David Henkin is a life-long historian specializing in uncovering the ancestral events that are the roots to many of the social norms of today. He has published many of his findings in books that are available nationwide. I invited David onto the show today because I read his latest book “The Week: A History of the Unnatural Rhythms That Made Us Who We Are” and found it incredibly insightful. In the book David explains the events that led to the phenomenon of the entire world unanimously adopting the structure of the seven-day week, and the many revisions that structure has gone through over the years that made it what it is today.
In this interview I am joined by David to talk about his book, the origins of the modern week, and the implications of his claims for the average person. We dig into the likelihood that the week may face another revision in our lifetimes, as well as the chance that the week could become obsolete all together. Our discussion also explores the way that the modern week has become engrained in society, religious practice, and our identities.
“You can call it different names. You can disagree about where it starts. You can disagree about what it means, but no one disagrees with the structure of the week!”
This week on the School for Good Living Podcast:
- The origin of the modern week.
- How the seven-day week has influenced modern society.
- Our dependency on structure.
- The likelihood of the week experiencing another major change.
- How the week could be better.
David Henkin [00:00:00] It would make our lives more rational, make our lives more more coordinated, it would it would. It would solve the fact that the week is this sort of frustratingly independent time unit.
Brilliant Miller [00:00:14] Hi, I’m brilliant your host for this show. I know that I’m incredibly blessed. As the son of self-made billionaires, I’ve seen the high price. Some people pay for success. And I’ve learned that money really can’t buy happiness. But I’ve also had the good fortune to learn directly from many of the world’s leading teachers. If you are ready to be, do have and give more. This podcast is for you.
Brilliant Miller [00:00:37] My guest today is David Hanke, an author of a book called The Week A History of the Unnatural Rhythms That Made US Who We Are. I first became aware of David’s work when I came across an article in The Atlantic magazine titled We Live By a Unit of Time that doesn’t make sense. While that’s not totally true, my opinion. There’s a lot about this world that doesn’t make sense. There’s a lot about time that doesn’t seem to make sense. And David explores that he is a professor of history at Berkeley. His research interests include America since 07 and the way that timekeeping affects the ways that we live. His books website explains that we take the seven day week for granted, rarely asking what anchors it or what it does to us. Yet weeks are not dictated by the natural order. They are, in fact, an artificial construction of the modern world. An investigation into the evolution of the seven day week and how our attachment to its rhythm influences how we live is what this book is all about. I am a learning nerd. If you know me, you know that I really enjoyed this book. I learned a lot about it. But one of my biggest takeaways and I don’t want to steal the thunder of this interview is just how much of the world in which we live really is constructed of social agreements. And what’s cool to me about that is if we’ve made it up once, we can make it up again. So I hope you enjoy this interview learning from David. I really enjoyed this book. I loved talking to David. I think he’s a fascinating guy exploring some interesting things. So if you are like me, a fellow learning nerd, I think you’ll enjoy this conversation before we end, as I usually do. We get into David’s writing habits and routines, and he has some fascinating answers as well. In the enlightening lightning ground about travel, about money and about other things. So with that, I hope you enjoy this conversation with my new friend, David Henken. David, welcome to the school for good living.
David Henkin [00:02:40] Nice to be here. Brilliant. Thank you for having me on.
Brilliant Miller [00:02:43] Will you tell me, please, what is life about?
David Henkin [00:02:48] I can’t speak for anybody else, but for me, life is about making connections with people. Lifelong connections, connections with individuals, connections with groups, connections to people you just met, connections to people you know you’re never going to see again, connections with people that you think might, might actually transform your life. For me,
Brilliant Miller [00:03:10] I love that. Tell me, how do you go about that?
David Henkin [00:03:14] I go about that, I guess, by trying to be open to the possibility that someone will be in my life forever and also open to the possibility that I’ll never see them again. Keeping both of those things in mind, I think, has helped me a. Help me listen to people, help me be aware of people and help me think about what life looks like from their perspective.
Brilliant Miller [00:03:37] That reminds me of something someone once told me about people enter your life for a reason a season or a lifetime. You know, and I really like that that philosophy.
David Henkin [00:03:46] Not heard that. That’s nice.
Brilliant Miller [00:03:48] Yeah. So something I’ve really been yearning to know the answer to. And if there’s anyone on the planet that can answer, I’m I’m believing it’s you. You have that definitively. Does the week begin on Sunday or Monday?
David Henkin [00:04:03] All right. Well, the week begins whenever you want it to begin. But in most, most places in the world that I’ve been able to figure out for, I think of the week is beginning on on Monday, and they think of the week as as having what we call a weekend so that we ends with with the days that you take off. In the United States pretty distinctively that we, I think, does normatively begin on Sunday. And in the period that I have studied the 19th century, it was defined by law as beginning on Sunday. And there are reasons for that. And it’s really mostly the the legacy of Puritan Savitri Alien ism. So this is a little bit in the theological weeds, but having to go there and if we can just stop when it gets to the tail, so. For much of the history of Christianity, especially in the in the Catholic Church, the idea was that the Lord’s Day was really quite different from the Sabbath of the Hebrew Bible. So the the method of counting days in the Hebrew in the Hebrew Bible didn’t really blind Christian practice. But Puritan, Savitri, Aryans and especially in England and in northern Europe, disagreed. After the Protestant Reformation, they began arguing that in fact, the Christian Sabbath was rooted in the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments and in the the prohibition of work on the Seventh Day, but that after after the resurrection that was shifted to the first day. So they they maintained the Hebrew Bibles count, which is six days you shall work in on the seventh you shall rest, and the seventh was Saturday. But they said no, but now we, we will. Now we have, we rest on the first day. So by keeping the count, it made Sunday the first day and in fact, many, many Puritans and Quakers and other sort of non I call them dissenting Protestants. Protestants who are not part of the Church of England didn’t use the essentially pagan names that we use for the days of the week that naming them for the planets and instead called them first day, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth day Sabbath, which is a way of naming days in lots of languages. It’s certainly the way of naming days in Hebrew, which makes sense, but also interestingly, it’s there are languages like Greek and Portuguese that also use their numbering system. But the funny thing is that in Greek and in Portuguese, you still begin on Monday, which is called Second Day, and I can date the fourth. So. So in English, we use we don’t use the word Neal, then they don’t call them by the numbers. But in the United States, there is a religious tradition of using the number of days in the number of days. Always follow the Hebrew Bible, so they always follow the assumption that that the day we call Sunday, which is the Lord’s day for Christians, is actually day one not set.
Brilliant Miller [00:07:38] Hmm. You know, this is something obviously you go deep into and so much more that I find fascinating in your book The Week A History of the Unnatural Rhythms That Made US Who We Are. And part of what I love so much about this inquiry. That’s the kind of thing that many people, I think, myself included, don’t really give a lot of thought to yet. It’s part of a world that we’re born into. And there’s these agreements that we just accept as true, right or real. And I suppose they are because they’re they shape our lives and we all seem to abide by them. But something that I just find really interesting is how much of it really is a how much of it really is changeable, right? How much of it through, like you are saying, there are actual laws or there’s, you know, agreements that are created or differences in cultures. But so how much of it is changeable? And then the other thing that’s really remarkable to me about it is how little of this with the week actually ties, or maybe none ties to natural systems, right? Which I had no idea. I feel really ignorant now. But what were you? Let me just back up a little bit because I definitely want to dove into both of those things. But I know that writing a book is no small task that these things take, in many cases years. It’s a lifetime of research or curiosity that you put into, you know, a project like this. Why did you why did you write this book and how did you hope the world would be different because it exists?
David Henkin [00:09:09] OK, the first part is by easier to answer than the second, but well, OK. So so for the first question that a couple of things are relevant background about me. One is more short term, which is that for the last 30 years so that the more short term answer it’ll have for the last 30 years, I’ve been a historian of the United States and I’m interested in my teaching and in my my writing about the origins of the modern world and especially exactly what you were just talking about. Brilliant about the kinds of unspoken agreements that we have that structure our lives. So I study ordinary people and ordinary life in 19th century America. And I try to figure out what changed in their lives that made their society. More recognizably modern because I have always had a suspicion that that was the period when lots of the rules were written, lots of the structures and institutions that we don’t think about were were introduced. So we do think about something we think about industrialization or railroads or electromagnetism or certain forms of capitalism. But we don’t think about things that don’t have spectacular technologies or weren’t spoken about a lot of the time. So I’ve written a number of books. This point about things that I think really changed ordinary life in 19th century America that I see as sort of part of the construction of the unspoken agreements we have of about what what connects people. So that’s one answer, which was then I decided over the course of my of my study that the the seven day week was actually a very powerful institution and was shaping life in new ways. The longer answer is that I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home in New York City, and my own life was and continues to be thoroughly shaped by the weekly calendar in many ways more than by other other calendars. So I understood. So I always knew whether it’s Tuesday or Wednesday, and that all kinds of practical implications. But but I notice that the rest of the world seemed to be that way as well. I could explain how that came to be for my own family, but was wondering how that really came to be for everybody else. And in some ways, being part of a minority religion in the United States have alerted me to the way people can experience the world quite differently. And we talk often about those differences, and sometimes it’s harder to explain the similarities. And the week is one of those institutions that binds all kinds of people and who often think that their lives are quite different. It nonetheless allows them to to to be on the same on the same page or get on the set on the same calendar. So those are probably the two big, broad reasons why I became interested in in writing a book. We asked how I thought the world would be different. I mean, I tend not to allow myself to imagine that anything I write is going to make the world different. But I did hope that this would do two kinds of things for two kinds of people. I primarily hope that people who think about time and there are lots of such people out there who are used to thinking about time in terms of clocks would come to appreciate the ways in which calendars actually play a huge role in structuring our sense of of the passing of time, including this incredibly short time that we have on Earth. People think about that question all the time. I thought calendars play an interesting role in that. We usually don’t think about the week, so I thought that would be wouldn’t change their lives. But I thought that that would speak to people’s curiosity and that I also thought that the much smaller group of people who study 19th century America might start to notice the way in which the week is a kind of unacknowledged building block. Maybe people who studied history, an unacknowledged building block of some of the societies and the experiences that that we all study. So I tried to write this both for for readers who don’t usually read about history and for readers who do so all the time right on.
