Eric Kim eye red



What can we conquer?



What do we lack in modern day life? Physical challenge, combat, hand to hand things.

I cannot speak for women, but for at least us men — the modern day man is like a sick animal. Anemic, lacking sun exposure to the sun, none of chutzpah, balls, and reckless audacity, preaches notions of sexual equality and women’s rights, yet watches pr0n in private, and doesn’t even lift heavy weights at the gym.

Why become a new Spartan?

Several reasons. First of all, ironically enough I think the Spartans were just happy. They lived a simple existence, full of martial training and combat, and they lived a simple ascetic life.

Also, anti-pampering. A soft lifestyle is bad, a hard lifestyle is good.

For example, let me talk to us tech nerds. What do we live for? We live for travel, exotic experiences, exotic foods, the newest Apple product which will revolutionize our lives, the new Tesla, buying a home, etc.

Yet, all of these life goals are superficial. They are soft. They don’t really require any sort of true innovation, they just require hard work and money.

What is in your control?

An interesting thought is one thing that we could control is what we desire. That this is actually something which is dictated by you. You can desire to want the Lambo, want to buy a home or own a home, have a certain amount of money, etc. But are these goals actually good? I think not.

My Stoic-Spartan ideal

And I think the ideal approach to things is a mishmash of stoicism, spartan, and zen.

That mentally, we have a stoic mindset to things. Which in short means we have a lofty insouciance to things, we are mostly unperturbed by things. That we take all of the good and bad in life in equal stride, and we realize that there is more in life we can control than not.

The spartan one is to become the overman. That means do not see yourself as a mere human being, but as something beyond. Certainly DNA wise you are just an ordinary human, however, your own ideals for yourself are so insanely lofty and beyond. That you set yourself insanely high standards, because you see yourself as different.

Zen in terms of our personal aesthetics. A Wabi Sabi aesthetic that the more used and worn something becomes the more beautiful it becomes. Also, to seek a sublime simplicity to things.

Spartan philosophy

If you read a lot of the sayings of the Spartans, they are poetic, hilarious and deeply philosophical. For example, the saying in the movie 300, which was actually based on real life — when the Persians told king Leonidas and the spartan 300s that their arrows would blot out the sun, and then one spartan said then we shall fight in the shade. I find this to be so insanely beautiful as a thought, because it takes something that was seen as fearful, and transforms it into fuel and fire to become even more courageous.

Also, a philosophical thought; would you trust the thoughts of an individual who is skinny fat to philosophize and more lies on matters of beauty, bravery, courage, and masculinity? No. I would rather trust the thinking and saying of a spartan then a modern day male academic.

Applying a spartan mindset to Street photography

I think I am the most courageous street photographer that I know. That I love people, and I am really good at talking to people, and strangers. All of the other street photographers why have met in the past seem to be timid, soft, and anti-human.

What do I mean by that? A lot of these weak street photographers try to augment their own low self-esteem by trying to tyrannize their own personal aesthetic and approach to things. They are very close-minded. They think to themselves, “it is either my way or the highway!” They lack independent thought — they cannot even think that everyone could do things a little differently.

To bridge the gap, let us think about not just spartan philosophy, but also, the philosophy of risk.

The Philosophy of Risk

Greater risk, greater futures. The greater the risk, the better.

Something I haven’t really heard people talk or write about is the philosophy of risk. What is risk, what is the significance of risk, and what are practical ways we can leverage risk in our every day lives in order to become more?

Avoid death and possible permanent disfigurement

The practical thing I learned from the Nassim Taleb is that one should never take any risks in life which might cause possible death, or potential disfigurement.

For example, never in any circumstances text while driving. This can lead to your death, and also to the death of your child, your wife, or even cause you to kill somebody else in another car, their children, etc.

When I am in taxi cars, Uber’s, or have a private driver, something which I was on the fence about was when they would text while driving. I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers, so I would just stay quiet.

