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⚡️ Logs | September 2022

117 logs -- I cover writing, creativity, nuclear paranoia, my neighbor Wilbur Doyle, counter-culture literature, dreams, Fountainhead, batshit crazy takes on Christianity, the mating rituals of slugs, non-sense, notes from an airplane, baseball, algorithm pimps, virtual reality, and more.

Michael Dean
Michael Dean
39 min read

September 30th, 2022

I see the period of online writing from 1992-1998 as an area of niche history worth studying. If you read counter-cultural writers from that time, they saw the Internet as utopian dream. A peer-to-peer network, where you can express yourself fully, find your people, and build meaningful movements. Since so few people were online, they felt anonymous, and there was an unfiltered outpouring. Eventually, companies made the Internet accessible, defined the rules, and shaped the sphere of conversation. Here we are. Social media reform efforts should cast back and learn from this period. Online writing goes further back into the 80s, with the WELL and USENET, but those seemed more like public forums than a constellation of custom-built online homes.

Writing is a form of "individuation." That's a Jungian term. He says the modern mind is fractured into all these isolated context-specific compartments. Writing bubbles up the subconscious, dissolves those barriers, and allows the ego to reform in a more integrated way. It's about reclaiming the parts of yourself you've ignored.

Projects, tasks, and errands are infinite. Chase them all and you short-circuit. Another foul: assigning hard dates to tasks that actually have wiggle room. Instead of plotting out specific work units days in advance, I may shift to a system of blocked-out areas. Each area is centered around a mindset that is best for a specific type of work. The early morning is for creative writing. Come 9:00 am, it’s time for rapid, fractured coordination. Post-lunch is time for a 2-hour flow on a work project. Etc. As long I show up and cycle through the right mindsets, the important work will get done. So instead of trying to plot projects and tasks into the future, you order them in a list of relative priority, and make sure you show up. Of course, this system has to be flexible enough to accommodate tasks that are time-sensitive too (but maybe the main foul is assuming everything is urgent).

September 29th, 2022

7:38 pm – What are the constraints that make our language one-dimensional? Speech, writing, and sign language (our practical languages) are all 1D. Sure, we have 2D visual and 3D spatial 'languages,' but they aren't 'useful.' They can't be deconstructed into primitive glyphs or phenomes. On the contrary, we can use our mouths, hands, and tools to create unique and varied 'shapes.' There are thousands (+) of combinations, each with unique meaning. A 2D language would require 1) the ability to form multiple shapes at once, which is tough given our hardware, and 2) the ability to interpret multiple shapes at once. This idea of a visual language is popular in fantasy/sci-fi. You see it in the movie "Arrival," with the heptapods that can render paragraphs of ink in mid-air. You also hear of this in Terence McKenna's bizzare DMT hallucination stories, where "self-transforming machine elves" 'sing' 3D objects that hold semantic meaning (WTF). Despite all this irresponsible speculation, the point here is that species and language co-evolve. Sure, spoken languages can mutate and change within the scale of history. But at the scale of evolution, language is only 200,000 years old. It isn't known if we'll stay in our current paradigm forever, or, if a genetic drift can trigger a phase change in the way we communicate meaning.

7:18 pm – Yearning for a tool to help me identify my gaps in history, literature, philosophy.

3:01 pm – Why did Boleshk flee in to Russia? Several football stadiums worth of people are jetting to the border. Those who stay get a rifle, no training, and pushed to the front of the pack to face the "narcotic-fueled" Ukranians with rocket launchers. Everyone wants out. Winter is coming too. Flight prices soar (to the price of used cars). The borders are constipated, with winding lines five-miles long, leaking only one citizen every 10 minutes. But Boleshk sees no alarm, and walks right in.