Brilliant Miller [00:13:39] Well, I I know I emailed you kind of over the holidays as we’re recording this, it’s January of 2022. And this was one of my holiday reads. I really enjoyed. I really enjoyed. A lot of it was totally new information to me and just learning things as simple as, you know, the seven day. Although there does seem to be, I don’t know what you would call it, like a coincidence or synchronicity to many cultures that have used and have lived by a seven day week. But it’s far from the only one. I had no idea that in the French Revolution, the decade, like a 10 day week, was proposed or actually implemented, as I understand it, a six day week in Africa, other days or at places like Mexico or Japan that it was brought there. It was imposed by legislation at a point in time, but we can get to right. But will you talk about what like, why is it? Oh, and this one too? I really want to explore that. Clocks ran for eight days in the United States. Right? What? What’s up with an eight day clock? What is that about?
David Henkin [00:14:45] You know, I this is where I start with with. This is something I I feel like it never fully unraveled, and I spoke to clock makers and read a little bit about clock history. But in in this period, a dominant clock form was a clock that you had to rewind every eight days. And I suspect and continue to to believe that that that’s not a coincidence. I mean, there were some technological limitations associated with it, and there also were 30 day clocks. But but I think it was decided the eight days was sufficiently long that people wouldn’t mind. Wouldn’t mind rewinding, rewinding and an eight and eight day clock is does fit the week because it it allows you to to rewind it at the same point in the cycle and never actually run out and clocks. It’s better to rewind them too early than too late. Sure. Like filling up your gas tank. So, yeah, so so that’s why I think it was useful. I noticed it because we often look to clock history in the history of chrono metric devices to figure out how people’s experience of time changes. So I was doing research the other way that people had had clocks that actually measured the week. And except for a very Thomas Jefferson has some special clocks that he designed. A couple of other inventors did so, but ordinary people didn’t have a machine that told them what day of the week it was. But they did have this machine that kind of reinforced what they already experience, which is that the time goes by and in these seven day intervals. So if you live a life where where you know, when Sunday rolls around, or even when Tuesday rolls around you, you sort of feel like, oh, seven days have elapsed since the last time I did. X spoke to my mother. I went to, you know, went went to the gym, whatever that reminds you of it, if you have to rewind your clock, you do so so that the eight day clock was really in a popular early and mid-19th century device and then ultimately clocks clocks changed.
Brilliant Miller [00:17:13] Interesting. So in the book, you want to come back to Thomas Jefferson, but I want to do it in the context of something you mentioned early call. I think you call it time consciousness. Mm hmm. Right? What? What is time consciousness and why does it matter?
David Henkin [00:17:27] It’s good question. I mean, time consciousness could include a couple of things to include time perception list. You know, our our sense of how much time has elapsed from one event to another. But there is also time consciousness in the sense of our awareness of the flight of time, the passing of time and our awareness of where we are in some larger time frame. And that’s to do with our own mortality. It has to do with our sense of coordination with other people. Yes, all of those things for me count as as as time consciousness.
Brilliant Miller [00:18:07] Mm hmm. So with Thomas Jefferson, you I remember reading his name in the book for some of the ideas he proposed about neighborhoods and one school per six miles and so forth. But I don’t remember you mentioning any of the special time pieces he he had. What will you talk about that?
David Henkin [00:18:23] Well, the entire time Thomas Jefferson was with wasn’t it was an inventor. And he apparently I haven’t seen it. I don’t know if it survived. But but he owned as most of his own design as special clock that would reset it to indicate it was a calendar clock. And some of the there is a big, beautiful one, very old one from the early modern period in Strasbourg, France that that I’ve seen. Also, you can design a clock to in the same way we have watches that tell us what the date of the month is. You could have a clock that tells you the calendar as well that is set to every twenty four hours flip a day or every seven days flip a week. The month is a little bit harder to do, but you can do that as well. And Thomas Jefferson owned one of these, and he was quite proud of it. But yet that that may have been a footnote in the book. I don’t recall where was I? I’m pretty sure it made its way in.
Brilliant Miller [00:19:23] Yeah, thank you for sharing that. So I would something else that I want to explore as it relates to your time, consciousness and again, the mutability of time and the social agreement and so forth is will you talk about what happened? Excuse me. Will you talk about what happened between Wednesday, September 2nd and Thursday, September 14th?
David Henkin [00:19:47] In 1750, do you mean, do yes?
Brilliant Miller [00:19:51] Last year, now in 1752?
David Henkin [00:19:54] So this is this is a cool thing, right? So the the Christian world adopted the Julian calendar that was used in Rome and spread it across much of Christendom over over centuries. And the Julian calendar assumes that the years three hundred and sixty five point twenty five days long, the the solar years that long, but it’s not, it’s slightly less than that. So what happens is slowly over time, the the the calendar year and the solar year get there. They begin to diverge. You don’t really notice it in your lifetime because it’s really moving so, so slightly. But over centuries it does. It does actually begin to be noticeable. And it changes, say the relationship between Easter and and the Equinox and and things of or change the relationship between the calendar of Equinox and the observable Equinox. So. So the Pope Gregory instituted the Gregorian calendar, which makes a small tweak that we still observe today, which is to say that instead of having a leap year every four years, we have a leap year, most likely every four years, but three times every 400 years, we skip the leap year,
Brilliant Miller [00:21:25] and that’s still part of what we practice.
David Henkin [00:21:27] Yeah. So you and I will will lead lives that I assume we will legalize where we actually have a February 29th every four years. But our grandparents did not because in nineteen hundred we didn’t have a leap year.
Brilliant Miller [00:21:49] Now this would really mess because this is how I remember presidential elections. It’s every leap year, but that’s always the case.
David Henkin [00:21:56] Right. So yeah, but in nineteen hundred. Well, and we’re guessing may have been bad luck. The guy who was who was elected in nineteen hundred was assassinated shortly into his into his second term. But yeah, the scheme is that every hundred years you forgo the leap year, but every four hundred years you reinstated. So in 2000 we did have it. Now in twenty one hundred, we will not have a leap year.
Brilliant Miller [00:22:24] I have no idea.
David Henkin [00:22:26] That’s the fix, right? And that’s great. But what do you do about all of the all of the all the centuries where you miss that? How do you correct to get it? So when the Gregorian Gregorian calendar was was was adopted by different parts of the of the Christian world at different times in Russia, for example, they didn’t they didn’t adopt it until after the the the Bolshevik Revolution. But in the British Empire, they in they adopted it, imposed it in the in the 18th century and they imposed on the colonies in 1752. And it it it did a couple of things. One thing then, is it meant that they wouldn’t have a leap year in eighteen hundred, but that wasn’t a noticeable thing. It did. One thing that was quite noticeable was it switched the beginning of the year from March to January. Which is sometimes confusing when people look at things that happened in the United States, like George Washington was born before this change took place and he was born as as we observe it. And in February one, February 22nd, the question What year was he born? Is a complicated question. So we say 70 and thirty two. But at the time it was actually 17. Thirty one because they thought they did. They didn’t flip the the year in until until until March 1st. That was one one change that took place. But the other thing is they had the time to eliminate certain dates in order to get the calendar back aligned with what it would have been had they been counting it properly all along since the time of Jesus. And so they they, they said, were to get rid of 11 days. So they got rid of 11 dates on the calendar.
Brilliant Miller [00:24:19] They disappeared just for that one time, knowing they would be there next year. But hey, we’re just going to kind of get past this correct.
David Henkin [00:24:28] I mean, one one way you could you could describe it, is they? They said all along, our dates have been wrong. Right? Like if suddenly we discovered that actually even we messed up our calendars, messed up. We thought today was January 14th. Turns out it’s actually January 25th, so we’re not skipping those days. We’re just correcting the calendar to to to sort of compensate for this count. Or you could say we’re skipping those days, but what they didn’t do was skip any weekdays. Right? They get the weekly count, and the weekly count, remarkably, has has been kept so far as as as everyone is concerned. From its inception, there have never been religion, societies, cultures, nations, political movements that have disputed with one another as to where we are in the weekly count, even though there’s nothing in the natural world to let us know whether we’re right or wrong. And the reason why people figured out that the Julian calendar was a problem was because they could see that it’s March. It’s March 21st. But the sky doesn’t exactly look like what it should look like on March 21st
Brilliant Miller [00:25:45] because of the the Equinox.
David Henkin [00:25:48] Exactly. Or, you know, and if a detailed, sophisticated study is of of of of the skies, could have could have made that clear to people at many points. And it’s really with better astronomical observation that this became apparent. But with the week that would never happen, there’s nothing that you can look at it in the world and say, You know what? We thought it was Wednesday. Actually, it’s Tuesday. Yeah, the only thing that keeps the week in place is human record keeping.
Brilliant Miller [00:26:19] That is, so why do you?
