Categories
Books Worth Re-reading

The Mind of Napoleon: A Selection of His Written and Spoken Words

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Key Takeaways

  1. On the human heart – the fact is that men almost never act in natural conformity to their characters but from a momentary secret passion that has taken refuge in the farthest recesses of his heart (fear / self-interest are the underlying motives of all behavior)
  2. On the political order – do you know what I admire most in the world? It’s the total inability of force to organize anything. There are only two powers in the world – the power of the sword and the spirit…In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the spirit
  3. On the art of ruling – my character possesses all those qualities that are capable of strengthening my power and deceiving those who imagine they know me. A true master of politics is able to calculate, down to the smallest fraction, the advantages to which he may put his very faults
  4. On law and social order – man is entitled by birthright to a share of the earth’s produce sufficient to fill the needs of his existence
  5. Napoleon accepted peace from the outset. Cosmic problems stimulated his fancy without causing him unrest. God, to him, was the solution of a sociopolitical problem, and in religion he saw the mystery of the social order – little time for metaphysics or ideologies, a true man of action
  6. How can there be a state without any religion? Society cannot exist without inequality of fortune, and inequality of fortune cannot exist without religion
  7. In Spinoza, each thought is a step to another thought; in Napoleon, each thought is a step to an action
  8. Luck is the ability to exploit accidents. A series of great actions is never the result of chance and luck, always the product of planning and genius
  9. Napoleon had ruthless consistency and the ability of his mind to apply what he’d learned in any problem with almost instantaneous results. My policies are the result of meditation and strength
  10. Work, I was built for work. I have known the limitations of my legs, I have known the limitations of my eyes, I have never known the limitations of my working capacity
  11. Tirelessness, concentration, and speed – these were the characteristics of his mechanism
  12. I know that men have always been the same, that nothing chan change their nature. It is from the past that I will draw my lessons in order to shape the present
  13. Destiny is carried out, fate is suffered
  14. A revolution can neither be made nor stopped
  15. I am a poet in action
  16. What is a theory? Mere nonsense if you want to apply it to human masses
  17. I was sure of being understood by the last drummer boy
  18. Each looks through his own prism, which often misleads him
  19. There is little merit in copying or imitating
  20. Silence often produces the same effect as wisdom
  21. I see further into the future than others
  22. I always lived 2 years ahead of the present
  23. I start out by believing the worst
  24. One must have the will to live and be willing to die
  25. I had few really definite ideas, and the reason for this was that, instead of obstinately seeking to control circumstances, I obeyed them, and they forced me to change my mind all the time. Thus it happened that most of the time, to tell the truth, I had no definite plans but only projects
  26. He who fears to lose his reputation is sure to lose it
  27. History I conquered rather than studied: that is to say, I wanted from it and retained of it only what could add to my ideas, I spurned what was of no use, and I seized upon certain conclusions that pleased me
  28. Frederick was great above all at moments of crisis. This is the highest praise that can be given his character
  29. Liberty is a need felt by a small class of people whom nature has endowed with nobler minds than the mass of men. Consequently, it may be repressed with impunity. Equality, on the other hand, pleases the masses
    1. This is an incredibly deep insight – the French motto of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality was deconstructed by Napoleon – he understood he could do away with liberty and fraternity, but appealed to the masses’ desire for equality
  30. When custom and reason are at odds, custom always wins out
  31. One should never attempt to forbid what one lacks the power to prevent
  32. Avoid everything that might give false ideas of the truth
  33. We are here to guide public opinion, not to discuss it. They must be guided without their noticing
  34. I always went along with the opinion of the masses and with events. I always paid little attention to individual opinions and a great deal to public opinion
  35. What do I care for the opinion of drawing room gossips? I don’t listen to them. For me, only one opinion counts – that of the rich peasants. All the rest is nothing
  36. Absolute power has no need to lie: it is silent. Responsible government, on the other hand, being obliged to speak, dissimulates and lies shamelessly
  37. This famous division of labor, which in our age has brought mechanical pursuits to perfection, is absolutely fatal to the perfection of intellectual production. The quality of a production of the mind is in direct ratio to the universality of its creator
  38. I am sensitive only to the forcefulness of thought
  39. My policies are frank and open, because they are the results of long meditations of strength
  40. True politics is merely the calculus of combinations and of chances
  41. The policies of all the powers are inherent in their geography
  42. Great men are never cruel without necessity
  43. You must know that I am not in the least afraid of committing an act of cowardice if it were useful to me
  44. A true man never hates. A man made for public life and authority never takes account of personalities; he only takes account of things, of their weight and of their consequences
  45. Force is the law of animals; men are ruled by conviction
  46. Men who have changed the world never achieved their success by winning the chief citizens to their side, but always by stirring the masses
  47. Between meditating an action and carrying it out, you must put an interval of 3 years
  48. I know all of Caprara’s defects: I recommend him to you
  49. The great art of governing consists in not letting men grow old in their jobs
  50. The art of choosing men is not nearly so difficult as the art of enabling those one has chosen to attain their full worth
  51. The art consists in making others work rather than in wearing oneself out
  52. War – an immense art which comprises all others
  53. When an enemy army is in flight, you must either build a golden bridge for it or stop it with a wall of steel
  54. As a rule it is easy to find officers, but it is sometimes very hard to find noncomissioned officers
  55. We should do as the Spartan did: the generals ought to mess with the ranks
  56. Napoleon said that war consists of nothing but accidents and that a commander, though he must always adjust himself to general principles, should never overlook anything that might enable him to exploit these accidents. The vulgar would call this luck, but in fact is is the characteristic of genius
  57. My great and most distinctive talent is to see everything in a clear light
  58. I shall be credited with great profundity and subtlety in things which perhaps were simplicity itself
  59. The French people has two equally powerful passions which seem opposed to each other but which in fact derive from the same sentiment – love of equality and love of distinctions. A government cannot satisfy those two needs except by being exceedingly just. In its laws and actions, the government must be the same for all; honors and rewards must be given to those men who, in the eyes of the government, are most worthy of them
  60. My son should read much history and meditate upon it: it is the only true philosophy
  61. Greatness has its beauties, but only in retrospect and in the imagination
  62. I had a taste for founding, not for owning

