Curate To Create

If you are like me, hoarding content for future use, it can give off a false sense of knowledge. In my experience, the best way to understand something is to create or produce my content in my style and then share it with the world. I’ve accomplished this throughout the years here and through my photography. I’m still working up the nerve to share my creative writing, however.

To close the loop from curator to creator I go from collecting my notes, snippets from the web and personal thoughts to connecting ideas and application of these ideas. Only then do I find I am ready to create and share.

The Anti-Library

The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others — a very small minority — who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

As a reader, I can tell you that I have been back and forth between paper and digital books. I’ve been kicking myself lately for selling or donating 85% of my library in the past.

It gives me joy to see physical books on the shelf again knowing that I have read a few or have something to look forward to.

Taking the idea of an anti-library further, it dawned on me that I am also curating a digital library of knowledge with links to web articles, books using PDF or everything I have saved as “read-it-later.”

As if I didn’t have enough to read, I recently subscribed to Apple News that includes newspaper and magazines.

The idea that the knowledge that comes from this anti-library is always available and readily accessible in both digital and analog form is beneficial and comforting. The fact that this library is an extension of my research tools is an added bonus.

Siddartha

One of the best books that I have read recently is Siddartha by Hermann Hesse of how the title character pursues a spiritual quest and search for understanding.

Siddartha was young, wise and loved by everyone in his village, but he and his friend leave the village searching for answers by living a spiritual life. However, the time spent with a group of fellow truth seekers, he realizes that he will not find what he is looking for.

Not long after leaving both his village and these seekers, they come to meet the Buddha and has a brief conversation with him. But after a time, realizes that the Buddha himself offers a message of truth, but only the truth as he sees it. As long as others accept it, that is enough for Buddha, but not so for Siddartha. His companion decides to stay and learn from the Buddha, and so he travels alone.

After a time, he discovers a rich woman named Kamala who shows him the ways of love and pleasure for the first time because that was her role in her life. Siddartha learned more than he expected and wanted to offer her gifts but had no money. He then went into the city and found a shop owner who was kind enough to give him a job. He prospered at this job and made even more money than all the other shop owners.

Having tasted the benefits of spiritual wisdom, love and money he wondered what else was left? Soon, he began to gamble and drink for the first time. He would win at every game he tried and gambled even larger amounts and could soon buy the whole village. After betting, drinking and whoring he began to lose and lose big. He lost so much that he was tired of his wealth and possessions and gave them all away only to go back to Kamala and say goodbye.

The book ends when his long-lost friend returns and asks for wisdom. Siddartha replies that for every true statement there is an opposite one that is also true. That language and time lead people to stick with me belief that does not account for the full extent of truth.

To summarize the lessons learned in Siddartha;

Follow Your Path

Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment

Riches Will Not Make You Happy

Every true statement we accept, we must accept an opposite statement that can also be true.

This book offers more lessons that we can apply and I rate this as highly as I did the Alchemist or the retelling of King Solomon of Israel.

Khmer Empire Hypothesis

Since my research on the Khmer empire of Cambodia seems to be in a bit of a lull right now and have been unable to articulate it into text properly, I want to go ahead and put my hypothesis out in public. I have yet to read any archeologist’s research or conjecture about this and I think it could be enlightening for the ancient history of this empire.

High up in the Kulen Hills, northeast of the Angkor province there is a river flowing through it with a unique archeological feature called the Valley of the 1000 Lingas. The stream bed has carvings representing Hindu deities along with thousands of phallic-shaped stones. Along with the are a few yonis, representing females and wombs.

The thinking here is this valley is an underwater temple and that the water flowing through this temple would bless or fertilize the fascinating water features of the Angkor temple complex below. The water would also flow into the lake called Tonle Sap and the surrounding rice fields. Here, the Khmer civilization itself would thrive and grow into an empire of at least one million around Angkor Was alone.

My theory is that the original kingdom started in these hills and then migrated down into the plains below. The Angkor Was temple site was built around this idea of a blessed kingdom.

A yoni, representing a womb with eggs and a birth canal bears an amazing resemblance to the Angkor Was temple site itself.


The five tower spires representing the five eggs inside a yoni above Angkor Wat

It is a hypothesis to be sure and I would love to prove it on-site in the near future.

A Different Approach

“Good Will Hunting” movie fans will remember the bar scene where the campus know-it-all is confronted about his knowledge of the evolution of the market economy in Massachusetts’s southern colonies. Though the guy speaks confidently, Will reminds him he’s quoting passages from a book.

“You got that from Vickers ‘Work in Essex County,’ page 98, right? Yeah, I read that too. Were you gonna plagiarize the whole thing for us? [Do you have any thoughts of your own on this matter?]”

If you’re reading what everyone else is reading or working on an unoriginal idea to bring up in conversation or even in the office, who would you prefer to work with? Someone who can regurgitate back to you the work that has been done before or somebody who brings a novel approach to research and development?

