A quick explanation for why this newsletter has this name
Some of you might have noticed I changed the name of this newsletter a couple months ago without much fanfare, and I want to share a bit about why. I’ve found new and refreshing words for how I view the world and carry myself in it through Virginia Postrel’s The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress. I came to this book through a reading theme focused on play and I am thrilled to share that she is rebooting her Substack newsletter!
Postrel frames the conflict in terms of the stasists (people who want things to remain static, controlled, knowable, predictable) and the dynamisms (people who embrace entropy, complexity, nuance, and decentralization). I found new explanations and framing for specific conflicts I’ve experienced first hand, and this work resonates beautifully with Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock and Robert Kegan’s In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life.
I haven’t spoken a lot about my coaching work here, but it is a huge part of the intellectual integration work I’m doing within myself. Applying the lessons of Frederic Hudson’s The Adult Years: Mastering the Art of Self-Renewal as a fledgling coach has me constantly integrating writing across psychology, neurobiology, neuroscience, chronobiology, history, biography and more. Becoming a coach has become an incredible intellectual journey, one I had a tiny hint of before I started but which turns out to be much more faceted than I can describe. I find myself at a loss for words, maybe because I’m only 18 months into it.
Why Everyday Dynamism?
I considered “Everyday Objectivism” but frankly that’s just too closed-ended for what I’m trying to do with my writing, my inventions, my creations, my family, and my life. Don’t get me wrong, Objectivism is a huge part of my life and one of the best tools in my life toolkit, but for me it’s a starting point.
I was talking to long-time Objectivist friend the other day and we got onto that old chestnut “why hasn’t the Objectivist movement taken off more with young people, and what are we going to do about it?” And I have to tell you, I always get grumpy on this topic and the implied should that there is some kind of activism I should invest my precious time in. My LIFE is my activism. There are lot’s of messed up things in the world, but we’re not living in the universe of Atlas Shrugged and it isn’t life-or-death for me to fight back, go on strike, or whatever.
All the struggling I’ve done in my life convinces me more and more of the fact that LIVING life is the point. Being awake and open to whatever comes.
From the time I was 19 and read Atlas Shrugged (and then pretty much every other Objectivist book I could get my hands on) to now, I’ve tried to apply the philosophy to my life in a first-handed and sincere way. It’s hardly the only set of ideas I’ve used to build my life, but it has formed an elegant scaffolding. The challenge with Objectivism is that is a closed system in an open-ended world. It is helpful for many things, but it is also a product of its time and its creator. There are a whole host of “Objectivists” who try to embody an archetype, or follow specific preferences of Ayn Rand like they are mandates from a holy book. It’s silly but also sad, because they’re missing the point.
Dynamism is about change, complexity, contingency, and transformation. It’s about maintaining an open ready stance toward reality and the world, one that is flexible and engaged and curious and playful.
Choosing a Way of Being
Ultimately, I see my role as a human being to take into my mind all the tools available and then live my life the way I find most consistent with my values. Integration is awesome and powerful, and I hope at the end of my life to have developed a philosophy built on everything I’ve learned. If I do a good job of compounding my knowledge and experiences, might I be able to transcend Objectivism, dynamism, capitalism, Buddhism, etc?
Perhaps it sounds arrogant or too ambitious, but there you have it. I relate to these dreams in a different way: I find it awe-inspiring to face the challenge.
When I wrote down my goals for entering the business world, my top goal was “don’t get jaded” (picture this in big bubbly 19-year-old handwriting) and I think I’ve managed to succeed in that. This was partly inspired by the adults I saw around me at that time, who just seemed so exhausted with living. It was so eager to be an adult, but they sure didn’t make it look like much fun! It was also partly inspired by Objectivists I interacted with in those first formative years, who took so much refuge in their rightness that they couldn’t really enjoy the world. These people were the ones constantly getting into pedantic arguments on Facebook.
I try to approach the world with a certain amount of naïveté or curiousity, a certain degree of “I’m new here” that sets me up to see things with fresh eyes. It’s been quite a journey these past 5 years and I did get really serious for a moment there. When Mattermark ended and I simultaneously left the Bay Area and all my friends, I think I almost lost the plot but I clawed my way back to being curious.
Anyway, I’m pretty sick of talking about that post Mattermark funk BUT it did inspire the name of this newsletter because this is my place to play and I want to share my little adventures in personal transformation, creation, progress, exploration and fun with you.
Thank you for reading,
P.S. If you’re hearing about Objectivism for the first time, I highly recommend Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand as a starting point, especially if you have only heard of Ms. Rand’s fiction novels. Enjoy!