What I got out of it

  1. His bias for action, ability to simplify things, fickleness were amazing to read about and I found it interesting that he described in himself a lack of ambition, but more being in the right place at the right time and being perfectly suited for what he did. Not ambition, but natural gifts, he couldn’t help but do what he did
Categories
Books

The Art Spirit

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Key Takeaways

  1. I have little interest in teaching you what I know. I wish to stimulate you to tell me what you know. In my office toward you I am simply trying to improve my own environment.
  2. Know what the old masters did. Know how they composed their pictures, but do not fall into the conventions they established. These conventions were right for them, and they are wonderful. They made their language. You make yours. They can help you. All the past can help you.
  3. He who has contemplated has met with himself, is in a state to see into the realities beyond the surfaces of his subject. Nature reveals to him, and, seeing and feeling intensely, he paints, and whether he wills it or not each brush stroke is an exact record of such as he was at the exact moment the stroke was made. 
  4. The value of repeated studies of beginnings of a painting cannot be over-estimated. Those who cannot begin do not finish.
  5. There is a time and place for all things, the difficulty is to use them only in their proper time and places.
  6. The study of art is the study of the relative value of things. The factors of a work of art cannot be used constructively until their relative values are known. Unstable governments, like unstable works of art, are such as they are because values have not been appreciated.
  7. A good painting is a remarkable feat of organization. Every part of it is wonderful in itself because it seems so alive in its share in the making of the unity of the whole, and the whole is so definitely one thing.
  8. No vacillating or uncertain interest can produce a unity.
  9. We are instinctively blind to what is not relative. We are not cameras. We select. We do this always when we are not painting.
  10. All things change according to the state we are in. Nothing is fixed.
  11. In drawing, Rembrandt with a cast shadow or just a line or two realized for us the most complete sense of space, that is, background, environment. He could do this because he saw and he had the genius of selection. Look at his simplest drawings and you will see that he was a supreme master in this.
  12. If you want to know how to do a thing you must first have a complete desire to do that thing. Then go to kindred spirits—others who have wanted to do that thing—and study their ways and means, learn from their successes and failures and add your quota. Thus you may acquire from the experience of the race. And with this technical knowledge you may go forward, expressing through the play of forms the music that is in you and which is very personal to you.
  13. I love the tools made for mechanics. I stop at the windows of hardware stores. If I could only find an excuse to buy many more of them than I have already bought on the mere pretense that I might have use for them! They are so beautiful, so simple and plain and straight to their meaning. There is no “Art” about them, they have not been made beautiful, they are beautiful.
  14. Someone has defined a work of art as a “thing beautifully done.” I like it better if we cut away the adverb and preserve the word “done,” and let it stand alone in its fullest meaning. Things are not done beautifully. The beauty is an integral part of their being done.
  15. All manifestations of art are but landmarks in the progress of the human spirit toward a thing but as yet sensed and far from being possessed.
  16. The picture that looks as if it were done without an effort may have been a perfect battlefield in its making.
  17. No thing is beautiful. But all things await the sensitive and imaginative mind that may be aroused to pleasurable emotion at sight of them. This is beauty.
  18. No knowledge is so easily found as when it is needed.
  19. It is harder to see than it is to express. The whole value of art rests in the artist’s ability to see well into what is before him.
  20. A genius is one who can see. The others can often “draw” remarkably well. Their kind of drawing, however, is not very difficult. They can change about. They can make their sight fit the easiest way for their drawing. As their seeing is not particular it does not matter. With the seer it is different. Nothing will do but the most precise statement. He must not only bend technique to his will, but he must invent technique that will especially fit his need. He is not one who floats affably in his culture. He is the blazer of the road for what he has to bring.
  21. Those who have the will to create do not care to use old phrases.
  22. A great artist is one who says as nearly what he means as his powers of invention allow. An ordinary artist often uses eloquent phrases, phrases of established authority, and if he is skillful it is surprising to see how he can nearly make them fit his ideas—or how he can make the ideas give way to the phrase.
  23. I have been trying to make this matter clear—this matter that the whole fun of the thing is in seeing and inventing, trying to refute a common idea that education is a case of collecting and storing, instead of making. It’s not easy. But the matter is mighty well worth considering.
  24. If you want to know about people watch their gestures. The tongue is a greater liar than the body.
  25. Don’t belong to any school. Don’t tie up to any technique.
  26. All outward success, when it has value, is but the inevitable result of an inward success of full living, full play and enjoyment of one’s faculties.
  27. People say, “It is only a sketch.” It takes the genius of a real artist to make a good sketch—to express the most important things in life
  28. The value of a school should be in the meeting of students. The art school should be the life-centre of a city. Ideas should radiate from it.
  29. Join no creed, but respect all for the truth that is in them.
  30. I am sure there are many people—and there are artists—who have never seen a whole head. They look from feature to feature. You can’t draw a head until you see it whole. It’s not easy. Try it.
  31. No use trying to draw a thing until you have got all around it. It is only then that you comprehend a unity of which the parts can be treated as parts.
  32. Keep your old work. You did it. There are virtues and there are faults in it for you to study. You can learn more from yourself than you can from anyone else.
  33. No one can get anywhere without contemplation. Busy people who do not make contemplation part of their business do not do much for all their effort.