David Henkin [00:26:20] So you think that we would disagree? You know, we keep different records, right? Or we we lose our records or something like that, but we don’t disagree. The only the only the only at this point in the week is now a global timekeeping system, and everyone agrees. The only thing that is subject to disagreement, I suppose, would be where the international dateline is or should be. Yeah, but apart from that, the entire world agrees. You can call different names. You can just disagree about where it starts. You can disagree about what it means, but no one disagreed about. We have maintained this continuous count of seven day cycles. God.
Brilliant Miller [00:26:59] It’s really I mean, I might just be a nerd on this, but to me, it’s mind blowing and it is on so many levels, you know, from the synchronization of global activity where all the all these different cultures now, you know, for the most part, I’m sure there’s still pockets here and there that might maintain their own practices or whatever, but that we really have unified in a way that, as far as we know, has never happened in human civilization. You know, as one thing and another is this it’s like a theme. I keep coming back to you about the mutability that I just love this idea that we said and like, Hey, we’re actually wrong. We’re wrong about what date, what the data is. Let’s get corrected him on that topic. I’m curious, by the way, like who they like? Who is it that’s driving this? Is this I mean, obviously, you’ve talked about religions or religious leaders, and there’s politicians involved, and I’m sure there were civic leaders and stuff like this. But how do these how did this decision get made? Like how did it get implemented and then rolled out?
David Henkin [00:28:04] What’s interesting in different time periods? I would say church leader, ecclesiastical leaders, religious leaders have been the main forces in the last fifty years. It’s been government. I mean, so the I mean, we call it the Gregorian calendar because the reform took place under Pope Gregory and it was with his authority. And the this is the Christian societies that that that did not adopt, it didn’t adopt it because they didn’t recognize the authority of the pope, which is why it came later to the to the Protestant societies, and he also came later to Eastern Orthodox society, said that they is really, I would say, religious authority and know the Islamic calendar and the Jewish calendar. Those were all determined by by religious authorities and sometimes by the states that that that that imposed that rule. The state was a religious authority. But there are all these things that have happened in the last hundred and fifty years like time zones, and those are introduced often in the case of time zones were introduced by private corporations like railroad companies had had had had the need to coordinate. The coordinate clocks across across time as they devise systems of tightens, but ultimately governments had to had to ratify that, impose that and they did by international agreement. Or give you another example what we call daylight saving time, where we’re where clocks are officially moved one hour back or or or forward for various purposes. That’s that’s done by governments to think,
Brilliant Miller [00:29:53] seriously, hey, delay saying
David Henkin [00:29:55] you hate the switch or you hate being in one of the two phases.
Brilliant Miller [00:29:58] I hate the switch I wish, and my understanding is that here in Utah, we’ve actually passed legislation that it will end as it has in places like Arizona or I think Hawaii doesn’t deserve it. If our neighboring states will also agree,
David Henkin [00:30:14] I’m like, right now, I mean, I think there is a big move to eliminate the switch. But one of the problems is that people really even people who agree with that disagree as to which which they want to keep it as a little easier for Arizona because they’re sort of a little in-between time zones. So I don’t think there’s strong disagreement, just disagreement as to whether they should always be a standard time or always be a daylight saving time, because you can just because it’s also unclear whether they should be Mountain Time or Pacific Time. So just kind of splitting the difference by being mountain standard all year long. But, you know, and in Utah’s also border is a time a time zone, so they can make that decision as so they could they could be Mountain Mountain standard. But yeah, they’re little bit guys a little bit further, further east than Arizona. So, yeah, so but things like time zones and ended in daylight saving hour are all conventions, and they were imposed by governments and the international dateline will be another. They’re all there. All kinds of collective agreements that were basically agreed upon internationally around the period following World War One or during World War with the World War, played a large role in in creating a kind of international order that could do something like that. So speaking which there was the same people who introduced these ideas of uniform mean time zones and summertime and all that also wanted to reform the calendar. They wanted to solve a real problem, which is a bit week doesn’t fit into any other calendar unit. It’s not a neat subset of a month or a year or a century or anything else. Yeah, the only the only calendar year like that.
Brilliant Miller [00:32:08] So I am not not the seven day week, right?
David Henkin [00:32:11] One of the seven day week doesn’t fit in, right? Because because the year is 365 days long and there’s always seven, so. So what would I say to you today? Is Friday, January 14th. In some sense, on Friday, January 14th, twenty twenty two is there is a redundancy. I mean, you know, like January 14, 2022 is by definition, Friday, but we have to actually say also Friday because it’s additional information because it changes every year. So this causes all kinds of kinds of confusion. You know, people often make appointments and they say, I’ll meet you on Friday, January 13th and then you don’t know, well, there is no Friday, January 13th, but you could have a calendar where every January 13th with the same day of the week and you could have a calendar where there was exactly the same number of weeks and every month and every year. And that would solve all kinds of problems with the counting. And since people typically only work, people will work by the week, but they seem to get paid by or assessed by the month of the year. It’s a it’s a technical accounting problem that they don’t fit. So the same reformers who had all these great ideas about how to standardize time and in other ways, look at what we’ll do is we’ll create a year that’s essentially three hundred and sixty four days long, plus some extra days. Those extra days will be part of the year, but they wouldn’t be part of the week. It would be what people called extra hebdomadaire outside of the weekly cycle. So you could go, for example, from Saturday, December 31st to like holiday and then the next day would be Sunday, January 1st. And it would solve problems. If you did that, then every year would have the same alignment of weeks of sorry of dates and dates and days. And that didn’t that didn’t fly. It was one of those reform movements that had lots of support and momentum and prestige, but ultimately. They went up before the League of Nations, and it was defeated and continued to sort of surface periodically thereafter, but by World War Two, is it clear that that movement that that movement, that movement died so that the week is in, on the one hand, seems like one of the most changeable units of time because it wasn’t universal and it really dictated by nature, even suggested by nature. On the other hand, it’s proven to be one of the most difficult and then to change one of the most entrenched calendar units that that we have. And even though it causes all kinds of problems for other other systems of timekeeping, like the month in the year. No one really wants to to tinker with it. And this this was a change, not in its how long. It wasn’t like the French Revolution wanted to make it ten days. It wasn’t like the the Soviet Revolution that made it five days and then six days and try to make it non synchronized. This was leaving everything about the week alone. It just says one day or two days and a leap year will be blank. They’ll have no weekday value. And that switch to the structure of the week proved unacceptable to masses of people and throughout the world, and especially in the West, where, where, where the movement took place.
Brilliant Miller [00:35:46] So is this what’s called the is this what’s the international fixed calendar?
David Henkin [00:35:50] Yes, exactly.
Brilliant Miller [00:35:52] Yeah. And that and that was amazing to me to read about that and to read it. As you said, it was very prominent. I get it. It actually seemed to have a lot of support and people like Kodak and people like the Sears Roebuck and Company actually used this.
David Henkin [00:36:10] Yeah, no. George Eastman, the Kodak Corporation was in some ways one of the gorillas of the fathers of this movement. One of the the leading lights. And he approached it primarily from an accounting accounting standpoint. But then it turned into a much larger movement that we could really all be on the same. It would make our lives more rational, make our lives more more coordinated. It would it would. It would solve the fact that the week as this sort of frustratingly independent time unit. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:36:45] Well, you I if I if I have it right, you write in your book that that Kodak adopted this in the 20s as an accounting, just as you said, and then held on to it all the way until 1989.
David Henkin [00:36:59] Yeah, I I forget when they were when they stopped doing that, and if I said it in the book, then I hope it’s correct.
Brilliant Miller [00:37:06] Says Kodak would maintain this accounting practice until 1989, and its founder, George Eastman, devoted extraordinary energy and resources to advocating what he saw in the words of his contemporary biographer as quote, A natural evolution in modern life as inevitable as was Standard Time in 1884 the heap. But that’s crazy to me. In a way that they maintained this like asynchronous. It was asynchronous to the rest of society, a 13 month accounting calendar for like 70 years as late as almost 1990.
David Henkin [00:37:35] Yeah. I mean, one one. One way to think about it is that he was just obsessed with something that he thought would be better for the world. And he had the and he had the power and authority to impose on his employees. Another way to think about it, though, is that lots of work cultures adopt their own calendar. We’re familiar with it industries like hospitals that have to run continuously. Airlines that have shifts that often straddle days and weeks. They create some version of their own calendar. Now, schools increasingly sometimes have have have schedules that don’t quite conform to the week for various reasons we can talk about. So you could think of Kodak as being one of those workplaces. It didn’t have to be. There was nothing about working for the Kodak Corporation that that that made the usual calendar problematic. But people often come to adopt a different calendar for for, for, for work purposes.
Brilliant Miller [00:38:37] That makes sense. And you see that even with something as simple as like a fiscal year, the difference between a calendar year in the fiscal year so sense. But one thing I’m I’m really curious to know from your view is what would like. OK, so two for two things. One is would we, in your opinion, would we be better off as a society if we implemented something like the international fixed calendar and or what might be the benefits? B. That’s that’s the first question. And here I’ll stack questions. But the second is, do you see any major changes like this happening if you stretch out and kind of imagine hundreds of years into the future for humanity and I know start like if we do achieve, you know, if. Go to Mars or we achieve interstellar travel, of course, this will change the way I think we think about time and our time consciousness. But do you see on this planet in the next decades or centuries that we will implement any major changes related to the way we think about or use time lag time?
