Showing posts from October, 2021

In search of informal knowledge

  I have been recently lured into reading Jordan Peterson - an impulse borrowing from the local library - though I did not last long. But, I am thankful in a way - it showed me, rhetorically speaking, the principal struggle of this historical moment, and of all moments of change, is the struggle against the oppression of formal knowledge. If this sounds like yet another battle against the experts, I would make another point: The battle against the experts that our smooth-vowel politicians usually indulge into is only a charade. All they are trying to do is to steal the sentiment of the moment rather than expressing what they really think. If anything, they are on the pulpit preaching against the pulpit, as demagouges had done in the past and will continue do forever.  But the struggle I speak of is a universal one. Theodore Zeldin had it right - the experts tell common people what to do until the common people speak up and change the conversation. All revolutions are, as late David Gra

The uses of pessimism

The cost I pay for being distrustful of praise is that I come across as a pessimist.  That makes me an odd person. The general tone of life in the Anglo-saxon world is optimistic. The monopoly on pessimism has been granted in perpetuity to the media. But it is optimism that keeps everyone going - you can always do it, you make new starts every day, you can change the world all the time. Even that great priestess of suffering, Simone Weil, knew that the basis of all our knowing, contra Descartes, was: I WILL, therefore I am! Hence, my constantly being on my guard is too dark for most people. My explanation that this is only to guard against my overt optimism is not very convincing, at least to people who know me everyday. I have come to accept that I overcompensate perhaps, and it is time for me, at least occassionally, to pay heed to the bright side of life.  If anything, though, it is the bright side that I am constantly enarmoured with. That I am still starting things, looking for th

The 'venturesome' economy

There was a time - not too long ago - when I used to be excited by venture talk. Spending hours on PowerPoint presentations or ever complicated Excel spreadsheets, I painted the future - and then 'pivoted'. I participated in the watercooler chat about valuations and name-dropped every VC I knew in town. The future - I believed like everyone else - had a valuation. Nowadays, though, I am scared. Through many failures and some successes, I have come to see what venture capital does to industries. While I spent my entire career looking for innovation opportunities, I have lately realised that disruptions can be literal and really destructive. Of course, my age explains my scepticism, but that also allows me to see things in context. Also, the reason I am scared is personal: I chose, early in my career, to be in education. That's what I have done for over twenty years now, not just working in it but also reading, thinking and talking about it. There was venture-talk in educatio

On waking up

My Saturday morning was a mild mayhem because I disobeyed the alarm clock.  I am always optimistic with my alarm, allowing me at least one snooze. Usually that action gets the phone in my hand and the combination of email and facebook notifications do the rest. But this Saturday, as my watch told me later, I had this very deep sleep just in time for me miss the pathetic everyday sequence altogether. This, on a day I promised myself a fresh start: A formal beginning of the post-pandemic life when I should switch from forever waiting and compromising to getting on with my ideas in a hurry. This perhaps was the deep sleep as I was dreaming I have got there already. Therefore, I woke up with a start and started as I woke up.  But - if I could get back my faith in omens - this disregarding the alarm was a good sign. I was raised on a certain ethic - getting up early is good, slumbering around is bad - but the very thing that I want to do now, raise my awareness about the underlying structur

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