Skip to content


thoughts on books! 5/month.

You are tiring yourself, Joseph.

My Thoughts on The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse

[BUY THE BOOK (affl. link)]

Glass bead game thoughts

My mouth felt dry. There sat the man I revered, my patron, my friend, whom I had loved and trusted ever since I could think, who had always responded to whatever I might say — there he sat and listened to me talk, or perhaps did not listen to me, and had barricaded himself completely behind his radiance and smile, behind his golden mask, unreachable, belonging to a different world with different laws; and everything I tried to bring by speech from our world to his ran off him like rain from a stone. At last — I had already given up hope — he broke through the magic wall; at last he helped me; at last he said a few words. Those were the only words I heard him speak today. " 'You are tiring yourself, Joseph,' he said softly, his voice full of that touching friendliness and solicitude you know so well. That was all. 'You are tiring yourself, Joseph.' As if he had long been watching me engaged in a too-strenuous task and wanted to admonish me to stop.

Outside, beyond the boundaries of the Province, was a way of life which ran counter to Castalia and its laws, which did not abide by the Castalian system and could not be tamed and sublimated by it. And of course he was aware of the presence of this world in his own heart also. He too had impulses, fantasies, and desires which ran counter to the laws that governed him, impulses which he had only gradually managed to subdue by hard effort.

But it happens that cultural creativity is something we cannot participate in quite so fully as some people think. A dialogue of Plato's or a choral movement by Heinrich Isaac — in fact all the things we call a product of the mind or a work of art or objectified spirit — are the outcomes of a struggle for purification and liberation. They are, to use your phrase, escapes from time into timelessness, and in most cases the best such works are those which no longer show any signs of the anguish and effort that preceded them.

"An old house is a fine thing, and if the two had stood side by side and your father were choosing between them, he probably would have kept the old one. Certainly, old houses are beautiful and distinguished, especially so handsome a one as this. But it is also a beautiful thing to build one's own house, and when an ambitious young man has the choice of comfortably and submissively settling into a finished nest, or building an entirely new one, one can well see that he may decide to build.

"If the high Authority appoints you to an office, know this: every step upward on the ladder of offices is not a step into freedom but into bondage. The higher the office, the tighter the bondage. The greater the power of the office, the stricter the service. The stronger the personality, the less self-will."

Exhaustion is Freneticism is Exhaustion

My Thoughts on The Burnout Society by Byung-Chul Han

[BUY THE BOOK(affl. link)]

scarcity threatens the body, abundance threatens the mind

All the talk of immunity, antibodies, grafting and rejection should not surprise anyone. In periods of scarcity, absorption and assimilation are the order of the day. In periods of abundance, rejection and expulsion are the chief concerns. Today, generalized communication and surplus information threaten to overwhelm all human defenses.

The violence of positivity does not deprive, it saturates; it does not exclude, it exhausts. That is why it proves inaccessible to unmediated perception.

the $99 group biking class at soulcycle might have been a giveaway

Today’s society is no longer Foucault’s disciplinary world of hospitals, madhouses, prisons, barracks, and factories. It has long been replaced by another regime, namely a society of fitness studios, office towers, banks, airports, shopping malls, and genetic laboratories. Twenty-first-century society is no longer a disciplinary society, but rather an achievement society [Leistungsgesellschaft]. Also, its inhabitants are no longer “obedience-subjects” but “achievement-subjects.” They are entrepreneurs of themselves.

Disciplinary society is still governed by no. Its negativity produces madmen and criminals. In contrast, achievement society creates depressives and losers.

The attitude toward time and environment known as “multitasking” does not represent civilizational progress. Human beings in the late-modern society of work and information are not the only ones capable of multitasking. Rather, such an aptitude amounts to regression. Multitasking is commonplace among wild animals. It is an attentive technique indispensable for survival in the wilderness.

We owe the cultural achievements of humanity—which include philosophy—to deep, contemplative attention. Culture presumes an environment in which deep attention is possible. Increasingly, such immersive reflection is being displaced by an entirely different form of attention: hyperattention.


The vita contemplativa is not a matter of passive affirmation and being open to whatever happens. Instead, it offers resistance to crowding, intrusive stimuli.

It is an illusion to believe that being more active means being freer.
Rage is the capacity to interrupt a given state and make a new state begin.

The computer calculates more quickly than the human brain and takes on inordinate quantities of data without difficulty because it is free of all Otherness. It is a machine of positivity [Positivmaschine]. Because of autistic self-referentiality, because negativity is absent, an idiot savant can perform what otherwise only a calculator can do.

