I’m going to take the liberty of going off on a rather long tangent before I get to the point of all of this; this happens to be a convenient point in time to dump some thoughts that have been in my head for a while. Sky and I have talked at length about the concept of a luxury. Our general conclusion is that to the uninitiated, the concept of a luxury is usually something expensive and material (cars, jewelry, big house, vacation home, mistress) or novelty experience-based (fine dining, shows, travel, skip trips, etc).
These more apparent concepts of luxury are something I’ll term first-order luxuries. They are easily understood as luxuries, and appreciated as such, and there is often a direct correlation between enjoyment and money spend. One goes out and spends a ranch home in South Dakota on a small red sports car, and the enjoyment is immediate, in being able to look at, touch, flaunt, and drive the money spent on this luxury.
Ok, simple enough. But if you ask somebody with a lot of wealth what a real luxury is, they’re not likely to tell you it’s their car, house, horse, or yacht. These are all lovely things, don’t get me wrong. However, these folks with lots of money don’t want more stuff, they want more time to enjoy their family and first-order luxuries. Thus, a second-order luxury is a monetary spend that maximizes a first-order luxury. A good example of a second-order luxury is a limo service on retainer (or a driver) to take you to the airport and pick you up — saving you the hassle, stress, and time of driving/parking/thinking about these things yourself. Some other examples are maid services, personal chefs, accountants, financial advisors, and administrative assistants.
This leads to the concept of a third-order luxury. This is where my nice neat theory gets a little fuzzy. The idea of a third-order luxury is something achieved as a consequence of a first and second order luxury. One of the primary third-order luxuries is a story. A story is something one can tell at dinner, to provide entertainment for guests, and a personal enjoyment in telling said story. Stories can be acquired without the channels of luxuries, of course, but my point in this is if there were a way to directly purchase stories, to have experiences in one’s memory, they would sell like nobody’s business.
So this all gets back to Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman. What is great about this book is that it is full of fantastic stories, without a dead one in the bunch. It’s not possible to buy oneself stories and just have them implanted, but if one must live vicariously through the stories of other, Feynman is one of the better sources I’ve found. This book requires no real exposure to physics or Feynman’s academic history, though it does provide some context to some of the stories. 8/10.