New York vs. San Francisco

Food for Thought

George delivered the bad news at this dinner that he is moving to San Francisco. I said to him that it’s a fine city but the degree to which everyone drinks the same Kool-Aid can lead you astray—you get sucked into the vortex of desire that is not even yours.

I call it “unconscious universal”—henceforth “UU.” Everyone has one individually. It could be honesty, love, friendship, family, peace, equality, justice, etc.. It’s what we build our lives on assuming that everyone shares them. Someone who holds “honesty,” for instance, as a UU would, when confronted with an argument that lying serves important social functions, either defend himself desperately as if his life depends on it (denial) or entirely dismiss it without any serious considerations (disavowal)

UU can also be held collectively. San Francisco’s version is “the power of technology to transform the world.” If you don’t believe in it, you’d feel like you are psychotic because you are completely alone, but you might be the only sane person in mass psychosis. Think Theranos.

New York’s UU is to prove yourself. It’s an imperative. “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” hence, it’s the best city to find out if you are indeed the best. As discussed in My Dinner with Andre, this makes it hard to leave the city because it would mean you’ve declared yourself a loser. Or, “sore loser” if you have any excuses for it.

But at least New York has more heterogeneous manifestations. San Francisco’s UU manifests so homogeneously that some are beginning to feel suffocated, Peter Thiel being one of the high profile entrepreneurs to leave for that reason, although he moved to another psychotic city, Los Angeles, whose UU is the power of art to transform the world—although they don’t realize they only make entertainment, not art.

As to George’s UU: it might be “skepticism.” He said he refuses to drink any type of Kool-Aid even when everyone around him is euphorically enthusiastic. The problem, however, is not the Kool-Aid per se, but the fact that it’s not your Kool-Aid. Hopefully, he’ll find his own in San Francisco, realize that New York is better, and come back in a few years ????