The Delights of Distraction No.67: The Experience Machine

Last week Ami finally got down to reading a book lying unread in her bookcase since 2008 - The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. An insightful witty read which introduced us to the work of American philosopher Robert Nozick & his fascinating thought experiment of the experience machine (think Matrix meets Brave New World).

“Imagine that ‘superduper neurologists’ have figured out a way to stimulate a person’s brain to induce pleasurable experiences. It’s perfectly safe, no chance of malfunction, and not harmful to your health. You would experience constant pleasure for the rest of your life. Would you do it? Would you plug into the Experience Machine?"

We have been polling our friends all week about whether they would plug in to the experience machine. As we move to this week's recommendations, we would love to hear if you would plug into the experience machine or does the process of working towards achieving happiness/pleasure an important part of the process for you.

To read: Elizabeth Glibert and her thoughts on how she writes; insights that can be applied to almost all the ways we decide to approach the creative world. 

“The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love).” 

 Is social media killing intellectual humility

“But in the social media age, is Socrates—who died proclaiming, “I know nothing except the fact of my own ignorance”—still the liberal ideal? Or has the internet ecosystem destroyed intellectual humility by rewarding echo chambers, public commitments, and takedowns over earnest truth-seeking and discovery?” 

To joy scroll: You can’t not smile and chuckle at these candid photos of animals in the wild up to their crazy shenanigans, in the finalists of the Comedy Wildlife awards. All of them are caption-worthy :)

Drones have been around for awhile now, but we have yet to tire of the bird’s-eye images captured from above. The gallery of the winning images in the 2021 Drone Photo Awards is full of tiny doses of awe inspiring beauty of this remarkable planet we inhabit.

To amuse: Famous lines of poetry, revised and rewritten for the age of the coronavirus. Here’s a couple of faves from the list: 

Because I could not stop for death/He kindly stopped for me. 

Fortunately, I remained more than six feet away 

The caged bird sings 

with a fearful trill 

of things unknown 

but longed for still

Another night of Netflix and Chill. 

To further amuse (and a truth bomb)

A friend says, “I love your dress,” and you reply with, “Oh this old thing? Ha, it’s not even mine, it’s a hand-me-down from a friend… it was too big for her, but it fits me fine because I’m fat..*awkward laugh*... I like your shoes….” 

Sound familiar? For some reason, our brains break whenever we received compliments.. And this fantastic webcomic helps explain why. 

To explore and play: A fun way to travel the world through your phone. Land Lines is an experiment that lets you explore Google Earth satellite imagery through gesture. “Draw” to find satellite images that match your every line; “Drag” to create an infinite line of connected rivers, highways and coastlines. 

To listen: Sounds of Earth grew out of a need to create a collection of ambient sounds of nature to help relax or meditate and raise awareness for the protection and restoration of our ecosystems. Wait for the planet to load, and then swirl the globe to a space where you can hear the the natural sounds from volcanoes, wind, rain, animals. Our current listening loop is from the tranquil waterfalls in Shiraito Falls in Japan. 

To cook: Going gluten free, whether for health reasons or allergy limitations is a burgeoning new diet decision that leaves many hankering for a decent biscuit or cake, but other than the typical GF free brownie, finding few options. This article details a couple of ways to get round that and Felicity Cloake’s amazing orange cake made with almond flour and soaked in aromatic syrup is gloriously dense and squidgy, sharply zesty and sticky, and just the kind of dessert one needs over the weekend, whether GF or not. 

To end: 

I was just beginning 

to wonder about my own life 

and now I have to return to it 

regardless of the weather

or how close I am to love. 

Doesn’t it bother you sometimes 

what living is, what the day has turned into? So many screens and meetings 

and things to be late for. 

Everyone truly deserves 

a flute of champagne 

for having made it this far! 

Though it’s such a disaster 

to drink on a Monday. 

To imagine who you would be 

if you hadn’t crossed the street 

or married, if you hadn’t 

agreed to the job or the money 

or how time just keeps going— 

whoever agreed to that 

has clearly not seen 

the beginning of summer 

or been to a party 

or let themselves float 

in the middle of a book 

where for however briefly 

it’s possible to stay longer than 

you should. Unfortunately 

for me and you, we have 

the rest of it to get to. 

We must pretend 

there’s a blue painting 

at the end of this poem. 

And every time we look at it 

we forget about ourselves. 

And every time it looks at us 

it forgives us for pain. 

—"Monday," Alex Dimitrov


Hope you enjoyed your precious weekend preciouses, we will see you next week,

Viv and Ami

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