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Do you ever feel burdened by the immensity of knowable things?

Weird way to start a blog, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed thinking about how we can spend our lives studying any subject without ever knowing its fullness—without even grasping the fullness of what’s knowable. That incomprehensible vastness of existence and its innumerable bits of information leads me to search for what is worth knowing.

Worth is a capricious word, but bear with me.

I want to make good choices in life, the kind of choices that increase in personal value with the passing of time. Choices that make good sense for us in the here and now, but that we come to value even more as life goes on—to live slow and die old. It seems that to make good choices, we need some situational knowledge about the decision at hand. But how much and what quality of knowledge is enough to make good decisions? Is there an objective value to having knowledge in the first place?

I don’t know, but I hope you agree that honesty is valuable. I believe honesty wants directness and is more fully understood through context, nuance, and when presented precisely.

Through this blog, I want to explore Western culture honestly. (I think of culture as a collection of human now-ness in time and space.) I am interested in the kind of culture that moves assiduously forward. But forward into what? I really like the Latin word proficiens, which represents an idea from the Stoics.¹ They desired perfection in wisdom and virtue, but finding it arrogant to assume achievement of such status, branded themselves as “in training.” Proficiens means “trying to achieve being wise,” or, more literally, “going places.” I like the definition “making progress.” If we can’t know everything (and of course we can’t), let us at least be found to be making progress. And not with some busy carpe diem New Year’s resolution, but through the intentional dismantling, evisceration, and substantiation of both the mundane and our deepest-held truths.

Will we find that we have, in fact, progressed since the ancients?
(This is also a blog about technology.)

We are far too quick to accept what is handed to us without considering the cost. The advance of human culture and its Frankenstein’s monster, the wires and silicon into which we attempt to imbue our consciousness, shows no restraint. And really, why should it? Responsibility falls down to the smallest spheres of society, ending with the individual, to define value, to make choices, and to preserve a vital, thoughtful sense of beauty.

I’m saying we cannot assume our trajectory is upward. We are not along for a ride; we must not fall asleep watching television or collecting virtual friends, nor stitch our eyes open and charge toward the strobe of cultural ideals, arriving at old age with only a list of accomplishments and objects of status. Even so, there is no pride inherent in asceticism; balance comes through making good choices.

(This is also a blog about less weighty things—e.g. my reflections on being in a negligibly-successful Christian emo band; why Kanye West is a manchild who thoroughly squanders his artistic talent; and, because I sense you are dying for this information, my favorite smoothie recipes—but I wanted to first distinguish myself, for whatever audience arrives here in a stream of clicksciousness, from the glut of pageview-obsessed Internet writing.)

I want to think in words.
I want to cultivate a healthy anxiety about living.
I want to develop my own philosophy of technology.
I want to help orient the personal culture of those around me toward intentionality.
I want to become more teachable, more open to correction, and allow myself to be publicly wrong.

I know that the face value of self-improvement cannot be trusted—it’s a dangerous feedback loop. I want this blog to serve as a public egress for the judgments and ruminations of my inner voice, which tend to be cynical, systematic, and critical. In doing so I hope it sparks a conversation. Maybe we can relieve each other of the burden of knowable things, by sifting out what is valuable to she or he who would live an examined life.

Notes

1 Early Stoicism did not allow for a middle ground between vice and virtue, though it was later accepted that the proficiens could progress toward the ideal. Recommended reading (especially passages 16-18): Seneca’s 75th epistle to Lucilius

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