The Penguin Latte Podcast #19 – The Mad Scientist of Reading: Poor Bjorn on Self-Experimenting with Non-Fiction

I just had a chat with Paul at the Penguin Latte Podcast! We talked about Stoicism, Nietzsche, Books in general and why doing Rejection Challenges are good for you! Enjoy

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube

Warning: what follows is a conversation for book nerds

Books transform us. When we really dig into a book, nestle beneath the words, peek under the author’s skin, we transcend our current self. We become someone greater. The best books maintain that transformation long after we’ve finished reading the last word.

A book isn’t something to collect. A book is to be experienced. Which is why I wanted to have this conversation with Poor Bjorn (@poorbjorn on Twitter and Instagram). Poor Bjorn loves books. He loves books so much that he doesn’t just read books. He livesbooks. He’s the creator of an Instagram page where he not only reviews books, he conducts self-experiments based on the lessons from the book.

Bjorn will cover any subject. Stoicism. Wealth. Esoteric Philosophy. Psychology. History. Self-help. Persuasion. Negotiation. It doesn’t…

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Thoughts on: The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

Social psychologist Erich Fromm explores the topic of love in all it’s aspects: not only the craziness and lofty expectations of romantic love, but also love of god, brotherly love, erotic love, the love of parents and self-love.
Fromm sees love an art and suggest that mastery in the art of loving need the same knowledge and effort as mastery in any other art.
The most interesting aspect of this book is Fromms theory that our feeling of separateness from the world is the main cause of human anxiety and love being on way of achieving a sense oneness.

The book has a quite harsh tone toward the modern western notion of love. Romantic love, that we are told to strive for in pop culture and mainstream media, he says, is a form of inmature love.

📝 ❤️
-Immature love: I love you because I need you.
-Mature love: I need you because I love you.

📝 ❤️ In fact we take the intensity of infatuation (being crazy about each other) “for proof of the intensity of our love, while it might only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness.” 💥

📝 ❤️ The object of love has become more important than the action of love.

📝 ❤️ Sexual rituals and orgies in tribes give a release from separateness. After it’s over people can go on with their life for a while until the anxiety of separateness builds up again. In a non-orgyastic culture people turn to drugs for release. 💉 🍻

📝 ❤️ Conformity to society is another way to protect oneself from separateness. If I’m like everyone else I’m safe from separateness.

📝 ❤️ “Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.”

💭 THOUGHT: Isn’t it weird that we only have one word for love in English since romantic love and Love with a big “L” is so different?! It’s like “scarcity”and “abundance” used the same name.

⚖️ VERDICT: I really loved this book. It’s my first book on the topic—and hence, I might be easily impressed—but I love how serious the subject is treated! May I complain about the book being too short and having too much to note down?! 😆


⁉️What your views of mature vs. immature love?!⁉️

Reflection retreats, The King’s Curriculum and leaning in to Universal Intelligence.

Earlier this year I had my first Reflection Week—imagine Bill Gates Think Week but without the books.

This was probably one of the more fruitful and powerful practices I’ve implemented into my life to date and it’s now something I do every 6 month.
Reflection Week, for me, is about re-alignment, reflection, strategy and planning.
But it’s also a way to get in contact with The Whispers, Universal Intelligence or as Johnny Mannaz calls it in his book on Self-Initiation, The King’s Curriculum; The Internal Initiator.

📝 Become attuned with you Inner Initiator:
“Maintain internal congruence while becoming conscious of subtitle force of unconscious wisdom available to you from within.“

📝 “ thing that can be said is that with increased contact its existence can come to be a profound and continuous influence on the individuals life.“

You would be surprised to know how many things I have created as a result of sudden flashes of insight from the sub-conscious mind: Video Lab, #3 booksin1minute and several of my experiments become some examples.

⁉️I want to know how you make time for reflection? how do you keep yourself on purpose? how you keep connected with the wisdom of the unconscious? ⁉️

Bhagavad Gita, Video Game Development, and Outcome Independence.

“You have the right to work, but not to the fruit of work. Never engage in action for the sake of reward.”
Bhagavad Gita

I have always been a huge video game fan and when I finally landed a job in the games industry after years of schooling and honing my skill I was extremely excited about working in my first huge game production.
Work was hard—but I loved it! At least in the beginning. But the overtime and constant uphill battle of the project wore on my enthusiasm. The only thing that motivated after a while me was to finally have the game revealed to the world, to “break the internet”, and cause “nerd-boners”.
That never happened. The game was canceled and never saw the light of day. No one will see it and no one is allowed to ever mention it again.
This was a long time ago, but when I read the Gita a few years back this quote really struck a chord with me. Ever since I read it I have made sure that all my work and actions are done for its own sake, not for the promise of future reward. The work is it’s own reward.
⁉️When do you enjoy the process and when are you to too focused on the result?⁉️

5 Key Lessons from The Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols (VIDEO)

Takeaways from The Death of Expertise

This book is about the attack on established knowledge. With a quick trip to Wikipedia the average citizen believe themselves to be as informed than their doctors and diplomats. Does this book reek of elitism? Somewhat. But this is an important discussion that needs to be had.

