Meaning

  • Homo Deus –– Yuval Harari
    • Key Questions:
      • What kind of world did humans create?
      • How did we become convinced that we not only control the world, but also give meaning to it?
      • How did humanism become the most important religion of all?
    • "Writing also made it easier for humans to believe in the existence of such fictional entities, because it habituated people to experiencing reality through the meditation of abstract symbols."
      • Written language may have been conceived as a modest way of describing reality, but it gradually became a powerful way to reshape reality. When official reports collided with objective reality, it was often reality that had to give way. The truth hardly matters, what's written down is far more important.
      • In practice, the power of human cooperation of networks rests on a delicate balance between truth and fiction.
    • #religion
      • Shared mythologies and a culture of [[religion]]s allowed us to conquer the world, and live in a world dominated by Sapiens.
        • "Such self absorption characterizes all humans in their childhood. Children of all religions and cultures think they are the centre of the world, and therefore show little genuine interest in the conditions and feelings of other people. Most people grow out of this infantile delusion. Monotheists hold on to it until the day they die."
        • It is much easier for animists and polytheists to accept that mane events are unrelated to me or my favourite deity, and they are neither punishments nor rewards for my good deeds.
      • "Fiction enables us to cooperate better. The price we pay is that some fictions also determine the goals of our cooperation. So we may have very elaborate systems of cooperation, which are harnessed to serve fictional aims and interests. Consequently the system may seem to be working well, but only if we adopt the system's own criteria."
        • Blind faith in these stories meant that human efforts frequently focused on increasing the glory of fictional entities such as gods and nations, instead of bettering the lives of real sentient beings.
      • Human cooperative networks usually judge themselves by yardsticks of their own invention and, not surprisingly, they often give themselves high marks.
        • In particular, human networks built in the name of imaginary entities such as gods, nations and corporations, normally judge their success from the viewpoint of the imaginary entity.
        • A religion is successful if it follows divine commandments to the letter; a nation is glorious if it promotes the national interest; and a cooperation thrives when it makes a lot of money.
      • Religion is created by humans, rather than gods. And it is defined by its social function rather than by the existence of deities.
        • Moreover, [[religion]] asserts that humans are subject to a system of moral laws that we did not invent and cannot change. It offers us a well-defined contract with predetermined goals.
      • #religion is interested above all in order. It aims to create and maintain the social structure. Science is interested above all in power. Through research, it aims to acquire the power to cure diseases, fight wars and produce food. As individuals, scientists and priests may give immense importance to the truth; but as collective institutions, science and religion prefer order and power over truth.
      • [[religion]]s seek to cement the worldly order, whereas spirituality seeks to escape it. Often enough, the most important demand from spiritual wanderers is to challenge the beliefs and conventions of dominant [[religion]]s.
        • From a historical perspective, the spiritual journey is always tragic, for it is a lonely one fit for individuals rather than for societies. Human cooperation requires firm answers rather than just questions, and those who foam against religious structures end up forging new structures in their place.
    • [[Religion and science]] religion provides the ethical justification for scientific research and in exchange gets to influence the scientific agenda and the uses of scientific discoveries.
      • Both [[religion]] and science are interested in the "truth" - but each upholds a different truth and therefore are destined to clash.
      • #religion is interested above all in order. It aims to create and maintain the social structure. Science is interested above all in power. Through research, it aims to acquire the power to cure diseases, fight wars and produce food. As individuals, scientists and priests may give immense importance to the truth; but as collective institutions, science and religion prefer order and power over truth.
      • [[religion]] has nothing to say about scientific facts, and science should keep its mouth shut concerning religious convictions. If the Pope believes that human life is sacred, and abortion is therefore a sin, biologists can neither prove nor refute this claim.
    • The entire contract can be summarised in a single phrase: humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power.
    • #meaning
      • Meaning and authority always go hand in hand, whoever determines the meanings of our actions - whether they are good or evil, right or wrong, etc - also gains the authority to tell us what to do, how to think and how to behave.
      • To the best of our scientific understanding, the universe is a blind and purposeless process, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing. During our infinitesimally brief stay on our tiny speck of a planet, we fret and strut this way and that, and then are heard of no more.
      • Since there is no script, and since humans fulfill no role in any great drama, terrible things might befall us and no power will come to save us, or give meaning to our suffering. There won't be a happy ending, or a bad ending, or any ending at all. Things just happen one after the other. the modern world does not believe in purpose, only cause.
      • We are constrained by nothing except our own ignorance. Plagues and droughts have no cosmic meaning, but we can eradicate them. Wars are not a way for a better future - but we can make peace. No paradise awaits us after death, but we can create paradise here on earth, if we manage to overcome a few technical difficulties.
      • [[Modern Manifestation of Religion]]: the modern deal thus offers humans an enormous temptation, coupled with a colossal threat. Omnipotence is in front of us, almost within our reach, but below us yawns the abyss of complete nothingness. On the practical level, modern life consists of a constant pursuit of power within a universe devoid of meaning. Modern culture is the most powerful in history, and it is ceaselessly researching, inventing, discovering and growing. At the same time, it is plagued by more existential angst
    • "Economic growth has thus become the crucial juncture where almost all modern [[religion]]s, ideologies and movements meet."
      • It may not be wrong to call the belief in economic growth a religion, because it now purports to solve many, if not most of our ethical dilemmas.
    • Nowadays it is generally accepted that some version of free market capitalism is a much more efficient way of ensuring long-term growth, hence rich farmers and freedom of expression are protected, but ecological habits, social structures and traditional values that stand in the way of [[free market capitalism]] are destroyed and dismantled.
    • [[free market capitalism]] dares to make ethical judgements, too - which makes it cross the border from the land of science to that of religion.
      • It did however make an important contribution to global harmony by encouraging to view the world as not a zero-sum game but a win-win situation in which one's profit is also another's._"Technology gives us a good chance of overcoming resource scarcity. The real nemesis of the modern economy is ecological collapse. Both scientific
    • "Technology gives us a good chance of overcoming resource scarcity. The real nemesis of the modern economy is ecological collapse. Both scientific progress and economic growth take place within a brittle biosphere, and as they gather steam, so the shockwaves destabilize the ecology."
      • #comment How much of this do I believe? If there aren't enough resources for everyone now, how will there be when demand skyrockets and the population grows with technology? Even if only distribution is the problem right now, how will technology solve this problem of [[resource scarcity]] if people aren't willing to?
    • [[climate change]] We're locked into a double-race. One one hand, we feel compelled to speed up the pace of scientific progress and economic growth, and on the other hand, we still want to stat ahead of ecological collapse. Managing this double race becomes more difficult by the year, because every little stride that brings Delhi slum dwellers closer to the American Dream also brings the planet closer to the brink.
      • If and when this happens, the poor are the ones who will bear the brunt of it. However, they will also be the first ones to bear the brunt of economic stagnation. In a capitalist world, the lives of the poor improves only when the economy grows - if the rich win, so do the poor. Hence, they are unlikely to support any future steps to reduce ecological threats that are based on slowing down present-day growth. Protecting the environment is a very nice idea, but those who cannot protect their present are worried more about paying rent than about melting ice caps.
