Domenica 17 Dicembre 2023


4 anni fa

Ogni occasione era buona per meditare. Non medito da qualche mese, dopo averlo fatto per 120 giorni consecutivi a inizio anno. Pratica che aiuta, soprattutto nei momento di difficoltà.

La pratica di ridurre il numero di link nei miei post, lasciando qualche referenza e una quantità di notizie tendente a zero, si consolida ormai da quattro anni. Felice di vedere che certi principi resistono, una volta consolidati.

3 anni fa

Avevo preparato (già) un bilancio dell’anno.

Quest’anno non ci ho ancora messo mano. Probabile finirò per farlo la prossima settimana o forse tra Natale e Capodanno, visto che non dovrei andare da nessuna parte. Esercizio a cui presterò molta attenzione.



Non so perché ma questa copertina mi ha attratto a prima vista. Forse il titolo e l’autore inseriti in un palazzo del cinema come nome del cinema e film in programmazione? L’edizione in inglese ha la stessa copertina. Whale di Cheon Myeong-Kwan.


The Syllabus segnalava anche queso tra i migliori libri dell’anno.

Working Girl – Una donna in carriera

Ho finito questo saggio al confine tra il memoir e una discussione dell’arte contemporanea nel rapporto tra arte, sesso, soldi e lavoro. Molto, molto interessante e originale perché il punto di vista è quello di un’artista americana che racconta la sua esperienza di artista e di escort, disegnando parallelismi, riflettendo sui punti di contatto tra arte e prostituzione, in relazione al capitalismo, all’idea di lavoro che abbiamo oggi, al rapporto con il denaro. Illuminante per certi versi, ricco inoltre di citazioni che mi hanno fatto scoprire artisti e altri autori che hanno trattato lo stesso argomento in passato. Una delle migliori letture dell’anno.

If you think you don’t know anyone who has ever sold sex, you are almost certainly mistaken.


I like, at this point, how little anyone around me associates me with having a job. I don’t have a job. There’s the now-famous aphorism, shared so often that its attribution is lost: Someone asks, “What’s your dream job?” and someone answers, “I do not dream of labor.


I hold ardent solidarity with all who commit crimes and all who have dreams. I seek affinity with those who want to work as little as possible; with those who can’t work. My boyfriend used to wear a leather jacket with these words painted on: IF WE ALL SPIT AT ONCE THEY WILL DROWN. It was a bastardization of a quote from Bob Crow, RMT Union general secretary, in England: “If we all spit together we can drown the bastards.” It’s a delicious image, deluging those who want us unorganized, underpaid, exploited—with our own saliva.

[…] he has just changed jobs. He went from working for a boss to working for himself; I ask if he still has to work every day. “Yes,” he rolls his eyes, “I still have to work every day.” Then, teasing: “I forgot, lucky you, you don’t work.” Whereas once I would have been offended, now I’m thrilled; you couldn’t give me a better compliment. “I sure don’t,” I answer. Momentarily defensive: “But I pay my rent!” Another eye roll: “I know.” I smile, and go back to sleep.


Myriad self-help gurus, books, and articles extoll the foundational importance of achieving work-life balance and offer tricks to do just so—“37 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance”; “Post Covid, What Work-Life Balance Needs”; “4 Easy Ways to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance”; “Creating Work-Life Balance When Returning to Office”—squarely pitting work and life against one another. This creates what is both a necessary and misleading dichotomy. The dichotomy is misleading for the reasons previously outlined; the dichotomy is also necessary because one assumes that without it, life would simply be subsumed within work—life, the wave, and work, the ocean. Tellingly, for example, Jeff Bezos is an opponent of the work-life balance concept and instead pushes for “work-life harmony.


I could pay for all of this because I was fucking for my money, and I had time to develop all of this because I was fucking for my money, and I met a lot of these people, and formed collaborative and strange relationships with them, because I was fucking for my money.


When you first learn how to draw from life, through still life or figurative sketching, you are told one rule alone: Draw what you see, not what you think you see. Draw this apple, or this body, or this vase, as you really see it—not as an approximation of what you’ve been taught an apple, or a body, or a vase looks like. I don’t want to live an approximation of a life I’ve been taught to see, a life that I only think I see. I want to live a life that I see.

