Issue № 6

I have a problem

If you find yourself wanting to speed up the reading process on a particular book, you may want to ask yourself, “Is this book any good?”

~ Ryan Holiday from,

Long-time readers will be well aware of my self-diagnosed problem with books. I’ve spent a lot of time reading about reading about books, but this list by Holiday made me think about a few things in a new light. Yes, of course; It’s a post by Holiday so it’s going to have some ancient Stoic philosophers in it. Schopenhauer had a sublime lament about time for reading. Holiday’s strategies won’t help you there. There’ll preserve some of your reading time for, well, more reading. But I still think the hardest part about reading is making it a priority. (Recall: “I don’t have time to…” is bullshit.)

An addition to your knowledge

If you come across any special trait of meanness or stupidity […] you must be careful not to let it annoy or distress you, but to look upon it merely as an addition to your knowledge—a new fact to be considered in studying the character of humanity. Your attitude towards it will be that of the mineralogist who stumbles upon a very characteristic specimen of a mineral.

~ Arthur Schopenhauer

How did this get lost?

I have taken as my province to restore to the light the art of exercise, once so highly esteemed, and now plunged into deepest obscurity and utterly perished… Why no one else has taken this on, I dare not say. I know only that this is a task of both maximum utility and enormous labor.

~ Girolamo Mercuriale from,

That straight–up sounds like the opening of an Edgar Allan Poe novel about a man whose previously unheard of uncle bequeaths him a map to a dark continent . . . No wait. Giro there is talking about exercise. Enlightening installment from Popova, as usual.

Paying attention

To be an artist, you don’t have to compose music or paint or be in the movies or write books. It’s just a way of living. It has to do with paying attention, remembering, filtering what you see and answering back, participating in life.

~ Viggo Mortensen

But I wanted to be special

But at our core, whether we’re an insecure teenager from Quebec, an overworked woman from India, a worrisome grandmother from Texas, or a desperate immigrant living in Australia, we all seem to struggle with the same small grouping of stressors and anxieties[.]

~ Mark Manson from,

In recent years—particular in that one where I regularly had a therapist—this became glaringly obvious to me. First, I started noticing when my petulant child arrives with a list of grievances, and using that as a cue that it’s time to shift gears, shift tasks, take a nap, or something. I note that my mind loves to believe it’s, at the very least, in control of itself. But that turns out to be absolutely false, because about half of my central–nervous system is in my skull, and the other half is hanging down connected to all sorts of non-conscious things.

Second, rather than try to help everyone else with the same problems I have—uh, hello, if I have the problem it’s clear I don’t know how to fix it. Instead, I’m dashing off into the mountain flowers working on things which are fun. Because that really does help me. How cool would it be if some other people (with the same problems as me) would also be helped?

The one thing that matters

From this experience I learned what legendary writers call ‘killing your darlings’—the plot points and characters that detract from a novel. Sometimes you need to stop doing things you love in order to nurture the one thing that matters most.

~ Scott Belsky

Jake Gyllenhaal

But I have this very strong belief in the unconscious. And the idea that like, that we spent that it is driving us, it’s like this massive river that we’re floating on. And we’re sort of unaware, obviously, sometimes where we’re going, and I don’t think we have much control over it, because that brings in the question of like, Fate, destiny and free will. But I believe that there’s a way in which you can kind of hop on to as in performance as an actor, like onto another river a little bit, if you work hard enough, you kind of like, move your unconscious into a space.

~ Jake Gyllenhaal ~5′, from episode 37 of Off Camera,

This is an early episode of Sam Jones‘ podcast, Off Camera. At just under an hour, it feels a little shorter than most of his other episodes—but it’s full of great things none the less.

They talk about Gyllenhaal’s work ethic—where he got it, and what it means to him. There’s also some fun side-tracks into some of the movies he’s made, Southpaw in particular gets discussed. If you’re in any way a fan of Gyllenhaal, you’ll enjoy this.

Being interested in the art of conversation, one of the details I keep an eye on is the balance of how much of myself (as a host) and the guest are talking in the episode. My personal preferred balance is 3:1 for the guest—25% host and 75% guest. It turns out (transcription services report the percentages) that this episode is exactly that balance.

Until next time, thanks for reading.



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