@March 31, 2022 9:35 PM
I’m quite mediocre at piano, but exceptionally good when I play only the white keys. Half joke, half true. It’s a fun way to compose and improv without having to logically calculate different chord shapes. I can focus on rhythm, patterns, and composition. It’s way different than song writing. It’s all in C— you can’t lose. I can play Yankee Doodle, Clair De Lune, half-composed “songwriter songs,” and now, “C into the Abyss.”
Writers writing about writing
@March 30, 2022 8:31 PM (EDT)
Writers writing about writing.. whenever any artist goes through a crunch in the creative process— there is a swell of epiphanies. Putting those epiphanies into words is a way to crystallize and carry these habits forward.. Not to mention, it’s a way to help others, and let them in on your insights. It’s a “meta-move”
Choose one part of the Write of Passage writing process. How will you focus or innovate upon it to further your writing goals?
This prompt is about ‘Writers writing about writing.’ It’s an opportunity to reflect on something you’ve learned in the last few weeks and synthesize it— both for yourself and others.
You don’t need to write a comprehensive essay about your entire system. You can focus on one component. Here is a list of some potential areas for you to focus on: Note-taking, ambient research, journaling, feedback, POP writing, shiny dimes, storytelling, metaphors, feedback, websites, newsletters, personal monopolies, etc.
There are two ways to approach the prompt:
1. You can focus on one element that you think will have the highest impact on your process.
2. You can innovate on an element from Write of Passage that you’d like to make your own.
Acknowledging the senses
@March 30, 2022 7:19 AM (EDT)
Rare are the moments when we can acknowledge all five sense at once in their fullest detail.
@March 29, 2022 6:55 PM (EDT)
11-12 meetings today. Yikes. When everything is back to back, it’s tough to retain best practices and systems around notes, tasks, and projects. What would be a life-saver is a cross-app history. Like your browser history, but one that includes all texts, photos, zoom chats, Notion links, etc.
@March 29, 2022 10:48 AM (EDT)
Brian Eno - Apollo (1983)
On the song “Drift”— as in many of the songs on this album— there is an underlying “drone” that underlies the whole song. In Drift, it’s a single high-frequency chord that is “oscillating” in and out. On top of this, all sorts of unpredictable and organic sounds bubble up and disappear, but through all the chaos, that oscillating backbone is still there. It’s a great exercise in meditation through sound.
Writing dissections on Twitter
@March 29, 2022 10:38 AM (EDT)
Twitter as an opportunity to dissect pages as I read.. ie: reading a short-story from Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House?”— pick one highlight from one page, turn into a visual, and post. The Twitter habit then becomes a forcing function to read more and dissect more writers. The whole “imitation” angle is cool, but it’s the heavy life version. It comes from accidentally dissecting a writer so frequently that you’ve already internalized them.
Night time thoughts
@March 27, 2022 11:45 PM (EDT)
- The low-frequency hum of a passing plane fading into highway noise. Retinas fried, white glow on wife’s face. Wind creeks the house. Pillow universe.
- The heat of the sun with eyes closed in the middle of the night. Just for a second, at the end of a wormhole, before it disappeared.
Keep your eye on the ball
@March 27, 2022 3:23 PM (EDT)
L15-8, W15-14, W15-10.. In racquetball, whenever I lose a point, I aim to identity what went wrong, and then hold that principle in mind as I move forward. There are a few I’ve tried, but there is one that seems to always send me on a streak. It comes down to, “keep your eye on the ball,” but to be more detailed, it’s about a real-time awareness. Rather than making split decisions at peak moments, it’s about a smooth, always-on immersion in the moment. The metaphor of “frame-rate” come to mind. To remind myself, before each point, I look down at my racket, and observe the subtle rotation of the racket in my hand. It shows that certain values are way more fundamental— almost “root-level” than the others.. You can go on optimizing for other things, but if you had to pick one, which one will naturally solve the other things?
Finding decaying systems
@March 27, 2022 11:30 AM (EDT)
At any given point, parts of your system are thriving, and other parts are failing you (leading to pointless maintenance).. A skill in systems development is the recognition that something isn’t serving you.
The absence of thresholds in digital realms
@March 27, 2022 8:51 AM (EDT)
Email & fractured attention— the consequence of being in 15 places, almost at the same time, with no friction of threshold. The Metaverse might have similar effects, except it will reduce that friction for the body itself.
The creation of subconscious continents
@March 27, 2022 8:21 AM (EDT)
Memory is understood as retaining places, people, and experiences as they’ve actually happened. It’s very much a “record” function— capturing things as they actually are. What if there was an additional “generative” function, that uses inputs as source data to generate unconscious continents? If this is true, then there’s a subconscious layer of synthesis and re-interpretation that’s occurring in real-time, like a biological-AI.
@March 26, 2022 7:55 PM (EDT)
Consciousness, ego, and the subconscious— I want to write up some thoughts on this. Jungians talk about the unconscious as a landscape, a literal terrain. I have some wild speculation and theories about this.. To summarize— it might be well-detailed how conscious experience is processed by the ego to form identity.. but additionally, conscious experience might then go on to create unconscious mental forms, landscapes, characters, etc.. As our consciousness “runs,” the surface area of the subconscious balloons, exponentially.. Through dreams, psychedelics, near-death experiences, active imagination, shamanism, and other means— consciousness literally “drop-ins” to these realms that were generated as background processes.. The subconscious might be an emergent hidden landscape, unique to each person— yet, shared between all humans are common scripts that generate these vistas.. A kind of novelty engine, that tends to have similar patterns in how everything is generated.. Basically, there are both personal and universal dimensions to the imagination.. We think “imagination” is a realm of conscious summoning from the unknown, but it’s potentially an always-on process— rendering non-rational universes, most of which will never be experiences, some of which will be bursted into... end rant.
- Neil Armstrong (external) vs. Carl Jung (interior)
- Extended-state DMT therapy as a frontier of exploration, pre-Mars
- Jung: A pioneer of the uncharted mystery of the human soul
- “Grave historical importance” — “the whole world hangs on a thread, and that thread is the human psyche.. it is vital that we all become familiar with it.”
- Depth psychology
- Jung sees himself as a lineage of the European Alchemists— also inspired by Hegel and Kant
- Jung as an intuitive who saw patterns in what existed
- A visionary like Eckhart, Blake, and Emerson.. primary teacher was “Philemon” from active imagination.. yet also an empirical scientist
Capture as a timeless practice
@March 26, 2022 2:27 PM (EDT)
We often confuse artists and people for the things they produce— stories, albums, buildings, theories, or products. But among all types of creation is a shared process of “capturing” little moments. Humans are collectors. Collecting isn’t something that happens at predictable times— rather, it’s a state of mind where you’re always on the lookout. It is both the constant search for ”novelty,” and the rush to transcribe it before it disappears.
David Byrne, the front-man of the Talking Heads would walk around with a tape recorder, capturing dozens of hums throughout the day [check]. Architects always have a sketchbook in their bag. Darwin had a journal of field notes, capturing the patterns of nature and creatures. Each entry had the date and time. Software developers, prisoners, sailors and soldiers keep similar timed-stamped logs, noting the “noteworthy” moments of a day. You might be most familiar with this practice through Instagram Stories, where a whole generation captures their life in real-time through photos and videos.
It’s a timeless practice. Across disciplines, we save the fleeting moments that would otherwise disappear into the black hole of memory. All collectors have hope in the future: a hope that these remembered fragments might be extremely valuable one day.
