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ȘȈǤƝȘ 84: Secret Agents

6 min

"It is one of the dangerous characteristics of the sort of information supplied by secret agents that it becomes rarer and less explicit as the peril increases and the need for information becomes greater." —Tocqueville

Tangiers, Morocco (1995) by Bruno Barbey

In this issue, you'll learn about:

Join the next cohort of our René Girard course

Read deeply, master the key ideas of René Girard, develop your own work, and—in some cases—form lasting relationships. Starts July 27 but enrollment is closing soon.

The course will be led by Geoff Shullenberger, a cultural critic and literary scholar who has been writing about Girard in scholarly and popular contexts for many years now.

(There was an error in the email: It's

Come to the Imperceptible Mansion in November

This will be our third annual mansion meetup, which will be held on the California coast near San José on the weekend of November 4-6. The image shows the actual site.

The Imperceptible Mansion
The annual meetup of the Other Life community. November 4-6 in San José, CA.

This started as a small experiment in Los Angeles two years ago, it grew into a larger event last year in Austin, and now I guess it's officially an annual tradition.

This unique weekend getaway/conference/retreat is typically a combination of two types: Independent writers and creators interested in exiting institutions, and philosophically inclined software engineers interested in building exit technologies. Anyone is welcome to request a spot, as long as you're working on something interesting, but this summarizes the center of gravity.

This will certainly sell out because I'm actually giving advanced notice this time (the last two years I only announced about a month in advance, and those sold out).


Forever people have been telling me to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi. I know it's famous and already widely recommended, but I finally watched it and wow—it really is great.

To be great, just do one thing over and over for the rest of your life.

That's the most important lesson of the film.

Jiro's attitude and work ethic are exceptional, but what struck me the most is that Jiro's approach to sushi is completely unexceptional.

It's completely basic and normal sushi. He doesn't have a unique "style" or "aesthetic." The presentation is basic. The restaurant is basic. I don't mean fashionably basic, like "wow this hole in the wall is so authentic..." Everything is just extremely plain and uninteresting.

Except the sushi is amazing (apparently).

All of the quality gains are achieved by ruthless simplification and purification (and sourcing). Nothing is gained by optics, packaging, social networking, gimmicks, or any kind of signaling.

Jiro does no marketing, and yet his restaurant is world-famous.

"I feel ecstatic the whole day. I love making sushi. Thats the spirit of shokunin." —Jiro

Hegel, Napoleon, and the World Spirit on Horseback

In 1806, Napoleon crushed the Prussian army in the Battle of Jena.

Allegedly, Hegel watched Napoleon enter the city and wrote to a friend that he witnessed "the World Spirit on horseback."

Here is what Hegel really said about watching Napoleon enter Jena:

"I saw the Emperor – this soul of the world – go out from the city to survey his reign; it is a truly wonderful sensation to see such an individual, who, concentrating on one point while seated on a horse, stretches over the world and dominates it.”

Hegel saw four types of men.

Napoleon was, at the time, the greatest Hero ever: An absolute monarch who mobilized more than one million soldiers to conquer Italy, Austria, Poland, all the German States, Holland, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, and Norway—establishing liberty and equal rights for all male citizens.

Napoleon's Empire

For Hegel, Napoleon was the Hero that the Spirit of History selected to bring the world to its ultimate destination: The Age of Liberty, where all men would be free under the rule of law.

Why are you not conquering nations? Why are you not building a Grand Armée? Do you think it was any easier in 1799? I assure you it was not. It was harder! Napoleon did not have the internet or zero-knowledge proofs.

Napoleon was just one man—a short, fat, ugly man. He was not doing jaw exercises and sunning his balls at the behest of right-wing body-builders on Twitter. He just decided to conquer the world.

Napoleon I at Fontainbleau (1814) by Paul Delaroche

So I ask you again: Why are you not conquering nations?

The Imperceptible Country

Other Life is building a network state.

Become a citizen

Nick Land Reading Group on The Dark Enlightenment. 4pm Eastern on Monday, July 25th. Participants are expected to complete the reading carefully before the meeting.

Hosted by Arielle Friedman. RSVP and get the Zoom link in the imperceptible town.

Urbit hackathon starting this Friday. The Imperceptible Country is exploring the possibility of organizing and sponsoring a team to build an Urbit app for release by September 22 (Assembly in Miami). If you're a Hooner at any level greater than zero, and you're currently under-utilizing your talents, hit reply to this email.

As one of the largest non-official flagpoles in the Urbit community, with one of the fastest-growing groups on the network, we are in a strategic position to coordinate creators, developers, and users around exciting use-cases.

If you're a developer, do you want to build another little toy-demo app or do you want to help build a sovereign network state? Hit reply with your @p.

Hyper-Eroticism. "With the rise of social media and algorithm-powered late capitalism, eroticism has transmuted, in the very same way that art has been destroyed and then rebuilt by the apparition of photography. So, here is my advice to you, man or woman of the future: Go outside to get your face tattoos. Use your crypto-portfolio to fund a CRISPR lab specialised in genetically modified weed. Mint your sex-slave’s contract on blockchain. Get involved with gang members and call-out the feds on your instagram account. Show-out your plastikov. Finish your home-made nuclear reactor. Become HYPER-EROTIC."

By ~witwep-pagwyn in the imperceptible city. Read and reply in the Urbit group at web+urbitgraph://group/~hatryx-lastud/other-life/graph/~hatryx-lastud/b-3929/170141184505719658131091073021809524736"

Fiat Networks. "Devices including and not limited to smartphones are appropriating, to a significant degree, user photographic, auditory and textual information automatically from local storage or as it appears to the client. That's before servers do things with the data, that is, perform certain processes and have it modified, routed and rerouted.

To wit: I took a picture with my phone for work purposes, this happened recently; The object was artificial, with a discreet color palette and strictly defined boundaries of a known profile. Next, later that same day, I proceeded to interact with a social media platform and saw the exact same color palette and shape contours displayed."

By ~parbep-wisful in the imperceptible city. Read and reply in the Urbit group at web+urbitgraph://group/~hatryx-lastud/other-life/graph/~hatryx-lastud/b-3929/170141184505726247618900826405736546304

Great, Terrible, and Important Powers

The Lompoul Desert in Senegal by Pauline Magnat
"The great, terrible, important powers of the world, like social caste and religious domination, always rest on secrets. A man is born on the wrong side of the street and can therefore never enter into certain drawing rooms, even though he be in every way superior to everyone in those drawing rooms. When you try to find out what the difference is between him and the rest, and why he is accursed, you find that the reason is a secret. It is a secret that a certain kind of straw hat is damnable. Little boys know these things about other little boys. The world is written over with mysterious tramp-languages and symbols of Masonic hieroglyphics." —Chapman


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