134: Misha Saul - Marriage, Religion and the Domestication of Men

134: Misha Saul - Marriage, Religion and the Domestication of Men

In this episode, we're joined by Misha Saul to discuss geographic determinism and inevitability, how Misha thinks about finding alpha. Retrofitted narratives and how they work, the domestication of men.The importance of symbolic ceremonial traditional things. The importance of knowing the jewish tradition, and a whole lot more. 

William Jarvis 0:05

Hey folks, welcome to narratives. narratives is a podcast exploring the ways in which the world is better than in the past, the ways it is worse in the past, where it's a better, more definite vision of the future. I'm your host, William Jarvis. And I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen to this episode. I hope you enjoy it. You can find show notes, transcripts and videos at narratives

Unknown Speaker 0:37

Will be Misha, how you doing this morning?

Misha 0:40

Well, thank you so much, big fan of your podcast are delighted to be on.

Will Jarvis 0:44

I appreciate you taking the time to come on. Do you mind giving us a brief bio and some of the big ideas you're interested in?

Misha 0:50

Sure. So some of the big ideas I'm interested. I mean, professionally, I'm an investor. I stuff I read though, you know, it's sometimes it's like business or investor related stuff. But, but to be honest, I've been reading a lot of history, writing in my, in my weekly newsletter around the books I read or about Judaism, or about, you know, a lot of the feet up kind of social dynamics that probably, in my view, generally go unnoticed, but seem to govern everything around us, or, you know, the changes in, in the mating market, or male and female relations, or geopolitics, or, you know, echoes through through US history, or just reading a World War Two and the like. So, to be honest, pretty eclectic, I guess, you know, the progress started giving a write this weekly newsletter that's kind of been been growing nicely, and I find quite quite, quite rewarding. But, but yeah, so like, my writing in my journey I describe as yeah, pretty, pretty eclectic.

Will Jarvis 2:08

I love that. I love that. One of the things that stood out to me when I first encountered your writing, which I really liked was, I've always had this sense that Peter Z Han, I believe, that's how I pronounce his name, I've only read it. You know, he has the sense of the future as being very much. Just, there's, it's gonna play out. It's very definite. It's like, but there's not much we can do about it. It's just gonna play out because there's these actors, and it's all kind of predetermined, which I like, I guess, like for some, like, I don't know, philosophical, or just like, I don't like it, you know, personally. But it seems to be in you picked up on that kind of notion that he has, it's all just determinism. What do you think about that? And how determined Do you think we are by geography and these things, you know, it's Australia, you know, just blessed with these natural resources. And being an island for a long time. And all you know, the America isn't a good place, because we don't have land borders with any, you know, of our enemies. And we'll eventually just be on top because of that, and there's nothing China can really do you know, this this sense of like inevitability Do you think that is accurate? Or do we have more agency perhaps than Z? Han would like to believe?

Misha 3:17

Yeah, it's great question. So you're referring to a book review, I wrote, comparing his book with Bruno Mukesh his book, and, and basically Zachman, typically referred to as this United Nations in this series on this, and it's kind of famous for being very much geographic determinist and basically saying, you know, your your neighbors, your energy dependence, you know, whether you're an energy importer or exporter, whether you're, whether you're food dependent or independent. And, and like, kind of determine your future. I think that's, that's extremely powerful, frankly. And I think, in the same way, when you kind of read Jared Diamond's, guns, germs and steel as effectively geographic determinist outlook, I think it's very seductive. And it's quite powerful, I think. And I think you kind of get to the crux of it, you know, part of the fundamental philosophical question. And I don't really have an ideological view, I find kind of both sides, seductive, and in different ways, and it's hard to know what the real truth is. But you'll find that your fundamental question is, you know, we are we just really lead along by, you know, the winds of geography, or, you know, do we kind of exert your human will onto the world, and can we wrap, you know, the world according to our own needs, you know, are we really genuine free agents or, or not? And so, obviously, this is a massive question. And, you know, I obviously, do not sit here with the answer, but it's interesting to kind of, you know, to kind of understand the shape of these questions, and it's interesting And to kind of note the kinds of folks who are attracted to, to one or the other, I find that the more interesting, for example, VC or investor folks or founders, you know, who are really, the kind of worldview is shaped by their belief in the founder, as this person kind of exerting the will to power onto the world, they're quite repulsed by this idea that we simply don't know you're a founder. So this is probably what founders are probably conservative as well in in that is obviously a Judeo Christian, deep Judeo notion of free will, which kind of comes into this. And so and so, you know, the idea is that no, actually we we determine our fate, rather than our how lucky you are that, you know, you were born here. But But then again, like, you know, a lot of the ideas are almost indisputable, you know, like, the Aboriginal Australian, you know, like, it's hard to imagine not giving Aboriginal Australian, a million years or 10 million years, and building civilization, not because of any inherent defects in the person, but rather, they simply didn't have domestic little animals, probably, you know, I don't know, if you can domesticate a kangaroo over a long enough time span or whatever, but like, but directionally, you don't have access to the minerals you need, and you don't have the geographic support to kind of create a civilization. So like, you know, I think that the truth is probably some some strange mix of both, and I don't have the answer, but But it's interesting to kind of, like, lean into either side.

