009: Words are an Ice Sculpture

People say "don't judge a book by its cover." But this was for the book store era, not the Bezos era. I prefer "don't judge a book by its title," which is harder to avoid.

So many times, I'll see a book title and think: "ahh, got it!" Ahh, subtly do not give a f*ck. Ahh, silence is the key. Ahh, find a mockingbird and f*cking kill it.

The problem with thinking you understand a book by its title is not that you're wrong—it's that you're vague. That's the problem with words in general—they're vague. (*puts on philosophy glasses*)

Imagine this: before words, if you wanted to say "apple," you'd find an apple, find a friend, and point while making caveman sounds. Your friend would know everything about that apple: its color, shape, shininess.

Yet words are different, because they can't tell you everything (like pointing does). Words work like this: they tell you what an object is not, but not what an object is. (*adjusts philosophy glasses*)

I'll explain: if I say "apple," you understand I'm not talking about a pear. I'm not talking about Steve. I'm not talking about a golden chai latte. You have this vague idea of an apple, but you can't picture the *thing* itself—you can only picture a vague, generalized version of it.

Here's a bad analogy for words: clay to build a sculpture of reality. Here's a better one: an axe that hacks away at an ice sculpture of reality. With each word, you chip away some ice, illuminating what the final picture is not.

A book title is the initial ice block. You have a vague idea of the concept, it's intriguing. But the actual reading is where the magic happens. Because with every sentence, this "idea sculpture" becomes more and more precise in your mind.

Until the end, when you've hacked away so much of what it's not, that what it is becomes obvious. Like all good art, you have no idea what's coming until it's already here.

New Writing Software I'm Using

iA Writer.

I like writing with a keyboard, but my computer is distracting. The beauty of paper is that it's empty—no notifications, no shiny screen.

For a while, I've wanted to buy a "Kindle for Writing" (even posted on Reddit asking anyone to take the idea). A simple e-ink screen with a keyboard, only for writing, no easy internet access.

But until this exists, iA writer seems like my next best option.

If I open iA Writer and make it full-screen, all I see is the words—no tabs, folders, or messages. Below is what I see.

And it's affordable too—only $30 lifetime (after a 14-day free trial).

Quote I'm Pondering

"It is wisdom which is seeking for wisdom."
– Shunryu Suzuki (in the book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind)

Every week, I send an email with ponderings (like above), something new I'm into, and a quote. To follow along, subscribe below!