Discover more from Creative Destruction
Rabbit Holes 🕳️ #55
From adopting a perennial mindset to delayed adulthood, compassionate imagination, the art of walking and intersectional imperialism
A few, very exciting updates before we get into this week’s Rabbit Holes:
I quit my job and am now working full-time on Creative Destruction! 🥳 This is more than a project or business endeavor for me, so it was time for me to go all in, and I am super excited about it! 😁
We reached a new subscriber milestone: more than 2,000 people are reading this newsletter now! This is incredible!!! 😍 I cannot thank you enough for your support!! We’ve also been growing fast in the past few weeks: 400+ new subscribers in the last 30 days and more than 60 since last week’s issue. 🚀
I have some exciting plans for the near future. One of these is a report and framework about Reframing The Good Life (working title 😉). It’ll be ready in a few weeks and I can’t wait to show it to you all.
Lastly, I rarely do this so directly, but I'd like to ask you to help me spread the word about Creative Destruction by sharing it on social media or forwarding it to someone who might also enjoy it. Sharing the newsletter really is the best way to help me make this thing work! Thank you!
Okay, enough updates. Let’s get into this week’s Rabbit Holes:
THIS WEEK → 🌀 The Perennial Mindset 🧒 Delayed Adulthood ❤️ Compassionate Imagination ➕ The Art of Walking 🚿 Intersectional Imperialism
Rabbit Holes 🕳️
As always, here are three perspective-shifting ideas to create a better world, plus some fun extras below. Enjoy!
#1 🌀 The Perennial Mindset
As the play-learn-work-retire sequence of life is breaking down, people are increasingly asking themselves: what‘s the new or ideal sequence? Sociologist Mauro Guillén argues that we need a new, what he calls “perennial” narrative to not only adapt to new realities but also live a more fulfilling life.
“Graduate high school at 18, go to college or enter the job market, move out of the family home sometime in the early 20s, find a partner, get married, buy a house, have a kid. Work, and work, and work. Retire at 65. For as "natural" as that sounds to most Americans today, it's a pattern of life that's a mere footnote in the annals of human society.
A new book, The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Postgenerational Society, tells a very different story about what life could be like in the 21st century. Mauro Guillén, the author, is a sociologist, political economist, and a management educator, as well as the Vice Dean of the MBA program at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. His thesis is that the facts on the ground just don't line up with the expectations we put on ourselves and others for how we move through life—and it’s time for change.
‘If people could liberate themselves from the tyranny of “age-appropriate” activities, if they could become perennials, they might be able to pursue not just one career, occupation, or profession but several, finding different kinds of personal fulfillment in each. Most importantly, people in their teens and twenties will be able to plan and make decisions for multiple transitions in life, not just one from study to work, and another from work to retirement.’ — Mauro Guillén, The Perennials […]
By changing the narrative about the ideal sequence of life (along with the social, economic, and political supports required), we can create new on-ramps to a meaningful life. […]
A perennial, Guillén tells me, is someone who isn't constrained by their age and what they're "supposed to" be doing at any give stage of life. "The perennial mindset is telling you," he says, "look, you don't have to achieve everything by age 22 or 23." Instead, we can think longer term—knowing that things will change. We might go back to school, change industries, learn a new skill, or even stop working for a time before we get back to it.
By recognizing the inevitability of change, we can take the pressure off of younger people and, hopefully, start to reverse the mental health challenges they face. Similarly, for people later in their career, we don't have to wait for retirement to get out of a miserable situation. We can take some of the pressure off of sticking with that career we chose 30 years ago or the financial preparations needed to stop working. Work can be a way for older adults to stay active and connected to friends.
I will say that I'm skeptical of any retirement solution that hinges on working rather than resting. But it seems that Guillén is proposing something that broadens the definition of work. I can imagine a world in which older people are integrally connected to their communities through forms of work that look more like mentoring, cultural production, and support. And really, this already exists—we just have to recognize the real value it adds to our society and compensate people for it. […]
‘If instead of compartmentalizing learning, work, and leisure by age we enable people to choose the mix of activities they desire at each stage of life, we might be able as a society to help people achieve financial security, fulfilment, and equity.
— Mauro Guillén, The Perennials’”
#2 👶 Delayed Adulthood
I’m currently reading Tyson Yunkaporta’s book Sand Talk - How Indigenous Thinking Can Save The World. The excerpt below was one of the sections that blew my mind! It’s a very specific interpretation of a part of history, and I guess others would probably disagree or tell the story differently. But that’s kind of the point here, as Tyson explains:
“While most of the facts are verifiable, I have been very selective in which facts I used to build the narrative. I created the story to illuminate the way history can be twisted to suit the interested and narratives of the people who write it.”