Will Jarvis 6:45

Definitely, definitely. And it does seem to be the argument I always have with people, it does seem to be that even if it is the case that everything's determined, you should still probably act like you have a lot of agency, because that maximizes your chances for having a positive outcome. Yeah, this

Misha 7:01

is I mean, like, you know, this is one this high school, I remember debating this, when you come across a car, you can't get really into it, like it's a deep, deep question. So we're gonna need, we're not gonna like solver now, but yeah, I mean, fundamentally, like no one really lives their life as if it were truly deterministic. So it's kind of irrelevant, like, how do you do that? Because even if you believe it, and even if you act according to well, you know, like, what does that even mean? You know, it's kind of, it's so saturating of everything that it kind of becomes meaningless. Like Sam Harris had this absolute idiotic claim once, which kind of turned me off in five or six years ago, he basically said, look, the universe is not deterministic, you know, you try and honor using it is deterministic, you go lie down and see how long you can lie there footnote, you'll get up and go about your business. And it just totally misses the point again, of our romaine. So, like, I think you're right, I think it's, it kind of cancels itself out in terms of informing your decisions. And so, you know, I think, you know, people your best, it's almost like a, like a Pascal's Wager, like, it's really only upside in betting on agency, you are better off not blaming the universe and others on kind of your actions, whether it's fundamentally true or not, is like probably unknowable, but you're better off acting as if you are the author of your actions.

Will Jarvis 8:35

That makes sense, that makes quite quite a lot of sense. Misha, I want to pivot a little bit and talk about something something interesting. So your investment, your investment manager, you make investments for living, how do you think about finding alpha? Do you systematically do you have like a system for doing that, you know, like, I was recently reading sources book on, you know, has all this concept like reflexivity, etc? And how, you know, groups of people make decisions and how that can affect markets? Do you have like a systematic way about thinking about how to find alpha? And perhaps that's kind of fraught with peril? Because, you know, no one would ever talk about this publicly. Right. But, you know, perhaps you could talk in general terms about how you think about these things.

Misha 9:16

Yeah. So like, the micro kind of matters here, like I'm a private equity investor, which is very different to, you know, public market investors who, you know, might have many positions and take small positions in liquid stocks and kind of have to kind of periodically take views and it's hyper competed, I guess. They're private. They're all perfectly firm. So it's not like a non competitive market is competitive market globally. But it's really kind of opportunities, opportunity specific, kind of opportunity specific sector specific geography specific, and so it's kind of hard to talk about it in general. terms like, you know, we don't kind of match an index and try to generate 2% over because we're not enlisted equity. So it's like a totally foreign language to us, it's really, you know, can we build something, you know, a position in a market where we're attracting and generating opportunities that are kind of a down our kind of fairway that we can kind of execute on and generate the requisite returns to take a view on those assets. So it's kind of like a very blocked kind of statement I kind of gave you but like, I work for a software and technology and private equity firm. So the position is a specific sector focus, and so I'm bullish on the sector, is that it's kind of like my starting position. So it's like, that's the macro position, that that's the only sector you kind of playing into each, you're choosing that. And then within that, you know, there are countless factors around the particular vertical within technology, kind of focusing on the kind of, you know, the founders you might be partnering, partnering with, or the management teams or whatever. So I think like, you just got to believe, ultimately, that you can kind of, you know, make three times or whatever you're targeting. And there's just a lot of ingredients that go into that into that pot. Gotcha. Gotcha. It's