  34. There is the heart and the mind, the Puritan idea is that the mind must be master. I think the heart should be master and the mind should be the tool and servant of the heart. As it is, we give too much attention to laws and not enough to principles. The man who wants to produce art must have the emotional side first, and this must be reinforced by the practical.
  35. Some students possess the school they work in. Others are possessed by the school.
  36. Let a student enter the school with this advice: No matter how good the school is, his education is in his own hands. All education must be self-education.
  37. The best art the world has ever had is but the impress left by men who have thought less of making great art than of living full and completely with all their faculties in the enjoyment of full play. From these the result is inevitable.
  38. The technique learned without a purpose is a formula which when used, knocks the life out of any ideas to which it is applied.
  39. Develop your visual memory. Draw everything you have drawn from the model from memory as well.
  40. There is no end to the study of technique. Yet more important than the lifelong study of technique is the lifelong self-education. In fact, technique can only be used properly by those who have definite purpose in what they do, and it is only they who invent technique. Otherwise it is the work of parrots.
  41. There is nothing more entertaining than to have a frank talk with yourself. Few do it—frankly. Educating yourself is getting acquainted with yourself.
  42. I believe in the study of technique. One should know as far as possible all the possibilities of a medium.
  43. Painting should never look as if it were done with difficulty, however difficult it may actually have been.
  44. We must realize that artists are not in competition with each other.
  45. Always we would try to tie down the great to our little nationalism; whereas every great artist is a man who has freed himself from his family, his nation, his race. Every man who has shown the world the way to beauty, to true culture, has been a rebel, a “universal” without patriotism, without home, who has found his people everywhere, a man whom all the world recognizes, accepts, whether he speaks through music, painting, words or form.
  46. There is the new movement. There always has been the new movement and there always will be the new movement. It is strange that a thing which comes as regularly as clockwork should always be a surprise. In new movements the pendulum takes a great swing, charlatans crowd in, innocent apes follow, the masters make their successes and they make their mistakes as all pioneers must do. It is necessary to pierce to the core to get at the value of a movement and not be confused by its sensational exterior. 
  47. I am not interested in art as a means of making a living, but I am interested in art as a means of living a life.
  48. It is not easy to know what you like. Most people fool themselves their entire lives through about this.  Self-acquaintance is a rare condition.
  49. We are all different; we are to do different things and see different life. Education is a self-product, a matter of asking questions and getting the best answers we can get. We read a book, a novel, any book, we are interested in it to the degree we find in it answers to our questions.
  50. I can think of no greater happiness than to be clear-sighted and know the miracle when it happens.
  51. With a great will to say a thing comes clairvoyance. The more positively you have the need of a certain expression the more power you will have to select out of chaos the term of that expression.
  52. It is not desirable to devote all your time to an appreciation of art. Art should drive you forth. It should be an incentive to life. The greatest value of art to the appreciator is in that it stimulates to personal activity.
  53. Those who live their lives will leave the stuff that is really art. Art is a result. It is the trace of those who have led their lives.
  54. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be young, to continue growing—not to settle and accept. The most beautiful life possible, wherein there is no sordidness, is only attainable by effort. To be free, to be happy and fruitful, can only be attained through sacrifice of many common but overestimated things.
  55. Keep up the work. Try to reduce everything you see to the utmost simplicity. That is, let nothing but the things which are of the utmost importance to you have any place.
  56. The only education that counts is self-education.
  57. The pernicious influence of prize and medal giving in art is so great that it should be stopped. You can give prizes justly for long-distance jumps, because you can measure jumps with a foot-rule. No way has been devised for measuring the value of a work of art. History proves that juries in art have been generally wrong. With few exceptions the greatest artists have been repudiated by the art juries in all countries and at all times.
  58. To work, mind and body, and to be alone enough to concentrate is the thing.
  59. I have no sympathy with the belief that art is the restricted province of those who paint, sculpt, make music and verse. I hope we will come to an understanding that the material used is only incidental, that there is artist in every man; and that to him the possibility of development and of expression and the happiness of creation is as much a right and as much a duty to himself, as to any of those who work in the especially ticketed ways.
  60. I think the real artists are too busy with just being and growing and acting (on canvas or however) like themselves to worry about the end. The end will be what it will be. The object is intense living, fulfillment; the great happiness in creation. People sometimes phrase about the joy of work. It is only in creative work that joy may be found.
  61. There is a joy in the pursuit of anything. Life is finding yourself. It is a spirit development.
  62. Your drawing should be an expression of your spiritual sight.
  63. Keep a bad drawing until by study you have found out why it is bad.
  64. When away from model draw from memory. Draw also opposite or very different views from what you had in the class.
  65. Look for the spirit line that runs through everything.
  66. Self-education, only, produces expression of self. Don’t ask for a criticism until you are sure you can’t give it yourself. Then you will be in a fine state to receive it. You cannot impose education on anyone.
  67. If you get stuck with your painting, make a sketch of the model in another medium. It will give you a fresh eye.
  68. In life we eradicate much to see beauty.
  69. Everybody who has any respect for painting feels scared when he starts a new canvas.
  70. All real works of art look as though they were done in joy.
  71. See things not as they are, but as you see them.

