The shocking joys of idleness, friendship, running, and victories
I've heard many references to Bertrand Russell's In praise of idleness over the years, but I'd never actually read this short article from Harpers magazine until last month. It's a great read, and still stands up 90 years later:
One of the commonest things to do with savings is to lend them to some government. In view of the fact that the bulk of the expenditure of most civilized governments consists in payments for past wars and preparation for future wars, the man who lends his money to a government is in the same position as the bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers. The net result of the man’s economical habits is to increase the armed forces of the State to which he lends his savings. Obviously it would be better if he spent the money, even if he spent it on drink or gambling. The morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery.
Another subversive author was David Graeber (RIP). On Graeber's sudden death in 2020, CrimethInc republished his essay The Shock of Victory. As CrimethInc noted, Graeber's message in this essay is only more relevant as time goes on. Graeber points out that anarchists and activists are often unprepared for what happens when they win, and don't always register victories when they occur because they don't look like the total and complete replacement of our current socio-political systems that many are hoping for.
Graeber takes us through a series of examples, splitting out campaign goals into short, medium, and long term goals. In each case, whilst the long and short term goals may appear not to have been reached, the medium term goals were. But many of those involved arguably didn't notice, or at least didn't connect those victories to their own work sufficiently. It's an interesting analysis and well worth thinking about.
Psyche has a great piece about Simone de Beauvior's thoughts on friendship.
Later, Beauvoir wrote that ‘for friendship to be authentic, it must first be free.’ Of course, there must be some kind of reciprocity in friendship, but how that reciprocity manifests is often lopsided. We tend to lazily think of friendship as symmetrical, when most of the time it isn’t – and doesn’t need to be, as long as the friendship is based on intersubjectivity.
I thought this was interesting because so many of us fret about whether we're doing friendship right. Do we have enough, too many, not strong enough, not exciting enough friendships? Do they really like us? Are we too clingy, not giving enough of ourselves, too close, too distant...
Beauviour suggests we stop worrying so much.
Intersubjectivity means recognising that the risk of antagonism between people forever lurks, but relationships based on freedom are both possible and compelling. Intersubjectivity beckons us always to be on the lookout for pathways to channel enmity into affinity. When we understand that we are each subjects for ourselves and objects for others – in other words, when we freely and reciprocally recognise that other people’s lives are as real and vital as our own – then authentic friendship can flourish. For Beauvoir, authentic friendship springs from an exalted level of cerebral amity.
Another one from Psyche: How to enjoy running. I'm out of practice, having fallen out of the habit when I got Covid back in June, but this article is a fantastic guide, and describes many of the things that have worked for me.
Finally, one of the fun things that came out of the recent flood of Twitter users onto the Fediverse generally and Mastodon servers in particular. Parker Higgins often makes fun little tools and he's come up with an absolute winner.
Many Mastodon instances are on subdomains, and since the early days weirder new-style TLDs have been de rigueur. (The flagship has always been at a .social!) So I set out to find three-word phrases where the third word is a 4+-letter top-level domain, using as my first source text Moby Dick.
The result are hilarious, and others have used Parker's script on other corpuses to come up with some amazing “mastodon instance domains”. Perhaps soon you can ask “Did you see that post on
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