    • Capitalism has repeatedly comforted us - as the economy grows, The invisible hand of the market will take care of everything. Capitalism has thus sanctified a voracious and chaotic system that grows by leaps and bounds, without anyone understanding what is happening and where we are rushing.
    • Yet the fact remains that human kind is far more peaceful than ever. How did we manage that? How did morality, beauty and even compassion survive and flourish in a world devoid of Gods?
    • [[The Humanist Revolution]]
      • In exchange for power, we can find meaning. However, there seems to be an escape clause: if humans somehow manage to find meaning without deriving from a great cosmic plan, this is not a breach of the contract.
      • It is impossible to sustain order without meaning - so the great political, artistic and religious project has been to find a meaning to life that's not rooted in a great cosmic plan. We are not actors in a great cosmic plan, and nobody cares about us or our deeds, yet we are convinced that our lives have meaning.
      • What prevents social collapse if we are not subject to the laws of God or nature?
      • Whereas traditionally the great cosmic plan gave #meaning to the life of humans, [[humanism]] reverses the roles and expects the experiences of humans to give meaning to the great cosmos. According to humanism, humans must draw from their inner experiences, not only the meaning of their own lives, but also the meaning of the entire universe. this is the primary commandment: create meaning for a meaningless world.
        • Humanism thus sees life as a gradual process of inner change, leading from ignorance to enlightenment by means of experiences. The highest aim of humanist life is to fully develop your knowledge through a large variety of intellectual, emotional and physical experiences.
      • The humanist revolution caused modern Western culture to lose faith and interest in superior mental states, and the sanctify the mundane experiences of the average Joe.
    • Democratic elections usually work only within populations that have some prior common bond, such as shared religious belief and national myths. How much of this applies to India?
    • [[Global Peace]] will be achieved not be celebrating the distinctiveness of each nation, but by unifying all the workers of the world; and social harmony wont be achieved by each person narcissistically exploring their own inner depths, but rather by each person prioritizing the needs and experiences of others over their own desires.
    • The rich are taught to disregard the poor, while the poor are taught to disregard their true interests. No amount of self-reflection or psychotherapy will help because the psychotherapists are also working for the capitalist system.
      • In exchange for such devoted counseling services, we will just have to give up the idea that humans are individuals, and that each human has a [[free will]] determining what's good, what's beautiful and what is the meaning of life. Humans will no longer be autonomous entities directed by the stories their narrating self invents. Instead they will be integrated parts of a huge global network.
    • Self-reflection is likely only to distance me even further from understanding the truth about myself, because it gives too much credit to personal decisions and too little credit to social conditions.
    • Whereas liberalism merged with the milder versions of nationalism to protect the unique experiences of each human community, evolutionary humanists such as Hitler identified particular nations as the entities of human progress, and concluded that these nations ought to bludgeon or even exterminate anyone standing in their way.
    • The trend towards Liberalism is a natural consequence of technological evolution.
      • What happens when we begin this phase of transcendence? Many social developments seem to be sons of the current economic forces.
      • Slavery ended and women gained the right to vote because it was better for the overall economy, not because of a genuine interest of their lives.
    • Islam, Christianity and other traditional [[religion]]s are still important players in the world. Yet their role now is largely reactive. In the past, they were a creative force. Christianity, for example, spread the heretical idea that humans are equal before God, thereby changing human political structures and even gender relations.
      • The Bible is kept as a source of authority, even though it is no longer a true source of inspiration.
    • The humanist belief in feelings allowed us to benefit from the fruits of the modern covenant without paying its price. We don't need any gods to limit our power and give us meaning - free choices of customers and voters supply us with all the meaning we require.
      • What, then, will happen once we realize that customers and voters never make free choices and we have the technology to calculate, design or outsmart their feelings? If the whole universe is pegged to the human experience, what will happen once the human experience becomes just another designable product, no different in essence from any other item in the supermarket?
  • Homo Deus –– Yuval Harari
    • In exchange for power, we can find meaning. However, there seems to be an escape clause: if humans somehow manage to find meaning without deriving from a great cosmic plan, this is not a breach of the contract.
    • It is impossible to sustain order without meaning - so the great political, artistic and religious project has been to find a meaning to life that's not rooted in a great cosmic plan. We are not actors in a great cosmic plan, and nobody cares about us or our deeds, yet we are convinced that our lives have meaning.
    • What prevents social collapse if we are not subject to the laws of God or nature?
    • Whereas traditionally the great cosmic plan gave #meaning to the life of humans, [[humanism]] reverses the roles and expects the experiences of humans to give meaning to the great cosmos. According to humanism, humans must draw from their inner experiences, not only the meaning of their own lives, but also the meaning of the entire universe. this is the primary commandment: create meaning for a meaningless world.
      • Humanism thus sees life as a gradual process of inner change, leading from ignorance to enlightenment by means of experiences. The highest aim of humanist life is to fully develop your knowledge through a large variety of intellectual, emotional and physical experiences.
    • The humanist revolution caused modern Western culture to lose faith and interest in superior mental states, and the sanctify the mundane experiences of the average Joe.
  • Man's Search For Meaning –– Victor Frankl
  • More Notes on Mastery
    • Introduction:
    • Most of the time we live in an interior world of dreams, desires, and obsessive thoughts. But in this period of exceptional creativity, we are impelled by the need to get something done that has a practical effect. We force ourselves to step outside our inner chamber of habitual thoughts and connect to the world, to other people, to reality.
    • The great danger is that we give in to feelings of boredom, impatience, fear, and confusion. We stop observing and learning. The process comes to a halt.
    • The human relies instead on thinking and rationality to understand its environment. But such thinking can be slow, and in its slowness can become ineffective. So much of our obsessive, internal thought process tends to disconnect us from the world.
    • The human visual system is not built for scanning, as a cow’s is, but for depth of focus.
    • [[mirror neurons]] Particular motor-command neurons fire not only when they execute a specific action, but also when one observes another performing the same action.
      • These were soon dubbed [[mirror neurons]]. This neuronal firing meant that these primates would experience a similar sensation in both doing and observing the same deed, allowing them to put themselves in the place of another and perceive its movements as if they were doing them.
      • Without any visual cues or any action on the part of others, we can place ourselves inside their minds and imagine what they might be thinking.
      • The natural model for learning, largely based on the power of mirror neurons, came from watching and imitating others, then repeating the action over and over. Our brains are highly suited for this form of learning.
    • But perhaps most important of all, it would give them the ability to think inside everything around them. After years of studying particular animals, they could identify with and think like them, anticipating behavioral patterns and heightening their ability to track and kill prey. This thinking inside could be applied to the inorganic as well. In fashioning a stone tool, expert toolmakers would feel as one with their instruments. The stone or wood they cut with became an extension of their hand. They could feel it as if it were their own flesh, permitting much greater control of the tools themselves, both in making and in using them.
    • [[creative process]] To the extent that we believe we can skip steps, avoid the process, magically gain power through political connections or easy formulas, or depend on our natural talents, we move against this grain and reverse our natural powers. We become slaves to time—as it passes, we grow weaker, less capable, trapped in some dead-end career. We become captive to the opinions and fears of others. Rather than the mind connecting us to reality, we become disconnected and locked in a narrow chamber of thought. The human that depended on focused attention for its survival now becomes the distracted scanning animal, unable to think in depth, yet unable to depend on instincts.
