Like everything else, it starts with experience, doesn’t it. And for those denied the opportunity of a proper education, what else is there ? So, direct, first-hand experience it is. What happened in your former life dictates your successes and failures today – and the more extreme the experience, the more formative it’ll have been.
Of course, you can never know which particular experiences will lead to success and which to failure, that can only ever be determined ex post ; and regardless of whether you’re Chongzhen The Last Ming Emperor or Two Bit Tony The Street Urchin, you’re only as successful as your last performance. If said last performance was being irredeemably trounced by Li Zicheng or Lanny The Shark, respectively, that’s pretty much how you’ll be remembered. Blame the exceedingly limited first-order thinking of the majority of apes for this woefully linear relationship, but success, like intelligence,i fundamentally lacks an a priori definition, no matter what that TEDx talk you watched on Netflix said. Some people are naturally brighter than others, but it’s nigh on impossible to tell in advance who among them will actually rise to the top, future environmental conditions being uncertain as they are. Some people will find themselves supremely adapted to a time and place with a skill set that would’ve seen them begging for bread in another.
The corollary to being very well adapted is, as you might intuit, that you frequently suck at its opposite, shaped in only the one way as you’ve been. Have a knack for building companies from the ground-up ? Chances are you’ll also be terrible at managing deeply entrenched global monopolies. Reasonably enough, you’ll therefore come to idealise start-up companies and undervalue the Standard Oils of the world.ii Or maybe you have a penchant for being physically active. Chances are you can’t sit still in a classroom to save your life and as a result and you overvalue athletic achievement relative to academic. So too is it that you’ll hate urbanites because you’re too unfortunate to live closer to the office and are forced to commute considerable distances ; you’ll hate “the man” because you’re too unfortunate to leverage your skills in a global marketplace ; you’ll hate “climate deniers” because you’re too unfortunate to so much as crack the cover of an anti-religious text ; you’ll hate “bible thumpers” because you’re too unfortunate to see the advantages of non-starred web of trust topologies. You are, after all, not rational but rationalising.
And this works the other way too! You hate socialism because you’re too fortunate to have been raised without a father ; you hate security theatre because you’re too fortunate to have been raised by priests ; you hate bureaucrats because you’re too fortunate to have been born without a soul ; you hate modern konsoomer tech because you’re too fortunate to have been born pre- or post-PC.iii
The stronger your love, the stronger your hate. The stronger your hate, the stronger your shape.iv The extremes are what define us. So get off your couch and do something nuts… NOW!
Don’t wait for better weather.
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- Speaking of measures of intelligence, a recent conversation hors du canal brought precisely this point home :
Banana 1 : Would you ever cash out your BTC ?*
Banana 2 : Lel didn’t you ask me that in 2013 ? Remember what I said ?
Banana 1 : Lol I may have! I don’t remember
Banana 2 : “When a better opportunity comes along” or something to that effect**
Banana 1 : Makes sense. Just curious if you had a number in mind or what your “strategy” was.
Banana 2 : No number. Strategy is, as ever, turn $1 into $2 and $2 into $4 faster than anyone else.
Banana 1 : Solid strategy indeed.
Banana 2 : Gotta beat that inflation y’know.
Banana 1 : Well it’s been a good week for you in that case. Inflation can’t keep up!
Banana 2 : That’s pretty much the IQ test innit, certainly from the capitalist perspective. Can inflation keep up with you ?
*I get this question almost daily during acute periods of fiat devaluation such as this one in May 2017.
**Who knows, maybe someone really will invent better hidden queens!
- You may not appreciate how well the oil industry lends itself to vertical monopolisation but it does. Much of the oil price volatility of the last century can be attributed to an aging JD Rockefeller and his senescent neglect of Middle Eastern oilfield prospects in the face of more philanthropic endeavours. [↩]
- Basically being born anywhere outside 1970 – 1995 makes you an exceedingly strong candidate for technological ineptness. [↩]
- Whatever it is, what you hate says at least as much about you as what you love. Nevermind the “love all things and all people equally” hogwash, there’s no happiness in the middle. [↩]