Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cities and Ambition

Cities and Ambition, Paul Graham article.
"Maybe the Internet will change things further. Maybe one day the most important community you belong to will be a virtual one, and it won't matter where you live physically. But I wouldn't bet on it. The physical world is very high bandwidth, and some of the ways cities send you messages are quite subtle."

Highly interesting article about how places/collections of people influence you, strongly.

Funny thing: I got out of Denmark, despite really loving that country, for one reason: it has one flaw, that partly by its taxation and partly by popular mental attitude, it's very down on ambition. Better not stick your head up.

So you'd think I'd move to a place which encourages ambition, like London or New York City. But due to location of friends and "accident", I ended up in a town in Northern England. Hardly the center of ambition. That's different than Denmark, by the way, Denmark has ambition, but suppresses it. Here, there simply is no ambition, so there isn't that tension.

I realize now that that was exactly the point. There are no accidents. I've been feeling for what message this town sends and it seems to me to be: "Relax. Have a pint".

And I didn't know it, but it was just what I needed. As you may pick up from the number of sites I have, I'm woefully mentally hyperactive. (I wish some of that was physical!) Almost painfully so. So imagine I had moved to NYC. I would have crashed! Not kidding. Overheating.

The great message I needed, and still do, is "relax, have a pint". OK, so I don't drink beer, but the tone still works. I used to have only disdain for tea, and drink coffee copiously. But now I find to my surprise I actually drink more tea than coffee. And not even all that much of either. Just a symptom of becoming more relaxed. More contemplative.

Others of course need other things, and we all need different things at different times. And I think we are naturally attracted to the places which give us what we need. If it seems wrong at the time, perhaps what you want and what you need are two different things?


Anna Aniko said...

I didn't read the long article in the link, but I read yours.

Interesting. I'll try to think about my cities from this point of view.

eolake said...


From a metaphysical point of view, I'm convinced that actual mental vibrations from people around you affects you more than most people realize. It's nigh impossible to *not* be tense and stressed in New York City, for example.