    • And at the core of this intensity of effort is in fact a quality that is genetic and inborn—not talent or brilliance, which is something that must be developed, but rather a deep and powerful inclination toward a particular subject.
    • Discovering Your Calling
    • On Leonardo Da Vinci
      • Leonardo had always had a strong sense of fate, and for years he had been haunted by one particular question: is there some kind of force from within that makes all living things grow and transform themselves?
      • He could not simply do an assignment; he needed to make it something of his own, to invent rather than imitate the Master.
      • His mind, he decided, worked best when he had several different projects at hand, allowing him to build all kinds of #connections between them.
      • He didn’t care so much about the finished product; it was the search and process in creating something that had always excited him.
      • “Just as a well-filled day brings blessed sleep, so a well-employed life brings a blessed death.”
      • To complete his quest, Leonardo had to become what he termed “universal”—for each object he had to be able to render all of its details, and he had to extend this knowledge as far as possible, to as many objects in the world as he could study. Through sheer accumulation of such details, the essence of life itself became visible to him, and his understanding of this life force became visible in his artwork.
    • In moments when we engage in an activity that corresponds to our deepest inclinations, we might experience a touch of this: We feel as if the words we write or the physical movements we perform come so quickly and easily that they are coming from outside us. We are literally “inspired,” the Latin word meaning something from the outside breathing within us.
      • What weakens this force, what makes you not feel it or even doubt its existence, is the degree to which you have succumbed to another force in life—social pressures to conform.
    • We are entering a world in which we can rely less and less upon the state, the corporation, or family or friends to help and protect us. It is a globalized, harshly competitive environment. We must learn to develop ourselves. At the same time, it is a world teeming with critical problems and opportunities, best solved and seized by entrepreneurs—individuals or small groups who think independently, adapt quickly, and possess unique perspectives.
    • #meaning
      • Think of it this way: What we lack most in the modern world is a sense of a larger purpose to our lives. In the past, it was organized religion that often supplied this. But most of us now live in a secularized world. We human animals are unique—we must build our own world. We do not simply react to events out of biological scripting. But without a sense of direction provided to us, we tend to flounder. We don’t how to fill up and structure our time. There seems to be no defining purpose to our lives. We are perhaps not conscious of this emptiness, but it infects us in all kinds of ways.
      • “From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.”
    • "Our times might emphasize #equality, which we then mistake for the need for everyone to be the same, but what we really mean by this is the equal chance for people to express their differences, to let a thousand flowers bloom."
    • "You can now combine this added field of knowledge to the original one, perhaps creating a new field, or at least making novel #connections between them.
      • #comment This fits in well with a culture where information is so widely available and in which connecting ideas is a form of power.
    • Do not envy those who seem to be naturally gifted; it is often a curse, as such types rarely learn the value of diligence and focus, and they pay for this later in life.
    • Extraordinary people display calling most evidently. Perhaps that’s why they fascinate. Perhaps, too, they are extraordinary because their calling comes through so clearly and they are so loyal to it. Extraordinary people bear the better witness because they show what ordinary mortals simply can’t. We seem to have less motivation and more distraction. Yet our destiny is driven by the same universal engine. Extraordinary people are not a different category; the workings of this engine in them are simply more transparent.
    • Trying something over and over again grounds you in reality, making you deeply aware of your inadequacies and of what you can accomplish with more work and effort.
    • Later in life, when you are confronted with a career change or the need to learn new skills, having gone through this process before, it will become second nature. You have learned how to learn.
    • The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways. And the process of learning skills, no matter how virtual, remains the same.
    • The great division will be between those who have trained themselves to handle these complexities and those who are overwhelmed by them—those who can acquire skills and discipline their minds and those who are irrevocably distracted by all the media around them and can never focus enough to learn.
    • In general, no matter your field, you must think of yourself as a builder, using actual materials and ideas. You are producing something tangible in your work, something that affects people in some direct, concrete way.
    • [[The Hardened Mind]] These include a sense of smugness and superiority whenever we encounter something alien to our ways, as well as rigid ideas about what is real or true, often indoctrinated in us by schooling or family. If we feel like we know something, our minds close off to other possibilities. We see reflections of the truth we have already assumed. Such feelings of superiority are often unconscious and stem from a fear of what is different or unknown. We are rarely aware of this, and often imagine ourselves to be paragons of impartiality.
    • [[The War of Art - Steven Pressfield]] To attain mastery, you must adopt what we shall call Resistance Practice. The principle is simple—you go in the opposite direction of all of your natural tendencies when it comes to practice. First, you resist the temptation to be nice to yourself. You become your own worst critic; you see your work as if through the eyes of others. You recognize your weaknesses, precisely the elements you are not good at. Those are the aspects you give precedence to in your practice.
    • Think of it this way: There are two kinds of failure. The first comes from never trying out your ideas because you are afraid, or because you are waiting for the perfect time. This kind of failure you can never learn from, and such timidity will destroy you. The second kind comes from a bold and venturesome spirit. If you fail in this way, the hit that you take to your reputation is greatly outweighed by what you learn. Repeated failure will toughen your spirit and show you with absolute clarity how things must be done.
    • Nothing he drew was ever really static; everything is in a state of change and motion—that is the essence of life. How could he capture this movement on paper, in an image that was perfectly still?
    • He applied this same rigor to capturing bodies in motion. Part of his philosophy was that life is defined by continual movement and constant change. The artist must be able to render the sensation of dynamic movement in a still image.
    • We humans live in two worlds. First, there is the outer world of appearances—all of the forms of things that captivate our eye. But hidden from our view is another world—how these things actually function, their anatomy or composition, the parts working together and forming the whole.
    • [[The Power of Multidisciplinary Thinking]] In this new age, those who follow a rigid, singular path in their youth often find themselves in a career dead end in their forties, or overwhelmed with boredom. The wide-ranging apprenticeship of your twenties will yield the opposite—expanding possibilities as you get older.
    • To learn requires a sense of humility. We must admit that there are people out there who know our field much more deeply than we do. Their superiority is not a function of natural talent or privilege, but rather of time and experience.
    • [[The Naive Perspective]]
    • In theory, all of us today possess the natural tools—empathy, rational thinking—to have a supreme understanding of our fellow humans. In practice, however, these tools remain mostly undeveloped, and the explanation for this can be found in the peculiar nature of our childhood, and our extended period of dependency. Compared to other animals, we humans enter the world remarkably weak and helpless. We remain relatively weak for many years before we can truly operate on our own. This extended period of immaturity, lasting some twelve to eighteen years, serves a valuable function: it gives us a chance to focus on developing our brain—by far the most important weapon in the human arsenal.
    • During this time of weakness and dependency, we experience the need to idealize our parents. Our survival depends on their strength and reliability. To think of them as having their own frailties would fill us with unbearable anxiety. And so we inevitably see them as stronger, more capable, and more selfless than they are in reality. We come to view their actions through the lens of our needs, and so they become extensions of ourselves.
    • We cannot help but feel upset at the disparity between what we had imagined and the reality. In our disappointment, we tend to exaggerate their negative qualities, much as we once had exaggerated the positive ones. If we had been forced earlier on in life to make it on our own, practical needs would have come to dominate our thinking, and we would have become more detached and realistic. But as it is, the many years of viewing people through the lens of our emotional needs turns into a habit that we can hardly control.