Mourning differs from depression above all through its strong libidinal attachment to an object. In contrast, depression is objectless and therefore undirected. It is important to distinguish depression from melancholy. Melancholy is preceded by the experience of loss. Therefore it still stands in a relation—namely, negative relation—to the absent thing or party. In contrast, depression is cut off from all relation and attachment. It utterly lacks gravity [Schwerkraft].

In social networks, the function of “friends” is primarily to heighten narcissism by granting attention, as consumers, to the ego exhibited as a commodity.

What proves problematic is not individual competition per se, but rather its self-referentiality, which escalates into absolute competition. That is, the achievement-subject competes with itself; it succumbs to the destructive compulsion to outdo itself over and over, to jump over its own shadow. This self-constraint, which poses as freedom, has deadly results.

All of you who are in love with hectic work and whatever is fast, new, strange—you find it hard to bear yourselves, your diligence is escape and the will to forget yourself. If you believed more in life, you would hurl yourself less into the moment. But you do not have enough content in yourselves for waiting—not even for laziness!

The inner logic of achievement society dictates its evolution into a doping society. Life reduced to bare, vital functioning is life to be kept healthy unconditionally. Health is the new goddess.

Burnout society

I Don't Work on For You

My Thoughts on The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin

[BUY THE BOOK (affl. link)]

  • a raw look into creativity – quite pragmatic actually, and says some things that don't satisfy the fragile sensibilities of the artist, but is tough love for making the best art
  • i read this around the same time as another great book on finding the art in creation, The Timeless Way of Building
  • what does it mean to sacrifice for your art?
  • this book is 5 stars in my opinion because of who wrote it. rick rubin is a legend and walks the walk of creativity
  • the artist moves from project to project as the living being moves from breath to breath
  • this book says what many artists feel every day but fail to formalize into words
  • art is for ourselves, a love letter to the universe and our place in it

The purpose of the work is to awaken something in you first, and then allow something to be awakened in others. And it’s fine if they’re not the same thing. We can only hope that the magnitude of the charge we experience reverberates as powerfully for others as it does for us.

If you have an idea you’re excited about and you don’t bring it to life, it’s not uncommon for the idea to find its voice through another maker.

Imagine going to live on a mountaintop by yourself, forever. You build a home that no one will ever visit. Still, you invest the time and effort to shape the space in which you’ll spend your days. The wood, the plates, the pillows—all magnificent. Curated to your taste. This is the essence of great art. We make it for no other purpose than creating our version of the beautiful, bringing all of ourself to every project, whatever its parameters and constraints. Consider it an offering, a devotional act. We do the best, as we see the best—with our own taste. No one else’s. We create our art so we may inhabit it ourselves.

an interesting take on alpha zero being trained, or more acutely, coming up with creative go moves with huge sets of numbers. what is human, anyway?

The machine learned the game from scratch, with no coach. The AI followed the fixed rules, not the millennia of accepted cultural norms.

It didn’t take into account the 3000 year old traditions and conventions of the game.

It didn’t accept the narrative of how to properly play.

It wasn’t held back my limiting beliefs.

Ultimately, your desire to create must be greater than your fear of it.

If you make the choice of reading classic literature every day for a year, rather than reading the news, by the end of that time period you’ll have a more honed sensitivity for recognizing greatness from the books than from the media.

i drew a picture of this in my journal – it was crappy but still!

The word comes from the Latin—inspirare, meaning to breathe in or blow into. For the lungs to draw in air, they must first be emptied. For the mind to draw inspiration, it wants space to welcome the new. The universe seeks balance. Through this absence, you are inviting energy in.

so good they cant ignore you

With the objective of simply doing great work, a ripple effect occurs. A bar is set for everything you do, which may not only lift your work to new heights, but raise the vibration of your entire life. It may even inspire others to do their best work. Greatness begets greatness. It’s infectious.

Is It Worse to Be A Good Citizen?

My Thoughts on Alone in Berlin (Play) by Hans Falida

[BUY THIS BOOK (affl. link)]

  • i read the play because it was on kindle lol and the original currently isnt, but i really liked reading the stage play itself actually
  • courage is sometimes not about being a good citizen in times of peace, or a bad citizen in times of dissent, but to be a good person

A Bench in the Paupers’ Graveyard, Friedrichshain Elsie enters, wanders, glances at the graves, sits down, takes out a bottle and swigs. Elsie (spoken) I like it here. It’s nice sometimes To sit upon the grass And park your arse On someone’s grave. No need to ask permission (Points down into the earth.) This lot don’t even have names. The paupers’ graveyard of Berlin Would not have let them in If big inscriptions and memorials Were what they’d hoped for. (Sings.) No stones, no carved poetic lines, No grand funereal designs Were ever offered here. No sure and certain hope Had ever come their way in life So why begin in death? They tossed ’em in In groups of five or six or ten or twenty Shovelled earth on top And shrugged and headed home. Not one of those inglorious dead Had lived a life of plenty Though plenty had of course been promised them. And now they lie unsung, unhonoured and unwept, For promises are promises And very rarely kept.

