So I finished the series and there are more of you now. I should probably give some indication of future plans, although I’m terrible at adhering to them.
Originally, I meant to update this blog weekly. That mostly collapsed under the weight of writing for one specific train of thought. I’m going to try and get back into a weekly-ish schedule. This means two things: 1) I’m going to take some time off of writing series for a bit. I’m currently planning one, but I doubt I’ll start it for some time. 2) When I do start those essays, they’ll likely be interspersed with random posts. I’m hoping that will take some pressure off and give me time to better phrase things. A few of the last posts were denser than perhaps they should have been.
The next series will be about epistemology. I said that this last “four books/Uruk machine” series was about the “external” side of nihilism and modernity. I’m still unsure if that’s the best way to put it. The next one will be about the “internal” side. Realistically, there’s just going to be a lot about Kant and Hume and mathematics until I feel like I can make claims about phenomenology. It’s going to dovetail with the Uruk series, but not for a while and I’ll just have to ask you to trust me.
Of the random pieces: One will probably be a revised introduction. I did write two (Four Questions and Samuel’s Data), and they still kind-of-apply, but realistically I could probably do with another. Another post will be about affirmation and what I mean by it.
I’m also going to start posting fiction. Probably.
Despite everything I just said, my next couple weeks are ridiculously busy, so maybe count any promise of a “weekly” schedule as something post-September. This meta post is a vacation for the week because [life things].
Over the next couple of days I’m going to reorganize the site some.
The most significant change, which you’ll probably have noticed if I timed this right, is called “Qohelet’s Ossuary“. That probably deserves some space.
I have a terrible grasp on history, so I decided to start from the ground up. Per timeline blip I’m trying to find at least a book or two. Finding those books was surprisingly hard, and the list isn’t close to complete, but the intention has been to find the most academically-accurate books (failing that, the ones that are at least well-regarded if controversial). Honestly, I basically pilfered the r/askhistorians reading list and then followed citations and read comments for a really ridiculous amount of time.
The Ossuary is that list as well as a scrapbook of quotations. Not that many are up yet (as of writing this: two books partially added), because actually typing the quotes takes a long time and I’ve been reading things other than history. I’m putting this up now because: 1) ars longa, vita brevis and 2) I assume that some readers will know more and can give me recommendations.
The criterion for entry is “things that I find interesting or amusing”. Don’t expect to learn anything besides intriguing factoids. Here’s the goal: You know when you learn something – like, some concrete but rarely mentioned fact – that shocks you into seeing a historical period as really living, as really vibrant? The Ossuary is a list of those for some future purpose or maybe no purpose at all.
This is basically beta testing it, is what I’m getting at. Suggestions and replies are appreciated.
A surprising amount of you have asked me for reading recommendations. I’ll have to think on how to organize that. For now, it’s easiest to contact me personally and ask.
I can say that I’m currently reading Peter Turchin’s War and Peace and War and kicking myself for not having read it sooner. It’s easily one of the most interesting books I’ve read in… time, and feels very relevant to the Uruk series.
The other best non-fiction book I’ve read in the past year is Miguel Leon-Portilla’s Aztec Thought and Culture.
I’ll likely write less about books in the near future, despite the Ossuary, etc. I don’t really want to turn this into just a book review blog. But that might happen anyway, so we’ll see.
At almost the exact time I published The Thresher, Robin Hanson came out with a piece on meaning. This is not to suggest that he even knows that my blog exists – I just thought it was a funny coincidence and it’s well worth reading.
We’re using our terms somewhat differently, and I don’t really think that nihilism is just about “not having meaning” (it’s closer to having small, negative meaning than simply lacking one), but there is some interesting overlap. This part is especially relevant:
Happiness and meaning have different implications for behavior, and are sometimes at odds. That is, activities that raise happiness often lower meaning, and vice versa. […] Nations that are richer tend to have more happiness but less meaning in life, in part because they have less religion. .. Types of meaning that people get from work today include authenticity, agency, self-worth, purpose, belonging, and transcendence.
Affirming one’s identity and expressing oneself increase meaning but not happiness. People with more struggles, problems, and stresses have more meaning, but are less happy. Happiness but not meaning predicts a satisfaction of desires, such as for health and money, and more frequent good relative to bad feelings. Older people gain meaning by giving advice to younger people. We gain more meaning when we follow our gut feelings rather than thinking abstractly about our situations.
My weak guess is that productivity tends to predict meaning more strongly than happiness.
I’m going to have to write a whole lot more about nihilism and affirmation (and, I suppose, meaning) to try and get to where I can point out differences or agreement or how my claims could even be quantified. Still.
The easiest way to make me write more and make the writing better is to donate to my patreon. (It’s on my about page, but I haven’t mentioned it in a post. There are also crypto wallets in case you want to blockchain and did you know that the blockchain has blockchain implications for-)
I’m not exactly trying to live off of writing, but it’s much better than my current day-job (for some uncertain time period, anyway) and living expenses are minimal. Enough money means I can reduce hours, edit more, research more, write more, and reply to you all more.
Fuck paywalls, so I’m not putting any major posts on the patreon feed. Most of it will be scraps and bits and pieces, and even then I’ll be collecting many of those here in larger posts (I’ll also get better about actually writing patreon posts). The patreon feed is kind of a sounding board, so you’ll probably get to read some really half-baked theories that I find interesting but don’t fully endorse. The last one was about cultural appropriation and Peter Turchin’s view of Dunbar numbers!
Still, please don’t feel forced or guilted or anything. This blog is a personal project, has zero expenses besides time and books that I’d have anyway, and I simply appreciate the readership. And also, of course, to anyone who has contributed/will: I really appreciate it.
Thanks for reading. More soon. As always, you can reach me at luukeep @ outlook dot com.