Learning from a Book 05/20/21

Today is my son’s one month birthday. It’s hard to believe that it’s already flown by, but I was told by many people that time would start to do this. We’ve all experienced the dilation and contraction of time, this is a normal part of life, but it’s pumped up to 11 when you have a newborn.

I’m finally getting back into a routine, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. He’s getting on something like a schedule too, which is great, because I can plan for when he’s going to be fussy and plan for when he’s going to be asleep. Like now. I hear the occasional pterodactyl noise from the bedroom. It’s fine. He’s just stretching.

I’ve been making some great progress in my reading as of late. I was chatting with Jordan on the phone, and we were bitching about social media as is our wont, and he mentioned a book he’d read recently about the history of the car bomb. Which, by the way, seems like a fucking cool book. He said, “I don’t think I want to learn anything anymore unless it comes from a book.”

This feels like an extremely smart proposition. Because, if you think about it, that’s the only way you’re really going to develop an understanding of things. I love podcasts, and I love conversation, but those are really valuable as idea generators. You can have your thoughts challenged and developed, but it’s all manipulating your particular reality tunnel. Someone has placed a stack of tens in your tunnel, and it’s vibrating the walls, but it’s not doing any real masonry. That’s what books do. Books add on annexes and secret passageways. They actually *teach* you things.

There’s a common practice on Twitter where someone will make a thread to develop a point about this or that. It’s often very satisfying, especially if they’re good at it, because you get all the points boiled down into punchy Cliff’s Notes. You’ve already decided if you’re going to “agree” or “disagree,” now it’s just a matter of having the dopamine rush. Whether it’s from connection or dissonance, it doesn’t matter.

As a side note: what’s the point of agreeing or disagreeing about anything? I’m being serious. Let’s say someone says “the sky is green.” I look outside and see that it’s blue. Who cares? I have absolutely no control over what they think, and vice versa. Our dumb argument isn’t going to change the slow decline of the world, not even a little. Instead, conversation can be resonant. Toss out whether you think something is true or false. Is it resonating in your tunnel?

Back to books, though. Books take time to get through. They are often boring, at least a little, and when you’re through with them, you come to terms that that was how you decided to spend a few hours of your life. If the book is short. That investment, however, is the key to true happiness. It has to do with an understanding of death: you’re only really happy when you know you’re going to die, that the time you have here is finite, and there’s no better way to spend that finite time than on something that sustains a dream.

I thought for a while that I’d become frustrated with the mundane sameness of every day with a newborn, but I haven’t. It’s how I’m going to be spending my days, weeks, months, years. It’s going to be by turns boring and amazing. It’s going to be a way of spending a life. And once you shift your thinking away from making every moment deliver as much pleasure and novelty as possible, and start to delve into the interiority of life brought only through the sublime, brought on only through imperfection and boredom and waste that counters the nonstop 24/7 365 flashing neon light Blade Runner attention harvesting of the vampire archons.

This is a life. It is the life, for the time being. And it’s going to be wonderful.

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