But now that I got a wife and a kid, and if they’re in the same car as me, I have a zero tolerance policy for people texting while driving. One of the proudest moments is when we were in Cambodia and we had a private driver drive us to Angkor Wat Siem Reap, and half the time he was texting while driving. I then mustered up the courage to ask/command him to not do that anymore. Why? Even if there was a one percent chance of potential death in a car accident, I need to muster the courage to defend my family.

Other risks I would never take include skydiving, bungee jumping, etc.

Double safety

The most critical thing I learned from Boy Scouts was the notion of safety first. This is very true.

For example, I think the intelligent thing is to expect yourself to fail, or potentially hurt yourself or others, and therefore, the safe thing to do is create a double safety barrier, in order to prevent bad things from happening.

For example, when I am handling a very very sharp knife in the kitchen, I commend everybody to leave the room. Why? I do not want to accidentally stab or cut anybody.

Or, when you were attempting very very heavy squats at the gym, both have safety pins in the correct position and ask somebody to spot you. Why? When you’re handling a very heavy weight, let us say six plates on each side, or 605 pounds, your chance of not being strong enough to either move the weight, or re-rack it is very high. And therefore, having a spotter will give you 1000 times more security and safety. Once again, when it comes to powerlifting style one repetition maximum attempts, when should always expect to fail, and have a contingency plan.

Why real life loves risk

How do you know if you are really alive? If your real life involves taking some sort of risks in real life. What does that mean? That means life, if you were just stuck in a virtual reality simulation would be boring. Why? There are not real risks involved with virtual reality.

For example, let us say that you are doing a rock climbing simulation in virtual reality. If you fail, slip and fall, there is no real downside. You just push a button and start over. However in real life, let us assume you’re doing free solo, if you slip, you’ll probably die. There is no restart button in real life.

However with matters with entrepreneurship, business, etc., the upside is that there aren’t that big risks involved, at least in regards to life and death. For example, let us say that you attend some sort of entrepreneurial thing, if it fails to takeoff, you’re not gonna lose a limb, or die. At worst, you might have difficulty paying rent that month.

Therefore, what is the most intelligent way to think about risk at least in the context of business and entrepreneurship? That is, it seems the only thing people really are afraid of is this fuzzy notion of “failure“, or some sort of social stigma or social ostracization that happens with “failure“.

Conquer the social fear

Then my practical thought is in the context of risk, the only thing you gotta fear is the fear of looking like a fool, the fear of looking like a “failure”, or losing “face“.

For example, in East Asian cultures, which follow Confucianism, the greatest fear is the fear of losing face or prestige or rank in front of your peers or in society. This is a horrible concept, because your whole life is spent trying to get other people to “respect” you, or see you as “successful. It revolves nothing around doing what you really want to do.

So how do we become a spartan?

First of all, watch the movie 300 by Zack Snyder. I think it paints a very vivid image of what true manliness looks like.

Or better yet, read the original 300 graphic novel comic by Frank Miller — Amazon.

Philosophy is aesthetic

What does it mean to become a philosopher? Becoming a philosopher simply means to think more critically, and to become what you desire to become.