David Henkin [00:39:38] Tough question, especially when you frame it as broadly as the way we think about our use time. I’m sure there are. I have no particular insights into into that. If you now it’s the question of whether we’re likely to change anything about the week. I do have some some thoughts, so I don’t think we’re likely to change the did to go with a fixed calendar to go with these extra abdominal days. I also don’t think that if we did, it would change the structure of our lives all that much. But it was really weird, right? Because it’d be weird to have a day that would require a lot of mental adjustments. I don’t think it would have a lot of practical consequences, except we have enormous practical consequences for the for the, you know, the hundreds of millions of people on the planet who were attached to the week for religious reasons and would continue to experience their religious obligations on the old calendars. That would be a really difficult thing. I know a Muslim who wanted to treat Friday as a climactic prayer day would continue to do so, but now would be operating on on a calendar that wasn’t aligned with secular society or business. Because, you know, and the Jews who wanted to observe the Sabbath or everything else about Jewish liturgical life would continue to try to keep the old counters. It would create that kind of problem. Yeah, but I don’t think actually living within an international scandal would feel any different because it’s still still seven days. It just be weird every every year you had this holiday. But we experience that weirdness already. I mean, often when you have a holiday on a Monday and everything else is such a short week, I thought it was so, so so that weirdness I think we, we we we could live with whether we might have less of a need for a coordinated calendar at all as certain technologies develop. Or if we were to travel to places that that cut us off from the from the astronomical rhythms of the Earth. I think that’s definitely possible. I think that the kinds of electronic calendars that we already use that often that often obviate the need for remembering stuff or even having your appointments be regular. If my computer is really going to help me and I actually tend not to use electronic calendars, I have paper calendars like this one. But but as more and more of us have computers that will just essentially tell us when we have to go to the dentist, when whenever violin lesson is and when, when we have to pay our money and all that, we might not need to use the week as much as we do as a mnemonic device. And I think that would be a really significant change. I don’t look forward to and don’t think that would be fun or good for us, necessarily, but I do think in a subtle image, but that that could happen. The big what I began writing the book, I was wondering whether the things that hold the week in place for us were unraveling and some of them are telecommuting. Definitely a big difference. And I think we sort of saw that the effect of working from home also during the pandemic, because of course, one of the big things that does is that it aggregates temporally as well spatially work from from from from non-work. The more that that’s been eroded by 24-7 commerce and 24-7 accessibility, the more that crucial feature of the week is is jeopardized. I also suspected that one of the big things that anchored the week for for many people in my generation was and even the generation after me was synchronized entertainment. So when your television show appears on this, this, you know, movies come out on this moment or all of these synchronized entertainment forms really shaped our experience that we can. And I do think that they did. And that’s definitely changed now with asynchronous entertainment, with one huge exception. And I think we’re able to really perceive its significance now that sports so live sports especially. Live team sports and most obviously, football really rely upon the technology of the week to stagger, coordinate the activity of playing and watching, watching, watching games, and that kind of used to be the way entertainment worked in general with theater and television and and radio. And increasingly, it really is just sports. But sports are extremely popular in the United States, and football is an especially popular one. So OK, so those are all some things the ways in which the we could be losing its grip on us. And they do make a difference. But but after the pandemic shutdown, I’m more and more. More and more convinced, though, we’re still so attached to these rhythms are so attached to the idea that our Tuesdays will be different from our Wednesdays that I don’t think the week is unraveling so soon.
Brilliant Miller [00:45:14] Yeah, I think you’re right. I think you’re right. All right. Thank you for that perspective. Well, we’ve covered, we’ve covered a lot, and I appreciate you indulging my curiosity in so many of these things. I’m curious, what what did you learn in the writing of this book that surprised you? What what the what really stood out to you?
David Henkin [00:45:39] Well, the one thing that was important to me, but I’m not sure it’s all that interesting to non historians was I sort of figured this change would would the change that I saw, which is that a change from thinking of the week primarily as just dividing weekdays from weekends or secular and sacred time or or labor and leisure that the week began to really different differentiate all seven days like and there was that I thought that the emergence of the kind of week that we have where we can, not just whether it’s weekday weekend, but we have very different lives on on, say, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I thought that that would have emerged in the middle of the 19th century and over the course of my research, I decided actually happen a little bit earlier. So that’s that’s the kind of thing that historians care about. But, you know, for most people, middle mid-19th century, early 19th century are basically just the same old times. So that may not be so, so interesting. But that is an honest answer. I I guess I I was surprised by some of the things that didn’t seem to, uh, to mark the week for people. I had thought, for example, that food would play a huge role, as it has in in more recent periods, food rituals. You know, the the sort of equivalent of the can Taco Tuesdays or or just the institutional food for food provision would would anchor itself to the week so that you’d have this real visceral memory of like, you know, Wednesday is going to be pizza or Friday fish and. And there was a lot less of that in the United States than in the time period that I studied. And I would have expected that was sort of a little bit surprising. I was sort of hoping and expecting to find more women thinking about how their menstrual cycles either aligned with or deviated from patterns, and they couldn’t find much evidence. That’s there were there were there were definitely things I sort of expected to find and didn’t find. But the truth is that it was less a story of of of being surprised at what I saw than a story of my being happily surprised by what I was able to confirm and felt like. Well, you know, my experience with all this in my experience, I think of the week this way. Mm hmm. And I’m sure that’s idiosyncratic. And then you wonder whether other people think about the week that way, too, and they wonder whether they thought about the week in the past that way. And then you wonder whether they left any evidence that they did. And I was happily surprised that the answer to all those questions was kind of yes. And all these people thinking about the weak and idiosyncratic ways, I thought it was idiosyncratic. And I found them speaking about it. And I found that it was connected to memory. That that’s probably the the major discovery might be a little bit a little bit strong and a little bit misleading because I did wonder about it and it’s hard to prove anyway. But the the big punch line that that I wasn’t sure of when I started and I was more sure of when I finished was that the week is really a mnemonic device and it’s attached to both the the powers and the perils of human memory for us in a number of ways and the part of the reason why we experience time passing and quickly when we think about it in weeks is because of that. We remember our our lives as a succession of weeks and ever what we did on a certain Tuesday. We remembered as as as a Tuesday, we don’t remember it as like 17th of a month. And so the week plays this weird role in our in the grasp that we have or the grasp that we lose over, over, over our pasts. That’s not as most practical function as most practical function, I think really is coordinating and scheduling activities among strangers. The modern week does for us and we didn’t do a long time ago, is allows people to organize their lives in the future with some sense that a repeated activity will be easiest to coordinate and schedule if it’s on the same day of the week and easiest to remember. So that’s the the biggest thing that the week does. It’s very practical and logistical. But the deeper thing that the week does and it’s connected to the fact that we have weekly schedules and weekly habits is it really anchors our memory. We relate to the the recent past and even a little bit of the distant past by thinking about weekly cycles. And to me that that’s that’s that’s a deep. That’s sort of a deep insight into into the the implications of weekly timekeeping, because when you say that what a week does, which is, I think true in the modern world is that it coordinates schedules. That sounds like, you know, it’s maybe just a disciplinary device or a way just to get us all to the fall, the fall in line and that that may not sound so, so interesting. But when you think about the fact that the week as the calendar unit through which we both experience and account for our pasts, we have some sense of the stakes of this technology are more interesting.
Brilliant Miller [00:51:27] Yeah. Well, especially if you do a thought experiment like what would life be in the absence of weeks or named or even numbered days just in the span of time? Like what is that said
David Henkin [00:51:44] to me that that’s a really interesting question. And I and the way you frame it suggests that you think that we would be somehow cut loose and I don’t know the words.
Brilliant Miller [00:51:55] Yeah, I don’t know if you use this word or like a temporal dislocation.
David Henkin [00:51:59] Yeah, temporal dislocation or disorientation or loss. Yeah. No, I think that would be true. And and and I I I think the problem that way, because usually when you tell people, what would we do, we didn’t have weeks, they assume the stakes of that would be some kind of unsettling of the relationship between labor and leisure. And that would be true as well, of course. But that’s not all that a week does. And so we didn’t have weeks. We’d probably come up with some other system for four alternating labor and leisure. I mean, I would hope that we would light societies that that didn’t have. We had very different systems for alternating labor and leisure, often systems that that were particular to a class or an occupation or a sector of of of a job market. And that’s true. But I think that what you’re saying is actually kind of at least more interesting and maybe in some ways more frightening. Like if we didn’t have the calendar units that we had, could we imagine an experience of time that essentially homogenized all days? Yeah, they’re just they’re just days. And that’s what people complained about during the pandemic shutdown. Because they are this day and that they were complaining about the homogeneity of time. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:53:20] Yeah. Absolutely. Well, the I think the last thing I want to ask in this in this part of the interview is is about this disconnection from natural cycles, right? As you point out in the book, it’s not tied to. And in this conversation, you’ve mentioned like equinoxes and solstices and solar cycles and lunar cycles, like
David Henkin [00:53:43] with tides or anything like that.
Brilliant Miller [00:53:45] So there’s all these natural. And so this is where I might be connecting dots that really don’t deserve to be. They have no connection, perhaps. But I have this theory that I, as I live, that I think a lot of the UN what we experience, what I experience is the un workability on this planet, the depression, the anxiety, the loneliness, the meaninglessness, the, you know, the ecological devastation is this sense of disconnection from the natural world. And I again, this my this is where the connecting the dots that don’t really have a connection might be happening. But but I wonder if the way we’re living in this week is such a significant part of our experience, the way we think about and structure and use time, but it’s not tied to the natural world. And no wonder there’s this drift, this separation, this maybe this lack of appreciation or even reverence for for nature. I don’t know what the question is here, but there’s something about the week and the implications of the fact that it is not actually tied to a natural cycle. What are your thoughts about that? What that really means and what that’s what the impact of that is for us as humans?
