Danny Crichton interviewed me for TechCrunch about the feedback loop between imagined worlds and the real one:
Current events are a painful reminder that unlike fiction, reality needn’t be plausible. The world is complex and even the wisest of us understand only a tiny sliver of what’s really going on. Nobody knows what comes next. So while it may feel like we’re living in a science fiction novel, that’s because we’ve always been living in a science fiction novel. Or maybe speculative fiction is more real than so-called realistic fiction because the only certainty is that tomorrow will be different…
Stories are Trojan Horses for ideas, a metaphor that proves its own point. Composed thousands of years ago — initially in Homer’s Odyssey and later in Virgil’s Aeneid — Odysseus’s gambit still reverberates through our culture, evolving as it leaps from mind to mind, seeding generation after generation with images, archetypes, and ways of making sense of the world.
You can craft a story that conveys a single big idea like The Tipping Point or that teems with ideas like The Big Short. Stories can map new conceptual territory: 1984 became the definitive allegory of state surveillance. They can spark…
“Technology and politics are inseparable. There’s a kind of nerd determinism that denies politics (‘Our superior technology makes your inferior laws irrelevant’). But just as pernicious is the inverse, the politicos who insist that technology is irrelevant to struggle, sneering about ‘clicktivism’ and ‘solutionism.’”
Fiction is the lie that reveals the truth.
The artist on her journey will make everything up, including herself. Her creations will be fictional, apparitional, chimerical. And yet the artist is neither a fabulist nor a charlatan. She is not lying. She is not deceiving. Rather she sees, with the vision of imagination, what lies beneath the box scores and the market quotes. She sees what is real and brings it forth so that others can see it.
From Steven Pressfield’s The Artist’s Journey.
If you want to do interesting work, a great starting point is to work on things you find interesting. Instead of trying to optimize for what you think others are likely to find interesting — chasing the market is a Sisyphean task — just keep digging deeper into what you find interesting.
That way, making your work interesting to others is simply a matter of sharing your enthusiasm. I took a geology class my freshman year of college. It’s easy to imagine how boring a class about rocks could be. But my professor loved rocks. She had contributed to the…
Viktor Frankl on success:
Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you…
The world is brimming with magic.
Summon it by bringing your attention to bear, by following the path into being.
The keener your sense of presence, the more miraculous the universe reveals itself to be.
Insurrection. Global pandemic. Cascading climate crises. Never-ending Zooms. We seem to be living through the dystopia Hollywood has always dreamed of, sans a satisfying narrative arc.
In times like these, nihilism beckons. Just give up, history seems to be saying. There’s nothing you can do. The best you can hope for is to protect your own as you watch the world burn.
Some novelists begin a new story by identifying a central theme, and then let the characters, plot, setting, tone, pace, and all the rest unspool from there. That’s never worked for me. Instead, theme is usually…
Novelist: Veil, Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Neon Fever Dream, Cumulus, Exit Strategy, Power Play, and Version 1.0.