Spartan exercises

  1. First, go to the gym, and attempt to rack pull the heaviest weight you possibly can. Just buy some weight lifting chalk on Amazon, the one which comes in a tube, and when attempting your maximum lift, use the mixed grip, which means one hand is overhand and the other is underhand. How do you know which way is proper? It doesn’t matter. Just do what feels comfortable to you. Why rack pull, and not deadlift? My practical thought is assuming you were not competing, having to do a full range of motion for a dead lift doesn’t seem necessary. By doing a rock pool, in which I am lowering the range of motion, it is more thrilling and fun. Also, I theorize it is actually making me much buffer — currently my traps, back and biceps are out of control.
  2. Second, start intermittent fasting. This means no breakfast no lunch. Only a massive dinner. Just think of yourself as a warrior, or a hero, in which during the day it is about battle and combat, and it is only the evenings in which you celebrate and feast, eating endless oxen. Just read the Iliad, I actually find the most fascinating part in the books are the evening feasts. Even in ancient Greek times, once the sun went down, there was an acknowledgment on both sides to cease battle, for both sides to feast, and then resume fighting the next day. Perhaps in modern-day times, just imagine, can you imagine an ancient spartan 300 getting “hangry” during the day, and having to eat some sort of granola or protein bar? No.
  3. Cold showers. The last seven years I might have only taken five warm showers. It is my personal ritual to only do cold showers, maximum coldness, even in the winter time. Why? It is the best way to wake yourself up in the morning, and also ironically enough, the best way to relax yourself before going to sleep at night. I’ve actually discovered that when you take a really warm or hot shower in the evening, your body remains hot, and it is more difficult for you to fall asleep at night. When your body is cold, and you step into a warm bed, it actually promotes a better sleep. Also the reason I like the notion of a cold shower is that it is a very very low hanging fruit where you could become more manly in soft modern day times.
  4. Say what is on your mind. Really. Never censor yourself, and even if you’re going to say something politically incorrect, just say it. See how people cringe, and smile. What is the thing we should feel most ashamed about in modern day times? Self-censorship. The ultimate courage of the Spartans was to say what was really on their minds, without fear of retribution.

Why is everyone in Silicon Valley so scared?

It seems that Silicon Valley is full of subservient nerds, who know how to do good things with computers or email, and are good at collecting a high salary, in the range of $300,000 a year to $500,000 a year. Yet, what they lack is courage.

If I were still in tech, my personal strategy would be this:

Do the minimum amount of work necessary at your job to not get fired, and milk your company and your employer, and use all of your extra free mind space and time to do things you really care about.

The funny thing I’ve actually realize that in tech, even if you’re a horrible person, it is actually really difficult to fire somebody. I assume you’re not that much of an asshole, therefore, your likelihood of getting fired or laid off is actually quite low.

Let us say that you are going to get laid off. It’s not really that big of a deal, because you could just jump to another big tech company, maybe even get a raise and a promotion.

Let us consider all of these potential employers which include Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc.

So I would say go harder. Break out of the cubicle, and your house. Spend more times outdoors, chatting with beautiful people, and lifting heavy weights at the gym, getting loud and making a ruckus. Hypelifting.

Next steps

  1. Write out your thoughts, or Vlog out your thoughts, and just upload them to YouTube,, or your own website blog.
  2. When you vlog something, just do it in one take. Don’t feel like the need to edit out your “ummms“ or “likes.” I think one of the worst impediments to speaking out your mind is this notion that one must speak proper, like a boring news anchor talker, or even worse, a TED talker. In order to be more interesting, or to share more interesting thoughts, do NOT talk like somebody doing a TED talk. In fact, if you want to become more innovative or more courageous, don’t watch any TED talks, they are all boring and generic.
  3. With writing, write it out like you speak it out. A good pro tip is using the voice dictation function on the iPad, or iPhone. This is the best way to conquer writers block. Also, it is more natural to write out your thoughts using voice dictation, then just doing it on the keyboard or laptop. Also, do not feel the need to write “proper“ like boring New Yorker articles, or the New York Times. Anything owned by Condé Nast makes writing more generic, boring, and lame.


What can you conquer in 2023?

  1. BOSTON WORKSHOP 2023: Register intent here // March 25th, 2023 (Saturday) — New!
  2. April 15th, 2023 (Saturday): BAY AREA BERKELEY CREATIVE INNOVATION WORKSHOP. Register intent here.
  3. June 19-23rd, HADONG SOUTH KOREA ZEN PHOTO RETREAT // Stay updated here.

Good movies to watch

  2. 300
  3. NINJA ASSASSIN (the one with the Korean singer Rain)
  4. John Wick, all of them.

Cinema by KIM

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