“Would Paris Be Better Off If the Eiffel Tower Was Half As Tall?” by Gary S. Smolker
Duty to Enrich Other People’s Lives
The Eiffel Tower was “monstrously huge” when it was built more than 100 years ago in Paris as an exhibit for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, and years ahead of its times.
It is monstrously huge today, and still years ahead of its time.
I believe today, or someday, a boy or girl will look at the Eiffel Tower and be inspired to think/say “I am going to build something bigger and better than that.”
But if the Eiffel Tower was half as tall, that wouldn’t happen.
I want to challenge other people’s imagination, to expand their perceptions, to add to their ideas and knowledge and thereby enrich and stimulate their experience of their lives.
I believe the Eiffel Tower is inspiring and therefore enriches other people’s lives.
I believe it is everyone’s duty to enrich their own life, my life and everyone else’s lives.
I don’t believe in half measures.
Therefore, I wouldn’t want the Eiffel Tower to be half as tall as it is today.
Recently, I have been figuring out how to increase the productivity, satisfaction, joy and enjoyment of my 13 year old granddaughter.
Should I give her a conventional gift, a gift you might expect anyone to give her, or should I give her a gift that will make her and other people go “wow”?
Her father is a top echelon corporate finance lawyer.
I assume her father is preoccupied because corporate America has $1.48 trillion dollars of cash on hand to invest or return to stockholders and the tech sector – in which he specializes – has $515 billion cash on hand to invest or return to stockholders, and biotech and life sciences finance, in which he is extremely active, is red-hot.
Her mother is a senior executive in a publicly held tech company listed on the NYSE and other stock exchanges.
Her mother participates in intense and stimulating worldwide meetings and conferences at least weekly.
They live a “full” conventionally sharp life.
My granddaughter is on a lacrosse team.
Where I grew up we didn’t have lacrosse teams or play lacrosse.
My granddaughter actively participates: In addition to being on a lacrosse team, she individually competes as a free-lance swordswoman in fencing competitions; she plays the guitar and she is a fashionista who publishes a private limited circulation fashion blog.
When I was growing up I didn’t know anyone who was a swordsman or a swordswoman. Blogs did not exist. Cell phones did not exist. The Internet did not exist. YouTube and Instagram did not exist yet.
My granddaughter is interested in (1) fashion, (2) the fashion industry, (3) understanding money, (4) money, (5) finance, (6) history, (7) leaders, (8) leadership, (9) how the mind works – the science of consciousness, (10) how the mind works – why we make choices, (11) creativity, (12) peak performance, (13) persuasion and (14) art.
I want the gift I give my granddaughter to stimulate my granddaughter’s mind but not to offend her parents by being so unique they will believe I do not show love and respect to the three of them. I have been warned not to give an unconventional gift because to do so might be considered inappropriately “off-the-wall.”
To encourage my granddaughter’s interests in fashion, art and business I recently informed her of the following facts:
- New York Fashion Week (NYFW) began as Press Week in 1943. At that time only 53 designers showed their work.
- In the mid-2000s designers began pouring in to show their work at NYFW as press coverage, including on-line coverage, exploded.
- In 2005, 90 online outlets covered the shows.
- This year, 2014, 381 online outlets will be at the shows.
- The event organizer, IMG reduced the approved media list by 20% in an attempt to restore some exclusivity.
- During the latest NYFW more than 33,000 people posted almost 99,000 photos to Instagram.
- This year, NYFW begins on September 4, 2014.
- I also informed my granddaughter that Tory Burch started her fashion empire 10 years ago on her kitchen table. Her fashion empire now, ten years later, has 141 stores in 50 countries, e-commerce in seven languages, and will post more than $1 billion in revenue this year.
I want my granddaughter to have confidence.
I want my granddaughter to follow her passion, to do whatever she feels intensely passionate about doing.
I want to give my granddaughter a gift that is seriously amazing.