What I got out of it

  1. One of the more beautiful books I’ve read in sometime. Art is the study of the relative of things, art is drawing what you see and not drawing things as they are, it’s about making things and not the study of it, don’t limit yourself to any one school, all education is self-education. Worth re-reading!
Categories
Books Worth Re-reading

Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Key Takeaways

  1. Found that algorithms performed most interestingly without an explicit objective function and argues the same holds true for life
  2. Many objectives are admirable, but we should question their dominance in our culture. Sometimes it may be better to surrender.
  3. Interestingly, the most ambitious goals may be best reached without objectives. It’s useful to think of achievement as a process of discovery. Stepping stones are portals to the next level of possibility.
  4. Ambitious goals are deceptive, so the next stepping stone to get to the final end state are unclear. The greatest achievements are less likely when they have objectives, so the optimal path for these great achievements is to have no objective at all as relevant stepping stones aren’t obvious and would be missed if too focused on the objective – the stepping stone doesn’t resemble the final product. In other words, no matter how tempting it is to believe in it, the distant objective cannot guide you to itself – it is the ultimate false compass
  5. Sometimes the best way to achieve something great is to stop trying to achieve a particular great thing. In other words, greatness is possible if you are willing to stop demanding what greatness should be…We’re missing out on a lot by clinging to objectives
  6. The genius of the Wright brothers wasn’t to invent every necessary component from flight from scratch, it was to recognize that we were only a stepping stone away from flight given past innovations. Great invention is defined by the realization that the prerequisites are in place, laid before us by predecessors with entirely unrelated ambitions, just waiting to be combined and enhanced. The flash of insight is seeing the bridge to the next stepping stone by building from the old ones. And the story of those stepping stones is not a story of intentional objective-driven building, one piece at at time towards some distant uber-invention as conceived by an overarching plan. On the contrary, just like in natural evolution and just like in Picbreeder, the stepping stones are laid in their own context for their own independent reasons, not because a visionary foresaw their role in future greatness
  7. Unstructured play is vital for kids and adults – you have the right to pivot and follow your passions. The point is that novelty can often act as a stepping stone detector because anything novel is a potential stepping stone to something even more novel. In other words, novelty is a rough shortcut for identifying interestingness: interesting ideas are those that open up new possibilities. And while it might sound wishy-washy to go looking for “interesting” things, interestingness is a surprisingly deep and important concept
  8. Novelty search accumulates information well, moves naturally from simple to complex
  9. often possible to achieve more by not trying to achieve it
  10. Nothing can reliably reach target objectives. We can find something amazing, we just can’t say what those somethings are. Great discoveries are possible if they’re left undefined…The strange paradox, where trying is a curse and not a blessing, sets the stage for a more realistic understanding of what is achievable and how. It means that ambitious goals can’t be reliably achieved by trying – unless they are one stepping stone away, where they come within reach. Otherwise, the only choice that remains is not trying. And while this treasure-hunting approach will not ensure reaching any particular objective, what it will do is accumulate stepping stones that lead to unfamiliar places. The treasure hunter is an opportunistic explorer – searching for anything and everything of value, without a care for what might be found. To be a treasure hunter, you have to collect as many stepping stones as you can, because you never know which one might lead somewhere valuable
  11. The best way to harness the power of a group of people in the non-objective world isn’t through brainstorming sessions or meetings or big ambitious projects. It’s not about sitting down and coming to a consensus on what to do. That’s not the treasure hunter – consensus is exactly the cultural tendency that we need to scale. We don’t want “Top 40” lists where everyone tries to agree what the best songs are, nor “design by committee” where any interesting vision for a new product is watered  down by consensus. No, the way to unleash the treasure hunter is to actually through separating people from each other, like in Picbreeder, where people only interact by taking off from where someone else left off. While many participants in such a treasure-hunting system might arrive with their own personal objectives, the system as a whole ends up lacking a unified objective because people’s objectives differ…With instantaneous global communication, it becomes easier than ever to organize people all over the world to build off each other’s creations
  12. Having no plan might be the best plan – explore widely without objectives
  13. When there is no destination, there can’t be a right path. Instead of judging every activity for its potential to succeed, we should judge our projects for their potential to spawn more projects…So, if you’re wondering how to escape the myth of the objective, just do things because they’re interesting
  14. To achieve our highest goals, we must be willing to abandon them
  15. Search is at its most awesome when it has no unified objective
  16. Perhaps then it would make sense sometimes to reward maximal disagreement instead of agreement. It’s possible that anti-consensus may be more interesting than bland agreement. After all, attracting a unanimous vote in science could be a sign of nothing more than echoing the status quo. If you’re doing whatever is hot and parrot the right buzzwords, you might be able to attract wide support. On the other hand, an interesting idea is likely to split votes. At the border between our present knowledge and the unknown are questions whose answers remain uncertain. That’s why the opinions of experts should diverge in such uncharted territory. It’s in the wild borderland between the known and the unknown that we should want our greatest minds probing, rather than within the comfortable vacation-spot of maximal consensus. Just think, which project is likely more revolutionary, one that receives, excellent, excellent, poor, poor, or the one that receives excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent? Splitting experts may be more of an achievement than unifying them
  17. If you’re looking to invest in visionaries, find those who wander in nearby shadows
  18. The successful inventor asks where we can get from here rather than how ewe can get there
  19. Competition should play a secondary role to creativity
  20. Natural evolution can be seen as novelty-generating search with local competition…A key insight from thinking non-objectively in this chapter is that although evolution can be seen as a competition, out-competing other creatures on the “objective” of surviving and reproducing is less important than escaping from competition to form new niches.