Hierarchy of elements
@March 26, 2022 12:10 AM (EDT)
When it comes to visual composition, (art, architecture, graphic design), a key part of it is determining which visual elements are primary. All secondary elements should relate back to the primary ones, whether in proportion, form, angle, hierarchy, or any other visual pattern. The intuitive feeling of visual “harmony” can actually be reduced down to mathematics and patterns.. [Danielle is designing a logo right now]
@March 25, 2022 11:31 PM (EDT)
There’s an idea called “adaptive preference bias.” It means you learn to love the hand you’re dealt. The extreme version of this is Stockholm Syndrome, when prisoners begin to grow fond of their guards. Interesting to consider where the lines are with your preferences. Which ones are worth holding on to despite the environment? When does it makes sense to go with the flow?
Responses to the reality of death
@March 25, 2022 8:10 PM (EDT)
@March 25, 2022 3:01 PM (EDT)
- Kanye is a principled Diva, highly technical, with a bursting subconscious, wrestling with delusions.
- Kanye’s “Jeen-yus” documentary was like a marketing kill switch. In a dark hour where he seems to be caught up in petty bullshit post-divorce, we go back in time by 20 years and see Kanye’s origin story. I’m assuming there’s a resurgence in his music. Would be interesting to see streaming stats.
- Kanye doesn’t have un-human creativity, but he has other traits that amplify it.
Wilbur Doyle's gas leak
@March 25, 2022 2:56 PM (EDT)
Two Con-Edison workers in orange jump suits are drilling holes into the asphalt in front of Wilbur Doyle’s driveway to find the source of the gas leak. Happy Friday.
Templates vs. organic structure
@March 25, 2022 1:51 PM (EDT)
Two approaches to structure in writing:
1) Pre-designed templates that you pour ideas into
2) Finding local patterns within an idea & replicating them
@March 25, 2022 1:29 PM (EDT)
An example of converting a 400-word section into a kind of “reverse-outline”— this now serves as a component I can use in other parts of the essays.
- example 2
- counter-strategy - paragraph
- transition - one-liner
@March 24, 2022 8:15 PM (EDT)
Chord progressions have natural transitions in emotion.. good lyrics lean into these shifts.
Identifying a skill across medium— the ability to process something, and then identify and compress its nature. In music, you can hear a sequence of chords, identify the emotion of each one, and then use that to layer corresponding lyrics over them. In writing, you can understand the emotion arc of ideas in one section, and then replicate that in a parallel section.
AGM's Rogan podcast
@March 24, 2022 7:28 PM (EDT)
Listened to AGM’s Rogan podcast.. we had dinner with him the night before, and heard compressed but similar language (History with a capital H).. what stands out to me is the Total War angle of it, across all sides, even Western Ukraine.. not just that it’s happening, but the inability of the West to relate to it.. I remember saying “good luck” when we left (about dealing with inbound on the following day) and he said I made it sound like he’s about to be executed (in a funny way)
Write of Passage Austin meetup
@March 23, 2022 10:06 PM (CDT)
A group hangs out among picnic tables, wedged between a gutted Victorian home and Austin’s South Congress. Everyone is brought here— allured— attracted by a common bond— not through circumstance, but through a shared fire for online writing. An exchange of words and laughs— between co-workers, internet friends, locals and out-of-towners, a few who are wealthy, famous, or both— either secretly or openly. But all the context and circumstance evaporates— it’s flattened— the hierarchies are thin, if any, and in the open flow of ideas, everyone can lean in to their weirdness.
- upstairs crowded, 60% table — move outside
- Jimmy Song, idea for Arnold Schwarzenegger curation essay
- Charlie Becker drove 3 hours from Houston on day of
- talk with Joe about high school education
- Zakk - after writing every week day for a year, met in person, Cabin sticker
- Zakk & David - WOP stories, rocket vs. pivot
- David & Jess - laughing over me being blind to context clues
- Charlie— stories on WOP experience & Houston
- Story of being assaulted by a Greek billionaire
- Raza - live music scene in Austin, talk on the Studio, 1st time a “read your essay” comment
- Will, Jimmy, Arthur - essay structures, logloglog
- Uber home with Dan— talks on Austin vibes
- Uber driver— in a bind— likes a girl who smells bad, Boyz II Men concert
Scales of imitation
@March 23, 2022 5:37 PM (CDT)
There are different scales of imitation. It could be at the voice level— rhythm, tone, rhyme, imagery— which is then laced through all words. Then there’s imitation at the level of structure, ranging from sentence structure to story structure.
Breakfast with Arthur
@March 23, 2022 9:02 AM (CDT)
- Neil Young- Harvest Moon.. in an Austin lobby.. stylish out-of-towners.. thought on Ukraine.. on having an opinion.. a soup of thoughts going upcaptured
- Thoughts to pick up on.. picking your game.. the two spectrums of love.. no culture, war, and men.. anxieties of fame.. Texas bbq.. the crew.. Putin empathizers.. midwit algorithms..
"A good product is subtlety compounded."
@March 22, 2022 10:49 AM (CDT)
New York, 1966, colorized
@March 22, 2022 9:09 AM (EDT)
@March 22, 2022 8:48 AM (EDT)
Curious to understand the differences between the Nashville and Austin music scene..
@March 21, 2022 11:02 PM (CDT)
A Texas steakhouse filled with paintings of prairies, loose dogs, and lucid trees— portraits of Lyndon B. Johnson— waiters in vests who acknowledged the privacy of a business meeting— other waiters who insist on how to season your lobster bisque.. In the flow of conversation, I consumed an entire cow in 45 seconds without realizing.
Road testing an essay
@March 21, 2022 8:01 PM (CDT)
Optimizing for gold.. In writing, music, and comedy.. what does it mean to ‘road test’ an essay. It’s something I’m experimenting with. You tell your reader for frequent, low-depth comments, (ie: funny, interesting, confusing, etc.).. basically, one-word comments to signal their reactions. Which moments burst through their attention that are worth noting? After I get feedback, I note what sticks, but most importantly, I note the chunks of text that have no highlights. They aren’t good, nor bad— it’s simply uncompressed. It isn’t notable. It’s worth re-writing until it does get some kind of reaction. Now you don’t want to optimize every sentence for an “lol”— you can stagger humor, with value, with shock, etc.
Meal prep for writing
@March 21, 2022 7:39 PM (EDT)
- I’ve found it helpful to have a weekly (or bi-weekly) planning session to decided what I’m going to focus on for my upcoming writing sessions— it’s like meal prep for writing
- "Another great habit is to decide what you're going to write before you show up... if you make your calendar appointment and it has the title of what you're going to work on, your mind starts thinking in advance about what you're going to work on." - Michael Dean
- @michaelDean…. Great suggestion.. kind of how like before you go to the gym, you know if its going to be a legs day, upper body day, etc..
- Yes +1 Michael. I journal about what I want to write the night before with an idea of an outline at night and then when I show up in the morning, I’ve already crystallized where I am going. It sets me up for convergence mode.
The spectrum of personal writing
@March 21, 2022 7:36 PM (EDT)
“The majority of my life is off-limits”.. interesting to compare this with Justin Hall or Jack Kerouac’s M.O., which is basically, “my life is my art.”
@March 21, 2022 7:12 PM (EDT)
I think the Muse is real, but, a mechanical or predictable writing routine gets the gears rolling. It increases the chance of a spontaneous visitation, where all the words coming out of you have an unfamiliar quality.
Info-capture > habit > website
@March 21, 2022 7:08 PM (EDT)
Info-capture is the beginning of the process, your website is the end— the writing habit is in between.
Architects have the option to follow scripts from the past
@March 21, 2022 12:19 PM (CDT)
The architectural present is the output of how new construction and interior renovations build upon an unenforced script from the past.
Hyper-linking is overrated
@March 21, 2022 6:30 AM (EDT)
The myth of improved creativity through hyperlinked notes.