How can I do that without “offending” anyone?
Here are some of my gift ideas: (1) flower etched bracelets hand fashioned from solid brass, plated in sterling silver; (2) a 536 one-of-a-shape piece puzzle crafted of quarter-inch maple veneer plywood and archival ink and paper which portrays two Koi; (3) an authentic Japanese yukata patterned with fluid flowing carp motif – the carp symbolize strength and patience; (4) an Art Nouveau Peacock Trinket Box hand-enameled in brilliant hues and bejeweled with sparkling Austrian crystals; (5) a Saw-Whet Owl sculpture; (7) Lion and Lioness bookends; (8) “A World of Butterflies” – a 432 hardcover book, containing 245 stop-action photographs of butterflies.
Of course, the best gift would be to do things with her; a series of events and experiences that the two of us get to share together will create priceless memories.
For example, if her parents would allow it, and if she is interested in ballet, I would love to take her to NYC for a weekend to see a ballet, visit museums and see the garment district. I would love even more to take my daughter (her mother) with us.
Best of all would be to go to New York Fashion Week shows or to fashion shows in Milan together.
New York Fashion Week begins on September 4 this year.
I would like to take my granddaughter somewhere that is the “center” of something she is keenly interested in.
If she were interested in movies, that would be the Toronto International Film Festival which runs from September 5 through September 15, this year.
I want me granddaughter to personally see the “very best” of whatever she is interested in.
In the years between 1830 and 1900 adventurous American artists, doctors, architects, politicians, lawyers and others of high aspiration set off for Paris burning to know more about everything, ambitious to excel in their work by “discovering things” while “living”, “working” and/or “studying” in Paris, which, at the time, was the center of things. Nearly all of these remarkable American men and women spent many of the happiest days and nights of their lives in Paris.
Among those Americans were Elizabeth Blackwell the first female doctor in America; Charles Summer who would become the most powerful unyielding voice for abolition in the U.S. Senate; James Fenimore Cooper (famous author), Samuel F. B. Morse (inventor of Morse Code), medical student Oliver Wendell Holmes, and writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe; sculptor Augustlus Saint-Gaiudens, and painters Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent.
These Americans were ambitious to excel in work that mattered greatly to them, and they saw time in Paris, the experience of Paris, as essential to achieving that dream.
They were “ambitious to learn, to live and work in the company of others of like mind and aspiration, inspired by great teachers and in a vibrant atmosphere of culture far beyond anything available at home.”
Those ambitious men and women wanted to live in Paris because Paris was a city that was so great and rich and in which life was lived on a grand scale. By comparison life in the American cities they lived in was too quiet and uniform for them.
Like those famous Americans, my youngest daughter, Leah, wants to intellectually and emotionally flourish.
On her own, Leah has plotted a course of action to satisfy her burning desire to know more about every great civilization and to see (in person) the best of everything man and nature have created.
Leah is presently 26 years old.
During the past three or four years, Leah visited 30 countries, looked at man-made and natural masterpieces of all descriptions, and when there were significant volcanoes in a place which Leah was visiting Leah took it upon herself to climb those volcanoes.
Two yeas ago, I met up with Leah to celebrate her birthday with her in Istanbul.
Leah has just “returned” to her home in California from that great journey of her own design to start going to law school.
I want my granddaughter to have the same amount of passion to explore her interests that Leah does.
That being said, what should I get my granddaughter, who lives on the East Coast, for her thirteenth birthday?
You may read a well written description how ambitious young Americans lived/worked/and/or studied in Paris to satisfy their hunger to better their “real selves” in the years between 1830 and 1900 in David McCullough’s book “The Greater Journey – Americans in Paris.”
David McCullough is a renown author.
Mr. McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, and twice received the National Book Award.
He is the recipient of numerous other honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian award.
Leah is not famous, but she is doing the same kind of things for the same reasons.
Leah is on her way to be like them.
