The really important thing here (that’s hinted at towards the end) is moderation.
Do some of these things. A little at a time. Find what works and what doesn’t.
Saying the truth no matter what the cost is extremely dangerous advice to follow literally.
Pick battles you can win. Know when saying the truth matters and when it doesn’t. Know when your “truth” is just another opinion no one around you at that moment agrees with.
As my dad always told me, “you can be dead right.”
Life is too short to be miserable trying to obtain someone else’s goals. It is too short to optimize everything. Remember that happiness in the moment matters. (But not at the expense of the future.)
You’ll never find me reading a book I don’t like or skipping using GPS, because things cause more stress than benefit.
Having a car break down and having a magical moment because of it? Do the opposite. Actively seek those moments by finding people to help instead of waiting for the moment to happen.
If I have any advice to add, it is be honest and be kind. Fight when you need to fight, make peace when you don’t. You don’t need to fix everything, just make the world better by being in it.
I wish more people would follow this advice. I've made it a habit to try to make the world an infinitesimally better place every day. It doesn't always work out, but the effort is a huge boon to my mental health and maybe I succeed and the world is a better place.
Philospy spends a lot of literature on how to tell if what you are doing
is making the world any better?
History, current history is filled with examples of "making it better" and
doing enormous damage.
Is your intent when you do the action what is important?
Or is it how your action is received in the moment?
Or what a spectator might conclude.
Or is it the eventual consequences of your action that is important?
Or none of the above.
Your intent is selfish.
I want to be a person who makes the world a better place.
Do you do so in a vacuum?
You do the act, and then never ever speak about it to anyone.
Or is the real goal the adoration of those you "tell"?
(Innocently and self deprecating of course)
If you were (or are) an evangelical Chrisitan, sharing the word of God,
and saving souls would be the greatest good you could ever accomplish.
"Today I shared the Word with 5 people. "
Those 5 people may have found a person rambling about God to be
unwelcome. Annoying. Rude.
Or maybe one was in a deep crisis, and he was moved and accepted
Christ and his life took meaning from it.
His life got better and afterwards he kept a good job, got married,
had wonderful kids.
Or a person who was rambled at has terrible trauma from childhood
from being sexually abused by a Catholic priest and this forceable
reminder brings him over the edge, and he kills himself 20 minutes
later in a public toilet.
Maybe one is a woman who was viciously demonized by protesters for
having an abortion two weeks ago.
This most unwelcome vocal assault by another right-wing misogynist
is what finally drives her to take a stand and gets involved in
politics, changes her major to political science and many years
Later she is a senator who casts a deciding vote in something she
think is wonderful
Did this evangelical guy make the world better?
Deliberately taking "make the world a bit better every day" off to some demeaning tangent tearing down others by wild scenarios designed to discourage does not "make the world a bit better every day".
"...2000 years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change..." Yeah, Douglas Adams got that bit right.
It doesn’t take much. Did you make someone else’s existence better?
You can still do big things, but don’t forgot the small ones. They matter too.
I see a lot of my peers focus on optimizing their "good output" on some scale or metric, but ignore or even devalue this one. This one that, in my experience, also has a lot more daily challenges of difficult virtues like forgiveness and humility.
Some of the best books I've ever read I didn't like at first. Love in Time of Cholera was an absolute slog for the first 89 pages, I didn't actually get through those pages the first time I tried to read it. It's one of my all time favourite books. First 30 pages of Dune were similar. Found the same with another book by Dostoevsky.
So much process. People think there's a formula, not well known, that greatly raises the chance for "success" however defined, for everything. Nope. IMHO the key to "anti-mimetic" living is to cultivate your inner bullshit detector. My friends have a fully functioning one; people who turned out to be false do not; I have no idea how to nurture one for anyone else. There is no process, other than get as broad non-digital experiences as you can and use those to learn to think for yourself. I have no idea how you can do that, because apparently no-one who is not my friend appears to think doing this is sane.
 This Rene Girard stuff, fueled by lavish attention from Peter Thiel and his acolytes, is bullshit. Think not? Well a while ago, I thought it might have some validity, but then I read the review by Joshua Landy in my previous HN comment:
The child comments are interesting too. A moral of the story is that my bullshit detector initially failed me, but eventually, with more experience, I got it straightened out.
The bullshit detector is usually intuition and, very rarely, is what's called 'wisdom'. Intuition is what I'd describe as "the right feeling" - ability to "hear" truth, in a sense. Wisdom is "the right knowledge" - ability to see the truth. Intuition is related to emotions, and can be improved by straigthening up one's emotions. An uncontrolled storm of emotions obscurates intuition, and hatred burns it. That's why, I think, a known occult aphorism says: "a moment of hatred erases eons of achievements". Wisdom is similarly related to thoughts and words, and so straightening up what one says and thinks, allows the wisdom to show up. The " all seeing eye" is the typical symbol of wisdom. Afaik, only few top scientists had it, and they attributed their ability to see truth to luck and lots of read books.
I believe that most people out there give in to emotions, those gradually turn into something more sinister - hatred fueled by vanity, that burns their intuition to the ground and from that moment they're unable to feel what's right and what's wrong.
Careful there. In many domains our intuitions are notoriously unreliable, given they're informed by our culture, upbringing, past experiences, genes, etc.
Many groups have a vast vested interest in convincing people of obvious falsehoods. The phrase used is “Diamonds are forever” rather than the more honest “Diamonds are flammable.” Simply repeat it often enough and it’s the falsehood which sticks around like a lesser form of brainwashing.
