Strands of Genius: People are saying..., The Father of All Secrets, Everything New Is Old Again
Guest curated by Farrah Bostic, Founder of The Difference Engine
Each year we aim to highlight 50 creative thinkers that have inspired us by giving them the opportunity to guest curate this newsletter, Strands of Genius. This edition is guest curated by Farrah Bostic, Founder of The Difference Engine.
:: A BIT MORE ABOUT GUEST CURATOR, FARRAH BOSTIC::
LOCATION: East Hampton, NY
I am a brand and audience strategist who believes great insight comes from listening to actual humans. I'm also the founder of a research-based strategy consultancy called The Difference Engine, where I help business leaders make big decisions. I first met Faris when I was simply too hungover to handle staying in the office, and a colleague was too hungover to go interview Faris about ... something or other. So I took the camera and went up to Faris' office and interviewed him about ... something or other, and we had such a good time that we decided to become friends. I met Rosie what seems like about 5 minutes after that, definitely at some big internet party where it was very loud but her charm and smarts sang right through the din of the place. I live in the woods by the beach on the east end of Long Island, and this week, I spend my day working on client projects, promoting my podcast (In the Demo), and doing the bidding of my Irish Setter, Haskell.
Editor’s Note (Rosie): Faris first met Farrah when she was at Hall & Partners and he was at McCann. I don’t remember the specific moment I met Farrah, but I always remember having an intense respect borderline over-the-top adoration for her. I remember one particularly challenging work situation where I had left the office and was pacing Union Square in tears. I couldn’t tell you what the issue was back then, but I can tell you that it was Farrah who shared her wisdom and guidance, that led to the tears stopping. She’s one of those friends that Faris and I both cherish, and we love her heart as much as we love her brain! Thanks so much for being here, Farrah!!
:: THE LINKS ::
PEOPLE ARE SAYING…
I see a lot of trend reports, both because they get sent to me and because I seek them out in the hopes they might contain some nuggets of interest. But a lot of times, they're the same pronouncements we've heard before applied to the latest iteration of technology, the latest music/fashion/cultural style, or the latest youth generation. What I love about political scientist Paul Fairie is that he'll actually go through the microfiche and find the old headlines, including ones in which, no joke, they blame WWI on the tango. This thread is about how nobody wants to work anymore, and the articles making that claim go back to 1894. So either it's nonsense or capitalism is a trap or there's always been a need to fill column inches with nattering nabobs of negativity. (Twitter)
THE FATHER OF ALL SECRETS
It's the 60th anniversary of "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold", which I guess explains why it's felt to me like le Carre's name has been so much in the air for the last few months. Starting at the end, I picked up his posthumously published final novel, "Silverview" at a Shakespeare & Co on the Upper East Side last fall and devoured it in a weekend, and then had to read the afterword, by his son Tim Cornwell - because I wasn't sure I had it right. I had. Some have criticized le Carre for essentially doing the ethical parsing for us, leaving us to feel just fine about the ways supposedly good people did their part on behalf of the post-empire machinations of great powers. That's not how it left me, though - le Carre's work is almost entirely focused on laying bare the futility of all of it: the lies, the betrayals, and for that matter the blind loyalty and faith. Anyway, a lot of people are writing about le Carre, because of the anniversary and because of the publication of a book of his letters, A Private Spy. I haven't read it yet. I'm still working on "The Looking Glass War", one of the George Smiley books. Anyway, Sam Adler-Bell's piece on le Carre's life and letters is a provocative read all its own, and I really enjoyed it. (The Baffler)
EVERYTHING NEW IS OLD AGAIN
I've been co-producing and co-hosting a new podcast called In the Demo. With Adam Pierno, I've been plumbing the depths and delusions of the public narrative about the Millennial Generation, and generations in general. Along the way, you find the same ideas being chewed on again and again, so in the spirit of Paul Fairie's threads, I offer you some reheated takes on the 20-somethings of the late 90s, Gen X. You might recognize these takes from something you've read recently about Millennials, or for that matter, Gen Z. Everything new is old again. (Substack)
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:: AND NOW… SOME FAST FAVORITES ::
:: Game :: The Last of Us - I mean, those damned giraffes.
:: City :: Tokyo - it feels like traveling 15 minutes into the future.
:: Book :: I don't play favorites with books, but one I think about a lot is by the historian Joanne Freeman, about violence in the antebellum Congress, called Field of Blood. Extremely relevant! Otherwise anything by William Gibson.
:: Podcast :: It's a tie between my own, In the Demo, and Behind the Bastards. Right now Robert is doing a deep dive on the Illuminati and it's absolutely bonkers how much it could be, just, you know, Twitter.
:: Album :: I surprise myself as I say this, but just scrolling back through all the great music I love, the one that leapt out at me is Closing Time, by Tom Waits. But honorable mention to Frank's Wild Years, not least for the title track
::QUOTE OF THE DAY::
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” - maybe Stephen R. Covey, maybe Anais Nin, maybe the Talmud.
If you want to know more about the things I think are interesting, you can always find me online in the usual places, but you can also subscribe to The Difference Engine's occasional newsletter, Stoked! or listen to In the Demo as we unpack and examine the Millennial Myth.
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It's called Genius Steals because we believe ideas are new combinations and that nothing can come from nothing. But copying is lazy. We believe the best way to innovate is to look at the best of that which came before and combine those elements into new solutions.
Co-Founders Faris & Rosie are award-winning strategists and creative directors, writers, consultants and public speakers who have been living on the road/runway since March 2013, working with companies all over the world. Our Director of Operations is nomadic like us, our accounting team is based out of Washington, our company is registered in Tennessee, and our collaborators are all over the world. Being nomadic allows us to go wherever clients need us to be, and to be inspired by the world in between.
Hit reply and let’s talk about how we might be able to work together :)