Deeper travel, delusions, the moron writer, and more
Seven links to worthwhile thin(g/k)s
Hello dear reader,
Here are seven links to bits of the world I have been exploring this week, shared with the hope that you will find them to be an inspiring springboard for deeper thinking.
Building a second brain: A friend of a friend the other day casually and seamlessly weaved in her personal knowledge of pottery into a conversation that was anything but. My jaw dropped at how elegant and flawless and confident her contribution to the group discussion was. Feeling the inspiration, I asked her how on earth she had retained and now recalled the information. Her field, law, is far from the level of dissertation-worthy detail she provided on pottery-related research. Her response was simple: treat knowledge as input, process, output. This one I knew, and immediately responded, “Ah, second brain stuff?” She nodded, with a smile vaguely indicative of both of us being in on some sort of secret. Disclaimer: It’s no secret at all. YouTube is abuzz with this notion of second brain. Sounds like a gimmicky self-help slogan. But here I am this week, having felt the inspo and seen the application of it firsthand in real life—how this thing people call a commonplace book, a second brain, a personal knowledge management system, etcetera etcetera, operates outside one’s inner bubble and floats about elevating conversations, building connections with people outside my own note-taking system of thumb-thudding days spent in front of a laptop/phone—and I am a believer. Hope the video I linked helps you engage your brain to have and revel in and explore ideas, not store and clutter and render ideas obsolete and prone to forgetfulness.
Tips to deepen your travel-abroad experience: I am not doing major travel this summer, as G and I are reserving that sweet leisure to our upcoming destination wedding and honeymooning. Nevertheless, I have taken the video’s five tips to heart:
Go first to the highest point you can find in a new city. G and I did this years ago in various cities like Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Lisbon, and Florence. Now that I think of it in earnest some more, we did this in almost every new city we’ve explored. It was unplanned, and an almost natural urge to soar above the micro/infra-ordinary, and it did wonders to give us the flavor and uniqueness of each place. Especially in major cities, it can feel just as looking at a Monet piece does when it opens up to you from afar, revealing the unifying threads that give a thing its essence.
Try out the city’s public transportation to get the rhythm of the city, and the heartbeat of its people.
Read the local newspaper
Go to McDonald’s: 100% agree on this. Oh the fun memories and random discoveries of city-specific food items, and of ending a night in Paris at McDonald’s after having traversed a centuries-old chateau. Precious.
Explore the grocery stores
The writer must be four people, according to Susan Sontag:
On Peaky Blinders, season 6: Days ago, I finished the last season of what has quickly become my favorite show, a piece of television that has depicted what excellent writing (Steven Knight) and superb acting (Cillian Murphy) do when in unison and in sync. Apart from the gangster saga we are familiar with by way of American film and TV, this show submerges us into the unfamiliar terrain of countless gray zones and moral murkiness. We have a deeply flawed character, Thomas Shelby, who is burdened by his intelligence (nod to Murphy’s observation) and early on catches on to Francis Bacon’s musing that “it’s all so meaningless, we may as well be extraordinary.” We get human nature at its most raw, most flawed, and ultimately most redemptive.
The Great Delusion: This week I started, and am now about to finish, a nonfiction by political scholar John Mearsheimer—The Great Delusion. In retrospect, it was probably not the best idea to read this political theory-heavy book while at the gym, but I’m still glad I got to squeeze whatever time I had from my nearly empty mental pockets of ‘where does the time go?’ and read something so straightforward in its dedication to the reality of our current political landscape. In the book, Mearsheimer posits three arguments he then explores in an easy-to-distill kinda way:
Nationalism is at play in every country, whereas liberalism is not. We live in world of nation-states.
Liberalism cannot exist without nationalism. It operates within the confines of a nation-state, and there is no such thing as a liberal state without a nation-state.
Liberalism loses when it clashes against nationalism. This one is a particularly interesting one I’m keen to digest some more as I get to the concluding chapters of the book.
The 1% rule, not as effort but as a gift to yourself. Lovely perspective. What do you think?
The annotated version of the Dobbs v. Jackson SCOTUS decision. I’ll only add two tiny cents to this disappointing turn in American society. One, a reminder that every politician’s first and foremost allegiance is to division, and to that end, their modus operandi is to distract and divide. Take a look at what then president Obama said 13 years ago, lest you think there are righteous politicians or parties out there. Two, a note on social media whenever news breaks. Someone posted a story on Instagram showing a person direct messaging her with the following: “the fact that you said nothing on this unprecedented day is a massive disappointment. I expected more of you.” This is incredibly weird (and pointless) behavior in my eyes. People are allowed to respond to things on their own outlets *as they see fit,* and to say something *as they are able.* They also have the right to not talk about something altogether, especially so when they might find the topic distressing or upsetting, and they certainly do not need to provide explanations for what they choose to share publicly and what they choose to keep private, including their opinions on important topics. Not everyone is an activist, even if social media does a good job of making us all think we are.
Phew, that’s it, my friends. This was an uncharacteristically long newsletter. Please let me know if you found it helpful, or if you prefer I never rant again going forward. Either way, I appreciate your time and am wishing you a beautiful week ahead. Remember, my ears are open and attentive should you want to chat about anything.
Thank you so much for reading! Follow along here to receive new posts and support my work:
PS — I cannot get over the beauty of orchids. Here is a cutie I’ve been lucky to have around since December 2019.