Not a review but this book is riveting. The title really does not do it justice, nor indicate its scope. It goes far beyond “smart note taking” and provides a fascinating way to approach learning and leveraging what we already know. The system explored in the book below comes from a public administrator named Niklas Luhmann who was interested in sociology as a hobby. His family ran a brewery. He created a system he called Zettlekasten, German for “card box” which refined a non-linear way of taking notes and thinking about stuff. In the evenings, after his 8-5 at the office, he read up on his interests, made notes (in a specific way) and navigated this system for exploring and connecting ideas.
He ended up writing a paper on sociology that was noticed by a prof at a prestigious University who immediately offered him a job as a professor. For which he had no qualifications. He then took a semester of Sociology and, using his system, Luhmann spun out a couple more papers: a doctoral thesis and a second publication required to formally fill the job requirements in less than a year and was officially appointed as a professor. During his next 30 odd years, as almost a byproduct of engagement with his system, he published more than 70 books and several hundred of papers. His works rocked the field of sociology and brought in new ideas from widely disparate fields. But he never considered the system “work.” For him, it was a creative extension of the mind: discovering, connecting and understanding ideas that fascinated him at the time. Today he is considered one of the most important social theorists of the 20th century
So far I’ve been struck by the approach he uses for learning and thinking which are quite different from anything taught about learning in school. His system is simple, can be implemented with pen and note card like he did, or any electronic system (I’m using Evernote.) Amazing stuff. And practical for anyone who likes to think, who has a variety of interests and wants to explore new ways of understanding. And perhaps publish a book or post or two someday.
Like early pioneers, I wonder as we learn to venture inward, if we will have to cultivate similar skills and resilience as those brave and desperate souls. If the physical is the start of a trail-head, as many believe, then how amazing is it to be stumbling down this byway that will be the “camino” of future historians of consciousness. With tourists flocking to re-experience the wilds their ancestors traversed. And to marvel how they found their way using only primitive instruments like drums and plants.
Anthropology may recount the weird Polynesian-type navigation of reading waves, processes and currents rather than geometry of the stars, the aborigine messengers walking in dream time collecting sign and landmarks. The psychedelic shakedowns stripping stories and personal history. The wyrd sisters, weaving rainbow fabrics of time with chords of runes like streaming divas.
Life goes on in the settlements for now, but there is wilderness all about our sanctuaries. And strange noises break from the jungles and the darkness. “Here be Dragons” has always been our demarcation for the edges of our maps. And the song of our people.
I like new years; I like the ritual of pivoting to review the past 12 months and starting anew with minimal baggage.
Some baggage, like habits developed over the year, are valuable —good habits are wise investments. Projects, however, may or may not hold relevance depending upon deliberation.
For some things this annual ritual is about tweaking priorities, for others it’s something new, or something old revisited. But the ritual usually starts with dropping everything carried the year before. A total reset.
Each year ends with a harvest of what came from previous efforts, which may be meager, and a planting of the new year’s seedlings with what was gleaned. And learned. With no regrets for anything incomplete or undone or missing. It is finished. I may restart it, but as something new. The field starts cleared. A system reboot.
Some magical disciplines carry this approach into a daily practice. Before sleep each evening, they review the day in reverse unwinding all the events, watchful for lessons. Leaving the mind ready for restorative sleep with a clean slate. An adjunct practice then imagines the most beautiful image, whatever that might be at the time while drifting off to sleep. Talk about your sleep hygiene!
A symbiotic organism lives in our body, it has a neural network in our gut, and has 10x more cells than we do … in our “own” body. We call it/them bacteria. They are our ancestors, for 3 billion years. They are intimately tied to much of our well-being: physical aspects of digestion, inflammation, immunity and psychological moods, motivations and depression. To name a few. It’s a little creepy, don’t you think? It’s like those parasitic cordyceps. But ours are for the good, right? And that’s my Halloween story for October. Just wanted to get a jump on it.
Zombie-ant parasitic fungus castrated by hyperparasitic fungus
Ant colonies are protected against brain-manipulating parasitic fungi by another fungus
The modus operandi of the Cordyceps fungi is the stuff of nightmares. These parasites grow inside their insect hosts by feeding off the non-vital organs, and manipulate the hosts’ behaviour so that they can reproduce. When it is ready to produce spores, the fungus grows into the brain and releases chemicals that make the host climb a plant then attach itself near the top. It then kills its host by devouring its brain, before sprouting a mushroom from the top of its head, which disperses its spores as widely as possible.
