Complex Bubble Tea
These recommendations were supposed to be somewhat wide-ranging. As it happens they are not. Here’re links to some remarkably on-brand things.
I add new stuff to wherever in the list I feel it makes sense. Recent finds are at (6) and (10).
H/t Drake and Lexi for suggesting some of these.
- This book on Danton. One of the most on-brand things I ever did as a kid was become entirely obsessed with the French Revolution for about a year. (Yes, my first crush was on Robespierre.) I never cared about history but I did care about narratives and ethics. In particular I cared about the contrast between Robespierre and Danton, and I cared about both of their relationships with Desmoulins and with Desmoulins’s wife. Much of my ethics has always flowed from trying to balance Danton and Robespierre, and I think this a potential way of conceptualizing the entire ethical space.
- My intellectual models were similar: two friends who fell apart and between whom I tried to wind a precarious little way. In this case, we had Jean-Paul Sartre and Raymond Aron. I recommend starting here.
- I once fell in love with the philosophy of law. The two historical friend-ideals here (and these two—despite one’s affairs with the other’s wife—stayed friends) were Hart and Berlin. There is really so much to read, although most of it’s not free online. One of my favourite essays is here. If you want more recommendations on legal philosophy, or want to talk about Hart and Berlin, please, please e-mail me.
- See here. Sometimes poetry and philosophy converge, and this’s I think the best I’ve read of both. I also like this little essay, which analyzes the poem.
- Enough on friends; more on philosophy. Don’t read this to learn about the history of philosophy, but do read it to learn about sparkle and precision, which (per Aron and Sartre) are the two ends of philosophy-qua-practice anyway.
- I think people should probably engage with the object level , so here, stretch noodles into large loops.
- I don’t read many rationalists’ blogs but I do read a few.
- To my darlingest provocateurs, who need to grow-up: here’s what got me in the end. Or, well, it helped.
- Scott Fitzgerald’s strewn all over my cite, so I doubt I need to add it here. But whatever. I’ve read everything and I suggest you do too. My favorites are here, for something short—heavy bath-reading—and here for the long instantiation.
- Joan Didion’s essay on self-respect is as Fitzgeraldian as Fitzgerald.
- I like this essay a lot. If you like other stuff on this list you’ll like this too. I often wonder why the content on Quillette is so bizarrely high-variance; but this's the best of it.
- The prose-versions of Auden are Lolita and The Good Soldier.
- The Leopold and Loeb murder case is interesting. Darrow, of the Scopes Trial, spoke for them.
- Gresham College lectures.
- The classic writing advice.