Graeber, AirSpace, MicroCovids, Rilke

David Graeber

This toot by Darius Kazemi - links to this book (which I haven’t read) and these essays on flying cars and bullshit jobs (which I have read). I didn’t recognize his name when he recently died, but he’s indirectly had a decent-sized effect on me! Bullshit Jobs, especially, is such an important and well-written wake-up call. You can argue back (and indeed I do; mostly because it’s easy to say a job is bullshit from the outside, and I think he’s a little pessimistic about what percent of jobs are bullshit) but you probably can’t shake the feeling that, at some level, he’s probably right.

(Next question: what percent of Silicon Valley is bullshit? And how high up the ladder of abstraction do you have to go? Say your job is very effective at helping your company make money, but your company doesn’t actually help anyone; can we still call all them bullshit?)


(y’know, how every coffee shop looks the same, every airbnb has the same ikea furniture, and every song on spotify sounds the same)

Ironic how my generation rages against AirSpace 1.0 (an Applebee’s, Dave & Buster’s, and Cheesecake Factory in every town, so you can travel around the US but still only eat colossal plates full of chicken parmesan) but then creates AirSpace 2.0. Further impetus for my future coffee shop to be more Fiery Furnaces/Midnight Gospel/Room of Requirement and less Apple/Everlane/Ritual Valencia.


Like Micromorts, but for your chance of catching covid, not dying. I think I’d be ok with a 1% chance of catching it over the next year - which is to say I can have 10k Microcovids, which means 200/week. This means flying in a plane is 1.5 weeks' worth of risk; my d&d group eats up half my risk for a week; etc. The d&d group could go down from 100 to 50 if we sit 6ft apart, or 30 if we mask! Hmm. This is getting closer to “actually helping me make decisions.”

Rilke quote

I heard some quote from him (maybe in this podcast ep?). A student asked him “how do you become a poet?” Rilke answered something like “if you can live your life otherwise, do so. If you absolutely have to, then be a poet.” The more I see myself hitting mid 30s and not becoming a monk or Nat Geo photographer or Nobel winner, this is almost comforting. “Those people” are singularly driven (for some reason that’s a combo of nature and nurture). Not to be judgmental - I’m not better than them for being not-pathologically-driven - but maybe for my own sanity I can start to put more achievements in the “NBA player” category: not gonna happen for me and that’s ok.

This isn’t new; “being ok with not winning a Nobel Prize” has been a theme for me ever since I realized that might not happen (college, I think?). But it’s been coming up a little differently recently. Now I’m asking: do I care about being known in my field? (and what is my field?) Like, not even “respected professor” but maybe just “guy who gives conference talks or something.” Do I even want that? If so, how do I get there? If not, how do I deal with the bad feelings that come up with accepting that?

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