Monthly Archives: September 2019

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Some people never grow out of conditional relationships. They hold onto the belief that love and acceptance are contingent on some benefit they’re providing to people, some condition that they must fulfill. We sit silently. My friend stares deeply into her empty glass, occasionally shuffling the ice around with her straw. “Wow,” she says. I sit and wait for her to say something else. What started out as a festive night somehow became a long, deep discussion about love, what it consists of, and how rare it actually is. Finally, I say, “Wow, what?” “I’m just thinking that I’ve never experienced that.” “Well, maybe you just haven’t met the right person yet,” I say — the totally cliche thing that every friend says in this situation. “No,” she says. “I mean, I’ve never experienced that with anyone. My parents, my family, even most of my friends.” She looks up at […]

From 2003 to 2012, music was disposable and nothing survived. . From the late 1990s until whenever we stopped burning things onto compact discs, I gave my friends, family, and colleagues a year-end best-of mix as my Christmas card. I kept it to my favorite 20 songs of the year, the final track listings subject to last-minute switches, bold additions, and sequence changes that were controversial to only myself. During a recent decluttering of my office, I found a whole bunch of them, from 2003 to 2009, and as I popped each one open and looked at the seven years of soundtracks I fretted over for seven solid Decembers, I was faced with one important question: What the hell are most of these songs? Now, listen: I can tell you my favorite music from 1987, because I still have my Replacements, George Michael, and Tommy Keene records. I know my […]

The neurology of flow states. Don’t look at the clock! Now tell me: How much time has passed since you first logged on to your computer today? Time may be a property of physics, but it is also a property of the mind, which ultimately makes it a product of the brain. Time measures out and shapes our lives, and how we live our lives in turn affects how we perceive the passage of time. Your sense of time is malleable and subjective—it changes in response to changing contexts and input, and it can be distorted when the brain is damaged, or affected by drugs, disease, sleep deprivation, or naturally altered states of consciousness. However, a new set of neuroscience research findings suggests that losing track of time is also intimately bound up with creativity, beauty, and rapture. Time is most commonly manipulated by the kinds of things we do to […]