Bezos insisted the company needed to master anything that touched the hallowed customer experience, and he resisted any efforts to project profitability. “If you are planning for more than twenty minutes ahead in this kind of environment, you are wasting your time,” he said in meetings.

Touristification

My friend Chad benefited from the kind of disorder that is less and less prevalent thanks to the modern disease of touristification. This is my term for an aspect of modern life that treats humans as washing machines, with simplified mechanical responses — and a detailed user’s manual. It is the systematic removal of uncertainty and randomness from things, trying to make matter highly predictable in their smallest details. All that for the sake of comfort, convenience, and efficiency.

What a tourist is in relation to an adventurer, or a flâneur, touristification is to life; it consists in converting activities, and not just travel, into the equivalent of a script like those followed by actors. We will see how touristification castrates systems and organisms that like uncertainty by sucking randomness out of them to the last drop — while providing them with the illusion of benefit. The guilty parties are the education system, planning the funding of teleological scientific research, the French baccalaureate, gym machines, etc.

And the electronic calendar.

But the worse touristification is the life we moderns lead in captivity, during our leisure hours: Friday night opera, scheduled parties, scheduled laughs. Again, golden jail.

This “goal-driven” attitude hurts deeply inside my existential self.

The Secret Thirst for Chance

Which brings us to the existential aspect of randomness. If you are not a washing machine or a cuckoo clock — in other words, if you are alive — something deep in your soul likes a certain measure of randomness and disorder.

There is a titillating feeling associated with randomness. We like the moderate (and highly domesticated) world of games, from spectator sports to having our breathing suspended between crap shoots during the next visit to Las Vegas. I myself, while writing these lines, try to avoid the tyranny of a precise and explicit plan, drawing from an opaque source inside me that gives me surprises. Writing is only worth it when it provides us with the tingling effect of adventure, which is why I enjoy the composition of books and dislike the straitjacket of the 750-word op-ed, which, even without the philistinism of the editor, bores me to tears. And, remarkably, what the author is bored writing bores the reader.

If I could predict what my day would exactly look like, I would feel a little bit dead.

To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.

I’ve always said there are – to oversimplify it – two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up. I think all writers are partly architects and partly gardeners, but they tend to one side or another, and I am definitely more of a gardener. In my Hollywood years when everything does work on outlines, I had to put on my architect’s clothes and pretend to be an architect. But my natural inclinations, the way I work, is to give my characters the head and to follow them.