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Light-Soaked Days—Weekly Wisdom 12th October, 2021

Also, the colonizing power of photos, the debate on cancel culture, and the joys of being mediocre.

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Welcome to Weekly Wisdom, your weekly dose of highlights, quotes and notes from my notebook. If you would like to receive this in your inbox, subscribe now.

Last week was hectic. Hence missing the bonus blog post. So we have a double sized issue this week. Lets just jump in.


This weeks quote, notes, and media.

The Terrors & Wonders of the Future

John Green is a writer. The rest of us are just pretending. In his essay collection, The Anthropocene Reviewed, he features an essay on Liverpool Goal Keeper Jerzy Dudek’s fantastic performance in 2005 UEFA championship final. He weaves the tale of Dudek’s life and Liverpool Football Club’s woes at the time of the match with a rare poetic flair. Ending it all in this beautiful passage, written in context of The Pandemic. It is one of the best essay’s I have read on anything.

You can’t see the future coming—not the terrors, for sure, but you also can’t see the wonders that are coming, the moments of light-soaked joy that await each of us. These days, I often feel like I’m Jerzy Dudek walking out for the second half down 3-0, feeling as hopeless as I do helpless. But of all the unimportant things, football is the most important, because seeing Jerzy Dudek sprint away from that final penalty save to be mobbed by his teammates reminds me that someday and maybe someday soon—I will also be embraced by people I love. It is May of 2020, fifteen years since Dudek’s spaghetti legs, and this will end, and the light-soaked days are coming.

—John Green, The Anthropocene Reviewed

I am in awe of this man’s talent.

Colonizing New Experiences

From one essay collection to another. Susan Sontag’s On Photography is a seething take-down on the art of photography. When I previously shared her thoughts on the craft, it was about how photography “elevates” is subject, regardless of merit.

In this essay, she uses the work of Diane Arbus as to illustrate how photography denigrates the marginalized.

The most striking aspect of Arbus’s work is that she seems to have enrolled in one of art photography’s most vigorous enterprises—concentrating on victims, on the unfortunate—but without the compassionate purpose that such a project is expected to serve.

The photographer is supertourist, an extension of the anthropologist, visiting natives and bringing back news of their exotic doings and strange gear. The photographer is always trying to colonize new experiences or find new ways to look at familiar subjects-to fight against boredom.

—Susan Sontag, On Photography

Real Value of Work

A pretty self-explanatory passage from Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work. Kleon points out how people experience your ideas depends a lot on how much they are willing to spend on it.

Beware of selling the things that you love: When people are asked to get out their wallets, you find out how much they really value what you do. My friend John T. Unger tells this terrific story from his days as a street poet. He would do a poetry reading and afterward some guy would come up to him and say, “Your poem changed my life, man!” And John would say, “Oh, thanks. Want to buy a book? It’s five dollars.” And the guy would take the book, hand it back to John, and say, “Nah, that’s okay.” To which John would respond, “Geez, how much is your life worth?”

— Austin Kleon, Show Your Work.

Hidden Whistle

This clip from the episode 50 of the All-In Podcast shows the hidden agenda behind the recent Facebook leaks. Mind you, these people are not Zuckerberg Cheerleaders by any stretch. The episode touches on free speech and social media as well. I wrote on the subject a few weeks ago.

This clip from the episode 50 of the All-In Podcast shows the hidden agenda behind the recent Facebook leaks. Mind you, these people are not Zuckerberg Cheerleaders by any stretch. The episode touches on free speech and social media as well. I wrote on the subject a few weeks ago.

What is ‘Cancel Culture’ anyway?

This one will be controversial. The following post was about the recent Dave Chapelle comedy special, and the ensuing controversy. I am not jumping into this debate myself. I have nothing to add. However, this excerpt gets to the base of my problems with the ‘debate’. I don’t think I have ever seen so much hand-wringing and pearl clutching on something that has not happened.

“Cancel culture” now means you can’t express a negative or neutral opinion about a piece of work, it seems. Nothing but praise allowed. There’s some massive irony in all of this. These are people angry about people (supposedly) being angry. Very meta!

—Parker Molloy, I’m not asking comedians…

Start Being Average

A great deal of modern psychosis can be explained by the expectation of being extraordinary. The expectation is cultural. But it also comes from with in. In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***, Mark Manson illustrates how to accept the averageness, as a key to happiness.

Our lives today are filled with information from the extremes of the bell curve of human experience, because in the media business that’s what gets eyeballs, and eyeballs bring dollars. That’s the bottom line. Yet the vast majority of life resides in the humdrum middle. The vast majority of life is unextraordinary, indeed quite average.

It has become an accepted part of our culture today to believe that we are all destined to do something truly extraordinary. Celebrities say it. Business tycoons say it. Politicians say it. Even Oprah says it (so it must be true). Each and every one of us can be extraordinary. We all deserve greatness. The fact that this statement is inherently contradictory—after all, if everyone were extraordinary, then by definition no one would be extraordinary

—Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***


Thank you for joining me this week. If you know some who might enjoy this, please forward this email to them. See you next week.

Mudassir Chapra

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