So, I have started a Substack, because that is what us nerds do now. I don’t know if I will use it much, but I will give it a shot, and given that for now it will be free.
What I hope to do is use it to get back to doing what I used to do, which is wander around (this time all over the world, not just the US) talking to people. Then turning that it into a mix of interviews, photographs, punditing, and whatever else.
Some stuff will be quirky. For instance, I am planning to walk from New York City to Boston (hopefully in early spring next year when I have the time and the weather permits), and will use that to post whatever I learn from that.
Yet at the core, it will still be about the people I meet, which I haven’t been able to do for the last two years due to a mix of disinterest, apathy, and Covid.
The Covid reason is pretty clear. I learn by wandering and talking to people and given my age and health, that hasn’t been very easy. Since I have been vaccinated, I have been acting like the vaccine is effective (it certainly seems that way) and going back to wandering. It hasn’t been easy though since the world is still a logistical nightmare, and getting out feels like being a hamster in a plexiglass habitrail.
The apathy/disintrest reason is more complex, but ultimitely boils down to a frustration with the current intellecual mood. Simply put, nuance doesn’t pay, and all the incentives and discourse is about being pulled into one camp, and I really don’t feel comfortable diving into either camp.
Both dissapoint me, for different policy reasons, but ultimitely for the same philosophical reason — they are each disconnected from the broader public. Physically and philosophically. It is almost impossible to explain in words just how wide the gap is between elite discourse and “normies.” Navigating between the two, often only blocks apart, is more jarring than traveling between different countries.
Also, politics and policy ultimately bores me, and to dedicate my life to thinking about it isn’t how I want to live.
That is biggest life lesson I learned over the last 10 years. Most people don’t obsess about the things we elites/pundits/nerds obsess about. They are busy living their lives, focusing on family, community, church, sports, or whatever dramas surround them. Sure they get angry about politics now and then, slap on a bumper stickers to own the other side, or throw shit at the TV. But it isn’t their central identity. Which IMO is a healthy thing. Obsessing about the news, current events, and whatever is trending on Twitter is weird. And not the path to happiness. Certainly not for me.
Beyond essays, interviews, hot takes, I want to add fiction to my mix, for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I think the whole documentary style (go out into wilderness, capture peoples stories, and make news from it), no matter how it is done, is kinda gross. For a variety of ethical reasons. Some obvious, some less obvious. Explaining that more is something I will add later on.
Using fiction to boil down what I saw and learned, then turning it into an entertaining read, is less gross. And hopefully because it is less academic and more entertaining, gets a wider audience beyond the usual front row crowd.
How much fiction will enter this substack, if any, is to be seen. I recently finished the 2nd draft of my first novel (about banking) and if that gets a publisher, then I will go that route. If it doesn’t then I will release it on here.
Anyways. I won’t be posting much, not right now, and since this is free, I certainly hope you sign up. Then, when I start posting, and you don’t like it, you can simply unfollow me.
Regardless. Into the crowded void I go.