On Consciousness and Prisonbreak


“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?”

―David Foster Wallace, This is Water


“Are you familiar with Gurdjieff?” asked a friend. “He was a spiritual teacher around the turn of the century, and one day, he posed a question to his students — ‘If a prisoner wants to escape from prison, what’s the first thing he needs to know?’

‘You need to know the guard,’ one student said. ‘You need to find the key,’ said another.

‘No,’ Gurdjieff said, ‘the first thing that you need to know if you want to escape from prison is that you are in prison. Until you know that, no escape is possible.’”

—Elle Luna, The Crossroads of Should and Must


“Writing consistently is the only way to escape the intellectual circles that the thinking mind gets trapped in. So when your mind becomes a prison, the pen is your escape.”

—David Perell



I love these quotes about waking up to reality and escaping it when necessary, but how do we avoid prison altogether if it’s not always obvious that we’re building one to begin with?

We realize that we’re not just the prisoner — we are also the architect, the construction worker, the building inspector, and the government body inspecting the inspector.

We must keep writing, designing, building, and inspecting, every step of the way.

Escape is the last resort.

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