Other Life

Justin Murphy

I study the lives of the wildest writers who ever lived. read less
Society & CultureSociety & Culture

Episodes

Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano
Aug 1 2023
Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano
We dissect the complex life of Ezra Pound, one of the most interesting and controversial poetic geniuses of the 20th century. You'll gain insight into: Why Pound was so influential, his extraordinary talent-spotting skills, and his knack for turning vibrant social scenes into artistic movements. However, be prepared for a rollercoaster ride, as we also delve into the darker sides of Pound's life, including his descent into Fascism and anti-semitism. I believe the story is a cautionary tale about resentment, the modern passion par excellence, and a dangerous trap for people who rebel against institutions.This podcast will help you understand Pound's poetic and cultural innovations, including Imagism and Vorticism, and how his strong opinions and unique perspective propelled him, despite his controversial and often off-putting personality. We'll recount his turbulent career during WWI and WWII, his friendship with W.B. Yeats, the launch of Blast Magazine, and much more.This podcast is based on a close reading of Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano (1987) by John Tytell.Chapters(0:00:00) - Intro(0:04:04) - Summary of Lessons From Ezra Pound's Life(0:17:22) - Dense Networks and Creative Success(0:26:26) - Imagism and Vorticism(0:37:05) - Wyndham Lewis and Blast Magazine(0:42:41) - A Restless and Controversial Personality(0:53:07) - Taste, Talent-Spotting, and Pound's Extreme Generosity(1:04:52) - Downward Spiral(1:18:29) - Ezra Pound's Reflections Late in Life(1:22:07) - Final LessonsOther Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world. https://otherlife.co✦ Join the community and get the bi-annual print edition by becoming a member. https://otherlife.co/upgradeIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent intellectual work, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
Literary Outlaw: The Life of William S. Burroughs
Jul 12 2023
Literary Outlaw: The Life of William S. Burroughs
A deep dive into the life of William S. Burroughs based on a close reading of Ted Morgan's 1988 biography, Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs. Burroughs is one of the most independent creative spirits of the 20th century. My goal is to understand how he did it; how he remained so free but was also so influential and successful.I discuss his transformation from a heroin addict living off his parents' allowance to an internationally acclaimed writer, who was inducted into the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983. Hear about his unique brand of conservative anarchism, his significant influence on the counterculture of the '60s and '70s, his parenting, and the social-psychological correlates of his creative freedom.Burroughs was a blend of the Yankee inventor and the fire-and-brimstone Methodist preacher. We explore his grandfather's invention of the arithmometer and his uncle Ivy Lee's career as a public relations expert. These stories shed light on the roots of Burroughs' radical literary career, which combined a penchant for invention with a desire to go his own way and attack the respectable order of things.I also discuss Burroughs' late entry into writing and his experiences as a heroin user and a criminal, which taught him a lot about how the world works. I explore his failed attempt to build a commercial farm, his theory of 'factualism', which anticipates Nick Land and Deleuze, and much more.What did you think of this format, dedicated to a close reading of a great writer's biography? I'd love to hear from you.Chapters00:00 William S Burroughs' Unconventional Life06:30 Burroughs' Complex Heritage16:55 Burroughs' Late Blooming30:40 The Critical Importance of Small Private Friend Groups43:49 Lessons From Burroughs' Life50:25 What Wild Looks Like: An Anecdote59:08 Did Burroughs Murder his Wife?07:35 The Controversial Success of Burroughs' Novels15:27 More Lessons From the Life of BurroughsOther Life✦ Quit your passive media consumption and read great books every day. https://otherlife.co✦ Get the bi-annual print edition and other perks by becoming a dues-paying member. https://otherlife.co/upgradeIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on your own writing, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
John Kennedy Toole and A Confederacy of Dunces With Dan Baltic
Jun 21 2023
John Kennedy Toole and A Confederacy of Dunces With Dan Baltic