David Henkin [00:54:58] Okay. I think that’s a great question. And I I sort of think it’s a question that other people have raised with me, and I think I have a different perspective from you. But I should preface this by saying that I think yours is. The more I think is, is the more common perspective, the more popular perspective in mind, the minds ones, the maybe the more obstinate an idiosyncratic one. So so as I understand you, you’re suggesting that if we really organize our lives by time units that have no distress. Book Connections the Natural World, it’s just going to reinforce our alienation from nature. And it’s just going to enforce unhealthy ways of living in unhealthy ways of using resources on the planet. So I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t disagree with you about how our ways of living are unhealthy, about our alienation or about our our better, our irresponsible use of planetary resources. I think I get the sense that you and I are completely on the same page. I personally, though, don’t think that the fact that the weekly time unit is a natural plays a big role in that, and there are a few reasons. One is just to just to start. There are a lot of naturally base time units that have also changed historically, and that also might be oppressive or alienating. And so I don’t think that just because something is natural, that it means that it’s necessarily good for us or that it’s, you know, there there are a lot of things in nature that we live by, that that produce conflict and destruction, destruction also. So. So I’m not. Some of the things is that because something is that number two is that many of our time units that are rooted in some way in nature at this point are pretty artificial also. Yeah. So like day and night are obviously natural time units, but we don’t really live by astronomical day and night. We live by clock day and night. And so that that’s the natural time because it’s certainly it’s enforced on some level. Bye bye, bye bye alight. But you know, the fact that we we work with eight hour days when we be 10 hour days, that’s not suggested by back by daylight, because daylight varies various bailouts, but it varies by bike by season. And then there’s the month when the month is is is certainly suggested by a lunar cycle, but in Jews and Muslims and and as other societies as well. Notice where we are in the lunar month. But the United States, most people don’t and Christians don’t. So the month has become completely artificial to the Gregorian month is roughly lunar in length and average length. But it is not lunar in phase, right? Knowing that today is January 14 doesn’t suggest that we are a full moon that night and do the Moon so. So it’s a lot of things that are are are timeless, that are natural or are really experienced as not natural or have been transformed and in others just aren’t really natural at all, like the. And then the third thing I would say is that people are or have been so surprised this is that this is not surprising that my research is a surprised about the reception of the book. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to has been very interested. Some of them in surprise. Some of them have actually taken issue with my claim that the that the week is artificial. All of those reactions suggest that we don’t actually really experience the week as artificial. We experience it as natural. And that’s what people didn’t want blank days because it seemed to really misrepresent something fundamental about the character of of of time. Because we do think that today really is Friday, and you can’t just say that. No, no, it’s it’s actually Thursday evening. You really could. And nothing in our nature would never would never correct us. But but so so that’s that’s why I’m skeptical as to whether if the week is doing damage to us, which it could be. But I’m skeptical that the reason would be that the week is distinctively artificial. Again, just to make sure I’ve I’ve said. One is that I don’t think that that natural time is necessarily any better for us to. I don’t think that the time units that we have that are rooted in nature are actually really natural anymore. And three, as most people do experience that because as artificial said, maybe it doesn’t. It doesn’t actually a strange number of nature.
Brilliant Miller [01:00:12] Yeah, great. Great points. OK, well, with your permission, I want to go ahead and transition us to the next part of the interview. The enlightening lightning around the enlightening lightning around is a series of questions on a variety of topics. My aim for the most part is to ask the question and just stand aside, let you answer. But also to keep us moving, so you’re welcome to answer as long as you want. But my one of my aims here is this is for my part, to be concise. OK. All right. Question number one, please complete the following sentence with something other than a box of chocolates. Life is like a.
David Henkin [01:00:51] A mystery.
Brilliant Miller [01:00:53] OK. Number two, here I’m borrowing the technologist and investor Peter Thiel’s question. What important truth do very few people agree with you on?
David Henkin [01:01:06] Hmm. There’s so many. It’s not good to wake up early in the morning.
Brilliant Miller [01:01:14] OK. You said there were so many was there another that popped to mind as well?
David Henkin [01:01:19] There there? Well, that the only way to lead a leading, meaningful. Sorry, I tried to frame it as the thing that I think are the basic. Yeah, I very will agree with the idea that you can have a meaningful life without having children,
Brilliant Miller [01:01:39] without having children. OK. All right. Thank you. Question number three, if you were required every day for the rest of your life to wear a T-shirt with a slogan on it or a phrase or saying or quote or quip, what would the shirt say?
David Henkin [01:01:53] I love the alphabet. OK.
Brilliant Miller [01:01:57] Question number four, so what book other than one of your own, have you gifted or recommended most often?
David Henkin [01:02:05] Uh. Maybe. Cherry by Mary Karr or. The mezzanine by Nicholson Baker.
Brilliant Miller [01:02:19] I’m not familiar with either of these books. Why? Why these books?
David Henkin [01:02:23] One’s a memoir. One’s one’s fiction. I tend to recommend books to people because I think that they would like them. These are both terrific books, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to the same person, but they are distinctive and beautiful. And I I think that I think friends appreciate books where they recognize something distinctive in the way they think or talk about the world. And then when you give someone a book, they recognize that that’s also a bond that they share with you. Mm-Hmm.
Brilliant Miller [01:02:58] Right on. All right. Question number five deals with travel, you know, like in the good old days when we used to do that sort of thing. But what is one travel hack meaning something you do when you travel or something you take with you to make your travel less painful and more enjoyable?
David Henkin [01:03:16] I mean, I have so many boring answers that I travel very, very frequently and I do many, many little things perfectly. So this is in some ways, a good question. And it’s a bad question because I go, so I mean, I do things like I in San Francisco airport. I’ll check in in the international terminal for a domestic flight because I’ll get a shorter line on clearance TSA PreCheck and then and then flip to the other terminal. Lift the the other, the other terminal. I what I do, if I’m, if I’m accompanying a friend to a flight and want to want to see them to the gate, I’ll purchase a frequent flier award ticket on their flight to get through security and then I’ll cancel it and we deposit the miles after I say goodbye to them at the gate. I travel very lightly. I mean, I pack very lightly and I travel with with very little. I mean, I’m sure lots of other kinds of baggage, but very little physical material, material baggage. Yeah, those. I mean, you know, I all kinds of credit card shenanigans and things of that sort that make it more affordable. Well suited to travel. Yeah, we could go on. We could go on that of for too long. That is, it seems like a good question to me, but it’s actually it’s actually a horrible thing because. All right. Because I have too much to say about that subject.
Brilliant Miller [01:04:45] Yeah, that sounds like that. If you don’t already have one, like there’s a whole blog right there just waiting to be written.
David Henkin [01:04:50] Yeah. And I I read some of those, some of those,
Brilliant Miller [01:04:54] you know, I’ll just share with you because you mentioned traveling light. There was a guest on the show a couple of years ago, Alan Weiss, Weisman. He wrote, The world without us. Mm hmm. Talks about where he’ll travel internationally. And he never many guests have said this that they only travel carry-on. Yeah. He said that one of the things that he’ll do is he he’s gone to the sporting goods store and bought one of those flat fisherman’s vests so he can just pack it. It’s like another. It’s another small carry-on worth of stuff on his person. It’s like, that is so smart. I haven’t done that yet, though.
David Henkin [01:05:28] You know, I do always, always take carry on. But yeah, uh, I have not tried the flood risk and it’s now not exactly my my a good fashion fit for me, but under a jacket. I’ll think about it when.
Brilliant Miller [01:05:43] Yeah. So, OK, question number six, what is what is one thing you started or stopped doing in order to live or well?
David Henkin [01:05:55] Hmm. I have stopped, though, maybe a long time ago. Worrying about how old or young my friends are. And I think that helps your age well, to not see yourself as part of a of of an age cohort, to not think that your life needs to change or develop in some way because of your age, that could also be another thing that I disagree with lots of people about. And I think it’s good to have norms of age appropriate behavior weigh very lightly upon you. I. I definitely tried to eat more healthily as a way of of aging. Less painfully, but that I’m sure everyone says that
Brilliant Miller [01:06:51] so does that there anything, any specific food or beverage you’ve given up or begun or supplement or any anything?
David Henkin [01:06:59] I think at some point it’s been a while I gave up orange juice and that that wasn’t as good for me as I used to think. It was a lot of sugar in that.
Brilliant Miller [01:07:10] Yeah. OK, question number seven, what’s one thing you wish every American knew?
David Henkin [01:07:23] I. That’s a hard question to ask you as a student, is there like a million little things that’s worth that, I think of as big things that that I wish every American news. Let me take a moment to see if I could. Specifically, the people I wish every American knew about, about the American past. I guess I wish. Every American knew in some greater detail the history of slavery in the United States, so.