Sentences soaked in imagery
@March 20, 2022 5:53 PM (EDT)
My Newsletter Junkyard draft has 76 images— I cut 31 of them, and grouped the remaining 45 into these 5 sets [mail, personifications, danger, sacred, profane]. As you start a draft, you generate images blindly in the search for something that resonates, but once you have a soup of images, you want to cull and reinforce. It’s better to return to the same images twice than endlessly generate new ones.
@March 20, 2022 8:26 AM (EDT)
- Second night of disturbing dreams. This sucks. When you experience something horrifying, it sticks in your memory whether it’s real or not. I’m tempted to write them out, but I’d rather have these images fade than give them a second life through language.
- “We’re seeing the mutation of GenX nuclear anxiety in real-time due to social media.” - Jacqueline Bryk
- Threads, a 1984 British apocalypse drama— credited as the film that most accurately captures the horrors of nuclear war and the aftermath.. It got 100% on rotten tomatoes, and Carl Sagan was a consultant on this during production.. warning: this is said to be one of the most disturbing films to ever be made. It’s tough to even skim, but I’ll watch it one day.. The YouTube comments are surprising in themselves— “the most terrifying film ever made because of how possible it is”— “more depressing than you can imagine”— “this makes the Day After Tomorrow look like a Disney film.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Srqyd8B9gE
- Another movie on nuclear war, “The Day After.” Apparently Raegan required all his chiefs of staff to watch it. Similar, but based in America, and apparently slightly less terrifying. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iyy9n8r16hs
@March 19, 2022 11:23 PM (EDT)
Watched the first episode of Zelebsky’s sitcom.. So strange.. Didn't realize he was a celebrity.. he won the Ukrainian dancing with the Stars.. And his show “Servant of the People,” which ran for 3 seasons, is a show of Zelensky accidentally being elected for President.. The name of the show became the name of his political party. He was famous, and won 73% of the popular vote. Some Russians think it's a psy-op— that Zelebsky's play into media and politics was CIA-funded.. Sounds like a Black Mirror episode
Racquetball and pattern recognition
@March 19, 2022 2:12 PM (EDT)
Racquetball scores, W 15-12, W 15-14, L 7-5.. I noticed another mental component of the game: pattern recognition. The quick you can recognize your opponents emergent strategies, the quicker you can counter. Then as you counter, they counter, creating the need for constant awareness. It seems like “mindfulness” is the answer in so many domains. It's something were fundamentally not wired for, and need to cultivate through practice. It's also meme’d to death, and we need better language around it.
Kanye documentary quotes
@March 18, 2022 10:54 PM (EDT)
- “I feel like I can’t sell to you that I’m finna come up and take your life, because that’s what hot in the industry. I don’t give a fuck about the industry. When I do this album, it’s gonna be the best shit you ever heard, because if I brick, I can still eat. I still have a way to make my album. So I’m gonna do it the way I wanna fuckin do it. And with the backing I get, I don’t want to say I can’t fail, but with God’s blessing, and Chicago on my side, there’s no way I can lose.”
- “Ima stand for everything I’ve seen in my life, and Ima try to express that to ya’ll the best I can. And I feel like I’m creative enough that Ima make it work. Nobody has ever stood and said, yo man, let me actually show you that there’s more than one side to me.. I know that theres more than one side to me. I know when i get a check in, I’m thinking, yo man, I’m finna go get this chain from Jacobs right now.. I know when I go to church with my grandparents I really try to hear the word of God, and what they’re trying to tell me, and to understand religion.. I’m confused as black man.. a lot of times artists try to come in with the angle that they’re not confused about. Then you always here, “I love that album, but he’s a hypocrite.” I guess this is anti hip-hop, because hip-hop is all about frontin’. From my album, and the perspective I want to speak from, I want to bridge the gap.”
- Kanye, 2002
Punk, Surrealism, and Architecture
@March 18, 2022 4:19 PM (EDT)
I feel like my interests in counter-cultures (punk), surrealism, and architecture are starting to converge and fuse together in my writing.. there’s a decision between reflecting on these influences explicitly, vs. just making artifacts and let others decipher or misunderstand them— Dylan and Ferlinghetti are against rationally deconstructing your own works to allow others a pathway into it.. not sure where that stems from— an elitism? Treating works as sacred things in and of themselves? A move against mainstream understanding? I don’t know.. but I love deconstructing the work of others, and also my own.. so while it can feel naval-gazy to write about my own process as it unfolds, it almost feels wrong not to.
Don't get locked up by outlines
@March 18, 2022 12:51 PM (EDT)
Don’t confuse the map for the territory while writing.. Outlines are helpful, but you can’t emotionally evaluate an idea until it’s written.. Outlines are strictly a tool to help aim the creation of language.
Portfolios are emergent
@March 17, 2022 7:23 PM (EDT)
You can’t know in advance what your library of work look like.
A rampage of "and"
@March 17, 2022 7:17 PM (EDT)
When phonetics trump the Oxford Comma.. I had certain engrained habits around commas and “ands” that I’ve followed for over a decade. But reading drafts out loud, and editing based on how things sound off your tongue, leads to a warping of language.
Intros = the map & the hook
@March 17, 2022 7:17 PM (EDT)
Things to include in your introduction— the map & the hook.. The map is about orientation. If there are 4 sections ahead, compress each one into a word, and put them all in one sentence at the end of the introduction. The hook is about anticipation. It’s about leaving an an unanswered question that you return to at the end.
@March 17, 2022 7:17 PM (EDT)
It’s easier for me to cut paragraphs with fun language knowing that these burn ends will appear on my logloglog. They get a life of their own, even if not in the context of an essay.
Coined phrase = meaning + phonetics
@March 17, 2022 10:27 AM (EDT)
For something to be catchy/sticky - I think the less syllables the better. I can really easily say, I've got the "meat sweats," since it's two 1-syllable words. The challenge with a coined phrase is finding that sweet spot between meaning and sound.
The beauty of being unknown
@March 16, 2022 9:45 PM (EDT)
“The nocturnal glory of being great without being anything! The sombre majesty of splendours no one knows.. And I suddenly experience the sublime feeling of a monk in the wilderness or of a hermit in his retreat, acquainted with the substance of Christ in the sands and in the caves of withdrawal from the world. And at this table in my absurd room, I, pathetic and anonymous office clerk, write words as if they were the soul’s salvation..” Pessoa, Disquiet, p.15
@March 16, 2022 7:44 PM (EDT)
Compression is more than deletion. It’s re-writing in different and fewer words.
Explore vs. convey
@March 16, 2022 7:16 PM (EDT)
+1 Megan - on starting fresh once the shiny dime becomes clear. Think of the first draft as an exploration to find the shiny dime. The second draft is how you convey it clearly to a stranger.
“Once you find the shiny dime, how does it work its way into your essay? If you only have it in your intro, the reader might forget about it… think of the shiny dime as a chorus. Think of how a chorus repeats multiple times within a song… any section you have in the middle, think about how to tie that into the shiny time.. by the end, it’s the idea the reader walks away with.” - Michael Dean (transcribed by Megan)
@March 16, 2022 7:08 PM (EDT)
There’s a term called “scope creep” in project management— it’s when additional tasks get added as you continue working on something. This happens with writing too. Essays can “balloon” pretty easily. Think of the shiny dime as a filter that lets you prevent scope creep. It lets you cut the inessential and focus on what matters.
Salman: +1 Michael. To add to that—be careful when processing feedback. You want to follow the feedback that helps you clarify your point, but be careful not to answer every question that comes in (answering all of them will lead to scope creep)
Surprise is a breach in expectations.
@March 16, 2022 6:15 PM (EDT)
Optimize for what’s surprising. Surprise is transformation. It’s a breach in expectations. It’s the beginning of shift in a world view.