What I got out of it

  1. The idea of being a curious explorer, following and optimizing for novelty and interestingness strikes me deeply. Importantly, this is for ambitious, audacious ideas and not for to-do lists or day to day life. You have to concede control of the final destination. There is risk in this, but the reward is worthwhile
Categories
Books Worth Re-reading

Awareness: Conversations with the Masters by Anthony de Mello

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Summary

  1. Anthony discusses various elements of awareness and waking up

Key Takeaways

  1. You have to be willing to wake up, to challenge every belief
  2. The wise guru never tries to wake anybody up
  3. Clarity of perception leads to accuracy of response
  4. Life is not the problem. You are the problem. Once you can dissociate, peace and happiness is on the other side.
  5. You see things not as they are, but as you are. When you change, everything changes
  6. Understanding your obstacles drops them
  7. When the heart and mind are unobstructed, you become aware and this leads to love
  8. You become happy by moment to moment contact with reality
  9. The ability for self observation is a superpower. To be truly happy. You don’t have to do anything, simply remove. Remove the association with “me” and with the feelings that incurs. The true “I” is the observer, not the me

What I got out of it

  1. A book worth reading and re-reading! The audible version in this case was amazing since it is de Mello himself speaking and you get such a sense for his joy and personality
Categories
Books

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Naval Ravikant and Eric Jorgenson

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Summary

  1. A beautiful and more evergreen version of the incredibly deep How to Get Rich podcast Naval did in 2019 where he talks about wisdom, wealth, health, happiness, and more.

Key Takeaways

  1. I only really want to do things for their own sake. That is one definition of art. Whether it’s business, exercise, romance, friendship, whatever, I think the meaning of life is to do things for their own sake. Ironically, when you do things for their own sake, you create your best work. Even if you’re just trying to make money, you will actually be the most successful. The year I generated the most wealth for myself was actually the year I worked the least hard and cared the least about the future. I was mostly doing things for the sheer fun of it. I was basically telling people, “I’m retired, I’m not working.” Then, I had the time for whatever was my highest valued project in front of me. By doing things for their own sake, I did them at their best. The less you want something, the less you’re thinking about it, the less you’re obsessing over it, the more you’re going to do it in a natural way. The more you’re going to do it for yourself. You’re going to do it in a way you’re good at, and you’re going to stick with it. The people around you will see the quality of your work is higher. 
    1. Effortless Mastery
  2. The final form of leverage is brand new—the most democratic form. It is: “products with no marginal cost of replication.” This includes books, media, movies, and code. Code is probably the most powerful form of permissionless leverage. All you need is a computer—you don’t need anyone’s permission. Forget rich versus poor, white-collar versus blue. It’s now leveraged versus un-leveraged. The most interesting and the most important form of leverage is the idea of products that have no marginal cost of replication. This is the new form of of leverage. This was only invented in the last few hundred years. It started with the printing press. It accelerated with broadcast media, and now it’s really blown up with the internet and with coding. Now, you can multiply your efforts without involving other humans and without needing money from other humans.
    1. Leverage
  3. Learn to sell, learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.
    1. Alloying
  4. However, anything you’re given doesn’t matter. You have your four limbs, your brain, your head, your skin—that’s all for granted. You have to do hard things anyway to create your own meaning in life. Making money is a fine thing to choose. Go struggle. It is hard. I’m not going to say it’s easy. It’s really hard, but the tools are all available. It’s all out there. 
  5. I believe the solution to making everybody happy is to give them what they want. Let’s get them all rich.
  6. You have to put in the time, but the judgment is more important. The direction you’re heading in matters more than how fast you move, especially with leverage. Picking the direction you’re heading in for every decision is far, far more important than how much force you apply. Just pick the right direction to start walking in, and start walking. 
