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Persistence & Completing One Unbroken Journey To All Countries Without Flying
Also: Metamodernism in Film, Mixed Urbanism, and Zelda Shrine Ambience.
He did it! Thor Pedersen completed his unbroken journey to all countries in the world, without flying. Setting off in Denmark in October 2013, he set foot in 203 countries, and eventually, ending this week in The Maldives. Almost a decade of travel.
This was the route he took: in planning, and what territories he hit. Minimum of 24 hours in each country.
I’ve been following his journey since 2016 and followed his ups and downs: most notably, getting set back with frequent bureaucracies and spending 2 years of it stuck in Hong Kong during the pandemic.
I’m super happy for him, and it’s given me so much to think about it. What’s it like seeing so much of the world? Why? What kept him going when he hit so many walls? What was it like maintaining a relationship (and getting married through it)? Can one go back to living a sedentary life afterwards? In his last blog post, he says as much: not being sure where this leaves him.
I’m mentally exhausted. I will need time to understand that it is “over”. I will need to reflect on the past 3,512 days of my life. What have we really accomplished? What has this done to me? What are the key takeaways? I’m receiving MANY messages, congratulatory wishes, and the interviews are nonstop. We did it people. This has been a collaborative effort between people in every country of the world. People have taken part in small and large ways. History has been made. Is it significant? Time will tell.
The stand-out theme, for me, is persistence. I’ve been thinking about it much more recently because:
I’m pursuing a career in storytelling, starting earnestly afresh in fiction 4.5 years ago.
I’ve taken up running as a hobby/sport.
It’s a paradox. I think one of the easiest and hardest things to do, is to persist. It’s easy, because, ultimately, becoming a better storyteller, building an audience, or becoming a better runner means that you just have to show up for *one more*. One more story. One more newsletter. One more run. But, it’s hard, because sometimes that one new increment leaves us not closer (and even sometimes, further back) to our goals. You write a story no-one reads. You write another newsletter that only is seen by 200 readers (hi!), and you run another few miles, injuring yourself in the process because you were too lazy to properly stretch.
I know why I persist. I’m tuned to enjoy the process. If I don’t, then the goal isn’t worth it. I enjoy writing a new story even if no one reads it. I enjoy writing this newsletter even if there’s only 3 paid subscribers (hi!). I enjoy running, because it gives you a good high, I feel healthier in general, and nature is nice!
But, what keeps me up at night sometimes, is wondering whether persistence, and being able to persist is smart or sometimes stubborn/stupid. People fight sometimes because they feel they have to. We all hear the stories of the people that should’ve exited a broken relationship. Or, the artist that burned themselves out. We become attached to proving ourselves and others, wrong. We become attached to believing that going through it all will be worth it. Or, we are afraid to quit, unsure what it means to us. Sunk costs and all that.
I’m wondering what good persistence is. For now, I feel that if you enjoy the process, regardless of the outcome, persistence is a good thing. Then, you can write 100+ bad stories, and that’s okay. It reminds of this take from Don Winslow.
“First drafts are for self-entertainment, later drafts focus on the reader's experience.”
The process is always our first drafts: from storytelling to trying out new ways to fuel during training for a running race. And like, Thor discovered on his saga across the world, it’s not about the countries, or the goal, but about the people. A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet. As utterly cliche as it, it’s about the journey. Sometimes, it takes a traveller going around the world in one unbroken journey without flying to remind us again of that.
Fortunately I have so far found, that while the world isn't perfect and has much work in store for us, most of everyone we share this planet with are good well meaning people with good intentions. Politics and religion is important to some people. But often I find that these five things are far more important: Family, food, music, sports and talking about the weather. I find that most people just want to carve out a small part of the world for themselves. They ask for little more than to get by in life and to see their loved ones prosper. Is it newsworthy? Apparently not really. But it certainly represents the vast majority of everyone on this planet - and probably you too.
Enjoy the process. :)
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Metamodernism in Film
Speaking of meaning making… This is an incredible video essay describing modernism, postmodernism, and metamodernism in culture/film.
Metamodernism appeals to me, because I tend to oscillate between a desire for taking the world less seriously, while also wanting retain a semblance of sincerity. In other words, a grand narrative of optimistic nihilism. ;) It’s one of the core theme in my first novel I published in 2020.
