April 22, 2018

Mental models

Are you living for your résumé or your eulogy?

The thesis of the book is, basically, that we have seen a shift in human nature from what Brooks calls the Adam II self (humble, inward-looking, “eulogy” self) to the Adam I self (ambitious, external, “resume” self).

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In case you missed it, a new post went up on Calorie Restriction: the monkey studies. Next up will be a re-visit of ketosis…

Unrelated, I recently finished The Road to Character by David Brooks. Brooks is a great storyteller, and this book is basically filled with what one might call “portraits in character.”

Some of the stories I was already familiar with but many were new, certainly in their depth. In particular, the contrasts between Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne vacillated between subtle and chasm-like. Both giants. The final days of Johnson’s life—as he plunges scissors into his own legs in an attempt to drain the edema and chastises his own doctor for not doing so deeply enough—gave me PVCs. I want a life-sized Johnson bust in my office as a reminder of this man’s life.

The thesis of the book is, basically, that we have seen a shift in human nature from what Brooks calls the Adam II self (humble, inward-looking, “eulogy” self) to the Adam I self (ambitious, external, “resume” self). Brooks did a short TED Talk summarizing this.

The case he makes is that this pendulum, which began its swing in the post-WWII era, has probably gone too far. I certainly came away feeling that way, and I am now left to contemplate what to do about it, personally.

– Peter

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