Prescriptions for Guaranteed Misery in Life

[This article was originally published in the December 6, 2013 edition of the Collegian — The Grove City College Student Newspaper — edited by Kyle Burko]

Charlie Munger, Vice-Chairman of the Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, delivered a brilliant commencement address at the Harvard-Westlake Prep School on June 13, 1986. He was inspired to provide listeners with prescriptions for guaranteed misery in life by Johnny Carson, the 30-year host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, who had previously given a speech specifying his own prescriptions for guaranteed misery in life.

The first half of Munger’s speech covers Carson’s original three prescriptions for guaranteed misery in life. The first prescription is to “ingest chemicals in an effort to alter mood or perception.” Munger goes on to add a bit of his own advice to this prescription, saying that “although susceptibility varies, addiction can happen to any of us, through a subtle process where the bonds of degradation are too light to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” Moreover, he says, “I have yet to meet anyone, in over six decades of life, whose life was worsened by overfear and overavoidance of such a deceptive pathway to destruction.”

Carson’s second original prescription, covered by Munger, is envy. He immediately acknowledges that envy “was wreaking havoc long before it got a bad press in the laws of Moses.” Furthermore, in his discussion of envy, Munger encourages those bent on attaining the heights of misery in life to never read any of “that good Christian,” Samuel Johnson’s biographies because “his life demonstrates in an enticing way the possibility and advantage of transcending envy.”

Carson’s third, and final, prescription, covered by Munger is resentment. Once again, he recognizes Johnson who said, “Life is hard enough to swallow without squeezing in the bitter rind of resentment.” Additionally, Munger implores those seeking misery to refrain from the practice of the Disraeli compromise. He smartly explains that Benjamin Disraeli, one of the great British Prime Ministers, learned to give up vengeance as a motive for action, but maintained an outlet for resentment by putting the names of people who wronged him on pieces of paper in a drawer. Then, from time to time, he reviewed these names and took pleasure in noting the way the world had taken his enemies down without his assistance.

In the second half of his speech, Munger offers four of his own prescriptions for guaranteed misery in life. His first prescription is to be unreliable. In other words, “Do not faithfully do what you have engaged to do.” Munger insists, “If you will only master this one habit you will more than counterbalance the combined effect of all your virtues, howsoever great.” What’s more, he says, “If you like being distrusted and excluded from the best human contribution and company, this prescription is for you.”

Munger’s second prescription for misery is “to learn everything you possibly can from your own personal experience, minimizing what you learn vicariously from the good and bad experience of others, living and dead.” Elaborating on his second prescription Munger notes how little originality there is in the common disasters of mankind, and he offers “as a memory clue to finding the way to real trouble from heedless, unoriginal error the saying: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, well, so much for hang gliding.’”

He identifies Sir Isaac Newton as an exemplar of a non-miserable life, recalling his famous statement, “If I have seen a little farther than other men it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants,” and the unusual inscription above the bones of Newton in Westminster Abbey, “Here lie the remains of all that was mortal in Sir Isaac Newton.”

Munger’s third prescription for misery is “to go down and stay down when you get your first, second, or third severe reverse in the battle of life.” He recognizes that no matter how lucky, wise, or otherwise equipped to deal with life you are; there is so much adversity out there that this prescription will guarantee that, “in due course, you will be permanently mired in misery.” Furthermore, Munger urges those keen on misery to “ignore at all cost the lesson contained in the accurate epitaph written for himself by Epictetus: ‘Here lies Epictetus, a slave, maimed in body, the ultimate in poverty, and favored by the Gods.”

Munger’s fourth, and final, prescription “for a life of fuzzy thinking and infelicity is to ignore a story they told me when I was very young about a rustic who said: ‘I wish I knew where I was going to die, and then I’d never go there.’” He encourages those who desire a miserable life to mock the ignorance of the rustic and ignore his basic wisdom. “To help fail you should discount as mere quirk, with no useful message, the method of the rustic, which is the same one used in Carson’s speech.”

Charlie Munger’s 1986 Harvard-Westlake Prep School Commencement Address — Full Text — featured in Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger (3rd edition) by Peter Bevelin

Now that Headmaster Berrisford has selected one of the oldest and longest-serving trustees to make a commencement speech, it behooves the speaker to address two questions in every mind:

1) Why was such a selection made? and,

2) How long is the speech going to last?