Unknown Speaker 11:24

very case by case it sounds like,

Misha 11:26

yeah, it's kind of hard to be too general, I think, um, you know, I think so when, when firms market themselves, they'll certainly talk about this grand strategy that they pursued and look at their track record, and how wonderfully that all falls within that. And if you can't talk to them every six months, or every 18 months, you magically, there's different grand strategy that they've been pursuing for 10 years. And it's kind of worked out exactly, as they said. And that's because these narratives are retrofitted, because, first of all, the sample size too small, you know, you're, you're inherently opportunistic, and the world changes, and like, life's messy, and like, there's always a little lock in or whatever, or the macro changes, or whatever. And so the truth is that everyone's kind of scrambling to make something fit. But then every time we speak to them, there's this wonderful, neat narrative and a bow, in hindsight, and that's kind of finite, as humans has, like an investing shelf thing, that's just how like, we tell stories. And that's kind of, that's kind of fine. But like, it's just hard to be really honest with with it with a really clear cut story. I think investors tend to just be, you know, trying to figure it out, you know, as I go along in his life path dependence around the kind of skills or relationships you build along the way that you can deploy in the next opportunity.

Will Jarvis 12:53

Gotcha, that makes sense. It seems to me that the preps is tangential, but Elon Musk, great skill is storytelling at some level, you know, let's have like, you know, raise excess amounts of capital, etc. And then you get this, like, if we're very good at telling these these compelling narratives, it's really important. Yeah,

Misha 13:10

I mean, I kind of seen it as part of a broader thing, you know, like, you know, he's a perfect example of being a man who can exert his will to wrap the fabric of the universe around him, you know, not to be to kind of grandiose but like, you know, you know, storytelling, whether to investors or to employees, or to co founders, or CEOs, or to the press or whatever, it's like one thing, okay, it's one thing you're doing, to kind of create something from nothing, and that can't have been at all because, you know, he's deployed hard engineering skills across across opportunities, and look, and you get a whole bunch of, you know, false positives, or, or other way around, like, you know, there's always a whole bunch of bullshit as well, that he's kind of, you know, said that hasn't really worked out, or it's kind of pretty dodgy or whatever, but you kind of got enough truth out there, there, you're gonna have to prove that it's a real thing. And maybe they're both sides of the same coin, you know, maybe if you are going to kind of, you know, tell big yawns and, and also have some something to back it up. Some of that's going to work out some some not. And so you kind of got to kind of take it in aggregate, it's probably unfair to kind of, you know, call him out for not having done anything with, you know, neural nets or something. I don't know, the status of that, rather than crediting him for like building SpaceX, you know, it's pretty, it's pretty astonishing.

Will Jarvis 14:40

Absolutely, absolutely. I think you're on the money there. I want to take another change of pace here and talk about social norms between men and women and how they've evolved over time. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you think about that?