Thoughts on New York to Isabel
@March 16, 2022 9:42 AM (EDT)
Hey Isabel - I missed you in Austin by a week! (going there on Monday) .. If you're curious to check out how the Newsletter Junkyard draft developed, here's my latest version.. Great question on New York vs. Austin.. this is actually something I've been wanting to write about, so here's a v1:
There are so many things in life that you could optimize for: adventure, serendipity, family, friends, mastery, nature, corporate escalation, novelists per capita.. There are good things about each one, but you can't have them all. I've had many fantasies about where I should live (ie: a cabin in upstate New York overlooking 60 acres of mountains). I've also had Tennessee and Kentucky fantasies. Recently, I've just been very blunt about what my priorities are. By focusing on one or two things, it gave me a very clear picture of life. Those two things are family and mastery.
My wife and I are pretty rooted in New York, and it doesn't make sense for us to move away from our support network (because kids). And if my second focus is the mastery of craft, then what better place to do it than hiding “in” Levittown, the ORIGINAL suburb, a fabricated neighborhood with no culture. There's something fascinating to me about living in a boring place, engaging with neighbors who are mostly senior citizens obsessed with game shows, and building a life where I have minimal friends, minimal distractions, allowing me to completely zone in on mastering the craft of... anything (writing, music, architecture, poetry, all of it). It's a weird answer for sure-- but it's also enabled by having the Internet as an outlet to meet others and share ideas. It's strange (and quite possibly, dead wrong), that living an ordinary and unstimulating life can lead to my best work and best life. Or, it could be a case of "adaptive preference bias," where I rationalize my current situation.
For what it's worth, when I was 24, I considered dropping out of society and joining a Greek Orhtodox monastery in Arizona.. Living in the American suburbs is like that for me, except better, because it is more trying on my patience and awareness. At one point, at the peak of my naivete (probably in college, stoned), I daydreamed of streaking down the Long Island expressway so I could get arrested and have time in prison to read without distractions. Obviously, a stupid thought, but it shows how I've yearned for isolation and focus.
All of this goes to say that I'm not the right person to ask about NY. I'm merely here by circumstance. It is convenient that I'm only 45 minutes away from the center of the Earth. I can get to the action if and when I need to. I used to commute into Times Square every day. I worked a corporate architecture job, and had a recording studio that was a 5 minute walk away. I went there during my lunches and at nights. So basically, I didn't meet new people in New York because I was always with the same group of friends making music (I definitely miss that). My take is, if you can sync up with creative people and build momentum, it doesn't matter where you are.
It's actually pretty tough to label New York or Austin, because either of them has the capacity for infinite experience within them. It's all about how you slice into a city: your tendencies, your habits, your goals, your fears. I've been in a relationship since college, so that slants how I sliced into NY. There was ONE year in 2017 where I went to meetups with a Psychedelic Society-- I'll admit, that was pretty cool, and I got to meet some fascinating people, but in the end, the leader, who I'd become pretty close with, took cocaine on the peak of an acid trip, thought he was Jesus, tried to start "The United States of Brooklyn," and literally burned every bridge in his life in under 10 days. This was the pinnacle of my New York social life.
I don't know if any of this was remotely useful. Going to Austin next week, which I'm sure will change my perspective on this question. Will send an update.
All refinements before sharing V1 are speculations.
@March 16, 2022 8:58 AM (EDT)
All refinements before sharing V1 are speculations.
Feedback = Reality
- Tommy Lee
8am at Starbucks in Big Finger
@March 16, 2022 8:05 AM (EDT)
An accidental moment where the 8am sun pierces through a Starbucks facade, illuminating Nike shoes, floating patches of dust, and a team of 4, working lockstep, who will likely forget the specifics of this Spring of their life, as would I if I hadn't frozen them in words. A new man walks in, a yellow hoodie, a puffy black jacket, bald, a ring, flipping through a wad of bills, a gap in his front teeth, who has his trance fixed on an angel who just walked in— coffee received, and he'll never know that this regular, animal moment was captured by some stranger at a table, or that it could be the longest-lasting proof of his existence beyond his death.
Pessoa's influence on logloglog
@March 16, 2022 7:59 AM (EDT)
Realizing that I started logloglog 2 weeks after first reading Pessoa.. The Book of Disquiet is an analog version of logloglog, where the best posts were structured and assembled after his death.
@March 16, 2022 7:48 AM (EDT)
Wife: “It's dumb to have the lanes like this.”
Response: “This town was planned by a fucking dog.”
Making sense vs. feeling the forces of nature
@March 16, 2022 7:27 AM (EDT)
“I lower new eyes to the two white pages, on which my careful numbers have entered the firm’s results. And smiling to myself I remember that life, which contains these pages with fabric types, prices and sales, blank spaces, letters and ruled lines, also include the great navigators, the great saints, and the poets of every age, not one of whom enters the books— a vast progeny banished from those who determine the world’s worth.. In the very act of entering the name of an unfamiliar cloth, the doors of Indus and of Samarkand open up, and Persian poetry (which is from yet another place), with its quatrains whose third lines don’t rhyme, is a distant anchor for me in my disquiet. But I make no mistake: I write, I add, and the bookkeeping goes on, performed as usual by an employee of this office.” Pessoa, Disquiet, p.16
- Sense-makers vs. forces of nature
Public life as a mosaic
@March 16, 2022 12:15 AM (EDT)
“Future married couples pass by, chatting seamstresses pass by, young men in a hurry for pleasure pass by, those who have retired from everything smoke on their habitual stroll, and at one or another doorway a shopkeeper stands like an idle vagabond, hardly noticing a thing. Army recruits— some of them brawny, others slight— slowly drift along in noisy and worse-than-noisy clusters. Occasionally someone quite ordinary goes by. Cars at that time of day are rare, and their noise is musical. In my heart there’s a peaceful anguish, and my calm is made of resignation. All of this passes, and none of it means anything to me. It’s all foreign to my fate, and even to fate as a whole. It’s just unconsciousness, curses of protest when chance hurls stone, echoes of unknown voices— a collective mishmash of life.” Pessoa, Disquiet, p.14
Reminds me of my experience in Dolores park— June 2021.. public life as a mosaic.. a series of pockets.. each one, deep in itself, but in the whole, completely separate from you
The roadside inn
@March 16, 2022 12:06 AM (EDT)
“I see life as a roadside inn where I have to stay until the coach from the abyss pulls up. I don’t know where it will take me, because I don’t know anything. I could see this inn as a prison, for I’m compelled to wait in it; I could see it as a social centre, for it’s here that I meet others. But I’m neither impatient nor common. I leave who will to stay shut up in their rooms, sprawled out on their beds where they sleeplessly wait, and I leave who will to chat in the parlours, from where their songs and voices conveniently drift out here to me. I’m sitting at the door, feasting my eyes and ears on the colours and sounds of the landscape, as I softly sing— for myself alone— wispy songs I compose while waiting. Night will fall on us al and the coach will pull up. I enjoy the breeze I’m given and the soul I was given to enjoy it with, and I no longer question or seek. If what I write in the book of travellers can, when read by others at some future date, also entertain them on their journey, then fine.” Pessoa, Disquiet, p.12-13
Life is a roadside inn, a temporary home for transient souls. There are many ways to react to the stern reality that each day brings us closer to the day we check out. The worst reaction is to forget that you’re in a motel. There are an endless amount of extra-curricular ways to ignore it. But if you know where and how to look, just outside the motel is sublime beauty— and to some, there’s no better way to spend this vacation than absorbing and expressing, just because that act itself rejuvenating.
