Category Archives: Mind

Mindfulness, consciousness, neuroscience and the brain

Travels in Virtuality: Death Valley

Chris Townsend’s recent wonderful photos and descriptions of his recent walk through Death Valley have inspired me to recall my own pathetic attempt to get there in 2002. I wrote about it in my memoir/travelogue of cyberspace, ‘Hello World: Travels in Virtuality’ (2004).

Last week I re-published the chapter in which I tell the story of my ill-fated trip. The lesson I learned  was that reality – and indeed virtual reality – should not be confused with the products of the imagination.

Read Travels in Virtuality: Death Valley at Medium.

“a tiny glass-bottomed boat” Sarah Boxer reads Proust on her cellphone

I glided through sentence after sentence, volume after volume, on my Android in the nighttime darkness. The experience was remarkably … Proustian.

I was absolutely thrilled to read this wonderful description by Sarah Boxer of her experience of reading on her phone, in bed, in the dark. You can find the whole thing online at The Atlantic.  After explaining her numerous failed attempts to read Proust all the way through, she reports that reading it on her cellphone was like no other reading experience she’s had before or since. This is how she did it:

Make sure no one else is awake. Turn off the lights. Your windows can stay open. Now turn on your phone and begin reading. Repeat as necessary each night. Do not stop until the very last word of the very last volume, Time Regained.

My favourite paragraph of all goes like this:

Your cellphone screen is like a tiny glass-bottomed boat moving slowly over a vast and glowing ocean of words in the night. There is no shore. There is nothing beyond the words in front of you. It’s a voyage for one in the nighttime. Pure romance.

Now, I have to say that although I read stuff on my cellphone all the time, it’s never been my tool of choice for whole books, let alone seven volumes, and I do tend to read with the light on. But maybe Sarah Boxer has changed my mind, because now I really crave her glass-bottomed boat gliding across a glowing ocean.

Do you look for a green space to eat your lunch? 

seeking_parks_plazas_and_spaces.pdf“If you choose to take your lunch break outside rather than sitting at your desk, chances are you prefer a place that has nature or natural elements (pocket park, grassy lawn, views to water, etc.). Biophilia, our innate connection with nature, subconsciously steers us to places that allow us to experience nature and natural elements. This was the idea behind a new Terrapin Bright Green in-depth case study which examined the allure of biophilia in cities,” writes Sam Gochman.

Terrapin surveyed 100 people on their lunch breaks at four sites—two biophilic and two non-biophilic—in lower Manhattan. A large proportion of participants at biophilic sites liked at least one natural or “biophilic” element most about those spaces and cited both convenience and access to nature as the most important factors in choosing those spaces. Surprisingly, at both biophilic and non-biophilic sites, most participants said that they would walk a longer distance to get to a space with more nature. Download the full study.

So, where do you eat your lunch? And why?