Tag Archives: Jean Jacques Rousseau

“On the Road to Creativity” talk notes (Pecha Kucha Night, Vancouver, 2010)

Dave on The Vogue stage at Pecha Kucha by Jonathan Hanley

What follows are my notes for a talk called “On the Road to Creativity” for Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver. The format includes 20 slides for 20 seconds each, auto-changed. As such, the pace is brisk and a bit of a high-wire act. No audio/video exists but there is a “roundup” of photos, tweets, and other artifacts including the hand-crafted “paper-point” collage slides. See “Consider Perusing” below.

1 – On the road I’ve spent much of my life wandering around the globe working odd jobs including mushroom farmer in Japan, grape picking in Germany, beach club host in Guam and even following the Grateful Dead – all these experiences provided lots of time for thinking mostly about the meaning of art and importance of documentation – here’s what i cam up with

2 Art makes the future while the history we learn is laden with the stories of kings, conquerers, popes and rulers, the only reason we know anything about how people lived, loved and thought is because artists took the time to chronicle the the stories through paint, words, carvings, and song. From the earliest cave painters to bloggers, there is vast evidence for the importance of storytelling.

3 Art Craft Schwag No doubt today like olden times, there is a tremendous amount of disposable pop culture created to satiate common interest but the best stuff created by diligent artisans rises above the layer of schlock into the territory of craft and then transcends into a rarified area of art which will last centuries rather than 15 minutes. But who decides what is art? And don’t give me that “i know what i like” answer.

4 Craft + Intent Instead I’ve made a formula to sort out these largely subjective criteria – first off, take Craft – skill honed from thousands of hours of consideration, then add Intent – which, while subjective, can be gauged by heart of the creator, and then multiplied by the artist’s Integrity as seen by an audience. The audience who truly breathes life into a story, no matter the medium. This formula doesn’t work for you? Cool, make another, but be sure to share. Art does not live in a vacuum, art yearns to be shared.

5 Audience / Awesome But this can be tricky for artists who must balance their internal desire and, dareisay mission, to create authentic art with the often debilitating practical need to make a living. I’ve found that my projects which garner the biggest audience, are not necessarily the ones which i maximize my artistic potential – find where you audience and awesomeness intersect and try to find a way to hang out there. Here’s how:

6 Upgrade your Heroes First upgrade your heroes – history is scattered with underknown world-changers, and the present is too. Dig beyond pop culture, politicians and sports personalities to find remarkable predecessors to your work – for me, my heroes range from writer of “Confessions” and “The Social Contract”, Jean Jacques Rousseau, to current day punk rock photographer bev davies. Who are your historical dopplegangers?

7 Personal Archaeology Next, embark on personal archaeology – dig into your closet to find forgotten dreams from those black white photos you took in yellowstone to graduate thesis to 4th grade book reports to your journals from hitchhiking down the coast. Take the risk to share these artifacts with your small slice of the world and let them breathe life into your work.

8 Embrace Translucency Transparency isn’t interesting – instead share the parts of you which are compelling and you are capable of backing up – accept risks but protect the parts of you which are too delicate to expose. Create interest through scarcity and self-editing and be prepared to deal with any reaction which comes along.

9 Express with vigour You are an expert on something, don’t rely on others to create the historical record – everyone has access to remarkable publishing and promotion tools so step it up and dig deep to tell your unfiltered opinions and don’t let cynics bring you down – if you can’t surprise and impress yourself, no way you can evoke emotion from an audience.

10 HST I think of “Express with Vigour” as the “Hunter S Thompson rule” – while his reputation has been somewhat maligned through hollywood movies, the fake Doctor was the finest social commentator since Samuel Clemens and offered significant discourse about Jimmy Carter, Hell Angels, 9/11 – and did it with a significant buzz – but always had a job because he expressed himself wisely and vigorously.

11 Cross Training Now sometimes the pressure to create awesomeness can be debilitating – staring at a white sheet of paper and all that – rather than stressing, experiment with other mediums and get interdisciplinary with cross training skillz and your stories will manifest through the other tools – i contend V. Van Gogh c/would’ve made it as a writer if the painting hadn’t worked out.

12 Don’t Get Precious With all this goodness you are creating, it’s easy to get protective of your thoughts and work. Rather than waiting for someone to make you an offer you can’t refuse, share your work openly and willingly – learn about creative commons, find collaborators, encourage remixing and your work will create a culture of its own. It’s not always fair but it is usually fun.

13 Ignore Gatekeepers The established business models for artists are relatively modern and designed to create value for the shareholders of corporations. The goal of landing a major label record deal or a big publishing advance are no longer needed or valued – be your own imprint, chart your own course, the gatekeepers may look intimidating but they are made of stone so walk on by.

14 Cross Pollinate When your work is released to the world to an audience – no matter the size – you’ll see a culture begin to grow around it – In the hills of Japan, I learned that once inoculated, Shiitake mushrooms propagate their culture from one log to the next – as the older logs rot away and stop producing, new logs down the line are fruiting fungus. Ditto with your audience.

