221b: Droste Effect, Rules, History, Work, Death
I'll ask you the same question Sally Draper asked on MadMen:
"When I think about forever, I get upset. Like the Land O' Lakes butter has the girl sitting holding a box and a picture of her on it holding a box, with a picture of her on it holding a box, with a picture of her on it holding a box. You ever notice that?"
Well, have you?
This is an example of the Droste Effect, known more formally as mise en abyme or "infinite regression." It's the effect of an image appearing within itself.
This is often used in art and filmmaking to help express the idea of infinity.
Rules for a Deliberate 2023
There are many experts who write about their rules for success. I am neither. I'm just a 23-year-old kid trying to figure out life, but I suspect there are others who are trying to do the same.
With that, here are some ideas and rules I'm thinking about in 2023 to help me live deliberately:
More search, less feed – I learned this idea from Austin Kleon. Visit blogs I like directly. Subscribe to RSS feeds. Use Readwise Reader. Find and read content in other ways than what an algorithm forces down your throat.
Quit optimizing the system and just do the work – We're distracted by things that are new. It's human nature. The latest tools, the hottest new products, the coolest new productivity apps all make us believe that using them will unlock another gear in our ability to get stuff done. That's a lie. It won't. The only thing that gets work done is sitting down to do the work. So, work more, optimize less.
A full no is better than a half yes – Derek Sivers puts it more bluntly, saying, "Overwhelmed? If you feel anything less than 'hell yeah!' about something, say no." You'll earn more respect by saying no than by saying yes and not giving your all.
You can read six more rules here.
Why You Should Read History
Winston Churchill, when asked how to best prepare for leadership, said, "Study history. Study history. Study history."
Will Durant, the brilliant author and philosopher who wrote the 11-volume series, The Story of Civilization, describes the current culture of our consumption habits when he said, "Therefore I feel that we of this generation give too much time to news about the transient present, too little to the living past. We are choked with news, and starved of history. We know a thousand items about the day or yesterday, we learn the events and troubles and heartbreaks of a hundred peoples, the policies and pretensions of a dozen capitals, the victories and defeats of causes, armies, athletic teams."
Reading old things (or about old things) is one of the most important acts you can do. Reading about current events or the latest self-help books leads to ephemeral knowledge. It's not not worthwhile. “Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors," Einstein said, "looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else."
What's Really Difficult
In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield makes an interesting point about getting work done. "Writing isn't hard," he says, "what's hard is sitting down to write (emphasis mine)."
Reading isn't a difficult task. What's difficult is sitting down in a chair with a book that you'll enjoy and that will prevent you from picking up your phone for 30 minutes. If you're struggling to read and want to read more, you don't need more tips on how to read. You need to sit down and read.
Is 2023 the year you want to write that book? Sit down and write 500 words every morning.
Will you start that business or side project this year? Sit down and work on it for 45 minutes every night.
You can read my notes on The War of Art here.
Something on my mind...
With each passing day you inch closer and closer to death.
It's up to you to decide if you're also moving closer and closer to that which makes you feel alive.
This is the first edition of the 221b Newsletter. If you enjoyed this post, please share it on social media. You can share this link: https://daltonmabery.ck.page/efe995a836