Brilliant Miller [01:08:01] Yeah. Yeah, I did. I. I do, too, and I just do want to go sideways on my enlightening lightning to ask you because of course, you are a bona fide American historian. I’ve had a few people on my show like Mark Charles, who’s a member of the Navajo Nation, who’s run he ran for president in the last cycle and so forth. And he has a lot to say about this and and other people that I’ve talked to both on this show and ask that, you know, to say it crassly, you know, that the history of this country is a history of slavery and genocide. And this is something I think we haven’t yet really come to terms with as a society. And I’m not sure what it would look like if we did or how we would do it. But what? And I know that could be its own hours long conversation. But what’s your take on? On a, you know, like coming to terms with that aspect of our history and maybe healing from it, if that’s the thing like,
David Henkin [01:09:03] yeah, so I should say that I agree with that and I and I agree with the idea that there needs to be some healing. But when I said before that, I wish Americans knew knew better. I really just mean, I wish they knew more about it. I don’t necessarily need Americans to decide that or that on the story of U.S. history is a story of genocide and slavery. I don’t disagree with that. I mean, not only that, but I do. But I don’t need I don’t. I don’t think Americans need to come to come to terms that fact. I actually just wish they would. No, no. That history. I love it. Now, as for your question, is what it would take to heal? I really don’t know. I mean, it is very, very difficult. And it’s a, you know, lots of societies do this. We see this in South Africa and in Germany. What does it mean for people to to reckon with either their complicity, which is harder to do when you talk about intergenerational complicity or with just their benefit? Right? I mean, there is what do you do with the fact that you and I and most people are the beneficiaries of historical developments and historical misdeeds that no one would consciously repeat? Right. So what do you do do? Do you divest yourself of those benefits and do you or do you just make clear that you’re aware of it? Do you try to compensate people that you think of as either the victims or the descendants or the counterparts in some way? I I’m more agnostic about that to that general question. I have views on particular questions. I, I I do think that the just that transitional justice or transgenerational justice is is a coherent. Concept and that a lot of the things that people propose for you for reparations, et cetera, are are are are called for by the demands of justice. I don’t necessarily think that that heals. I think he healing and just policy are different goals. They’re both worthy goals, but they’re different. And I don’t I don’t have any particular insights as to how we achieve the healing one. I do think that that education is is probably the the most reliable tool. But you know, education, of course, is a controversial is a controversial technology, right? People disagree on what should be part, how it should be taught and how it should be used to serve to produce either justice or healing. But I guess the main thing I would say is I don’t think that justice and healing super worthy goals are necessarily always aligned.
Brilliant Miller [01:12:11] Yeah, that’s a I think that’s a keen insight. Thank you for that and thank you for letting me take a tangent. I think so. OK? Question number eight What’s the most important or useful thing you’ve ever learned about making relationships work?
David Henkin [01:12:29] Always. Always accepting the fact that. Someone else is going to see things differently from you and. Trying hard to to understand both both perspectives try to sort of tell a story as you perceived it and tell a story or someone else perceived it. And and and accept the the reality, if not necessarily always the legitimacy of someone else’s experience.
Brilliant Miller [01:13:02] Hmm. That’s an interesting way to say that the reality of even if not the legitimate legitimacy, I mean.
David Henkin [01:13:08] Yeah, I mean, everyone’s experience is legitimate in the sense that everyone’s entitled to their experiences. But but but if if you discount someone else’s perspective just because you believe firmly that it’s inaccurate and you treat that as the end of the story, then you won’t have a relationship with that person. I don’t just mean that you’ll have conflict and then you’ll cease to to to be able to have a relationship. You won’t actually have a meaningful connection of any sort. You won’t. You won’t actually be able to relate to that person.
Brilliant Miller [01:13:44] Yeah. All right. And the last thing. Last question here in the lightning round is, aside from compound interests, what’s the most important or useful thing you’ve ever learned about money?
David Henkin [01:13:55] Mm hmm. Again, this is a bad question for me because I have too many thoughts about here. You’re hitting all the I would say that I have learned. Probably one thing I’ll say is the money you have is is not is not the result of deserving or meriting it that you may have acquired it legitimately and you may have acquired it through hard work. But money is one of those things that gets like other resources, gets now distributed and distributed haphazardly. And you know, you want to take take care of it as you see fit, but. And there’s not necessarily an argument against private property, it’s an argument against thinking of of of private property or money as one’s their just desserts in life. I try to decouple the question of wealth from the question of of of merit or or sort of identity. So I, I have always tried to think of of of money as a tool. I find getting rid of money very if I have it very liberating. And I I’ve learned a lot about money from from gambling. Actually, I I don’t do it much these days, but I have always enjoyed gambling. And one of the things I like about gambling is it really not only separates money from question the merit, it separates money from questions of value. Right. If, if, if, if when you go to say to a casino and you risk the risk ten dollars on the role of a dice at the turn of a card, you’re acknowledging that you’re paying for nothing, right? Yeah. Maybe entertainment, which is often like, I like to spend money for experiences rather than for objects. But but you’re you’re risking the possibility of spending something for nothing and you’re also hoping to get something for nothing. You’re hoping to get something in return for nothing. But the fact that you that you’ve been willing to make a risk and this is obviously true not just for gambling, statue, for gobs, for investments, but to for other things as well. I like the idea that money can be something for nothing, rather than the idea that money represents labor or represents objects of value because it becomes easier to not live a life where you’re constantly thinking about money if you reduce it to a game. And obviously, if you don’t have enough money for your basic needs, that’s not what money is. But, but for many people I know who have enough money for their basic needs or they have a job or they have some kind of family resource, or they have some kind of cushion. They still mostly think of my money as as many people do as as representing labor that they’ve expended or representing objects that they would like to acquire. And it does represent that in a way. Right. But the more I think that I can think about money as as as just a game, the more likely I am to make good decisions about my life because then I’ll be thinking about experiences and objects and labor, not in terms of their financial equivalent. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:17:37] Now I appreciate that’s a very thoughtful perspective, and I suspect I’m going to be reflecting on that for for a little while. So thank you for that. And speaking of money and gratitude, one of the things that I’ve done is I’ve made a micro loan to an entrepreneur in Sierra Leone on your behalf through keyboards and squares there in San Francisco. Yes. Yeah. She is a 30 year old named Salamatu. She will use this. She’s married. She has three children who are all between the ages of two and 10, and she she runs a retail business. She sells cosmetics. So this money will go to help her grow her business. And then with the interest, it’s paid. I won’t go to me. It’ll go to the field partner who manages it. So hopefully that will be part of a virtuous cycle where just the act of us having a conversation, hopefully people listening benefit. But at least one entrepreneur somewhere else in the world hopefully will benefit from this as well. So thank you for
David Henkin [01:18:35] making that makes me feel so good. I maybe it goes as saying, but I should just make clear with them what I was saying before that. If you have an attitude toward money that that I try to have, which is that it’s really just a matter, and it can also make you much more much, much, much more, much more generous. And I’m clearly you are an extraordinarily generous person, so you’ve found your way to generosity. You know, however, you have that for me, what’s made it easier to be generous or what reinforces generosity is not only the example of my father, who was someone who didn’t have a lot of money and didn’t actually care about things, but was extraordinarily, well, maybe and was extraordinarily generous. But also this constant reminder that that any money that comes my way is not the result of of of of deserving. It makes it much easier to give money away. And then the gambling thing does that to, you know, if you walk out of a casino and you’ve lost one. Or dollars or five hundred dollars and someone on the street asks you for for money, for for food. You’re far more likely to give it to them because like if I’m willing to spend five hundred dollars on nothing and give it away to some large corporation. Who am I to say no, no to someone’s basic need? But on the other hand, if you win five hundred dollars, the same thing, you’re like, Well, this hundred dollars is just just the result of of of random luck. I happen to have it. Here’s someone who could actually use it. So anyway, I mean, I know everyone, everyone comes to generosity in different ways, and everyone tries to discipline their general generosity through different means. And maybe the surprising thing is that I try to do it by by taking less seriously rather than more seriously the value of money for myself. That makes it easier to to figure out when someone actually really does need money. Yeah. So what about actions on behalf of of of all of the beneficiaries of your generosity? Thank you.
Brilliant Miller [01:20:49] Thank you. OK, so this brings us to the final part of our interview here, and I know where we’re coming down the stretch. Where about the time we said we’d spend? But the last part here is just an exploration of writing in the creative process, specifically with the idea that things that you share will benefit people listening who want to complete their own writing projects and actually want to produce finished works. Get it out into the world. Get it, read it. Make a difference for people and so forth. So maybe, maybe a place to start is just to ask. What you’ve learned about writing and that’s served you well and maybe in particular, who has been influential for you as a writer? Like who have you learned from either personally or through things you’ve read? You know, things others have written? Like, who has been meaningful in your development as a writer and what have you learned from that?
David Henkin [01:21:47] It’s a hard question. I mean, I’m someone who always likes to acknowledge that the people. So this is hard for me to. They admit that I don’t actually know who has been most helpful. To me, as a writer, I mean, I read all the time and I do read lots of fiction and I read lots of memoir and I read lots of people who write about writing. So I think about think about writing that way. I suppose the lesson that I’ve taken from many of the most influential authors is that it’s it’s always about words. For me as a reader. And so I try to make it all about words and by which I mean, it’s about the language as as much as it’s about the story, it’s about the voice that you have as a writer, as much as it is about the content or or the argument, which is, you know, a lesson that I cling to obstinately because I, I, I write and I work in a profession that often says the opposite. It’s really just about the argument. It’s about the research, it’s about the analytic coherence. And all those things are important to me. You can’t write the kind of books I write without them. But I do see an analogy between all forms of writing, fiction and nonfiction, polemical, argumentative works and creative speculative ones. I think in all cases, it’s about trying to make words, do magical things, even if you’re writing in a seems like very dry language. Words are still magical. They’re they’re capable of of producing surprise and producing wonder. And in people and I. No one’s ever said this to me, but people have my reading and writing experience and has has led me to infer from other people that every book is really a story about the language that every book is written in. English is in some ways about the English language. And so I tried to to keep that lesson. I don’t know which people have influenced me as as writers. I’m sure that my father did. My father also wrote books. He wrote books differently from from me. But I think he communicated maybe more by example than by precept, or maybe more, by the way, he also thought about language, some version of the lesson that I just. Just describes that’s really about the purpose of writing or the or the pleasure of writing in terms of the discipline of writing. I think that’s that’s a hard that’s a hard thing and something that I struggle with. I do write somewhat easily the first time around. And then I often have a hard time rewriting and revising, but I think other people for the people is the opposite. The hardest thing is to sort of get it out the first time and the easiest thing is once you do to shape it and sculpt it afterwards. I think that that’s just a matter of personal, and I think we all have a harder time writing in this distracted world where the same device that we write on is typically the device that we use for our fantasy football teams or to watch movies or to conduct the entirety of our social lives or, you know, manage stock portfolios or, you know, they will consume Tik Tok videos and things. So. So that’s a really hard thing. And you know, obviously all these, you know, the techniques that you can use to try to shut off the distraction or there are people who do things like consecrate one device for writing. And I don’t actually I haven’t been so good at doing any of those things. One thing that that really helped me write this book in particular, was going away every summer. Because I and during the summers, I don’t teach. And so that’s often when I when I do, I get a lot of my research and writing then going away the summer without my books. And so instead of just sitting around reading about the thing I’m writing about, I’m saying, this is me and my computer or notepad, and I’m sitting in a cafe. I’m living in a city where I don’t speak the language, although I we know well enough to to to solve practical problems, but not well enough to to form the kind of social life that would interfere with with my work. And I just make the goal to write every day. So there are little things that we all we all do to try to to consecrate time and consecrate. Energy and writing, but I’m not sure that mine are necessarily useful to other peoples.