I will answer the first question from long experience alongside Berrisford. He is seeking enhanced reputation for our school in the manner of the man who proudly displays his horse which can count to seven. The man knows that counting to seven is not much of a mathematical feat but he expects approval because doing so is creditable, considering that the performer is a horse.

The second question, regarding length of speech, I am not going to answer in advance. It would deprive your upturned faces of lively curiosity and obvious keen anticipation, which I prefer to retain, regardless of source.

But I will tell you how my consideration of speech length created the subject matter of the speech itself. I was puffed up when invited to speak. While not having significant public-speaking experience, I do hold a black belt in chutzpah, and, I immediately considered Demosthenes and Cicero as role models and anticipated trying to earn a compliment like Cicero gave when asked which was his favorite among the orations of Demosthenes. Cicero replied: “The longest one.”

However, fortunately for this audience, I also thought of Samuel Johnson’s famous comment when he addressed Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost, and correctly said: “No one ever wished it longer.” And that made me consider which of all the twenty Harvard School graduation speeches I had heard that I wished longer. There was only one such speech, that given by Johnny Carson, specifying Carson’s prescriptions for guaranteed misery in life. I therefore decided to repeat Carson’s speech but in expanded form with some added prescriptions of my own.

After all, I am much older than Carson was when he spoke and have failed and been miserable more often and in more ways than was possible for a charming humorist speaking at younger age. I am plainly well-qualified to expand on Carson’s theme.

What Carson said was that he couldn’t tell the graduating class how to be happy, but he could tell them from personal experience how to guarantee misery. Carson’s prescriptions for sure misery included:

1) Ingesting chemicals in an effort to alter mood or perception;

2) Envy; and

3) Resentment.

I can still recall Carson’s absolute conviction as he told how he had tried these things on occasion after occasion and had become miserable every time.

It is easy to understand Carson’s first prescription for misery — ingesting chemicals. I add my voice. The four closest friends of my youth were highly intelligent, ethical, humorous types, favored in person and background. Two are long dead, with alcohol a contributing factor, and a third is a living alcoholic — if you call that living. While susceptibility varies, addiction can happen to any of us, through a subtle process where the bonds of degradation are too light to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. And I have yet to meet anyone, in over six decades of life, whose life was worsened by overfear and overavoidance of such a deceptive pathway to destruction.

Envy, of course, joins chemicals in winning some sort of quantity prize for causing misery. It was wreaking havoc long before it got a bad press in the laws of Moses. If you wish to retain the contribution of envy to misery, I recommend that you never read any of the biographies of that good Christian, Samuel Johnson, because his life demonstrates in an enticing way the possibility and advantage of transcending envy.

Resentment has always worked for me exactly as it worked for Carson. I cannot recommend it highly enough to you if you desire misery. Johnson spoke well when he said that life is hard enough to swallow without squeezing in the bitter rind of resentment.

For those of you who want misery, I also recommend refraining from practice of the Disraeli compromise, designed for people who find it impossible to quit resentment cold turkey. Disraeli, as he rose to become one of the greatest Prime Ministers, learned to give up vengeance as a motivation for action, but he did retain some outlet for resentment by putting the names of people who wronged him on pieces of paper in a drawer. Then, from time to time, he reviewed these names and took pleasure in noting the way the world had taken his enemies down without his assistance.

Well, so much for Carson’s three prescriptions. Here are four more prescriptions from Munger:

First, be unreliable. Do not faithfully do what you have engaged to do. If you will only master this one habit you will more than counterbalance the combined effect of all your virtues, howsoever great. If you like being distrusted and excluded from the best human contribution and company, this prescription is for you. Master this one habit and you can always play the role of the hare in the fable, except that instead of being outrun by one fine turtle you will be outrun by hordes and hordes of mediocre turtles and even by some mediocre turtles on crutches.

I must warn you that if you don’t follow my first prescription it may be hard to end up miserable, even if you start disadvantaged. I had a roommate in college who was and is severely dyslexic. But he is perhaps the most reliable man I have ever known. He has had a wonderful life so far, outstanding wife and children, chief executive of a multibillion dollar corporation. If you want to avoid a conventional, main-culture, establishment result of this kind, you simply can’t count on your other handicaps to hold you back if you persist in being reliable.

