Friday, April 15, 2011

"Humility, trust, and desire—making faith. For ages humanity has built this experience, but stupid people like me must discover it all again, must touch it for themselves."

--- Anna Kamienska (1920–1986), Polish poet, journal entry from the selection "Industrious Amazement: A Notebook" translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh, in Poetry magazine, March 2011, vol. CLCVIII, no. 6, p. 514

The whole entry:
From the whole liturgy my favorite words are those of the centurion, repeated before communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. Speak but the word and my soul shall be healed.” They have the power of poetry. Humility, trust, and desire—making faith. For ages humanity has built this experience, but stupid people like me must discover it all again, must touch it for themselves.

Kamienska stumbled into her faith. Here's another entry from the same collection:
I wasn’t looking for God at all.

I sought my Dead One.

I’ll never cease repeating this, amazed.

The "Dead One" is her husband Jan, who figures constantly in the notebook. For example:
And then a dream took pity on me again. I got up before dawn. When I went back to bed it was dark. I sensed he was beside me, he’d crossed the room. He lay down next to me. We talked entwined. “What’s it like there?” “There’s God and there are birds,” he said. Maybe he meant to say “angels”? God and birds. He left, went through the wall and jumped into a passing truck. He opened his mouth as if he were shouting something.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

"Play teaches us skills. Stories teach us what to do with them."

--- Harry Dewulf, in a letter to New Scientist (subscription required), 23 March 2011

Dewulf responds to an article about the "gamification" of everyday life, arguing

The best computer games exploit two basic desires. The first is to learn: a well-designed learning curve provides satisfaction from the achievement of mastery of the game. The greater the complexity, the greater the satisfaction.

The second desire is for a story. First-person "shooter" games involving one participant have the player follow a predetermined story path, deriving satisfaction from discovering the twists and turns.

He then offers the quote above. He concludes
Much of the gaming described in your article is light on play and storytelling, and heavy on "cumulomania" - the mindless racking-up of points, powers and achievements. Even the games strongest in learning and storytelling, like the Civilization series, eventually deteriorate into steady statistical accumulation.

Apps which rely on our attachment to endless accumulation of tokens and whose value is derived from potentially divisive social competition will have to be continually refreshed or replaced with new content - with diminishing returns as all the niches for apps that teach something useful are occupied.

If I am wrong about the games bubble, then the world will become increasingly divided between dopamine freaks endlessly indulging their cumulomania and those who prefer to use their time accumulating real value.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

“The catch with ardent followers is that they’ll go ardently follow something else after a short while.”

--- Walter Podrazik, co-author of the book Watching TV, on the precipitous decline of Glenn Beck's ratings, quoted in Why is Glenn Beck leaving his Fox News show?, Linda Feldmann for the Christian Science Monitor, April 6, 2011