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Things I’m certain about, though I could be wrong, volume one

Things I’m certain about, though I could be wrong, volume one
An Old Scholar, by Salomon Koninck

Letter No. 75: Includes an awful lot of cocksure opinions, with no fallback plan.

  • There is no idea so good it can’t be ruined, provided you are willing to convene enough meetings.
  • No brainstorming meeting has ever produced a really good idea.
  • Finally, one more proven method to ruin a good idea: Run it by the stakeholders “to generate buy-in.”
  • Institutions preach the virtues of creativity, then do everything they can to stifle it. This is especially true of corporations and universities.
  • The reality of creativity in late-stage consumer capitalism: Creatives make something good, potentially something great, then the people who control the resources fuck it up.
  • Want to produce a mediocre adult? Insist that your child be “well-rounded.”
  • No parent should ever say to their 18-year-old offspring, “You have a fallback plan, right?”
  • Don’t have a fallback plan. It will suck the courage and initiative and creativity out of whatever you’re doing. Plus they almost never work.
  • There is no inherent virtue in hard work. The people who want you to believe there is are the people who stand to profit the most from your labor. There is virtue in meaningful work, and that work will be hard, for sure, but the virtue isn’t in the difficulty or the long hours or some ill-defined “work ethic,” but in the commitment of your one brief life to something that matters.
  • Productivity systems are more often distraction systems. They encourage their fretful users to put off the real work that scares them in favor of endlessly tinkering with the productivity system. The same applies to most personal knowledge management systems and time management advice and routines for nurturing creativity. You don’t need a better system—you need intent.
  • Nothing is more overrated in American society than competition.
  • The more a corporate CEO prattles on about the virtues of competition and the free market, the more likely he’s working hard to rig the system.
  • A vital question, in a remarkable number of situations, is, “Did he jump or was he pushed?” Also, “Did he maybe fall while looking for a place to jump?”
  • No modern scientific study has ever found that animals are dumber than we thought they were.