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Other Life

Author: Justin Murphy

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I study the lives of the wildest writers who ever lived.
232 Episodes
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For references, see Nietzsche on the Pride of the Philosopher in Contrast to the Slave✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://OtherLife.co✦ If you're working on independent creative work, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
A personal reflection and update on my 5-year journey to design a new kind of scholarly life for the internet era. In a previous podcast, I shared how the Other Life company hit some hard times. Here I explain what I learned from that, and how I've turned it around. I share some meditations on the pursuit of weird goals, finding one's own path, and some new things I've come to learn about entrepreneurship. The ultimate meaning and purpose of the "other life" concept has really come home to me in the past few months.Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://OtherLife.coIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent creative work, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org(00:00) - A Late Night Message (01:19) - On authenticity (04:12) - Creativity vs. Business (10:51) - The Creator Economy and Power (11:50) - Network Power (14:46) - The Fear of Failure (16:19) - What is the Other Life? (18:53) - On Truth (19:17) - The Future of Other Life
On muddling through, faith, and the absurdity of pursuing a singular creative vision on the open market...A story about the past few months of Other Life (and the next few).✦ If you’re in the Los Angeles area, come to our meetup tomorrow Friday Dec. 1 at 3pm in Santa Monica. RSVP here.Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://otherlife.co✦ Become a member https://otherlife.co/upgrade
I'm joined by author William Egginton to discuss his new book The Rigor of Angels. We talk Borges, Kant, and Heisenberg—and the big idea(s) they had in common. We discuss the antimonies of knowledge and the possibility that art is their solution. We discuss Coltrane, intelligence, creativity, biography, academia, and specialization vs. generalism. At the end, we discuss writing and publishing, the changing landscape of the book publishing industry, and how to think about writing for different audiences.Chapters:(0:00:00) - The Rigor of Angels(0:10:43) - The Antinomies of Knowledge(0:19:55) - Impact of Great Art and Thinkers(0:23:41) - Curiosity and Conviviality(0:30:31) - Creativity and Intelligence(0:43:28) - The Future of Writing and Publishing(0:49:27) - Academic vs. Popular WritingWilliam Egginton:✦ Buy the Rigor of Angels: https://amzn.to/3Rj3fDV✦ William on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WilliamEggintonOther Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest free newsletter in the world. https://otherlife.co✦ Become a member. https://otherlife.co/upgradeIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're an independent writer, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
We dissect the complex life of Ezra Pound, one of the most interesting and controversial poetic geniuses of the 20th century. You'll gain insight into: Why Pound was so influential, his extraordinary talent-spotting skills, and his knack for turning vibrant social scenes into artistic movements. However, be prepared for a rollercoaster ride, as we also delve into the darker sides of Pound's life, including his descent into Fascism and anti-semitism. I believe the story is a cautionary tale about resentment, the modern passion par excellence, and a dangerous trap for people who rebel against institutions.This podcast will help you understand Pound's poetic and cultural innovations, including Imagism and Vorticism, and how his strong opinions and unique perspective propelled him, despite his controversial and often off-putting personality. We'll recount his turbulent career during WWI and WWII, his friendship with W.B. Yeats, the launch of Blast Magazine, and much more.This podcast is based on a close reading of Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano (1987) by John Tytell.Chapters(0:00:00) - Intro(0:04:04) - Summary of Lessons From Ezra Pound's Life(0:17:22) - Dense Networks and Creative Success(0:26:26) - Imagism and Vorticism(0:37:05) - Wyndham Lewis and Blast Magazine(0:42:41) - A Restless and Controversial Personality(0:53:07) - Taste, Talent-Spotting, and Pound's Extreme Generosity(1:04:52) - Downward Spiral(1:18:29) - Ezra Pound's Reflections Late in Life(1:22:07) - Final LessonsOther Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world. https://otherlife.co✦ Join the community and get the bi-annual print edition by becoming a member. https://otherlife.co/upgradeIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent intellectual work, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
A deep dive into the life of William S. Burroughs based on a close reading of Ted Morgan's 1988 biography, Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs. Burroughs is one of the most independent creative spirits of the 20th century. My goal is to understand how he did it; how he remained so free but was also so influential and successful.I discuss his transformation from a heroin addict living off his parents' allowance to an internationally acclaimed writer, who was inducted into the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983. Hear about his unique brand of conservative anarchism, his significant influence on the counterculture of the '60s and '70s, his parenting, and the social-psychological correlates of his creative freedom.Burroughs was a blend of the Yankee inventor and the fire-and-brimstone Methodist preacher. We explore his grandfather's invention of the arithmometer and his uncle Ivy Lee's career as a public relations expert. These stories shed light on the roots of Burroughs' radical literary career, which combined a penchant for invention with a desire to go his own way and attack the respectable order of things.I also discuss Burroughs' late entry into writing and his experiences