Adaptation is smarter than you are.
John Kay
I think teenagers are driven crazy by the life they’re made to lead. Teenage apprentices in the Renaissance were working dogs. Teenagers now are neurotic lapdogs. Their craziness is the craziness of the idle everywhere.
Paul Graham, Why Nerds are Unpopular
This whole act’s immutably decreed. ’Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this ocean rolled. Fool! I am the Fates’ lieutenant; I act under orders.
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Ah, this is my sorrow: they have lied reward and punishment into the foundation of things – and now even into the basis of your souls, you virtuous!

You love your virtue as the mother her child; but when did one hear of a mother wanting to be paid for her love?

That your virtue is your self, and not something foreign, a skin, a cloak: that is the truth from the foundation of your souls, you virtuous one! –
But indeed there are those to whom virtue means writhing under the lash: and you have listened too much to their shrieks!
And there are others who call it virtue when their vices grow lazy; and once their hatred and jealousy stretch themselves to rest, their “justice” becomes lively and rubs its sleepy eyes.
And there are others who are drawn downward: their devils draw them. But the more they sink, the more fervently their eye shines and the lust for their God.
Ah, their shrieks have also reached your ears, you virtuous:
“What I am not, that to me are God and virtue!”
Friedrich NIetzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Unselfconscious self-assurance. As Richard Logan found in his study of individuals who survived severe physical ordeals – polar explorers wandering alone in the Arctic, concentration camp inmates – one common attitude shared by such people was the implicit belief that their destiny was in their hands. They did not doubt their own resources would be sufficient to allow them to determine their fate. In that sense one would call them self-assured, yet at the same time, their egos seem curiously absent: they are not self-centered; their energy is typically not bent on dominating their environment as much as on finding a way to function within it harmoniously.

This attitude occurs when a person no longer sees himself in opposition to the environment, as an individual who insists that his goals, his intentions take precedence over everything else. Instead, he feels a part of whatever goes on around him, and tries to do his best within the system in which he must operate. Paradoxically, this sense of humility – the recognition that one’s goals may have to be subordinated to a greater entity, and that to succeed one may have to play by a different set of rules from what one would prefer – is a hallmark of strong people.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

When you’re starting a business, it’s easy to slide into thinking that customers want what you do. During the Internet Bubble I talked to a woman who, because she liked the outdoors, was starting an “outdoor portal.” You know what kind of business you should start if you like the outdoors? One to recover data from crashed hard disks.

What’s the connection? None at all. which is precisely my point. If you want to create wealth (in the narrow technical sense of not starving) then you should be especially skeptical about any plan that centers on things you like doing. That is where your idea of what’s valuable is least likely to coincide with other people’s.

Paul Graham, Hackers and Painters

VITALITY VITALIZES (MODERN HERO)

  • MOYERS: In this sense, unlike heroes such as Prometheus or Jesus, we’re not going on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves.
  • CAMPBELL: But in doing that, you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there’s no doubt about it. The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.
Indeed, feelings don’t just matter — they are what mattering means.
Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness
In practice I think it’s easier to see ugliness than to imagine beauty. Most of the people who’ve made beautiful things seem to have done it by fixing something they thought ugly. Great work usually seems to happen because someone sees something and thinks, *I could do better than that*.
Paul Graham, Taste for Makers
When danger is greatest.— It is rare to break one’s leg when in the course of life one is toiling upwards—it happens much more often when one starts to take things easy and to choose the east paths.
Friedrich Nietzsche
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