Misha 14:54

Social norms I mean, like I I haven't categorized as social norms. And I guess the way I think about male female relations is probably several fold. Just kind of looking into things I've written about recently one, I recently kind of, you know, was reading, I was reading about the Comanches. And I was like, Oh, this is interesting. It's really about like, the little code is written. I was reading like, the Hebrew Bible, and I was like, Yeah, where has all the polygamy gone? Polygamy everywhere, like, like, history, across societies and across time, is saturated with polygamy, and I look around and, and like, if you mentioned polygamy, people want what is that, like, it's so invisible. It's not even offensive, it's just like, totally gone. totally invisible. It has been exterminated. And so I kind of picked up Joe Henrik, his book, where we had the weirdest people, excellent, basically, Western, democratic, whatever else it is. And, and, actually, he paints a pretty compelling story about how the church effectively accidentally stamped it out, like completely exterminated. And, and, and the interesting about polygamy is, you can't even have, you know, like, a society with like, 20% polygamy is a polygamous, fully polygamous society, because it's the top 20% of men who can collect and hoard all these wives who will do so. And then you've got this kind of, you know, in cells who can't and become violent, and it's not not not a stable equilibrium. And so, and so and so that's why you kind of decide it would just like 5% is actually has to be zero, which is kind of, which is kind of interesting feature of it. And so, and so, you know, I guess the, the way I kind of see it, you know, it's not uncommon, as a kind of a joke comment, you know, like, when, when a couple get married, you know, some throwaway line, but how, how she had to break the man in or how she had to domesticate him, so to speak, you know, like, you might be in Nona counseling and fun, jovial way, yeah, he was assigned domesticated before, before, you know, before he was married, or whatever it was, I And ironically, think we can treat that literally, I think, men were domesticated, as were dogs, and as were horses. And and, you know, they were once kind of roving, violent, you know, polygamous manners. And eventually, you know, these kinds of institutions accidentally sprung up to kind of constrain elite men, which is kind of remarkable in itself, how does society kind of organically develop in a way that constrains its strongest, most powerful, most violent? Kind of? cohort? Okay, so, so, Christian institutions basically evolved in order to do that. And now, like, you know, you know, someone might be kind of snarky about that. But fundamentally, my view is that just like oxen, kind of yoked to kind of plow fields, men have effectively been yoked to build civilization again. And so it is almost unequivocal God, like the reason we're having this conversation over the, you know, over over these machines. And, you know, this, like, indistinguishable from magic technology, is because we effectively stopped trying to hoard wives and kill each other, and instead directed that energy towards civilization building. So that's probably like, the one kind of 1000 years now kind of written this, this, like, 12,000 word. piece on this kind of diving into how Native American tribes have done and how, how kind of Jews historically have looked at just, again, it's just got to happen to be reading about these things, the kind of stitch together rather than any kind of, you know, conspiracy or whatever, but like, but it's interesting, like, you know, what I just described to you is, like, it almost sounds a weird, like, it always sounds conspiratorial, maybe, or whatever, but like, you know, like, we are so immersed in, this is the water we swim in, and we don't notice it, that this is kind of what's happened. And so I find that to be like, the kind of it's like a 10 year thing. It's kind of the big long up, then then the other piece of it, I think, I think, effectively modern dating is broken that down. I think, I think hookup apps have effectively broken that and for a few reasons, I think one. So we kind of believe now in this pseudo black or pseudo polygamous society where the top echelon of men basically have the UberEATS model of dating and they can basically get women delivered into their homes and how wonderful is that? And happy days. Um, and partly because of the technology part also, it's just more discreet, you know, like, it's not going into by the common by everyone's out every every week, it's just that like, you know, discretion is a part of the new model. And so men kind of can hide their success. The guys who aren't getting any, which is most men can kind of hide their shame. And women can hide that promiscuity. And so it kind of works in this strange way where everyone has incentive to stay mum about it. And so you've kind of got this quiet bubbling of this pseudo polygamy Now, the challenge is that, you know, and you kind of see it everywhere. I'm not saying it's like the only cause, but it's totally consistent with the story of delayed family formation, declining birth rates, you know, delayed marriage, and like, it's totally consistent with that story. And part of the challenge is that sudo polygamy is, in many ways, much worse than real polygamy because it has all the social costs, and none of the upsides you know, because these men are not providing for multiple wives and are providing for hordes of children. They're not providing for extended families. It's like costless, it's like totally wild. And by the way, I should say, it's to trap for them. Like, it's easy to kind of get stuck on that hamster wheel. But ultimately, society has for reason developed these kind of long dated norms of marriage and life, because you know, you don't, you don't be this 45 year old loser, trying to sleep with like 30 year olds, or 25 year olds or whatever. Like, actually, over the long run, you also want kids and you want grandkids, and it's hard to kind of bridge that gap without a range of social markers, and just get stuck in this hamster wheel and kind of So ultimately, it's not even for their benefit, but the kind of breakdown of these long data norms is kind of propelling every cohort into these strange local minimum. Got it?

Will Jarvis 22:08

So are the budget, should we just encourage more people to get married? This is something I'm a big fan of Yeah, I think