Speaking of Metamodernism. Right after this, I watched the Barbie (by Greta Gerwig) trailer and I can just tell it’s dripping with metamodernism. Breaking the patterns, not taking itself seriously, oozing with self-awareness, while simultaneously delivering a heart-wrenching take on the meaning of life. “Humans only have one ending. Ideas live forever.”
History of A24
I adore the success of A24 because it gives me inspiration that small studios can release great stories.
I’m always thinking about distribution lately (surprise!), and one interesting part of A24’s history is that it started out purely as a distributor. Buy films and distribute them. I think there’s still a lot of opportunity in doing that in general. One thing I harp on a lot in this newsletter is that there’s likely WAY MORE amazing stories out there, and it what they all need is something like a Bigolas Dickolas to get known. A24 is good at the latter.
Habitat 67 & Mixed Urbanism
A great history on Habitat 67 and its full realisation in Unreal Engine. Man, sometimes when I look at these examples, I lament how much we might have missed in terms of urban design if we could’ve managed to remain imaginative. I’m not speaking about grand design like Le Corbusier planned cities.
More-so allowing MUCH more mixed urbanism in general. I don’t want to always choose between dense apartment living and single family suburban lots. Tokyo figured it out a long time ago, and luckily more of the world is catching onto it. Speaking of… My copy of “Emergent Tokyo” is finally arriving next week and I’m VERY excited.
Would you live in the full Habitat 67?
Being A Published Writer in 2023, Is Weird
Chuck Wendig, as a well-known published author, gives his take on the publishing industry. Definitely share some sentiments, particularly around the fragmentation of social media being a struggle (especially for new entrants).
It’s interesting reading this after I wrote about Trad Pub vs Self Pub. I’m starting to write a new novel soon and, I honestly, still haven’t made up my mind whether I want to pursue an agent and publisher. Time will tell.
Fair Use After Warhol
It balanced the question of the right of an artist to have derivative rights of their own work vs fair-and-transformative use. In summary, fair use is likely to extend beyond the meaning and message of the derivative work to incorporate its further context and purpose (with overlaps in purpose being decidedly more problematic).
Indeed, for years, judges and lawyers involved in fair use cases have trained their arguments on the content of a particular work, often performing feats of verbal gymnastics to explain a proffered meaning and message. As a result of the Court’s opinion in Warhol, much of that effort will now shift to arguments about whether or not the purpose of a particular secondary use is different enough to justify copying. In most cases, a new use doesn’t serve precisely the same role as the original, which means that fair use battles will simply shift to new battlefields.
I didn’t expect Aaron to touch upon whether this case impacts AI works.
Finally, what would a copyright blog in 2023 be without a reference to AI-generated content? The impact of Warhol v. Goldsmith on the use of copyrighted works to train AI models is unclear; this is where copyright lawyers will earn their chops. Within an hour of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Recording Association of America applauded the Court’s opinion, declaring: “We hope those who have relied on distorted—and now discredited—claims of ‘transformative use,’ such as those who use copyrighted works to train artificial intelligence systems without authorization, will revisit their practices in light of this important ruling.” But proponents of training-data-as-fair-use will no doubt point to the fact that the Warhol opinion cited, with approval, the Second Circuit’s decision in the Authors Guild v. Google case, which found that Google’s wholesale scanning of millions of books to create its Google Book Search tool served a transformative purpose that qualified as fair use.
My understanding is that it probably doesn’t change much, because data-mining and scanning is still a right. Whatever the output of the AI engine is, can still be argued against copyright and fair use of existing works. eg, if you generate something close enough to existing works, you could be in breach of infringement. The “fair use of purpose” of the generated work adds to the test of fair use. If you are going to sell it while the original artist earns from commissions might more likely put you in breach of fair use even if the meaning and message is different. Would love to see a case like this eventually? Anyway, all of this is so new, and I’m a hobbyist IP nerd, so could be wrong.
What do you think of this case?
Cameron Morse - The Fifty
I’ve been playing a lot of Zelda and I’ve been doing a lot of coding for my business. Doing the latter, I shuffled some ambient tracks on Spotify and found this track that actually reminded me a lot of the shrines in the game. Perfect coding music. Enjoy!
That’s all for this week, friends! Hope you enjoy a sunset! Summer is here in the Northern Hemisphere. So, I’m going to get out a bit!