John Carmack: What’s the meaning of life? | Note: Lex Fridman podcast

As mentioned a couple posts ago, I started clipping some of my favorite quotes from John Carmack’s 5-hour interview on the Lex Fridman Podcast. (I did 2 in a row with the same drawing timelapse and felt like I was straying beyond “work smart, not hard” into just being lazy. I’ll at least try to do a new 5-7 minute sketch for each Short in this format.)

In the above clip, Lex asks him what the meaning of life is. Carmack says he doesn’t think much about the meaning at all—we’re just biological beings that come and go.

He steps his answer back a bit and says, sometimes, he does think about how finite it is.

Then he gets back to work.

Elsewhere in the podcast, he talks about getting a $250,000 machine for himself to run ML experiments locally. He’s always enjoyed expensive toys…

“Carmack stepped into the local bank and requested a cashier’s check for $11,000. The money was for a NeXT computer, the latest machine from Steve Jobs, cocreator of Apple. The NeXT, a stealth black cube, surpassed the promise of Jobs’s earlier machines by incorporating NeXTSTEP, a powerful system tailor-made for custom software development. The market for PCs and games was exploding, and this was the perfect tool to create more dynamic titles for the increasingly viable gaming platform. It was the ultimate Christmas present for the ultimate in young graphics programmers, Carmack.” — Masters of Doom by David Kushner

Tim Ferriss talks about how he reads Anthony De Mello’s Awareness (check my notes out here) and has a feeling of lightness for a few days afterward.

For the past few days after listening to this John Carmack interview, I’ve felt a sense of… craftsmanship? That’s definitely not the right word. But it’s something like I’ve felt like getting a little more organized to get a little more focused.

It’s worth finding something you’re curious about and making the effort to be able to wake up and work on that every day.

That’s the takeaway that’s stuck with me most so far: John Carmack has built a legacy not by considering his legacy but by focusing on the local work in front of him and doing his best on it.