When Facebook was first getting popular it triggered my bullshit detector.
I smelled bullshit because the underlying mechanism was social coercion to join, followed by social comparison to make everyone miserable.
It wasn't bullshit because it was bogus, it was bullshit because it stank.
My friends all have similar bullshit detectors for the spammy, the scammy and the coercive. If I knew how teach it, I'd be surprised if anybody who didn't already have it would even want to learn it.
Sitting alone in your room looking through old photo albums isn’t social, but somehow going through other peoples photos is? Calling Facebook a social network is such a bold faced lie I am somewhat shocked anyone can say it with a strait face let alone honestly believe it. But it gets worse, calling clicking a like button on a news article “social” is such double think you almost wonder if these people are speaking the same language.
The flammable thing is relevant because gold, platinum, or silver can be recovered after a fire, but Diamonds can’t be. It’s a real risk. Large ones regularly get chipped and their all susceptible to a range of chemicals including some acids etc.
Add it all up and nationwide Diamonds get destroyed on a very regular basis.
PS: And yes as you referenced they do decay at standard temperatures and pressures but reasonably slowly. Still diamonds last 1,000 years if well preserved just don’t have the same ring, paper can do the same. The simple fact the average stone is more stable feels like a slap in the face.
If I’m reading for enjoyment, there’s plenty I can read. If I’m reading to learn, that’s why I’m here on HN. I have the next batch of acoup.blog and a 1890s textbook on ship handling on my eink tablet. Should keep me busy for the next month. :)
It wasn't really fun to read. But like all russian novels, it's very long, devoid of adventure, full of characters you forget constantly. You read them to experience the russian soul, not to have fun. The best Dostoievsky for me is "The Player", one of the shortest and one whose lessons I constantly quote, especially around a horse race or a casino lol.
If you want enjoyable classics, Alexandre Dumas or Theophile Gautier are my go to but Im French so maybe the anglo world has some authors too as brilliant as Dumas but I doubt it. The best russian classic is Master and Margherita, it's a bit less slow than average but Boulgakov is special (a bit their Kafka).
And there’s the risk that you could be wrong… and / or just do more damage than good.
Providing the reasoning behind conclusions can also help- “I believe that unlimited migration is harmful to those poorest of those already here and that the rule of law is incredibly important, so I’m opposed to extending a path to citizenship” or “all human beings deserve the same dignity and from a practical standpoint an undocumented immigrant that has been working, paying taxes, and staying out of trouble is
more worthy of citizenship than many who gained it simply at birth, so I support a pathway to citizenship.”
Both statements may still be problematic depending on the circumstances (where depending on the circumstances, the best option may be to say nothing) but they are far better than saying “illegal immigrations wrong” or “giving people a pathway to citizenship is the right thing to do.”
You end up being drawn into super long winded discussions about minor details.
If that's what you actually want, that's fine. But a lot of the time you just want to resolve a deadlock.
Sometimes it's dangerous to be right.
but yes, this doesn't help you if you find yourself in that position.
Don't forget to pick some battles to make sure you still know how to battle. And pick some where you will lose so you can grow.
Me arguing with my father about politics during thanksgiving is generally fruitless. Taking some time the next day discussing our assumptions and benefits that are behind our different beliefs? Generally a better approach and we can easily agree or disagree on single points. I may not “win” but both of us will know more about each other and have more respect for each other. (Or less. At least we didn’t yell and drag relatives in.)
Indeed. Arabs have this concept of al-Wasattiyah borrowed from Islam, which means middle / balanced / avoid extremes / compromise / weaken: "Al-Wasatiyyah... means excellence, rightfully balanced, just and fair in all aspects... Balance without any excessiveness in human life."
Great rules to live by. My own little corollary: learn which rules can be bent and which ones to disregard completely. They're not all created - or enforced - equally.
Win build on each other like compound interest. So does confidence. The two are almost inextricably linked.
An example I use is someone knocks on your door and asks if you know where Maria is. You do, and you’re sheltering her. If you tell the truth, the person at the door will kill Maria. If you lie and say “I haven’t seen Maria”, the person will leave and continue looking elsewhere.
In this case, telling a lie is the moral thing, and telling the truth would be evil.
I claim that this has degenerated into utilitarianism. This is also word for word what scopenhaur (a huge fan of kant) has to say about Kant's categorical imperative in his critique of Kant's ideas...
> Discovering and living out a sense of calling — a personal vocation, or something you are uniquely meant to do — is the ultimate way to cut through the mimetic noise of the world and begin to shape both a moral and a vocational compass.
There are on the order of 7 billion human beings on earth. We don't all have a personal vocation or something we are uniquely meant to do. One of the keys to leading a happy and fulfilled life is being able to be content to live within the bounds that most of us operate in. Most of us are not uniquely gifted, not particularly special, not here to do one thing in this world. But we can be kind, be helpful, try to do as little damage to other people and the world as we can, to find value in things that last and do not cost the world very much, to enjoy our lives regardless of what we do for a living, not because of it.
It may be a gift from the Renaissance to believe in individuality in the way that #1 clearly does, but it's a gift that doesn't scale to huge populations (it may not even have been right with much smaller ones). It's wonderful to live in a society that allows for individual self-discovery and self-expression, but we should not blind us to the reality that almost all of us are not on a unique, singular mission.
Young student: Should I finish my college studies or jump straight to a thesis in advanced mathematics?
Gauss: You should finish your studies.
Young student: But you jumped straight to a thesis!
Gauss: I also didn't ask anyone's advice.