Here are some notes from this thought-provoking read!

📝 We all overestimate ourself but the less competent do it more than the rest of us!

📝 Experts can be wrong. The point is that they are less likely to be wrong than non-experts.

📝 Even if a dentist might do a sloppy job pulling out a teeth, he or she is still better than you!

📝 “No knowledge is complete, and experts realize this better than anyone. But education, training, practice, experience, and acknowledgment by others in the same field should provide us with at least a rough guide to dividing experts from the rest of society.”

📝 Jonathan Haidt: “Almost everyone finds a way to stick to their values and reject the evidence.”

📝 “When feelings matter more than rationality or facts, education is a doomed” Higher education is not the place for you if you can’t take having your views challenged.

📝 Be less cynical about the news. Maybe reporters know more than you? Not everyone is out to fool you. (But vary your sources.)

⁉️ List the 3 most thought-provoking books you read recently! ⁉️

4 Key Lessons from Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés (VIDEO)

Women Who Runs With The Wolves – Quick Review

Women Who Run With The Wolves explores folk tales and myths through a jungian lens with the intent to help women reconnect to the instinctual self, the Wild Woman archetype.
📝 Classic tale beginning:
““Once there was, and ones there was not…” This paradoxical phrase is meant to alert the soul of the listener that this story takes place in the world between worlds where nothing is as it first seems.”
📝 The animus can pollute your flow of creativity with self doubt. One with a polluted river will not be able to take compliments; “Beautiful? This old thing? Well, it nothing really, look at all the mistakes I made”.
A well-developed animus has excellent borders. An artist that puts up a sign outside her house: “I am working today and am not receiving visitors. I know you think this doesn’t mean you because you are my banker, agent, or best friend. But it does.” 💪🏻
📝 Original stories where often morphed to fit religious beliefs. Pagan symbols became Christian symbols. Sexual parts where removed and animals became demons. 🦁 —> 👹
📝 There is no more reliable sign that a person has spent time with Ugly Duckling status at some point or all her life than her inability to digest a sincere compliment. We have all know people like this… 🦆 🦢
📝“Sometime educated guesses can be made about the wounds of childhood by closely inspecting what matters adults irrationally lose their tempers over”.
📝 “If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin” 🌲
It’s beautifully written, very mystical in its tone, and I can sense the impact this book must have had on women throughout the years. As a male reader I can’t fully relate to all aspects of it – and it’s ok, it’s not written for me -but there is a lot of value in this book nevertheless.
For me the biggest takeaways are the stories themselves and their interpretation. I also found the chapter of creativity truly profound.

⁉️Do you believe old tales have more depth than we give them credit for?⁉️

Thoughts on: The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Identity and Race by Douglas Murray

There are a few events that got me to finally look into the topic of intersectionalility, gender and identity politics:
🔸 A trans person I knew committed suicide.
🔹I saw a poster on a notice board on a playground inviting children from the age of 11 (or was it 9?!) to a municipally held HBTQ+ get-together.
🔸When I started the chat app we use at work after coming back from parental leave noticed a few colleagues had added their pronouns to as suffixes to their names: he/him.
🔹 I noticed that there are less and less jokes being made in social gatherings.
📚 The focus of this book are identity politics in general. A subject I’m quite clueless about. But after reading #whyimnolongertalkingtowhitepeopleaboutrace I picked up this book for alternative perspective.
This book raises 3 interesting questions:
1️⃣ Why is it that just as things appears to better than ever before for a certain group, the rhetoric begin to suggest that things have never been worse?
2️⃣ How can we figure out what’s really going on when topics like trans and gender get so politicized that it makes any scientific exploration close to impossible? What if science uncover the “wrong” answers?
3️⃣ When we finally unweave all the interlocking oppressions of our time, what will happen? What will happen if we achieve a state of social justice and is it even possible?

📚 It’s a book is one that sticks and I think about it daily. It points out a lot of incoherences in the rhetoric of the social justice movements and gives an interesting perspective identity politics. Views that are seldom voiced
In the mainstream—at least in Sweden 🇸🇪 where political correctness is state religion (almost! Haha!.)
—— Notes & Tidbits ——-

📝 Queer tend to push the view that being gay is a full-time occupation.