(Spoken.) I need a smoke.

Elsie (sings) At night the SS boss’s boss is Lying in the dark Trembling at the thought Of what the day could bring, Pondering his chances of survival. While far above him, Far, far above him, The boss of bosses Author of the Reich designed to last a thousand years Ordains another thousand deaths To help conceal his fears.

The music transitions to a much jauntier tone as the next scene is set up.

Elsie (sings) Good citizens Can always be relied upon. Good citizens Who dress for church on Sunday And on Monday Go about their business And are never late for work. Good citizens who never shirk Responsibility and duty. The beauty of a system That’s both tragedy and farce Is a citizen’s ability To kiss official arse.

Elsie (sings) You may despise bad citizens Who lie in bed on Sunday And on Monday Duck and dive To stay alive Breaking every rule Hiding from the law Hoping that some fool Will give them money For a drink. Cheating, lying, stealing. Ruthless and unfeeling And not averse To little acts of violence. But … in bad times, Bad citizens (Beat.) Good citizens. (Beat.) Who knows which is worse?

If the Universe was Turing Complete

My Thoughts on At Home in the Universe by Stuart Kauffman

[BUY THIS BOOK (affl. link)]

  • this book is easiest to absorb if you have c.s. knowledge up through a data structures course and a freshman bio course on cells (basically this is a sophomore book)
  • id recommend this book to anyone interested in computational biology
  • interesting claims about the idea of evolution and how it might work if it comes out of order vs coming of chaos
  • subcriticality vs supracriticality really got me thinking!! – very powerful concept
  • coevolution is a game theoretic thing with conflicting shared and stable/unstable peaks
Character Image
<LEDA> where does meruem fit in the map of coevolution?
  • catalyze yourself!
  • cambrian explosion top down vs bottom up of patterns


Many are the arguments about this asymmetry between the Cambrian and the Permian explosions. My own view, explored in later chapters, is that the Cambrian explosion is like the earliest stages of the technological evolution of an entirely novel invention, such as the bicycle. Recall the funny early forms: big front wheels, little back ones; little front wheels, big back ones. A flurry of forms branched outward over Europe and the United States and elsewhere, giving rise to major and minor variants. Soon after a major innovation, discovery of profoundly different variations is easy. Later innovation is limited to modest improvements on increasingly optimized designs.

David Raup, a superb paleontologist at the University of Chicago, estimates that between 99 percent and 99.9 percent of all species that have ever existed are now extinct. The earth today may harbor 10 million to 100 million species. If so, then life’s history may have seen 10 billion to 100 billion species come and go. One hundred billion players strutting and fretting their hour upon the stage, and then are heard no more.

Theories, even those that prove incorrect, can have elegance and beauty, or be utterly ad hoc. A theory requiring an infinite series of ever smaller homunculi is too ad hoc to be true.

When the Fantasy of the Weak Peaked

My Thoughts on Solo Leveling by Chu-Gong

  • its complicated...
  • pros include:
    • epically drawn – very visually captivating large scale battles
    • its cool to see a bad boy win – his powers aren't the traditional manga protag and he works it
    • jinwoo succeeds in becoming the sex god the author sets him out to be
  • cons include:
    • at a certain point in the series (like pretty early on actually) the challenges just...stop? idk he basically over levels the whole series and becomes this guy The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious, Vol. 7 (light  novel) (The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious (light novel), 7):  9781975322045: Tuchihi, Light, Toyota, Saori: Books
    • nobody else matters at all, which is funny when one punch man does it, but the telling is too dramatic to be engaging
    • the jinwoo dick riding becomes a bit much, from everyone in the story, directly or indirectly
    • people are OBSESSED with ranking in this story, if a E-rank so much as lifts a piece of paper everyone is like "hOW dID hE dO tHaT?!~dWcn!@##>??"


  • the fight with thomas andre was sick af and worth reading the series just for that hype train
  • the last boss was the risk equivalent of a nuclear bomb, but i felt no threat when he was on screen because jin woo is so disgustingly OP
  • i literally don't know why cha hae-in got with jinwoo other than that he didn't smell like donkey shit? like ????
  • the shadow army is legitimately awesome, and their personas are unique and fun every time they're on screen (esp. tusk, beeru, and igris)
  • i liked the not at all subtle references to the chimera ant arc during the jeju raid, royal guard and ant king included (even the story's main arm was called the hunter association, so...)
  • why even bother with the national level hunters? by the time they were introduced to the series literally everyone sans jinwoo was completely irrelevant