Leah recently sent me the following (priceless to me) note.
Great art is designed to make people happy.
Artists like Van Gough painted flowers to make people happy, to make them smile.
No one appreciated his art. He died a tortured and starving artist unable to sell his work.
The audience did not appreciate his work until after he died. Now his art has snob appeal because the audience believes his work was ahead of his time. His art now sells in the tens of millions of dollars.
Seeing Van Gogh’s work in Copenhagen and London made me happy.
I would have appreciated the tortured artist’s work whether anyone else saw it in him or not.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Van Gough’s art housed in Copenhagen. I did not expect to see it there.
I want to thank YOU for making that possible.
I swinged CPH at the last-minute because of YOU.
Thanks for letting me go.
Life is a social phenomena; the effectiveness of a communication depends 20% on content and 80% on how you feel about what you are communicating.
Good taste always generates satisfaction, joy and enjoyment of life.
That is why Leah’s “thank you note” is so compelling.
Learning/Studying Good Taste
Goethe was acclaimed as a brilliant writer while still a young man, thought a genius by his contemporaries, and lauded by luminaries around the world.
Here are some of this thoughts.
In “Conversations with Eckermann (1823 – 1832)” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe told his young friend Johann Peter Eckermann to seek out the best of everything.
- “Taste is only to be educated by contemplation, not of the tolerably good, but of the truly excellent.”
- “When you see the very best, you see what a great talent can do, and when you are grounded in the very best, you will have a standard for the rest, which you will know how to value without overrating them.”
I agree with Goethe’s advice to Eckermann reported in “Conversations with Eckermann”:
“Inferior talents do not enjoy art for its own sake: while at work they have nothing before their eyes but the profit they hope to make when they have done. With such worldly views and tendencies, nothing great was ever yet produced.
“The style of a writer is a faithful representation of his mind; therefore, if any man wish to write a clear style, let him be first clear in hs thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul.
“It is great folly to hope that other men will harmonize with us.
” For it is in conflict with natures opposed to his own that a man must collect his strength to fight his way through; and thus all our different sides are brought out and developed so that we soon feel ourselves a match for every foe…..
“[Y]ou must at all events plunge into the great world, whether you like it or not.
“Concentrate your powers for something good, and give up everything that can produce no result of consequence and is not suited to you.”
Having A Felt Need for the Best
(Mozart and Goethe Desired Only What Is Really Greatest and Best)
Goethe once said: “If you see a great master, you will always find that he used what was good in his predecessors, and that it was this made him great.
In support of that observation, in “Conversations with Eckermann” Goethe argues:
“All talent must derive its nutriment from knowledge, and thus only is enabled to use its strength.
“I have lately read a letter from Mozart in reply to a baron who had sent him his composition.
‘You dilettanti must be blamed for two faults, since two you generally have: either you have no thoughts of your own, and take those of others; or, if you have thoughts of your own, you do not know what to do with them.’
“Is not this capital? and does not this fine remark, which Mozart makes about music, apply to all other arts?
“Our young painters lack heart and intellect. Their inventions express nothing and effect nothing: they paint swords that do not cut, and arrows that do not hit.”
Life Is A Social Phenomena
QUESTION: What is tasteful, what is healthy, what is best?
ANSWER: That which brings joy and satisfaction to life and that which is necessary for creativity to flourish is always tasteful, is always healthy, enriches life and is of the highest order of all creations.
The Eiffel Tower
Some 73,000 tons of iron went into constructing the Eiffel Tower over a period of 22 months (1887/1889), with 12,000 metal parts and 2,500,000 rivets.
Its success at the 1889 Exposition Universelle was unparalleled: two million visitors made their way to the top of this “gigantic and original specimen of modern Engineering.” (Thomas Edison).
Not everyone was in favor of construction of this tower in the center of the City of Paris.