I cannot here pass by a reference to a life described as “wonderful so far,” without reinforcing the “so far” aspects of the human condition by repeating the remark of Croesus, once the richest king in the world. Later, in ignominious captivity, as he prepared to be burned alive, he said: “Well now do I remember the words of the historian Solon: ‘No man’s life should be accounted a happy one until it is over.’”

My second prescription for misery is to learn everything you possibly can from your own personal experience, minimizing what you learn vicariously from the good and bad experience of others, living and dead. This prescription is a sure-shot producer of misery and second-rate achievement.

You can see the results of not learning from others’ mistakes by simply looking about you. How little originality there is in the common disasters of mankind — drunk driving deaths, reckless driving maimings, incurable venereal diseases, conversion of bright college students into brainwashed zombies as members of destructive cults, business failures through repetition of obvious mistakes made by predecessors, various forms of crowd folly, and so on. I recommend as a memory clue to finding the way to real trouble from heedless, unoriginal error the modern saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, well, so much for hang gliding.”

The other aspect of avoiding vicarious wisdom is the rule for not learning from the best work done before yours. The prescription is to become as non-educated as you reasonably can.

Perhaps you will better see the type of non-miserable result you can thus avoid if I render a short historical account. There once was a man who assiduously mastered the work of his best predecessors, despite a poor start and very tough time in analytic geometry. Eventually his own original work attracted wide attention and he said of that work:

If I have seen a little farther than other men it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants.

The bones of that man lie buried now, in Westminster Abbey, under an unusual inscription:

Here lie the remains of all that was mortal in Sir Isaac Newton.

My third prescription for misery is to go down and stay down when you get your first, second, or third severe reverse in the battle of life. Because there is so much adversity out there, even for the lucky and wise, this will guarantee that, in due course, you will be permanently mired in misery. Ignore at all cost the lesson contained in the accurate epitaph written for himself by Epictetus: “Here lies Epictetus, a slave, maimed in body, the ultimate in poverty, and favored by Gods.”

My final prescription to you for a life of fuzzy thinking and infelicity is to ignore a story they told me when I was very young about a rustic who said: “I wish I knew where I was going to die, and then I’d never go there.” Most people smile (as you did) at the rustic’s ignorance and ignore his basic wisdom. If my experience is any guide, the rustic’s approach is to be avoided at all cost by someone bent on misery. To help fail you should discount as mere quirk, with no useful message, the method of the rustic, which is the same one used in Carson’s speech.

What Carson did was to approach the study of how to create X by turning the question backward, that is, by studying how to create non-X. The great algebraist, Jacobi, had exactly the same approach as Carson and was known for his constant repetition of one phrase: “Invert, always invert.” It is in the nature of things, as Jacobi knew, that many hard problems are best solved only when they are addressed backward. For instance, when almost everyone else was trying to revise the electromagnetic laws of Maxwell to be consistent with the motion laws of Newton, Einstein discovered special relativity as he made a 180 degree turn and revised Newton’s laws to fit Maxwell’s.

It is my opinion, as a certified biography nut, that Charles Robert Darwin would have ranked near the middle of the Harvard School graduating class of 1986. Yet he is now famous in the history of science. This is precisely the type of example you should learn nothing from if bent on minimizing your results from your own endowment.

Darwin’s result was due in large measure to his working method, which violated all my rules for misery and particularly emphasized a backward twist in that he always gave priority attention to evidence tending to disconfirm whatever cherished and hard-won theory he already had. In contrast, most people early achieve and later intensify a tendency to process new and dis-confirming information so that any original conclusion remains intact. They become people of whom Philip Wylie observed: “You couldn’t squeeze a dime between what they already know and what they will never learn.”

The life of Darwin demonstrates how a turtle may outrun the hares, aided by extreme objectivity, which helps the objective person end up like the only player without blindfold in a game of pin-the-donkey.

If you minimize objectivity, you ignore not only a lesson from Darwin but also one from Einstein. Einstein said that his successful theories came from: “Curiosity, concentration, perseverance and self-criticism.” And by self-criticism he meant the testing and destruction of his own well-loved ideas.

