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Nefertiti and Essentialism

Queen Nefertiti bust, 1340BCE, 18th Dynasty, Neues Museum, Berlin; source: Markus Schreiber/AP Photo, link

Posing under special lighting at the Neues Museum in Berlin, there is a 3300-year-old bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. Like true royalty, her gaze reveals to anyone who stands in her way, their deepest dreams, fears, and hopes for peace. Even though she is a millenary artifact, the queen’s essence is palpable.

This innate quality is what we are here to explore.

Author Paul Bloom argues in his book, How Pleasure Works, that we attribute meaning to objects, people, and experiences, mainly because we are affected by their history, context, and familiarity. “We are natural-born essentialists”, he says.

I don’t know about you, but I’m attracted to free spirits, masters of their craft, thinkers, builders, artists, lovers, leaders, connectors, doers. People who seldom complain in vain and have a relentless drive to push boundaries and freely express themselves. They are classy, curious, and somehow weird too.

They inspire me.

This overview certainly describes the good friends I made throughout the years — I love you all, — and the artists and business mentors I study and look up to as well.

But why them from all others?

Popular wisdom states that ‘you attract what you are.’ I’m not fond of cliches, but I believe this statement rings true. From what I’ve observed, those who are close to us usually possess the qualities we’ve been expressing the most. Ask yourself: are the people around me generally happy, curious, or stressed? Whatever you answered, that’s probably a reflection of what you are putting out there.

However, it’s the following phrase written by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius that comes to mind whenever I think about those people, as it transforms the role of those we surround ourselves with from mere peers to special and relevant sources of inspiration, “The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.”

That is why I keep them close to heart, and why it’s important to take notes, read, interact, and learn from all of those we admire. In the words of the poet Saul Williams, “your diet isn’t only what you eat, it’s what you watch, it’s what you read, it’s what you listen to.”

We all have an essence, so it’s important to mix some colors, and Jackson Pollock the hell out of it.

We started this article in Berlin using the bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, in the best Hitchcock fashion I know, like a MacGuffin, (an object, device, or event that is necessary for the plot to move forwards.) But rest assured she is more than that. Nefertiti symbolizes what is quintessential to the human condition, our intimate relationship with beauty, excellence, and the expression of our essence.

After all, we are essentialists.

Talk to you soon,

Lucas Napier

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