Got notified 6th season of SHIELD is out. I parked it somewhere around the 3rd. Long time ago. So started back at the beginning of season 1. Remembered it was enjoyable, and while not quite remembering stuff, I’m oddly psychic about what might be going to happen. Maybe that’s what happens to people that take the same ride again and again. What a trip reincarnation would turn out to be. Like, here’s my ticket, I’m going to take the ride again and try someth’in different this time
Alright, keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times and here comes the memory reset…
I’ve also pondered, that if my conscious was swapped with another’s, and I had all their memories and experiences but none of my own (abandoned with the vehicle, or traded) then I wouldn’t know I had been anyone else. There would be a continuity of being
And if consciousness shared a multi-tasking pool of hosts that we each spent a few seconds, hours, days, weeks, years inhabiting, before swapping out for the next one. Perhaps taking some virtual guided tour of the human experience. Then, like, that would be weird
We spend time online differently. Some immerse themselves in the political, others random entertainment, others life tips and self improvement, shopping or food porn, celebrity news, stalking, nostalgia, social signaling, special interests, causes and often a mixture of them all.
It’s addictive. The rotating smorgasbord of information kicks our amygdalas into overdrive. The amygdala’s role was/is to keep scanning… for threats, opportunities, looking for differences and what wasn’t there before. Newness. It’s hardwired. It juices our limbic systems.
The skittish survive and pass on their genes. Doesn’t matter they drop dead after procreating from stress related disorders, they served their purpose in propagating our species. That’s how nature works. You’re welcome.
But it can also be leveraged by our nascent executive function, perhaps more to our advantage. The same addictiveness can be attached to a stream of learning and deepening of what is relevant to us. That nourishes us rather than merely distracts and numbs. We can tap incredibly rich veins in a matrix of information, we can feed our souls and spirits rather than our biases, ego and instincts. And subvert the systems of nature and commerce to our soul advantage
I drew kenaz this morning. A curious rune which typically means illumination, craft, skillful means. But its darker poems in history relate it also to ulcers and tumors. The reconciliation is found in a deeper function of kenaz which is shaping energy with thought. As such, it warns me today to be wary of whether I am shaping my thoughts with intention or whether my thoughts are shaping me, through moods and mechanical associations. One is a type of growth I do not wish to encourage.
I’m rethinking the whole “flow” bandwagon and construct.
I think it’s been appropriated by the performants.
That weird cult of meritocracy based entre-(pre)neural self-creators. Kind of like what they’ve done for mindfulness as a lubricant for better functioning business minds. Bleh.
Their “enablers” of flow state are: immersion in a task that’s challenging but not too challenging. This is a cargo cult byproduct of something deeper. That is: you wouldn’t need the artificial gravitas of a situational task to fix attention if your attention was not so fractured to begin with.
And to do mundane tasks, with full attention ala zen, has always been the gold standard of flow states. This immersion of the modern day flow junkies is not a being in the moment but a loss of a sense of time and self-awareness that sounds very similar to deep attachment. A zombie working state. Kind of the opposite of true mindfulness. And the “zone”, in high performance parlance, has been conflated with all of this in a sticky threesome.
How much time you figure before you will be playing your endgame?
Some of our relatives and friends are playing their endgames now. Some of us will play it suddenly with an unexpected diagnosis. Some will play it in a heartbeat in an accident.
For most this game is internal, though with some external signs.
For some it’s a strengthening of faith in something they believed, or wanted to believe, since they were a child and taught it was so. In the culture and belief they were raised in, usually.
For others it’s a realization of impermanence in a most personal way, and facing fear that those with faith in established answers deny: the fear of losing their very self. And that we may live on in someone’s memory, or through some legacy, is thin comfort. Because there will be no one to appreciate it. Yet it seems all materialism has to offer.
In others, more curious and more skeptical of accepting written records of long dead mapmakers, or the self-pity in losing an ego and material existence, the endgame is about trying to get a peek into the territory ahead. Trying to develop a few basic skills to navigate an unknown and practice through meditation what experiencing awareness can be without a self. And perhaps through dreams, magic and visions discover where paths enter the wilderness of the endgame and talk firsthand with beings there.
Three endgame strategies of no doubt many more. Yet I suspect it is a limited set of alternatives. What is your end game strategy?