    • Social intelligence is nothing more than the process of discarding [[The Naive Perspective]] and approaching something more realistic. It involves focusing our attention outward instead of inward, honing the observational and empathic skills that we naturally possess. It means moving past our tendency to idealize and demonize people, and seeing and accepting them as they are. It is a way of thinking that must be cultivated as early as possible, during the Apprenticeship Phase. But before we can begin to acquire this intelligence we must first come to grips with the Naïve Perspective itself.
    • When you drop your defense mechanisms and pay deep attention to others, you will need to lower your guard and open yourself up to their influence as well. But as long as your emotions and empathy are directed outward, you will be able to detach yourself when necessary and analyze what you have gleaned.
    • You will encounter thousands of various individuals in your life, and the ability to see them as they are will prove invaluable. Keep in mind, however, that people are in a state of continual flux. You must not let your ideas about them harden into a set impression. You are continually observing them and bringing your readings of them up to date.
    • You should make a point of occasionally displaying some weakness in another area, avoiding the great danger of appearing too perfect, too talented.
    • #comment This is subconscious in many people - we use these tactics without realizing. Everyone is emotionally intelligent in the sense that they understand this without necessarily verbalizing it, however, some people chose to pay attention to themselves more.
    • Intelligence is the most sensitive trigger point for envy.
    • There is no shame in this. But because being self-interested does not make us feel or appear noble, many people go out of their way to disguise their self-interest. Often those who are the most self-absorbed will surround their actions with a moral or saintly aura, or will make a show of supporting all of the right causes.
    • [[self awareness]]
    • We can begin this process by looking at negative events in our past—people sabotaging our work, bosses firing us for no logical reason, nasty personal battles with colleagues. It is best to start with events that are at least several months old, and thus not so emotionally charged. In dissecting these occurrences, we must focus on what we did that either triggered or worsened the dynamic. In looking at several such incidents, we might begin to see a pattern that indicates a particular flaw in our character. Seeing these events from the perspective of the other people involved will loosen the lock our emotions have on our self-image, and help us understand the role we play in our own mistakes. We can also elicit opinions from those we trust about our behavior, making certain to first reassure them that we want their criticisms. Slowly, in this way, we can develop increasing self-detachment, which will yield us the other half of social intelligence—the ability to see ourselves as we really are.
    • [[Original Mind vs Conventional Mind]] [[The Hardened Mind]]
    • ...the years pass, this intensity inevitably diminishes. We come to see the world through a screen of words and opinions; our prior experiences, layered over the present, color what we see. We no longer look at things as they are, noticing their details, or wonder why they exist. Our minds gradually tighten up. We become defensive about the world we now take for granted, and we become upset if our beliefs or assumptions are attacked.
    • Masters manage to blend the two—discipline and a childlike spirit—together into what we shall call the Dimensional Mind. Such a mind is not constricted by limited experience or habits. It can branch out into all directions and make deep contact with reality.
    • The Dimensional Mind is active, transforming everything it digests into something new and original, creating instead of consuming.
    • To awaken the Dimensional Mind and move through the creative process requires three essential steps: first, choosing the proper Creative Task, the kind of activity that will maximize our skills and knowledge; second, loosening and opening up the mind through certain Creative Strategies; and third, creating the optimal mental conditions for a Breakthrough or Insight.
    • You could have the most brilliant mind, teeming with knowledge and ideas, but if you choose the wrong subject or problem to attack, you can run out of energy and interest. In such a case all of your intellectual brilliance will lead to nothing.
    • The brain is constantly searching for similarities, differences, and relationships between what it processes. Your task is to feed this natural inclination, to create the optimal conditions for it to make new and original associations between ideas and experiences. And one of the best ways to accomplish this is by letting go of conscious control and allowing chance to enter into the process.
    • Random external stimuli lead us to associations we cannot come by on our own. Like seeds floating in space, they require the soil of a highly prepared and open mind to take root in and sprout a meaningful idea. #connections
    • You must adopt a more analogical way of thinking, taking greater advantage of the associative powers of the mind. Thinking in terms of analogies and metaphors can be extremely helpful to the creative process.
    • #skepticism Sometimes this fear of speculation masquerades as skepticism. We see this in people who delight in shooting down any theory or explanation before it gets anywhere. They are trying to pass off skepticism as a sign of high intelligence, but in fact they are taking the easy route—it is quite simple to find arguments against any idea and knock it down from the sidelines. Instead, you must follow the route of all creative thinkers and go in the opposite direction. You then not only speculate, but are bold and audacious with your ideas, all of which forces you to work hard to confirm or disconfirm your theories, piercing into reality in the process.
    • Consider thinking as an extended form of vision that allows us to see more of the world, and creativity as the ability to expand that vision beyond conventional boundaries.
    • Our eyes are not paying deep attention to all of the details, but noticing patterns. Our thought processes, modeled after visual perception, use a similar shorthand.
    • If there are no words for certain concepts, we tend to not think of them. And so #language is a tool that is often too tight and constricting, compared to the multilayered powers of intelligence we naturally possess.
    • “The words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be voluntarily reproduced and combined.”
    • [[The Self]]: It seemed as well that our sense of self is far more subjective and fluid than we had thought. If our experience of our own body is something constructed in the brain and can go haywire, then perhaps our sense of self is also something of a construction or illusion, one that we create to suit our purposes, and one that can malfunction. The implications here go beyond neuroscience, and into the realm of philosophy.
    • Understand: mechanical intelligence is not a degraded form of thinking, as compared to abstract reasoning. It is in fact the source of many of our reasoning skills and creative powers. Our brain developed to its present size because of the complex operations of our hands.
    • In working with resistant materials to create tools, our ancestors developed a pattern of thinking that transcends manual labor itself. The principles behind mechanical intelligence can be summarized as follows: whatever you are creating or designing, you must test and use it yourself. Separating out the work will make you lose touch with its functionality. Through intense labor on your part, you gain a feel for what you are creating.
    • By pushing for perfection and holding on to this constant feeling of uncertainty, the project never froze into something rigid and lifeless.
    • You must cultivate profound dissatisfaction with your work and the need to constantly improve your ideas, along with a sense of uncertainty—you are not exactly sure where to go next, and this uncertainty drives the creative urge and keeps it fresh. Any kind of resistance or obstacle that crosses your path should be seen as yet another chance to improve your work.
    • [[creative process]] What you are doing is creating some space in a cluttered culture, claiming for yourself an open field in which you can finally plant something new. People are dying for the new, for what expresses the spirit of the time in an original way. By creating something new you will create your own audience, and attain the ultimate position of power in culture.
    • Instead of a straight-line development from idea to fruition, the [[creative process]] is more like the crooked branching of a tree.
    • The lesson is simple—what constitutes true creativity is the openness and adaptability of our spirit. When we see or experience something we must be able to look at it from several angles, to see other possibilities beyond the obvious ones.
    • The difference then is not in some initial creative power of the brain, but in how we look at the world and the fluidity with which we can reframe what we see. Creativity and adaptability are inseparable.
    • Your task as a creative thinker is to actively explore the unconscious and contradictory parts of your personality, and to examine similar contradictions and tensions in the world at large.