Brilliant Miller [01:27:04] Yeah, you said that you and your dad wrote books differently, write books differently. How what’s what’s the difference?
David Henkin [01:27:12] Well, OK. I mean, my my my father was a law professor. And so and he wrote about constitutional law, international law and human rights. And he so that’s a different kind of writing. I have a brother who is a very successful novelist, and he writes quite differently to my mother had done some writing and my my, my other brother mostly communicates with the world through through music. Know everyone. Everyone does, does their thing differently, works in a different genre. But I I I think that I was probably wasn’t both my brothers and I were probably all affected in different ways by our parents interested in language and especially I think my father is interested in in how words work. Hmm.
Brilliant Miller [01:28:13] You know, you talked about doing making language do magical things, and I love that as an idea, and someone once pointed out to me like even the words spelling, right? The connotation of magic spells and so forth.
David Henkin [01:28:28] Yeah, that’s nice.
Brilliant Miller [01:28:29] Yeah, that was kind of interesting. And. I know there’s probably no there’s no simple trick to this, but there are people will talk about stay away from adjectives and adverbs and be more noun based or be more verb based and or put the I don’t know what you call it if it’s a subject or the payoff at the end of the sentence and things like this. But or the use of punctuation, you know, short sentences more staccato? Or did it like I asked someone once I said, What are the qualities? So I’ll ask you this question too. And I want to keep it in that framework of making language do magical things. But I said, What are the qualities of a great? What are the qualities of a great sentence and how do we write more of them?
David Henkin [01:29:09] So I mean, all of the things that you mentioned are pieces of advice that they’ve gotten along the way. I’m not sure I’ve actually taken any of them. So but I do have my own, you know, whatever. Yeah. So my thing is prepositions. I don’t I don’t like them. I don’t mean preposition at the end of so many prepositions at all. So I I try to do my own writing and in the writing of my students to encourage them to use verbs that don’t require prepositions
Brilliant Miller [01:29:36] and a preposition. If I recall, these are the on about above between
David Henkin [01:29:40] beyond its on line. So the difference between inhabiting and living in. So there are other things pro and con, but the verb and habit, but but just to give a given example. There are a verb that doesn’t require a preposition, winds up cleaning, cleaning up your sentence and think making it move differently. Sure. And I think that if, if, if, if, if I, I have sometimes tried to compile lists of great verbs that that are preferable to me than than some of their alternatives exclusively because they allow you to get rid of a preposition. Hmm.
Brilliant Miller [01:30:26] Yeah, that’s that’s cool. That the thing that this one just said, I don’t remember exactly how he said it, but he said. The example he gave, I’ll always remember, he said the weapons are in the shed behind the barn. It’s like it’s it’s clean, it’s the same. It conveys something, you know, like
David Henkin [01:30:46] I say, no, I think that that is a very common lesson I read. I have always resisted that. I actually love adverbs. Yeah, I think they’re great because they they say a whole other thing while you’re going and put multiple images in your mind and say something subtly and obliquely. You know, I know I definitely have been told now. Burke is no choose the noun and verb that already incorporates the adjective. I get why people do that, and I do like having some short, staccato sentences with a straightforward sentence structures in my writing, but but actually love adverbs and adjectives and especially adverbs. Yeah, the part of speech that that I don’t like is the preposition.
Brilliant Miller [01:31:35] Interesting. What? How where are you? Well, let me ask this in your view, are writers born or made or can they be met? Are you either a writer or not a writer?
David Henkin [01:31:49] But you know, I’m. But in general, I’m not a I’m not a people are born. Kind of person, I’m a people are made kind of person, well, whether it I mean, they may be made early in life and they be hard, maybe hard to unmake. But I don’t think that writing is. I don’t think we’re born with an organ of writing. And I think also writing isn’t necessarily just one thing. There’s so many different skills and some your habits or features or qualities to writing that, yeah, it’s it’d be hard for me to believe that certain people were meant to write and say, well or not to write. Yeah, yeah. What are?
Brilliant Miller [01:32:35] This might seem like a dumb question. What can we do to improve as writers or to improve our writing?
David Henkin [01:32:43] I think really, I have the most conventional possible answer to that, which just read, Yeah, yeah, read lots. Read differently, read. Read with an ear toward what someone is doing with language and what kind of effect it’s having on you as a reader, you know? Yeah. And also, you know, we do so much writing all of us. One of the big transitions that I think is taken place during during my lifetime is so many things that used to be spoken are now written. People talk often about the death of the written word death. The letter I don’t I don’t believe any of that. I think the opposite has happened, I think. I think writing is actually much more common than speech in our social lives through email and text and things like. Different kinds kind of writing and email and text are not the same and write in multimedia. Writing is not the same. So I don’t know. All writing is the same, but we just do a lot more of it than we used to when we used to conduct so much of our social lives and our business lives over the telephone. Yeah, no doubt. So Zoom is interesting because the Zoom has sort of reintroduced the speech in new, prominent ways and all of that over the last couple of years. But the the bigger sort of slow change over the last 30 years, I think, has been toward more writing. So all of which is to say that we we spend a lot of time composing written text and that too is writing. And I’m not saying everyone should be like, you know, either identically preoccupied with their grammar or are artistically, you know, the floral or prolific or whatever in their text messages. But you know, you’re always developing your own style in every context, and you’re always thinking about what you’re trying to do with words and how your word choices and sentence structures do things in the world. And I think that’s great. And I think that that’s like and if we if we think about that, it makes it easier to to do things like write books or write articles or write poems.
Brilliant Miller [01:34:55] Yeah. How aware are you or how connected do you feel to your reader while you’re in the act of writing?
David Henkin [01:35:05] Not, not that, well, connected. It’s hard, you know, in academic writing. Is this especially odd that way, because you’re trained as a student and you’re in school for all these years? Well, it’s been it’s spend six, seven, eight years getting PhDs. So teacher, teacher kind of voices are heavily in your ear about your training. One or maybe two or three people are going to read this and they’re going to read it critically and they’re going to read it to assess. And it’s a little bit hard to shake that. To shake that, that sense of the audience and as you do more academic writing, more scholarly writing, the the the the audience expands a little bit to include all the people in your field, people who are going to review it, the people who are going to give you jobs or promote you and all and all that. But it’s still not that that that big. So that’s, I think, a challenge when you’re in my profession and you’re ready when you want to write for a broader audience, you’re so conditioned to think of a small number of intense, highly critical, very thorough readers. Whereas in fact, what you really are writing for is a larger number of not so intense, not so critical and not so thorough readers. And that transition is difficult. The one thing that’s made it easier for me personality, and maybe it’s because I’m a middle child that are now I’ve always been more attuned to to peers than to authority figures. I’ve always been more aware of the possibility that the classmates or friends will be the audience for not just my writing, but for my, for my living. And rather than just parents and bosses and mentors. So I think that’s that’s sort of served me well in this way, maybe not in others, but serve me well. And in this way, which is that a little easier for me to have to tune out the the the imagined teacher or adviser or judge and help me try to write for a community, a group and then also friends. I have lots of friends and I value friendship probably as much as any, any other institution or practice. And when you asked me earlier in the conversation, you prepared me that you would for what was life all about friendship with my for my first thought and then thought I might expand a little bit to. So they do have a little bit of a tendency to to try to write, write for friends. I I spent a long time writing a U.S. history textbook with a friend and colleague of mine, so I was, you know, writing really for for. It’s very unusual, I think, for for readers who would be forced to read it and who would be because they assigned in their college class and they’d be reading it sort of defensively and reading it just like it, just for the information to be able to give it back on a test, perhaps. But even in that book, I found myself constantly dropping little Easter egg kind of links for friends of mine, which which which I do often. So that maybe an answer that that you can’t really imagine who your readers are going to be. And one nice things about the the little the great publicity that this book has gotten is, you know, I get people emailing me now from all parts of the world talking about their own connections to the weekend and and the the biggest sort of experience of it that I have is, wow, this is not at all the kind of person I ever imagined we would be reading my book. So it is always impossible to imagine your readers. And it’s helpful to me sometimes to to to to keep. Keep in mind that I’m writing for multiple audiences and that your friends might read the book, even though they’re obviously not. The intended audience is a good way of just keeping an open and open approach to the readers might be a lot different, ’cause people might read it for different reasons, in different contexts and you want it. You just hope that it will speak to to some of them in different ways, maybe ways that you didn’t intend, or maybe ways you didn’t appreciate. But that’s one of the cool things about a book about that publication, which is that, you know, you let go of these words and
Brilliant Miller [01:39:34] you never know what they go.
