embarrassment

Put Something Into The World That Hasn't Been Said Before

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Seth Godin from "Seth Godin on the Art of Noticing, and then Creating," On Being, January 24, 2013:

When I give a talk — at the end [I'll] say, are there any questions? And the only people who are raising their hand are raising their hand because they think they have a question the group wants to hear. They think that they have something to contribute.

Now what's fascinating about it is five minutes after we're done, everyone has a question. Right? Because now it's safe to ask your question because you're not going to be judged on the question that you're going to ask.

But the people who do ask a question have demonstrated to themselves that they have good enough judgment to be able to put something into the world that hasn't been said before. That's what makes it a good question. And that practice is something that we should learn and we should teach our kids, and we should teach our colleagues how to do it.

See also:

Turning Shame into Art

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Tour participants at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, in Sydney (Photo for the New York Times by Christo Crocker)

Excerpt from "New Tour at Museum Reveals All," by Mark Whittaker, The New York Times, May 1, 2012:

Stuart Ringholt said that in his 20s, he was profoundly affected by experiences of extreme embarrassment, a subject now at the center of much of his work. One of these involved toilet paper hanging out of his pants as he walked on the field at an Australian football game with hundreds of people looking on.

“I was wrecked — I went home and explained it to my girlfriend, and she was killing herself laughing,” he said. “I was distraught for a whole week.”

Being a dabbler in performance, Mr. Ringholt turned shame into art. He went to Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and stood in front of a marble fountain for 20 minutes with toilet paper trailing from his trousers. He walked around for a day in Basel, Switzerland, wearing a prosthetic nose with a “gob” of fake mucus hanging from it.

“I tried to understand how fear manifests in the body and how it debilitates you,” he said. Knowing these acts of abjection were performances didn’t make them easier, he added: “It was just as bad. You get a panic attack. You get cold sweats. I realized it was the same fear I got when I rang up a woman to ask her on a date.”

Eventually, he said, he learned to conquer his fear by understanding it. He called the woman and got the date, and he took his fear workshops on the road. That led to the nude museum tours.


See also: "I Ran Out Naked In The Sun" by Jane Hirshfield, from Come, Thief