as a heroin user and a criminal, which taught him a lot about how the world works. I explore his failed attempt to build a commercial farm, his theory of 'factualism', which anticipates Nick Land and Deleuze, and much more.What did you think of this format, dedicated to a close reading of a great writer's biography? I'd love to hear from you.Chapters00:00 William S Burroughs' Unconventional Life06:30 Burroughs' Complex Heritage16:55 Burroughs' Late Blooming30:40 The Critical Importance of Small Private Friend Groups43:49 Lessons From Burroughs' Life50:25 What Wild Looks Like: An Anecdote59:08 Did Burroughs Murder his Wife?07:35 The Controversial Success of Burroughs' Novels15:27 More Lessons From the Life of BurroughsOther Life✦ Quit your passive media consumption and read great books every day. https://otherlife.co✦ Get the bi-annual print edition and other perks by becoming a dues-paying member. https://otherlife.co/upgradeIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on your own writing, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
We discuss the life and times of John Kennedy Toole (1937-1969), the influential author behind the classic novel, A Confederacy of Dunces. We're joined by independent writer Dan Baltic, who teaches us some of the lessons he has learned from Toole's life and career.Dive into the captivating world of A Confederacy of Dunces, as we discuss the book's main character, Ignatius J Riley; learn how Toole's persistence (or lack thereof) serves as a cautionary tale for contemporary independent writers; as well as the parallels between Toole's struggles and Dan's rise as an independent author on the internet. Dan shares his experience building an audience on Twitter, publishing his first novel, and the lessons he's learned himself.We try to unlock the strategies and goals of dissident writers, and how independent authors like Dan are able to make a living and continue producing great art. We'll discuss the pros and cons of traditional publishing deals, vs. the world of independent publishing.Chapters:(0:03:46) - Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces"(0:15:45) - John Kennedy Tool's Life and Work(0:29:40) - Persistence and Patience for Writers(0:33:21) - Navigating the Confusion of Independent Publishing(0:43:02) - Building a Twitter Audience for Success(0:48:34) - Unlocking Twitter for Independent Writers(1:02:17) - Success for Independent Writers(1:13:09) - Lessons for Starting a ProjectDan Baltic:Twitter - https://twitter.com/baltic_danNUTCRANKR - https://terrorhousepress.com/product/nutcrankr/Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest free newsletter in the world and I'll send you all of my private book highlights. https://otherlife.coIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent projects, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
Can artificial intelligence ever truly replace the human mind? In this thought-provoking episode, we explore the delicate balance between embracing AI's power for mechanical tasks, such as summarizing and translating, while preserving the uniquely human elements that make great works truly great.Join us as we navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of AI, breaking down categorical humanism and unreconstructed Faustianism, two alternative viewpoints on the topic. We discuss why neither position is fully consistent or defensible, and the importance of understanding the different aspects of human cognition in order to determine which elements can be outsourced to machines and which must remain uniquely human. Don't miss this fascinating conversation about where we draw the line between human intelligence and machine intelligence.Chapters:(00:00:22) - Two Futures for AI(00:05:11) - What Should Writers Outsource To AI?Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest free newsletter in the world and I'll send you all of my private book highlights. https://otherlife.co✦ Join the Other Life community (free) https://otherlife.co/joinIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent projects, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
Why do some incredibly talented individuals never reach their full potential? In today's episode, we dive into the fascinating life of Ezra Pound, a true genius in the realm of language and literature, yet somehow failing to make the lasting impact of his contemporaries like TS Eliot or WB Yeats. We'll explore the idea I call "the curse of genius" and how Pound's obsession with power and acknowledgment may have held him back from greatness.Join me in this thought-provoking exploration of Ezra Pound's life and career, from his influential role as an editor and promoter of other poets, to his controversial leanings toward fascism later in life. We'll seek to understand the man behind the poetry, the impact he had on the world of arts and letters, and the lessons we can learn from his story for our own personal endeavors and for recognizing the pitfalls that can accompany great talent and ambition.Chapters:(00:01:21) - Pound's Curse(00:05:28) - What Happens When You Aim for Influence?(00:08:58) - Let the Chips Fall Where They MayOther Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest free newsletter in the world and I'll send you all of my private book highlights. https://otherlife.co✦ Join the Other Life community (free) https://otherlife.co/joinIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent projects, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
In this episode, we explore the principle of writing for oneself and how many of history's greatest writers have operated on this principle. We discuss the importance of writing in a way that pleases only oneself and how sacrificing even a hair of one's vision in order to please someone else is the most abject of treacheries. Listen in as we examine the stakes of writing and how it truly matters whether you're writing for yourself out of a conviction in truth and beauty, or for others in order to please them.We also discuss the challenges of writing for oneself in the era of social media, where the nearness of the audience can make one lose the self. We consider the difficulty of recultivating the self in today's world and how it requires a certain degree of anti-social discipline and effortful recultivation of the self.Chapters:(0:00:00) - Writing for Yourself(0:05:56) - Cultivating A Self Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest free newsletter in the world and I'll send you all of my private book highlights. https://otherlife.co✦ Join the Other Life community (free) https://otherlife.co/joinIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent projects, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
