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🥝 Chiwi Journal #10: What's Money, Time and Being, Writer Responsibility & Third Person Narrative

Camellia Yang
Camellia Yang
Each month, I spend 140+ hours digging valuable insights from books, articles and podcasts and share them in a 6-min easy-to-read email.

Quick update from my side
When the church bell rang to welcome the New Year, my friends surprised me by showing up from nowhere with champagne in a glamour dress and took me on a boat in Aveiro. We ended up singing & dancing from midnight to dawn and to dusk.
That’s just a typical day in VIC Aveiro Art House, full of energy, surprise and happiness. My life here is absolutely beyond my expectation and filled with good things I have never imagined. The way I ended up here is a serendipity, and the way I worked here is life should be – surrounded by artists who inspire each other daily and collaborate on various writing and music projects!
Just as I always say, once I stopped trying to control my fate with my limited knowledge, life guided me in a more profound direction that helped me find my path.
This month I had a chance to interview three guests that shaped my thinking last year:
Please have a listen if you are interested in those topics. And Happy Chinese New Year to you all! May your Year of Tiger be full of courageousness to find/follow your bliss!
Let’s get into this month’s content now!
🎙️ Podcast of the Month
I usually listen to podcasts while walking or running chores. However, the show, What’s Money? by Robert ₿reedlove, required me to sit down and make notes because it engaged in diverse deep conversations with deep thinkers from different walks of life that triggered my significant interests. 
As Robert mentioned, “What is Money?” is the rabbit that leads us down the proverbial rabbit hole. There are many binge-listening style series that focuses on the philosophical implications behind Bitcoin and use the first principle approach to explain the truth about money. 
I love the Mike Hill Series the most, focusing on moral relativism, the nature of subject-object duality, good vs evil, science vs religion, the importance of freedom, and the foundation of value and quality among human beings. 
The newly released The Balaji Series is also worth listening to if you are into topics like sovereignty in The Digital Age, geopolitical game theory, the future of statism, and how Bitcoin/crypto fits into the picture.
📚 Book of the Month
As a native Chinese speaker who immigrated to English speaking countries, I always feel the gap between the lack of communication between East and West due to ideology differences and media manipulation. I have the urge to accelerate ideas exchange beyond language and culture barriers at a young age.
Looking through history, the connections between different cultures never cease to stop in our physical world:
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is considered one of the first Western intellectuals to adopt ideas from traditional Chinese philosophies Yi Jing to develop the binary number system that is still being used today.
  • Beethoven read the ancient Hindu text Bhagavad Gita to deal with his deafness and isolation and created masterpieces that we are still listening to in two centuries.
  • Queen Elizabeth, I wrote a letter to Chinese Emperor Wanli of Ming back in 1602, attempting to establish direct trade with China.
I recently started reading Martin Heidegger’s works and found out he’s been influenced by Dao De Jing in his late years. He tried to translate this ancient Chinese book into Germany (though he didn’t finish) and changed his perspectives on Being and Time that he previously published.
No one can give an accurate definition of time. Einstein once said the distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion; Nietzsche believed that time is an eternal cycle where past, present and future are interconnected to form an endless loop.
In the Buddism Sutra, the ‘present moment (当下)’ is the smallest unit of time — 1-second equals 3,600 present moments. The ‘past’ is just a series of memories woven by the human mind (its accuracy is questionable); The ‘future’ is full of unknown and uncertainty, with death as our ultimate destination. Only the present moment, the 1-second we noticed, is what we have. 
Ted Chiang brought up the concept of ‘mastering a language, and you’ll see the world differently’ in his sci-fi novella Story of Your Life. The heroine learned to understand the alien’s language, which allowed her to ‘see’ her whole life. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s famous quote, “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world,” also serve the same meaning.
What does time mean in your language? Is it possible that people who speak more than one language can see a different world or better understand the concept of time? Is it possible that the German language has something to do with so many great thinkers and philosophers from Germany? Or there is no such cause-and-effect relationship, just my brain trying to trick me by summing up the pattern in a presumptuous way? 
🎬 Movie of the Month
I cried my eyes out when watching Andrew Garfield appear in the latest Spiderman movie. He’s my favourite spiderman, and his interview on losing his mum touched me in many ways.
Recently I watched Andrew’s movie tick, tick…BOOM!, directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, features an autobiographical story about Jonathan Larson, who revolutionized theatre as the creator of Rent. Andrew’s singing and performance reminded me of Emma Stones’ LA LA Land, which it’s another movie that made me cry like a baby in cinema. Also, for those familiar with LMM’s work, you won’t feel disappointed with this movie because you could dig many Easter Eggs :)
The story and lyrics of this movie resonated with me as a writer. There’s no other recipe; there’s no time to enjoy success; it’s the creator’s responsibility to let ideas go through you and keep writing and keep shipping.
From  tick, tick...BOOM!
From tick, tick...BOOM!
🎙️ Recap of My English Content
💬Join My Discord Channel
Diversity of Thought and Experience: New ideas form at the intersections of existing ones, and the mashup of people from diverse backgrounds, with diverse thoughts and experiences, provides fodder for the new. This is both an exogenous factor – diverse people need to be in a certain place at a certain time for their ideas to mix – and an endogenous one – the scene needs to be welcoming to new people, ideas, and perspectives.
– Packy McCormick
As a bilingual content creator, I have followers and subscribers from all over the world that speak different languages from different cultures and backgrounds.
Early last year, when Clubhouse appeared, people could chat on the platform beyond the Internet Wall (well, it lasted for a couple of days)and generate many meaningful discussions. 
Therefore, I built a discord channel to encourage ideas exchange between my readers and wait and see what chemical reactions would happen there!
It’s still in the early stage, and I have zero experience running the channel, so constructive feedback is welcomed! 
🗣️ AMA
Question from a WeChat subscriber:
How come you are always so cheerful and like sunshine? Is your life always so smooth without obstacles? 
There is no such thing as smooth sailing in life. For someone who moves countries and changes career every couple of years, I could speak non-stop about all difficulties and setbacks I’ve encountered. 
Recently, my friend Monica visited me in Portugal, and we had girls talk about previous relationships. After hearing my stories, she was shocked and hardly convinced I could still believe in love based on numerous toxic relationships. I smiled back and told her that I couldn’t become who I am today without everything I experienced and everyone I encountered. 
There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so. I believe it’s my responsibility to treat the next person and the next event with neutral perspectives without any pre-conditioned judgment, especially in interacting with others. Just like Lex Friedman said:
Lex Fridman
I look for the good in people. Sometimes I get hurt for it, but it's rare and it's worth it. You may hear me say optimistic things that sound naive. I'm not naive. I've read too much history to be naive. I just think love wins out over the darker parts of human nature in the end.
When interviewing Pieter Levels, we both felt that English helped us open up as a second language. Pieter had tried both Dutch and English speaking therapists. He felt judged in front of his mother-tongue therapist, whereas telling his problems in his second language felt like sharing a story from a third person’s perspective. 
During the lockdown, I wrote an English novel, The Invisible Third Culture Adult, where I created a fictional character Nora, facing the same problems and issues that bothered me. The healing power of writing it done and figuring out the solution as a spectator set me free and healed my wounds.
People always need a window to vent. My solution is to create a character in literature or turn my bad experiences into a joke and story to entertain or share a lesson with others :)
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Camellia Yang
Camellia Yang @camelliayang

I filter & curate FIVE topics from Chinese & English books, articles, shows and podcasts every month.

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