    • Understand: to create a meaningful work of art or to make a discovery or invention requires great discipline, self-control, and emotional stability. It requires mastering the forms of your field. Drugs and madness only destroy such powers. Do not fall for the romantic myths and clichés that abound in culture about creativity—offering us the excuse or panacea that such powers can come cheaply.
    • [[Intention vs. Intuition]]
      • The problem we are facing here is that high-level intuition, the ultimate sign of mastery, involves a process that is qualitatively different from rationality, but is even more accurate and perceptive. It accesses deeper parts of reality. It is a highly legitimate type of intelligence, but one that has to be understood in its own right. And in understanding it, we can begin to see that such power is not miraculous, but intrinsically human and accessible to us all.
      • This is hard for us to imagine, because we find intuition and rationality mutually exclusive, but in fact at this high level they operate together in a seamless fashion. The reasoning of Masters is guided by intuition; their intuition springs from intense rational focus. The two are fused.
      • The key, then, to attaining this higher level of intelligence is to make our years of study qualitatively rich. We don’t simply absorb information—we internalize it and make it our own by finding some way to put this knowledge to practical use. The high-level intuitive powers we are talking about have roots in our development as the thinking animal; they have an evolutionary purpose that is extremely helpful to understand, and one that is highly relevant to the times in which we live.
      • Through continual experience and practice, our ancestors recovered some of the immediacy and speed they had lost. They could respond intuitively instead of instinctually. On this level, intuition was more powerful than instinct in that it was not tied to very specific circumstances or stimuli, but could be applied to a much wider arena of action.
      • Understand: this intuitive form of intelligence was developed to help us process complex layers of information and gain a sense of the whole. And in the world today, the need to attain such a level of thinking is more critical than ever before.
    • The problem that technology presents us is that it increases the amount of information at our disposal, but slowly degrades the power of our memory to retain it.
    • In our apprenticeships, we naturally begin by learning the parts and making various distinctions—the right and wrong way to proceed, the individual skills to master and their particular techniques, the various rules and conventions that govern the group. In the Creative-Active we begin to melt these distinctions as we experiment with, shape, and alter these conventions to suit our purposes. And in mastery we come full circle, returning to a sense of the whole. We intuit and see the [[connections]]. We embrace the natural complexity of life, making the brain expand to the dimensions of reality instead of shrinking it to the narrowest of specializations. This is the inevitable outcome of deep immersion in a field. We can define intelligence as moving toward thinking that is more contextual, more sensitive to the relationships between things.
    • We begin to merge our knowledge of these various components into an overall feel for the environment itself. Instead of exerting and overtaxing ourselves to keep up with a complex, changing environment, we know it from the inside and can sense the changes before they happen.
    • “The human organs, by means of practice, training, reflection, success or failure, furtherance or resistance … learn to make the necessary #connections unconsciously, the acquired and the intuitive working hand-in-hand, so that a unison results which is the world’s wonder … The world is ruled by bewildered theories of bewildering operations; and nothing is to me more important than, so far as is possible, to turn to the best account what is in me and persists in me, and keep a firm hand upon my idiosyncrasies.”
  • Storyworthy –– Matthew Dicks
    • At the end of everyday, take a moment and sit down to reflect on your day. Find your most storyworthy moment and write it down, even if it's not in much detail.
    • Homework for Life requires two things that are often lacking in the world today: faith and commitment. Faith that it
    • "As I reflected on each day of my life and identified the most story worthy moments, I began to develop a story telling lens –– one that is now sharp and clear. With this lens, I began to see that my life is filled with stories."
      • There are meaningful, life-changing moments happening in your life all the time.
    • Just from reflecting, absorbing and recording moments, they will never be lost to us.
    • As that storytelling lens becomes more refined, we start to see stories in our everyday lives, they begin welling up from our childhood that we'd long since forgotten.
    • #comment What is the connection between stories and memory? How do they change with each retelling? How do they reveal perspective or reality when they are not entirely true?
      • The more we tell a story, the more we seem to change it to fit our memory - and the more we retrieve a particular memory, the more it changes, too.
      • Memory is a slippery thing and as storytellers, we must remember this. Research suggests that every time you tell a story, it becomes less true. Each time you retrieve a memory, it becomes permanently altered. We tell stories as we can all remember them, but we must acknowledge that they are probably inaccurate in many ways.

    • You start to see how the meaningful moments that we experience everyday continue to the lives of others and to the world. You start to sense the critical nature of your very existence. There are no more throwaway days - everyday can change the world in some small way. #meaning
    • The more you do Homework for Life, the more time will slow down for you, the pace of your life will relax.
    • If you want to be a storyteller, this is your first step. Find your stories, collect them and save them forever.
  • Storyworthy –– Matthew Dicks
    • While folktales and fables are entertaining and can teach us about universal truths and important life lessons, there is power in personal storytelling that folktales and fables will never possess.
    • Change
      • A story can't be a series of remarkable events. You must start out as one version of yourself and end as something new - the change can be infinitesimal, but it must happen.
      • Stories that fail to reflect change over time are anecdotes.
    • Your Story Only
      • People would much rather hear a story about you than a story about what happened to your friend last night, even if the story is better than your own.
      • This doesn't mean you can't tell someone else's story, it just means you must make the story about yourself - you must tell your side of the story.
      • Second generation survivors of the Holocaust don't really tell their parents' stories. They tell their own stories - dipping into the past somewhere in the midst to show how the experiences of their parents have changed their lives too. They share a bit of their parents' histories, but the stories are grounded in the storytellers' lives. [[Maus - Art Spiegelman]]
    • The Dinner Test
      • The performance version of your story and the causal dinner party version of your story should be kissing cousins. Different, for sure, but not terribly different.
      • The audience wants to feel like they're being told a story, they don't want to see someone perform a story. The audience and the storyteller find a common space between the extemporaneous and memorized, and this is where the best stories really reside.
    • Homework for Life
      • At the end of everyday, take a moment and sit down to reflect on your day. Find your most storyworthy moment and write it down, even if it's not in much detail.
      • Homework for Life requires two things that are often lacking in the world today: faith and commitment. Faith that it
      • "As I reflected on each day of my life and identified the most story worthy moments, I began to develop a story telling lens –– one that is now sharp and clear. With this lens, I began to see that my life is filled with stories."
        • There are meaningful, life-changing moments happening in your life all the time.
      • Just from reflecting, absorbing and recording moments, they will never be lost to us.
      • As that storytelling lens becomes more refined, we start to see stories in our everyday lives, they begin welling up from our childhood that we'd long since forgotten.
      • #comment What is the connection between stories and memory? How do they change with each retelling? How do they reveal perspective or reality when they are not entirely true?
        • The more we tell a story, the more we seem to change it to fit our memory - and the more we retrieve a particular memory, the more it changes, too.
        • Memory is a slippery thing and as storytellers, we must remember this. Research suggests that every time you tell a story, it becomes less true. Each time you retrieve a memory, it becomes permanently altered. We tell stories as we can all remember them, but we must acknowledge that they are probably inaccurate in many ways.

      • You start to see how the meaningful moments that we experience everyday continue to the lives of others and to the world. You start to sense the critical nature of your very existence. There are no more throwaway days - everyday can change the world in some small way. #meaning
      • The more you do Homework for Life, the more time will slow down for you, the pace of your life will relax.