Why do 22-year-olds today have the testosterone levels of 67-year-old men from the year 2000? Could it be because high testosterone activities and behaviors are increasingly being criminalized? I dive into the theory that the modern world is contributing to the decline in testosterone levels by stigmatizing and punishing testosterone-loaded activities, leading to a downward spiral in overall testosterone levels.Join me as look at the evolution of law enforcement, the rise of a culture that labels aggressive behaviors as "toxic," and how movies from the 70s and 80s highlight a higher testosterone society. Discover how this decline in testosterone affects men today and how our society has slowly evolved to prevent these once-commonplace behaviors from happening. 0:00:39 - Testosterone and Prison0:02:04 - Testosterone in the 70's and 80's0:06:16 - Toxic Masculinity and Testosterone0:08:26 - Testosterone's Catch 22(Sorry for some clicking in the audio, there were some issues with my set up that I didn't notice until after I was done recording. We'll get that sorted!)Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest free newsletter in the world and I'll send you all of my private book highlights. https://otherlife.co✦ Join the Other Life community (free) https://otherlife.co/joinIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent projects, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
Today we're looking at the life of Dr. Samuel Johnson, an eighteenth-century English critic who embodied the true spirit of self-reliance and perseverance. Despite facing various hardships in his life, Dr. Johnson managed to defy the odds and become one of the most influential figures in the history of English letters. Join us as we uncover the fascinating journey of this unconventional thinker, and learn how his life can serve as a powerful reminder that success is indeed possible, even for those who may not fit into traditional molds.We delve into his unique approach to life and work, highlighting how his unorthodox methods eventually played a significant role in his success, and how his unwavering belief in his own abilities and his refusal to rely on external support allowed him to carve out a path to success. Success is inevitable for those who put in the work.0:00:00 - Intro and Early Life0:04:50 - Samuel Johnson's Writing Career0:12:36 - The Patronage Model0:18:55 - Success By Perseverance and Self-Reliance(Sorry for some clicking in the audio, there were some issues with my set up that I didn't notice until after I was done recording. We'll get that sorted!)Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest free newsletter in the world and I'll send you all of my private book highlights. https://otherlife.co✦ Join the Other Life community (free) https://otherlife.co/joinIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent projects, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
What can the ancient philosopher Plato teach us about building a network and thriving in today's intellectual economy? I talk with Alex Petkas, a Princeton PhD in classics, who shares insights on Plato's rise and his brand-building strategies within the decentralized world of Athens in the late fifth and fourth centuries BC, where widespread literacy and the new media technology of writing created an intellectual landscape strikingly similar to the one we inhabit today.(0:00:00) - Introduction(0:04:51) - Plato and Ancient Greek Writing(0:20:04) - Plato's Models and Brand Building(0:33:55) - Plato's Rise and Influence(0:43:45) - Plato and the Power of Mystery(0:52:44) - Plato's Network and Philosophical Training(1:02:44) - The Economic Machinery of Philosophy(1:07:56) - Plato's Power Machinery and Business Model(1:20:29) - Plato's Lessons on Building a Network(1:25:59) - Plato's Lessons for Decentralized Thinking(1:35:31) - Alex's Rome RetreatAlex Petkas | https://ancientlifecoach.com/Learn more about Alex's upcoming Men's Retreat in Rome: https://ancientlifecoach.com/retreat/Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest free newsletter in the world and I'll send you all of my private book highlights. https://otherlife.co✦ Join the Other Life community (free) https://otherlife.co/joinIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent projects, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
Oscar Wilde and J.R.R. Tolkien used consumer culture to create works of art. In this podcast, we try to draw some lessons from their lives. I'm joined by Paul Fortunato, an English professor at the University of Houston Downtown. Paul is also a member of Opus Dei, and the author of a book about Oscar Wilde's "consumer modernism." We discuss how Wilde and Tolkien successfully navigated the "creator economy," as well as Oscar Wilde's little-known Catholicism.✦ Subscribe to Paul on Youtube✦ Paul's book on Oscar WildeOther Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://OtherLife.co✦ Get a free Urbit ship at https://imperceptible.computer✦ We're building a new country at https://imperceptible.countryIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent intellectual work, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
