• Pieter Derycke

Notes & Quotes - Fire

Song to read by: Fire - Etta James

“Wind extinguishes a candle and energises fire.”

This is the opening sentence of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Antifragile. Such a powerful sentence! Don’t be a candle, be a fire! It is again hard to choose other quotes from this book, but let’s try anyway:

  • “Crucially, if antifragility is the property of all those natural (and complex) systems that have survived, depriving these systems of volatility, randomness, and stressors will harm them.” (p. 5)

  • “But the larger point is that we can now see that depriving systems of stressors, vital stressors, is not necessarily a good thing, and can be downright harmful.” (p. 38)

These quotes made me think of something I reminded reading in a great little collection of essays by Robert Sapolsky called “The trouble with testosterone”:

“It can be a frightening world out there, and the body may well reflect the effort of threading our way through those dark, menacing forests. How much better it would be to be able to sit, relaxed, on the sun-drenched porch of a villa, far, far away from the wild things baying. Yet what looks like relaxation could well be exhaustion-exhaustion from the labor of having built a wall around that villa, the effort of keeping out that unsettling, challenging, vibrant world. […] sometimes it can be enormously stressful to construct a world without stressors.” (p.145)

A bit further in that same book I marked a part that also resonates well with Taleb’s work:

“[…] animals can be pretty wise about the world. They know that if something ain’t broken, don’t fix it, and if something does need fixing, the best course is to keep an eye on individuals who are more experienced. Above all, they know that if things aren’t working, it’s a good idea to keep an open mind for new solutions. Those are useful lessons for human beings to learn […]. (p. 187)

Thanks for reading,


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