Apr 29, 2018

Book life update

I am logged in. It is Sunday, April 29 of the year two thousand and eighteen. I'm writing because I feel guilty for all of the books that I bought today. Well, only guilty out of the senses of obligation of needing to read them. I don't feel guilty for spending the money, but I do feel guilty knowing that I probably won't get to all of them. Buying a book feels like making a commitment to it and to myself that I will invest time and energy into reading it and absorbing what it has to say. There's a couple of books that I've failed to do this with. They pile up on my bookshelf and I feel guilty about them. Guilty about not finding the time to devote to them. Guilty about contemplating the future in which I have the knowledge that they would impart. Guilty about thinking I could buy them and that that would force myself into finding time for them.

I bought a bunch of books today. I went a bit wild in the Urban Studies and Econ section of the bookstore. But it was hard not to! They had all of these books that I've been wanting to read but haven't committed to yet there in one place.

David Graeber's Debt, 5000 years. I would have said no except that I realized that it was written by an anthropologist and I'm interested in debt because I'm hoping that it explains some questions I have about monetary policy. Questions that I think that only reading about history can help answer, not reading theory.

Last Interviews with Jane Jacobs. I haven't read any Jacobs in a while, but I've had this one on my long term reading list. It's just 4 interviews, so it's pretty short. I'm also trying to buy books that I have a high probability of actually reading and interviews are things I always enjoy. The last interview in the book is one of my favorite. It was originally printed in the back of my copy of The Question of Sepratism and I've even gone so far as to illegally transcribe it onto my other blog. Lol.

Some book on BART. Basically a history book of how BART got made. I did a lot of reading when I lived in NYC to prep myself for giving tours of 34th street and really loved how learning about the history of the city changed my relationship with it, made it feel more like a place that I deeply understood and loved. I think I'd like to read more books on the history of SF, and BART seems like a wonderful place to start.

The second book in the Binti sci fi series, Home.  I read the first one, more like a chapbook than a novel and accidentally bought the 3rd one, so I needed the 2nd one. I didn't love the first but feel like I should finish the series up seeing as they're pretty goddamn short.

I really splurged on Michael Lewis's books. Dog Eared Books had both Panic and The Big Short, and I know that I'll read and really enjoy both of them, so I went ahead and indulged.  I really really love the stories that Michael chooses to tell, and I'm 100% confident that I'll actually end up reading these so I don't feel too bad about spending the money on them.

It's a lowkey goal of mine to read most to all of both Michael Lewis's and Hannah Arendt's works. They had a new collection of works and correspondences of Arendt's at the store that I was *sorely* tempted to pick up, Thinking without a Banister. But! I'm in the middle of Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism and have her On Violence at home, and figured that was more than enough to see me through. Also, a short note on collections, I'm not always a fan of reading excerpts and strange collections of notes from authors. There's something to be said about a finished, fully considered and published work.  Notes and one off ideas are nice, but they don't really get to the crux of the piece, you know?

Other books that I've got in my 'reading' stack that I wish I had more time to devote to: Benjamin Graham's Intelligent Investor. Bunny Huang's book on Making Things. Jane Jacob's first book, Constitutional Chaff. Papers for the Lightning network. A short book of Wittenstein's. The Karl Marx book that Kate Losse recommended I read and now I can't remember the name of. Oops.

Apr 22, 2018


Often times when I get obsessed with a new author or thinker, and I find myself ripping through the majority of their big works in a short period of time, I'll also tend to notice places where they come back to the same points, where their logic or thread is basically a continuation of a previous point that someone else has made.

I don't know, maybe that's rude to discount an intellectual because their brain found a pattern and they didn't let go of it.

It's not endless repetition that I'm referring to, it's the sort of progress you'd expect from a truly deep thinker: a movement of building thought and connections to a prior thought that they'd had. By reading their works in chronological order, you can get a great understanding of how their thinking progressed, and how these different experiences that they've had in life have contributed and shaped their world view.

That being said, I can't help but find myself discounting them, or at least, feeling a bit disappointed that I'm only ever going to get one or maybe two interesting threads or viewpoints from a single thinker.

At the same time, when I find myself retreading old thoughts, there's a similar amount of dread. I feel like I'm committing a sin that I've condemned others for. It's a method of stifling, of self-abnegation driven by this need to continue to evolve as a world view, to bring forth something new and interesting not just for the invisible audience that I've built for myself (look, I know you're not invisible, the invisibility is the host of ideas that exist in my head and nowhere else; they're entirely internal thoughts that only I recognize as duplicates and yet, all the same, castigate myself for having had them anew).  There's nothing wrong with retreading past points, it's incredibly hard not to do but all the same I want to escape it.

I think that a lot of the self-castigation comes from an overwhelming sense of cowardice. It's cowardice that leaves me in the same place; it's cowardice that keeps me from accepting and embracing the things that I actually do want. The repetition may be the thoughts, but it's also, more generically a continual repetition of cowardice that keeps me from exploring the ideas that I have, that keeps me from executing, that keeps me stuck in the same world view.

It's fun and incredibly rare to find authors who manage to overcome, somewhat, their worldview problem. Arendt is probably of the highest order, but even with her, if you zoom out far enough you can still fit her thinking into 'historiological social interpretation of the human world order'. Well, sort of. You have to read both her Origins of Totalitarianism and the Human Condition to fully understand it, I think.

And even more broadly, as fresh and insightful that Arendt is, I still find a certain amount of 'datedness' in her writing, her context and her peers and the thoughts of others that surrounded her at the time of her writing that find their way into her work, inextricably, the same sort of contextualization that none of us are immune from. Philosophy aims to be universal, yet even it finds itself entrenched in an endless stream of context.  Kant, as Arendt points out, is incomprehensible without understanding Galileo.  Galileo makes little sense without a fuller understanding of the Catholic Church, which comes from Roman times and so on and so forth.

All worldviews are entwined, and you cannot escape if not the singular world view of your own, at least reflecting the worldview of your age.  The references and allusions that are made in work, the turns of phrase, the things that you mention as being 'worrysome' that all later become laughable or some inside joke for which later generations have lost all necessary context.

Context is king because it is the shape of your reality.

Apr 14, 2018


There's been a lot to think about lately.
There's always a  lot to think about.

I started a  new job but I don't want to tell anyone where I'm working.   At least, no one on the Internet.  It's not a secret, but I'm not talking about it. Not yet, anyway.  It's kind of nice to know that you don't know what I'm doing now. That where I am is unknown, except to those that know it. Silence breeds seclusion. I'll take it.

Maybe some day I'll tell you.
Some day that isn't today.

A new star has risen. I can feel it. A star rises, but the world beneath it stays the same.

Some words mean nothing, but are true nonetheless.

I  know more now than I've ever known. Knowing that lets me know I'm happy.

birthdays and such

I'm going to be an aunt (soon!) and I've been getting high a lot more lately and somehow these two things converged on birthdays and...