Needless to say, maintaining and re-reading a spark file is useful for more than just writers, but I think it’s a habit that is particularly suited to the special challenges of writing. I often find myself writing out full sentences of an argument or description, instead of just jotting down shorthand summaries, even though I don’t yet know where the sentences are ultimately going to appear. The key is to capture as many hunches as possible, and to spend as little time as possible organizing or filtering or prioritizing them. (Keeping a single, chronological file is central to the process, because it forces you to scroll through the whole list each time you want to add something new.) Just get it all down as it comes to you, and make regular visits back to re-acquaint yourself with all your past explorations. You’ll be shocked how many useful hunches you’ve forgotten.
Less than two weeks ago the first rumors surfaced that Pearl Paint on Canal Street was shuttering, and by the end of last week the store did indeed shut its doors. It was a tearful goodbye, according to the Tribeca Trib.
Wow, @reuters excellent data visualization here.
A large part of the answer is that Silicon Valley is gripped by a mass delusion, compounded by a deep “fake it til you make it” attitude toward success. Why do so many people in Silicon Valley want to be founders? Because every founder they meet is always killing it, crushing it, having massive success, just about to close a huge round, etc etc. At some level, they must know this is impossible: if 90% of startups fail, it simply can’t be the case that all of the startups they know are succeeding. After all, failure is not something which just suddenly happens overnight, when you thought you were doing great all along. But people tend to believe the evidence of their own eyes, and what they see is a combination of two things: the founders they know all seemingly doing great, and also a steady stream of headlines showing other founders cashing out for millions or even billions of dollars.
Very few people wake up and think “I need philosophy.” This is perfectly understandable. But of course, everyone has their own problems and are dealing with the difficulties of life in some way or another.
The irony is this is actually what ancient philosophy was intended to ameliorate. “Vain is the word of a philosopher,” Epicurus once said, “which does not heal the suffering of man.” Centuries later, Thoreau expressed this same thought: “To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school … it is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically.”