What the umwelt is this?
Appreciating what we can't personally experience
Howdy, ye who Traipse! Welcome back to my newsletter about reclaiming creativity and ditching tired personal paradigms.
Snow and hygge season have arrived. (Hyoo-guh. Think “mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality.”) Homemade cornbread, tasty books, twinkle lights, and my buddy Chopin shall keep me entertained. I may even dust off my skate skis and go slide awkwardly about with terrible form.
This week on Hyooguhing About, Episode 113:
Living in a state of umwelt
Your coffin isn’t hitched to a U-Haul
Does your robot even make art?
Traipsing Tidbits: credit freezes, Ebay, and more
ICYMI: Last newsletter I wrote about gossip, plus the concept of rich vs. wealthy. Related to gossip, my aunt shared a solid quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
The house we live in
We all know dogs have a sense of smell better than ours, eagles possess sharper vision, and bats make us look like deaf mulch piles. Yup, duh, different species can DO different things, Dakota…
Well, have you ever stopped to wonder what each animal’s experience is actually like? What does a dog experience sniffing around a world suffused in odors or a snake sensing heat?
We literally can’t! It’s like every species lives in a house and can only see the view from their kitchen. There’s even a German word to describe this: umwelt, or “self-centered world.”
This got me thinking about how this is similar to people and their beliefs. After all, everyone in our life has a history different from ours. We can’t know how they experience the world or why they behave the way they do.
There’s another German word to describe this: Umgebung, or “an umwelt as seen by another observer.” To me, it sounds like at least an attempt at empathy or mentally trying to walk a mile in someone’s shoes.
I’m intrigued by the concept and want to try using umgebung in my daily life. I can’t experience another’s umwelt, but knowing it exists seems like a a way to appreciate unique perspectives and gifts of animals, human or not.
(And so concludes German lessons from Traipsing About. Note: I learned about umwelt from the fascinating book An Immense World.)
Your coffin isn’t hitched to a U-Haul
I dug this video from The Minimalists about how we can’t take our possessions with us.
The memories of loved ones are not contained within the objects, but rather within the person themselves.
Ridding ourselves from possessions that don’t serve our values and goals frees up “vibrational ecstasy.” While that’s a biiiit woo woo for me, reframed as “life energy” available for activities we love, I’m on board.
Living light allows us to be a “witness to everything” since we aren’t distracted with maintenance and mental to-do lists.
The video mentions the book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, which Chelsea liked. Live like you’re ready to die and you won’t hang onto crap that weighs you down.
Does AI art challenge us?
If you haven’t seen or heard of text-to-image generative AI stuff, you will soon. (Unless your umwelt doesn’t allow it.)
Basically, you enter a phrase and the AI generates an image. Some are beautiful, some are random. There’s a WOW factor to it. Some people are saying it’s the end of design or the onset of a new hegemonic world order run by AI mages.
However, as humanities professor Dan Cohen points out in his always-insightful publication Humane Ingenuity, the AI art merely meets our expectations or pleases us; it doesn’t challenge us.
He goes on to say:
The best art isn’t about pleasing or meeting expectations. Instead, it often confronts us with nuance, contradictions, and complexity. It has layers that reveal themselves over time. True art is resistant to easy consumption, and rewards repeated encounters.
Who knows how long before AI is shocking us the same way ground-breaking artists have always done. Someday? Never? Does sweat and toil imbue art with something an AI will never be able to tap?
We’re going to find out. Buckle up.
Traipsing About Tidbits
Combat financial fraud by freezing your credit on Equifax and TransUnion. Free, fast and easy to pause when you want to get a new credit card or loan.
Get deals and avoid buying new by setting up saved searches on Ebay. They also helps me decide if I really want the new possession!
The Minimalism Game: 30 days to get rid of objects and free up energy.
Drone photos are just so, so beautiful.
Quote of the Week
In leaving home we don’t just seek new places: We seek truer versions of ourselves.
In confronting a journey’s challenges, we don’t just face fears and navigate obstacles: We encounter a new level of awareness and a heightened sense of aliveness.
In coming back renewed and enlightened, we don’t just see a once-familiar place in a new way: We arrive home better positioned to give back to the communities we left behind.
From The Vagabond’s Way by Rolf Potts. (Currently enjoying it one short, meditative chapter at a time.)
You’ve reached the end of Traipsing About newsletter #113.
This week’s unsolicited
advice question: people are constantly doing stuff we think is rude, wrong or at least stupid. What are we missing? How is our personal umwelt twisting our perception?
Til next time…ciao.
P.S. No link to clink, just this snippet about the Olympics. 100% agree!
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