IE, people who march to a different drummer, who have a unique vocation, aren't the ones who need to be told about it.
No, it is an interpretation suggested by your mind. It is one possible interpretation out of many. I can show you by pointing to some of other interpretations.
1. You need to ask because you are unsure, so your idea to jump to a thesis is not a guaranteed success, so you may fail spectacularly. Be patient and do it right.
2. There is an opinion, that people ask for advice to have something to blame for their failure. If you are not feel like taking responsibility for your life yourself, then Gauss wouldn't take it either.
3. If you fear to make a radical decision, then it means that it is a radical decision for you. Maybe Gauss just did what he liked best. Probably he was so passionate about his thesis, so he forgot about studies, missed exams and then he had no choice except to finish his thesis.
4. To go counter-culture you need a strict conviction that you are doing it right. If you are not, then you are probably fail due to peer-pressure or some other issues induced by a social reaction to your actions. If you are asking for advice, then you are not in a right frame of mind to do it.
5. Academia is a harsh competition, you need to steel yourself and to learn how to do it. You have bachelor and magisterial studies to grow teeth, and no one, even Gauss, cannot teach you. You need to figure it out on your own. Or, maybe he was teaching his student exactly this, when he refused to give advice?
This story is like a koan, you can think about it every few years again and again, and every time find new interpretations stemmed from new life experiences you've got since the last time.
It's not suggested by my mind. I was paraphrasing the last line of the post I replied to.
> This story is like a koan, you can think about it every few years again and again, and every time find new interpretations stemmed from new life experiences you've got since the last time.
If you're into that, have fun, but I wasn't replying to all the ways someone could interpret that line.
Also half your interpretations include the toxic mindset I was talking about. Especially 1, "because", "so", "so". 1 is directly saying that if you ask for advice on that topic then you're unfit for the risk. That attitude can go fuck itself. 3 suggests that asking means fear, which is the same kind of terrible. And 4 directly states the toxic idea again at the end, that asking for advice means lack of conviction. Talking through life-changing plans with people is a good idea, and doesn't mean you're choosing in a bad way, and doesn't mean you haven't already decided.
It took a damn great deal of paraphrasing. If I paraphrased those line, I'd probably came with something like this: you shouldn't push people to live a counter cultural life, because such a life needs some special qualities from people and if they had not them, they wouldn't be happy living such a life. If you really think than it would be good for them, then test first their qualities, push then.
> 1 is directly saying that if you ask for advice on that topic then you're unfit for the risk.
Isn't it so? If you are fit, than you wouldn't ask "should I...", you'd ask "how did it go for you, Gauss?" You'd seek for additional information allowing you to estimate risks better.
> 3 suggests that asking means fear, which is the same kind of terrible.
Fear is good, it helps us to see dangers. You'd better listen to it. It doesn't mean to do unconditionally what fear wants, but you should listen to it. I'm telling you as a psychologist: do not treat your fear as something bad, it would have a far reaching consequences. If you labeled an emotion as bad, you wouldn't stop experiencing it, but you would try to hide it from yourself. Freud would call this process repression, a kind of a psychological defense mechanism. And this way you would lose an ability to face your emotions consciously, therefore letting them to wreak havoc uncontrollably.
Cognitive psychology says, that the right way to deal with a fear is to dig into what causes it, to access risks, to devise "plan B" in advance, and so on. Behavioral psychology says that the right way is to try yourself on lesser occasions and to learn how your fears work, and how you tend to react to them, and to find ways to deal with them reliably. One not just jump into a lake because of his fears to drown, it would be better to learn to swim first. No kind of psychology says that the right way to deal with fears is to reject them, to smile and wave, to try to look like there is no fear. It may be a good tactical method, but if abused it would lead to a strategic losses.
> And 4 directly states the toxic idea again at the end, that asking for advice means lack of conviction.
I know nothing about the toxicity of this idea, but if you are trying to make someone else responsible for your decisions it is lack of conviction. If the mere "you shouldn't do it" can stop you, you are not ready. Just try to see it as a kind of test: if you pass, then you are ready.
> Talking through life-changing plans with people is a good idea, and doesn't mean you're choosing in a bad way, and doesn't mean you haven't already decided.
Yes, I agree completely. But there is my advice to you: if you do this, then do it with a phrasing that doesn't sound like you are externalizing your decision making. There are whole branches of psychology which was built on an assumption that the phrasing reveals details of people's thought process, of their emotional state, their fears and so on. This branches would treat "should I do this" not as an attempt to gather information in order to make a better decision, but as a blindingly bright neon sign of a fear of uncertainty. Ordinary people (like Gauss, haha) also perceive phrasing in this way, though maybe less persistently than psychotherapists.
I'd take it as a bit milder view - that currently you're not eager enough to risk things and not in a position where you know you're ready.
This reminds me of a theme on HN questions around a decade ago: "Should I drop out of uni to work on a startup?" (often from people who don't have one yet or a good idea how to join one) If the person is neither convinced enough to do it themselves, nor are they in a position where their work is so successful that uni interferes... - it's likely a safer bet not to do it. And that doesn't mean I have any knowledge or guesses about whether that person can be an outlier in the future.
It's a story of my father. As far as I know, GF Gauss was the greatest mathematician since Archimedes and also a rather toxic person.
And there are a lot of ways you can interpret the quote. I think it's not so much an ideal but statement that actually society, even other prodigies, aren't necessarily going to support you going your own way. That isn't good imo but it's realistic. "Tough love" isn't necessarily the best teacher but it's certainly here.