2:47 pm, Otter – I'll admit, I’ve impulse-checked the news on Russia probably 50 times a day this week. Different people have different digital kryptonite. Some get sucked into sports, YouTube skits, local politics, or whatever. Aside from this, my ability to focus and avoid junk information is really high. But the slight possibility of a nuclear exchange short circuits my brain, and now I have an uncontrollable obsession to learn everything about nuclear war. No doubt, it’s fear-driven. Maybe it comes from childhood. I remember my dad telling stories of the Cold War, and the nuclear nightmares he’s had. The idea of annihilation was something you grew up with, and existed as a ‘yeah, hopefully that never happens.’ Now, it seems like there’s a growing chance of a weird nightmare this winter. The fact that we lived through a 'biological meltdown' just 2 years ago, makes a nuclear meltdown seem not farfetched at all. While things like Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Cuban Missile Crisis seem long ago, they’re shockingly modern. We haven’t had these weapons for a century yet. JFK said the odds of the Cuban Missile Crisis were 1 in 3. Then there was that time in 1983 when a Russian radar falsely showed 5 American nukes coming in, and one man decided not to destroy the world. We’re constantly flirting with 1 in 3 or 1 in 5 scenarios. Pun intended, this is a game of Russian roulette. If you roll the dice every 20 years, it's bound to happen once a century. I always thought of this as a baseless doom fantasy for conspiracy preppers. Now, I see it as natural, probable, inevitable, and even rationalized through the Fermi paradox. It’s in the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself. Why? Because technological abilities always evolve faster than our social institutions. Innovations happen when one genius builds off the shoulders of another (I realize how Randian this sounds). Technological innovation compounds the achievements of the top .1% of the species. Yet, social institutions require the coordination and convincing of the masses. Yes, there are movements, revolutions, and breakthroughs, but they’re slow moving, messy, and amoebic. The rise and fall of species are known to be a given, but humans have always held the hubris to think we’re above it. Despite our brains, thumbs, and other genetic marvels, we simply might not have what it takes to ascend beyond the animal fate of extinction. So it goes. Perhaps this rise and fall isn’t dreadful, but something to soak in, like a Greek tragedy, or some fleeting, cyclical force to appreciate, like the sun or the crops.

8:44 am – The brain size of hominids has tripled since the Pliocene age (2-5 million years ago). I get the sense that this is extraordinarily fast compared to other rates of evolution.

8:27 am – You can calculate the probability of experiencing a nuclear war through a series of isolated events. 1) What are the chances NATO pushes Russia over the edge? (10%) ((At the beginning of the war, experts placed this at 5%. Now, Ukraine says it's 'highly likely' (exaggerated). 10% is conservative)). 2) If over the edge, how likely will Russia use tactical nukes? (75%). 3) How likely would that escalate into full-scale nuclear war? (50%). 4) How likely will your own city (NYC) be in the crosshairs of a full-on nuclear war? (75%) … What is .1 x .75 x .5 x .9? There’s a 2.8% chance. That’s low, but the scary thing is how the probability goes 10x once we escalate past that first event. If we keep going tit-for-tat, and NATO does pass the line, the probability of spending time in a bunker rises to 28.1%. The paranoia comes from the ambiguity of not knowing if tomorrow’s event will be the one that crosses it.

8:12 am – A phrase for being unable to identify the source of your own self-cringe. Something feels off. Is it the naive nature of your own thinking, or, the tone in which you express yourself?

7:23 am – Just read the Telegram statement from Dimitri Medvedev. I’m surprised by the language and phrases he’s using. “Ritualistic verbal diarrhea.” “Fountains of diarrhea.” “Malicious cawing rhetoric.” “Young minded woman.” “Deaf ears who only listen to themselves.” “Bizarre narcotic dreams.” Playful and observational, but not very personal.

6:47 am – Last night I had a vivid dream where I showed a friend a music video. It had distinct and resolved visuals and lyrics. It was phenomenal, weird, and took place in a jungle. This happened to me before, but this is the first time since the rise of AI-generated art. Pretty similar. Based on my experiences of writing and listening to songs, it was able to whip something together, outside my conscious effort.

September 28th, 2022

8:23 pm – World War 2 was a game of football. Blitz after blitz. Sustained intensity. World War 3 will be a game of baseball. Mostly slow and non-eventful. You forget the game is even happening as you talk to the person next you. But the whole situation can change instantly. The bases are loaded, and suddenly everyone is watching. Will the batter swing?

8:42 am – What are the psychological skills of a writer? For example, we can define on-the-page skills like “POP writing,” and evaluate each pillar on a 1-5 scale. But the psychological skills are invisible. How much resistance do you face on a re-write when you know it’s necessary? When you’re writing your first draft, how much does the opinion of a faceless mass slant your voice?