David Henkin [01:39:36] You never know, and you not only never know in advance, you just never know after the fact. You never know what they did. Right?
Brilliant Miller [01:39:42] Yeah, that’s awesome. And what a cool thing to have something that you leave behind as well when you’re here. That’s pretty cool. OK, so just a couple more questions. So I want to turn to or maybe return to the the practical or maybe the tactical aspect of your writing you mentioned in the summer, you’ll actually go to a city, go to a coffee shop. I know that’s a very personal decision, and I actually think this is part of the challenge for every writer is figuring out what works for them. Do you write with music or not? Do you write in the morning or in the evening? Do you caffeine? And if so, what form? And like all of this? So so what I wonder is when you write like, what kinds of routines do you? What kinds of routines do you have that support you in producing finished work and producing quality work? Do you use word counts? Do you have a timer or do you do any like what, from big to small? What kind of habits and routines are part of that?
David Henkin [01:40:37] I have. I have lots of uncommon answers to these. I write at night. I know most people I know. Like, right in the morning, I think of is the same thing, you know, you’re trying to carve out time where you’re less likely to be interrupted, disrupted or tempted by the activities of other people. So for many people, that’s the morning, and for me, it’s the night I I write overwhelmingly at night, often between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3:00 am I. I can write late at night much more easily than I can read often. If I’m reading after midnight, I’ll get tired or distracted. But writing actually focuses me. So even just the act of typing, I’m better at answering emails late at night than I am at reading emails, but do so. So that’s one thing I do. I do prefer there to be music, which I know is not that common. I also even don’t mind if the music has lyrics and a lot of people listening to listening to music but don’t want there to be words I like. I like music. I guess I prefer it, be music that I prefer. So I’m not actually thinking about too much about, you know, who this band is and how that you know how the bass line is going, really? I prefer that. But but I do like there to be some kind of music. Too much quiet is bad for me. I like to be ambient noise. I don’t like there to be people distracting or tempting me off of the computer. That’s why music late at night is the right is the right combination. There was, so I don’t usually usually use word counts. I do think of paragraphs. I think of paragraphs as the unit of productivity. I think of paragraphs as the unit of of of making meaning to even in more creative writing projects. I think that I just think of the paragraph is what you work with rather than the the page, the sentence or the words I’m big on paragraphs and I I definitely when I when I teach, I teach academic writing to my students I. I try to give them exercises that reinforce the idea of the paragraph as the fundamental unit of of written communication, certainly and in writing history. But again, I think of it that way, even in other kinds of other kinds of writing. So if I’m trying to tell myself I need to. Finish a certain amount of restraint, I’m trying to assess what I’ve done and think of how many, how many paragraphs have I have, I have I written, I don’t do things that people do like, reward myself after every paragraph with some pleasurable activity, but that that’s the kind of accounting I do is paragraph oriented right on.
Brilliant Miller [01:43:23] I had never encountered that until I interviewed Todd forgetting his last name. But he showed me the book he was working on, and it was outlined chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph. The whole thing was like, Oh my gosh, that was wild to me.
David Henkin [01:43:38] I’m incapable of doing that, but I do actually encourage that. And in my students, I tell them, you know, when we work on outlines, the best outline you could have would be one that tells you what goes in each paragraph. Yeah, said, I aspire to have that, and I might do that informally in my head. But but I don’t have the the discipline organization to actually produce such an outline.
Brilliant Miller [01:44:02] Yeah, that was. It’s Todd Ross, the author of Dark Horse, and he spent time at Harvard and so forth. But then before that, I hadn’t encountered the really the power of the paragraph as the fundamental unit of meaning. But I’ll think of it that way now. Well, maybe the last thing then is just what? So two part question again, or maybe you can consolidate, however you want to answer the first one is what? What advice or encouragement do you leave anyone listening to this who is either they haven’t started their own creative project or if they’re maybe in the middle of it? What advice or encouragement do you give them to help them finish and get it out into the world? And then the last the last question is just what? What? Final Thoughts generally or related to writing, What do you want to leave people listening?
David Henkin [01:44:52] OK, well, a couple of things. I mean, if it makes it easier to finish as as it often does for me, just recognize the fact that once you’re actually done, you’re still going to wish you had changed this. And so there you can’t wait for the moment where you feel like this is my last word on the subject, because that moment will never come. And you know,
Brilliant Miller [01:45:17] I can just jump in there. I don’t know if you use this, but I’ve heard it said and it served me like books are never finished, only published
David Henkin [01:45:25] right, right. And publication is often a part of a process. Maybe this book in this conversation or so I spent 12 or 13 years researching and writing this. I wasn’t the only thing I did those year, but researching and writing this book. Part of the reason it took so long is because I really kept finding more stuff and kept not wanting to end. And the reason why why I was able to end well, I guess was two for one is I was really ready to to to write a different, a different kind of book, but also that I recognize that this won’t be the last word I have on this subject, much as it’s not the last word. I mean, much as the earlier books that I’ve written, I’m still sometimes given opportunities to to talk about it and elaborate or revise is something I’ve said and I’ll and that’s happening right now. I mean, the things that I’m that we’re talking about, especially before, when you’re talking about about about the week are not identical to the things that I’ve said in the book. I mean, I’m very happy with with the book when I look at it, but I know it’s sort of, by its nature, unfinished and conversations that we have like this are opportunities or inducements to to keep alive, whatever, whatever I thought I was doing in the book. So if you can acknowledge that as as you said, books are never finished, they’re just published and the publication is is that is was one step in in the process of getting your your thoughts and your words out of the world. And maybe that makes it easier. Is easier to finish and just say, you know, I’m going to I’m I’m going to write other books, I’m going to publish other things, I’m going to have other conversations and life is short and and I want to do this so. And the other thing is this just to to appreciate how what a privilege it is, whatever it allows you to spend your time writing a book, you know, whatever, whatever financial freedom you’re given, that enables that whatever time the people in your life have have have given you whatever intellectual or, you know, even just verbal linguistic resources you’ve been given that allows you to to spend time crafting a book over a long period of time. It’s such a privilege just telling you, I keep telling myself that. And it puts all the frustration into perspective it. Right? You know, you’re doing this for yourself. I mean, obviously, you want to communicate with people, but like many acts of expression, you’re really doing it for yourself. And most we don’t get a chance to do that. They don’t have the time or the or the freedom from having to do something else for money. Or I just haven’t been given the the the space or the resources to write a book. And you know, when we have that, you have. And so just just feel good about that and don’t let them into the book become the sort of external obligation or the symbol of your of your inadequacy or this impossible goal to reach. So yeah, that’s why I said. And then the other thing which actually goes back to travel. So one of the things that I like to do is or I’m willing to do that most people aren’t. The answer is actually several of your earlier questions is I’m willing to travel very, very far for a very short period of time. And the reason is, I mean, of course, almost always would rather stay for longer. That if you’re willing to visit a place or a person for a short period of time and you’re much more likely to do it again, and if you tell yourself that you’re going to do it again, it’s easier to leave the short visit, right? If you’re able to to travel frequently and burdens each trip, each social, visit each tourist stuff, it, um, burdens that that trip from the obligation to do everything that you want to do. I want to see everything in, you know, in the Yucatan, I don’t have to like visit everyone I know in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, right, because I’m going to come back down. So if you can do that with something, you know, there is something nice about seeing a huge amount of time on a book, and I certainly do that all the time. But you could also say to yourself, I’d like to do this and I’m going to do it more quickly because I’m going to come back. I’m going to come back to this project and to come back to to another project. I’m going to write more things and and that may unburden them from the obligation to to be perfect. Since I, I am assuming that from many of the of of your listeners. I mean, I feel that you have in mind. It’s the perfectionism that makes that as as much of an obstacle or an impediment as anything else.
Brilliant Miller [01:50:38] Yeah, that’s certainly true in my case, for sure. But I really appreciate what you’re sharing about viewing it as, you know, really as the privilege that it is to be able to write a book. It’s and simultaneously, I’ll just say for myself that there’s there is a view there that it’s very empowering, but there’s also one that has a burden with it that, you know, like, oh, you know, by comparison, you’re blessed to have this and so many other people don’t, you know, then it starts to feel a little little heavy.
David Henkin [01:51:08] But yeah, no, I. I get that and I think I mean, I’ve I’ve been resisting temptation to ask you lots of questions. And that’s the point of this kind of activity. But but I, you know, I’ve gathered enough from what I’ve read about you and from this conversation to understand how that might be especially burdensome for you. I try not to think of it as a burden. I try to think of it as not like I owe the world something because I have the privilege, but just. Just just to be to be happy, you know, there’s a famous saying in my own religious tradition, which is that the person who is wealthy is the the person who is who is pleased, pleased with his or her lot or portion. So, you know, I don’t think that the idea of of of privilege should be about feeling guilty or feeling which feeling obligate obligated. I think it should be a gut feeling content and feeling at ease. And then and then you can approach the obligations that that come with what would have privilege. You have it. But the first thing is to just try to try to try to feel pleased with with with what you have not not not so self-satisfied or proud that you deserve it or just to just take take some sort of pleasure in it and.
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