There are many things that we all need done for our society to function. At this point in time, it is still necessary for most people to spend large amounts of their lives doing these things rather than what is right for them as unique individuals.
It could be right for you. Until you try it, you’ll never be certain.
Hinduism is a religion and way of life, first of all.
Secondly if you're actually making an honest mistake and not being completely ignorant, you probably meant that the caste system is a slave-system. And I can agree, it's been horrible, and it has no scriptural authority in Hinduism. Svadharma is not the caste system and the caste system is not Hindu.
> vocation is an expression of positive freedom, of your own recognition that you have been born to do something.
There, you got it! This is svadharma.
Socrates was executed for corrupting youth. He never denied it.
Suggesting to a particular person that you know that they should try to find their life's mission and purpose may make sense given whatever you know about them. It may be absolutely the right advice (and path) for them to take, since there are undoubtedly people who do have such singular purpose.
However, that doesn't imply that this way of thinking about how to approach life makes any sense in a generalized "how to live an XXXX kind of life" article or book or talk or whatever. That's even more true if one of the metrics supporting why "an XXXX kind of life" is good includes happiness. If you're only going to be happy if you manage your singular unique mission and purpose in life, then the chances are extremely high that you will not be happy.
I agree that there's a lot of rules that everyone should follow and philosophies that most would benefit from, but... everyone's life involves situations and relationships that are unique and singular and special to them. For example, most adults are taking care of a family that is very special to them. "Take care of your family" is maybe not a special, unique purpose on its face, but it is special to each person who is doing it.
While it's perhaps true that few people are called to live lives that would look utterly unique and remarkable in an autobiography, I think we should take care not to define out of existence the inherent uniqueness and singularity of purpose of each life.
Absolutely. I would never want to do that (or be seen as doing that).
Even within a specialized class or career the people there will have wildly different backgrounds and life experiences. Hence their sense of calling from a personal standpoint will be unique..
Wait, that's a vocation, but if you don't have will to set and pursue goals, then you won't pursue them, you will be swayed by other ideas, like not all people being equal for minimization of damage.
There are millions of programmers. But how many people are working on some obscure open source project?
Not everyone NEEDS/WANTS to be unique.
But anyone can be. Easily. Don't give me this 7Bn people bull crap. 2^33 > 7Bn you only have to make a few choices / do a few things slightly different - and you're doing something unique.
You also don't have to go things alone. You can join a group of people that are doing something unique - see everyone at Rajneeshpuram or Biosphere 2. You don't have to be Osho or John Allen. Or even Ma Anand Sheela. You can just be a part of something unique.
It’s like the are we a monopoly question:
Google: we are not a monopoly in the advertising business. We have so much competition from billboards, tv ads, newspaper ads and other websites with their own ads.
Local restaurant: we totally are a monopoly. We are the only Italian-Korean fusion restaurant open after 11pm in this small town!
Is it "I want to make this thing I have an idea for", or "I want a job-ready skill"?
If it's the former, "learn to code" doesn't have to be the next step. It could be drawing up a mockup or creating the basic logic in something simple like G Sheets.
From there you can go to one of the many no-code tools that can use Sheets as a data source. Seeing how far you can go with off-the-shelf options provides valuable experience, because you'll know precisely where the bottlenecks were, and can talk to a developer to understand what you need to learn to convert it to code.
Compare that to jumping straight from idea phase to to a 20+ hour video course on HTML/CSS and JS. By the time you get to the CSS Box Model, you'll have forgotten why you started the course in the first place.
* build cars
* work in retail
* construct and repair buildings
* sew mass-market clothing
* build, maintain, manage the energy supply system(s)
* plant, grow, harvest and process food
* run the machines that move people, products and materials around
It's easy to understand why someone might feel a strong sense of meaning and purpose if they win an Olympic gold; but they could also be miserable and generally dissatisfied with life.
Any prejudice we have about how someone should feel if they are doing a particular job is just our own interpretation of how we would feel doing the job; but there isn't anything inherent in any of these jobs that gives meaning or purpose. (I also think people confuse being satisfied with the perks of a job—say fame or fortune—with meaning and purpose and satisfaction with the job itself.)
and that's what I was calling out, not the idea that certain jobs can prevent you from having meaning and purpose.
"Witness, for instance, the establishment of settled 'alternative' or 'independent' cultural zones, which endlessly repeat older gestures of rebellion and contestation as if for the first time. 'Alternative' and 'independent' don't designate something outside mainstream culture; rather, they are styles, in fact the dominant styles, within the mainstream."
I'm going with Mark Fisher on this one. This is absolutely generic and unoriginal cut-and-paste Californian lifestyle advice trying to package itself as something deeper - which is something generic and unoriginal Californian lifestyle advice always does, as part of its own branding™.
But it does raise the question: what would a genuine online counter-culture look like?
I'm pretty sure going to museums and restaurants and playing golf at off-peak times wouldn't be part of it.
But what would?
Counter culture gets recuperated. New terrain becomes deterritorialized and reterritorialized. Edge becomes fashionable and popular.
Even if we knew what would, would that thing survive getting mentioned on HN?
I can think of:
The short-live Boogaloo meme culture
The NRX movement
Fundamentalist religious communities
Note that none of these subcultures are ever likely to be history's protagonists. But they are (or were) arrayed against the dominant culture's contemporary beliefs, narratives, and trends.
100rabbits permacomputing work is worth looking into.
There are other pockets out there, typically left-leaning that are too multitudinous, heterogenous, and individually niche to be effectively categorized in a single sentence.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
The Boogaloo movement is/was composed primarily of hardline libertarians, and right-anarchists
The NRX movement makes reference to medieval texts and ancient political thought that has they are separated from by generations.
