“The reward for accepting unpredictability is meaning. Unlike the abyss faced by makers, the plurality of other humans who are the object of action don’t just stare back. Sometimes they accept your invitation to play on; they join you in continuing the game. To act, in the Arendt sense, is to issue a call to play an infinite game in the James Carse sense (Carsean finite games, obviously, map to maker-theaters).
The reward for dealing with others through promises and forgiveness, rather than fuck-yous, is freedom, a richer mode of being than sovereignty.”
—Venkatesh Rao, “How To Make History.” Ribbonfarm.com. September 14, 2017.
There seems to be an interesting overlap going on here where the element of surprise is the hallmark of agency and freedom, and Baggini’s bringing in the same when talking about truth.
“VEDANTAM: I understand you got married about a year ago. And you applied some of your own research on regret when it came to choosing a wedding dress.
SUMMERVILLE: I did. So I actually wasn’t applying my own research. I applied to work by Sheena Iyengar on the phenomenon of choice overload as well as work by Barry Schwartz and colleagues about the idea of maximizing versus satisficing as strategies for decisions – maximizing being the idea that you want to pick the best of all possible alternatives and satisficing being the idea that you’re going to pick something that meets all of your standards but may or may not be the absolute best.
So when I was wedding dress shopping, I went to a couple of stores. I tried on five or 10 dresses at each one. And I found a dress that I absolutely loved and was in my price range. And I realized that what the research told me was I would never be happier than I was at that moment – that if I kept dress shopping, I was going to wind up feeling overwhelmed. You know, I could find a hundred different lace sheaths with a V-neck in ivory, and I would wind up feeling confused about what are the differences between these, and that the very act of trying to get the absolute best would mean that I could never really be sure if I’d done it. Whereas, if I adopted a satisficing strategy, I could be sure I’m in a dress that looks beautiful on me and is in my price range, and I should just buy it and be done. And so that’s how I chose my wedding dress.”
—Emma Maris, “Feminine And Unapologetic.” Lastwordonnothing.com September 25, 2017.
h/t Hidden Brain. What I find puzzling about Emma’s commentary is she, in her writing, is both criticizing the trivialization of gendered examples and at the same time does it herself. Crying while doing dishes and listening to the radio is only female in so far as women are more likely to be washing dishes in the first place.
“Lannon said that Google had changed the way people sought information. ‘They only want information based on the information they think they want,’ he said. As a rule, he said, archivists at the library should give you the box you’ve asked for — but also suggest another box. There are fewer opportunities, now, to stumble into a world you don’t already know. ‘It’s important to look outside of your own existence.'”
—James Somers, “Keepers of the Secrets.” The Village Voice. September 20,2017.
A love letter to archives.
“Then we’ll pack everything in the house into cartons. I don’t love packing; it’s inside work and mostly tedious. I do enjoy packing stemware, china, sculpture, and fine art, but that stuff is getting rarer in American households. Books are completely disappearing. (Remember in Fahrenheit 451 where the fireman’s wife was addicted to interactive television and they sent fireman crews out to burn books? That mission has been largely accomplished in middle-class America, and they didn’t need the firemen. The interactive electronics took care of it without the violence.)”
—Finn Murphy, “A High-End Mover Dishes on Truckstop Hierarchy, Rich People, and Moby Dick: On the beauty and burdens of the long haul.” Longreads.com. September 21, 2017.
Not a representative quote, but a fascinating excerpt. Something to add to the book queue.
Amos: I’m not gonna lie to you. Either way this plays out, you’re dead. And I’m the one that’s going to bring you the good news. You’re a loose end. Nothing personal.
Spy: Just like that, huh?
Amos: Like water’s wet. Sky’s up.
Spy: Must be nice to have life all figured out like that.
Amos: It has nothing to do with me. We’re just caught up in the churn, is all.
Spy: I have no idea what you just said.
Amos: This boss that I used to work for in Baltimore, he called it the churn, when the rules of the game change.
Spy: What game?
Amos: The only game. Survival. When the jungle tears itself down and builds itself into somethin’ new. Guys like you and me, we end up dead.
It doesn’t really mean anything.
Or, we happen to live through it, and well, that doesn’t mean anything either.