So, I’m done with The Black Swan. It feels false to say I’ve finished reading it, since I sort of skimmed the last third. I tried to stay connected, because the first part of the book really resonated with me, but it simply became too technical with no philosophy to anchor it back to “real life.” I like my numbers and graphs related to food and lurve. Or anything visceral.
Yet toward the end Taleb wrote these wonderful things…
Snub your destiny. […] Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking. [pg. 297]
We are quick to forget that just being alive is an extraordinary piece of good luck, a remote event, a chance occurrence of monstrous proportions. [pg. 298]
And then the book became more interesting again, as Taleb talked of himself. He made the weirdly serendipitious point about mixing it up — how being random in your diet and exercise routine will result in more robustness (generally) than doing the same thing every day. We just discussed that here! He relates this to the economy, how all systems thrive on variability and randomness, that a period of hardship/deprivation will make you stronger, mentally and physically. Our bodies are strengthened by dealing with extremes, up to a point of course.
Everyone should read pgs. 324-329. Pure genius. I’d have to quote the entire thing, which I’m not going to do obviously. The whole book is worth the price just for those pages alone.