I'm keeping the intro short because there is a lot of content in the Sensual Six this week.
I will update you to say that I had a very illuminating coaching on the topic of my talk and have gotten a lot of clarity on the message, which will effectively be: that we have both rational and practical reasons for investing in optimism as a belief system, and that it is likely the most important tool for becoming better people and building a better world.
I've also started to nail down a structure and table-of-contents for my book! So, I'll be sharing that soon, as well as more pages from my progress on the book proposal.
Without further ado:
The Sensual Six:
I'm not watching a lot of TV, but when I do, I'm looking for things that are educational, uplifting, and not too serious. As I mentioned last week, I've been getting more into clay sculpting. I also happen to be a huge fan of The Great British Baking Show, so you can imagine how excited I was to find out that there are five whole seasons of a ceramics competition show, by the same creators, on HBO Max. It doesn't quite have the same uplifting aesthetic that the colorful, summertime tent of the Great British Baking Show provides, but it demonstrates creativity and craftsmanship, as well as showcasing British people's extreme fixation with hobbies in a curious and fascinating way. Not to mention: the male host cries during almost every episode from sheer passion for exquisite expression with clay and the progress of the contenders. It really is a masterclass in creativity, enterprise, and non-toxic masculinity. I find it very relaxing. And I learn a lot about ceramics!
I describe myself as, primarily, a culinary drinker: I drink for the culinary experience. I'm a big fan of novelty, variety, and surprises, as well as not having to think much about re-upping supplies like toilet paper or vitamins. I also love natural wines, which are wines made without added sulfites, preservatives, or commercial yeasts, but instead, fermented in a much more old-world and less predictable way. This imparts unique flavors to the wine that are typically not present in commercial wines. It's a more complex flavor profile for a more discerning or adventurous palate. Exactly my cup of tea. Cue: Mysa wines, a natural wine subscription box that delivers a curated selection of natural wines on a regular schedule. It's all of the things I love, and I always have interesting wines to share with friends who come over, or to sip on the rooftop at sunset. I get a much wider variety of natural wines than are available at the liquor store across the street, and I don't have to lift a finger. Well... once a month I have to lift a kind-of heavy box. But that's it! Cheers!
3. This Clip-on Umbrella
These are AMAZING. We have a pretty nice rooftop on our building that they just furnished with nice, new, cushion-y chairs. This is so wonderful in the summer, except for one thing: there's no shade. If the sun is up, even at 8 in the morning, I can barely stand to be up there for more than 15 min. These umbrellas are a game-changer. The clip attaches to virtually any chair edge that isn't too thick, no matter what shape, and there is the perfect combination of various adjustment directions to angle the canopy just right. Pro-tip: the asymmetrical canopy also rotates on the stem. The canopy is a bit small, so I bought two. I bring both of these bad boys up to the roof and clip them on to the sofa and stretch out my legs and it's everything. In the mornings, when the sun isn't too hot yet, I just bring one to cover most of my body. I did try another kind of umbrella while looking for a bigger canopy, but these are far superior because of the design of the combination of hinges that adjust the direction. Best summer find ever.
4. This Struthless Video on YouTube about how Content Culture affects creativity and art.
I discovered Struthless through a link to one of his videos on the Morning Brew newsletter, which I discovered through my fave coffee hero, James Hoffman. His videos are so refreshing and well researched and always offer a fresh take on issues we're all talking about regarding modern life. He's also a professional illustrator, so there are great graphics and excellent content on the topic of design. I'm so inspired by this particular piece that I'm definitely going to write a response essay, which I'll link to in the next newsletter. I made a video for TikTok earlier this year discussing how having to make art/content for the very narrow parameters of the major platforms and the narrow attention spans we attribute to audiences is stifling our creativity and artistic sensibilities, which is one reason why I was so passionate about my startup. I'll do a write-up about my start-up, what it is, and why I walked away, because I think that will be a helpful resource for future discussion on this topic.
5. This quote: "It doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to be brave."
After my Instagram live with Will Reusch, I booked it over to Equinox for a ballet-inspired class. I was feeling elated, but also a bit anxious, asking myself whether I'd spoken too much or said anything stupid. The usual low-grade anxiety that comes with putting yourself out there. The class was amazing. Throughout, the instructor repeatedly said the above quote. It's not an entirely new concept, but I'd never heard it stated that way, and it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. So much so, that I actually cried after the class while telling the instructor how supported I'd felt by this statement. I remind myself of this often, especially while I'm practicing in public: whether it's art or philosophy or something else that I'm putting out into the world. Maybe it's just a difficult conversation with a loved one. Whatever you apply it to, this quote rules.
6. Friday evening all-levels volleyball!
I recently joined Equinox, which I'm loving. The gym closest to me is a pretty fancy one with two basketball courts where they do all-levels volleyball on Friday evenings. I've been pretty trepidatious about team sports my entire life. Sports are not something I've ever been best at, and that has, as I've come to understand, deterred me from wanting to participate for fear of disappointing others or being seen as less-than-amazing. This revelation came while in conversation with one of my coaches about my resistance to play. I never realized that I had an unconscious expectation of myself to always be impressive at whatever I did. That discovery gave me the freedom to approach Friday night volleyball with the sole intention of having fun and not caring how well I did. As it turns out, I'm not too shabby at volleyball, and team sports are AMAZING! I had so much fun at my first one that I'm committed to continuing. I don't know who needs to hear this but: low-pressure team sports as an adult are where it's at. Just make sure you remember to have fun and stop caring about the outcome or your own status. If we're gonna build a better world, we need to start thinking more about the team.
I'm not a Communist, nor is this book really about Communism. In fact, Bastani hardly talks about "Fully Automated Luxury Communism" at all. Instead, this book is, largely, a well researched argument for the inevitability of the collapse of Capitalism. Bastani argues, with tons of examples, that we're rapidly approaching post-scarcity in a big way. So big, that we won't even be able to impose the false scarcity necessary to maintain Capitalism. He argues that it's necessary that we start discussing alternative politico-economic structures, like, right meow. And since post scarcity means a shit ton of automation and available resources for everyone, that could look something like: Fully Automated Luxury Communism, which he does not, actually, describe. The value of this book, for me, is in breaking down assumptions about the perceived longevity of Capitalism as an economic structure and making a very solid argument about the nature of the current technological paradigm shift within which we find ourselves. I found this in the politics section of a used book store in Seattle and I'm so glad I did because it is an excellent and necessary book for discussion of our society's future.
That's all she wrote!