Misha 22:12

so. Like, I mean, you almost should trust it, because I'm married. And I've been to three kids and graduations. And you know, and I've been out of the market. So, in some respect, everyone's always kind of talk in the book a little bit here. So like, so, you know, it's always impossible to distinguish whether I'm, you know, I'm, you know, am I resentful a guy just having a crack or it's like a objective thing. So like, I'll caveat. I mean, people could kind of make their own judgment. I think kids, like unequivocally have the greatest joys a man can could experience and I'm a baby maximalist are three and, and God willing will have many more. But like, who knows? Right, but like, to the clinician, trust me, you know, don't know. But like, but yeah, I mean, I think fundamentally, marriage solves a lot of these issues. I mean, the kids thing is strange cheat code, where you kind of get this little bundle of meaning, that's kind of unquestioned, like, like, I mean, there are everyone's had kids forever. It's the most kind of ubiquitous experience in human history, almost by definition, and yet to you, it is, it is non fungible, it is one off it is. It can't delivers everything, there are ism or existential angst. I mean, yet I'm 34, maybe this midlife crisis thing, or whatever, you know, like, we can talk about it again, in 2030 years, who knows, just speaking from where I am today, you know, you're just too busy. Day and trying to like eke out whatever you can from work or wherever else to kind of worry about all the other stuff you you're worried about before. So I'm very bullish on marriage, and, and kids, especially so and you know, kids without marriage doesn't really work. So. So I think that's the kind of there's that's the bundle you want to kind of go for.

Will Jarvis 24:12

Can you can you talk a little bit about about, you know, kids without marriage doesn't really work. I'm, I'm also a big proponent of this, I think it's very important, and it's something our society, we, at least in the West have, have kind of stopped pushing a lot. And I think is important if it is possible for parents to be married.

Misha 24:29

Well, you know, I guess, like, I think I am totally guilty of this, like, I've been guilty of underwriting the importance of kind of symbolic, ceremonial, traditional things just across the board wanted to get too specific, but I'm absolutely hands up guilty of that. And in hindsight, every single time I reflect and it's a mistake, and I think it's almost like a Chesterton's fence thing like I think Is it's you know, for for people, I guess to kind of grow up, curious about stuff and reflecting a lot of it just seems like bullshit until you realize in hindsight that these things matter. I'll give you an totally unrelated example again, Stalin, one of his moments, crowning moments of power and coronation was when, when Lenin died, he had the body in bombed and he and his whole state of ceremony around now, Lenin one, Stalin shot and thrown ditch somewhere, basically, but you know, like, But Stalin seized the moment and created this coronation. Now, you know, an autist might ask, What are you talking about, about people stood in a room kind of spoke to each other, whatever, actually, not how humans work, humans work, these things, you know, but these symbolic things, these kind of group ceremonies and rituals hold real power. And so Stan created a coronation and seized power. Now, these are fearful kind of confusing concepts, but it's the same things marriage and same thing is always other ceremonies where you have an opportunity to forge a new dynamic and to define certain enduring elements in your life and your family's lives. And I think these you know, we are bereft today of rituals and ceremonies, and you kind of see it everywhere, you know, people are hungry for for rituals. And so, and so I think it's I think, I don't know how it could have gone to this by getting, you asked about marriage. I think marriage is appalling from that perspective. I mean, like, can you have a good family that ever again, technically married 100%? Okay, that's absolutely fine. Frankly, you know, I think we live in this deranged moment where a lot of women, you know, a lot of my friends are women were in their late 30s, or mid 30s. And they speak to me and they say, Misha, they lied to us. I was wrong. 10 years ago, I thought, you know, I'm gonna have this great Korea, and I'm gonna, like, you know, buy all my, you know, whatever. And like, Now, there's some miserable lawyers somewhere, a great law firm, without a partner with despicable meeting market opportunities, and they're miserable. And of course, why on earth would you want to be a miserable lawyer somewhere earning some irrelevant amount of money, instead of creating a family with someone like, like, like, like, we live in this dirt range, the moment we're saying that his like, somehow conservative position or whatever, like, like, you know, you need to be conservative to kind of stay on the face of it, like, you have to be a miserable Corporation, to tell someone that actually you're much better off working for me, instead of going creating human life and like rearing human life, and so and so we live in this moment where, you know, so So women, you know, got some friends now who are in the situation where, you know, that kind of pessimistic and finding a partner, and they're, they're going to have a child alone, okay, like through technology or whatever. And frankly, I think that's a great second best outcome, you know, ideally, kind of a mom and dad and a partner, whatever, you know, the second best option, totally legitimate is having a child another way in because children are really, you know, so bullish on children, like that instinct and that option, considering what options available, you know, that is legitimate, or is is probably a very unconscious view, and I apologize to my rabbi and whoever else, but I think I think, you know, I'm not, this isn't like a purist, conservative Spiel I'm giving I just think that, you know, have children, otherwise, you'll be miserable, basically. So. Yeah. I mean, you know, you could contact with question another way, you know, like, broken families, you know, it's tough, obviously, large, dysfunctional communities across the world. Part of the reasons for their dysfunction is because of kind of broken institutions. You know, I wrote about, I read this great biography of Clarence Thomas, obviously, Supreme Court judge and,

Unknown Speaker 29:22

and my great grandfather's son or something.

