I Made Up a Stoic Exercise

There are some electrons and photons moving around in really interesting patterns, and there’s the reaction they produce in my brain when I look at them. Maybe some sound waves. I don’t deny these things are amazing. Obviously!

In the physical world, you are constantly clashing with molecules large and small and hard and soft and brittle and strong. You run into brick walls, get punched in the face, swim in deep water, feel the breeze in your hair, and other things that are merely metaphors for larger things.

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“A Book Is a Machine to Think With”

There’s much ado these days about new reading technologies. In particular, the ebook, but there are more recent innovations in digital reading, too: Spritz is one, and social e-readers are another. The way digital reading is discussed, you’d think people who like reading plain old paper books are Luddites.

But what if I told you that physical books are technological marvels themselves?

I encountered a provocative discussion of how we use this far-out dead-tree technology in–where else?–a book, dead-tree version, by one of my favorite writers, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. After reading this, I’ll never look at a book the same way again.

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The birth of the modern world

There was a time when men could travel only as fast as a horse could run. A time when most grew up, lived, and died within a few miles of their birthplace. When they made a living strictly by use of their own hands. A time when every town kept its own local time, by the position of the sun. When the American West was a vast natural expanse, its features held sacred by its native inhabitants. A time when the concept of capturing and freezing an image, a hint of the past, was an incomprehensible phenomenon.

This time, one forgets, is shockingly recent.

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