There is Some Weight Behind this Homesteading Trend

My Thoughts On The Quest of the Simple Life by W.J. Dawson

  • a modern self-help book written in a non modern time (1905)
  • w.j. dawson's flight from london
  • a chapter in the book is dedicated to a clapback letter and his response to said clapback. i appreciated both.
  • ive recently picked up a copy of sun and steel (i havent read it yet). i think dawson, murakami (what i talk about when i talk about running), and mishima might get along (despite their very different political inclinations)
  • dawson is a master of turn of phrase incl.:

"The marooned seaman saves his sanity by cutting notches in a stick, the solitary prisoner by friendship with a mouse; and when life is reduced to the last exiguity of narrowness, the interests of life will be narrow too. No writer, whose work is familiar to me, has ever yet described with unsparing fidelity the kind of misery which lies in having to do precisely the same things at the same hour, through long and consecutive periods of time. The hours then become a dead weight which oppresses the spirit to the point of torture. Life itself resembles those dreadful dreams of childhood, in which we see the ceiling and the walls of the room contract round one's helpless and immobile form. Blessed is he who has variety in his life: thrice blessed is he who has both freedom and variety: but the subordinate toiler in the vast mechanism of a great city has neither. He will sit at the same desk, gaze upon the same unending rows of figures, do, in fact, the same things year in and year out till his youth has withered into age."

"It would seem that the anxieties of getting money only beget the more torturing anxiety of how to keep it."

"I define doing good as the fulfilment of our best instincts and faculties for the best use of mankind; but I do not expect that the Good Earnest People will accept this definition. They would find it much too catholic, simply because they have learned to attach a specialised meaning to the phrase ‘doing good,’ which limits it to some form of active philanthropy. If they would but allow a wider vision of life to pass before the eye, they would see that there are many ways of doing good besides those which satisfy their own ideals....It is a singular thing that men find it very difficult to live lives of charity without cherishing uncharitable tempers towards those who do not live precisely as they themselves do. For instance, the busy philanthropist, nobly eager to bring a little happiness into the grey lives of the disinherited, often has the poorest opinion of artists and novelists, who appear to him to live useless lives. But when Turner paints a picture like the Fighting Temeraire Towed to Her Last Berth (below), which is destined to stir generous thoughts in multitudes of hearts long after his death: or when Scott writes novels which have increased the sum of human happiness for a century, is not each doing good of the rarest, highest, and most enduring kind?"

The Fighting Temeraire - Wikipedia
  • i think simon sarris is a modern version of w.j. dawson
  • i wish i was a bit more self-sustaining, i don't think i could hack it out at walden pond, i lack the backbone or physical constitution!
  • fwiw, i do live the digital equivalent of walden, working consistently on a blog as opposed to posting on social media is the online equivalent of moving to a cottage in the country and handling all the gardening, harvesting etc, for my own satisfaction
  • takeaway questions:
    • how big do you live? can you scale that back?
    • how much do you know about the area you live in?
    • how close is your relationship to nature? what about nature scares you?
    • is it selfish to work on yourself?
    • what is your balance between mind and body? are you serving one, or both? or neither?

modern people i was reminded of reading this book

simon sarris
Isabel Paige
Video’s delen met vrienden, familie en de rest van de wereld
Gold Shaw Farm
Gold Shaw Farm is a farm in Peacham, VT. More accurately, it’s not really a farm yet. Founded by Morgan Gold and Allison Ebrahimi Gold in 2016, Gold Shaw Farm is more of a farm-in-progress than an honest-to-goodness farm. Our dream is that someday we are able to make our 158 acre parcel of land a regenerative and productive homestead/farm. To get there, it’s going to take a lot of work on our part. Our YouTube channel chronicles the journey of getting there for our friends, family and community.

My Thoughts on Maxims for Thinking Analytically

by Dan Levy

(affl. link)

  • book of a list of heuristics to approach situations
  • there were so many anecdotes of students of dr richard zeckhauser using these maxims it felt salesy at times
  • short read, very covid focused – black swan events and hindsight bias prevails throughout
    • however if you do have any important decisions coming up that weigh on you, you should very much filter it through these maxims
  • hard to remember to use maxims consistently until/if they become habitual
  • my favorite maxims:
  • weight errors of commission and omission equally
    • the shape of regret in our minds vs reality – what actually happened
  • reframe anticipation as happiness
    • looking forward to something is enjoyable – often we want then to be now, but we can learn to appreciate the then now too
  • uncertainty is the friend of the status quo &
  • dont judge your decisions on results
    • we want things to stay as they are in the bounds of reasonability
    • we judge ourselves on our best intentions as opposed to the facts of the matter
    • these two work together for some weird scenarios like adding features to a product just to feel like you’re doing anything at all so we can look back and say we tried