Skip to content

✉️ Dean's List #003

Devils, Twitter Rants, Infinite Funk, The Most Dangerous Writing App, Joan Didion Visualized, and Resurrections On-Demand.

Michael Dean
Michael Dean
3 min read

Merry Sunday. Today's newsletter shifted shapes. I'm experimenting with a new list format (after all, this is called Dean's List). But first, a meta-musing.

I've been trigger shy– clutching to these little invisible rules around 'what my newsletter needs to be.' I told myself I needed to fill out my template, write good prose, and of course, I could only share finished work. To hell with these little devils of creative constipation! Indigestion of the soul is the worst kind.

What if I just shared a list of the 'live state' of my writing? Whether it's 100% or 50% done, it makes the list.  This reconciles two things – 1) the desire to send this every week, 2) the unpredictable time it takes to make creative work. By unbundling completion and outreach, I can both explore and stay in touch. Boom.

Below is a list of 10 links. Three of them are in-progress Google Docs. The idea of turning this whole game from a broadcast into a discussion is terribly exciting. What if the goal of a newsletter is to invite people into the process and encourage feedback exchanges?


1. A 1,000 Twitter followers 'celebration' rant #PUBLISHED – New tradition. Every time I hit a Twitter milestone, I'll take out the typewriter and rage-write about social media. If my Tweets are short and valuable, these are long and delirious. It's an exercise in rhyming, phrase variation, and free-association.

2. Joan Didion thread#ANALYSIS – I dissected the opening paragraph from Didion's 'White Album' (1979) in a Twitter thread. There are 7 patterns I walked away with: balance, repetition, gradual complexity, cliche transformation, tension, 'out of key' words, and rhythm. I might make a series around deconstructing famous writers. Let me know who you want to see analyzed.

3. Hunter S. Thompson impression#IMPRESSION – Here's how I imagine HTS writing about New Year's resolutions and goal setting. Impressions are the best way to put analysis into practice. Whether they're on or off, they help you internalize technique.  They're fun, but time consuming. I can break down a writer in an hour, but an impression can take 5-10 hours.

4. Logs | October 2022#LOGS – 40 new logs since last time. I cover the existential threat of AI writing apps, writing software, shaping introductions, Terence McKenna, the Cuban Missile Crisis, 'astral projection,' how to fix the news, and I contemplated four reasons why we'll never meet aliens.

5. Cohort 9 Feedback Gym | Week 1 Notes#LOGS –  Every week day I host a one-hour 'Feedback Gym' in Write of Passage. It's an event centered around 1:1 breakout rooms where people read and exchange spoken feedback. It fuses the face-to-face character of live session breakouts with the collaborative spirit of async editing. At the end of each session, I lead a discussion around our group's 'process epiphanies' and take furious notes.


6. Infinite John Lennon (draft v2)#DRAFT – By 2030, there could be over a million ‘new’ Beatles songs generated by AI. I have a long form essay on the way, but here's a 750 word intro. Based on this cliffhanger, let me know, what are you hoping to read next?

7. Resurrections On-Demand (draft v5)  – #DRAFT – My theory: an Ancient Greek 'mystery school' used brainwashing, psychedelics, and theatre to trigger a 'shared hallucination' among hundreds of people, simultaneously. What did they see? Their Greek goddess, resurrected from the dead. What does this mean for Christianity? Let me know your thoughts as you read this one.

8. Reverse outlines (draft v3)#DRAFT – I often get asked how I restructure essays. What if I had a single post that could break down and teach my method? This has a long way to go, and might eventually become a snazzy video. But for now, maybe this draft can help you. Jon Vasquez already said: "I can't tell you how much your reverse outline article helped me shape and create my second draft. It was seriously all downhill from there."


9. Most Dangerous Writing App#TOOL –  I've been writing through "the Most Dangerous Writing App" recently. The premise is simple. You set a timer (3-60 minutes) and if you stop writing for more than 5 seconds, all your work gets erased permanently*. It sounds brutal, but it's been the medicine to get me out of my own head. When you stop typing, the text gets blurry and your words slowly turn red. I've had a few close calls. No wipeouts yet. (*Weeks after using it, I found out your work is technically recoverable, but I still pretend that it isn't.)

10. An 18 month funk jam #MUSIC – This is my new work music. Lyric-less melodies. A range of moods. Lo-fi. A YouTube account called DADABOTS has been procedurally generating funk since April 2021. They already have 3x more 'live music' than the full history of the Grateful Dead. We're entering the age of Infinite Radio.

Until next time,
Michael Dean



Related Posts

Members Public

✉️ Dean's List #004

AI, Daylight Savings Limbo, Possessions, The Analog Beauty of Surprise, Immortality, and Turning Myself Into an App.

Members Public

✉️ Dean's List #002

Typewriters, Sleep Paralysis, Zettlekasten is Crime!, Pseudonyms, Local Pizza

Members Public

✉️ Dean's List #001

Warp-Speed Learning, Bunker Bill, Logs, Blogs, and Yin-Yang Newsletters