Just Finished: The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is a great, short book that can be read in an afternoon but revisited forever.

The author chafes against the growing “homogenization” of people and things in the modern world, and chose the character/story of Procrustes from Greek mythology for his title. (for those unfamiliar with the myth, Procrustes was a son of Poseidon with a stronghold on the moon, on the sacred way between Athens and Eleusis. There, he had an iron bed in which he invited every passer-by to spend the night, and where he set to work on them with his smith’s hammer, to stretch them to fit. In later tellings, if the guest proved too tall, Procrustes would amputate the excess length; nobody ever fit the bed exactly because secretly Procrustes had two beds – the preceding lifted from Wikipedia)

The book delivers exactly what it’s title indicates. A few hundred great aphorisms, many of which the reader has to ponder a moment in order to grasp their full meaning (as a reader, I like that challenge). Some of my favorites:

“A verbal threat is the most authentic certificate of impotence.”

“You know you have influence when people start noticing your absence more than the presence of others.”

“Procrastination is the soul rebelling against entrapment.”

“To be completely cured of reading newspapers, spend a year reading the previous week’s newspapers.”

“You can tell how uninteresting a person is by asking him whom he finds interesting.”

I guess that’s enough. 🙂 Check out this book if you enjoy a good aphorism…

(below: Taleb, and an ancient depiction of Procrustes’ bed)

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