15 Get more drummers One dude drumming alone can make some noise but is not a party – recruit more drummers to amplify your story in their own way and spread your message across continents and oceans while building relationships and playing well with others. More fun, more effective plus you need others to have your back from time to time. Your momma told you are 1 in a million – that means there are at least 30 people just like you in Canada alone – go find em.

16 Formula for creativity The old Edison maxim suggest success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration – this isn’t my formula – my formula for creative expression is 80% meditation, 10% execution and 10% inebriation – what i mean by that is the real work comes in the white space of life where you contemplate your story – the inebriation part is about pushing yourself to where you get a little scared.

17 Collect notes along the way Travelling light means not accumulating much – for me gathering ephemeral objects along the way can be a short cut to remembering where you were mentally, emotionally, artistically decades later – a train ticket or dried flower can leap you back to a place in time which can benchmark how much you’ve remained the same while constantly evolving and spark new creative pursuits.

18 make it for yourself Everyone else is just eavesdropping – this ain’t your job – its for love not money so make it exactly how you want it. Push out the nagging naysayers in your noggin and create something with integrity and for the love of all things decent, don’t cheese out for the quick win. Be sell out proof and make things you’ll want to read when you are old and grey.

19 Reap Rewards Making stories for the future isn’t a way to gain the material trapping of perceived success. You may never see your reward beyond the admiration of a small tribe of others – but that’s enough. Success will be a surprise you likely don’t expect. Don’t wait for your ship to come in, instead realize it might get lonely out waiting for your bus to roll in so get comfy and settle in.

20 Hang loose I’m dave, i’m all over the internet – i have a killer job so you can’t hire me but you can buy me a beer – thank you and hang loose vancouver

“Are You Worthy / Greeks to Geeks” talk transcription (Wordcamp Whistler, 2009)


What follow is a transcription of a talk called “Are You Worthy – Publishing from Greeks to Geeks” at Wordcamp Whistler in 2009. Video and audio exists, as does a “round-up” of photos, tweets, artifacts, and so on. See “Consider Perusing” below.

Speaker: We really hoped you enjoyed today and I think you’re going to enjoy this last session.  I’ve been looking forward to it since we started planning this.  So with that I’m going to turn over to Dave Olson, he’s going to ask you, “Are you Worthy?”     

Dave: So, it’s the end of the day, my brain is a little stretched — a lot of input, a lot of stuff.  So, if you feel a little antsy, because frankly taking notes — I don’t know if I’m going to say anything that’s really worth taking notes.  

I’m just putting this out there, if you want to come and sit down here or you want to pull your chair over, I’m an old hippie, so I was on dead tour.  It’s all right you can come and sit down if you want.  No big deal by the way.   I’ll give you a moment to do that.  

My ulterior motive for asking you to do that is that I didn’t bring anything to put on the projector.  But I have lots of little odds and ends here.  So, you’ll get a better view if you come and sit up front.  That’s the way I like it — special shout-out to the ladies right back there.       

I almost said I didn’t make any slides but I did make two slides here because people are always telling me that, “Dave, we really like your presentations, but damn it, would you give us a bulleted list?”  

Continue reading “Are You Worthy / Greeks to Geeks” talk transcription (Wordcamp Whistler, 2009)

Spieling at a Wedding ~ Artifacts from Sheila/Kemp’s Nuptials

Kemp Edmonds convinced his fiancé Sheila that i’d be a fine candidate to quasi-officiate their wedding. I was promised beer and they provided a wee bit of guidance as to fave themes, songs, writers.

I combined their thoughts with my style and go-to authors and penned some musings which sandwiched the nice magistrate lady Barb doing the secular ritual required by written law. I dry-cleaned my pin-striped, thrift-store suit and i wore my Florsheim wing-tips i scored in exchange for some impromptu consulting at a e-comm conference – these shoes are so fancy, they are stored in cloth bags.

Here is a photo by Lyndsay London for the record and a pretty close transcription of my spiel:

Dearest assembled

Together, tonight, we add to the heritage of this hall – we bask in the memories of those who celebrated here before – and briefly consider the years to come – while we gather to celebrate these two lovely friends – raise our voice in support for the decision they’ve made – and offer our gentle help for their future years.

As for us, we’ll always have tonight to combine us in our affection for this couple – Kemp and Sheila {in case you are at the wrong wedding} Together, we’ll always have their good cheer to bind us. Kemp and Sheila, you are are part of us all now. 

To the parents, siblings, aunties, especially the uncles and cousins galore – this is a celebration of your contributions to their lives. Congratulations to you all and though they’ll hardly have a chance to say it amidst the whirlwind, i *suspect* they are most grateful to each of you for coming. 

When expressing feelings for dearest soulmate, we humans are prone to metaphor ~ equating the vastness of our love to grains of sand, or the stars deeper deeper still crowding the universe.

