An incredible way to start Friday. Tim and Tyler cover:
Do have a listen:
A few years ago, economist Tyler Cowen published a complacency quiz to help individuals measure their level of complacency. The quiz has since been removed, but Tyler’s suggested complacency remedies are still posted.
He divided the remedies into three areas: Social Dynamism, Intellectual Dynamism and Physical Dynamism.
I’ve listed the suggestions I was most compelled to pursue. Read Tyler’s complete list here.
*Bonus: I created a few of my own remedies (see bottom). One for each of the three areas.
Can you invent a few?
Social Dynamism – Attend a regularly scheduled religious service (e.g. Sunday morning, Saturday night) and sit in the first three rows of the sermon or lecture.
Intellectual Dynamism – Write a short story. 1,000 word minimum. Submit it to a literary journal or any another publication seeking short stories.
Physical Dynamism – Sign up to play at least one season of a recreational level sport. If you grew up playing team sports, pick an individual sport. If you grew up playing individual sports choose a team sport.
Toor: How did you learn to write?
Paglia: Like a medieval monk, I laboriously copied out passages that I admired from books and articles — I filled notebooks like that in college. And I made word lists to study later. Old-style bound dictionaries contained intricate etymologies that proved crucial to my mastery of English, one of the world’s richest languages.From: Rachel Toor’s interview with Paglia in The Chronicle of Higher Education
And from her Conversations with Tyler interview:
I feel that the basis of my work is not only the care I take with writing, with my quality controls, my prose, but also my observation. It’s 24/7. I’m always observing. I don’t sit in a university. I never go to conferences. That is a terrible mistake. A conference is like overlaying the same insular ideology on top of it. I am always listening to conversations at the shopping mall.
COWEN: My last question before they get to ask you, but I know there are many people in this audience, or at least some, who are considering some kind of life or career in the world of ideas. If you were to offer them a piece of advice based on your years struggling with the infrastructure, and the number of chairs, and whatever else, what would that be?
PAGLIA: Get a job. Have a job. Again, that’s the real job. Every time you have frustrations with the real job, you say, “This is good.” This is good, because this is reality. This is reality as everybody lives it. This thing of withdrawing from the world to be a writer, I think, is a terrible mistake.
Number one thing is constantly observing. My whole life, I’m constantly jotting things down. Constantly. Just jot, jot, jot, jot. I’ll have an idea. I’m cooking, and I have an idea, “Whoa, whoa.” I have a lot of pieces of paper with tomato sauce on them or whatever. I transfer these to cards or I transfer them to notes.
I’m just constantly open. Everything’s on all the time. I never say, “This is important. This is not important.” That’s why I got into popular culture at a time when popular culture was — .
In fact, there’s absolutely no doubt that at Yale Graduate School, I lost huge credibility with the professors because of my endorsement of not only film but Hollywood. When Hollywood was considered crass entertainment and so on. Now, the media studies came in very strongly after that, although highly theoretical. Not the way I teach media studies.
I also believe in following your own instincts and intuition, like there’s something meaningful here. You don’t know what it is, but you just keep it on the back burner. That’s basically how I work is this, the constant observation. Also, I try to tell my students, they never get the message really, but what I try to say to them is nothing is boring. Nothing is boring. If you’re bored, you’re boring.
Watch the full interview below:
Blogs are still breathing.
The ones listed below have been live for at least 5 or more years. They all post on a near daily basis.
Suggestion: add them to your RSS feed if you still have one. Or don’t.
Challenges my default beliefs on public policy and economics. Introduces me to disciplines I’d never seek out on my own. The posts are primarily business and economics focused, but Marginal Revolution also acts as a helpful resource for writers.
Author: Austin Kleon
Austin blogs on art and writing and parenting. Then he dashes in some posts on music and dabs on a bit of life encouragement. Then he bakes it all together into a tasty content strudel.
His blog doubles as a timeline of his book writing process. You can correlate past posts to passages in his published books. It’s like he’s writing a book for you, in real time, right before your eyes.
Author: Alan Jacobs
My favorite non football football blog. Alan is the Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Baylor University and the most intelligent modern writer on Christianity I know. Occasionally he’ll post about football. And when he does, his observations on the game are heartfelt and true.
Author: Jason Kottke
A hypnotizing blog.
Jason posts a variety of cool shit. ALL THE TIME. But don’t fear, Kottke.org is organized and well tagged, making searching through it’s archives a rabbit hole of pleasure.
The quick links section is updated constantly and aren’t highlighted in blue or underlined. They look like standard, un-linked paragraphs. A subtle and appealing design touch.
Conversations with Tyler is my must listen podcast.
Tyler’s interviews have introduced me to disciplines I’d never consider exploring.
He speaks with urban planners, novelists, economists, tennis players, journalists, doctors – an incredible array of minds.
The final part of his interviews is called the Production Function. It’s where he asks his subject – What’s your productivity secret?
I found journalist Ross Douthat’s response helpful:
But there is a sense in which writing a column is — it’s like you’re a plumber. The toilet has to be fixed, so you fix the toilet. The column has to be written, so you write the column…
On approaching journalism with a tradesman’s mindset:
But journalism is a trade, right? I mean there is obviously an intellectual component. And we wouldn’t have been able to sit here and have this conversation with me babbling at you if I didn’t have intellectual pretensions. But the work of journalism — this is less true in the age of the internet — but it is linked to a very physical thing that comes out every week, or every month, or every day, and it comes out and it has to be filled.
And when there’s space to be filled, you write the column:
There is a place on the New York Times, on the printed New York Times, that would be blank or have an ad stuck on it if I didn’t write my column. And so you write the column. You write the column. And it’s useful for journalists to think about it this way — it’s useful for anyone inclined to over-romanticize or over-admire journalists to think about it this way.
On not sitting around waiting to become the next George R.R. Martin:
Certainly I like to imagine that — or at least something that sold as well as George R. R. Martin. But it also might be the case that if I had spent my life sitting around with my unfinished novels, I never would have produced anything interesting. And so it’s better to be a tradesman, and that’s at least part of how I think about my job.
Listen to the interview in its entirety here
Or read the transcript here
“When I took this decision, I imagined, “OK, what’s the worst possible scenario? What can the worst happen to me?” In that time, my books were not like they are now. They were handmade, photocopied books, just a bunch of A4-size papers stapled together, and I would sell them around in bars and hostels.
I decided, OK, it cannot get worse than that. If the worst possible scenario is I would be an old hippie going around Southeast Asia, sharing inspiration with his younger travelers and making a living out of it, welcome. I can go for that. It will look nice in my biography. After that, I never again had fears of the future, retirement.”