“It is not strength, but the duration of great sentiments that makes great men.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Beyond Good and Evil is kind of weird book of philosophy. Nietzsche rambles a lot, going off on random tangents about music or women that have nothing to do with the central point of the book.
But there's some real gems in there, like this one. When I first read it, I set my Kindle down and thought about it for a good 10 minutes at the cafe I was in.
The idea is, intense but short-lived thoughts don't get you very far. Intensity of purpose is good, but if it lasts for not long, you won't do very much with it. You'll see inventors, innovators, champions in any domain - they tend to put a lot of time and practice into their craft consistently. It's going for at least a light run when it's raining and you feel like hell. It's practicing a little.
All of us dream from time to time of great things. I think almost anyone could accomplish some amazing things. But most people let those dreams fade after a few minutes, shrug, and go back to their lives. It's keeping in your mind at least a little, consistently, that makes you great.
Hello Mr. Marshall!
I have been a reader of your blog for quite a while now, and I decided it's time to try to connect with you. I am very impressed by the quality of your blog posts and I enjoy reading them daily. And I am aware that you don't have much time for reading emails lately (which is good, people reach out to you and they should reach out. It is great that you offer yourself like this!), so I'll try to keep my first email brief.
I am starting to grow an interest in existentialism, religious and spiritual philosophy. Since I'm just starting this field I would like to start off with the right material, so I was wondering if you could recommend me some books or other material on these subjects?
Of course I completely understand if you don't have time for it, or if this email flies right into the trash folder - some things are not meant to be.
In any case, I wish you kind regards. S
If you've been reading for a while, you may have noticed that I almost never swear. I tend to think that there's a more accurate way than swearing to express anything, but today I couldn't think of a more fitting word.
What is bullshit? Well, it's watching TV. It's browsing the internet mindlessly. It's partying. It's doing busy work. It's hanging out with people not so much because you like them, but because you don't want to be alone. It's eating for the sake of filling time.
Now, none of these things are pure evil. That's what makes this tricky. You can watch TV and learn something interesting, or enjoy the relaxation it brings. You can stumble upon cool sites that you wouldn't have found if it weren't for mindless browsing. You can meet new people while partying. Busy work leads to a paycheck sometimes. Occasionally those random low-key hangouts whose primary purpose is to avoid loneliness elevate into great conversations. And hey, you've got to eat sometime-- why not now?
These silver linings are blessings and curses. They embed some merit into otherwise bullshit activities, but at the same time that merit gets over-inflated and allows us to engage in these sorts of things without the mental repercussions that may come from something like, say, smoking crack. Even now, I imagine that your brain is objecting by saying, "Well, I met ____ when I was partying, so he's wrong about that one. And the other day on Reddit I learned about ______, so that sort of browsing is fine."