I listened to an interesting podcast on the Lindy Effect; a term which seems to have several meanings:
- the idea that things are old are good
- the idea that things that have lasted (e.g. books that have been in print for 100 years) are more likely to last than more recent things
- the idea that things that have lasted a long time have done so because they are antifragile, which is to say that exposure to stressors increases their strength.
There are a few more levels to this, but you get the idea. Unlike the stocks, past performance is evidence of future performance, etc. I feel like the core insight is worthwhile but also a lot of the popular application is... well, here is an article where one of the main promoters of the concept introduces the reader to the bold new concept of "going for a walk" as Lindy. I suppose that's technically true, but at that point you might as well say that respiration and reproduction are Lindy.
On the other extreme, I saw a link to a list of “Lindy” books. Going back to it now, the author is selling it for $20 so I can't see in full, but it includes Sapiens and Antifragile, both of which are around ten years old (Sapiens arguably even younger if you only count its English release) and therefore slightly odd candidates for inclusion. I notice the compiler describes these books as "Books that change the way you see the world." but I think at that point we're straying very far from any connection to the original definitions.
The impression I get looking at the books and seeing people talk about Lindy is that a lot of people who are interested in this are doing so because they feel adrift somehow, and think they could benefit from some fundamental timeless truths. This then comes up against the fact that timeless truths are seldom novel—that’s why they’re timeless truths. You will have probably heard a lot of them over and over from the time you were born, and that familiarity renders them uninteresting. Or, y’know, it doesn’t. The people in the comments seemed to like the essay about going for a walk.
I find myself reminded me of this essay about being trad by Freddie:
Here's the problem: you cannot choose to be premodern. If you are choosing, you are inherently postmodern. The traditional mindset people want to occupy is one that cannot conceive of being able to choose a mindset. Gorillas can think many things, but they do not think, "what does it mean to be a gorilla?" And whatever the appeal of having the mindset of a Babylonian shepherd might be, it is difficult to imagine that a Babylonian shepherd's mindset could be deliberately aped, as the mind will always know it is aping something. No matter how trad you act, you will never not know that it is an act. We cannot choose a way to live without deliberation; it's an act of the self-will trying to get ahead on a treadmill of self-knowledge. It's baked into the very postmodern mindset we all find so defeating.