Divers and linguists
@March 15, 2022 11:54 PM (EDT)
“Our sensations.. are the only reality we have for certain, we take refuge there, exploring them like large unknown countries.. [We should focus on] not only [on].. aesthetic contemplation, but also .. the expression of it.. The poetry or prose we write— devoid of any desire to move anyone else’s will, or to mould anyone’s understanding— is merely like when a reader reads out loud to fully objectify the subjective pleasure of reading.. Dreaming all things so as to transform them into our own substance, we will also write down descriptions and analyses which, when they’re finished, will become extraneous things that we can enjoy as if they happened along one day.” Pessoa, Disquiet, p.12
Consciousness as we know it as only as rich as the language we have around it. In the act of attempting to transcribe the rich textures of experience into the lossy medium of text, you not only stretch language, but this new language changes the experience of consciousness itself..
What are these “large unknown counties” beneath consciousness? As rich as a waking human life is, imagine if what we’ve ever known is just a sliver of the possible ranges of human consciousness?
Putting consciousness on the page is a valuable pursuit, without needing to change anyone’s mind about it. It’s simply erecting a window where there was typically a wall. It’s stretching language so one can estimate what it’s actually like being in your head.
The memorialization of consciousness..
The dual of act of plunging into the depths of your own consciousness, while also stretching your ability to use language to communicate it. Both steps are required. A plunger without prose has no way to prove where he’s been. A linguist who can’t scuba dive has nothing worth articulating. But these two traits fused together leads to something special: the articulation of exotic realms of mind. If these realms can be understood by others, they can be inhabited.
By showing what consciousness can be, others inhabit it. By showing what language can be, others adopter. The diver-turned-poet evolves culture.
My influences, described in one-word
@March 15, 2022 8:29 PM (EDT)
- Dylan: imagery
- Kerouac: ecstasy
- Thompson: shock
- Vonnegut: auto-fiction
- McKenna: visionary
- Wright: organic
- Pessoa: identity
- Dead: improv
- Woolf: consciousness
- Radiohead: heavy
- Dali: surreal
- Kafka: grotesque
List of name ideas for my newsletter
@March 15, 2022 7:32 PM (EDT)
- Newsletter Junkyard
- Rabbit Soup
- The Flash
- Resurrecting Christ
- Justin Hall: The OG Online Writer
- Satanists at the Biltmore
- The New Mexican Highway Crash
- Hallucination Salesman
- The Center of Mount Shasta
- Neos & the Virtual Underground
- Joel Haver
- Tree Farm Wars
- Faul McCartney
- The Note-Taking Rebellion
- Twitter is American Idol
@March 15, 2022 4:26 PM (EDT)
The fear of being correct, exposed, alienated, or damned is the kind of fear that chokes the life out of the written word.
@March 14, 2022 9:34 PM (EDT)
When I wrote, “I want to write a newsletter that foams at the mouth,” I heard loud shrieking outside.. Is an animal being mutilated, or are these noises from my neighbor Wilbur Doyle’s scrapyard? I investigate different corners of the house to find the source .. the front! I sprint outside, barefoot with an IPA, look to my left, and see a pack of raccoons. Four of them sprint up a tree; one is being chased by the other three. It’s a brawl. There’s beef. A raccoon is dangling. Which one has rabies? Do they all have rabies? “Cut it out!” I yelled, before eight glowing eyes appeared in the 10pm darkness. This is surreal. Either my writing summoned these beasts, my subconscious is tuned into the animal energies of Big Finger, or. it’s all a beautiful coincidence. I want my newsletter subscribers to be hardcore, but a telepathic raccoon fight club is a bit much.
Declaring writing sessions in advance
@March 14, 2022 7:21 PM (EDT)
If you haven’t decided what you’re going to work on by the time you sit down, you’ve already lost. Sure, some unpredictable tangent could lead to an epiphany, but that’s 1 in 10 times.
Pessoa on time's passage
@March 14, 2022 12:42 PM (EDT)
“I sorely grieve over time’s passage. It’s always with exaggerated emotion that I leave something behind, whatever it may be. The miserable rented room where I lived for a few months, the dinner table at the provincial hotel where I stayed for six days, even the sad waiting room at the station where I spent two hours waiting for a train— yes, their loss grieves me.
But the special things of life— when I leave them behind and realize with all of my nerves’ sensibility that I’ll never see or have them again, at least not in that exact moment— grieve me metaphysically. A chasm opens up in my soul and a cold breeze of the hour of God blows across my pallid face.
Time! The past! Something— a voice, a song, a chance fragrance— lifts the curtain of my soul’s memories.. That which I was and will never be again! That which I had and will never have again! The dead! The dead who loved me in my childhood. Whenever I remember them, my whole soul shivers and I feel exiled from all hearts, alone in the night of myself, weeping like a beggar before the closed silence of all doors.”
Fernando Pessoa, Book of Disquiet, pg. 173
How editors assembled The Book of Disquiet
@March 14, 2022 10:43 AM (EDT)
Pessoa’s book of Disquiet wasn’t structured in any conscious sense. My understanding is that it was written in shards, and editors pieced the fragments together after his death. It’s interesting that he had the micro-level craft to shape piercing words, rendering his consciousness on the page, but at the macro level, he self-declares himself as a disjointed mess. Curious to dive into more detail on how the book was actually assembled. I remember to read somewhere that much of it was up to editor interpretation.
A response to The Book of Disquiet
@March 14, 2022 10:41 AM (EDT)
What’s remarkable about reading Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet is the range of thought it triggers in your own head. I’ve noticed this, as well as Will and Camellia, that our margins are bursting with notes and ideas. At a certain point, I feel like I was writing my own personal responses to Pessoa in the margins. I never made the point to translate these chicken-scribbles into published writing of my own. I’m thinking to start the book over from the top. Instead of taking it all on, at the corner of my room, in a comfortable swivel chair with a lead pencil, I’ll read it at my keyboard. I’ll imagine myself in dialogue with him, and write my own Book of Disquiet in response to his. You could think of his book at a randomness generator. There is no plot, just 500+ scattered ideas. Each one is a prompt that triggers your own reaction.
Realizing the present will evaporate
@March 14, 2022 10:39 AM (EDT)
Measuring life through cadence and nostalgia (see quote at 12:42 pm).. There should be a phrase for when someone connects nostalgia for the past with the fleeting nature of the present. When you’re aware how fuzzy those hallway conversations were from 10 years ago, you realize that the lucid moment your within right now is, equally, destined to fade into nothing.
Logs vs. essays
@March 14, 2022 10:29 AM (EDT)
The two spectrums of writing (logloglog vs. essays). Logloglog contains flash impressions, sometimes shallow, sometimes deep, but rarely edited or ruminated upon. Essays are slow, and require re-writing the same idea dozens of time. All space is precious, and 90% of ideas are slashed in the quest for compression. Each end of the spectrum builds skills that are useful in the other domain.
@March 14, 2022 10:28 AM (EDT)
Pessoa: memetic consciousness.. when you clearly step into someone else’s consciousness, it shapes the contours of your own. Existing within someone else’s acts like training wheels. It’s direct empathy. You walk through his train of thoughts, his way of seeing, and without trying, you carry that with you as you run errands throughout the day.
The D-Pad of Awareness
@March 14, 2022 8:32 AM (EDT)
The D-Pad of Awareness: Up= Mindfulness, Down= Perspective.. this dichotomy is about being in the moment vs. zooming out and understanding the big picture. Then, Left= Flow, Right= Discipline.. this dichotomy is about maker vs. manager mode. It’s useful to master each pole, put existing squarely there leaves you off-balance. Through an act of awareness, you want to say centered, balanced on each overlapping scale, at the center of a crosshair. Forces throughout the day will push you towards one pole or the other, but awareness helps you stay centered.