Working Girl

Il libro di Sofia Giovannitti è anche stato tradotto in italiano come Una donna in carriera.

The Balanced Brain

Ho ripreso la lettura di questo saggio sulla salute mentale dal punto di vista di un neuroscienziato. Sulla materia non sono a digiuno, ma è sempre stimolante vedersi raccontare qualcosa che hai già sentito prima con una prospettiva diversa. C’è sempre da imparare, anche perché l’argomento è uno dei più attuali e ancora da indagare per la scienza moderna.

Nel libro ho appreso l’espressione “errore predittivo” positivo o negativo, relativo al rilascio (o al non rilascio) di dopamina.

Your brain learns about many things, but probably the most important thing it learns is how to survive. When you acquire things that help you survive – food, money or more abstract rewards like pleasant experiences – your brain can quickly learn to repeat the experience. It learns which circumstances lead to rewards and which actions it should perform to get there. When you experience the opposite – pain, starvation, social rejection – your brain must learn to avoid whatever brought about those unpleasant outcomes.


If one day your coffee tastes even better than usual, you’re surprised – you experience a ‘positive prediction error’. This signals your brain to update the amount of reward you expect from the next coffee you drink – how delicious you anticipate it will be. Or alternatively, if one day your coffee tastes worse than usual you’re also surprised – this time you experience a negative prediction error. A negative prediction error will decrease the reward you expect to get from the coffee next time. Maybe after an experience like this you’re a bit wary about your coffee shop exploits and so you switch your desired café or stop buying coffee altogether.


Our instincts and preferences are underpinned by prediction error learning. You initially learn where to acquire food, security, social support and other helpful things for survival using positive prediction errors. Equally, you use negative prediction errors to learn what to avoid: pain or illness evoke new prediction errors about the source of that discomfort and help you anticipate and avoid it in future.


Neuroscientist Karl Friston has proposed this as a general theory of brain function – that the brain’s goal is to minimise prediction errors, or surprise, over the long-term by adjusting its predictions or its actions. Certainly, these dopamine cells appear to do exactly that.


Disrupted reward prediction errors could originate from genetic differences, negative, stressful experiences, biological changes such as illness – most likely a combination of many factors. Regardless of its origins, a final common pathway to worse mental health might be a brain that underresponds to positive events, learning poorly which things lead to positive outcomes, and overresponds to negative events, quickly and drastically responding to punishing outcomes.


Our moment-by-moment wellbeing tracks experiences that are better than what we expect, positive prediction errors, related to dopamine release in the brain.


Prediction error learning is a key driver of moment-by-moment mental health: experiencing positive surprises, predicting what actions will result in positive outcomes and updating these predictions when the statistics of the world around you change. Each of these processes has its own biological underpinnings, many related to the dopamine system.


Positive mental health is not the absence of negative emotions. Feeling negative emotions is healthy and normal. I conceptualize mental health as the ability to experience negative emotions but always, eventually, move back towards a relatively positive mental place – like homeostasis in the body, a return to equanimity. Mental health is an act of balance, responding to negative prediction errors, unpleasant emotions and other stressors

The Balanced Brain

La dieta mediterranea aiuta a coltivare una buona salute mentale:

Some studies suggest that eating a healthy diet, in particular a so-called Mediterranean diet, may confer some protection against future depression.  Diets that seem ‘protective’ against depression in the population tend to contain a high number of fruits, vegetables and nuts, and a relatively lower number of processed meat (as well as alcohol in moderation). A small number of randomized controlled trials exist in this area, suggesting this relationship is not just an association.

Those receiving the Mediterranean diet hamper had a significantly greater reduction in depression and improvement in mental health than the social group arm of the trial. The authors theorized that improving a range of essential nutrients via the diet may have ameliorated mental health by changing brain function, but this final conjecture is difficult to prove.

The Balanced Brain


Escludendo due settimane nel mezzo di luglio, non c’è stata settimana nell’ultimo anno in cui non abbia sottolineato qualcosa. Questo la dice lunga sulla mia costanza nel leggere attivamente, fiction, non fiction o quei pochi articoli lunghi che leggo.

Se ti chiedi da dove viene questa statistica, la risposta è Readwise.

Due mesi di prova gratis, da questo link.

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