8:06 am – “This then, I thought, as I looked round about me, is the representation of history. It requires a falsification of perspective. We, the survivors, see everything from above, see everything at once, and still we do not know how it was.” The Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald

8:05 am – "“If you wonder what Ukranians are discussing on social media these days, well, it’s how to prepare for a Russian nuclear strike. Everything that’s happening is so horrible that it feels surreal, yet it can still get worse and people are getting ready for it.” Olga Tokariuk

8:04 am – “I write my literature as I write my ledger entries — carefully and indifferently. Next to the vast starry sky and the enigma of so many souls, the night of the unknown abyss and the chaos of nothing making sense — next to all this, what I write in the ledger and what I write on this paper that tells my soul are equally confined to the Rua dos Douradores, woefully little in the face of the universe’s millionaire expanses.” PESSOA

8:02 am – Prior to online writing, novels were timeless, and magazines were rapid, vanishing trash ("inarticulate sounds of panic" – Rand). While Twitter feels contemporary, it has that similar effect of (crowdsourced) disappearing garbage. How can online writing be timeless? (Both logistically and culturally.) When a solo blog, after decades, becomes a frozen digital grave (/shrine), for how long will the company host it? On social media, who knows. On your own domain, it's up to you. Can your family access your Google Domains? Do they know or care about it? I'm interested to understand the scale of the dark majority of literature that has vanished– out print, withered from centuries of air. What causes certain words to overcome their likely fate?

8:01 am - “Re-reading my old journals, one thing that stands out is how inaccurate most of my supposed self-knowledge always turns out to be. I’ll think I’ve understood something, then later realize I was wrong, but think this time I really understand, and so on and so on into infinity. We are so good at lying to ourselves that when we search for self-knowledge, it’s hard to know whether we’re really getting to a level of understanding, or just creating increasingly complex edifices of self-deception.” Max Nussenbaum

7:54 am - Still trying to understand the extent that William Burroughs shaped modern culture. He's potentially a nobody, and potentially our twisted godfather (FWIW– he was on SNL). Two years ago, I wrote about the effect of the sixties on tech companies today. While counter-cultural impulses were rejected at first, the next generation wove them into the fabrics of our culture. It was crazy to crash at a stranger's place, to hitch hike, and to have sex with strangers. In 2022, those are routine. They're enabled by billion dollars tech companies. AirBnB, Uber, and Tinder bear the ethos of our last counter-culture. And who shaped that? The Beat Generation, about 10 years before. You might think Kerouac is the main figure there, but Burroughs was a mentor to him. It's odd to think that a radical, twisted artist, high on roach poison, the one who wrote the last American novel to be censored, might have started (/carried) the flame to break us out of conservative values.

7:53 am – Both Tiktok and Tinder (and most social media networks) are winner-take-all-markets. It's an ocean of passive observers, with a select few who can completely dominate a synthetic landscape. It takes the analog social systems we've had forever, which were already hierarchical, but then stretched, amplified, and distorted them.

7:51 am – There's a common myth of 'by doing X now, I'll get Y later.' It is the Great Reassurance, self-administered, by the only species who can conceive its future. It infiltrates everything. It's a defense mechanism. To break it, and lunge at the fruits of the future today, you have to gamble.

7:50 am – The Peter Keating playbook for organic power

September 27th, 2022

10:50 pm – The Metaverse can be best explained through articulating the realistic limits of computer-aided co-presence. Sure, we can theorize how millions will immerse in persistent virtual worlds. But that’s all flimsy sky-thinking until you really understood how powerful it will be for 2 people across an ocean to feel no sense of distance between them.

7:30 pm – Lol, these logs are taking dark and twisted turns. I don’t want to suppress that. These are the musings of “some fictional character” that surely aren’t representations of my full, integrated, light-hearted self. Bunker Bill is just one complex– a news-addicted, paranoid, midwit, who has no filter, and no impulse to present a wholesome and enthusiastic front.

7:28 pm – On the cosmic scale, the whole Shake Shack establishment is a breakout of steel pimples, distributing cow meat, for a short while, before the whole thing gets devoured in atomic flames.

7:25 pm – While working out, I had the terrible idea of starting a paid newsletter called, “Confessions from the Bunker,” a work of auto-fiction, written on a typewriter by a suburbanite recently baptized into the class of nuclear paranoia. It will be all my existential paranoia channeled through my best Pessoa impression. A hand typed page per day. $100/month.

7:22 pm – All aboard the Apple Notes train. It’s integrated at the OS level and it’s lightning fast. The text is clear, big, and bold — I can compose a small excerpt, a nonchalant dingleberry of thought, and the UI makes it feel like a work of art. The dopamine hit of ‘filling the screen’ makes me want to do it again and again.

7:18 pm – What are the core systems to function personally, socially, and creatively? Their absence is noticed, and so is their convolution. Where is that line?

7:15 pm – At its bare minimum, writing is a way to materialize the thought loops happening in your head. When thought is external, it can be resolved, shared, or eliminated.

September 23rd, 2022

On the first frigid day of fall, Wilbur Doyle delivers a front-lawn sermon in his red tank top. A tremendous voice, a menacing presence, a walking flea vessel. If I had the courage, I’d pull up a third plastic chair and revel in his mystery rants, probably concerning engines and parkways.


  • "The creative person finds himself in a state of turmoil, restlessness, emptiness, and unbearable frustration unless he expresses his inner life in some creative way."
  • "Whether it is considered from the viewpoint of its effect on society, or as one of the expressions of the human spirit, creativity stands out as an activity to be studied, cherished, and cultivated."
  • "The person who appreciates a great work of art has the feeling that the work grows in him as he becomes involved in a prolonged capturing of emerging marginal meanings. He feels that he, too, is creative, that he himself is adding to his experience and understanding. Moreover, he wants to confront the work of art many times. He is not easily tired of it, as he would be had he read a purely logical statement. He realizes that the work of art does not merely transmit information; it produces pleasure."
  • "Creativity is not simply originality and unlimited freedom. There is much more to it than that. Creativity also imposes restrictions. While it uses methods other than those of ordinary thinking, it must not be in disagreement with ordinary thinking-or rather, it must be something that, sooner or later, ordinary thinking will understand, accept, and appreciate. Otherwise the result would be bizarre, not creative."
  • "Human creativity uses what is already existing and available and changes it in unpredictable ways."
  • "Creativity does not depend on inherited talent or on environment or upbringing; it is the function of the ego of every human being."
  • "Creative products are always shiny and new, the creative process is ancient and unchanging."

The book Fountainhead captures how modern architecture burst through the tropes of classism. Basically, all the tasteless architects in the 1920s got by from duplicating the moves of the ancients, without questioning or understanding why. Howard Roark (the main character, based off of Frank Lloyd Wright) is basically a villain for defying convention. But in his defiance, he births a genre: modernism. It turns out, a century later, we've over-corrected. Massively. In the early 1900s, there was a manifesto titled "Ornament is Crime," which represents a full break from non-essential detail. Ironically, FLW had a superb sense of detail, especially in embedding meaning within playful but intricate building details. But for the rest of the century, you can see how the script of sleek, cold, steel and glass has taken over American cities (and graphic design). I think architecture and society suffer from a lack of ornament. Ornament isn't crime, it's just tasteless when it's mindlessly replicated from past cultures. These playful, ornate details were more than aesthetic. They were visuals that embodied a language. The details on Greek buildings each represented specific things. They were icons of Greek religious ideals. They were deeply significant to ancient people, but meaningless to New Yorkers. The tragedy of ornament is that its symbolic significance was lost, and it was reduced to an optional aesthetic detail. Prior to the printing press, the ornament of popular buildings might have been the most mainstream vehicle to transmit ideas throughout a culture. What we need is a revival, to create a new ornament in an age of lifeless architecture. We need to move beyond flat value-engineered facades, and we need to resist the urge to slap on ornament from the past. Our challenge is to develop a set of visual construction details that embody the values and vision of our time. But the reality is, we live in a fractured culture where the main religion is capitalism, it's tough to find a unifying idea to rally around, and architecture has lost it's share of relevance in society.

September 22nd, 2022

Watching the garden slugs fuck on the front steps of my parents house was all it took for me to believe in extra-terrestrials. It was an aesthetic experience, on part with a full solar eclipse, or even the Aurora Borealis. The two slugs dangled from a wooden stair nosing, hanging on a single bungie chord, coiling into a double helix, moaning. The mating of the gastropods. It's a strange beauty. A waltz of slime. They were at it for hours. Slugs are hermaphrodites. From what I could tell, dicks protruded out the sides of their heads, also coiling together, creating a weird levitating mucus sack. Inside of it was some kind of monster (baby slug?). It was kicking and rotating and seemed to have over 8 limbs. JFC. I wonder what 10 million years of evolution will make of this.

There are some situations where intentionally omitting the personal dimension from your writing can create a sense of mystery.

After nine days of Caribbean detox, I returned to my laptop to find my fingers working like jello on plastic. But within seconds, I clicked back into groove. In that moment, I knighted my keyboard as an extension of my nervous system. All that time in the sun away from words induced a kind of amnesia around my true nature. Floating in hot ocean, am I cosmic lint or Quetzalcoatl in a nylon drawstring junk suit? Neither, I'm ten fingers and a golden ring.

I have a deep and rational desire for a typewriter. I'm fairly sure my desires aren't rooted in hipsterism, an analog-fetish, or even the pleasantry of surrounding myself with physical objects that reflect my identity. I'm a practical person. If I could, I'd upload my consciousness into my iPad. I have no nostalgia for the analog, let alone my flesh suit. So why a typewriter? There's lessons in inconvenience. It's a march forward. The lack of editing or backspace is a gift. A training ground for mindfulness. Instead of crafting a tinkered artifact in a word processor, it's a spontaneous performance. It forces you to be at the edge, in the front row of your consciousness, paying attention. We've missed that digital word processors maintain a high tolerance for chicken scratch. I'm not saying that editing is a sin. I'm saying that if you write with the fullness of your being in the moment, you'll have better words to edit.

Everyone with golden prose dies and gets forgotten. Sorry Sandlot, legends die. Even Plato's words will dissolve into lint eventually. There's just a distribution in the lifespan of your words. The mass of writers, living and dead, who sling arrows of language, might have only ever had 5 true fans. That is the goal.

Is there a Kurt Vonnegut story where everyone in the town is the child of the mayor? This mayor contains some genetic mutation, one that all the citizens want, and so it's enshrined in law, and the town hall functions as a sperm bank. While this bizarre world has a king, it's also a matriarchy, since men have no reproductive value, and the woman continue the lineage of the mayor.

September 21st, 2022

The reign of the Queen has set. The funeral traditions that sprung feel like a solar eclipse, a once-in-a-lifetime event that freezes street life. The sun knows where it goes, as do the masses of people whose hands and legs move in sync from the laws enshrined before our time.

September 20nd, 2022


"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Systems are useless without an interval. Whether you make a task list, a Monday board, or a launch plan diligently laid out in a Google Doc -- it's going to decay unless there's a force that causes you and others to go back and look at it. It helps to think of calendar as the sole 'delegator of attention.' Any time you create a system, you have to assume it's going to collapse unless you budget time to return to it. I see this happen with myself and in others. I've learned this insight 2 years ago, but have forgotten to hold it near.

My logs are public, because otherwise they'd rot in sketchbooks and hard drives like my others ideas for the past 13 years.

I'm thinking back to 2012, when I studied abroad in Italy. Knowing that sketchbooks were graded by the teacher, and even presented in public each week, I kept two of them. One was for presentation, one was for myself. The tension goes back.

The last big jump in Christianity was from Catholics to Protestants. Instead of a priest-centric class who had the exclusive rite to read the Bible and communicate with God, it was available to the masses. The next big jump will bring  the sacrament back to the masses, giving them a direct, numinous line into the veins of God.

Synergy between internal and external resonance feels like an ultimate goal. Either extreme is flawed. The quest for domination of the soul or of the market has its shortcomings. If you get paid to excavate according to your internal standard, while also keeping an ear to the masses, understanding them without being swooned, you win.

September 19th, 2022

  • I’ve realized that Naked Lunch is 80% noise and 20% lucid, apocalyptic hell.
  • When visions lose their clutch, you see door knobs as they actually are.
  • To revel in the mysteries of everything. To declutch from certainty and control. To bask, and to know that you’ve basked, trumps any other expectation of yourself.

September 18th, 2022

I jolted up in the middle of the night and had no idea where I was. I investigated my wife’s childhood dresser, and the old LED alarm clock from my late grandmother, but nothing registered. For 30 seconds, before my mind booted up, my eyes disconnected from my memory, and I saw my own room like it was some stranger’s quarters. Trippy.

While sleeping, some engine outside crackled, and it perfectly synced up with a dream. Here’s the weird part. Prior to the ‘bang’ there was some kind of wind up with tension in the dream. Even if my mind can register the crack instantly, there were 5-10 dream seconds before the moment of the crack. Maybe it’s an example of how dream-time isn’t linked with waking-time.

Knowledge is strengthened through forgetting and remembering.

