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Change Is Coming
Sorry we haven’t talked in a while. Crazy couple of months.
Some changes in my life require a slight pivot to the Unculture product. I took a step back after having my first kid, and now I’m back with a plan to add quality and consistency to the content you see every week.
First, I want to thank you for sticking around through the nascent phase of this thing. Your readership and feedback has meant the world. I hope you can stay with me, because I don’t plan on going anywhere…
While events like Rittenhouse and Omicron would have made great material for the rundowns and quick-takes I offered in the past, I chose to cuddle my baby boy for a few weeks instead.
Holding a baby, you’re holding a lot, but you’re not doing a whole lot. Gives you some time to think. In particular, it gave me a chance to reevaluate my approach to these emails.
Here’s what I found, and what you can expect from now on.
What I’ve Been Doing Wrong
The impetus for Unculture was to trim the “fat” off of the information we consume. I wanted to do this without “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” Offering news clips from various perspectives was a good start. Most people don’t get the entire “lay of the land” in their echo chambers these days.
However, after many weeks reacting to the news, I realized I was doing exactly what I had initially preached against. I acted contrary to my Manifesto, which I thought was not to react but remain calm in the storm, not falling into the dialectics of the world.
Of course, when you take a “reactive” approach to the world, entropy has its way. You fall into a dialectic. And right or wrong, publicly involving myself in a dialectic does not feel like a vocation - rather, I acknowledge a tension ought to persist in my thinking between the dialectic and the world outside of it.
So, from now on, I’m turning the dial on my “reactivity.” I may occasionally voice my opinion on a matter. But I don’t want to settle there. In fact, while I strongly advocate the sharing of opinions, I prefer that my opinions not be my own, instead taken from people older and wiser than I.
Not that I’m ditching my rational faculties altogether, you’ll just see me appeal to tradition more in this newsletter.
I believe this will both make the content delivery more sustainable (less time working out my beliefs the night before a mailing) and the content itself more sound (more time-tested takes from proven geniuses).
Now, let’s get into what that looks like on paper.
What I Want to Give You
With so much philosophy and literature lying around my house unread, I feel compelled to take a deeper look and share what I find with you.
Instead of offering short news reactions from the Twittersphere and long-ish reactions from myself, I will hardly react at all. I will only read from this stack of ~30 books I’ve set aside and transfer what I glean in the form of quotes and exposition.
Yes, the goal is to be less original.
Because, as the Unculture Manifesto implies, I’m sifting through a sea of useless, ephemeral waste for those things that are timeless. In practice, that entails relating timeless things to ephemeral things. But I never want to highlight the contemporary as timeless in itself. I want to show how it honors the past, present and future in all totality.
The podcast has managed to do this so far:
Quit Porn Strategist King David showed us how ravenous we are for dopamine, that getting off our screens promotes a more natural way of living.
Poet Joseph Massey talked about transcendence in art, how necessary it is to critique and promote art for its own sake, impartial to identity.
Musician Cecil Charles reminded us that joy is the most integral component of a life-giving community, and that joy in fact survives us all.
We had plenty of great conversations over a short time, and plenty more coming. Very excited to share the guests I have lined up for this year…
In short, the podcast will keep going as-is, but the newsletter will adjust.
I will be diving deeper into my books and dissecting some core ideas for you, searching for the most eternal wisdom I can salvage.
Not your thing? Feel free to unsubscribe at any point (much as I’d hate to see it).
If you stay with me, I look forward to getting to know each other better. Most importantly, I hope we can all come out of the next year a little wiser.
Stay tuned for the first issue of the re-vamped Unculture newsletter in January!
Michael A. Stenger