live the damn questions, america's favorite restaurant, and more things we're loving
plus, tell us who you are!
Welcome to the startupy newsletter, a laid back column about very serious ideas.
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Cool things curated in our universe
LIVE THE DAMN QUESTIONS
This passage from Rilke's Letters To A Young Poet is so damn good. A poetic wake-up call for those of us who want to KNOW for SURE what is going to happen - the point is to fall in love with the game, not the points:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Live the damn questions!
This article - Hillstone, America’s favorite restaurant - is a delightful ode to impeccable execution and consistent dedication to a craft, with takeaways for all businesses.
Curating many more thoughts and musings on greatness here, including this collection of quotes on why quality is impossible at scale.
Also thinking about how greatness requires a long-term orientation.
AI AND HUMANITY
Nick Cave captures what many are feeling, and fearing, about ChatGPT better than most. Simply wow!
Songs arise out of suffering, by which I mean they are predicated upon the complex, internal human struggle of creation and, well, as far as I know, algorithms don’t feel. Data doesn’t suffer. ChatGPT has no inner being, it has been nowhere, it has endured nothing, it has not had the audacity to reach beyond its limitations, and hence it doesn’t have the capacity for a shared transcendent experience, as it has no limitations from which to transcend. ChatGPT’s melancholy role is that it is destined to imitate and can never have an authentic human experience, no matter how devalued and inconsequential the human experience may in time become.
This is what we humble humans can offer, that AI can only mimic, the transcendent journey of the artist that forever grapples with his or her own shortcomings. This is where human genius resides, deeply embedded within, yet reaching beyond, those limitations.
Part of the fear of AI also comes down to it being an ideological blank canvas. From John Luttig:
there’s nothing missionary built into the technology (AI) itself, unlike blockchains which are trustless and thus anti-institutional. This could be a good thing: AI is an ideological blank canvas, and can be shaped to match human will.
From Ian Bogost:
Their creators haven’t helped, perhaps partly because they don’t know what these things are for either. OpenAI offers no framing for ChatGPT, presenting it as an experiment to help “make AI systems more natural to interact with,” a worthwhile but deeply unambitious goal. Absent further structure, it’s no surprise that ChatGPT’s users frame their own creations as either existential threats or perfected accomplishments.
I found this interview with David Holz, the founder of Midjourney to be really good:
Right now, people totally misunderstand what AI is. They see it as a tiger. A tiger is dangerous. It might eat me. It’s an adversary. And there’s danger in water, too — you can drown in it — but the danger of a flowing river of water is very different to the danger of a tiger. Water is dangerous, yes, but you can also swim in it, you can make boats, you can dam it and make electricity. Water is dangerous, but it’s also a driver of civilization, and we are better off as humans who know how to live with and work with water. It’s an opportunity. It has no will, it has no spite, and yes, you can drown in it, but that doesn’t mean we should ban water.
And when you discover a new source of water, it’s a really good thing. I think we, collectively as a species, have discovered a new source of water, and what Midjourney is trying to figure out is, okay, how do we use this for people? How do we teach people to swim? How do we make boats? How do we dam it up? How do we go from people who are scared of drowning to kids in the future who are surfing the wave?
It feels like we could really use a hero these days.
THINGS WE’RE LOVING
Monk - the first Ice bath and cold water therapy app
Aphex Twins - beautiful vibrant sounds that gets us in flow state
The creative act: a way of being currently reading, highlights forthcoming.
WHAT IF YOU NEVER SORT YOUR LIFE OUT
Are you still under the illusion that you'll one day reach a point in your life where you no longer have any problems?
many more thoughts on agency here.
💬 Let’s talk
Now that we’re on Substack, we can do fun things like talk to each other.
If you feel like it, throw in a line or two in the comments about yourself. Doesn’t have to be dry facts (though dry facts are fine!). Could be something you can’t stop thinking about, the best thing you read or saw recently, a resolution you made and already broke, or anything else that gives a flavor of who you are.
Alright, the Substack voyage commences!
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I’m mildly sunburned and plotting a room for the quiet, odd and poetic web. I’ll send an invite in due time.
Loved the Stutz documentary on Netflix. This quote, and many others stuck with me.
"It’s really a magical thing. You enhance your relationship with yourself by writing. Some people say, “Well, write what?” “I’m not interesting.” “I’m not a writer.” It doesn’t matter.
If you start to write, the writing is like a mirror. It reflects what’s going on in your unconscious, and things will come out if you write in journal form that you didn’t know that you knew."