As an insight addict, I figured that the most appropriate way for me to do a year-end wrapup would be do summarize all of the best insight porn I've devoured this year. I picked not just the most interesting ideas, but specifically the frames for interpreting the world that have pervaded my thoughts the most. I'm not going to attempt to even properly summarize these ideas since they are so rich and there are so many, but hopefully my brief descriptions will pique your interest.

By far my favorite frame has been Sarah Perry's model of the way that humans construct their sense of self and self-consciousness through social signaling rituals. Among other things, I've realized that it's impossible to neatly factor your preferences into "genuine, personal preferences" and "socially imposed preferences." Since the self coalesces out of ritual behavior, Ritual and the Consciousness Monoculture is an absolute must-read- I recommend it to pretty much everyone. Here's the complete list of her posts on ritual from this year if you decide you want to read further:
My biggest change in media interaction was getting a Twitter account (shameless plug). I moved from viewing social media as mostly a distraction to seeing it as a tool for rapidly prototyping and testing interesting ideas. Venkatesh Rao's posts on Stream Smarts and The Serendipity of Streams explain why. Twitter is amazing discussion forum if you find a community of people with similar interests. Seriously recommended.

Speaking of social media, I also encountered Baudrillard's conception of hyperreality. He introduced the concept in his piece The Precession of Simulacra, which is very much not worth reading (everything important is in the Wikipedia summary). The argument is that representations (a.k.a simulacra) proceed through four stages:
  1. They are a faithful representation of "reality" (picture of your partner)
  2. They pervert "reality" (photoshopped picture of your partner)
  3. They pretend to be real but don't correspond to "reality" (picture of random person you claim is your partner)
  4. They give up all pretense of referring to "reality" (picture of Benedict Cumberbatch, who you say is your partner)
The four-step process is not quite as important as the general process of human-generated models becoming the lens through which we view "reality," or becoming "reality" itself. For more on this, read Sarah Perry's Frontierland.

Scott Alexander's Universal Love, Said The Cactus Person is the anti-insight insight. It clarified for me why the feeling of insight in individual moments is insufficient for actually getting things done in the world (and is a really funny short story as well).

Relatedly, Alex Boland's essay Shouts, Whispers and the Myth of Willpower: A Recursive Guide to Efficacy replaced the monolothic idea willpower with a cycle of world-interaction that requires an optimal degree of stress and feedback at each cycle to operate. From a different angle, I reinterpreted the sensation of mental effort as an internal index of the opportunity cost of switching to a different task.  Both approaches decenter the action from a single self that is supposed to be the unmoved mover.

David Chapman's great posts on tantric vs sutric Buddhism helped me understand Buddhist philosophy and practice much better than I had before. Essentially, sutra is a practice that strives toward enlightenment by separating the practitioner's ties to the world, whereas tantra is a practice that assumes enlightenment and figures out what to do from there, given that you live in the world. I recommend starting here. The most important metaphor in the series is the image of unclogging blocked energy. It's most useful if you're familiar with some Buddhist thought/practice, though I think anyone can benefit.

The metaphor of energy manipulation is also key to Christopher Alexander's philosophy of architecture, as laid out in The Timeless Way of Building. I'll give you an excerpt since it would be mean to just tell you to read a whole book (though you should):
To make sense of the design, it was necessary to follow the spirit of the pattern, not the letter.
What is really happening, is that there is a feeling for a certain kind of morphology, which is geometrical in character, but which is a feeling, not a precisely statable mathematically precise relationship.
A pulsating, fluid, but nonetheless definite entity swims in your mind's eye. It is a geometrical image, it is far more than the knowledge of the problem; it is the knowledge of the problem, coupled with the knowledge of the kinds of geometrics which will solve the problem, and coupled with the feeling which is created by that kind of geometry solving that problem. It is above all, a feeling- a morphological feeling. This morphological feeling, which cannot be exactly stated, but can only be crudely hinted at by any one precise formulation, is the heart of every pattern.
Alexander explains how patterns in design have historically been absorbed from other designs in the environment, forming a pattern language that individuals can use to make a piece that fits any specific use case. Pattern languages are distinct from other forms of design in that they proceed from the general to the specific. You can proceed from a pattern for a set of buildings to a pattern for a specific building to a pattern for the rooms to the particular construction of the rooms, in that order. This makes pattern languages especially useful, since instead of considering the O(n^n) possible connections between n elements, you only need to consider something like O(n) connections. Much more tractable for human designers.

David Chapman also has a magnificent summary of Robert Kegan's system of ethical development. Kegan describes a system in which ethical progress is achieved by repeatedly moving subject (what you identify as) to object (what you can treat as a thing to be used). He distinguishes stage 3, where you identify with relationships; stage 4, where you identify with systems and treat relationships as objects; and stage 5, where you treat systems as objects you can transfer between. The frame of subject-to-object transition is the key here, and can be generalized to many aspects of life. Expect to see more writing on this from me soon.