      • If you want to be a storyteller, this is your first step. Find your stories, collect them and save them forever.
    • Crash and Burn
      • Crash and Burn is a stream-of-consciousness writing. When it's working well, it will mimic the free-associative thought patterns that so many of us experience while dreaming.
      • Rule 1: Don't get attached to any one idea.
        • Ideas are constantly crashing the party, slashing and burning the previous ones - it's in these intersections of ideas that new ideas and memories are unearthed.
      • Rule 2: Don't judge any thought or idea that appears in the mind.
        • The artificial demans of outlines, planning, organizers often subvert the [[creative process]] and force would-be writers to think about what they are writing before a word even hits the page, rather than allowing them to spill their guts and evaluate the material later.
      • Rule 3: You cannot allow the pen to stop moving.
        • Once you're finished, look back and pull out threads that are worth saving, story ideas, anecdotes for future stories, memories that you want to record, new ideas, interesting thoughts.
      • "I feel this might be the start of a story, I'm probably in the midst of the story still waiting for the end."
    • We are the sum of our experiences, the culmination of everything that has come before. The more we know about our past, the better we know ourselves. The greater our storehouse of memory, the more complete our personal narrative becomes - our life becomes to feel full, complete and important. #meaning
    • First Last Best Worst
      • Pick a prompt, (any noun should do) and then list out your first, last, best and worst memory associated with that prompt.
      • Make it your mission to find, see, remember, and identify stories and you will begin to see your life in a new and more compelling light.
      • After completing the exercise, ask three questions
        • Do any entries appear more than once? (the likely signal of a story)
        • Could I turn any of these entries into useful anecdotes?
        • Could I turn any of these entries into fully realized stories?
      • You will find yourself filling in and filling out your life, making connections never seen before and expanding your memory beyond what you might have thought possible.
  • Storyworthy –– Matthew Dicks
    • Tell a story about a real moment of meaning from your life –– a five second moment –– and people will want to hear more.
    • Every great story ever told is essentially about a five second moment in the life of a human being, and the purpose of the story is to bring that moment to the greatest clarity as possible.
      • Change is key.
    • Understanding that stories are about tiny moments is the bedrock upon which all storytelling is built, and yet this is what people fail to understand most when thinking about a story. Instead, the believe that if something interesting or incredible or unbelievable has happened to them, they have a great story. Not true.
    • Big stories contain these tiny, utterly human moments. We may be fooled by whips and snakes and car chases, but if it's a good story, our protagonist is going to experience something deep and meaningful, that the audience relates to - even if they don't fully realize it.
    • If you think you have a story, ask yourself: does it contain a five second moment? A moment of true transformation? Your five second moment may be difficult to find. You may have to dig for it.
    • For us common folk, #writing is often the means to the end. We discover conclusions and resolutions through the process of writing the book.
    • The beginning of a story should be the opposite of the end. Find the opposite of your transformation, revelation or realization, and this is where the story should start. This is what creates an arc in your story, and creates change over time.
    • Even when the ending is all but certain, a good storyteller can grab the audience by the throat and make them temporarily forget that they know damn well how the story is going to end. So the beginning is important, finding that five second moment in your life is critical of course, but in terms of crafting your story, where your story starts is the most important decision you'll make.
    • The first idea is rarely the best idea, it may be the most convenient idea, the easiest to remember or the one you personally like the most, but first ideas are for the lazy. For the complacent, the easily satisfied.
    • A written story is like a lake, readers can step in and out of it at their leisure and the water always remains the same. This stillness and permanence allow for pausing, re-reading, contemplation and the use of outside sources to help with meaning. It also allows the reader to control the speed at which the story is received. #writing
    • An oral story is like a river, it is a constantly flowing torrent of words, when listeners need to step outside of the river to ponder a detail and wonder about something that confuses them, the river continues to flow. When the listener finally steps back into the river, he or she is behind. The water that has flowed by will never be seen again, and as a result, the listener is constantly chasing the story trying to catch up.
      • #comment What about videos? They're "oral stories" that also behave like a written story - continuity can be broken by jumping back and forth, but they also function in a linear, "stored" manner, similar to a book.
    • Practical tips for choosing an opening:
      • Try to start your story with forward movement whenever possible.
      • Don't start by setting expectations.
    • Thirteen Rules for an effective commencement address:
      • Don't compliment yourself
      • Be self-deprecating, but only if its real
      • Don't ask rhetorical questions
      • Offer one granular bit of wisdom, something that is both applicable and memorable
        • Well I did some research, and it turns out that the life expectancy of the "greatest generation" was just 54. Your life expectancy is 76. That means you can take a deep breath, chill out, catch up on TV –– and spend the next 22 years figuring out what you want to do –– and you can still end up matching the achievements of the Greatest Generation.

      • Don't cater any part of your speech to parents of the graduates
      • Make your audience laugh
      • Never mention the weather or the temperature
      • Emotion is good, be enthusiastic, excited, hopeful. Even angry if needed.
      • Speak as if you were speaking to friends
      • Don't describe the "world" graduates will enter. It's ridiculous to assume that the world as you see it resembles the world that this diverse group of people will be entering
      • Don't define terms by quoting a dictionary
      • Don't use a quote you've heard someone else use in a previous commencement. Don't use a quote at all, if possible. Instead, be quotable
      • End your speech in less than the allotted time
    • Stakes are the reason we listen to stories when video games and pizza exist in the world. We could be doing any of those things, but we listen to stories because we want to know what happens next. In the best stories, we just want to hear the next sentence.
    • The Elephant
      • It's the thing that everyone in the room can see - large and obvious. It is a clear statement of the need, want, the problem, the peril or the mystery. It signifies where the story is headed, and it makes it clear to your audience that this is a story, and not a simple musing on a subject.
      • Sometimes the elephant changes as the story progresses, but that doesn't mean it's not there.
    • Backpacks
      • Increase the stakes of the story by increasing the audience's anticipation about a coming event. It makes the audience wonder what'll happen next, and experience the same emotion that the story teller experienced in the moment about to be described.
      • The audience wants the characters to succeed, but the don't really want the characters to succeed. It's struggle and strife that makes a story great. They want to see characters ultimately triumph but not before suffering first - they don't want anything to be easy, because it's the difficulty that's relatable.
    • Breadcrumbs
      • Breadcrumbs are hints at a future event without revealing too much about the story.
    • Hourglasses
      • When a moment (or the moment) comes in the story that the audience has been waiting for, it's time to use an hourglass - to slow things down, and let the audience hang on to every word. Drag out the payoff for as long as possible.
    • Crystal Balls
      • A crystal ball is a false prediction made by a storyteller to cause the audience to wonder if the prediction will be true. It's an assumption the storyteller makes, but establishes wonder in the audience.
      • We as human beings use crystal balls in everyday life - we're prediction machines - so recounting those in-the-moment predictions is critical.
    • Humour
      • Humour is a way of keeping your audience's attention through the story, though it may not add or raise the stakes of a story.
      • Start with a laugh.
      • Make them laugh before you make them cry - contrast these emotions one after the other.
      • Take a breath
      • Stop crying so you can feel something else.
