Jay Hoffmann

Books, movies, and code

Being in Time

It’s one of those chaotic weeks. Overscheduled. A lot going on. One thing goes wrong and it all goes down like dominoes.

And yet it’s actually kind of fun. There is a lot of joy in activity and a quickened pace. It makes me wonder that my brain’s default setting always seems to try and seize on balance and routine. It’s easy to think of David Foster Wallace’s “this is water” parable in moments like these. But also, the way Oliver . Burkeman extended that story in Four Thousand Weeks (emphasis mine):

Soon, your sense of self-worth gets completely bound up with how you’re using time. it stops being merely the water in which you swim and turns into something you feel you need to dominate or control, if you’re to avoid feeling guilty, panicked, or overwhelmed….

Instead of simply living our lives as they unfold in time—instead of just being time, you might say—it becomes difficult not to value each moment primarily according to its usefulness for some future goal, or for some future oasis of relaxation you hope to reach once your tasks are finally “out of the way.”

I’ll be thinking about that this week as I try to stay present. As I try to live my life and let it unfold.


A few articles I had some time to read.

One was the original review of Infinite Jest in The Atlantic which offers a really fascinating perspective on the book that’s much fresher than what we have these days.

Also, two articles that work well as a pair. Building an innovative agency (and why you might not need one) and what to do with your agency team about this whole AI thing people seem excited about. The key, it would seem, is one of those things that are painfully obvious once you see someone articulate it so clearly, as Nicholas does. You need to set up the preconditions for innovation to emerge so that when an opportunity presents itself, you are ready. Put another way, the worst time to innovate is at the exact time you want to be innovative. You should have already started.

And I was really saddened by what Allie Nimmons had to say in her revealing and incredibly honest post about why she is leaving the WordPress community behind. It is a huge loss. Lots hit home, but especially this:

There is a huge disconnect between the people making the “real” money with this software and the people who are trying to earn a fair living.

Ursula K. Le Guin on what it means to write history:

History is one way of telling stories, just like myth, fiction, or oral storytelling. But over the last hundred years, history has preempted the other forms of storytelling because of its claim to absolute, objective truth. Trying to be scientists, historians stood outside of history and told the story of how it was. All that has changed radically over the last twenty years. Historians now laugh at the pretense of objective truth. They agree that every age has its own history, and if there is any objective truth, we can’t reach it with words. History is not a science, it’s an art.