    1. Velocity
  7. The really smart thinkers are clear thinkers. They understand the basics at a very, very fundamental level. I would rather understand the basics really well than memorize all kinds of complicated concepts I can’t stitch together and can’t rederive from the basics. If you can’t rederive concepts from the basics as you need them, you’re lost. You’re just memorizing. The advanced concepts in a field are less proven. We use them to signal insider knowledge, but we’d be better off nailing the basics. 
    1. First Principles
  8. Mental models are really just compact ways for you to recall your own knowledge. I think a lot of modern society can be explained through evolution. One theory is civilization exists to answer the question of who gets to mate. If you look around, from a purely sexual selection perspective, sperm is abundant and eggs are scarce. It’s an allocation problem. Literally all of the works of mankind and womankind can be traced down to people trying to solve this problem. Evolution, thermodynamics, information theory, and complexity have explanatory and predictive power in many aspects of life. 
    1. Mental Models
  9. To me, the principal-agent problem is the single most fundamental problem in microeconomics. If you do not understand the principal-agent problem, you will not know how to navigate your way through the world. It is important if you want to build a successful company or be successful in your dealings. It’s a very simple concept. Julius Caesar famously said, “If you want it done, then go. And if not, then send.” What he meant was, if you want it done right, then you have to go yourself and do it. When you are the principal, then you are the owner—you care, and you will do a great job. When you are the agent and you are doing it on somebody else’s behalf, you can do a bad job. You just don’t care. You optimize for yourself rather than for the principal’s assets.
    1. Microeconomics / Principal-Agent
  10. Least understood, but the most important principle for anyone claiming “science” on their side—falsifiability. If it doesn’t make falsifiable predictions, it’s not science. For you to believe something is true, it should have predictive power, and it must be falsifiable. I think macroeconomics, because it doesn’t make falsifiable predictions (which is the hallmark of science), has become corrupted. You never have a counterexample when studying the economy. You can never take the US economy and run two different experiments at the same time. 
    1. Falsifiability
  11. No one in the world is going to beat you at being you. You’re never going to be as good at being me as I am. I’m never going to be as good at being you as you are. Certainly, listen and absorb, but don’t try to emulate. It’s a fool’s errand. Instead, each person is uniquely qualified at something. They have some specific knowledge, capability, and desire nobody else in the world does, purely from the combinatorics of human DNA and development. The combinatorics of human DNA and experience are staggering. You will never meet any two humans who are substitutable for each other.
    1. Permutations & Combinations
  12. The first thing to realize is you can observe your mental state. Meditation doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to gain the superpower to control your internal state. The advantage of meditation is recognizing just how out of control your mind is. It is like a monkey flinging feces, running around the room, making trouble, shouting, and breaking things. It’s completely uncontrollable. It’s an out-of-control madperson…The ability to singularly focus is related to the ability to lose yourself and be present, happy, and (ironically) more effective. It’s almost like you’re taking yourself out of a certain frame and you’re watching things from a different perspective even though you’re in your own mind. Buddhists talk about awareness versus the ego. They’re really talking about how you can think of your brain, your consciousness, as a multilayered mechanism. There’s a core-base, kernel-level OS running. Then, there are applications running on top. (I like to think of it as computer and geek speak.)
    1. Meditation
  13. I’m not going to be the most successful person on the planet, nor do I want to be. I just want to be the most successful version of myself while working the least hard possible. I want to live in a way that if my life played out 1,000 times, Naval is successful 999 times. He’s not a billionaire, but he does pretty well each time. He may not have nailed life in every regard, but he sets up systems so he’s failed in very few places
    1. Authenticity, Systems > Goals

