Wu wei (Wikipedia)

Wu wei is an important concept in Taoism that literally means non-action or non-doing. In the Tao te Ching, Laozi explains that beings (or phenomena) that are wholly in harmony with the Tao behave in a completely natural, uncontrived way. In a sense that when the planets revolve around the sun, they effortlessly do this revolving without any sort of control, force, or as an attempt to revolve themselves, instead the planets just revolve around the sun in an effortless and spontaneous movement. Just like how fighters blocked punches without conscious thought merely through body reflex. The goal of spiritual practice for the human being is, according to Laozi, the attainment of this natural way of behaving.

(Source: brainpickings.org)

The Hole Near The Center Of The World (Maria Bustillos)

Adventure Time is a smash hit cartoon aimed primarily at kids age six to eleven. It’s also a deeply serious work of moral philosophy, a rip-roaring comic masterpiece, and a meditation on gender politics and love in the modern world. It is rich with moments of tenderness and confusion, and real terror and grief even; moments sometimes more resonant and elementally powerful than you experience in a good novel, though much of Adventure Time’s emotional force is visually evoked—conveyed through a language of seeing and feeling rather than words.

With new processes and an endless list of new materials at his disposal, the artist, craftsman, and designer now suffers from the tyranny of absolute choice. When everything becomes possible, when all the limitations are gone, design and art can easily become a never-ending search for novelty, until newness-for-the- sake-of-newness becomes the only measure. It is at this point that many different versions of novelty begin to create many different esoteric consumer cliques, and the designer with his wares may become more and more alienated from his society and from the functional complex.

In his novel Magister Ludi, Hermann Hesse writes about a community of intellectual elites who have perfected a mystical, symbolic language, called the ‘Bead Game’, that has reduced all knowledge to a sort of unified field theory. The world outside the community is convulsed by riots, wars, and revolutions, but the players of the Bead Game have lost all contact. They are engaged in exchanging their esoterica with one another in the game. There is a disturbing parallel between Hesse’s game and the aspirations of the contemporary artist when he speaks of his goals in the exercise of his private visions. He discourses on space, the transcendence of space, the multiplication of space, the division and negation of space. It is a space devoid of man, as though mankind did not exist. It is, in fact, a version of the Bead Game.

Victor Papanek – Design For The Real World

The cancerous growth of the creative individual expressing himself egocentrically at the expense of spectator and/or consumer has spread from the arts, overrun most of the crafts, and finally reached even into design. No longer does the artist, craftsman, or in some cases the designer, operate with the good of the consumer in mind; rather, many creative statements have become highly individualistic, auto-therapeutic little comments by the artist to himself.

Victor Papanek – Design For The Real World

There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a very few of them. And possibly only one profession is phonier. Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today. Industrial design, by concocting the tawdry idiocies hawked by advertisers, comes a close second. Never before in history have grown men sat down and seriously designed electric hairbrushes, rhinestone-covered shoe horns, and mink carpeting for bathrooms, and then drawn up elaborate plans to make and sell these gadgets to millions of people. Before (in the “good old days”), if a person liked killing people, he had to become a general, purchase a coal mine, or else study nuclear physics. Today, industrial design has put murder on a mass-production basis. By designing criminally unsafe automobiles that kill or maim nearly one million people around the world each year, by creating whole new species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breath, designers have become a dangerous breed. And the skills needed in these activities are carefully taught to young people. […]
As long as design concerns itself with confecting trivial ‘toys for adults’, killing machines with gleaming tailfins, and ‘sexed-up’ shrouds for typewriters, toasters, telephones, and computers, it has lost all reason to exist. Design must become an innovative, highly creative, cross-disciplinary tool responsive to the true needs of men. It must be more research-oriented, and we must stop defiling the earth itself with poorly-designed objects and structures. […] Design can and must become a way in which young people can participate in changing society. As socially and morally involved designers, we must address ourselves to the needs of a world with its back to the wall while the hands on the clock point perpetually to one minute before twelve.

Victor Papanek – Design For The Real World

This is from the preface of Papanek’s book (written in 1971), who seems to be some kind of godfather of socially and ecologically responsible design. I’m on page 40 right now and i’m already convinced that this book makes it in my personal all time favourites. If you happen to be a designer and haven’t read it, please do. Or at least watch Mike Monteiro’s talk “How Designers Destroyed the World”.