Sugar's Recommended Reading
The Age of Average, Baudrillard, T.S. Eliot and ... loss of focus.
If you only read one sentence of this message, read this one and click this link to read this article: The Age of Average — Alex Murrell
If you continue reading, welcome to my brain!
I read a lot, and I read a lot of things. Constantly. Whether you’ve known me for years, or we just met last week, I have probably already texted you a link to an article saying, “this made me think of the conversation we had/thought of you/thought of your interests - thought you would find it interesting!” All of this sharing - individually, texting friends to say, I thought you would like this! Sorry to bother you! Inspired me to - finally - start this newsletter.
I want it to be a way to share articles that I think you’ll find relevant and intriguing. I don’t expect a response - though of course I would love to chat with you about your thoughts on anything that I share! Feel free to get in touch. And, absolutely, please share and forward and officially subscribe! (this is a personal message from me, going out into the interwebs!)
Thanks for reading Multitudinous Musings! Subscribe for free to receive monthly musings and support my work.
And I want this to be, for me, a way to keep a record of all the things that I read.
I subscribe to a daily email newsletter called “1440” (named so because “The printing press was invented around the year 1440, spreading knowledge to the masses and changing the course of history.”) This past week, they shared the above Age of Average. I have re-read it three times, and have shared it over and over.
I hope this will be one of the monthly newsletters / musings that you do read / value / look forward to receiving. I’ve tried to separate out some general sections - Highly Recommend, News, Startups/Business, Literary, Brain/Mental Health… Have a browse below!
But, by way of opening - The Age of Average. Highly Recommended Reading. It made me go down a rabbit hole of revisiting the work of Jean Baudrillard; flipping to the end of The intelligence of evil, or the lucidity pact (2005), Baudrillard states, “The more human beings there are, the rarer will be those who have a soul. Not a very democratic situation and one which might be translated today into: the more intelligent beings there are (and, by the grace of information technology, they are virtually all intelligent), the rarer thought will be.” An overload of information technology, at the expense of creativity - at the expense of expansiveness of space for unique thought.
This musing on Baudrillard (and the points of the essay) align perfectly with Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention - and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari, that I am finally finding enough focus to read. In declaiming that, as a society, we are constantly on the brink of exhaustion from chronic lack of sleep (and a multitude of causes of loss of focus…exhaustion only being one of them…), and that we are collectively dreaming less and less from lack of long enough sleep cycles to enter REM periods, he wonders, “What does it mean to be a society and culture so frantic that we don’t have time to dream?” Which sent me down another related rabbit hole of T.S. Eliot - because of course this conjures in my mind the bleak vision, “A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, / I had not thought death had undone so many.” and the question of renewal amidst the grey monotony. It is April, after all.
April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. - The Waste Land
This is the thread I am weaving through Murrell’s essay describing our descent into homogeneity, Baudrillard’s rareness of thought and soul, Hari’s loss of dreaming → loss of creativity → of course loss of focus, and Eliot’s The Waste Land from 1922 → to us, now, 2023.
I have included two other articles (below) about Baudrillard and consumerism that I read recently, going down this rabbit hole.
“For years the world has been moving in the same stylistic direction. And it’s time we reintroduced some originality.” - Alex Murrell
If my multitudinous musings seem too circuitous and rambling, thanks for following so far … this is an experiment in externalizing my brain, momentarily. More than commentary on my readings, I really want to share what I have read because I think you’ll enjoy these pieces - so you can even ignore ALL OF THE ABOVE and simply check out the articles below.
As my friends lovingly point out to me, “I think I think too much.” All too true. I’m trying to share those thoughts.
RECOMMENDED READING - Top of Mind
The Age of Average — Alex Murrell
The intelligence of evil, or the lucidity pact (book)- Jean Baudrillard
Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention - and How to Think Deeply Again (book) - Johann Hari (“For years, whenever I couldn’t focus, I would angrily blame myself. I would say: You’re lazy, you’re undisciplined, you need to pull yourself together…Most of the people I know respond the same way. But I learned that in fact something much deeper than personal failure, or a single new invention, is happening here.”)
What to Make of T. S. Eliot? - Garrick Davis
Alice and Jean: Is it possible to be an ethical consumer? (on Baudrillard and consumerism: “But private consumerism is not private; it exists in a social context and comes at a cost to others. Most clothing, for example, requires a violence skillfully hidden from the consumer, a violence that lands on the bodies of garment workers or ends up tinting distant rivers red. It alters the chemical composition of our atmosphere.”)
The American experiment has just begun: Jean Baudrillard's 'America' (take this quote: “So why read America, particularly in 2022? Why go for a testimony of the age of Reagan in the age of Biden, when the Eighties are confusingly far away? Are we not witnessing an empire in decline, a dying supernova which sends its light across the universe before it implodes? … Yet things are not that simple … To some Europeanists, it feels as if the EU is effectively run from Langley, Virginia. Energy costs are destabilising the German export model. Dollar supremacy is stronger than ever. The biggest army in human history is now trying to reshore its industry. Liquid gas supplies find their way to Stuttgart. The result is a dazzling compound: late imperial Rome with a stock exchange and nuclear weapons, and the same spectacle of public acclamations that accompanied the crepuscules of the pagan world.”)
Dril Is Everyone. More Specifically, He’s a Guy Named Paul.
NEWS / LONG-FORM JOURNALISM
Should College Come With Trigger Warnings? At Cornell, It’s a ‘Hard No.
The Battle for the Soul of Buy Nothing
An Alabama Kidnapping That’s Stranger Than Fiction
How Slutty Vegan Puts the Party in Plant-Based Food | The New Yorker
Saving the Horses of Our Imagination
STARTUPS / INVESTING
Long Take: JPM’s frank $175MM M&A mistake and the dangers of synthetic humans
Amazon didn't make money for a decade, but those losses weren't even close to what startup companies and their investors face now.
BRAIN / MIND
"The self" doesn’t exist. Instead, you constantly shape multiple selves
Your brain may not be private much longer
This magic mushroom pastor would go to jail for his new SF church
OTHER / PERSONAL INTEREST / RANDOM
The History & Myths of Japanese Bondage: Censorship, Sex Work, and Othering in the World of Shibari by Midori
Like a cinema virgin: how Madonna went stratospheric making Desperately Seeking Susan