Time Capsule #13

The (other) Emancipation Proclamation, personal leverage, and Letters to a Young Poet.

After recommending Anna Karenina in a previous newsletter I started reading it again, for the 2nd time. It’s even better than I remembered; I can imagine it is even better in the original Russian. The dialogue in the novel regarding the agricultural practices of the serfs inspired my essay for this week.

For the [European] football fans, the business end of the season is officially upon us. The trophies will be handed out shortly to the worthiest competitors. Let’s hope City can keep it up — God willing.

Life’s too short not to dream about the quadruple.

✏️ The 1861 Emancipation Proclamation (in Russia)

My intention is to abolish serfdom ... you can yourself understand that the present order of owning souls cannot remain unchanged. It is better to abolish serfdom from above, than to wait for that time when it starts to abolish itself from below. I ask you to think about the best way to carry this out.

~ Tsar Alexander II

Two years before the famous Emancipation Proclamation in the USA by Abraham Lincoln, the Russians were undergoing liberal reforms of their own. Serfdom in Russia, where peasants were tied to the land they worked which was owned by the state, crown, or Russian landowners, went as far back as the Middle Ages. However, the bondage of the peasantry continued to tighten over the centuries and was a constant source of rebellion and unrest. Moreover, the deficiencies of the serf-system were becoming more and more visible as the gap to market-driven economies of the West continued to widen. After the disaster of the Crimean War, Russian policymakers were keen to institute the necessary changes required to develop Russia’s political, economic, and military strength and reinstate it as a regional power. Tsar Alexander II, taking over the crown in 1855, would go on to usher in widespread social, political, legal, and governmental reforms across the Russian empire in the 1860s, including the emancipation of the serfs. Despite the initial inefficiencies in the implementation of the reforms, the effect on the Russian economy was palpable. Grain production rose substantially and peasant landholdings grew steadily. For this, Tsar Alexander II is known as Alexander the Liberator (Алекса́ндр Освободи́тель).

📸 Photo of the Week

Life is a game of choices.

📖 Book of the Week — Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

This series of letters between the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke and the 19-year-old soldier and aspiring poet Franz Kappus is more than just a mere exchange between acquaintances. What starts off as a request to Rilke to critique the young man’s poems turns into a vibrant relationship and dialogue, filled with life wisdom and guidance for the aspiring creator. He declines the request for critique, telling Kappus that “Nobody can advise you and help you, nobody.” I think many of us who create are always wondering whether what we produce is good enough; whether it will be accepted by the masses and regarded as worthwhile. But as Rilke points out, you should be your greatest and sole critique. Only you know what is your best effort, your best work. Striving to gain your own approval, first and foremost, is a good way to look at art and life. Beyond advice for the creative, this book is loaded with amazing quotes about life, youth, and the human experience. It’s a short read and certainly worth the time.

💭 Quote of the Week

The way you tell your story to yourself matters.

~ Amy Cuddy

🔭 Sunday Best

An awesome playlist to play while reading (One does not simply read the classics without the appropriate music to accompany it)

Laborem Exercens (On Human Work) - A Papal Encyclical by Pope John Paul II

Personal Leverage: How to 10x Your Productivity - By Nat Eliason

1% better every day. Consistency > Intensity.