On Thursday I bought a black hoodie. With all their garments, the producers write an essay on the inspiration behind the piece. The essay that accompanies the hoodie is called (Tele)pathy and covers Walter Benjamin’s writing on gambling.
One part stood out:
For Benjamin, it follows that gambler’s luck is not a matter of getting it right by chance or decree, but is revealed, rather, by being sensitive to a particular mode of reading the table. This reading is primarily performed by the player’s body, what in this case Benjamin calls motor innervation “emancipated” from the interfering (but also present) promptings of rational waking consciousness.
This is about being in the moment. About acting on instinct or intuition, seemingly guided by knowledge but not even rationalising a choice. Being and doing, but no more.
It reminded me of Alan Watts talking about ‘peripheral vision’ in The Way of Zen:
The “rigorously scientific” method of predicting the future can be applied only in special cases – where prompt action is not urgent, where the factors involved are largely mechanical, or in circumstances so restricted as to be trivial. By far the greater part of our important decisions depend upon “hunch” – in other words, upon the “peripheral vision” of the mind. Thus the reliability of our decisions rests ultimately upon our ability to “feel” the situation, upon the degree to which this “peripheral vision” has been developed.
What’s funny about knowledge work in the internet era is how much of it happens based on intuition or instinct. If you spend too long looking at a problem, you lose the ability to solve it: analysis paralysis. Or when a context presents itself that requires urgent action, but there’s no time to develop a thesis for the situation.
In general, my job is to facilitate decision-making. But because I’m flitting between different actors and contexts, one has to rely on this peripheral vision. And gamble.
Note: I’m writing this in the early hours, after waking up from a stressful dream. It’s possible that this makes no sense, but I liked jotting down this note regardless.
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