It's widely believed the YouTube algorithm radicalizes viewers but Mark's research puts this theory to rest. Researcher and longtime member of the Other Life community, Mark Ledwich, has been studying the YouTube algorithm independently for several years. His research has been published in academic journals and now on a public website called transparency.tube. He joins the podcast to discuss how the YouTube algorithm really works, what everyone is getting wrong, and why it matters. He also comes to pick a bone with my position on shoplifting from self-checkout kiosks.Check out Mark's research at transparency.tube.Follow Mark on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mark_ledwichOther Life ✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://OtherLife.co ✦ Get a free Urbit ship at https://imperceptible.computer ✦ We're building a new country at https://imperceptible.countryIndieThinkers.org ✦ If you're working on independent intellectual work, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
Colin Redemer is a professor at Saint Mary's College of California and VP of the Davenant Institute. This podcast is all about Virtue Ethics and the Aristotelian ethical tradition. Is Virtue Ethics superior to utilitarianism and effective altruism? What is human excellence? What is eudaimonia? How should one live? We also discuss later developments in Aristotelian ethics, from Aquinas to Anscombe to MacIntyre.✦ Order Colin's new book, The Shining Human Creature✦ Follow Colin on Twitter✦ Learn more about the Davenant InstituteOther Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world OtherLife.co✦ Get a free Urbit ship at imperceptible.computer✦ Become a member at imperceptible.countryIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on an independent project, join the next cohort of IndieThinkers.org
Some lessons from the life of painter Francis Bacon. I think the unique force and violence of Bacon’s paintings derive partially from the ascetic Lebenswelt he cultivated. Into his small but chaotic atelier, Bacon allowed almost nothing other than painting supplies and his varied source materials: Photographs, books, magazines, etc. He locked himself into an otherwise closed circuit of his own reflections. He would even write handwritten notes to himself about what he should be thinking about.✦ Read more (with images) at otherlife.co/francisbaconOther Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://OtherLife.co✦ Join the community at https://imperceptible.countryIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on an independent project, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about AI this week. I’m especially interested in the implications it will have for writers and the so-called creator economy. Obviously things will change if it becomes nearly free to generate decently intelligent content with machines. But how will things change exactly, and how should writers spend their time now to position themselves for these changes? I think the implications are not obvious. Specifically, AI will increase the economic power of deep classical education, and truly unique artistic personality. In this podcast, I explain why.I wrote more about this at otherlife.co/writing-machinesOther Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://OtherLife.co✦ Get a free Urbit ship at https://imperceptible.computer✦ Join the community https://imperceptible.countryIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent projects, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
I'd like to share with you some biographies of great writers, artists, maybe some inventors—people who represent the other life ethos—people who have produced great work from the fringes, or in weird niches they carved out for themselves in life.Here is a passage from a biography of the French novelist Balzac, Prométhée: ou, La vie de Balzac (1965) by André Maurois. I've translated it to English, of course.This is a story about reading books, childhood, the productive benefits of disordered knowledge, unjustified presumption, an obsession with printed paper, ecstasy as a motivator and a product, and a kind of hunger that nothing can ever satisfy.It paints a fascinating picture of education in France in the early 19th century. But it's also an inspiring vignette about something we see in the early lives of many great writers, which is... Here we have a strange, disaffected, aloof child who just seems a bit absurd or confused or even dumb—his teachers and classmates literally thought he was just stupid—but his appetite for wonder and knowledge drives him, from an early age, to just totally withdraw from society, into a life of the mind. That's the other life.If you'd rather read than listen, see otherlife.co/balzac.Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://OtherLife.co✦ Get a free Urbit ship at https://imperceptible.computer✦ Join our network state at https://imperceptible.countryIndieThinkers.org✦ The next cohort of IndieThinkers.org starts Jan 16. If you're working on independent projects, request an invitation.
Luke Smith was a PhD student in linguistics before he grew his Youtube channel to 168,000 subscribers—with his unique perspectives on digital, financial, and mental sovereignty. This is the first time he's told his story at length.I invited Luke to be the special guest at this year's mansion because I think he exemplifies the Other Life mentality. Luke has totally exited the institutional grid, he maintains a very independent perspective and lifestyle, and he publishes his ideas to a growing audience without compromising his principles. Luke only uses Free and Open Source Software, does not watch any TV or streaming services, and recently became an Orthodox Christian.I think you'll find this talk interesting, unique, funny, and inspiring.A special shoutout goes to Marissa Cade—a longstanding and most valued member of the community—for running the mansion meetup this year. It wouldn't have happened if she didn't volunteer to run it. And she did a great job, so huge thanks Marissa.Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://OtherLife.co✦ Get a free Urbit ship at https://imperceptible.computerIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent creative work, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
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Comments (4)

P

alright what's going on everybody?

Nov 8th
Reply

Rob Owens

these guys are tools.

Mar 13th
Reply

all bueno

my kids love tictok it used to be called musically or something like that.

Dec 11th
Reply (1)