Too often, the defenders of free markets forget that what we really want is free men. Having a few around requires an economy in which the virtue of independence is cultivated, and a diversity of human types can find work to which they are suited. It is time to dispel the long-standing confusion of private property with corporate property. Conservatives are right to extol the former as a pillar of liberty, but when they put such arguments in the service of the latter, they become apologists for the ever-greater concentration of capital. The result is that opportunities for self-employment and self-reliance are preempted by distant forces.
Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work
Rabbit in the backyard. 2011.
People’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far the maintenance of life is concerned. They are all just fuel. Advertising filler in the news paper, philosophy books, dirty pictures in a magazine, a bundle of ten-thousand-yen bills; when you feed them to fire, they are just paper. The fire isn’t thinking ‘Oh this is Kant’ or ‘Oh This is Yomuri evening edition’ or ‘Nice tits’, while it burns. To the fire, they are nothing but scraps of paper. It is the exact same thing. Important memories, not-so-important memories, totally useless memories: there is no distinction — they are all just fuel.
Haruki Murakami, After Dark
We make promises in accordance with our hopes, and we keep them in accordance with our fears.
La Rochefoucauld, Collected Maxims and Essays
What difference does it make how much there is laid away in a man’s safe or in his barns, how many head of stock he grazes or how much capital he puts out at interest, if he is always after what is another’s and only counts what he has yet to get, never what he has already. You ask what is the proper limit to a person’s wealth? First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.
Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
The strategy for the discoverers and entrepreneurs is to rely less on top-down planning and focus on maximum tinkering and recognizing opportunities when they present themselves. So I disagree with the followers of Marx and those of Adam Smith: the reason free markets work is because they allow people to be lucky, thanks to aggressive trial and error, not by giving rewards or ‘incentives’ for skill.
Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
The gods had given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease…Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in search for new sensation. What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber, one has some day to cry aloud from the house-top. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace.
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: ‘There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.’
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby