Bentoists making a splash
// The Weekly Bento // July 18, 2021 //
Hello my friends and welcome to the Weekly Bento. In this week’s issue:
News: ⏱️ The 15-minute Weekly Bento
Kudos: 🌊 Bentoists making waves
Recommended: 🎉 Wellbeing, gathering, and art
Prompt: 🙋 The post-pandemic world
News: ⏱️ The 15-minute Weekly Bento
The creation of Bentoism stemmed from my personal desire to make decisions that fulfilled my true self-interest. Too often I saw situations through the limited lens of what I wanted in that given moment. Only with reflection later on would I recognize my tunnel vision, sometimes with embarrassment and regret.
The four simple boxes of the Bento are a reliable window beyond my limited point of view. They help me see things through the eyes of people who are important to me, from the perspective of the person I hope to become, and from the bigger picture I’m contributing to, whether I acknowledge it or not.
To plan for the second half of 2021, I’ve been reflecting on the Bento’s origins, its larger mission, and the community that exists around it today. In that spirit, this week we will experiment with a Weekly Bento format that lasts just 15 minutes and honors its original intent. Join me:
The 15-minute Weekly Bento
12pm - 12:15pm EST
The event will start exactly at 12pm. Doors will open at 11:55am.
Kudos: 🌊 Bentoists making waves
This week three members of the Bento Society had major professional milestones. Let’s celebrate them!
Mario Vasilescu is the cofounder and CEO of Readocracy, a tool for quantifying and measuring the content you consume. This week Readocracy was named a member of a new Building a Better Internet project by the VC studio Betaworks. Big congrats to Mario, who is very passionate about his work, and to Betaworks, whose founder John Borthwick is also a Bento Society member. Well done everyone!
Jinglan Wang is cofounder and CEO of Optimism PBC, a scalability platform for decentralized applications that encourages the creation of public goods. This week Optimism had a major announcement in the crypto world, with their work scaling in a big way. Congrats to Jinglan and the others who are working to create public goods using the blockchain. Exciting stuff.
Finally, Zach First is Executive Director of the Drucker Institute, which just launched a very Bentoish project: Barron’s Future Focus Stock Index, a project that attempts to quantify and predict the most innovative and future-oriented companies in the world, turning them into a tradable stock index. Congratulations to Zach and the Drucker Institute for a creative way of encouraging the business world to take the longer view.
Congrats to Mario, Jinglan, Zach, and their collaborators on their work!
Know of a community member deserving of a kudos? Tell us about it: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommended: 🎉 Yancey’s picks
Five things inspiring me this week:
Rethinking wellbeing in a post-pandemic world. Author Adam Grant has an excellent New York Times essay on the post-pandemic world. Grant wrote a viral piece about “languishing” not long ago, and here he counters it by honoring the special joy that comes with being together:
Peak happiness lies mostly in collective activity… We find our greatest bliss in moments of collective effervescence. It’s a concept coined in the early 20th century by the pioneering sociologist Émile Durkheim to describe the sense of energy and harmony people feel when they come together in a group around a shared purpose.”
“Collective effervescence” is a wonderful phrase and goal to work towards. More on this below.
Priya Parker: The Art of Gathering . As we think about gathering with friends again, how do we create spaces that honor our relationships? How do we allow ourselves to become truly present with others? I don’t know of many books with as much wisdom on the topic than The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. Full of creative ideas and a thoughtful approach to being with others. Recommended.
Originally used as part of a set for a performance with the musician John Cage, these paintings are now timeless classics worth many millions of dollars. This sounds like some kind of in-group conceptual art joke (and in a way it was), but there’s an element to the series that I love.
Rauschenberg included a set of instructions with the paintings stating that they must be freshly repainted on a continual basis. This was partially to ensure they always look new, but there was a conceptual element as well: over time the paintings would accrue anonymous painters and layers of paint, steadily distancing Rauschenberg himself from the work. The paintings will gradually lose their physical authorship. The paintings, which hang in galleries around the world, continue to be repainted according to these instructions to this day.
What I find inspiring about these instructions is that they codify something like seasons onto an inanimate object. The paintings will degrade, then be renewed, only to degrade and be renewed once again. This both guarantees the future state of the work (assuming the instructions are followed) and defines future participation. Inspired.
Holly+ is an AI version of Holly Herndon that can be made to perform anyone’s song in Holly’s musical style. Holly+ is controlled by a DAO which will oversee rights and financial proceeds generated from the music, and which will be governed by her fans and collaborators. Herndon, who has a PhD in AI from Stanford and has previously experimented with art and AI, explains how she made the project here. So many wonderful layers.
I also find this interesting from a Bento perspective. As our identities extend deeper into the digital world, the old belief that your “self” is defined by your physical body and your soul is evolving. Already our “selves” are far more multi-layered and multidimensional as a result of the internet and the new social arrangements it has created. Herndon’s experiment is a reminder that our existing notion of self is resetting — sometimes even with just a click.
Prompt: 🙋 Collective effervescence in a post-pandemic world
We’re going to close with a prompt that I’d love your thoughts on.
In the Adam Grant essay cited earlier, he writes that after the pandemic we should:
“rethink our understanding of mental health and well-being... less as personal euphoria and more as collective effervescence…
He gives examples like:
“…the synchrony you feel when you slide into rhythm with strangers on a dance floor, colleagues in a brainstorming session, cousins at a religious service or teammates on a soccer field.”
For those of us who use the Bento, we’re well aware of the importance of the Us space. But how can we prioritize that buzz of connection that comes with shared purpose? When conditions allow, will we dare to make true connection and effervescence our goal?
I leave you with this: When and where have you felt collective effervescence, and where will you seek it when you come together with your people or strangers once again? I’d love to hear your reflections on this. Email us at email@example.com. We’ll share a few of your thoughts in our email next week.
Help the Bento Society by responding to our anonymous survey on what we’re doing well and what we could be doing better.
Peace and love my friends,
The Bento Society