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Codex Vitae added to the idea list

The first thing I’m adding to my Ideas I’m Mulling doc has to be the codex itself, which I started in 2012 after being inspired by an idea by the same name in Robin Sloan’s book Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

I’ve written about it a lot over the last decade (not as well or as comprehensively as Coach Tony and Jason Shen have though… see this article for a good template), but the reason I think it’s such a useful and fun idea is that it operates as a kind of living record of what I am thinking about and what I believe over time. It’s always incomplete and out-of-date, but instead of making me feel bad about that it helps me remember that all of our ideas and beliefs are incomplete and out-of-date in various ways. Who we are is never fully articulated or complete. In a world where something awful is always happening, this is a place where I can revisit and recenter myself around what I believe and what I think I can do about what is happening, fill in gaps that become apparent over time, and correct drift that has happened as well.

The codex is blagenflorble: whole and broken at the same time.

It’s brackish / flows both ways: writing down beliefs forces me to thinking about them, and thinking about them changes how I write about them.

It changes at the speed of life. So while I’m adding it as an entry in my Ideas I’m Mulling doc, I’m also acknowledging that the last few years have moved pretty quickly and a lot of what’s in there right now is woefully out of date. In particular, I’m finding that what is top of mind for me now revolves more around how to participate in this dark timeline, and less about answers to metaphysical and political questions. That information is interesting, but I feel like I’m shifting more into the “and what should we do about it?” mode that sparked my interest in writing a book about disagreement and building tools to help quiet self-reflection and inner growth, so that we can contribute positively to the world instead of just watching it fall apart.

It’s not enough to just create a map of 180 cognitive biases, I have to answer the question: what should we do about our bias?

And so I think the codex needs a larger overhaul too. Reading Martha Nussbaum’s Creating Capabilities and Frontiers of Justice, as well as bell hooks’ All About Love, as well as Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, as well as adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy are helping these thoughts converge into a new constellation of beliefs that haven’t yet been captured.

I think I might start trying to do that here, maybe. Non-committal enough? I’m not sure exactly where to start. Maybe if I just start somewhere, it can find its footing and spiral out from there.

All that you touch
you change.
All that you change
changes you.
— Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler

See the idea list as it was when this article was published, and as it is now.



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Buster Benson

Buster Benson


Product at @Medium. Author of “Why Are We Yelling? The Art of Productive Disagreement”. Builder of