We discuss the life and times of John Kennedy Toole (1937-1969), the influential author behind the classic novel, A Confederacy of Dunces. We're joined by independent writer Dan Baltic, who teaches us some of the lessons he has learned from Toole's life and career.Dive into the captivating world of A Confederacy of Dunces, as we discuss the book's main character, Ignatius J Riley; learn how Toole's persistence (or lack thereof) serves as a cautionary tale for contemporary independent writers; as well as the parallels between Toole's struggles and Dan's rise as an independent author on the internet. Dan shares his experience building an audience on Twitter, publishing his first novel, and the lessons he's learned himself.We try to unlock the strategies and goals of dissident writers, and how independent authors like Dan are able to make a living and continue producing great art. We'll discuss the pros and cons of traditional publishing deals, vs. the world of independent publishing.Chapters:(0:03:46) - Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces"(0:15:45) - John Kennedy Tool's Life and Work(0:29:40) - Persistence and Patience for Writers(0:33:21) - Navigating the Confusion of Independent Publishing(0:43:02) - Building a Twitter Audience for Success(0:48:34) - Unlocking Twitter for Independent Writers(1:02:17) - Success for Independent Writers(1:13:09) - Lessons for Starting a ProjectDan Baltic:Twitter - https://twitter.com/baltic_danNUTCRANKR - https://terrorhousepress.com/product/nutcrankr/Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest free newsletter in the world and I'll send you all of my private book highlights. https://otherlife.coIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent projects, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Hustler, Savage, Grifter, Great
May 10 2023
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Hustler, Savage, Grifter, Great
Today we're looking at the life of Dr. Samuel Johnson, an eighteenth-century English critic who embodied the true spirit of self-reliance and perseverance. Despite facing various hardships in his life, Dr. Johnson managed to defy the odds and become one of the most influential figures in the history of English letters. Join us as we uncover the fascinating journey of this unconventional thinker, and learn how his life can serve as a powerful reminder that success is indeed possible, even for those who may not fit into traditional molds.We delve into his unique approach to life and work, highlighting how his unorthodox methods eventually played a significant role in his success, and how his unwavering belief in his own abilities and his refusal to rely on external support allowed him to carve out a path to success. Success is inevitable for those who put in the work.0:00:00 - Intro and Early Life0:04:50 - Samuel Johnson's Writing Career0:12:36 - The Patronage Model0:18:55 - Success By Perseverance and Self-Reliance(Sorry for some clicking in the audio, there were some issues with my set up that I didn't notice until after I was done recording. We'll get that sorted!)Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest free newsletter in the world and I'll send you all of my private book highlights. https://otherlife.co✦ Join the Other Life community (free) https://otherlife.co/joinIndieThinkers.org✦ If you're working on independent projects, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org
Young Balzac: Disordered Knowledge, Strange Student
Jan 6 2023
Young Balzac: Disordered Knowledge, Strange Student
I'd like to share with you some biographies of great writers, artists, maybe some inventors—people who represent the other life ethos—people who have produced great work from the fringes, or in weird niches they carved out for themselves in life.Here is a passage from a biography of the French novelist Balzac, Prométhée: ou, La vie de Balzac (1965) by André Maurois. I've translated it to English, of course.This is a story about reading books, childhood, the productive benefits of disordered knowledge, unjustified presumption, an obsession with printed paper, ecstasy as a motivator and a product, and a kind of hunger that nothing can ever satisfy.It paints a fascinating picture of education in France in the early 19th century. But it's also an inspiring vignette about something we see in the early lives of many great writers, which is... Here we have a strange, disaffected, aloof child who just seems a bit absurd or confused or even dumb—his teachers and classmates literally thought he was just stupid—but his appetite for wonder and knowledge drives him, from an early age, to just totally withdraw from society, into a life of the mind. That's the other life.If you'd rather read than listen, see otherlife.co/balzac.Other Life✦ Subscribe to the coolest newsletter in the world https://OtherLife.co✦ Get a free Urbit ship at https://imperceptible.computer✦ Join our network state at https://imperceptible.countryIndieThinkers.org✦ The next cohort of IndieThinkers.org starts Jan 16. If you're working on independent projects, request an invitation.