Mimetic Monday: February 1, 2021


Hi everyone,

Here is this week’s Mimetic Monday: the art, people, and news that inspire imitation—for better or for worse.

  • ⬆️ What I’m reading. Last November I ordered a “mystery bag” of books from Capitol Hill Books, one of my favorite bookstores in Washington, DC. “Amazon hates it, readers love it,” they say. You fill out this simple form and the smart people at the bookstore curate a grab book of books that fit your budget. I’m just now getting to some of the books in my bag, including their serendipitous inclusion of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. (I have read it before, but it’s the kind of book you can read 5-10 times or more in a lifetime—and this is my first time reading it after having seen Vladimir Nabokov’s analysis of it.) Here’s the thing: Amazon’s algorithms can’t touch the quality of the job Capitol Hill Books did in curating my mystery bag. The future of recommendations is analog—at least for me. I don’t need any technologically-powered recommendations for books, films, restaurants; I already have more good suggestions from people I trust than I could possibly act on in one lifetime. Algorithms, by their very nature, are convergent mechanisms—they converge on recommendations that I would “like.” This is at odds with my general philosophy (and responsibility) of keeping an open mind, which requires divergent thinking. It requires getting recommendations from people who aren’t only telling me what I want to hear—recommendations that force me to broaden the scope of my reading and interests beyond what I would’ve chosen on my own. I like to leave room to be surprised.
  • ⬆️ Who’s inspiring me. The House of Beautiful Business, which has a mission to “make business more beautiful.” In my view, beauty is the most under-appreciated responsibility of a business leader. Beauty is usually disassociated with business. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In my work at The Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship, I’m working to put forth a better vision for what entrepreneurship can be and how we can use it to fix what’s broken in our economy and help contribute to human flourishing. The folks at the House of Beautiful Business have a human-centered approach to business, and I’m inspired that they share a common interest in wanting more out of business. (Incidentally, a central theme in my upcoming book…)
  • 🤔 What I’m Struggling With. The /WallStreetBets vs. hedge fund battle has roiled markets over the past week. I’ve written about the danger of the rivalry here (and it is, fundamentally, a rivalry). So why am I struggling? I was glad to see the hedge funds exposed, and I was rooting for the retail investors that went long on the stock (bet on it to rise). At the same time, I don’t want to see certain corners of the stock market turned into a game of rigged fantasy football—because many people are going to get hurt. We have to approach this complex situation with enough nuance to do it justice. As always, Jim O’Shaughnessy is one of the most level-headed voices out there when it comes to the developing situation. You can catch a snippet of him talking about it with The Wolf of All Streets.

Have a wonderful week, everyone—
Here’s to us all wanting more by Sunday,


Comments or questions? You can send me a tweet @lukeburgis (adding #mimeticmonday helps me find it).

P.S. My publisher, St. Martin’s Press, is giving away 100 copies of my upcoming book, Wanting. You can enter the Goodreads contests here for a chance to win. The contest runs until February 24.

P.S.S. Text “mm” to (+1) 202-918-3743 to get text alerts about Mimetic Mondays via your phone and stay in touch with me directly via text.

P.S.S.S. Was this email forwarded to you? (This email 🥰’s forwards, by the way.) If so, you can sign-up anywhere here.


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