This is some of the stuff I like, you’re not supposed to like it too.
They’re children, these two. They think they’re adults, but they’re play-acting at adulthood. They think love is supposed to feel like your heart racing and checking your phone too many times in the span of a minute to see if the other person has responded, if she’s still hurt, if he’s still mad.
Right now she’s questioning the up and down of it and whether her body is supposed to feel this way, if she’s supposed to be on the verge of tears when she walks down the street thinking of how much she’s given. He’s asking if he can handle how much she wants from him, if he can stare at her for as long as they did once in an all-night diner, the place she took him in college the first time someone broke his heart.
They’re sweet. They need to figure out how to better co-regulate their emotions. They need to figure out how to be happy facing down long stretches of time that aren’t punctuated by bacchanals or getaways or achievements. The hardest sentences aren’t violent, they’re monotonous.
…a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment.
…a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.
The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am.
I have a post about discomfort, too. That is not this post. This post is about what it means to be coachable. Be coachable means that, if you REALLY WANT IT, shut the fuck up. Take everything you are “automatically certain” of, in your mind, put it in a box and stash it in a corner. It is only when your mind is empty of all notions, all fears and insecurities, that you are ready to learn.
From Poppy Spock, Cuban Miss Elle and dozens of other coaches, I have learned to be a great deal less arrogant. I have learned to put a leash on my certitude and righteousness and rein them in. It feels if somehow I’ve been liberated. I feel like a kid again; the world is vibrant and real — there is still so much to learn. It is thrilling.
I recommend it with all my heart.
Why then does an idea enter one mind and not another? Ideas act as all organisms do—they seek habitats (i.e. minds) that can provide them with the space and resources (i.e. mental runtime, ideas eat the energy that enables action potentials) needed to survive and reproduce (i.e. create new idea-children). Just as some ecosystems are more diverse, abundant, and resilient, some minds are as well.
What we call creativity is the quality of possessing a healthy mental ecosystem, one that offers fertile ground for a plenitude of ideas. Ideas may also be attracted to particular minds for more specific reasons—for example, an idea may see that other related ideas (members of the same genera or family) have found the mind to be especially suitable or perhaps the mind is in dire need of a certain idea and therefore will offer it ample resources upon arrival.
Some minds (e.g. those that are dominated by one idea or set of ideas, perhaps a religious or political ideology) provide poor habitat and are avoided by all but the most desperate ideas (e.g. irrational and harmful ideas that can’t find a home elsewhere—this is why conspiracy theories and hateful ideologies tend to congregate in the same minds).
I wonder if economists overrate the easier-to-observe policy factors and under-theorize the idea that positive visions of the future drive long-term growth. To put it in a different way, I wish that they would consider definite optimism as human capital. In addition to education levels, human capital models should consider factors like optimism, imagination, and hope for the future.
When I say “positive” vision, I don’t mean that people must see the future as a cheerful one. Instead, I’m saying that people ought to have a vision at all: A clear sense of how the technological future will be different from today. To have a positive vision, people must first expand their imaginations. And I submit that an interest in science fiction, the material world, and proximity to industry all help to refine that optimism. I mean to promote imagination by direct injection.
Giving up on a life’s purpose does not mean there are not areas which are more fruitful to pursue than others. When you are interested in something, this suggests a fertile area. If nothing else, interests represent low-hanging fruits of reward-to-effort payoff: when you are pursuing an interest, rather than an obligation, you are able to use the energy you would otherwise need to browbeat yourself into actually doing things.
This is why it seems so easy to read about whatever your personal obsession is – astrology, kabbalah, entomology – rather than whatever the marketplace or superego tells you should be pursuing – tax law, Bible study, a programming language (these are examples only – many people have interests or disinterests in these subjects!) Like the God of the Old Testament, we will love whom we will love, and we will be fascinated by that which fascinates us.
I find it highly desirable and think everyone should begin to cultivate it at the age of 24, so they can start opting out of big chunks of potentiality as soon as possible.
