The holidays are over—I hope everyone had a great time—and I’m finally back in Vienna, so I feel this is the right time for some updates.
First, of interest to all paying subscribers, I’ve added some great essays to the resources section of this site. If you’re a free subscriber, I recommend you one of those essays: E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction by David Foster Wallace. It’s one of the best and longest essays I’ve read last year. He talks about the thing that changed our whole society and culture: television entertainment. Things have arguably gotten worse in some respects because of social media, but that’s another discussion.
Second: aphorisms. In my continued attempt to rely less on Twitter (because, you know: centralized services, censorship, and all), I’m building a second home for my aphorisms on this website. It will take some time until all aphorisms are published here, but the backend is all finished. (Did you know that YALM, the language Ghost uses for routing, is a recursive acronym for “YAML Ain’t Markup Language”? Neither did I. I was stuck in 2001, thinking it meant “Yet Another Markup Language.” Rumor has it that haters still call it that, but I digress.)
As always, it took a lot more time to get everything to look (and function) the way I wanted. People who are into design and UI know very well that it’s hard to make things look simple and elegant.
Enough about the design and backend. What does this mean for you as a subscriber? You’ll get all my new aphorisms delivered directly to your inbox. But don’t worry, I won’t spam your inbox; not because I don’t want to, but because I simply don’t have 100 aphorisms a day to share with you.
Of course, I’ll still publish all aphorisms and other random thoughts on Twitter.
Item 3 on our agenda today: my book. Yes, I’m still working on it. Unfortunately, some very annoying complications have arisen; let me explain. I was originally going to publish my book through Amazon (KDP Publishing), but then I found Lulu. They allow you to sell your book through your own website and don’t take 50% like Amazon. More importantly, they offer you the ability to print hardcover books, which is what I wanted from the beginning. This was perfect for me, so what happened? The pages of their prints are just too thin. That may sound strange because a lot of other people have self-published their book with lulu, too, so how can that be a problem for me when it wasn’t one for them? It’s because of the aphoristic nature of my book. With normal books, the text is more or less in the same place on every page, which means it’s not annoying if the text from the other pages shows through a little bit. You won’t even notice it. But with my book, there are no blocks of text. There are short aphorisms that are not necessarily in the same place on every page. This small seeming difference, unfortunately, has a big effect.
There’s still one hope with lulu: white pages that are perhaps a bit thicker than cream-colored pages could solve the problem. However, they’re obviously an aesthetic disaster. We’ll have to wait for the next preprint, but I may have to switch back to Amazon because of this problem—they have slightly thicker pages. I’ll keep you posted, and if anyone has any ideas on how to solve this problem (maybe a friend of a friend of a friend has a publishing company and wants to publish my book for free?), send me an email or a Twitter DM.
My last essay on Sweden’s excess mortality caused some strong backlash. I’ll revisit the essay when all the data for this year is published and clarify some of my thoughts. In hindsight, I should have elaborated a bit more on some of my points and made my assertion more clearly and nuanced, as some people seem to have misunderstood my main point.
More importantly, here at Limitless Curiosity, we care about one thing above all else: the truth. That means if I’m wrong, I’ll admit it. No dubious deleting of the essay, rewriting of the original essay, or silence in hopes that everyone will forget. No. That’s not how responsible discourse works. Here at LC, we openly admit our mistakes and learn from them. That’s what honesty and integrity look like, and that’s the difference between LC and “journalism.”
Another point I wanted to quickly mention here is the style of my essays. If you read other blogs, you’ll notice that their style is more “conversational” and casual (see everyone’s favorite Alt-Right hate blog, for example). My essays are written in a more formal tone and rarely use abbreviations and such (this update is an obvious exception). I’ve often thought about changing the style because I also like to read casual, funny conversation-style posts, but I’ve decided against it.
This witty “self-aware” writing has its advantages, but I think it’s ultimately worse for what I’m trying to do. This is a difficult discussion, and I’ll probably go into it in another essay (I know I say this way too often), but David Foster Wallace puts it very well in this quote from the essay linked above:
The next real literary "rebels" in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that'll be the point. Maybe that's why they'll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today's risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the "Oh how banal". To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness. Of willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law. Who knows.
I believe that he was right, and that right now sincerity is what is needed most in our world.
Lastly, I wanted to recommend you read this new Elon Musk interview. It contains one of the funniest statements I’ve read in the last year:
Döpfner: So what writers were the most important for you?
Musk: I got a bit depressed actually reading Nietzsche. And Schopenhauer. Really not recommendeƒd for a 13-year-old.
So watch out for the day your kid comes home with Thus spoke Zarathustra—a bad sign. Then again, everything is better than your kid coming home with some Chomsky—think of all the hassle and paperwork disinheritance makes—so you might want to let Zarathustra slide...
That’s it for now. Maybe I will do these casual updates more often—we’ll see.