The other day I was reading Albert Camus’ classic The Rebel. His exposition of Nietzsche’s philosophy pretty much sums up my state of mind amidst these turbulent times – think in terms of an apocalypse to come, not in order to extol it, but in order to avoid it and transform it into a renaissance.
To borrow observations from crypto thought leaders Nic Carter and Ryan Selkis, the past week has seen the world gradually coming to terms with the reality that the next decade will look incredibly bleak. The coronavirus, while not the Black Swan in itself, is going to bring our already fragile systems – deep distrust in governments, overstretched monetary policy, and social polarizations – on the brink of collapse.
But like Ryan Selkis, I remain optimistic and excited, not because people are suffering, but because crisis brings opportunity to revamp broken systems. In the coming months and years, we will only see more dysfunctional monetary stimulus and financial turmoil. For me, I’m going to stay even more committed to Bitcoin and crypto, as decentralized finance is our best bet to a more ethical, resilient, and self-empowering post-crisis future.
As a polymath and Bitcoin maximalist, I see Bitcoin as a portal to ideas of great thinkers of which I’m a student: Gustave Le Bon’s crowd psychology, Eric Hoffer’s fanatical mass movements, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s antifragility and skin in the game, Friedrich von Hayek’s distributed knowledge and monetary competition, Jorge Luis Borges’ illusion of reality, Friedrich Nietzsche’s will to power, John Nash’s game theory, and much more that I’m yet to discover. It never fails to amaze me to see how these ideas, through Bitcoin, are playing out everyday right in front of our eyes, and I’m grateful to be part of the greatest social revolution of our time.
I like lasting beauty. Of all art forms, my liking is limited to literature. I loathe music, live performance, or flower arrangements. These things fade and vanish instantly. Even architecture and paintings decay. Of all literature, I love those written with blood. I suppose they don’t want to be read, until by readers a century later.
Come, gentle night
I run away from the Crystal Palace,
and aspire to be a sick man, a spiteful man, an unattractive man.
Greedily storing up impressions,
one day I, too, will emerge from the underground,
and master the path to chaos.
I like people who are clever and arrogant. I like it best when Nassim Nicholas Taleb displays a dose of Nietzschean arrogance.
Taleb on why today’s readers can be ignored, in Incerto:
As an essayist, I am not judged by other writers, book editors, and book reviewers, but by readers. Readers? maybe, but wait a minute… not today’s readers. Only those of tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. So, my only real judge being time, hence future readers.
Nietzsche on extraordinary philosophers, in Beyond Good and Evil:
Because the philosopher is necessarily a man of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, he has always been and has had to be in conflict with his Today: in every instance, Today’s ideal was his enemy.
Who has one voice and yet becomes three-footed and two-footed and four-footed? Sophocles’ Oedipus, the most suffering figure of the Greek tragedy. Oedipus crawled on three as a baby (because his ankles were pinned together by his parents who abandoned him), limped as an adult, and walked on four legs as an old man (blinding himself after he learnt that he killed his father and married his mother, he is led by his daughter Antigone).
As fate would have it, he got to his destiny by solving the riddle of the Sphinx: which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed? If Oedipus grasped the riddle’s irony, he would recognize that he is the exact opposite of “human”, who should be ignorant. Wisdom is an unnatural abomination. Nietzsche saw it in the terrible trinity of Oedipus’ fates: the same man who solves the riddle of nature must also destroy the orders of nature by murdering his father and marrying his mother.
Sophocles’ closing line of the play is more eloquent yet: “Do not seek to be master in everything, for the things you mastered did not follow you throughout your life.” Given that we want to be wise, why do we not prefer to be ignorant?
Many religions promise a reward in the afterlife. Many “religious people” expect a reward in their current life. Their strong faith commands my respect – they do not lose their faith in spite of the hypocrisy.