Elizabeth Alexander on Art

Art replaces the light that is lost when the day fades, the moment passes, the evanescent extraordinary makes its quicksilver. Art tries to capture that which we know leaves us, as we move in and out of each other’s lives, as we all must eventually leave this earth. Great artists know that shadow, work always against the dying light, but always knowing that the day brings new light and that the ocean which washes away all traces on the sand leaves us a new canvas with each wave.

Art that speaks to any of us always comes from a very particular place, and then we find ourselves in it in some kind of way.

— via Brain Pickings


“We experienced events in an order, and perceived their relationship as cause and effect. They experienced all events at once, and perceived a purpose underlying them all.”

Still thinking on this after watching Arrival the other day. 🐙🌫➰

Designing with Empathy

One issue we touched upon, which I think is really critical, is this idea of being easily able to influence behaviors in ways that are very important. For people who don’t know [how to better their lives], don’t think about it, or are busy doing other things, there’s a lot you could do to improve and facilitate what they do in ways that are useful. That is certainly true in behavioral economics and in design.

The other one is, if you remember in the book, we talk a bit about this sort of empathy bridge. The idea is that if we’re able to describe to you what it’s like to be super busy, maybe you’ll understand a little better what it’s like to be super poor. I think this empathy issue is really critical for when we think about policy, including neighborhood design—for you to perceive the other as not as exotic and bizarre and less good, but somebody who easily could have been you and vice versa, given a different situation. Our policies toward the poor, toward criminals, toward all kinds of people, are extremely non-empathetic. It’s very easy for us to erect enormous boundaries and distinctions based on our understanding, which creates lots of trouble in everything, from neighborhood safety to sharing our ideas and everything else.

from an interview with Eldar Shafir in Metropolis