So here we go:
“By the eighteenth century Prussia, under Frederick the Great, had become one of the greatest powers in Europe, despite its small size and lack of natural resources. This was due to the fact that it had a larger permanent military force than anyone else. No other country could force so many of its citizens into the army on a full-time basis. […]
Then in 1806 the Prussians suffered a shattering military defeat at the hand of Napoleon. After their beaten soldiers fled from certain death, they decided to turn their attention to children, realising that they had to start young if they wanted to instil the kind of obedience that would override the fear of death itself.
The government decided that if it could force people to remain children for a few extra years, then it could retard social, emotional and intellectual development and control them more easily. This was the point in history that ‘adolescence’ was invented – a method of slowing the transition from childhood to adulthood, so that it would take years rather than, for example the months it takes in Indigenous rites of passage.
This delayed transition, intended to create a permanent state of child-like compliance in adults, was developed from farming techniques used to break horses and to domesticate animals. Bear in mind that the original domestication of animals involved the mutation of wild species into an infantilised form with a smaller brain and an inability to adapt or solve problems. To domesticate an animal in this way you must:
1. Separate the young from the parents in the daylight hours.
2. Confine them in an enclosed space with limited stimulation or access to natural habitat.
3. Use rewards and punishments to force them to comply with purposeless tasks.
Effectively, the Prussians created a system using the same techniques to manufacture adolescence and thus domesticate their people.
The system they invented in the early nineteenth century to administer this change was public education: the radical innovation of universal primary schooling, followed by streaming into trade, professional and leadership education.”
#3 ❤️ Compassionate Imagination
This is a super interesting interview with Max Wyman about his new book The Compassionate Imagination, which proposes a radical reimagination of the role of arts and culture in our societies as compassion-building vehicles. What future would we build if we looked at the world not through the lens of economic efficiency and growth but through the lens of art and culture?
“When we experience the emotions or experiences of “the other” by living them vicariously through stories and plays and pictures, or by sharing and exchanging the products of our imaginations, we understand each other better as human individuals. We get a clearer and better idea — a more just and humane idea — of how we might go about fixing our confused and fractured world. Being compassionate means taking a chance on trust. […]
Instead of the endless competition and sniping that goes on in the world around us, how much better it surely would be if we had what Stoppard calls “a contest of generosity… empathy, patience, kindness, action, communication — followed by more of the same.” […]
Art helps us develop kindness, because it gives us glimpses of the way other human beings, creatures as vulnerable as ourselves, think and feel. It puts us back in touch with the empathy, decency and care I believe we were born with.
Watch a play, read a book, wander round an art gallery: you come away changed, even if it’s in the slightest of ways. You’ve seen a fragment of the world, or of a life, through someone else’s eyes. Culture is the great humanizer: an essential part of a healthy society. But it has always been short-changed by our governments, treated as a frill, something to be fobbed off with the scraps after everything else it taken care of. We live in a society in which we value everything in terms of what it can contribute to the economy. But you can’t show the value of art on a cost-benefit graph. […]
Yes, “another way of being” is immediately in front of us, and yes, we desperately need to take it. But the political and social will to make such fundamental change to the ways we live together — change that will involve radical readjustment of the neoliberal capitalist system to which we are currently subjugated — is hard to rally when the forces devoted to preserving the neoliberal capitalist status quo (greed, self-interest, privilege) are so entrenched. On top of which, there’s the purely personal challenges that more and more of us are facing: paying the mortgage, putting food on the table.
But as Crawford Kilian observed on this platform, summing up the arguments in The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, by David Graeber and David Wengrow, ‘we’ve walked away from bad societies for tens of thousands of years, or just said no, and then built better societies after long debate.’”
🚶♂️ Walking by Henry David Thoreau
”I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil, — to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.”
💡 Why the Degrowth Movement Is on the Rise by Joe Weisenthal & Tracy Alloway
”As more and more complaints about ‘late-stage capitalism’ seem to be piling up, along with worries about the impact of rampant consumerism on the environment, is this the degrowth movement's time to shine?”
📒 Societies for a Better Future Beyond GDP by Greenpeace
”At Greenpeace, we want to keep learning from the knowledge and lived experience of those communities – often marginalised and ignored – resisting the prevalent beliefs and assumptions that profit is the sole path to growth. Our aim is to share the theories and stories that sow the seeds of alternative futures with you.”
💡 Climate Solutions from Indigenous and Local Knowledge by Chidinma Iwu
”Indigenous communities with deep regional knowledge can help stave off the worst effects of climate change and restore the continent’s [Africa] threatened food future. However, tapping into this knowledge is often hindered by language barriers and other aspects of localization, exacerbated by the Eurocentrism of the scientific field.”
🎬 Born to be mild by Andy Oxley
”A club for ‘dull men’ may just inspire you to see the unremarkable anew.” 😂
🚿 Shower Thoughts
That’s it for this week!
Thank you all so much for supporting my work! 😊