Saint January

New year, new 'sletter. Experimenting with automated link-sharing and participative topic selection (check out the form at the end!) "I still have to live, for I still have to think. Sum, ergo cogito; cogito, ergo sum."

Saint January
"nietzsche at new year party, confetti and champagne," stable diffusion 2.1

Welcome back. I decided to kick off 2023 with a new version of my blog, this time a hopefully-almost-totally automated monthlyish newsletter generated via some scripts in my note-taking app and (perhaps later on) a sprinkling of large language model.

I'll be sharing links, accumulating logbooks, and experimenting with other forms of computer-augmented writing here. The common denominator is that everything takes a minimum of effort from me--especially the kind of effort where you stare at a paragraph and noodle on it until it sounds good. I hate doing that kind of thing.

Another idea I'm eager to try is asking my heroic and brave 15 subscribers what they liked most/least from each issue, and what they think of my ideas for the next one. There's a Google Form at the end of this issue if you wouldn't mind answering. Seriously like 30 seconds, do it for science. Participative bloggery: one small step toward a techno-democratic future.

The New Year

Book 4 of The Gay Science, Nietzsche's best work, represents the triumphant return of the philosopher's health after a long illness. Written in Genoa, Italy, in January of 1882, his tone throughout is sharp and euphoric. Later that year he'd go on to write Thus Spoke Zarathustra in a matter of weeks.

In a poem that precedes the section, he dedicates the book to "St. January," a personification of our current month who he describes as "you who with flaming spear / Melt the frozen ice sheets of my soul..." Here's the first aphorism from the Book, #267, For the New Year, as good a season's greeting as any:

For the New Year.--I still live, I still think; I must still live, for I must still think. Sum, ergo cogito: cogito, ergo sum. To-day everyone takes the liberty of expressing his wish and his favourite thought: well, I also mean to tell what I have wished for myself to-day, and what thought first crossed my mind this year,--a thought which ought to be the basis, the pledge and the sweetening of all my future life! I want more and more to percieve the necessary characters in things as the beautiful: -- I shall thus be one of those who beautify things. Amor fati: let that henceforth be my love! I do not want to wage war with the ugly. I do not want to accuse, I do not want even to accuse the accusers. Looking aside, let that be my sole negation! And all in all, to sum up: I wish to be at any time hereafter only a yea-sayer!
  • Peter Zeihan began releasing some foundational explainers with his thinking on demographics which might be worth your while. A geopolitical strategist and Stratfor alum, I've been following him since shortly after the Ukraine war started and his predictions come true more than the other folks'.
  • The Xi Jinping podcast by the Economist was absolutely riveting. One highlight among many: this song, the protest anthem of Tiananmen Square, by Cui Jian, the Chinese Bruce Springsteen. Imagine listening to this and steeling yourself to go stare down a fucking tank.
  • If you are tired of hearing and thinking about the war in Europe, I ask that you read this poem by Julia Musakovska. I bet it will knock you on your ass. Timothy Snyder, who also translated the poem, provides a worthy commentary.
  • This is my vote for the most poetic moment of 2022. It's all there, clear as Cristal. Be sure to read the accompanying text.
  • Did some vibing to this one, man. Read that Hironobu Sakaguchi made this entire game shortly after losing his mother. I don't think it's all nostalgia for 1997 that makes me feel so emotional hearing this. True nerd business, but at least I've got good company in Jay Alammar.
  • In essence, this toot is what convinced me to finally leave Twitter. I can live with this vibe. (They're absolutely tearing you a new one over on fursuit Friday Mastodon, btw.)
  • High drama at the decaying Xanadu during Donald Trump’s Final Campaign, great writing at NYMag. If you want to understand Trump watch Sunset Boulevard, that's the takeaway.
  • One of my favorite experimental pedagogists on YouTube started making videos again. AI Assisted Spaced Repetition and Reading, by the wizard of SuperMemo, Experimental Learning. We lost him to a RemNote seed round for a little while but I think he's back.
  • 2022 was the year of Linux on the Desktop I use Pop!OS, btw. Couldn't be happier.
  • Want GPT to summarize YouTube videos for you? SkipVid is here. Summarizing 3hr+ of RSS feeds into a single newsletter length summary is the killer app I'm still waiting for. This Omnivore read-it-later app is new and totally open source; I've been thinking about trying to lend a hand...
  • I started meditating again, according to the teachings of my wife's favorite monk. Actually enjoying it! Read the pamphlet!

Have a good week and thanks for checking out this new venture. Don't forget to exit through the survey shop.