I showed this to someone and she told me she loved it. I asked her, “do you understand it?”
She said “of course,” and proceeded to describe it entirely differently than how I’d meant it. I’d tell her what it means but it’s about her.
Maybe I could have told her more
but the black dress pants were just exciting enough
“These’ll work,” I said.
“I can do this.”
Talk about a narrow path to victory
Make your own.
This is a newspaper blackout poem inspired by the character of Dominique Francon in The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. The funny thing about redaction is that is takes you places you would never go on your own.
She wore a print dress which
fitted her from every angle,
arms naked to the wind
she said, “I want you entralled
by your own real-life Barbie.”
Later she returned with her fiancé
and that expression of self satisfaction
wearing the same outfit…
Make your own.
I’ve been completing the journal because it’s a ton of fun and it helps me wake up a side of myself that I shut down way back in elementary school.
The whole activity was surprisingly hard. It’s not easy to work within the constraints of a limited bit of text. I had no idea just how much my creative fiction muscles had atrophied.
This one is titled The real root of evil.
This was supposed to go:
We don’t need a
but we get one anyways.
I got distracted and Sharpie-d over “but we get one.” Creation begets improvisation.
I wish I had an assistant (or two) who would protect me from meetings.
In case you’re wondering, I used a ultra fine, fine, and extra bold Sharpie to make these and a copy of the New York Times purchased from Starbucks.
Because of the focus school today has on well-polished “facts,” we grow up overestimating and misunderstanding the processes by which facts are discovered in the first place.
In English, we learn grammar but not the process by which grammar emerges or is codified and the serious debates that led to what we have today.
In the sciences, we learn accurate equations but we learn very little about the history of the field, the ways in which scientists discovered these equations, and the well-reasoned arguments for other views of the universe that preceded them. For example, you’ll learn relativity theory but not the aether theory it supposedly surpassed. We also don’t bother to study the history of fields that preceded the sciences: natural philosophy, alchemy, and theology or of the people of staggering intelligence like Isaac Newton who engaged with those fields despite ultimately being incorrect.
In History, we learn of events but we rarely learn of compelling alternative histories of those events, the methods by which the past is analyzed, nor do we try to get truly inside the heads of the people we are learning about. We learn the Wright brothers discovered how to fly but not their steps to get there. We’re told Edison tried 10,000 experiments but we never learn what they were.
Students leave school with a grab bag of factual information but no understanding of where to go from there. The process of discovery, of innovation, of originality, takes on mystical-like qualities. You either have the gift or you do not, and surely nobody you know, yourself included, has the gift.
Of course discovery is not mystical. Archimedes sat in his bath tub. Or so Vitruvius says. Galileo says in his La Bilancetta that he can’t have done that. This debate is important regardless of the correct answer. If you engage with original sources in any field in a meaningful way and read biographies (esp. old ones) of the principle actors, not just their polished ideas, but also the unpolished, inaccurate ones, you can see quite clearly patterns and methodologies emerging that will shed light on how you too can become a “discoverer.”
Ironically enough it is in doing away with the schooled short term focus on clean facts and theories that we give ourselves the ability to discover new things in the long term. You just might serve yourself better in the end by reading Hippocrates or Vasari’s Lives of Artists or Aristotle’s Parts of Animals or Darwin or Watson & Crick or Copernicus On the Heavenly Spheres than you would reading your schoolbook.
This syllabus is a good place to get started.
I’ve been told this event has been postponed until further notice.
I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at Georgetown University (the irony of speaking at a university is not gone to me) for the Startup Societies Foundation 2018 Summit. I’ve been giving talks for the past couple years and though I’m trying to slow down my travel in 2018, I’m honored the team at SSF invited me.
I gave my last talk for them in October 2016 on the island of Rhodes, Greece. It was one of the most incredible trips of my life. Joe McKinney, Thibault Serlet and crew put me up in a great hotel, fed me for five days, and brought together a wonderful group of attendees, many of whom remain friends today. They also wrote a nice article about me. I highly recommend attending as I expect it will be just as fun as my last one.
Though we unfortunately didn’t get both talks recorded, we did get the first of the two which was about a concept very important to me: “criticizing by creating.”
I’ll be speaking this time about self education, apprenticeships, what we’re up to at Praxis, and creating a “maker” culture.” If you’re interested in coming on January 19th-20th, register now! I’d love to grab coffee.
Like I mentioned, I’m trying to slow down travel this year, but if you have an event you’d like me to speak at, please contact me.
The things I wanted to do,
I put them off for another day,
And now I feel my will renewed
I find the time has gone away…
– from Derek’s unpublished, never to be published, book of poetry
It’s still January 1, 2018. 365 days still remain in the year, but not for long.
If you started now and finished something in the next 2 hours, you’d be one day closer to having completed a year-long daily challenge. I’ve tried and failed every year for the past 4 years or so to do this. Last year I hit “rock bottom” and failed out my first day. This year I’m going to do better and you should too. It might just change your life.
My friend Isaac likes to tell the story of how he knew our mutual friend T.K. Coleman was the perfect man for Praxis. It wasn’t T.K’s prior work history or their long friendship (I think he was his best man at Isaac’s wedding) or his intelligence. T.K. had blogged every day for nearly 3 years.
Isaac himself says that the idea for Praxis only started to take shape after T.K. issued him a challenge: do the same thing I did.
Only a few months in to blogging every single day seven days a week and my life changed dramatically. Not from the outside, but from within. I was shifting and moving and bubbling; like molten power beneath the crust, something was beginning to stir. An eruption was imminent.
Whether it’s a year of Quora writing, blogging, living biblically, reading the Encyclopedia daily, getting coffee with strangers, making a daily video, painting, creating music, a year of sending letters, reading 25 pages a day, or anything else you want it to be, small acts of deliberate creative work yield far better results than waiting for big wins.
Think of yourself like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Living the same day over and over is tragically underrated.
Read “100 things that made my year (2017)” first.
- I lost one friend, Travis Mazer, way too early. Travis was one of the first people I met at the University of Michigan and we remained friends after he graduated and went on to become researcher at University of Washington St. Louis. He was working on human longevity and I have no doubt he would have made significant progress in his life if he had been able to continue. He was funny and brilliant. The last time I saw him, maybe a month before he died unexpectedly, he promised to help me become biologically immortal in exchange for taking him to, well, an asian brothel… Travis had a fun ability to make serious discussions silly. He once told everyone at the Young Americans for Liberty convention that Ron Paul had delivered him as a baby.
- Burnout this year was bad. I traveled too much, stretched my attentions too thin, and spent too much time “plugged in.” I had to do some serious work to rediscover the love for my work and writing, cutting the things I hated unplugging, and exploring new opportunities that have helped me grow beyond where I felt stuck and tired.
- Inbox bankruptcy. I’ve been bad about responding to things that don’t directly relate to Praxis this year and that has caused no doubt some ill feelings from others who deserved better from me. It also caused me a hell of a lot of stress as the messages accumulated. Small things become big things quickly when they go unaddressed.
- The consequences of twice picking the wrong people to work with over the last few years. Stress, lost money and bitter emotions were all avoidable had I taken the signs that something was wrong more seriously.
- Not having a full time home long after I had decided that constant travel was not something I wanted to continue. As great as being a “digital nomad” can be, I don’t think it’s possible to be as productive without having some send of regularity in your life. I lost out on a lot of valuable time, energy and happiness because I didn’t address it quickly enough.
I’m sure there are loads of other things but I prefer not to dwell on the negative. Onwards.