The New York Drawings of Matteo Pericoli

Thanks to the Guardian I’ve just learnt all about Matteo Pericoli, an Italian who moved to New York in 1996 and started doing beautiful line drawings as a hobby while he worked as an architect. This hobby evolved into something more serious, and now Pericoli has a series of books showing skylines around the world. His New York views from famous people’s windows are my favourite though, showing a range of vistas from traditional NYC landmarks, through water tower strewn rooftop landscapes to just the windows of the opposite building. Pericoli has even won acclaim for creating the cover art The Beastie Boys ‘To The 5 Boroughs‘ album. Lovely, evocative stuff.

Book Review: The Night of Knives

Picture of book cover for Night of Knives - by Jon Evans

My good friend and talented author Jon has just had his latest magnum opus, The Night of Knives, released in paperback in the UK. It’s another swash-buckling tale of epic travels, technological wizardry and global subterfuge, and a damn fine read. This time the backdrop is Africa, the technology is mostly mobile phones and the subterfuge… well, you’ll have to read that to find out as Jon plots a fine sequence of twists and turns that will keep you guessing and happily sitting on the edge of your seat – whether that seat is on the tube or on a sunny beach somewhere. Hopefully a beach somewhere safer than Jon’s African idyll…

Go buy it now so Jon can fund his next epic trip and bring back tales for us all to enjoy through his eyes.

More Gaiman Stuff in the Works

After many years of wishing everyone would hurry up and put Neil Gaiman’s excellent Sandman books out there as a movie, I’ve now decided that it would probably just upset me and most other folks who have their own Sandman vision in their heads. It’s funny how with books you’d expect this concern, but with Sandman being a comic you might think they’d be no issues – but having seen a few comic conversions recently I’ve realised how much editing they’d have to do and the story is the thing. So I’m happy not to hear of any Sandman movie news. Ever.

That said I’m always happy to hear of more Gaiman related movie news when I’m not so emotionally invested in the books. I loved Stardust, I’m much more tempted to go see Beowulf now I’ve found out Gaiman worked on the script and soon we can see Coraline – an adaptation of one of his wonderful children’s books.

What I’d really love to see out of Sandman is a stand-alone movie, penned by Gaiman and using the characters without impacting the main storyline. That would be awesome.

To Do: Create Flow

I’ve been re-reading the excellent Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience again and I highly recommend you all do too. In it, author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes his research into how people get into ‘flow’ states, that is states of enjoyable activity where you immerse yourself completely in what you are doing and stay deeply focussed. We’ve all done it at some point, missed our train stop when reading a book, sat down to do something then looked up and it’s the middle of the night and we forgot to eat and so on.

Mihaly argues that modern western society is full of flow destroying activities ripe with passive pleasure, such as television, rather than engaged enjoyment, for example knitting. These activities, while fun at first, lead to a longer term malaise as they do not involve us actively setting our own goals and following them through, which is core to the flow experience. Sports on the other hand are rife with flow, as they exist in their own world with strongly defined goals and excellent feedback to tell you that you’re there and getting better. Experts in the art and music world start to look for more complex experiences, moving from rock bands to classical or jazz, and then setting their own goals to analyse the music and deeply immerse themselves into that world.

What’s amazing about this concept is it works on a many different levels, you can even feel good about your day simply by writing a list of small tasks that need doing (goals) and ticking them off (feedback). Longer lasting, sustainable flow happiness comes from creating more complex experiences within overall goals, for example when you start taking photos you’re proud to create something that’s in focus, but as you spend more time immersed in the subject that is no longer sufficient – more complex internal goals must be met such as composition, lighting and the story being told.