To the extent that either group has cohesive visions for the future, their visions are alien to anything we've seen in the past hundred years. They envision fundamental social, governmental, and economic transformations. Retrograde, but in part only just now enabled by new technologies.
They full-throatedly embrace change, but want a different kind of change.
They don't fit cleanly into either box.
But you don't need to be revolutionary to be counter culture. MAGA was counter culture in 2016. The Amish are counter culture, they're just not cool counter culture, or even necessarily desireable counter culture. They merely existed in opposition to cultural trends that dominant and prestige media outlets were embracing, and inspired their vocal opposition.
Are we reading the same article? This article doesn’t read at all about becoming a better worker. It emphasizes anti-consumerism and building diverse personal experiences and insists on not blindly following your peers and doing what others want you to do.
Not all of the tips, like "be nice" and "forgive people" accord to this logic, but as a general through-line: Burgis is relentlessly focused on "the way great companies are built" (#23), worships the great innovators Henry Ford and Steve Jobs (#18), demands that everything has a purpose (#17, #13), in service of what he deems most important, "the calling" or personal vocation (#1).
We might read this through the lens of 20th century German sociologist Max Weber, who traces the spirit of capitalism to the Protestant ethic . As a very short summary, it's an ethic defined by the very same vocational calling [Beruf], where labor acquires a religious significance and produces values that then become secularized. From my copy of his book:
> One of the constitutive components of the modern capitalist spirit, and, moreover, generally of modern civilization, was the rational organization of life on the basis of the idea of the calling. It was born out of the spirit of Christian asceticism [...] The Puritan wanted to be a person with a vocational calling; we must be.
Whether or not you believe the historiography, the function of the vocational calling is to produce a subject who works and disciplines themself automatically.
Look having no goal, purpose or calling seem to work now that we organized process-heavy societies where one dilletante wouldnt hurt too much. But let me remind you not so long ago we did what our father did and his father before. And also, that if we jump back into natural nihilism to live as free of purpose as animals, we'll miss many of the intellectual wonders that the group managed to accomplish, maybe through the illusion it has no alternative, I concede.
Probably not important to you, after all, since there's no inherent rule nor purpose, but sad a bit to me.
And you are at least metaphorically - and possibly also literally - "doing what your father did."
What goals are genuinely countercultural in 2022?
Undermining or opting out of society: Crypto, neo-reactionism, antiwork, anti-capitalism, even alternets like Gemini to a degree.
Undermining societal norms or rejecting status quo reality: incels, anti-vaxx, flat earthers, pro-pedophilia. QAnon and BLM are both explicitly against society, albeit for vastly different reasons.
In 2021, everybody and their dog is trying to make money by speculating on crypto... It might have been countercultural in 2012.
I meant using crypto for its original political purpose - sustaining an anarcho-capitalist economy and providing a means to opt out of the state.
I don't think anyone is actually doing that, but yeah. Fair point.
Most of these exist as negative reactions against existing ideologies and as such aren't really countercultures. Antiwork, anti-capitalism, they only exist because the thing they oppose (c.f. work and capitalism) exist. These cultures only exist as long their opposite cultures exist, no longer. They are just as mimetic as the dominant culture they oppose.
Gemini is a fun one because despite it having lots of people who want to participate in a counterculture, it uses the same infrastructure as the corporate internet they want to oppose.
A genuine counterculture would be orthogonal from the original culture, not the negative of it.
Counterculture always runs contrary to an existing culture, in rejection of its ideals and values, it's right there in the name. I think you're making an argument that counterculture can be just as mimetic as culture, which I might agree with. It's all part of the same cycle of assimilation, transformation, rejection and rediscovery.
Fair enough I might be looking for too much in "counterculture".
I can see what they're saying, a lot of this also gets mentioned as productivity advice:
- Anti-Mimetic Scheduling: take advantage of the off-peak times
- Building a Deep Bookshelf: allocate 10% of your annual reading to books where you know you’re not going to ‘agree’ with the fundamental premise
- Don’t Participate in the Shark-Tankification of Worth
- Learn to Navigate without GPS: It kills the brain and it kills the wandering — the spirit.
- Stop Writing to Please
WHY the fuck did this rank on HN?
> Being “anti-mimetic” does not mean being a ‘contrarian’ or refusing to imitate one’s peers. That’s what every hipster thinks he’s doing, too. “Everyone leaves the beaten path only to fall into the same ditch,” wrote the social theorist René Girard, the father of mimetic theory. This kind of naive rejection of the culture is not what we’re talking about here.
This mindset runs deep in tech communities, where some people seem to think they can build a personality around doing everything differently than others. It’s the person who can’t resist the urge to remind everyone that they don’t use a popular text editor, programming language, or operating system.
I’m actually all for exploring the less popular path and trying different things. It becomes a problem, however, when someone can only view every choice as a false dichotomy in which only one option can be chosen. And of course, they’ll find a way to casually mention how they chose the less popular of the two options every time it comes up. They need everyone to know they are different (which they believe is equivalent to being better).
Analogously, in decision theory, someone is equally reliable and predictable if they are always right or always wrong.
This kind of pedantic talking-like-a-successful-guy to weak-minded-people shit nauseates me. Mark Manson made a great career out of it. It's Joe Rogan's bread and butter. Dress it up in all the pseudo-historical philosophy you want, it reads exactly the same way.
