Mind Maps #6, Neon Lights & Insights, A.I Art, World-Soul

Mind Maps #6, Neon Lights & Insights, A.I Art, World-Soul

Hey all,

Following the clamouring chaos of Indonesia and Vietnam, Taiwan feels like another world altogether.

Orderliness and modernity pervade the place. Pedestrians pause patiently at intersections where LED streetlights count down the seconds precisely. Commuters queue cordially on train platforms, not waiting long before the next swoosh from the darkness comes to carry them home.

The city comes alive at night when people pour through bustling night markets. Arcades gleam, stuffed with plush prizes. Stylish youths inspect vintage tee shirts. Pungent tofu wafts through the evening air.  

I've been lucky to be guided around Taipei by my friend and former colleague, Johnson. We are a far cry from the Sydney advertising agency where we struck up a fast friendship years ago. Johnson would sometimes crash on the downstairs couch of my Marrickville share house in the event our after-work drinks outlasted Sydney's public transport system. He's now returned the favour a hundred-fold, generously guiding me through Taipei's markets and temples, even tutoring me on the proper protocol for eating Xiaolongbao. Pro tip: soak the dumpling in ginger-infused soy sauce.

Johnson has returned to Taipei to reconnect with his family and Taiwanese identity and culture. As he patiently explains the local culture and recalls childhood memories, I'm struck by his knowledge, openness and the strong love he holds for his family. His journey of discovery - and rediscovery - is inspiring.

As well as being a top bloke, Johnson is also an incredible photographer. He's using his talents to capture images of Taiwan's culture and traditions.

Johnson Liu

Like many Taiwanese people, he's well aware of the risk of conflict that looms over the island. Yet, he remains optimistic. He encourages me to see Taiwan as more than a pawn in international politics but rather a dynamic, cosmopolitan society with its own thriving culture.

Notwithstanding the global political climate, Taiwan feels incredibly safe. At this point, the biggest risk I face is overdosing on sushi and boiled eggs from 7-Eleven. I've visited that glowing, striped institution so regularly, I'm considering investing in the company.

Today, I'm heading southeast to explore a different side of Taiwan.

As my travels continue, I'm comforted to know that a good friend, and the convenient neon embrace of a 7-Eleven, are not far away.

A few recommendations

💻 Website / 📷Photography - Please check out the website that includes work from my mate, Johnson Liu. Among his brilliant work, the 'personal' collection, focusing on moments with his family in Taiwan, is particularly beautiful.

Johnson Liu

🎙️ Podcast - When I was enthusiastically training my running abilities (those were the days!) I went down a rabbit hole and got into Rich Roll, who has a wonderful podcast and authored the book, Finding Ultra. He has a pretty remarkable story of transformation, going from an alcoholic corporate lawyer to a successful long-distance runner in his 40s. I'd highly recommend his recent interview on the Diary of a CEO podcast (Spotify / Apple). Don't be turned off if running or business are not your bag, it's a thoughtful conversation about our capacity for change and the possibility of becoming more attentive and intuitive.

🖼️ AI Art  - There's a lot of AI-generated art kicking around at the moment, including some of the imagery in my own newsletters and articles (these are my confessions).

Last year, an AI-generated artwork by Jason Allen famously (or infamously) won an art prize:

It's also used for less high-brow purposes, like Phillip Lenssen who created this mashup movie poster:

📝 Poem - Lastly, a verse from the poem, 'The World-Soul' by Emerson:

Yet there in the parlor sits
Some figure of noble guise,-
Our angel in a stranger's form,
Or woman's pleading eyes;
Or only a flashing sunbeam
In at the window pane;
Or Music pours on mortals
Its beautiful disdain.

Wishing you peace, progress and adventure!