Essentially, deciding that you’re Too Old is deciding that this the right moment for you to choose depth over breadth. It’s saying, novelty is all the same, it’s the specificity found during repetition that’s really exciting. When you’re Too Old for frolicking with 400 acquaintances from the internet, it’s not that you dislike new people; you happen to think that new people are great! It’s that you’ve become aware of the sameness of existence.
There’s no one person out there who is going to disclose the previously unknown truth of reality. There is no area where Actual Life is occurring, which, once glimpsed, will reveal that everything you had known previously is a sham. It’s all just more talking. Which is nice, you love talking. But you’re not going to go way out of your way for it. You can just talk to your wife and your existing friends, who you know will never invite you to a cuddle puddle, ever.
…we’ve talked about how treating individual people as fungible doesn’t work for corporations but, of course, it also doesn’t work in general. For example, a complaint from a friend of mine who’s done a fair amount of “on the ground” development work in Africa is that a lot of people who are looking to donate want, clear, simple criteria to guide their donations (e.g., an RCT showed that the intervention was highly effective).
But many effective interventions cannot have their impact demonstrated ex ante in any simple way because, among other reasons, the composition of the team implementing the intervention is important, resulting in a randomized trial or other experiment not being applicable to team implementing the intervention other than the teams from the trial in the context they were operating in during the trial.
An example of this would be an intervention they worked on that, among other things, helped wipe out guinea worm in a country. Ex post, we can say that was a highly effective intervention since it was a team of three people operating on a budget of $12/(person-day)6 for a relatively short time period, making it a high ROI intervention, but there was no way to make a quantitative case for the intervention ex ante, nor does it seem plausible that there could’ve been a set of randomized trials or experiments that would’ve justified the intervention.
Selfless dating is about adopting the opposite mindset — shooting for the upside of a relationship. This doesn’t offer a solution to getting hurt; quite the opposite.
I think that the best way to get to a selfless relationship is to act selflessly way too early, long before the other person does. This doesn’t equate to simping, subservience or melodramatic declarations of love. It means that from the very first date your goal is to figure out and give your partner what would make them happy, which is usually a lot more than they themselves would dare ask for.
And so what the guy does instead is, he goes on dates with girls he meets on tinder and dating sites, and he charms them with his ability to be extremely open and sharing intimate — TRUE — things of himself, with perfect strangers. He weaponizes his HONESTY, and it’s not even a lie, or a put on persona. He might change bits and pieces here and there, depending on the girl, but at it’s core, his just being very honest and raw and open about his feelings.
A sort of literary NUDISM. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does, because the girl in question hasn’t ever had anyone be honest with her in her entire life, or, she has a distant father and this openness soothes her inherent core emotional trauma from childhood. Seducing them emotionally. And then-
Refusing them. Refusing to consummate. Refusing to hurt her, refusing to fuck her. Refusing her at every point. Ghosting her entirely. This, he has discovered, is his only way to ritually recreate his moment of victory and trauma. And so, he’s like this sort of inverse “serial killer”; all the shapes are the same, all the supposed psychology is the same, it’s just without the killing.
Because that’s the only way he can win. It’s the only way he can humiliate them. And so maybe, he’d take trophies in the form of writing blogposts on the internet about the conversations he’d have with the girls, under a pseudonym, or something.
…the joke is about a magazine-cover movie actress who has the adoration of thousands and still feels worthless. Or the joke is about a virginal computer science genius who has deleted his OKCupid and decided to eschew all noncoding activities. Or the joke is about a millionaire athlete under investigation for using anabolic steroids. Or the joke is about a 50-something cardiologist who hates all his patients but knows that he’d hate being retired even more. Or the joke is about a young power couple who like each other very much, love, maybe, but they’re both distracted by the nagging feeling that they could do better, that they should be shooting for something greater, and so they break up and find new partners and the process repeats again.
And the joke, which you hear on forums or sitcoms or in crowded sports bars, goes: “Haha, even though these people are successful, they’re still dissatisfied."
And I’m here to tell you that this joke is totally backwards. It’s because these people have always been dissatisfied that they achieved success.