Jay Hoffmann

Books, movies, and code


#17: Our Personal Worlds

Kening Zhu has a suggestion. Use your digital space to build a world, and don’t worry so much about an audience.

instead of “building an audience,” build a world. build a digital garden-ecosystem, that exists — first and primarily — for itself. a world that doesn’t need likes, traffic, subscribers, or clicks — in order to validate its existence.

My thinking, in this moment, has become much slower. I have tried to focus my mind on building thoughts, and layering together ideas. And so the idea of building a world, my world, is appealing. This year, I want to begin creating my own.

Writing about our quest for knowledge and answers, Steinbeck once described the ways in which we try to erect a world around our beliefs:

An answer is invariably the parent of a great family of new questions. So we draw worlds and fit them like tracings against the world about us, and crumple them when they do not fit and draw new ones.

And this is a key point. Your world is never done and it will often need to be recreated. A world builds over time, and it responds to the changes of our lives. We can’t be afraid to scrap what we have and redraw our own maps.

If I were to build a world around my ideology and my passions and my thoughts, what would that look like? What are the chapters and how are they organized? What grows from it? I’m not sure yet.


In the midst of an invasion into Belgium that early French revolutionaries believed would “liberate” the country into liberty, only to have their own values turned against them by a foreign country that felt much more like it was being occupied, the infamous Robespierre had this to say.

Freedom can never be found by the use of a foreign force

Robespierre would go on to be rather forceful about freedom not too long after that, but it’s an interesting anti-war sentiment that rings true all these centuries later in our post-Enlightenment age.


Steinbeck, on the reason for being:

The truest reason for anything’s being so is that it is. This is actually and truly a reason, more valid and clearer than all the other separate reasons, or than any group of them short of the whole. Anything less than the whole forms part of the picture only, and the infinite whole is unknowable except by being it, by living into it.