Misha 29:26

No, it's cool. I think he might have written a biography about him. The enigma of Clarence Thomas, and it's excellent and the author doesn't like him and doesn't really political with him to authors absolute credit, like Thomas's charisma and wisdom shines through and he could see what was happening. The decimation was happening to the black family. And and it didn't I didn't realize until I read this, but how patriarchal black society was at the time and how Inside, you know, Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, these are deeply charismatic, masculine figures and movements. And now you kind of go to like a Trump March or Black Lives Matter March. And it's like pussy hats and, you know, whatever else, like, it's, you don't have that anymore. And so and so you had this decimation of the black man, and the, and correspondingly, the breaking of the black family. And, and, you know, I mean, this is a way bigger issue than kind of, but I just found that kind of striking. And so and so like communities that don't have a marriage norms don't seem to be going very well. So anyway, I know that's like a lot on marriage. But you did. Yes,

Will Jarvis 30:45

absolutely not. And I love that. And Misha, if you don't mind, he asked me, Are you religious yourself? Look,

Misha 30:51

I'm always again, like, hard to kind of answer this question. I think, you know, if you're in the top one, or 5% of anything, you'll know people who are 10x 100x you are and so like, am I religious? I mean, I guess compared to like, probably the average Am I religious compared to like, an actual Orthodox Jew and like, covered rabbi or something like, Absolutely not, like, you know, I'm kind of directionally relating, I go to synagogue every Saturday, which I find very rewarding, you know, I put on to fill in whatever. So like, I'm, you know, I guess that puts me are definitely on the more religious side of keep kosher, you know, all that kind of stuff. So, that puts you out on the more religious side of things. And I've written essay, why practice Judaism, as well, kind of specifically to kind of hit the nail on the head. It's not proselytizing, it's to folks such as yourself, but it was written to my congregation at the request of my rabbi. And but you know, that kind of lays out Why think, you know, Jews, you might find a more rewarding to practice. Can you talk about that a little bit? Sure. So, um, someone once said, I think it was like Esther Perel, or someone like that, I don't remember. But on marriage, they said, marriage is when love isn't enough, is for when love isn't enough. Okay. And, you know, I'm gonna make it sound bleak. Okay, I just think, you know, the covenant, what that means is why we're here, that is the covenant of marriage, and the kind of formal structures and rituals of marriage create rails for a long term relationship. You know, the best paragraph I've ever read on marriage is in Europe has Zonies book on the virtues of nationalism, right, which is an odd thing to say. But yeah, he has his extended beautiful framework about, you know, how you might think you're making a choice going into a marriage, you choose a partner you choose, say, I do, like there's this kind of artifice of consent around it, but there is absolutely no way like, you are not meaningfully consenting to what lies ahead of you over the kind of No, but both ups you know, like yes, many joyous, happy, great things, but the tribulations as well. And I think marriage creates those guardrails and I see the analogy the same in religion, religion is for when God isn't enough, okay? And again, I don't mean to be in to be a to heretical here but like, I think that the the rituals and customs that that religion is, is wrapped in provide a deep structure for meaning for community for tradition, my kids love going to synagogue, I don't think any listeners will go to my think about like, it's a lovely synagogue, but it's quite geriatric, it's in its kind of, you know, it's kind of an aging you know, slowing community. It's not a there are many young vibrant communities because they are the one that happens to be walking distance to my home is older. And again, everyone there is fantastic. My kids are the only ones there. They love it. They have the best time they go there. It's a ritual I get to do with them. Friday night, we have Shabbat just our family together. You know, so there are there are certain songs and there are certain prayers and melodies that just in beautiful that you repeat, every week. You say the Kurdish you say a mourners Kaddish three or four times I don't remember exactly on a Saturday morning and folks who are in mourning use. They said Our Lady said with them a few weeks ago, those gentlemen, his wife just died. He wept, as he said it, he was an old gentleman, and he said, you know, I'll love her forever, basically, too, and I'm standing there in order at this man, I, it's always painful to look at him and stare and to witness such beauty. And you know, these moments, you know, and they come in different shapes and sizes kind of permeate these spaces. And where else to get there, what am I going to be doing, sir? Going out to brunch? Breath, you know, like, you know, I have I, you know, this is not for everyone, this is not for you. Probably, you know, but for me, this is my tradition. And I kind of, you know, and I've found tremendous meaning leaning into it, I think, from a kind of a macro knowledge perspective, like, like, we've kind of talked about that part. I think, like, you know, Jewish body of knowledge is like, enormous going back 1000s of years across infinite amounts of countries and counter countries and debates and arguments now, like, there's a whole bunch of stuff there. Like, like sacrifice is like, half the the mitzvahs, deeds you can do and they're, like, all basically redundant now, officially, because we have a temple at the moment. And so there's just a random example, fuel, and is there mystical parts or whatever, but it's so big, okay. And it's so underrated. And no one talks about it, no one's knowledgeable in this stuff. If you just pick it up and read some of it, it holds tremendous value. And it's a way to anchor yourself to things that are permanent. Pilots a selection bias, you know, you surface things that have kind of worked and have continued to work. But that's kind of the point, that's okay. Like, you shouldn't read everything you shouldn't, there's a whole bunch of stuff, don't worry about it. But if you surface the good stuff, it's complete alpha, like, it is what I, you know, it's, it's, I consider it pure knowledge and spiritual alpha, lying on the sidewalk, right, that's available for you, and I'm certain, it's the same for other traditions is not like a Judaism thing. You know, whatever your tradition is, you know, if you just start to take parts of it need the right posture towards that suits you, you know, some people, you know, you can't take it too literally, or some people need to take a really literally or whatever it is, whatever your kind of exact, you know, mix of seriousness and irony and introspection and selection, you know, like, you need to find the right entry point. But if you find the right entry point, as I have, as my family have, you know, I found that tremendously rewarding.

