I first read Zen some seven years ago, and recently picked it up again. It's just like you said - the book does something to you, yet you can't explain what it is. Two possible explanations: there is some profound change, but it can't be expressed in words OR it's an illusion of insight (similar to psychedelics). I'm still not sure which one of the two it is.

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Dec 18, 2022·edited Dec 18, 2022

High key thinks that "illusion of insight" is where it is at, and Rao has noted that "Waldenponding" (escaping from humanity in the guise of returning to nature) is often a messy thing in darker times, the eternally fluid insights of life should be decoupled from its shell of a form. https://studio.ribbonfarm.com/p/against-waldenponding-ii

There are three lines of thought explaining this kind of cultural shift:

(a) "the cutting-edge technology of the previous generation can often turn into the waldenponding fetish object of the next." AKA tech bros and art critics are becoming boomers, and thus returning to nostalgia for the good ol' days. Even when it is healthy to obsess over these things sometimes for health benefits, taking care of the younger generations and not undersocializing is the better alternative.

(b) "never trust anything that can make its own meaning if you can see where it keeps its soul." AKA if it looks like excessive craftsmanship, no matter how mainstream it is (like nature walks, woodcraft, rustic cuisine, and motor vehicles) it is no different than toy train lovers and erotica hobbyists. It is in the cross hairs of "autistic" misplaced obsession and "narcissistic" virtue signaling.

(c) "The authoritarian high modernists who seek to impose legibility on the human search for meaning are in fact the waldenponders... They want us to become cartoon versions of ourselves, puppets of historical memories of the meaning-making activities of previous generations." AKA "masculinity on a platter" is also kind of a red flag for mass manipulation (pls "mass formation psychosis" is off the mark)

For anyone in the room insisting that "tradition is good just because" is both cowardly and often short-sighted. (a) Some Lindy effects are inherently context-dependent (e.g. gumption in relation to advantageousness, not just "bluff & rush, all the time"). (b) Some of them are inherently costly signals or anti-patterns or reverse causality (e.g. smart people likes study more, not the other way around, exerting yourself to study is unhealthy). (c) if everyone follows these advice who is going to innovate, and why not blend pragmatism with temporal opportunities? https://swellandcut.com/2018/11/18/the-problem-with-lindy/ https://thomasjbevan.substack.com/p/on-the-futility-of-offering-advice

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Dec 8, 2022Liked by Erik Torenberg

Fantastic! I hope you can shed some light on this topic, even if the map is not reality. I read Zen & Motorcycles twice and my predominant emotion was frustration, not "ah ha!" or glittering insight. I would welcome a better way to view that book.

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I'm pleased you have chosen to write about this. I read and enjoyed "Zen" many years ago, but at the time I felt there was more to get out of it that I was leaving behind. Coincidentally, I came across it in my collection just a few weeks ago, and was considering giving it another go. I acquired a copy of "Lila" (which I never read) so I could follow up my second "Zen" reading with it. Now I'll enjoy seeing what you have to say about these.

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