Thinking in writing

In which I think about writing, and write about thinking

Welcome to Clerestory, an occasional newsletter which will showcase my recent writing and thinking. I'm Bryan Kam, and I'm working on a hard-to-describe novel of ideas set in contemporary London.

For the past six months, I have been working within a system for thinking in writing. Today I hit 250,000 words in that system, and this newsletter will be a way of sharing some of the original thinking I’ve been doing in that format. I will also post news about, and excerpts from, the novel as I continue to write it.

I have two main interests at the moment:

  1. The origins of selfhood and existential suffering in human history. I plan to argue that selfhood is a cultural development, that as a cultural technology it is highly transmissible, and that it originated more recently than you might suppose.

  2. The origins of complexity from simplicity in nature. I intend to establish that there are important patterns in the progression from inanimate matter to life, which connect this development to the much later processes of natural selection, and that these patterns extend through biological and cultural evolution to the present, with important consequences for society today.

Some of this thinking will end up in the novel. Yes, I know it doesn’t sound very fictional, but that’s just how it is at the moment. I will also be writing more frequently at the Clerestory blog — this will include reflections on film, literature, philosophy, music, poetry, and whatever other knowledge I encounter along the way.

I would love to have you along, as well as your feedback and recommendations. If you’re interested, I also run a monthly book club and a fortnightly intellectual discussion group, which normally meet in-person in London, but which are both online at the moment. You would be most welcome to join either or both.

Please sign up now so you don’t miss the first issue.

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