Hello! Welcome to MarkFord.net
This is the open-for-inspection half-way home for my writing!
What you’ll find here are essays, stories, book chapters, poetry, and journal entries, as well as words and images from others that I want to share.
The bulk of the essays will be about business, wealth building, and personal productivity. But there will also be things I’m equally or more interested in, such as art, education, economics, physics, philosophy, psychology, neurobiology, fitness, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Since much of what you’ll be reading here will be early drafts of work meant for publication I welcome any comments or suggestions you might have that will help me strengthen them.

Patient Gecko

September 28, 2012 in Poems

Patiently sitting
In the unforgiving sun
His chest lifting
He has been there since sunrise
Why is he waiting?

You go to lunch with a colleague. Everything is good. When the waiter puts the bill on the table, the total is $26.

Do you pick it up? Do you wait and hope he does? Or do you suggest you split it?

On the surface, this is a minor decision. But in truth, it is one of a million chances you’ve had, and will have, to become wealthier.

A cheapskate might look at it this way:

  • If I pay the whole bill, I’ll be $26 poorer.
  • If we split the bill, I’ll be $13 poorer.
  • If I can get him to pay it, I’ll be $13 richer.

To the cheapskate, the best decision is obvious. So when the bill arrives, he gets up to “go to the bathroom,” hoping he’ll be $13 richer when he returns.

But I have a different view. Wealth building, like quantum mechanics, often operates according to laws that seem contrary to what is “obvious.”

Paying the tab, in other words, might actually make you richer. Because the $13 you spend on your lunch partner might give you a return of much more than $13.

Your generosity might signal to him that you are the kind of person he can trust. It might tell him you are someone who is willing to give first without demanding recompense. If he sees you in that light, a relationship might be seeded by this small investment on your part. A year later – it is possible to imagine – he might recommend you for a promotion when he himself gets promoted to head up your department.

It depends on your assessment of his character.

If he impresses you as a person who believes – as you do – in reciprocity, you will know that the $13 is a wise investment. If, on the other hand, he shows you that he is a person who believes in exploiting others, the wise move might be to pay only your share of the bill and not develop the relationship any further.

In either case, you are richer. Click to continue… How Every Decision You Make Can Make You Richer – or Poorer

Great Truths

September 24, 2012 in Briefs

The most important things to know in life take a lifetime to learn. Our first lessons come early — but we grasp only the surface. As we gain life experience we gain deeper understanding. All great truths are both simple and complex, easy to understand yet difficult to master.

Marcelle Lender Dancing the Bolero in “Chilpéric”
57 1/8″ x 59″, oil on canvas
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

In the late 1800s, fin-de-siécle artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec gives us a peek under the skirts of Parisian culture.  Born a French blue blood, Lautrec went into self-imposed exile from high society. The reason? Embarrassment over his deformed legs, the result of an accident in his youth.  His primary subjects were actors, acrobats, entertainers, and prostitutes. He portrayed them with masklike features, harsh lighting, and decadent colors in hectic environments.  Lautrec’s most original contribution was the creation of a new type of art form: using lithography for the publicity poster.

Marcelle Lender Dancing the Bolero in “Chilperic” was painted in 1885/86.  Marcelle was the star of this play about a Spanish princess dancing in the court of the king, Chilperic. (In the painting, he is seated to her left.)  It was performed under newly installed harsh electric lights.  Lautrec visited the show 20 times to make his preliminary sketches.  He was in love with Marcelle and offered the finished painting to her. She refused it. It now hangs in the National Gallery of Art.

Mark Ford remarks, “There is something about Lautrec’s work that reminds me of paintings by Francisco Toledo, the greatest living artist of Mexico.   (He was born in 1940 and is still working.) It is something about the odd choice of colors, the subjects, and the brushwork.

“You can’t call these paintings beautiful in any conventional sense, but they have two qualities that make paintings valuable. They have a sort of instant appeal to the eye. Not pretty, but intriguing. You feel drawn into them. And then, when you look at them, you realize how complex they are. You wonder what possessed the painter. You have the sense that he is in some way disturbed by what he sees and manages to convey that feeling to you.”

Untitled [Flying Fish], Mixed media on paper, 10 ⅝” x 10″

Like Lautrec, Toledo uses an abstracted line and unnatural colors, and he gives us a glimpse of the risque. Hybrid creatures, partly playful and sometimes monstrous, speak to us of the idiosyncrasies of life. His art shows the connection of both human beings and the animal world to the natural world.

Toledo’s erotic and surreal watercolors, prints, assemblages, and drawings are quintessential examples of Mexican Magical Realism, an art form based on the folkloric traditions that he grew up with. He still lives in his hometown of Oaxaca, where he has established several libraries and schools for the arts.

Untitled [Cat], Mixed media on paper, 9 ¾ ” x 13″

The paintings of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec sell for millions of dollars. Smaller works and graphics go for several hundred thousand dollars each.  Francisco Toledo’s larger paintings sell for up to $500,000; smaller originals are available for about $20,000.

 

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