I’m not supposed to talk about Palestine.

And I could ignore it, if I wanted to. There’s plenty else to discuss. We’ve had a great week of weather in Chicago. There’s still a pandemic going on. 10% of the world’s California condor population has taken over an elderly woman’s house.

Yet something has been bothering me for a long time about the way Palestine and Palestinians often are — and are not — discussed when I read Jewish media, something that is being exposed more starkly than ever by the latest outbreak of war between Israel and Palestinian militants in…

Reflections on a JCUA Training

These days, everyone has an opinion on antisemitism. Amidst this talk, however, are more questions than answers.

Is the threat of antisemitism — also known as anti-Jewish oppression — greater on the left or on the right? Is it antisemitic to criticize Israeli government policy or to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement? Is anti-Zionism just another name for antisemitism? Is there even a single definition of antisemitism that we can coalesce around?

What’s not up for debate is that hate crimes against American Jews are rising. …

Steve Jobs had some excellent advice about the importance of remembering that you’re going to die. The reason the advice is so good is that we’re always forgetting about death. Why is this?

Emily Temple explains it well on LitHub:

Okay, so we all accept that mortality is bearing down on us — though it should be said that one of the mental tricks that makes it possible for us to exist as mortal beings without going completely insane is that we actually experience time as infinite, even though we know it isn’t. That is, barring an execution date or…

In Profound Reading, we dig deep into the most influential books ever written. We learn timeless and essential knowledge from the world’s greatest thinkers, and how to apply this wisdom to our lives.

This is the introduction to our first great book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

One possibility…

“What do we want to become?”

We are Sapiens, the masters of the planet. But will we remain Sapiens for long? Where does the history of our species go from here? Is its end upon us?

Will we evolve, via our technology, into an entirely new species? …

I read too many books.

It goes without saying that I read too many blogs, too many tweets, too many news articles.

But books, too? Do you read too many books?

Reading too many books is surely better than reading not enough.

However: maybe it’s not all that different.

Do you feel like this? If you love books, then probably.

Do you flit from book to book like a busy bee?

Do you fail to return to the books that resonated the most?

Do you apply what you’ve learned haphazardly and inefficiently, if at all?

Then yes. You read too many books.

Why Do We Read?

To see that this is true, let’s return to…

How fast are you moving?

I read a tweet from James Altucher that said, “Life is not about moving forward. It’s about being comfortable standing still.”

This surprised me. I know that it’s important to rest and be still.

But more important than success? More important than achievement? More important than leaving a legacy?

It sounds counterintuitive. In this country, it’s practically treasonous.

What about the good old American Work Ethic? Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and making something of yourself? Honoring the family name? (I could go on, but you get the idea.)

The more I thought about it, the more I realized…

Will it grow into a bird? Or will it be goo on some predator’s instep?

I can’t stop contributing to my 401(k).

Not “can’t stop” as in Miley Cyrus, I-can’t-stop-doing-E-it’s-so-much-fun.

Nope, it’s literally against the rules of the plan. Even merely reducing my contribution is not allowed.

How is this a thing?

Me: Hello, Comcast? I’d like to cancel my cable subscription.

Comcast: Actually, the subscription rules state that you can’t cancel.

Me: Can’t cancel? But I don’t even watch TV anymore!

Comcast: I’m afraid you’ll need to continue your subscription anyway. Very sorry about this.

You know Comcast would do that in a second if they could get away with it. …

You have no right to go around thinking you’re not already an artist.

Yes, you. The person reading this now.

When you were little, you probably learned, like I did, that an artist is someone who paints pretty pictures.

Or maybe your definition was more expansive. People who write novels or make sculptures are artists, too.

And that’s pretty much it. But it’s not the truth.

The Connotations of “Artist”

What do you associate with the word “artist?”

The word comes with tons of crappy baggage, meant to distance you. You know about the “starving artists,” who have to eat their paintings because they…

I read them all!

This was a tough exercise, but it was also a nice gift to myself for reading a lot this year! Plus it will give me a reference for what to re-read in the new year. Presented in no particular order.

Aaron Wolfson

Conducting weekly five-minute journeys down the twisting railways of my mind. Via email, of course: https://buttondown.email/aaronjacobwolfson

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