New Radiohead side project
@March 13, 2022 8:59 PM (EDT)
Discovered a new Radiohead side project today that features Thom Yorke, Johnny Greenwood, and a jazz drummer. It’s the most excited I’ve been about Radiohead since their 2007 In Rainbows album. Interesting how this happened with the other 3 band members not being present. Shows how every little factor is a tweak in chemistry that alters the output.
Breaking out of thought loops
@March 13, 2022 9:32 AM (EDT)
The ability to detach from a thought-loop and see a moment for what it could potentially be. Typically, our mood is an output. But there’s a route where altering the way you see (inputs), has a quick turnaround.
On route to see David Byrne
@March 12, 2022 6:18 PM (EDT)
- Spontaneous snow storm on route to see David Byrne’s American Utopia.
- Yellow lights on a train bridge, a flashlight revealing horizontal streaks of snow pellets, the crunch of boots, with Danielle holding the railing, yelling that I’m on logloglog (because ice)
- Testing swipe on baby phone
- My wife hates all 3 of my newsletter name ideas
- Existentialism is a tool to melt petty concerns (heavy talk at Lobster & Burger)
Racquetball = tennis + pinball
@March 12, 2022 6:16 PM (EDT)
Racquetball is like a fusion of tennis and pinball. Played with Danielle today (tennis pro). She was overwhelmed by the angles but could get good quick. Then played 2 games with my dad. L 15-12. W 15-8.
"An erudition of the sensibility"
@March 12, 2022 5:50 PM (EDT)
"There's an erudition of acquired knowledge, which is erudition in the narrowest sense. There's an erudition of understanding, which we call culture. But there's also an erudition of the sensibility." Pessoa
Maintaining momentum on long-form essays
@March 11, 2022 11:23 PM (EDT)
Thought from earlier: longer form essays are emotional roller coasters. Your excitement level radically overshoots and undershoots the reality of it. The whole game is not getting tripped up in ruts.
Why logloglog started
@March 11, 2022 7:44 PM (EDT)
Now I remember how logloglog actually started. It was done in private, with the intention to build the habit of capturing thoughts without a filter. Once I got comfortable with it, I’d switch over to Twitter. After a few days, I tried this process on an alt-Twitter, and just found it way less enjoyable of a medium to capture in. Theoretically, I could build some kind of process to pick the best thoughts out of here and use them to craft Tweets. It’s just work.
The critical voice vs. the channeled voice
@March 11, 2022 9:13 AM (EDT)
There are two kinds of voices in your head as you write. The critical voice, the one concerned about what X will think. Then there’s the channeled voice, when you become someone, or something, and just go. Channel the second voice, and negotiate with the first voice when you’re done.
The inverse relationship between scale & vulnerability
@March 10, 2022 7:49 PM (EDT)
Going viral before you can become vulnerable can dramatically stunt the rate at which you can be vulnerable.
Articulate the worst case
@March 10, 2022 7:36 PM (EDT)
What is the worst case scenario? Write it out in explicit, foaming prose. Make it as bad and visual as possible. Then, after that chance of it unfolding passes, refer back to it. Write what actually happened and compare. It’s a way to tame the anxious imagination.
Tricking yourself into being vulnerable
@March 10, 2022 7:21 PM (EDT)
An idea if you have trouble writing with vulnerability: Write a throwaway draft, one that you promise you won’t share with anyone else. That promise is an unlock. Once you write the thing, you might know what vulnerability actually feels like. Then, you have to negotiate with yourself on how to get other eyes on it.
@March 10, 2022 6:56 PM (EDT)
I’m finding value in a feedback process that gradually ramps up how public it is. I started by messaging it to 1-2 people to get quick first impressions. Seems like the next phase could be a group of 5. Then by Monday I’ll post to Circle. The value here is that you get feedback DURING The drafting process, and by the time you get feedback from a larger communities, it’s already benefited from other perspectives.
Writing vs. thinking
@March 10, 2022 11:18 AM (EDT)
When you’re in a video-on writing gym, you notice how much of the process involves resting your chin on your hand. It’s unlikely that someone crafts prose one-handedly.. meaning, half the process is brain-thinkin’
Convincing the Beatles not to break up
@March 10, 2022 8:29 AM (EDT)
Just spent a solid 10-minutes talking out a scenario where I go back in time and explain the future of the Internet to the Beatles, how that should change how they write and publish music, preventing them from breaking up.
Don't binge the news
@March 10, 2022 7:13 AM (EDT)
I’ve seen a huge difference in my mood by changing my information diet around the Ukraine/Russia scandal. Before I was actively searching. Diving deep into the latest. Diving deep into the history back in 2008-2014. Obviously, this approach drove me to anxiety. But since I have some family tied into the situation, I didn’t even realize I was doing it.
Searching a personal dB
@March 9, 2022 7:26 PM (EDT)
Watching David’s Evernote demo. It was awesome to see how fast he was able to search. It’s definitely a flaw with Notion. But when comparing software, it’s important to think the big picture (Notion is an integrated writing system, Evernote isn’t.)
@March 9, 2022 7:25 PM (EDT)
Breadcrumbs = the least amount of information needed for your future self to remember what you were thinking
@March 9, 2022 8:07 AM (EDT)
Reverse Koolaid is about resisting the urge to imitate things that are popular, but not worth imitating. It’s about undoing the subconscious things that have seeped into your mode of operation. It’s very much, “the anti-meme.”
Reverse Koolaid speaks to brainwash in the Creator Economy
@March 8, 2022 8:50 PM (EDT)
Untethered (the one word I picked from Isabel’s exercise)
Here’s a prompt I answered from Isabel’s mentor session. A funny take on visualizing 6 months into the future: It’s September 8, 2022 and Write of Passage Cohort 9 is starting in a month. Since the last cohort started, I’ve published 30 editions of “Reverse Koolaid,” and the whole thing has spiraled completely out-of-control. It’s actually the ultimate irony. The premise of the newsletter was to write about the dread of self-promotion. The larger my audience got, the more uncomfortable I felt, supercharging my writing, leading to virality and list growth. It’s a negative feedback loop that I’m still caught in. Just hit 46,281 subscribers (fuck). The brightside is that I’ve broken through psychological barriers– I feel comfortable around being critical, delirious, and unusual– inventing a style of prose that is recognized and respected by people I never thought would be interested in my ideas.
@March 7, 2022 2:49 PM (EDT)
Every psychological state ever experienced is an emergent property of past inputs.
@March 7, 2022 9:49 AM (EDT)
Forgive yourself, forgive others, tolerate anger, embrace impermanence, pay attention, and exist at the intersection of Nature and Death.
Not logging about the Russia-Ukraine conflict
@March 7, 2022 9:35 AM (EDT)
It pains me to not write about the Russia-Ukraine conflict. My intention wouldn’t be to parrot headlines, but to cover how people close to me are intertwined in the conflict, and how distressing the last 10 days have been. Arguably, I’m concealed under a pseudonym, so I shouldn’t hesitate to write publicly about it. But if names get out and associations are made, words could lead to serious consequences. I’m being paranoid (I’m pretty obscure, and have near-zero traffic), I’m just faced with a tension between two viewpoints: 1) I want my site to be a transparent reflection of my mind state, and 2) What’s going on in my life is something that should obviously be private. I’m considering writing in private about this, and releasing it all when things simmer down.
@March 6, 2022 11:48 PM (EDT)
If Hitler was a Demagorgon, then Putin is merely a Velociraptor.
