From the forum:
Ben Roy: “Podcasts are the soundtrack to 21st century loneliness” -haunting quote from an old essay I readi
Pete D: Nah dawg, they’re Peripatetic school lessons in the Aristotelean tradition. And with Chat they’re about to be bi-directional.
Ben: People don’t know how to be alone anymore is my takeaway.
Pete: At least as much of it is the Protestantism of “turning downtime into uptime”. Also, what’s so great about being alone?. Zôion politikòn is arguably much less of an archipelago, much more of a mosaic.ii
Ben: I’m pro pod, I’ve listened to a violent amount of recorded audio since 2009, there is a lot of value there, etc.. The issue is we’re not machines – the protestant thing is true as cultural diagnosis but it’s also anti human at some level. We need rest, we’re not machines. Lots to say on this, but ‘leisure is the basis of culture’ & alone time is the only time where you actually have ‘negative’ space to do original thinking. I’m not saying people have to be obsessed with being alone, I’m saying it’s a problem that people can’t walk to the grocery store for 4 minutes without being plugged into the matrix. Good book unpacking some of this: “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals” by Oliver Burkeman.
Pete: Negative space and constraint-finding are indeed critical to creativity.iii But I still think it’s at least a Western affliction – possibly even bias – that views individualistic creativity as the wellspring of productivity and happiness. Chinese culture, for one, differs on this.iv
Ben: I’m sure we could have a long conversation on this 🤜. +1 to all of the above. What I think is true regardless of culture (and the communal vs. individual conversation, which I don’t think the quote I mentioned is talking about at all fwiw, different convo) is that people medicate loneliness with digital overload. And that has negative implications on human flourishing imo.
Pete: Very much agreed, which is why soon enough we’ll (likely? hopefully?) be back to medicating with what we’ve always medicated with, the Three Bs: Booze, Burlesque, and Brothels 💃🥂
What do the Three Bs have in common? They’re social! Id est loneliness killers.
So Nkondi ftw. Human bonding ftw. And parties ftw. Don’t just make space for being alone quietly, make space for being together loudly!
- Arguably if there’s any “soundtrack to 21st century loneliness” it’s industrial technocracy itself. “Nation of laws and not of men” indeed! Pah! To quote the ever-incisive Ash Milton from his recent piece for Palladium, “You Won’t Survive as Human Capital“:
Modern states view their populations as human capital fully replaceable first by immigration, and then eventually by technology. A citizen may have rights and privileges, but these do not constitute a community that could make those real. The community of interest can’t be brought into being through paper. The idea that such a society can have a res publica is a fantasy, but the res publica of you and yours is not. It is only with the people with whom you undertake these things that you can share political life—the common matters of a real people that the ancient writers saw as the business of government.
Implicit in the technocratic paradigm under which we live is the idea that something other than human beings could be the agents of history: technology, institutions, good legal mechanisms, labor relations, or even the post-human intelligence yearned for by Wells and by modern AI accelerationists. In fact, no such replacement has arisen, nor is there any certain pathway to one in the near future.
Instead, we are left with a logic that leads to suicide. Either its expansion stalls due to forces beyond its control, or the process that has consumed all advanced countries finishes engulfing the entire world, eventually running out of resources and territory for further expansion. In any case, the result is the same: stagnation and decay under irreconcilable contradictions.
- We imagine ourselves as individuals currently, but this pendulum swing towards atomization is where decadence flourishes, and is arguably at the beginning of a reversal towards the other direction. At the other end of the pendulum swing lies Collective Greatness, as The World’s Largest Modern City – the 85 million person megalopolis of Hong-Kong-Shenzhen-Guangzhou – reminds us once again.
Not that even China has squared the “death cult” circle of modern industrial logic, but it’s definitely their century at the top of the hill, no matter how much Peter Zeihan squirms with silver-tongued discomfort. ↩
- This is exactly why we built out our 5,000 sqft studio during the last bear market just for our little family to hang out. It has no “purpose” you might say, but in that it has every purpose in the world. Within this negative space, great creativity and connection are born. Tzimtzum!
- For more on which, I’d highly recommend “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order” by Kai-Fu Lee. Suffice to say that copying, which is to say doing, is a deeply underappreciated creative process. As someone who’s at various times imitated the writing styles of everyone from Jeremy Clarkson to Peter Orosz to Jack Baruth to Mircea Popescu, I can well attest to this. Copying is learning, which is to say that doing is learning, quite in spite of the “lightning bolt” myth of creativity that the West has been obsessed with since, well, Archimedes’ “Eureka!” moment.
- Jeongseong (정성) means honest dedication and sincerity in Korean, or “to do one’s genuine best.” Can you say that that’s what you’re doing? ↩