Or even the most stoic drifts to comparisons of love to *uniqueness* – evoking images of trembling snow flakes each allegedly unique {note: they aren’t}, or splashy heroic feats like climbing mountains, fording fjords, or having giant structures built as tokens of affection – whether they be Taj Mahals or surrounded by white picket fences. 

But I propose that it’s not the quantity that matters – rather love is best gauged by its quality – the degree in which you savour each moment – the long walks in glorious parks, visiting family for sunday suppers, adventures to countries you’ve never considered where you’ll wander late night in twisty cobbled lanes when’re beloved have meandered, scampered and observed for centuries – clutching hands, believing, knowing, trusting that their love was the deepest uniquest, vastest of any love ever. 

Representing Lebanon, Gibran lays it down thusly: 

Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.

But if you love and must needs have, let these be your desires:

to melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night

to know the pain of too much tenderness

to be wounded by your own understanding of love;

and to bleed willingly and joyfully 

to wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

to rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;

to return hem at eventide with gratitude;

and then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in

your heart and a song of praise upon your lips

Indeed! But your love will show its true quality in the tough times life heaves at us all – from time to time. This pressures can be akin to the earth squeezing hidden pockets of carbon in scattered mountains and trenches so precisely that the create glimmering breadcrumbs beneath the surface – aching to reveal themselves to sun and eye to reach full their potential. 

Sometimes the years we wish to hurry by are the ones that look back upon so fondly – aged with the wisdom and fortitude gained when all looked so rough.

Meanwhile in Paris in the 1700s Jean Jacques Rousseau was thinking the *same thing* – about and loving when the living ain’t easy:

“If our pleasures could be described, there simplicity would appear ridiculous; our walks, tete a tete outside the city 

where i spent my last 8 or 10 sous on little suppers at the open window at which we say opposite watch other on two low chairs pace upon a trunk which filled up the breadth of the window niche. 

Who could describe the charms of these meals at which the dishes consisted of nothing more than a quatern loaf of bread, a few cherries a morsel of chess and half a pint of wine which we shared between us – Friendship, confidence, intimacy, tranquility of mind, how delicious are your seasonings!”

Certainly, your life with be laden with splendid times and the deepness of your love and patience will only be key when he spends 4x as much as you on a haircut – just know that he did it to look good for you. Or she comes home late saying she was listening to a friend’s problems when you know she just wanted to catch overtime. 

However wee, every day and every action adds to the quality of love – and polished with skill – the results are the head-spinning rewards of contented smiles and splendid leisure – so are you ready?

because the Red Hot Chili Peppers suggest:

the one to treasure the rest of your days is here

you’ve each finally found something perfect

so are you ready to show up for duty

serve this woman and honour her beauty?

will you agree to take this man into your world 

and be as one?

don’t answer me … While i represent the voice of the people, i don’t represent the law, as such, i’ll defer to my magisterial counterpart to tend to these particulars:


Kemp and Shiela, before we segue into a night of celebrations and feasting and who knows what else, i’ll share the thoughts of wandering – in American in the 1800’s – Walt WhitmanL

I have perceived that to be with those i like is enough,

to stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,

to be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh 

is enough

to pass among them or touch any one or rest my arm ever so lightly around neck for a moment

what is this then?

i do not ask any more delight, i swim in it as in a sea!

and i’ll continue for him with my dedication to you two: 

another Jericho beach sunset stroll after bread, cheese and wine picnic on a Indonesian sarong bought at a market on a sunny day

another main street quest for a surprise bottle of wine to remember that night on the island when you sat on a boulder not caring about algae and cold and held each other, and gazed and awed and wondered about the possibilities, dreaming of a future growing together 

or another snowed in cabin day, fireplace, hot place, and comparing passages and patterns – naps and snacks

another Saturday helping friends in need knowing you have more to give another night eager to be home together, the willingness for a late night drive home, the patience when someone hogs the beds 

another evening sharing knowledge with vigour and passion to return fulfilled – but ready for a kiss

another bus ride night to gather collaborate grow, challenge, learn, knowing that you’ll never stop progressing 

another lifetime of walking hand in hand side by side, not in front of, not behind, trusting, hoping, knowing believing that your love is endless – as you pause to count the stars like so many gems


Kemp and Sheila, i humbly invite you to grab hold of one another, gaze into one another’s eyes and Kemp its time to kiss to your (smoking hot) bride!

Now you two beloved turn around and meet your future as i have the pleasure of introducing you to the good people as the married couple, Sheila and Kemp Edmonds. Congratulations!

Rousseau Confesses and more Letters from Russia – Postcard #6

Postcard from Gravelly Beach - Silver Malaysian postboxes

In Volume six, DaveO sits with ducks at Olympia’s Capitol Lake on a windy day and reads from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Confessions” and offers a bit of discourse on transparency, plus reads two more original “Letters from Russia” epistolary literature.

Sit down for: Rousseau Confesses and more Letters from Russia – Postcard #6 (10:00, 11MB, mp3, stereo)

Continue reading Rousseau Confesses and more Letters from Russia – Postcard #6