Friday Finds (Career, Paul Graham, Propaganda, Art, Philosophy)


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Hi friends,

Greetings from London!

I spent the week visiting museums and filming YouTube videos with Ali Abdaal. If there’s anything I love about culturally-rich cities like London, it’s the inspiration that comes with proximity to excellence. Between the Greek statues at the British Museum, the Cézanne paintings at the National Gallery, the architecture on Regent Street, and the Paul McCartney lyrics at the British Museum, I don’t think I’ve ever been humbled so many times in a week. A creative flame is burning inside of me, and it’s time to let it run wild.

Here's what I want to share this week:

  1. Career Traps: If you're feeling stuck in your professional life, start writing online. In this Twitter thread, I describe how doing so can accelerate your career. Read it on Twitter or in your web browser.
  2. What Makes Paul Graham Great: The more I reflect on Graham’s influence, the more I think it revolves around the contradictions of his interests:hacking and painting, art and technology, writing and entrepreneurship. In this video, I explore how his Venn diagram of interests helped him build such a unique Personal Monopoly.

Today's Finds

Philosophize This and Critical Theory: The Frankfurt School is one of the most important philosophical hubs of the 20th century. It began in Germany, but most of the philosophers ended up at Columbia University in New York. They were critical of capitalism and Marxism, so they tried to reimagine both of them. But unfortunately, even though their ideas are worthwhile, their writing makes me want to bang my head into a wall of nails. For help, I turned to Stephen West’s excellent 7-part series, which is the best explainer I’ve found about the Frankfurt School. His archives are impressive. You may also enjoy his episodes about Hannah Arendt, Carl Schmitt, and Gilles Deleuze.

J.D. Unwin: As a historian, Unwin studied 86 societies and civilizations to see if there was a relationship between sexual morality and human flourishing. He found a direct relationship between promiscuity and cultural decline. Cultures where people remained virgins until marriage were much more likely to be an “advanced civilization.” Combined with rationality, that prenuptial chastity sets the conditions for a successful society. I’m skeptical of big history claims like this, but after reading this summary of his book, I’m looking forward to a deeper exploration of his work.

Century of the Self: A 2013 documentary about how people in power have used Sigmund Freud’s theories to control and manipulate crowds. It discusses the relationship between Freud and Edward Bernays, who was Freud’s nephew and the founder of the public relations industry. If you’re interested in advertising, narrative control, and crowd psychology, you will love this documentary.

How Long-Haul Trucking Works: Supply chains impact all our lives, but they are mostly outside our field of view. Trucking moves the vast majority of the world’s freight and 73% of America’s domestic freight. This video explains the economics of the industry, from driver salaries to truck stops on the highway. The video was made by an excellent channel called Wendover Productions. One of the commenters described it best: “Wendover is like a solar eclipse: He doesn’t come out often, but when he does, it’s a treat.”

Mechanical Paradise: How did the machine transform human consciousness? At first, the Eiffel Tower promised unlimited control over the world. Standing at the top made humans feel like birds and, by extension, guardians of the future. The view from the top was as breathtaking as the sight of the Earth from the moon almost 80 years later. Around that time, Ford rolled out the car, Edison invented sound recording, and Einstein invented the Theory of Relativity — the basis of the largest change in humanity’s view of the universe since Newton. As this documentary shows, the perspective shift is most evident in the art of the age. Specifically, in two shifts: one from nature to machine, and another from impressionism to cubism.

Have a creative week,

David Perell Logo 2x

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