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I Found A Teenager Who Hates Texting

If our ideas seem smaller nowadays, it’s not because we are dumber than our forebears but because we just don’t care as much about ideas as they did. In effect, we are living in an increasingly post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding. Bold ideas are almost passé.
Neil Gabler writing in “The Elusive Big Idea” for the New York Times, August 13, 2011


Nancy Gail Ring, Loss of Innocence, oil on canvas, detail of destroyed canvas

I felt compelled to write this (non-food) post after Laura shared an article with her community about the author’s concerns that not enough thinking is happening these days. We are deluged with information, writes the author, but nobody is thinking about it. Coincidentally, that evening, I had the pleasure of traveling by train with a teenage friend of my son’s. That’s his portrait I did above. It’s significant for two reasons:

One, because this extraordinary child is by far the deepest thinker I have encountered among children these days, and a counterpoint to the prevailing dumbing-down of society. He paints, he hates texting because he says it is no substitute for interacting with the human presence, and he reads “tons of books of poetry.” I am heartened by this child. I hope he is a harbinger of the future.

Secondly, the portrait I did of him was one that I nearly finished and then in an act of utter risk-taking, destroyed by going back into it and failing. Even though this child was crestfallen not to be able to see or have his portrait since it is now gone, he immediately agreed with me that one learns more or as much from failure as one does from success. In art, this is thinking of the highest order, where ideas are honored even if there is failure along the way. The idea (and it’s ideas that the author of the above article is most concerned about losing in the rush of information) is that one puts in one’s best effort and lets go of the outcome. The idea survives, and is even strengthened along the way.

So stop texting or tweeting or watching TV for ten minutes to read the article and think. You never know. In that ten minutes, you might have the most amazing idea of your life.

see also: Harris Lieberman: A Painting Show or My Once in a While Not About Food Post

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