• 2022

  • Uranium and Atomica Melancholica Idyll 

  • […] At the same time, his use of double images and the search for hidden images which characterise his Surrealist experimentation are persistent aspects of his work during the 1940s, when Dalí moved to the United States, where he lived between 1940 and 1948. The dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945 shocked Dalí, who depicted the bombings in many of his landscapes from that year, including Idilio atómico y uránico melancólico (Atomic and Uranic Melancholic Idyll, 1945). In this work, Dalí uses his characteristic figurative style inhabited by soft shapes, represented within a black image whose hollows illuminate another reality outside that which is identified by the aeroplane, explosion and bombs. Beginning in the late 1940s, Dalí’s work moves into a new mystical/nuclear phase, in which he makes a number of works that depict the disintegration of the atom in paintings with religious subject matter.

    Read More at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

  • 2020

  • Rules for writing great Science Fiction scripts

  • I think any genre succeeds from a few of these recommendations. But, a good rule of thumb, constraints are good. Typical creative constraints make you squint your eyes and see the world differently. Think of them as adding or subtracting weight resistance like at the gym. Only instead of working out your body, you’re exercising your brain! Here’s the first tweet in the thread:

    Adrian Bowyer is a retired Mechanical Engineering professor from University of Bath. A careered researcher in computational geometry, geometric modeling, and Biomimetics. According to his website, he is the founder of the RepRap Project, “humanity’s first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine.” Pretty awesome! Sounds like he has some insights we should all hear out.

    Here’s the entire thread (saved from Thread Reader here) in a bullet-list for posterity:

    • The overriding rule, never to be forgotten, is: “Coincidence is a failure of art.” – Tom Stoppard
    • It is easy to blow something up. It is hard to have a character say something original, insightful and clever. But writers are dirt cheap. The ratio of explosions to wit should be 1:10 or less.
    • If at any point a reasonably scientifically informed audience is going to say, “But… PHYSICS?!” do it another way. The same goes for not following Darwinian evolution.
    • If the action is set in the future or the past, go through the script and remove every contemporary informal idiom of speech, where “contemporary” means at least the last fifty years. Replace EVERY cliche with a newly-coined metaphor or phrase.
    • The good guys should not beat the bad guys (if they do) because the bad guys have a system with a single point of failure.
    • Human culture has much more continuity than saltation. Have characters in the future occasionally do something from the past as a hobby – making bread, riding a horse, painting in oils; that sort of thing.
    • Spend money on set dressing. They won’t have oil drums in the future, nor will ship’s containers make it to other worlds.
    • Constraints make things more, not less, interesting. In particular, if something is powerful it should be difficult to use. For example, if someone is capable of telekinesis, then, when they use it, it should cost them a few days bed rest. And so on.
    • The Universe runs on conservation laws (Lagrangian symmetries). To make them more convincing new phenomena should also exhibit conservation laws.
    • Arthur C. Clarke’s “indistinguishable from magic” law is true. But that’s not an excuse to put in any old glowing-orb nonsense when the plot needs a deus ex machina. Go back and rewrite the plot so the deus ex machina isn’t needed.
    •  Faster than light travel makes everything parochial, and therefore less interesting.
    • Bipedal life will be very rare in the universe, as it is on Earth.
    • Artificial gravity is less captivating (!) and less probable than weightlessness.
    • “Go with your gut,” will be just as terrible advice in the future as it is here and now. Plots should reflect this immutable fact.
    • Brainstorm a number of un-commented-on technical innovations and put one in the background of each scene for the audience to notice, or not.

    Give Adrian (@adrianbowyer) a follow on Twitter here.

  • 2018

  • Ikigai

  • As we humans often do, we dwell on our purpose here — here, meaning this pale blue dot of ours. When I ponder these things myself, I tend to go down the wiki-hole looking for any sort of answer. An inkling of direction. I suppose it’s a bit egocentric to through humanity’s encyclopedia.

    We don’t have a Hitchhiker’s Guide or Encyclopedia Galactica (not yet at least). Nevertheless, the web’s grain has a mystique. An allure — and I, like many of you are drawn to it. Periodically, it connects me with wonderful new things. Friends, cat GIFs, and news. Other times, it brings us terrible things. Fearful, dreadful nightmares, and trolls.

    Recently I came across a wonderful word I’ve never read or heard before — Ikigai. The term is of course, Japanese. Many define it as, a purpose in life. To quote Wikipedia’s author(s), it is “a reason for being.” This particular entry was terse and a bit obtuse, so I searched the web deeper for its history and origin.

    It turns out, Ikigai is a linguistically ripe Japanese term. The word in-of itself has several meanings. It’s also a compound of two important Japanese words. Iki (生き) and kai (甲斐)— which themselves are culturally rich and diverse in meaning.

    Iki, has interesting origins. According to The Structure of Iki the word has origins tied to the Tokugawa (or Edo) Period — which is unsurprising as the Edo Period was known for economic growth, an incredible arts and cultural renaissance. The word iki can literally mean “chic,” or “aesthetics”. The yabo, or city dwellers of Japan were purists and considered farmers or samuri to be devoid of iki — I’m not surprised that Japan wrestled with othering in their historied past. Pretty much every society on the planet has dealt with the problem, some more than others.

    Kai on the other hand is a bit more abstract. I’ve read that some consider the word to mean “ocean” or “shell” — or literally an “armored shell”. Some more imaginative compounds elude to a “beautiful structure.”

    In my search for more answers, I discovered ikigai has become the subject of a western health trend (rolls eyes). I’m quick to disregard this dumb trend. Even if Okinawans has the most living centenarians.  The culture-preying western societies (America included) indulges in re-appropriation pretty much only for the sake of health or dieting tips. It is relentless and in my opinion — stupid. Exploring cultures, is one thing. Stealing, is another.

    I bring this up, because I have a interpretation of ikigai I want to share with you.

    Growing up myself, my brothers and I were completely enamored by the cosmos. We used to debate celestial objects, origins and talk of life on other planets. We watched Cosmos, we made rockets. We dreamt of space. We were young and full of adventure — just figuring it all out you know? Enter Richard Feynman. In college, I used to listen to his lectures for fun and on those late nights (the You’veTube heydays), pondering my place in the universe — Feynman calmed me down, reminding me I’m not at the center of the universe. This quantum soup we’re all swimming in… we’re just barely holding on here on Earth.

    He gave such great lectures, and was just filled with joy to talk about the mysteries of nature. To me, Feynman completely personifies the definition of ikigai so wonderfully. He spoke with such an innate understanding of his purpose here (and the purpose of physics for that matter). Perhaps he was just a grateful dude. But, I know I’m not the only one that feels that way about him