The best take-down ever of this is the rather forced performance given by Tom Cruise's character in "Magnolia". The writing and direction of that piece of social commentary was one of the things that made me think PT Anderson was almost as good as JD Salinger at deconstructing the mind of conformist-wannabe-rebels.
By all means, please do read more books, consume less frivolously, watch old "under-rated" films, &c. But do it because you want to do it, not because some weirdo on the internet told you that it'll make you "counter-cultural."
Oh well. At least this goes into my pile of "read things you deeply disagree with".
For me this sort of discourse always comes back to the same basic truth: if you want to live an authentic and worthwhile life, you need to decide what you value and not just what you are rebelling against. This is the only ticket out of eternal adolescence.
> Below are some of the ways that we might cultivate some ‘anti-mimetic’ habits so that we’re not constantly struggling to keep up in the hamster wheel of desire that most of the people around us are running on—and reinforcing the wheel for one another. I hope some of these tactics will help you step off and chart your own course a bit more easily.
> As nice as it is to ‘fit in’, there are other times when it’s necessary to exercise self-possession, freedom, and intentionality to choose a course of action that isn’t quite so mimetic — that is not primarily the product of social imitation but the product of our innermost sanctum: our conscience, our understanding of our vocation, our deliberate and fully ‘owned’ choice of what we believe to be true, good, and beautiful. It is through these kind of intentional acts that we become who we are.
> Being anti-mimetic means have the personal freedom to counteract negative forms of mimetic desire — like the kind that leads to polarized politics, unhealthy obsessions, envy, hustle-porn, and never-satisfied striving for things that won’t ultimately matter to impress people who don’t love us.
Maybe it's for different ears than mine. I think the message there is basically good. My take is a little different - people should go beyond fighting the flow and just let the flow be irrelevant to them. Let it pass around and through you and feel nothing. Find something different in that quiet.
Maybe putting words in the author's keyboard, but the fish in a current metaphor -- to me -- highlighted the same sentiment you seem to be promoting: don't be anti* all the time. Fish don't always swim up stream; they rarely do. The point is that a live fish has the ability to swim up stream when it needs or wants to.
TFA states quite in the beginning that the point is not about becoming a contrarian, even less being a contrarian for the sake of being a contrarian. Seems like you are projecting quite a bit.
Acknowledging the technology is basically poison at scale, maybe remove it from your life so you do not suffer the same brainrot as the masses.
The great Naval once wrote: Be wary of anything that uses the word "social".
Social Media is conditioning people to discuss moral crusades, launch moral crusades, and dwell on moral crusades. Humans are being conditioned to write and say things that inspire anger towards the opposition, because that is the best approach to getting likes, upvotes, and subscribes. Poison for your mind.
I was not aware of this quote, so I googled, and it turns out it's a Twitter account
I'll also point out that Naval correctly used the word "wary", but I do weary of these things too.
Considering his background, the tweet might as well be investment advice as opposed to life advice.
I haven't looked into him too much, but from what I can tell, people only respect him because he has money.
> Not all who wander are lost. And sometimes, I like to drive with absolutely no destination at all.
more exactly a link to la Dérive :
> The dérive is a revolutionary strategy originally put forward in the "Theory of the Dérive" (1956) by Guy Debord, (...) It is an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, in which participants drop their everyday relations and "let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there"
At least in this time and place (2021 USA), keep your head down. At least for now.
No. Now is precisely the time when the insane need to be reminded that while outright sanity is impossible, we can, should and must be more sane than we are now. The tribes be damned.
People change, we do not have infinite time and over time actually making lasting acquaintances takes ever more energy. And if you change, so may your circles of friends, or even family.
Few people make themselves available later on, everyone is busy or sapped, either by work or other obligations. A decision to change and go against the flow can easily become a lonely one.
In my case every time I've tried to go with the flow I wind up resenting myself more than I like the people I'm keeping company with and always go back to marching to my own drum and shedding whatever social circle I've cobbled together.
I find that I enjoy my own time doing what I want and doing what I find stimulating more than I dislike the loneliness.
Very much to each their own though, it's obviously very personal and my way is definitely not the best for everyone, heck some of the time I'm not even sure it has been the best for me.
My rational is that David Bowie isn't collecting those streaming royalties anyway and his estate is getting 0.0005 cents per play so isn't it better to own a physical copy and not line the pockets of lawyers who think they can go around dictating FOSS projects?
Honestly it's kind of fun too. Ripping your collection to FLAC and setting up a samba share is a nice Sunday afternoon project.
The writing is on the wall, this will only get worse.
And it's a rewarding experience to be oneself and eventually find the set/setting/companion/environment that correlates to you in a fulfilling way.
Sometimes that's very difficult or impossible. It is never the easiest choice, but worthwhile things rarely are.
There are things one can do to increase their apportionment of luck in life, but outcomes are not guaranteed.
I don't mean to be glib. Equanimity is required for lasting contentment. Equanimity comes more naturally with age.
i too experience negative consequences, but these are owed to finding it difficult to make friends. however, i do not believe that this difficulty comes from doing what is suggested in the article but rather the reverse, the difficulty to make friends is something i grew up with, any behavioral quirks developed later as a consequence of not having friends.
so in other words, the negative things you experience maybe don't come from being yourself but because you may be missing something else, something that may have had a hand in shaping who you are now.
i am just curious here, not judging. where do you want to get, and what do you think it takes to get there?
i too thought that most of the points applied to me and my feeling was that i would be miserable if they didn't. i can't in fact imagine living another way. this is me, and i am going to make the most of it, regardless what others think.