Leading intellectuals signed a petition to protest the construction of it:
“We have come together – writers, sculptors, architects and painters, all of us ardent lovers of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris – to protest with all our might, with all our indignation, in the name of French taste thus so badly misunderstood, in the name of art and French history both in this way threatened, against the erection at the very heart of our capital of the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower. For, there can be no doubt about this, the Eiffel Tower (which even commercial America would reject) will be the dishonoring of Paris.” – Extract from the artists’ protest, whose signatories included Charles Garnier, Alexandre Dumas, and D.J. and Guy de Maupassant. Le Temps, 17 February 1887.
In my mind, the Eiffel Tower is a symbol which represents man’s ability to strive to achieve the best he is capable of accomplishing.
In my opinion, man’s desire to do his best is as fundamental a force of nature and as powerful as that force of nature that compels plants to grow towards the sun.
In my opinion if the Eiffel Tower was half as tall, Paris would still be Paris, but mankind would be diminished.
Poets and writers have attested to the fact that Paris and the Eiffel Tower and have stood the test of time:
“. . . the supremacy of Paris is an enigma. Think about it. Rome has greater majesty, Trier is older, Venice more beautiful, Naples more graceful, London more wealthy. What, then, can be said for Paris? The Revolution. Paris is the king-pin city on which, one day, history turned.” Victor Hugo, 1867
“Poetry inhabits and enlivens all this material: thousands of tons of iron, millions of bolts, beams, entangled girders, 300 metres tall, a vertiginous mass, great depth. My eyes are led to the sun …” – Blaise Cendrars, IZIS, PARIS DES REVES, 1950.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway, PARIS, A MOVEABLE FEAST, 1964
Although Paris is a city full of natural beauty, it is things made by men that one can see today in Paris and the ideas, concepts and work of men who have been inspired by living and working in Paris and it is the ideas discussed and acted upon that originated in Paris that make Paris so much more than just a pretty place.
The Last Supper
The topic of human intelligence is receiving a lot of attention today.
Psychologist Howard Gardner and his colleagues have proven that each of us possess at least seven measurable intelligences and have catalogued twenty-five different subintelligences.
Psychologist Pyotr Anokhin has demonstrated the minimal number of thought patterns the average brain can make is the number 1 followed by 10.5 million kilometers of typewritten zeros.
Anokhin has compared the human brain to a “multidimensional musical instrument that could play an infinite number of musical pieces simultaneously.”
According to the latest research of renowned neuroscientist Dr. Candace Pert, “. . . intelligence is not located only in the brain but in cells that are distributed throughout the body. . . . . The traditional separation of mental processes, including emotions from the body is no longer valid.”
Brain scientists believe you can learn seven facts per second, every second for the rest of your life and still have plenty of room to learn more.
I find it interesting that neuroscientists believe we have brain cells in all parts of our body because a psychotherapist friend of mine told me that humans have mirror neurons which “pick-up”/ “mirror” the feelings of other people who are nearby.
This friend warns: if you are near a person who is depressed that will cause you to become depressed.
Therapists and social workers have to watch out that the their tendency to become suicidal when they are near people who are suicidal does not overpower them, that their urge to commit suicide does not become to strong.
The “mirror neuron” phenomena supports folk wisdom.
Surround yourself with people who support you emotionally.
Stay away from negative people.
I am interested in the study of knowledge.
- How we think.
- How we think we think.
- How we “know.”
- How we “think” we “know.”
I am constantly engaged in learning and study.
I am constantly having direct experiences of the world and interactions with other people from which I derive knowledge.
When people ask me what I do, I tell them:
- “I am a thinker.
- “I call my ability to conceive thinking.
- “I call how I make use of my perceptions ‘thinking.‘
- “I am constantly thinking.”
I have collected meaningful insights into human behavior and have many thoughts on how a person may beneficially increase their understanding of the world as well as their understanding of other person’s behaviors based on concepts, rules and principles I have developed during the past 68 years.
I love the study of knowledge.
