lives
Have you always had an art making practice that was outside of doing music?
I took pictures before I made music. I was 15 when I became aware of CBGBs and the whole punk scene happening in New York, and then Patti Smith’s Horses came out. So that for me was a huge turning point in my life. Just prior to that my father had loaned me his Nikon and I would shoot black and white photos. I took a course in photography when I was 13 or 14 years-old and that just became something I always did. I’ve taken pictures my whole life. It was always a kind of diaristic thing. I shot the things that I saw that were interesting to me, but it eventually became more and more surreal as my life became more and more incredible. I had these really amazing experiences and relationships, and I’d find myself in these very odd places. I just happened to have taken pictures the whole time.
You must have an incredible archive of images.
I do. I don’t know how great a lot of them are, or if I’d think of them in the same way I think of most photography. Most of them might simply qualify as documentation, snapshots. But within that archive there are actual “photographs”—some of them are mistakes, some of them are intentional.
One of the things I’m working on now, with Jonathan Berger, is a book that will come out later this year. It’s the first in a series of books I’m releasing. This one focuses on my timeline, on the work I’ve done all along, all through the band and back to my early 20s. It’s all photo based, but some of it’s just documentation of things I’m obsessed with and that I focus on to make new pieces from. There are also certain things I’ll take, recontextualize, and present as something completely different. A good example of that would be the personal archive of Roy Cohn which I bought and am currently using for a new piece. There are some parts from that that are going to be in this book. Jonathan and I are also working on a project for the High Line, which will involve composing some pieces of music to be played by this bell tower that will be constructed at the northern end. He and I have several projects going simultaneously.
Read the rest of this article at The Creative Independent
The Magic In The Warehouse
Costco became a phenomenon by doing things its own way. But with Amazon ever more powerful, millennial shoppers burgeoning, and a new generation of leaders awaiting its turn, can the company preserve its edge?
Read the rest of this article at Fortune