(to all the commenters who suggest that this list makes for a miserable life: if that's the case then this list is not for you. it's for those of us who don't enjoy following others)
i'd like to share one specific experience that seems relevant. in highschool i was a contrarian. a quiet one who expressed this by wearing different things than everyone else. at one point i realized that if everyone else started to copy my style then i would change my own style, and that meant that my style was just as dependent on others as was everyone elses.
that realization made me stop being a contrarian and instead i simply chose a new style that i could enjoy on its own regardless whether it differentated me from anyone or not.
so instead of asking: will this differentiate me from others?, i am asking: is this comfortable for me? is this something i want? does this fit into my principles of life? ...
The simple thing is that people who get promoted (or any other favorable thing) are the ones who share the most similarities with the person doing the promoting. I see this all the time at my company and in my life. This is even true in things like law and government (law enforcement and prosecutorial discretion).
Just stop doing isn't necessarily an option. Why should one not be their true self, and how difficult and painful would that be? Some people are stuck between the options.
that has led me to be mostly self employed, and when i did take on employment then it was to further my own interests and not toil away on something that i could not identify with just to earn some money. i have never been in a position to be promoted in my job, so i didn't think about that. though it is possible that at least one termination of a job was influenced by my anti-memetic behavior, but that let to some interesting new options, so in my case it was not detrimental.
and yes, not being anti-memetic just isn't an option for me either.
“The time has come for us to forgive one another. If we wait any longer there will not be time enough.” He understood that the only way that we wouldn’t be ‘battling to the end’ in a never-ending mimetic escalation is through an anti-mimetic movement away from violence and retribution and toward reconciliation and peace.
Any act of opposition can land you on a blacklist or worse, even small one, even if you do not expect it.
When I know I’m going to be exposed to a video advertisement I summon all of the rage and contempt I can to make my mental state as unlikely to retain the ad’s message as possible.
I take perverse pleasure in letting my devices alarms/notifications ring without rushing to attend to them. Similarly I talk back to the maps directions voice.
I know it would sort've just become a self-help article at that point. There's been a deluge of those lately, most of which are of s** quality and usually preaching the sort of "hustle hard bro" message Luke decries, but I just think this sort of stuff would _actually_ do well on TikTok with a smidge of substitution for the more core-RG terminology.
Depends on which ones... gets a little dispiriting to realize I just labored through what was actually a Japanese translation of an article from Reuters originally written in English.
In a wider sense, if you're actively trying to go against the grain of society, they've already got you, in a way.
> As my regular readers will by now, I think that a massive deficiency in religious literacy is causing confusion. We have an inability to make sense of new developments like Bitcoin because our fundamental nature as religious beings — homo religiosus — is being denied. If we recognized and embraced it, who knows what Renaissance of reason and innovation we might see?
Instagram 1 is for family and friends. It's snapshots of daily life for family and friends all over the world.
Instagram 2 is for others that like me enjoy making radio-controlled replica cars and trucks from flat sheets of styrene.
Facebook is to let people who know me find me.
Why would one NOT have a reason for social media? Anything as mundane as keeping up with distant friends and family is reason enough, no? And of course that's going to forever remain mimetic unless you're a business. That's why there's the word "social" in social media, or did I miss the boat?
TikTok for entertainment. Twitter to be heard... I can't believe one would have any kind of social media account without a purpose. Even if it's showing off your wealth, or pretending to be something you're not - they're all reasons, no?
I think this covers most people's use of social media. Many at best have a vague notion of why they are on social media, or at worst have not even considered the possibility of not participating. "With a purpose" to me suggests forethought: Think about why you are on social media before participating (or before your next interaction), if you haven't thought much of it before. This is very different from coming up reasons after the fact, which I think is far more common.
A counter case -- for sure as a consultant at McKinsey, umlaut or Accenture you'll write out a communications plan in which you detail and map project stakeholders, places/times of project news and briefings, publicity, dealing with external inquiries and so on. That's a very, very specific and detailed set of requirements for what boils down to social media at corporate level.
Way over the top for Jane and Joe Average. For whom "keep in touch with friends and family" is specific. For many the notion of not participating is unthinkable - becuase THAT's where all their family and friends are. And so it requires no additional pontification, I'd think.
What might an example of a loftier, more dialled-in purpose be?
For the longest time, those in my circle who used Facebook to "keep in touch" really didn't. Sending me an apple on the latest farm game isn't a genuine interaction to me. It was only after I quit that close friends finally got the hint that Facebook was not a good way to reach out to me, despite explicitly saying it many times before.
For those for whom not participating is presently unthinkable, maybe thinking it over would do some good. That doesn't necessitate changing one's choice in the end, but considering it can be useful in and of itself. Family and friends are not only on Facebook. They have a real presence in the real world. Even if one chooses to stay on Facebook or whatever social media du jour, realizing this can be immensely helpful.
Are “Anti-mimetic tactics” selfish?
And does the mnemonic I before E except after C rule apply in this context?
We might be close to a CRISPR for memes here. Memesplicing anyone?
A book version would be neat.
A commitment to truth has value. A commitment to speak it always and essentially pick fights and cut your own throat is not really a dedication to the truth. It's some kind of misguided puritan guilt or something like that.
Forgiveness is a gift. Trust is earned. People hold grudges when they know no means to have compassion for another while still protecting themselves. Telling people to run around randomly forgiving others is an unnuanced idea that advocates for encouraging bad behavior and a professional victim position.
