On antifragility and new stuff

Taleb once again scores with me with his book on “antifragility”. Like his book on randomness and black swans, this book has opened my mind to a concept that I’ve intuitively felt but never been able to put down in words.

I wrote once about “destroying things” to love them more – making new things old because of the transcience of “newness” but the lasting hold of “oldness”. I never realised that it could have been antifragility at work.

An object, when new, when perfect, is at its most fragile. At any moment a small bit of entropy – a scratch, a bump, or even the controlled might of time — might cause it to be no longer new; no longer perfect. The harder you try to keep it in pristine condition, the worse off you’ll feel when it’s finally imperfect. It’s value drops precipitously, and all the effort maintaining it goes to waste.

But the moment an object is old, the focus is no longer on its newness. It becomes more robust — a small scratch on an already scratched object brings no harm. And it might even be brought into the realm of the antifragile — where a scratch could bring along positive associations like memories or good feelings, making it better than it was before.

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