Rejecting Surrealism—Somethings

Also, how to build new things, how to embarrass yourself, and nobody can make you more productive.

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No mini-essay today. I am working on a bigger one about AI that will be done by the end of the month.

On to the main event.

📕Something to read

  • The Unravelling of an Expert on Serial Killers: I rarely share true crime posts and profiles. Usually they are very fluffy or they are just a platform for the writer to farm grievances. This one is an exception. A great look at a narcissist.
  • No more Insight Porn: Resharing this gem from last year. People telling you to be productive are only productive at telling you to be productive.

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🗣Some Quotes and Notes

Building Horseless Carriages

Rarely do I consider passages without context. When I share a quote, my goal is for my readers to check out the whole article or essay, or book. However, I would recommend not clicking the link here. This passage is the only sensible thing in the piece.

One does not get a jet engine by improving the propeller. One does not breed horses until they give birth to a car. Telephones did not come from research on mail. Where on earth did the inspiration for the transistor and these other “leaps” of innovation come from to begin with?

— Robert Rhinehart, Paradigm Shifts (via The Internet Archive)

Embarrassing Yourself

Whenever you start to learn somethin of your own accord, you will find yourself lacking. Even after a long period, you might not be ‘great’. By your own standards. However, you can be good.

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities,” said Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki. “In the expert’s mind, there are few.” Amateurs are not afraid to make mistakes or look ridiculous in public. They’re in love, so they don’t hesitate to do work that others think of as silly or just plain stupid. “The stupidest possible creative act is still a creative act,” writes Clay Shirky in his book Cognitive Surplus. “On the spectrum of creative work, the difference between the mediocre and the good is vast. Mediocrity is, however, still on the spectrum; you can move from mediocre to good in increments. The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.” Amateurs know that contributing something is better than contributing nothing.

— Austin Kleon, Show Your Work

Post-modern destruction

Susan Sontag’s “On Photography” is not really about photography. It is a screed against post-modernism. It just uses photography as an easy target. Whether you agree or not, it is worth reading.

Photographs, which turn the past into a consumable object, are a short-cut. Any collection of photographs is an exercise in Surrealist montage and the Surrealist abbreviation of history.

— Susan Sontag, Melancholy Objects (from On Photography)

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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