Finally, minimizing objectivity will help you lessen the compromises and burdens of owning worldly goods, because objectivity does not work only for great physicists and biologists. It also adds power to the work of a plumbing contractor in Bemidji. Therefore, if you interpret being true to yourself as requiring that you retain every notion of your youth you will be safely underway, not only toward maximizing ignorance, but also toward whatever misery can be obtained through unpleasant experiences in business.

It is fitting now that a backward sort of speech end with a backward sort of toast, inspired by Elihu Root’s repeated accounts of how the dog went to Dover, “leg over leg.” To the class of 1986:

Gentlemen, may each of you rise high by spending each day of a long life aiming low.

This is not the end…

“They say it’s the last song. They don’t know us, you see. It’s only the last song if we let it be.” – Dancer in the Dark (2000)

Love Conquers All

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)

There are those who believe The Bible is “God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16)” — written both by God Himself and Divinely inspired humans like Moses, the apostle Paul, and Luke the evangelist. Still others find the idea of a “magic book” authored by the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent Creator of life, the universe, and everything laughable. Regardless, only a fool would deny its impact (for better and for worse). The Bible is, after all, the most widely printed and distributed book of all-time. And — fortunately for those wondering: “What Is Love?” — it contains some moving passages on the subject.

In his first letter to the Corinthians — specifically, 1 Corinthians 13 (NIV) — the apostle Paul writes The Way of Love:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 “The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able to truly care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” — David Foster Wallace, This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke writes:

For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.

In Me: Stories of My Life, Katharine Hepburn writes: “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything.” Echoing the thoughts of Wallace, Rilke, and Hepburn, Susan Sontag writes (on February 12, 1970) in As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964–1980: “Being in love means being willing to ruin yourself for the other person.”

 “Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.” — Neil Gaiman, Sandman Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones

In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes:

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

“Where the myth fails, human love begins. Then we love a human being, not our dream, but a human being with flaws.” — Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 3: 1939–1944

In The Wise Man’s Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two, Patrick Rothfuss writes:

It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.

“I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. It’s these things I’d believe in even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn’t all that she should be… I love her and that’s the beginning and end of everything.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

Love is the Great Jay Gatsby losing himself in pursuit of Daisy, striving with every fibre of his being to become someone worthy of this hyper-romanticized vision. It’s living every second of every day for something other than yourself. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking tragedy that makes life worth living. Love is not just the greatest reason of all. It’s the only reason. The only reason to do anything, ever.

 Postscript

“Omnia vincit amor (Love conquers all)” — Virgil, Eclogues X.69

Rembrandt van Rijn (c. 1661–1669) - 262 cm × 205 cm - Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
Rembrandt van Rijn (c. 1661–1669) – 262 cm × 205 cm – Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

This is not the end…

“They say it’s the last song. They don’t know us, you see. It’s only the last song if we let it be.” – Dancer in the Dark (2000)

Navigating Oceans of Information, Pt. 1: The Set-up

“Understanding how to act under conditions of incomplete information is the highest and most urgent human pursuit.” – Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan

Recently my little brother asked me for some TEDxTalk and book recommendations, and, despite years of education (including a degree from a prestigious college), I was at something of a loss. Indeed, I was quickly overwhelmed by a profound feeling of inadequacy. Of the roughly 2,000 TEDxTalks and 130+ million books in the world, I had only seen or read a mere fraction of a fraction of that immense body of work. Suddenly, The Circle of Life, featured in Disney’s The Lion King, began running through my mind:

From the day we arrive on the planet

And blinking, step into the sun

There’s more to see than can ever be seen

More to do than can ever be done

There’s far too much to take in here

More to find than can ever be found…

What are us mere mortals to do? Are we, like Goethe’s Faust, to give up our souls in pursuit of knowledge? Regardless, we mustn’t forget Christ’s admonition, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”  Are we doomed to an existence wherein the words of Daisy Buchanan ring truest of all? “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

I find Daisy’s sentiment, immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, heartbreaking. Ignorance may be bliss, but I cannot recommend it. Life is not meant to be lived in Plato’s Cave.