      • Milk cans and a baseball
        • Set up and a punch line. The more milk-cans in your tower, the greater the potential laugh. The better you deliver the blow, the greater your laugh.
        • Take moments of potential humour and make them as funny as possible.
      • Babies and blenders
        • Contrast is great. Often mixing things that don't go well together can create an easy laugh.
      • Humour is optional, heart is nonnegotiable.
    • Five Permissible Lies of True Storytelling
      • Omission
        • Storytellers tell the truth by not telling the whole truth. Remove people, places and moments that are insignificant to the actual story.
      • Compression
        • If the story takes place over large amounts of time, in bits and pieces, it's okay to compress it and shorten the time line to make it more cohesive. If it takes place over large geographies, compress them to make it more understandable.
      • Assumption
        • If you don't know or remember the specifics, but that detail is important to the story, you can make a reasonable assumption. This does not mean the storyteller should assume all details - only when it is critical.
      • Progression
        • Change the order of events in a story if and only if it makes it more comprehensible or emotionally satisfying to the audience, and if the real-life order did not adhere to narrative expectations. The world does not always bend to serve our stories best, so we must sometimes bend reality itself.
      • Conflation
        • Use conflation to push all the emotion of an event into a single time frame, because stories are more entertaining this way. Rather than describing change over a long period of time, we compress all the intellectual and emotional transformation into a smaller bit of time, because this is what audiences expect from stories.
        • "I want me memories of that day to remain accurate, too, except when I'm telling stories."
    • The goal of every storyteller should be to create a cinematic experience in the minds of every listener.
    • Stories are not supposed to start with thesis statements or overwrought aphorisms.
    • Provide a physical location for your stories - without it, it's just an essay.
    • "And" stories have no momentum or movement. But and therefore are words that signal change. The story was heading in one direction, but now it's heading in another. We did this and therefore this new thing happened.
      • They either oppose the previous sentence, or they compile the previous sentences into a new idea.
    • This is effective storytelling: a way of making a story feel as if it's constantly going someplace new, even if the events are linear and predictable.
      • Matt Stone: "It's this causation between each scene that makes a story."
      • It's the interconnectedness of moments that brings meaning to an otherwise linear collection of events connected only by time and space.
    • Saying what something or someone is not is almost always better than saying what someone or something is.
      • I am dumb, ugly and unpopular, vs, I'm not smart, I'm not at all good-looking and no one likes me.
      • By presenting a binary option, negatives provide depth and potential to a story. They infuse is with movement, momentum and action. The audience feels as if they're going places.
    • The more you tell, the better the audience knows you, particularly given the nature of the stories we tell. [[Show Your Work - Austin Kleon]]
    • Storytelling is not about a rollercoaster of emotions or excitement, it's about bridging the gap between you and another person by creating a space of authenticity, vulnerability and universal truth. The trick to storytelling: the story cannot be about anything big. Instead, we must find the small, relatable, comprehensible moments in our larger stories.
    • The longer you speak, the more perfect and precise you have to be. The longer you stand in front of an audience, the more entertaining and engaging your words must be - so speak less and make time your ally.
    • Storytelling is the opposite of a five-paragraph essay. Instead of opening with a thesis statement and then supporting it with evidence, storytellers provide the evidence first and then sometimes offer then thesis statement later only when necessary.
      • Thesis statements ruin the surprise every time - our job is to describe the action, dialogue, and thought. It is never our job to summarize these things.
      • Avoid thesis statements, and heighten the contrast between the surprise and the moment just before the surprise. Use stakes to increase the surprise, and avoid giving it away by hiding important information along the way that will pay off later.
    • Just tell your story - all of it. Forget the strategies. Start in the wrong place and end in the long place - ramble. The goal is to return to that moment as best as possible in order to find its meaning.
    • The other way of discovering the #meaning of a moment is to ask yourself why you do the things you do.
      • We contextualize events, find satisfying endings to periods of our lives and struggle to explain how our lives make sense and fit into a larger story.
      • #comment Both the means and the end of storytelling is finding meaning.
  • What Does It All Mean –– Thomas Nagel
    • With or without the concept or idea,the problem seems to be that very particular sounds, marks, and examples involved in each person's use of a word, but the word applies to something universal, which other particular speakers can also mean by that word or other words in other languages.
    • The mystery of meaning is that it doesn't seem to be located anywhere –– not in the word, not in the mind, not in a separate concept or idea hovering between the mind, and the things we are talking about.
    • We are small finite creatures, but meaning enables us with the help of sounds or marks on paper to grasp the whole world and many things in it, and even to invent things that do not exist and perhaps never will. The problem is to explain how this is possible: how does anything we say or write mean anything? #meaning
  • What Does It All Mean –– Thomas Nagel
    • #meaning
    • If one's life has a point as a part of something larger, it is still possible to ask about that larger thing, what is the point of it? [[turtles all the way down]]
      • The idea that our lives fulfill God's purpose is supposed to give them their point, in a way that doesn't require or admit any further point. One isn't support to ask "What is the point of God?" any more than one is supposed to ask "What is the explanation of God?" #religion #Atheism [[Outgrowing God - Richard Dawkins]]
  • Highlights from Homo Deus
    • Once people can design and redesign their will, we can no longer see it as an ultimate source of #meaning and authority. For no matter what our will sats, we can always make it say something else.
  • Sum: Forty Tales From The Afterlives –– David Eagleman
    • In this afterlife, all the moments that share a quality are grouped together.
      • "In this part of the afterlife, you imagine something analogous to your Earthly life, and the thought is blissful: a life where episodes are split into tiny swallowable pieces, where one experiences the joy of jumping from one event to the next like a child hopping from spot to spot on the burning sand."
    • God understands the complexities of the afterlife. "She sits on the edge of her bed and weeps at night because the only thing everyone can agree on is that they're all in Hell."
    • "The missing crowds make you lonely. You begin to complain about all the people you could be meeting. But no one listens or sympathizes with you, because this is precisely what you chose when you were alive."
    • "Your concern about human affairs begins to slip away, your cynicism about human behavior melts, and even your human way of thinking begins to drift away from you."
      • "You cannot appreciate the destination without knowing the starting point; you cannot revel in the simplicity unless you remember the alternatives."
      • "You realize that the next time you return here, with your thick horse brain, you won't have the capacity to ask to be a human again. You won't understand what a human is. Your choice to slide down the intelligence ladder is irreversible. And just before you lose your final human faculties, you painfully ponder what magnificent extraterrestrial creature, enthralled with the idea of finding a simpler life, chose in the last round to become a human."
    • #meaning varies with spatial scale. So we have concluded that communicating with her is not impossible, but pointless.
    • "And God consoles Himself with the thought that all creation necessarily ends in this: Creators, powerless, fleeing from the things they have wrought."
    • This appears to be a time-sharing plan devised by some efficient deity; in this way, we're not all populating the Earth at the same time.
      • Answers, or more questions, to some questions I've always had about how everyone can share the afterlife, and how immortality would drain the Earth's resources. [[Homo Deus - Yuval Harari]]
    • "There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time."
      • And that is the curse of the room: since we live in the heads of those who remember us, we lose control of our lives and become who they want us to be.
    • "They don't guess that our main priority is to answer these questions for ourselves. They don't guess that we are unable, and that we build machines of increasing sophistication to address our own mysteries."