What I got out of it

  1. As with all great books and deep wisdom, something new is uncovered every time you read it. This is certainly true for this almanack of naval’s
Categories
Books Worth Re-reading

The Life of Elbert H. Gary: A Story of Steel by Ida Tarbell

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

This book is full of practical wisdom and deserved a longer write up.

Categories
Books Worth Re-reading

The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn by Richard Hamming

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

“After more thought I decided that since I was trying to teach “style” of thinking in science and engineering, and “style” is an art, I should therefore copy the methods of teaching used for the other arts – once the fundamentals have been learned. How to be a great painters cannot be taught in words; one learns by trying many different approaches that seem to surround the subject. Art teachers usually let the advanced student paint, and then make suggestions on how they would have done it, or what might also be tried, more or less as the points arise in the student’s head – which is where the learning is supposed to occur! In this series of lectures, I try to communicate to students what cannot be said in words – the essence of style in science and engineering. I have adopted a loose organization with some repetition since this often occurs in the lectures. There are, therefore, digressions and stories – with some told in two different places – all in the somewhat rambling, informal style typical of lectures. I have used the “story” approach, often emphasizing the initial part of the discovery, because I firmly believe in Pasteur’s remark, “Luck favors the prepared mind.” In this way I can illustrate how the individual’s preparation before encountering the problem can often lead to recognition, formulation, and solution. Great results in science and engineering are “bunched” in the same person too often for success to be a matter of random luck. Teachers should prepare the student for the student’s future, not for the teacher’s past…Therefore, style of thinking is the center of this course. The subtitle of the book, Learning to Learn, is the main solution I offer to help students cope with the rapid changes they will have to endure in their fields. The course centers around how to look at and think about knowledge, and it supplies some historical perspective that might be useful. This course is mainly personal experiences I have had and digested, at least to some extent. Naturally one tends to remember one’s successes and forget lesser events, but I recount a number of my spectacular failures as clear examples of what to avoid. I have found that the personal story is far, far more effective than the impersonal one; hence there is necessarily an aura of “bragging” in the book that is unavoidable. Let me repeat what I earlier indicated. Apparently an “art” – which almost by definition cannot be put into words – is probably best communicated by approaching it from many sides and doing so repeatedly, hoping thereby students will finally mater enough of the art, or if you wish, style, to significantly increase their future contributions to society. A totally different description of the course is: it covers all kinds of things that could not find their proper place in the standard curriculum.”

