Plus: Some Important Substack Business
Thanks be to God, but your essays are like fine wine, something sublime in all this mess and misery!
I am thrilled to hear that your substack is some kind of financial success. Happy for you because you so throughly deserve it, and also heartened that this kind of very high quality, um, I guess ‘narrowcasting’, can work financially. Cheers
Hi Justin, thank you for generously sharing your thoughts here on substack (and elsewhere). Your book „The Internet is not what you think it is“ helped me greatly to reduce my dependency on social media (mostly in the form of reader forums) and I'm grateful for this.
I find your way of thinking, of developing your thoughts in the moment of speaking (like once famously described by Heinrich von Kleist) causes some kind of addiction of its own. I especially liked your video with Greg LaBlanc in this regard. Even if, as a viewer, you don't seem to hold much in your hand in the end, it was still a great journey, a fun ride of thinking, and I believe, that teaching thinking (rather than just informing) in this way by example may be more important than the content itself.
If you should decide to move behind the paywall, I'd be happy to get a subscription gift! I hope you won't, because it would be a pity to limit the access to your marvelous and inspiring way of writing and thinking. Cheers, J.M.
How long will you be away Justin? Bon voyage, et bon silence, et bonne écriture dans tous les cas.
Dear Professor Smith,
what a pleasant surprise today to find your writing in my inbox after I finished my day’s work: building two new bookshelves in the bedroom (ran out of space in the adjacent library) for some new arrivals and old friends. In fact, the shelves are extra deep and spacing extra high because I needed space for the 1734 5th Edition of the Dictionnaire Historique et Critique of Bayle, with the nice long biography by Mr. Des Maizeaux. It just arrived from Paris last week. This was completed by the Oeuvres Diverses in 6 volumes (Hildesheim reprint), arriving from Groningen & Celle. Birthday presents to myself :). I also bought a huge magnifying glass for the modern miniature print. 🔍
On this shelf is also my complete Spinoza, Lucretius, Epicure, Moses Maimonides, and modern authors such as yourself, Fabian Scheidler, Jonathan Israel, Philipp Blom, Frans de Waal, Bernd Heinrich, etc. There’s also Kropotkin, Jared Diamond, and Carl Sagan... I aim to complete the shelf with some more 17th and 18th century Radical Enlightenment writers and clandestine manuscripts. I highly regret not being able to read Latin or Dutch!
Reading your new post today was very evocative - from the Thomas Mann pages en français to the vaporous Djins of Tunis reminding me of Byatt’s labyrinthine narratology. In fact I was just discussing the Medieval German “manuscript” in Die Dämonen from Doderer with my husband, after accidentally making the “discovery” that Anatole France’s La Rotisserie de la Reine Pédauque was also a product of “Archival Fugue”. (I just had the book in hand while rearranging the library, and saw the first footnote on the title page. This somehow escaped me when gobbling it up 20 years ago in Ithaca, NY. I need to look for France’s reference to Francine as Succubus in my 1921 analog volume.)
The second shelf is slowly filling up with oversized facsimile reprints of 19th century botanical color plates (tropical orchids) and heavy tomes of art and architecture. There are several meters of free space still empty, for the circulating “reading stash” that’s been taking over the chairs, benches, and tables all over the house.
Regarding Graeber (and Wengrow): I read both your reviews (also the one you recently removed from the ‘Stacks’). Forgive me my curiosity: are these publisher PR articles? They’re such a break from your usual self that I was quite perplexed. Especially because I read “The Dawn of Everything” Xmas 2021, due to hyped PR articles from the Atlantic and the Guardian. They didn’t live up to their product promise: showing how different social setups could be possible as exit from our current unsustainable predicament. The book had so many errors, I really had a hard time finishing without throwing it against the wall. I had to ask myself (like Bayle): either the authors were naive / not on top of their material / not proficient in their science, or they were engaged in bad-faith / dishonest / ideological sleight-of-hand & manipulation… for dubious Counter-Enlightenment interests (doing exactly the opposite of what they said they were trying to do). I would rather believe the first, though I cannot eliminate the second possibility. If God exists, he’s either incompetent or evil… or worse still: both. In the case of G&W, the only way out is to blame it on the publisher… either as bad gatekeepers, or as too good gatekeepers - for vested interests. This still doesn’t speak flatteringly about the integrity of G&W’s pen.
Sorry for the rant, I feel heartbroken for the idealistic and naive who might take them seriously and fall victim to political impuissance through magical thinking in disguise 🥸. In the worst case, this might trigger exactly the wrong kind of action.
Speaking of magical thinking: I’ve put my hands on In Search of the Third Bird. Not sure what exactly I should expect, but am sure we’re not on a Heideggerian Holzweg, but something fun and enchanting à Justin Smith & Friends.
Wishing you a good sojourn in the USA. As to longitudinal whacks: they might just be some escargotic commotion in the ether.
Greetings from Bavaria,
"the elite institutions had been completely overrun by grosly immoral, criminal, vicious, and physically repulsive people, producing woefully terrible work, all perpetually coming up with new ways to honor their own awfulness and lack of achievement."
Already the case I'm afraid... stewards of capital and recipients of corporate cash, serially marrying their graduate students, replacing each tenure track position with four adjunct position...
I haven't figured out whether it's possible to send private messages on substack (rather: I tried and failed), so I'm contacting you on this way. To make it short: I'm sad to hear your substack will turn into a 'private party' event in the upcoming months, even though I understand you have all the best reasons for it. I've been reading your texts with great joy since I discovered them in september. They never fail to serve me as a breath of fresh air in the middle of a nearly purely analytical environment in my studies of philosophy. And I simply love your writing. Since you've suggested the possibility, I'd be delighted if I could keep reading your texts in the next months - even though as a student, the option of a paid subscription doesn't lie within my capabilities.
I've been reading your newsletter with pleasure for a while now and hope to continue doing so, but can't really justify paying the subscription cost at the moment, so I'd love one of the gift subscriptions. Thank you, and I will plan to switch to paid in the future. Good luck with all your new undertakings!
Oh my, you had me laughing out loud quite a few times during this piece...and this is also the best takedown of effective altruism I've seen (been waiting for someone to write it!). I intended on quoting your line about the "elite institutions" but I see someone has already done it. Chapeau!
Howdy; I'm in the midst of unpaid student teaching and would love to continue receiving The Hinternet while I do so. I promise to upgrade to a paid subscription once I'm gainfully employed again.
Postscript: I haven't had much time for the sort of reading it requires in the past few weeks, but I am greatly enjoying "In Search of the Third Bird".
“Life deceives everyone except the individual who serenely accepts its few gifts and serenely makes the most of them.” Ivan Turgenev.
Fortunately -and despite my limited funds- life was bountiful with me.
A gift subscription to your Substack would be one more thing to be grateful for.
I too have limited resources and would like to keep reading -- thank you if possible, and if not, looking forward to your return.