      • To build a machine smarter than you, it has to be more complex than you - and the ability to understand the machine begins to slip away.
      • **What is "answer"? **
    • "Everything that creates itself upon the backs of smaller scales will by those same scales be consumed."
    • "When we're forced to leave by the wearing out of those delicate little bodies, it is not uncommon to see us lying prostrate in the breeze of solar winds, tolls in hand, looking out into the cosmos, wet-eyed, searching for meaninglessness" #meaning
    • "It is not the brave who can handle the big face, it is the brave who can handle its absence."
    • "One of His best gifts - the ability to have faith in an unseen hereafter - has backfired."
    • "Much of your existence took place in the eyes, ears and fingertips of others. And now that you've left the Earth, you are stored in the scattered heads around the globe."
      • You were much better at seeing the truth about others than you ever were at seeing yourself. So you navigated your life with the help of others who held up mirrors for you. People praised your good qualities and criticized your bad habits, and these perspectives - often surprising to you - helped you to guide your life.
      • "Here in this purgatory, all the people with whom you've ever come in contact are gathered. The scattered bits of you are collected, pooled and unified. The mirrors are held up in front of you. Without the benefit of filtration, you see yourself clearly for the first time. And that is what finally kills you."
    • "Over the millennia, God has grown bitter. Nothing continues to satisfy. Time drowns Him. He envies man his brief twinkling of a life and those He dislikes are condemned to suffer immortality with him."
    • "The end of death is the death of motivation. Too much life, it turns out, is the opiate of the masses. There is a noticeable decline in accomplishment. People take more naps. There is no great rush."
    • "It's simply that He doesn't know we exist. He is unaware of us because he is of the wrong spatial scale - he is the size of a bacterium. He is not something outside and above us, but on the surface and in the cells of us."
      • "They look to God for answers. God attributes these events to statistical fluctuations over which he has no control and no understanding."
    • "You could blow their cover, but the Directors are confident that you won't; they know you will sink to any depth of infidelity to preserve the lie for your eventual return to it."
    • By the time we die, and our death switch is triggered, there will be nothing left but a sophisticated network of transactions with no one to read them: a society of emails, zipping back and forth under silent satellites orbiting a soundless planet.
      • **So an afterlife doesn't exist for us per se, but instead an afterlife occurs for that which exists between us. **
      • And we are quite satisfied with this arrangement, because reminiscing about our glory days of existence is perhaps all that would have happened in the afterlife anyway.
    • Your Creators are talented at just that: creation - but they're not involved with the observation and judgment of our actions, as we had previously supposed them to be. The Creators watch none of the details as our lives unfold. They could not care less.
      • "It feels so much like the real thing that in the afterlife you only rarely wonder whether you've lived all this before, haunted occasionally by deja vu, holding a book in your hand and not knowing whether this is the first time or a replay from aeons past."
    • "They come to understand with awe, the complexity of the compound identity that existed on Earth. The conclude with a shudder that the Earthly you is utterly lost, unpreserved in the after life. You were all these ages, they concede, and you were none."
      • "Beyond the name, the yous have little else in common."
    • When you die, you are grieved by all the atoms of which you were composed. They hung together for years, whether in sheets of skin or communities of spleen. With your death they do not die. Instead, they part ways, moving off in their separate directions, mourning the loss of a special time they shared together, haunted by the feeling that they were once playing parts in something larger than themselves, something that had its own life, something they can hardly put a finger on.
    • It is the interaction within this substantial administration that determines the random walk of the world: everything interesting happens at the borders between domains of power.
      • There is bitter competition among the gods. Jealous rivalries abound because the stakes are so low; the gods are not large and powerful and they know it. So they try their best to stand out and to be heard.
      • Among all the creatures of creation, the gods favor us: we are the only ones who can empathize with their problems.
    • The human race is a gargantuan network of signals passed from node to node; a calculation of celestial significance running on the vast grid of the human substrate.
      • Love was not specified in the design of your brain; it is merely endearing [[Algorithms]] the freeload on the leftover processing cycles. ([[Made You Think - Homo Deus]])
      • Genes unwrap, proteins blossom, synapses rearrange. All this is well below your awareness - you are merely carrying the brain-box with no acquaintance with what happens inside it.
    • Here, in the afterlife, everything exists in all possible states at once, even states that are mutually exclusive. You can enjoy all the possibilities at once, living multiple lives in parallel.
      • The dangers of "having the cake and eating it too" - the reason we are forced to make decisions, and the reason everything in life revolves around choices.
      • "You are simultaneously engaged in her conversation and thinking about something else; she both gives herself to you and does not give herself to you; you find her objectionable and you deeply love her; she worships you and wonders what she might have missed with someone else. “Thank you,” you tell the angel. “This I'm used to.”
    • It feels to you that we're connected by a larger whole, but you're mistaken. We're connected by a smaller particle. Every atom in your body is the same quark in different places at the same moment in time. Our little quark sweeps like a frenetic four-dimensional phosphor gun.
      • Here it takes its time, catching its breath. It will wait several thousand millennia until it regains the stamina and optimism to try again. So there is no afterlife, but instead a long intermission: all of us exist inside the memory of the particle; like a fertilized egg waiting to unpack.
    • Everyone is knocking over dominos willy-nilly; no one knows where it leads.
      • Although we credit God with designing man, it turns out He's not sufficiently skilled to have done so. In point of fact, He unintentionally knocked over the first domino
    • Loyals have an imperturbable capacity to hold the beliefs with which they arrived, a deep reluctance to consider evidence that separates them from their lifelong context. #religion
      • So she finds herself unappreciated and lonely, wandering in solitude among the infinite cloudscapes of non-believing believers.
    • [[Dataism]] But we also come to understand that the network of numbers is so dense that it transcends simple notions of cause and effect. We become open to the wisdom of the flow of the patterns.
      • The secret codes of life - whether presented as a gift or a burden - go totally unappreciated.
      • You think: this is totally deterministic, is love simply an operation of math?
      • The Rewarders originally thought to offer it as a gift, but the Punishers quickly decided they could leverage it as a kind of affliction, drying up life's pleasures by revealing their bloodlessly mechanical nature.
      • The Rewarder and the Punisher skulk off, struggling to understand why knowing the code behind the wine does not diminish its pleasure on your tongue, why knowing the incapability of heartache does not reduce its sting, why glimpsing the mechanics of love does not alter its intoxicating appeal.
        • Being let into the secrets behind the scenes has little effect on our experience.
    • The more you fall short of your potential, the more of these annoying selves you are forced to deal with.
    • The reunion is warm and heartening for a while, but it isn't long before the begin to miss their freedom. In the form of a human, we are the moment of least facility for the atoms, and in this form, they find themselves longing to ascend mountains, wander the seas and conquer the air, seeking to recapture the limitlessness they once knew.
    • You discover that your memory has spent a lifetime manufacturing small myths to keep your life consistent with who you thought you were. You have committed to a coherent narrative, misremembering the details and decisions and the sequence of events. On the way back, the cloth of that story unravels. Reversing through the corridors of your life,** you are battered and bruised in the collisions between reminiscence and reality**. By the time you enter the womb again, you understand as little about yourself as you did your first time here.
    • How does [[The Denial of Death]] play into all of this?