📝 It looks like social media is able to cause catastrophes but not heal them, to wound but not to remedy.

📝 Ask ‘Compared to what?’:
When people try to sum up our societies as horrible, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic patriarchies the question needs to be asked. Not that things can’t be better, but some question could be posed to the accusers; What system has worked, or what system does work better?

The chapters on LGBTQ+ stood out to me. This is a quite new topic to me and it spawned a lot of questions. Our sexual orientation seems to be such a shaky foundation to build our identity on. But I guess that in the absence grand narratives (in a time where religion and ideologies is on life-support.) we are desperate enough to latch on to whatever gives us a bigger context, a chance of heroism, and a slither of hope.
I found this book truly fascinating. It’s been a while since I finished it now and it hasn’t gone a day without me thinking about some aspect of it. I appreciate the willingness to voice unpopular options and provide some perspective on the social justice movements. I support his belief in free speech and robust debate in order preserve democracy. But there are definitely injustices that still needs to be worked out! Maybe if we could have open and nuanced debates about these topic then we could come to solutions instead of name-calling and to resort to public shaming and exile for anyone who asks a valid question or challenge our beliefs.
My most memorable read this year.
⁉️What’s your most memorable read this year?⁉️

8 Lessons from reading So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (VIDEO)

Some books manage to be both entertaining and highly disturbing. This is one of them.
Today I’m sharing a few highlight from Jon Ronsons book that takes a closer look at the world of online shaming.

“And the one day it hit me. Something of real consequence was happening. We were at the start of a great renaissance of public shaming. After a lull of 180 years (public punishments were phased out in 1837 in the United Kingdom and in 1839 in the United states) it was back in a big way.”

⁉️ Have you ever experienced any internet hate directed toward you?!⁉️

3 Key Lessons from The Shallows by Nicholas Carr (VIDEO)

📱 Maybe you were suppose to do something important right now, but got distracted by a notification. Or you told yourself that it might be a good idea to check your social media again. It has been 10 minutes after all, something might have happened?

1. The number of synapses in the brain are not fixed changes with experience and learning. The media more than the content changes the way we think and act.

2. We change our brains through the tools we use and our tools numbs the parts they amplify. The GPS in our phones weakens our abilities to map out areas in our mind and I guess I’m not the only one that has notice a quality decrease in my handwriting skills as I write more on computers.

3. Deep reading demands deep concentration and has to be learned. Our intelligence hinges on our ability to transfer information from the short to long term memory and to weave it into conceptional schemas (complex concepts). Being able to focus on one thing for a length of time is important for creating that type of understanding.

💭 “To be everywhere is to be nowhere” -Seneca

⁉️ How do you find focus on a world of distractions?!⁉️

Thoughts on: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

I could have written this book. Not that I have Murakamis masterful penmanship. That’s not my point. It’s just that our lessons learned from years of running are very similar. We got into it for the same reasons (by noticing we where becoming fat and tired.), it provided similar insights and it seems as dear to both of us.
It’s not how-to book about running but a memoir centered around the activity.
📝 “No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a complenative, even meditative, act.”
What has become your ritual? Rituals allow for stillness and productive work in a chaotic world.
📝 “In long distance running the only opponent you have to beat us yourself.”
One of the biggest appeals of running for me.
📝 “Back then I was smoking 60 cigarettes a day” “This can’t be good for me I decided.”
This reminds me how I started. I realized I started to look like an old man. Flappy and lifeless in a way. About this time Born to Run was released and it ended up in my lap – the rest is history. I’ve been running ever since.
📝 Murakami found running to be a great ally in fighting against withdrawal symptoms when quitting smoking. I also used running as my main tool to against cravings when I quit nicotine 2y ago. Nothing works better.
📝 “The desire in me to be alone hasn’t changed. Which is why the hour or so I spend running, maintaining my own private silent time, is important to keep my mental well-being.” #amen
“I traveled to Greece and ran, by myself, from Athens to the town of Marathon.”
This idea or running the original marathon route inspired me so much that I added it to my bucket list. I will work on this goal after I finish my goal of running 10k (6.2 mi) in 45min. 😅
It’s unlike other book ive read on running, and ive read quite a few, because this is not the story of an athlete or a top performer, but just a normal individuals story about how running have impacted his life. Beautiful book!
⁉️ Tell me about your experience with running? I want to know!⁉️
📸: @runhoodmag (Instagram)