As far as we know, life is merely a spark of light between eternities of darkness. And, although we have been afforded the opportunity to rise from our eternal slumber, we are destined to return to the darkness from whence we came.

This contemplation of our (less than enviable) human condition brings to mind a conversation between Frodo Baggins and Gandalf in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. Here Frodo is beginning to realize the dreadful implications of his role as the ring-bearer:

‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

Time. What are we to do with the time that is given us? I believe that we must choose to learn, to venture into the ocean of information in pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and meaning. There, if we are lucky, we might just discover who we are meant to be.

“90% of Everything is Crap”

Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985) was an American science fiction author and critic who said, “90% of everything is crap.” In an effort to provide some context, and a greater understanding of this quote, here is a passage (written by Sturgeon) found in the March 1958 issue of the Venture Science Fiction publication:

I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud.

Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.

The fate we must strive to avoid is that of the fool rushing madly into the ocean of information. For this ocean is relentless, infinite, and unforgiving. Without proper guidance and exceptional navigational skill, even the cleverest among us will find themselves drowning in the unbearable 90%.

“Material Beats Method”

One of the most important passages in The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Timothy Ferriss is:

What you study is more important than how you study. Students are subordinate to materials, much like novice cooks are subordinate to recipes. If you select the wrong material, the wrong textbook, the wrong group of words, it doesn’t matter how much (or how well) you study. It doesn’t matter how good your teacher is. One must find the highest-frequency material. Material beats method.

Keep in mind, Ferriss was specifically referring to language-learning in this passage. That ought to clarify the “highest-frequency” bit. Nevertheless, I believe that the emphasis on carefully selecting the proper material is vital.

Prescriptions for Guaranteed Misery

Listeners were offered prescriptions for guaranteed misery in life by Charlie Munger, Vice-Chairman of the Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, in a commencement speech at the Harvard-Westlake prep school in 1986. Munger was inspired by Johnny Carson, the 30-year host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, who had previously given a speech offering his own prescriptions for guaranteed misery in life.

The following section of Munger’s speech provides insight into the role of information in our lives:

My second prescription for misery is to learn everything you possibly can from your own personal experience, minimizing what you learn vicariously from the good and bad experience of others, living and dead. This prescription is a sure-shot producer of misery and second-rate achievement…

The other aspect of avoiding vicarious wisdom is the rule for not learning from the best work done before yours. The prescription is to become as non-educated as you reasonably can.

Munger’s emphasis on “learning from the best work done before yours” is especially relevant today because, in our present age of information, the best work in any given field is more accessible than ever.

The Grand Finale

Thus far I hope that I have taken you rather into the darkness; exploring the overwhelming mass of information at our fingertips, the tragic human condition, and pointing out that, “90% of everything is crap.” More importantly, I hope that I have taken steps towards the light; emphasizing the importance of choosing your material wisely and learning from the best work of others. This is not only about our proverbial mandate to “stand upon the shoulders of giants.” It is about choosing your giants. For “giants” come in all shapes and sizes.

Moving forward, I would like you to consider the following letter written by a 20-year-old Hunter S. Thompson (who, among other things, is the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream). The full text of the letter may be found in Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience, but for our momentary purposes you can simply follow this link: 20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson’s Superb Advice on How to Find Your Purpose and Live a Meaningful Life (by Maria Popova). At any rate, the passage upon which I would like to place special emphasis is the following:

To give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal – to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

The thing is, when my brother asked me for TEDxTalk and book recommendations, I became an adviser. Now, surely, you might say, my advice is not so important. I am, after all, not explicitly answering grand questions about what someone ought to do with their life. Furthermore, my advice might be ignored or not taken seriously. Nevertheless, regardless of all the scenarios in which I don’t need to give my recommendations a second thought, there is always the possibility that my advice will be taken. The off-chance that I will recommend a book to someone that will change their life forever. And it is just that possibility, that off-chance, that drives me.

So, without further ado, here is an eclectic collection of quality work. I hope that you find it inspiring, educational, and entertaining.

Postscript

The brilliant Maria Popova, of Brain Pickings, on information, knowledge, and wisdom, for the Future of Storytelling (2014).

This is not the end…

“They say it’s the last song. They don’t know us, you see. It’s only the last song if we let it be.” – Dancer in the Dark (2000)