curiosity across disciplines

Perspective or punchline?

Recently, I stumbled on a thread in the internet’s endearing underbelly, reddit.

It was a post asking how others handled the overwhelming amount of competing theories across various philosophical topics.

The most popular retort was the very-reddit answer of, “having a panic attack,” quickly followed up by:

“Now all you have to do is have a breakdown and write a book about fixing up motorcycles.”

The book referenced is Robert Pirsig’s too-mainstream-to-be-a-cult-classic classic with a cult following[1], Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

For me, this was an interesting book, a step up from the average airport shelf “personal growth” title, but also not on my list of quake[2] books.

More importantly, this exchange reminded me of the dividends paid by humility.

While I’m planting myself in the middle of this enjoyment bell curve, for some people, it’s without question a life-changing quake book. For others, it’s within a rounding error of being lumped in with the airport drivel.

And while I don’t catch even a whiff of malice in the quoted comment above, I’d wager Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance didn’t revolutionize that redditor’s world.

We don’t get to decide how our work is received, whether that’s online or off.

To some, we’re a vapid punchline. To others, we might have offered an uncharted perspective. So, to summarize:

Make cool shit, and be humble about it.

  1. I'm as mad as you are that this sentence is, in fact, grammatical. ↩︎

  2. Quake books, a concept I rather like, are “[books] that shake you to your core” ala Tyler Cowen and Ryan Holiday. ↩︎