Friday Finds (Gardens, Gut Feelings, France, Boeing, Urbanism)

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Hi friends,

Greetings from France!

I'm writing from a little chateau in Aix-en-Provence, where I've been following in the footsteps of my favorite Impressionist painters. No period in art history interests me more than the move from Impressionism to Cubism, and this town is where it all began with Paul Cezanne's Mont Sainte-Victoire seen from Bellevue. A few days ago, I visited the place where he painted it and the atelier where he worked at the end of his career.

When it comes to learning, why do I value travel so much?

I think of travel as "velcro for learning." Say you want to learn about Cezanne. It's easier to appreciate his paintings when you've been to his hometown and seen his paintings in real-life. All of a sudden, the articles and YouTube videos about him are so much richer. Information is stickier and more vivid when you've been to the place it's pointing to.

Here's what I want to share this week:

  1. Girard Lectures: Finally! The two-hour introduction to René Girard's philosophy that I recorded with Johnathan Bi is going live next weekend, and I'm psyched to share it with you. Here's an in-depth look at the lecture series.
  2. Why the Boeing 737 Max Crashed: Though this essay is outside my traditional areas of exploration, it's one of the most interesting subjects I've explored. You might remember that two Boeing 737 Max airplanes crashed a few years ago. What happened? The story begins with an acquisition and an internal Boeing memo from 2001 that anticipated the fiasco. You can read my essay here.
  3. Kendrick Lamar's Guide to Note-Taking: With the new Kendrick album out, it's time to re-share one of my favorite video essays about the note-taking process he's used to climb to the top of the music world and win a Pulitzer Prize for his writing.

Friday Finds

CCK Philosophy: This channel is like Nerdwriter for philosophy. Most of the videos have a Marxist bent, even when the focus is on 20th-century philosophers like Theodor Adorno and Félix Guattari. My favorite video is Capitalism, Cultural Disintegration, and Buzzfeed. It breaks down a paper that BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti wrote about modernity’s influence on identity and the company’s place in our capitalist system.

Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition: This is one of my all-time favorite short essays. Like much of my favorite writing, it takes a mundane concept and makes you realize that it’s filled with depth. Gardens are everywhere in mythology. As a metaphor for life, it’s no coincidence that the bible story begins in The Garden of Eden. Gardens balance order & chaos, life & death, and nature & nurture. By holding opposites in harmonious tension, they are sites of epiphanies in the world of literature.

Gut Feelings: Michael Polanyi once said: “We know more than we can tell.” All of us have centuries of evolutionary wisdom inside of us that we disregard whenever we ignore our intuition. That’s why I’ve long been skeptical of the way we bash cognitive biases. There’s wisdom in things like the sunk cost bias and the availability bias. Though we should educate ourselves on the shortcomings of intuitive thinking, this book argues to give heuristics and gut feelings more respect. If you’re looking for something shorter, this article is a good introduction to the author’s thinking.

​On Urbanism: An epic Twitter thread on the design characteristics of traditional urbanism. Though humanity has progressed on many fronts, we have undoubtedly regressed in our ability to build cities. Modern cities have none of the charms of the ones we built in Europe 500 years ago. This thread is the best explanation of what modern cities are lacking.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Damn, what a magnificent book. The story isn’t very good, but only because it’s a canvas to explore the philosophy of love and the tensions of a life well-lived. This quote is a wonderful summary of what makes the book so magical: “The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But … the heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes a man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.” Earlier this year, one of my favorite painters told me he‘ll never live a luxurious life because it’ll distance him from the human experience. Pain can be challenging, he said. But it can also magnify the experience of being alive.

Have a creative week,

David Perell Logo 2x

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