The spectrum of self-expression and self-promotion:
@March 6, 2022 8:18 AM (EDT)
Both poles are possible:
- The stubborn artist who won’t share their work or sacrifice anything
- The growth-hacker who will do whatever it takes for audience growth
Neither of these poles are effective. One has no traction, the other no substance. So there’s a middle ground, where most people think they lie. You can balance the two. But the critical false assumption is that since both are possible, we don’t have to make a decision. In this case, the decision happens subconsciously. I’d wager that most people lean left or right of center. You either:
- Emphasize promotion, and express within your constraints
- Emphasize expression, and lazily distribute whatever you make
My feeling is most people lean right of center (emphasis on promotion), which makes sense in the Creator Economy, since many people have the intention to make a living from what they make.
I definitely lean left of center on this, perhaps heavily, but I’m looking to shift more towards the center. I think it’s possible to build a model where a creator is “expression-first,” yet does so with some basic promotion tactics that 1) don’t hinder expression, and 2) gain traction in digital markets.
@March 6, 2022 7:35 AM (EDT)
Her American son lives in Russia, and everyday she calls him with 3 research bullet points on why it’s time to get out. He dissects each point with logic and stays. She’s a wreck.
Conversation topics on a 20 minute ride to Bethpage
@March 5, 2022 1:32 PM (EDT)
Electric cars.. Returning a coat at the mall.. Washing the dog in the upstairs tub.. botched tile work arguments.. HGTV.. hearing aids.. the complexity of car interfaces.. the noise of Wilbur Doyle’s morning surgery.. K-12 schools.. new windows.. wedding dodgers.. the 1960s.. abstinence.. tacky canopies with Greek columns
Between the lines
@March 5, 2022 12:14 PM (EDT)
The act of reading between the lines; of revealing the mysteries; of pursuing the things that are there, dormant, but not seen or noticed by basically anybody.
Max length of writing sessions
@March 5, 2022 11:23 AM (EDT)
Wrote for 2.5 hours straight before getting a headache. I can tap into deep focus, and I’m interested in trouble-shooting why I burn out. Is it because I can focus without looking away from the screen? Maybe taking 60 second breaks every 10 minute could extend my sessions from 2.5 hours to 5 hours. Maybe I just loose juju by rendering ### words. Who knows. Worth being aware of. In any case, writing on a weekend morning has felt of a substantially different quality than slotting it in during the week.
Keegan's 5th level = chameleon
@March 5, 2022 10:34 AM (EDT)
Keegnan’s 5th level = a shape-shifting chameleon who can control their autonomous nervous system. No physical shape-shifting (no Animorphs unfortunately), but emotional shape-shifting.
De ja vu as ineffable patterns
@March 5, 2022 7:47 AM (EDT)
Startled by a wave of de ja vu. It’s a calm Saturday morning, the first calm day in while during the intensity of WOP. It’s a weird throw back to the mythic days of Industry City, 6-7 years ago, but I can’t explain why. De ja vu might be an experience of feeling patterns and loops within your life without being able to articulate them.
@March 4, 2022 12:34 PM (EDT)
- Journaling lets you remember memories from the distant past as if they happened yesterday.
- “A Day in the Life”.. when reading lets you enter into someone’s consciousness.
- “I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” - Joan Didion
- A thought based on Jen’s point before - your perception of your 8th grade self is actually your adult-self remembering what your college-self thought your high-school self thought of your 8th-grade self — it’s layers and layers removed. Journaling is a bridge back to your original mind.
@March 4, 2022 12:29 PM (EDT)
Jack Kerouac is a POP writer who structures based on the personal dimension. You see his days unfold, in a near-linear order, but there are observations interjected, and the whole thing is a riot of language (35 out of 10 playful).
The three kinds of capture
@March 4, 2022 11:31 AM (EDT)
A digital diary is about noticing your stories,
which makes your writing personal.
A note-taking habit is about noticing the outside world,
which makes your writing observational system.
A phrase-book is about collecting language that makes you smile,
which makes your writing playful
Scale vs. shifting your career
@March 4, 2022 8:50 AM (EDT)
- WOP to scale (grow an audience around an existing identity)
- WOP to shift (discover a new identity to build an audience around)
How to people interpret logloglog?
@March 4, 2022 7:44 AM (EDT)
- It’s funny to consider how any person who visits my site might only dive as deep as my latest 2 thoughts. There’s a sprawling archive with 1,000s of thoughts in here, but it’s not navigable. This is really a lo-fi dumping ground, a brain with the garage door open. I guess it’s more of a maze than anything. It’s just interesting that logloglog is an example of covering 50+ different niches, in no coherent order, and it’s an act that resists conceptual clarity. As someone mentioned yesterday, I wonder if I need that description up top. I currently unpack this in the “why?” tab, but who knows if people click that (Savy Michael Dean would check his analytics, which HOPEFULLY are working now).
- 31 of 206 users have checked out the “why log?” page. 15%. That sounds about right. Part of me fears that analytics is a curse that subconsciously warps your intentions. I acknowledge that there might be a time in my life where traffic and internet-fame is directly related to my livelihood. That isn’t exactly the case now. This is exactly example of a “fuzzy intention.” It would be nice to do both things: to literally say whatever the hell I want as if no one ever needs to read it, and to write sticky things and distribute them strategically. These two things arguably work against each other. Feeling stuck in between a 3-to-5-way lock keeps you floating. I think the move is to leave heavily towards one intention, and then do your best to fill in the others.
New gear setup
@March 4, 2022 7:23 AM (EDT)
For anyone curious about the gear in my new setup:
- Canon A6600
- Adjustable lens, 16-55m, F2.8 G
- 2 Elgato Key Lights
@March 4, 2022 7:22 AM (EDT)
It would be neat to get a 360 video time lapse of your room through out the day. I’m curious to see a visual arc of the lighting path throughout the day. I realize that I need to adjust my settings all day, and that’s because I’m always counter-acting a different lighting setup.
Prose vs. poetry
@March 3, 2022 11:47 PM (EDT)
Looking at my draft from the Writing Gym, I get the feeling that I’m borderline on the poetry spectrum. Every sentence was drenched in images and metaphors. My mind is naturally going to that place, but it’s makes the writing less casual. If I want to burst into that style, I might as well structure it as a poem?
When I was born, they cut the umbilical cord and plugged in an Ethernet cable. My parents were computer-heads, and at age 4 I had a computer running MS-DOS in the corner of my room. I had a digital ocean at my fingertips through my childhood, but I never questioned how strange it was... I swam in it for hours-a-day, but as an anonymous fish in stealth-mode, never actually projecting my real self into Internet communities. Throughout my life I was a front-seat observer watching this cybernetic ocean swallow society.
The pandemic triggered a new wave in many of us; we decided to dive deeper into the Web, to think in public, to escape circumstance, and to express the urges that were dormant. I followed the playbooks spreading on Twitter: stick to a niche, build an audience, and boom– autonomy and purpose. I tried brute-forcing my niche for 6 months and burnt out.
What followed was a YOLO rebound. I formed a pseudonym, wrote daily rambles on my website that shared no conceptual theme, and focused on being of service to my Internet friends. Three months in, it was like I got sucked into a rip-current. My 13-year trajectory as an architecture technologist was abruptly cut off, and now I teach writing online full-time. WTF? My family is still confused.
This essay explores an alternate model to “Becoming a Citizen of the Internet.” It’s not the path for everyone, but it’s a path that prioritizes direction, over scale or speed. Through the act of silencing the ego and trust-falling into the Internet, it shifts your identity, etc. etc.
suddenly born, cut the umbilical cord,
doctor plugged in an Ethernet cable,
on the corner table at 4 years old,
a plastic heap, of silicon guts, running MS-DOS
a pixel river docked on my desk,
angelic to ancients, un-strange to me at best,
glyph-diving binge-clicks for hours,
an anonymous fish with stealth-mode power, I was,
a lurker, a gawker, a front-seat observer,
as a cybernetic whale,
swallowed the virgin Earth,
On political correctness
@March 3, 2022 10:18 PM (EDT)
Rant/thoughts in progress:
It’s a given that every person holds all sorts of subconscious biases. These judgements, expectations, and evaluations exist across so many dimensions. So what’s the best way to address it?