If you can help them move on, cool. Wonderful. If you can't, it's bad advice that amounts to saying "The nice thing is to cut your own throat and actively encourage others to keep cutting throats without consequence."
As someone who has lived in many different countries around the world. I can strongly relate to this point. Media in different countries cover mostly the same information but the angle is different. Watching the media of two different countries which are opposed to each other politically gives you a better general idea of what's going on. When you do that, you can easily see the spin/deception and you train yourself to spot it.
There is always spin in the media. It's a bit like cross-examining two people in an argument; of course each individual will try to subtly twist the facts in their own favor. Nation states are no different; if anything, they're more consistent.
Being anticultural for the sake of it.
"Being anti-mimetic is the power to live in freedom"
I mean do that, if that is your thing. But rather just do what you really want. Whether your local culture supports it, or not. This I call freedom.
Just note of course, going against the mainstream is a lot harder. And there are cultures that are very repressive against even small sidetracking from the norm. And they will try to make your life hell, for bringing chaos into their stable order of things. Because this is how they might perceive you, for not adopting to their standard.
Shark Tank is itself a derivative.
In an article about selective anti-mimeticism, worship at the altar of self-oppressive mimicry. Too serious to be a joke, but the irony...
The people who read this article and attempt to make these changes are the people who will talk about this stuff incessantly, and push it onto every single other person they meet.
It's legitimately repulsive in its phoniness, because I work hard to be authentic, and if I were to take this article seriously, it'd be a huge step backwards in authenticity.
So much for being anti-mimetic and bucking the trends.
EDIT: And for god's sake be kind to someone who doesn't share your worldview, even if that worldview is offensive in some way.
Stop chasing advice on how to better yourself. You won't find enlightenment in articles like this.
The most tangible tech related thing it made me think about is Google News. There are reasons to dislike the service (or the beast behind it), but at the end of the day, it’s a great way to help break your own personal political ethos bubble. Read the headlines of CNN right next to FOX. Consider the angles. On that point, I’d love to find a non-FAANG alternative that does the aggregation as well as Google. Anyone have suggestions?
Separately, I will quibble with this:
“ I’ve never understood why the debate our education has focused so heavily on the type of school (private, public, parochial, charter, etc.). Shouldn’t we be more concerned about the quality of education?”
He’s grossly glossing over the socio-economic subtleties. Those ARE ultimately meant to be debates about quality — and about how quality education can be delivered at mass, fairly and justly.
There are 2 that I weren't on my radar at all though, and will take them to heart and work them into my lifestyle: "Return Anger with Kindness" and "Forgive Someone. Repeat.". These are really hard in today's divisive world, but someone has to take the first step.
Thanks for putting together a wonderful list.
Isn't the internet itself, as a giant copy machine, the opposite of the goals of a mimetic life?
Maybe this says a lot more about how I approach HN than anyone else. I truly love this community and the ideas put forth by Girard are so interesting. But, it makes me wonder if by pursuing them I'm just following the herd anyway.
I also would love to hear someone write about being anti-mimetic with kids and with another parent. There is an entire industry trying to make you spend money that's so mimetic.
Which is not to say it's all nonsense. I think the front matter sums it up nicely. Life is about what you focus on. Your personal focus is what will separate you from the "dead fish".
Focus is dividing what matters from what doesn't and that's unique to each person. People do this focus calculus all the time when deciding whether and who to marry, how many kids to have if any, what school subject to study and how hard to study, and so on. The "dead fish" in the article's analogy aren't really dead, but they're acting on subconscious, pseudo-instinctive drives (usually some form of search for social validation) whereas we can at least attempt to be more conscious of what we want our life to be about (social validation maybe doesn't matter as much as we often feel it does, at least relative to other things).
This can sometimes mean abandoning, at least in part, the principles of those around us because they don't lead where we want to go (a common experience between parents and their children). Or at least being able to better negotiate compromises when someone knows what they actually want rather than just trying to get along.
I don't understand this. What is he proposing you do with the $10? Why would this advice change if your declared value was less than a daily gym membership?
Now the article argues that since the reader would pay more to be in the forest than the gym, they should evaluate their options to run in the forest. Because that could provide more absolute value. Even if it meant travelling further.
The only way it makes sense to argue this way is when you're trying to convince a consumer of a non-consumer option that is better. Because, it presumes, only when a consumer evaluates the forest as a product, they will see its value.
This line resonated a lot with me and some of my goals and anti-goals when I started working on Haven. I don't want to support any sort of commercial or brand-building goals on Haven and I explicitly send those people to Wordpress on the features page.
I won't necessarily intentionally look things I don't like but I will ask others what they're reading, what they suggest, and so on. It helps me escape confirmation bias.
The other hack I use is to read books referenced in the book I'm reading. These are often
the book that influenced the book I'm reading. Getting back to basics, back to the source, is often helpful.
That being said, I like the article and maybe the author was just side-stepping complications by presenting Girardian desire as being consciously culpable. But that is a complication in and of itself: desire is often unconscious and accessible only to the hidden self of the subconscious.
That the desire the author describes may be a meta- (or pata-) desire is worth noting when reading the text.
Or at least that's my 2 bit commentary.
Also, being flexible. You don't have to avoid using GPS all the time. But sometimes I find a fun challenge in seeing if my brain can figure out A to B on its own, etc...
And that was when I realized the whole article was bullshit.
A year ago , I was struggling to describe an experience and needed a word to describe it while journaling.
I called it “Wantingness” at the time! Going to go back and review my journal entries.
"avoid typical crowded hours and go to restaurants and museums at 1400 on a workday"
sure id like to but...