Jordan Steinberg!

Food for Thought @ Jing Fong

Every time Jordan @jonahfwd comes back to his birth city, he has a long list of people and places whose status he needs to update. Not much time is left to see what’s new. He was born in New York City but moved to LA in his mid-twenties. He has built a career as an on-set dresser in Hollywood and likes to sneak an iconic drawing of his face in the set. Once my wife spotted it while watching an episode of The Good Place even though she didn’t know he worked on the show.

We met as freshmen at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He was registered as a fine arts major and I as a graphic design major, but during the first year, we all studied the same things. At the end of the year, he told me to switch to fine arts, so I did. Looking back, I’m grateful for that. In today’s fast-evolving market, skills and professions come and go. By the time you graduate from college, they may be obsolete. You might as well study something that would allow you to understand life at the deepest possible level.

I’ve always been drawn to people who follow their natural drives to see where they lead. They are like the balls that orbit around the spacetime curvature leading to a black hole. They go round and round as they inch towards the center. They want to know what this gravitational force is about and what’s at the end of it. The journey can be self-destructive; that is why they orbit instead of heading straight into it.

In college, Jordan was always drawing, and that hasn’t changed. He has a large studio where he creates his own artworks. His process has always been mysterious to me. It’s like he is playing the ouija board where he doesn’t know what his own movements will produce. The school taught us what type of work is currently important, but he never let it influence his work. I don’t think he had a choice in the matter; he had to listen to his inner drive instead of his ego.

There is no goal for drive because the act itself is the reward. Desire, on the other hand, is a moving target, like a dangling carrot; It can never be satisfied. The carrot is the mirage of the meaning of life, whereas drive is a meaningless act that makes the meaning of life self-evident.