Is it productive to proliferate a culture of correctness? My gut says that this behavior replicated leads to a culture of fear. It leads to an illusion of equality instead of the real thing.
I think a more effective culture to proliferate is one around helping each individual shape their own identity, irrespective of fair or unfair environmental pressure. It’s a kind of immunity. Having a malleable self-identity could be one of the great super-powers to behold. It’s a defiance of outdated boundaries. It could be the meme of memes. The most worthwhile thing this century could spawn.
I know this is a sensitive topic, and I don’t mean to stir or trigger anything. Even with a singular end-goal, such as, “creating a society where people from all situations have opportunities that are unhindered by unfairness from the past,” there are numerous roads to get there, and the differences are nuanced, but important.
Gandhi might have some wisdom here. “Change in the world comes form change within,” (something along those lines).. meaning: spreading a meme around self-aware identity construction could be more effective than a kind of “forced empathy.” The later feels like addressing a multi-headed hydra that can’t possibly be contained, while the prior feels like it’s tapping into the roof of matter.
Perhaps the greatest way to right the wrongs from the past is to propagate ideas around psychology and consciousness; ideas that bring all people to such heights that the past becomes irrelevant. Obviously, there are all sorts of structural issues in society that affect who can access and implement these ideas, but those barriers are becoming thinner and thinner (thank you Internet). The rate at which we can reform institution is slower than the rate at which we can spread ideas around psychological-empowerment that makes those institutions irrelevant.
@March 3, 2022 7:29 PM (EDT)
Why do I want to write? It’s an exercise stemming from Salman’s breakout room. It’s actually helpful to use this question as a mantra, because even if you thought you had it answered, your intentions can subconsciously twist without you realizing.. okay, break.. Salman just led us through this time-travel closed eye-meditation with planetarium music. So into it, and seriously uplifted. Way more able to approach the prompt right now...
It’s important to be crystal clear on the a singular why that is most resonant. Now that I reflect on it, any form of writing for the purpose of outward expectations is misguided. I don’t need to “prove” that I can write a style of long-form intellectual non-fiction that is on par with <Paul Graham>. This ties into how the concept of “audience” gets under your skin, pulls emotional strings, and bears a huge weight on any creative process. The powerful stuff that’s deep within in, and most explosive when brought out, is the stuff worth harnessing. This isn’t saying you should be feedback-resistant, but perhaps considering audience helps in the editing phase, but muffles in the conception phase.
The hidden challenge behind the “why write?” question is that each of us carry multiple desires that contradict each other. Consider these three motivations:
1) capturing your consciousness,
2) mastering your craft,
3) building your audience.
All three of those things are desirable, but when you lean in one direction, the others sacrifice.
1) When you log 15/thoughts a day, you can’t focus on craft, and most people will find your daily epiphanies irrelevant, but it gives the writer eternal memory.
2) When you focus on craft, you refine the same ideas instead of generating new ones, and you build less familiarity with an audience, but you become a wordsmith that can rise to future challenges.
3) When you focus on an audience, you bring yourself less into the
Early "citizens of the Internet"
@March 3, 2022 8:42 AM (EDT)
Becoming a citizen of the Internet is currently a self-selected lifestyle, but eventually all our institutions will foster the process.
Ways to approach the "12 favorite problems" exercise
@March 3, 2022 8:36 AM (EDT)
There are a few ways to think about the 12 favorite problems exercise. It’s based on Feynman’s list of having 12 unsolved things that you could ponder for the rest of your life. I’ve approached in the 4 ways:
- Personal areas
- Broad intellectual areas
- Narrow intellectual areas
- Symbolical paradoxes (how do you trust a blind pilot?)
@March 2, 2022 9:22 AM (EDT)
- Me: “Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes.”
- Alexa: “Sure. Did you know time flows faster with music on? Do you want me to play a song?”
- What a sage.. AI offering productivity advice based on a philosophy of time perception.
Notes from my WOP initiation survey:
@March 2, 2022 7:48 AM (EDT)
I've published almost 200,00 words to my site since Dec 2020, taught craft to other students, and have a solid ambient capture system. What I'm missing is a workflow to distribute my published writing, either through a newsletter or Twitter.
Understanding historical parallels
@March 1, 2022 8:10 PM (EDT)
Transfixed on the Russia/Ukraine situation again. It's hard to tell, without really knowing your history, if something is novel or a historical rhyme. The media presents everything as novel. In either case, it's different when your brother is in Russia and downplaying the whole situation. I still can't quite grasp what the long-term consequences of sanctions will be. I read another shock-headline today on 60% of Afghanistan starving, plus, the rise of a black-market for organs. So dire. Very different situations, which affect the efficacy of sanctions.. still, I can't gauge what will realistically unfold.
Unbundle communication from execution.
@March 1, 2022 12:42 PM (EDT)
Sasha Chapin on writing voice & vulnerability:
@March 1, 2022 10:35 AM (EDT)
All the writing advice you usually hear is deletion-focused. Like, omit unnecessary words, be concise, don’t use adverbs, stuff like that. This is absolute nonsense, issued by gimlet-eyed vampires who want to sound authoritative at the cost of instructing you to strip all joy and character from your work.
Sure, it sounds good: just pare stuff away and that’s how it’s done. There’s a clean simplicity to that. But taking concision as the absolute value results in blandness, or weird stilted put-on sobriety, like you’re trying to talk like a Mamet character who did a bunch of un-fun cocaine. That is the writing beloved by the algorithm and nobody else, the kind of shit that unfortunate souls have to churn out for affiliate marketing blogs.
And this advice is suspiciously flattering to the tragic anxiety around exposure that we all bring to writing. What we don’t want to do, what we want to avoid at all costs, is expose ourselves, sound chaotic, be vulnerable, risk being misinterpreted, sound like we’re frothing at the mouth. If concision is the goal, how convenient is that! We’ve been instructed to avoid the very thing we’re generally most afraid of.
But we should go in the opposite direction. Because the only single fucking thing I can think of that consistently makes writing memorable is human presence. The sense that we are encountering emissions from a real quivering consciousness somewhere out there. The way that a taste of someone’s genuine voice gives us a sense of their whole phenomenology, their condition, the temperature in their head and heart and flanks. If you need a star to steer by, that’s the one. People are starved for actual human presence. It is always in short supply.
Good feedback doesn’t rewire words, it rewires synapses.
@March 1, 2022 9:59 AM (EDT)
The hidden beauty in mundane objects
@March 1, 2022 9:46 AM (EDT)
By changing the way you look at an object, the mundane can suddenly burst with significance. Once you notice this once, then you see this opportunity everywhere in your life; on a commute, on a walk, in a conversation. Life is different when you see it through the lens of a writer.
@March 1, 2022 9:42 AM (EDT)
A system of interlocking daily, weekly, and monthly systems, but as lo-fi as possible.
The reference plane
@March 1, 2022 8:37 AM (EDT)
The “reference plane” is a 3D-modeling term that has parallels with awareness. Imagine you’re modeling a complex 3D object with all sorts of angles. A modeler continually shifts and rotates their 2D reference plane so that they’re working along the right axis.
This concept applies to existing within the Information Economy. Throughout the day, we’re effectively rotating our awareness to respond to information coming from all directions.
In 3D-modeling, there is a “reset plane” command, that re-centers your reference plane on the origin, in it’s original XYZ orientation. What is the information-equivalent of “returning to center?”
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