Reason and Emotion

One of the most pervasive misconceptions about the rationalist community is that we consider reason and emotion to be incontrovertibly opposed to one another, as if an action is irrational in direct proportion to how much feelings are taken into account. This is so common that it’s been dubbed ‘the straw vulcan of rationality’. While it’s true that people reliably […]

Literary Criticism as Applied Apophenia

Growing up I had far more books than friends, and have been writing regularly since I was about seventeen. In high school I was a voracious reader of “the classics”; with the lamp on late into the night I’d turn the pages of Hemingway and Dickens, not caring to wait for the English class in which they’d be taught. Owing […]

It’s Not Always About the Message.

There are plenty of books out there whose value derives from the fact that they challenge previously unshakeable assumptions and thus raise profound new questions. A good example is Julian Jaynes’s The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. In it he draws on linguistic analysis, exegesis, art, and myriad other disciplines to argue that peoples […]

An Experiment in Focus

Myriad studies show that our focus is fragmented much more than is commonly realized and that this is much more damaging than is commonly realized (for a brief account of some of this research, see Worker, Interrupted). At the beginning of May I devised an experiment to develop greater powers of attention. It began as follows: every […]

Build a Distraction Levee

There is a vignette near the beginning of Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” which relates the story of a data entry specialist who, fed up with the unrewarding nature of his work, decides instead to learn how to program. His efforts begin earnestly enough, but he soon finds that he is spending nearly all of his time […]

Dignity != Net Worth

About a week ago my girlfriend and I celebrated the birthday of her deceased father, Ramiro. The sincerity of her love for him and the multitude of vivid stories she tells about his mannerisms, beliefs, and approach to life add up to being almost like having met the man in person. What I find most memorable about these accounts […]