And it’s that deep not-knowing — in other words, emptying oneself of opinions and views and beliefs and so on — the more that one does that, the more you somehow come to rest in this primal humility of the fact that this world is boundlessly mysterious and unknowable. And yet, at the same time, that is the fount, the origin of how you then respond to this mystery of life in its specificity
Whenever I give a talk about my work I am invariably asked who my influences are. Not what my influences are, but who. As if the gutter, misunderstandings, memories, sex, dreams, and books matter less than the forebears do. After all, in terms of influences, it is as much the guy who mugged me on 10th Street, or my beloved dog who passed away much too early, as it was Giotto or Diane Arbus.
∆ Robert Gober
Now and then when I find myself forgetting to celebrate life, unmindful of the way embracing death can heighten and enhance the way I interact with the world, I take time to think about whether I would be at peace knowing that I left someone without saying what’s in my heart, that I left with harsh words. I try daily to learn to leave folks as though we might never be meeting again. This practice makes us change how we talk and interact. It is a way to live consciously.
I think that leveraging culture—I also mean engineering, science, music, film, storytelling—is a strong glue to bring people together. It’s the glue to bring people together to problem solve at scale. It’s the glue to hopefully reframe religion, to reframe ideas about race. If you can bring people to a table unarmed, you can try to look at some of our larger systemic issues, and try to problem solve. You can get people that are thinking differently thinking together. And to rethink our relationship as a species and a system, so that we can come together, and work together, to hopefully come to terms with some of these larger issues, and try to address them together. Which is really difficult.
One of the most intelligent case studies in design is the Chinese tea cup. They’re made without handles simply because if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to drink.
Humans naturally want to add more. Add a cardboard sleeve, add a warning on the outside of the cup, add a handle. The result of all these things never cools down the actual contents. And in the end, you’ll still burn your mouth from drinking too early. It’s not that people don’t see the warnings, we’re just adding more layers of separation between us and the answer.
Simplify until it’s obvious.