- Other Life
- And We're Back... Welcome to Other Life 2024
And We're Back... Welcome to Other Life 2024
A return to the masters, a republic of letters.
“What is the real reason why we want to be big, to be creative geniuses? For posterity? No. To be pointed out when we stroll in crowded places? No. To carry on with our daily toil under the conviction that whatever we do is worth the trouble, is something unique—for the day, not for eternity.” —Pavese
Mood for this year. Found image.
I hope you’re ready, 2024 is going to be huge. Can’t you just feel it?
As the old institutions continue to crumble, the most independent minds and high-agency private networks will continue to fill the vacuum. Confusion will continue to reign for the philistines and bureaucrats, and we will continue to rectify our focus, knowledge, and ethos.
The stakes are great. All of American high culture is up for grabs. My predictions about academia have come so true that I almost feel guilty; I would feel bad even mentioning the recent brouhahas, so petty and desperate they are.
We are so ahead of the curve, but what will we do with our advantage?
I’m not much for the whole “annual review” thing, but I do take a Winter Break. Now I’m back, I have a few big updates for 2024, which I’m only going to foreshadow today.
About seven months ago, I announced a thematic focus on the greatest works of Western civilization and pushing the community toward shared practices of deep reading and original writing. The enthusiastic response was clear, and the early results have been great. Together, we’ve read Plutarch, Shakespeare, Plato, and some more contemporary work like William Gibson, Cormac McCarthy, and Nick Land. I read more this past year than I did in any of the previous four years, and I got to know some of the most thoughtful people in the community better than ever.
On the other hand, I noted a few problems and many ways to improve on the vision. I won’t bore you with a list, you’ll just see it in what we do over the next year.
First, we’re doubling down on high-quality IRL events. The annual meetup (which we postponed from Fall to Spring) is now on the books! Save the dates: It will be Memorial Day Weekend (Friday May 24 to Monday May 27) and for the first time we’re going to have a babysitter (or several, as needed) on site. It’s going to be in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming, at the amazing Wagon Box Inn. If you can only make one meeting this year, let it be this one. More details soon, I’m giving you a lot of lead time this year. (If you’re super-pumped on coming out and cannot do Memorial Day weekend, hit reply. Can’t promise a change but I want to hear objections if they exist).
I promised you one big IRL meetup; in fact, we’ll be running a few in the next 6 months. We’re piloting some retreat-like events, with slightly different concepts, plus a few dinners and coffees in Austin and possibly elsewhere. There is already a recurring meetup in LA, and I hope to throw at least one meetup in NYC. I’m convinced that our in-person network is one of our greatest assets, since so many people in the community have already become real friends and collaborators in cities across the country. And for reading and writing, there is simply nothing like the utterly unreasonable effectiveness of going into the mountains.
Return to the Masters
We’re continuing, and improving, our recurring online discussion seminars around great works of Western culture. One change is that I’ll be assigning much shorter readings. Assigning whole books did not work well for many people, I was silly to think that would work. With truly great works, one paragraph can easily warrant a one-hour discussion. And anyone can read one paragraph.
So we're going to drill down. The assigned readings will be so short that we can even do them together at the very beginning of each session. I’m not dumbing anything down or capitulating to short attention spans, I’m serving our busy members where they’re at—and we’ll go deep rather than wide. For members, 2024 should be the best-read and most focused, thoughtful year you’ve had in recent memory. The schedule for Q1 is now up. With a focus on the essay form because it recently occurred to me that the two dominant forms of our era—the newsletter and the tweet—are both essentially essay forms.
A Republic of Letters
We’re betting big on old paper books, and we’re betting big on IRL… Notice a theme? 7 months ago I announced a unique bi-annual print issue of Other Life. After a lot of tinkering with different concepts and form factors, plus figuring out logistics, this is actually happening. Not only am I going to meet the promised 2-a-year shipping schedule, I’m going to beat it. And here’s how…
Basically, I toyed with the magazine form factor, and the booklet form factor, among others, but the unit economics are a little limiting. And honestly it just didn’t feel like a natural fit. I’m a writer, ultimately, not a designer or artist or whatever.
Then it occurred to me: I could write a special essay every month and simply mail it to dues-paying members as a letter. It just clicked: We’re readers, we’re writers, we’re a new breed of independent scholars bootstrapping a new republic of letters… I should just write you… letters, to bring everyone off the computer screen regularly, to share with you the realest and most important ideas and lessons I’ve learned, or am learning, each month.
It won’t be long and puffed-up, it will be fun to read, to the point, and I’ll try to give you something really essential, something that improves and inspires your intellectual life immediately. If you’re not excited to read it every single month, I’ll have failed.
This is a pretty unique and big commitment, a wager. But it just feels like the perfect offering and service to members of this newsletter, really distinguishing Other Life as the preeminent community upholding the vita contemplativa in the social media era.
If you want to receive the very first issue (shipping this month!), upgrade by this Friday. Soon after, I’ll bump the price a bit, but you’ll be grandfathered in the subscription you join. I’m always happy to reward early joiners.
In 2024, God willing, we become the most focused, thoughtful, and excellent private society of thinkers and creators in America—building projects, audiences, families, and businesses. Honestly, I’d say we might be already—but the real vision has only recently come into focus and things remain a little obscure. No longer!
This year, more of us become real friends, more of us engage with each others work, more of our kids play together, more of us launch or grow creative businesses together, on the outermost frontiers of cultural commerce. We are one of the very few internet communities that can already boast any amount of such things. In 2024, we push the envelope of what “internet community” even means.