Will Jarvis 38:02

That's great. That's great. All right. I do think that's a really important sentiment you've just expressed, it seems like people still like big always consistently underrate this, it's, you know, the selection pressure of a very large amount of time on a tradition or knowledge base, you know, can craft like very, like, you know, important truths that you should go out and seek out, but it seems like we ignore it. We're always like, trying to read the thing that just came out, but it seems like we should be much more biased to reading older, older texts.

Misha 38:34

Yeah, I think so. I mean, most people don't read at all right, like or they read, right. But like, I mean, most people and that's kind of fine. I think the way these institutions have been built are to be mass. You know, community events, I'm just reading a history of Texas right now. About Fehrenbach and it's fantastic. It's called the Lone Star State something something it's fantastic and so is saying how whilst, you know, all the kind of Texan rednecks, you know, weren't particularly educated whatever, you know, that high literacy rate, and you know, they read the Bible and they were and they kind of saw through high talking charlatans kind of partly as as a result like these are you know, when I'm when LUFA first mass published his leaflets it wasn't talking to the press is talking to the masses when when under Charlemagne these began mass producing the Bible again, it was to kind of arm priests to create local communities with just average peasants and these kinds of spread literacy and so, these are these are mass this is not, you know, for priestly Brahmin class. This is for, for for the masses, that's kind of worked and I think In this moment where we're addicted to our screens, when, you know, there are no more somepoint asked me, they said there are no more places for men to get together there are you know, or synagogue is is one of them, you know, like, like orthodox synagogue and men and women are segregated. So that's like kind of kind of one. But like, you know, he pointed out on synagogues and strip clubs, that's when men come and only go to one of those. But the point is, you know, you know, we've got some male club gentleman clubs like me, no literal sets, not strip clubs, like, like, like, whatever the cold here. You know, and like, it looks pretty miserable to me to be honest, like, I don't really want to go have lunch bunch of dusty old residents dudes, okay, it's not really my thing. But you know, this is kind of periodic annual rage in newspapers about how these things exist. And it's like, 50 meters down from a female gym, which no one has a problem with, okay, like, and again, like, I just think the current Zeitgeist is increasingly hostile to, you know, basic male needs and the kind of asymmetry between, you know, different preferences of the genders, basically. And so, I think you need to create those spaces too late to do that, you know, maybe in some communities going into PA, maybe someone's going to church, maybe unions, unions were pretty masculine kind of movements, whatever was but like, in this moment, we we don't have many of them and so I think whatever your jam, you just got to kind of create your own.