I love the study of creativity and critical thinking.
See the June 10, 2014 post on the “Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange”, at http://www.garysmolker.wordpress.com, entitled How To Increase Your Perceptual Space.
If I Ran the World
I realize most people have few if any independent thoughts; that most people are robots.
Most people’s lives and what they “think” has been programmed for them by their parents, by their community, by their teachers, by their friends, by the news media, and by other intellectual influencers.
They do not know “why” or “if” their advisors believe the advice they give is beneficial or if their advisors have sound reasons for advice being given.
Most people do not seek “best explanations.”
If I ran the world, I would have everyone ask themselves: Why do we know what we do?
I would have everyone spend their entire lives trying to determine the basis of [and if there is any basis for] everything they think they know.
I am interested in meaningful insights into human behavior, in having an intellectual framework for understanding science, health, wellness, creativity and the course of social, political, and economic events.
If I ran the world, everyone would seek “best explanations.” People would try to “figure out” how things work and why things happen.
According to stock market trader Paul Tudor Jones, II: “Four hundred seventy-one million to one. Those are the odds against George Soros compiling the investment record he did as the manager of the Quantum Fund from 1968 through 1993.”
Soros once made a billion dollars betting the British pound would be devalued.
QUESTION: How was Soros able to be so successful?
MY ANSWER: He figured things out.
A Summit of Excellence
Another note from Leah:
George Soros is an inspiration to humanity. He wrote that he wanted to put his money on hopeless places such as Burma, Sierra Leone and the Congo because he likes to fight uphill battles and win.
The Eiffel Tower was a new concept and apparently ahead of its times.
Great art is ahead of its times.
Van Gogh was light years ahead of his times.
I like thing because they are new and they change and evolve. They grow because they are alive and teeming with life.
I am now focused on acing law school and landing internships and jobs while doing yoga and keeping myself healthy.
I am also plotting future places to travel and my dreams become more and more ambitious each and every time I travel.
I am now interested in seeing Angel Falls in Venezuela and Devil’s Pool in Zambia.
Copyright © 2014 by Gary S. Smolker
Posted on August 10, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged "Angel Falls" in Venezuela, "best", "Devil's Pool" in Zambia, "The Greater Journey - Americans in Paris", A Moveable Feast", Aleandre Dumas, architects, art, Augustlus Saint-Gaiudens, Blaise Cendrars, business, butterflies, Carlyle, Charles Garnier, Charles Summer, concepts, conscious, Cophenhagen, corporate finance, creativity, D. J. De Maupassant, David McCullough, Eckermann, Effiel Tower, Effifel Tower, Elizabeth Blackwell, enjoyment of life, enriching other people's lives, enriching your own life, enrichment, Ernest Hemingway, experience, fashion, finance, french taste, George Soros, gift ideas, Goethe, good taste, Gustave Eiffel, Guy De Maupassant, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry James, history, how the brain works, how we know, how we think, how we think we know, how we think we think, human brain, human thought, ideas, imagination, incubation of ideas, inner voices, intellect, intelligence, intimacy, James Fenimore Cooper, John Singer Sargent, joy, king-pin city, knowledge, koi, Leonardo da Vinci, London, Mark Twain, Mary Cassat, mirror neurons, Mozart, Naples, Napolean, Nathaniel Hawthorne, nauances of thought, neurons, neuroscientists, New York Fashion Week, nuances, NYSE, observation, Oliver Wendell Holmes, painters, Paris, passion, peacocks, perceptions, perceptual space, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Raphael, relaxation, robots, Rome, rules, Samuel F. B. Morse, Santa Maria della Grazie, sculptors, self-directed study, seriously amazing gifts, solitude, suicidal, taste, the creative process, the fashion industry, The Last Supper, the Revolution, the study of knowledge, thinking, Thomas Edison, thought, Tory Burch, Trier, unconscious, Van Gough, Venice, Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Walter Scott, writers. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.