PS – The book is expensive and hard to find but here is a PDF copy of the book and if you’re more of an auditory learner, here are Hamming’s “Learning to Learn” lectures

Categories
Books

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Summary

  1. The story of Jonathan Seagull, the seagull who dared to be different and push the limits of flight, learning about himself, mastery, and perfection

Key Takeaways

  1. And then a hundred other lives until we begin to learn that there is such a thing as perfection, and another hundred again to get the idea that our purpose for living is to find that  for us now, o show it forth. The same rule holds for us now, of course: we choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, a ll the same limitations and lead weights to overcome.
  2. No, Jonathan, there is no such place. Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect…Perfect speed my son, is being there
  3. You can go to any place and to any time that you wish to go, the Elder said. I’ve gone everywhere and everywhen I can think of. He looked across the sea. It’s strange. The gulls who scorn perfection for the sake of travel go nowhere, slowly. Those who put aside travel for the sake of perfection go anywhere, instantly. Remember, Jonathan, heaven isn’t a place or a time, because place and time are so very meaningless
  4. To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is, you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived. The trick, according to Chiang, was for Jonathan to stop seeing himself as trapped inside a limited body that had a forty-two-inch wingspan and performance that could be plotted on a chart. The trick was to know that his true nature lived, as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere at once across space and time
  5. I wonder about that, Jon, said Sullivan, standing near. You have less fear of learning than any gull I’ve seen in ten thousand years. The Flock fell silent, and Jonathan fidgeted in embarrassment. We can start working with time if you wish, Chiang said, till you can fly the past and the future. And then you will be ready to begin the most difficult, the most powerful, and the most fun of all. You will be ready to begin to fly up and know the meaning of kindness and love.
  6. For in spite of his lonely past, Jonathan Seagull was born to be an instructor, and his own way of demonstrating love was to give something of the truth that he had seen to a gull who asked only a chance to see truth for himself.
  7. Each of us is in truth an idea of the Great Gull, an unlimited idea of freedom, Jonathan would say in the evenings on the beach, and precision flying is a step toward expressing our real nature. Everything that limits us we have to put aside…Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body too
  8. He spoke of very simple things – that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form. Set aside, came a voice from the multitude, even if it be the Law of the Flock? The only true law is that which leads to freedom, Jonathan would said. There is no other.

What I got out of it

  1. Has been 15 years since the last time I read this book and it hit me even more this time. Go live, do, practice, aim for perfection, freedom, and truth. It is the most fulfilling way to live and will open up dimensions that you couldn’t even imagine before
Categories
Books Worth Re-reading

The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life by Robert Fritz

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

I got so much out of this book that I made a bit of a more formal write-up.

If you want to learn more about the power of creating, why the structure in your life impacts your behavior more than your willpower, the importance of facing reality without obscuring it, and so much more, this book is for you.


If you’d prefer to listen to this article, use the player below.

You can also find more of my articles in audio version at Listle

Categories
Books Worth Re-reading

A Treatise on Efficacy

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

This book is about the diverging patterns of efficacy between Western and Chinese thinking. The Western model of efficacy, inherited from the ancient Greeks’ conception of action, seeks to attain directly a predetermined goal through voluntary and assertive action. The Chinese tend to evaluate the power inherent in a situation (shi) and transform it through non-assertiveness, relying on the “propensity” of things in such a way that the result takes place of itself. The Chinese strategist manipulates his own troops and the enemy to win a battle without waging war and to bring about victory effortlessly. Efficacity in China is thus conceived of in terms of transformation (as opposed to action) and manipulation. To summarize the difference between Western and Chinese thought: one constructs a model that is then projected onto the situation, which implies that the situation is momentarily “frozen”. The other relies on the situation as on a disposition that is known to be constantly evolving. It is a disposition that functions as a device.

One of my all-time favorites. It ties together so many recent themes for me – Werner’s effortless mastery, strategy, philosophy, psychology, and more.

If you’d prefer to listen to this article, use the player below.

You can also find more of my articles in audio version at Listle