Unknown Speaker 41:43

That's great. That's great.

Will Jarvis 41:45

I think that's that's well plot and important that we definitely miss nowadays. Me sure I want to observe something I find interesting. And this just could be 100% selection effects. There there seems to be a vertical of people who are very smart. They read Scott Alexander, you know, kind of less wrong adjacent but much more like, generally, like Scott lot more in our religious I think in a resonant country and my friend resonant. Lars to say, you know, he's an orthodox good friend of mine, when the book review contest, your religious yourself, Jeff, you really I can keep going down the list. You know, quite a few people. Do you think there is something about you know, Scott's writing that is intuitive to people who are, you know, smart, religious, interested in these kinds of issues like to think about things? Or is it just selection effects? They're people like me, and that's why I kind of gravitate to him.

Misha 42:39

Yeah, I mean, I. I mean, he's probably like his pro service. And he's probably like, probably going up. Exactly. I could actually look it up with the answers. Yeah. I mean, he's an atheist, I think. And I think he's not religious at all. So you know, I guess he's really ship skews right wing? I don't really know why I think

Unknown Speaker 43:03

he'd probably reject that label ahead. Federal Democratic.

Misha 43:07

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So but I suspect, I'm actually not sure. Not sure why I think. And this might be self serving. And this might be bullshit. But like, there's just something about the way of like, calling a spade a spade and trying to seek truth for its own sake, rather than kind of couched in kind of, you know, social niceties that kind of is more attractive to that crowd. I know, that's true. Like, I imagined, like the right way, his own kind of arrangements and its own kind of social niceties that requires conformity to I imagine suddenly, that's gonna be cute to say that. I guess my short answer is I have absolutely no idea. And it probably is a bit of a selection effect. How of you just kind of plucking out folks interested in it happened to be like that, but yeah, it's I'm not sure what drives these readerships. I mean, they're very powerful. You know, like, I've had a few folks reach out to me, and I've had coffee or whatever, about people from either Australia or overseas and all that happened to be in town or something. And they kind of came across me first. And Scott examines blog or, or elsewhere. And, and you know, these things, and it's quite a diverse group of folks. And yeah, I mean, it is interesting, like, it's kind of the magic of the internet. And one reason I'm right, frankly, is because I, you know, I write pretty collectively about a broad range of things love and I'm fortunate that I'm able to share it with people who care instead of because it's so self select into it rather than harassing my mates or like people like Woody talking about Misha, and so and that's been absolute blessing. I make absolutely no money from it. It's purely a passion project and it's got an open halfway to being kind of financially rewarding, but it's enormous ly personally rewarding and I get I get emails from, from folks with who I can kind of build rapport and connect with and that's rewarding.

Will Jarvis 45:15

I love that I love that series on this podcast get to talk to interesting people I wouldn't otherwise be able to and learn from them. Well, Michelle, thanks so much for taking the time today. Where can people find you? Where should we send them?

Misha 45:29

Yeah, so I think I've been talking about my my newsletter a lot. So I guess that's probably the starting place. It's called kvetch, K v. E tch. And kvetch in Yiddish basically means having a whinge. So like, as you can hopefully tell, like, like none of this, we should be taking up too seriously. It's basically where I just write about all these kinds of subjects or whatever I'm reading at the time. It's free. It's free to subscribe. Otherwise, I'm probably like tweeting about stuff. So but yeah, check it

Unknown Speaker 46:03

out. I'll put a link down in the show notes. Well, thanks so much, really appreciate it.

Misha 46:07

Brilliant. Thanks for having me on.

William Jarvis 46:12

Special thanks to our sponsor, does market analysis for the support. Bismarck analysis creates the Bismarck brief, a newsletter about intelligence grade analysis of key industries, organizations, and live players. You can subscribe to Bismarck free at brief dot biz market Thanks for listening. We'll be back next week with a new episode of narratives. Special thanks to Donovan Dorrance, our audio editor. You can check out documents work in music at Donovan

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Narratives is a project exploring the ways in which the world is better than it has been, the ways that it is worse, and the paths toward making a better, more definite future.
Narratives is hosted by Will Jarvis. For more information, and more episodes, visit