In my experience, the person who spends their time reading the same works as others or practices the same method of working is replaceable in a conversation. I’d rather talk to someone with a unique perspective.

My approach is different. I follow my curiosity unconditionally and read topics of my interest, no one else’s.

As a suggestion, try to read or speak or act differently so you can have more to contribute.

How I Learn and Think

Way back when I was in school and university, I had to read quite a bit of material prescribed by teachers and professors.

Today, I still read many books and white papers but these are determined solely by my curiosity or even fun. I am permitted to be autodidactic and read about what I think is interesting.

When I allow myself to learn unconditionally, I allow myself certain behaviors such as:

There has to be a benefit either in the immediate or in the near future. I think of it as a knowledge repository. I don’t know when I will use it, but it will be there when I need it.

It does not have to stand alone, but it could be a piece of the puzzle that helps work out something in my comprehension of the topic.

My curiosity overrules obligation. Therefore I am more interested and can appreciate it.

If I learn what feels obligated (everyone else is reading, you should too, Chris) then that means I have learned what everyone else has. This will help me blend in with groupthink and mindsets. Boring.

Well Read

One book you read this weekend can help you obtain the knowledge of a person’s entire lifetime of work. Imagine if you read another next week, and then another the next.

Tsundoku

Tsundoku? It is a Japanese word for all the unread book piles waiting to be read. Since distractions are limited, now is the time to reduce that pile. After a quick glance at the digital pile, it seems like I am on focused on a specific genre.

Apple Books vs Amazon Kindle

I have never owned a dedicated reading tablet such as a Kindle. Thankfully, Amazon has created the Kindle app that can be used on every device. Using this app for years on both the Android and iOS platforms has been great because my purchases have followed me around regardless.

While practicing my social distancing, I’ve been reading more than usual and have been looking at some book purchases. Well, the process of buying a book from Amazon while using an iPad is a no-go. Some BS competition and licensing thing apparently. I have to log on to the Amazon website and order there as opposed to doing this in-app.Then it hit me like a stack of digital books over the head: why not purchase through Apple’s Books app instead? I have gone all in on everything else Apple, why not books?

Amazon started out as an online book distributor. As a charter member myself, I remember receiving books in the mail that even included free bookmarks and magnets. Amazon has innovated the books industry ever since. They are the best and the Kindle software follows.

Having said that, I reinstalled Apple Books to the iPad and looked around at all the redesigned changes. It is pretty and sports the usual customization standards for individual needs.

Both Amazon and Apple have this feature, both have a big store to shop your books. Both can be synchronized and read on multiple devices. I don’t listen to audiobooks but they are available. Apple’s is built in. I am even allowed to listen via my watch if I desire. May have to give audio books another glance soon. Even though Amazon bought Audible, I am surprised they don’t build that into their app. Both can read the PDF format. But from here they go their separate ways.

I have said it before and I will say it again. When paying for digital content, we do not own it. We are only buying the license to use it in the walled-off gardens we bought them from. My Kindle purchases stay with Amazon and that’s it. I learned this the hard way when I killed off my Google account. Goodbye purchased music, books, videos. It has’t changed and it will not change. When and if I decide to use Books over Kindle exclusively, I will not have access to my titles unless I re-install Kindle.

And I just remembered that Kindle has a $10 monthly reading program called Kindle Unlimited. These titles are not on anyone’s bestseller list but they are a great way to read a lot of books. Apple does not have this yet. Apple does make use of the ePub format however. With the wonderful people at the Project Gutenberg website digitizing and archiving the world’s literary classics, I download a lot of titles at no cost. Why pay a publisher money when these titles are now in the public domain? Kindle must have some partnership with local libraries too because I can borrow bestselling titles through the library/Kindle. Apple doesn’t have this yet. Grr.

Both platforms are amazing and I am glad to see that book lovers are getting the best of both worlds. It is a shame that everything has to be proprietary and profit-driven so I suppose I will find a healthy balance between. But for now, I will take some time and see how well Apple Books can be for my reading needs.


Blog Death Is Greatly Exaggerated

“RIP blogging we all tried real hard to make the internet good and then corporations and rich idiots destroyed everything a generation of writers tried to build”

And

there’s almost no space for writing anymore that’s joyful or an attempt to be creative. hardly anyone is playing around with form or even just trying to entertain. so much of the joy has been sucked out of the internet unless its crowdsourced by platforms from ppl who aren’t paid”

Pffft!

Blogs and websites are still around. The good ones have been around for 20 years(!) and there are more, undiscovered websites as well.

Ignore posting your content to Facebook or Twitter or anything social. Fire up a blog aggregator like Feedly and they will help you find good websites regarding topics you are interested in.

There is nothing stopping us from writing to the web. Have fun with it. Be entertaining or be informative, push boundaries.

We choose the web we want. A lot of good people are creating good content out there. Don’t say that the blog is dead. Encourage them and I encourage others to contribute and make it better as well.