Fountainhead is a story that isolates a single trait and plays it out to its extreme over 800 pages. It’s a black and white world of absolutism. Like an exercise, it’s the most potent way to learn and absorb it. But it fails to cover the nuances of reality. It is romantic in the truest sense. Even if you’re not Roarkish in every waking moment of your life, it’s valuable to know when to turn it on and off.

William Burroughs. A strange force, hailed as "the greatest living American writer" on SNL in the 1980s, in front of 100 million people (also, watch his Thanksgiving Prayer). A friend and I joked about the non-sensical word porridge of  his 'Naked Lunch' for the last decade. Now I'm intrigued. $9.99, I'm struck by the opening quotes on my Kindle -- HTS, Kerouac, Didion, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and basically the whole Pantheon of counter-cultural writers hail Burroughs as their patron saint. Even Marshall McLuhan chimes in, basically saying "while most writers transcribe the experience of their nervous system, Burroughs transcribes the orgasm of the cosmos." As a reader, five pages in, you feel like a rat torn to shreds by a doberman. It requires a special kind of openness to settle in and see it beyond "stream of consciousness garbage." It's ecstatic, but also cynical, depraved, and uncomfortable. It's demanding. If you can summon your patience, and sync into his demented rhythms, you realized the meaning he's transmitting is equally as strange-- a glorification of poverty, addiction, violence, and filth. It's a strange wonder, to marvel at the foul and putrid. Ed Sanders has a similar effect. It's like witnessing literary genius, pushing the edge of prose, as the author vomits into a gutter, and invites you to do the same. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I admire his Hooligan slang, his ability to rip beasts from his imagination, and his permission to let them destroy his coherence.

I'm reading 3 books concurrently, one chapter at a time: The Orthodox Way, by Bishop Kallistos Ware, Fountainhead , by libertarian Ayn Rand, and Naked Lunch, by junkie William Burroughs, each religious in their own way.


  • A God-complex character with twisted morality -- a paramedic / serial killer
  • A story about the person who leaked the Kykeon from the Eleusinian Mysteries
  • The Essene who realized St. Paul was going to re-market their religion as Christianity

Hold onto the remnants from when you longed to be something other than yourself.

Lunch is cold and barbaric. By the time left-over refrigerated chicken could be microwaved to proper restaurant temperature, it's already devoured, by hand. Top it off with 3 slices of jalapeno to numb the taste buds into submission. The meat and fruit diet.

The sentences in a first draft appear rigid, but they’re actually made of wax. Editing is the heat that melts language. An editor does more than bring the flamethrower, they assure you it’s okay the house is on fire, and they point at the possessions worth carrying out.

September 17th, 2022

The further back we go in history, the less of it captured, and the more likely we’re prone to historical distortions.

The current model of diversity being pushed on the world is complete representation within every instance. An alternate model is an open network of specific, singular, varied tribes; where individuals have autonomy to shift between. The current model makes more sense in a pre-internet age when travel and communication was more limited. Regardless of globalism or diversity trends, the Internet is shifting us towards a mosaic of tribes.

Some thoughts after reading Kalliostes Ware on Orthodoxy: Symbolically, think of a human life as the midpoint between the beginning and the end. Matter ascends and coalesces into a chain of humans. Life is the pinnacle of order. Perhaps death isn't a flash of white, or an immediate cut into darkness, but instead, a descent into chaos. The moment of death could trigger an explosion of consciousness of a nature that we can't anticipate-- one in which time dissolves, making it eternal. This could feel like hell to anyone who can't shift their ratios from order to disorder.


  • To fight artificial urgency
  • To carve 'sacred hours' for what matters
  • To ensure synergy between yourself and your company

The past is laced with ambiguity. The further back you go, the fuzzier the details, and the easier it is to spin myths about it. Whether it's McKenna or Hoel's take on pre-history, or my own takes on the origins of Christianity (inspired by Allegro, Wasson, and others). One approach is to be explicit on the differences between decisive conclusions and provocative speculation. Another approach is to admit that mythology is all we have, and the myth that moves the most mountains will win.

There's a difference between ambition for ambitious sake, and being possessed by a force that drives you forward. When productivity becomes a religious, it's easy to assume all hard working people are animated by the trends of hustle culture. But hidden within them are a few with souls on fire.


  • "I make, therefore I am."
  • A soul that burns like a wet log.

An example of an "adaptive ripple," is when an experimental strategy proves to be advantageous, and everyone copies it. You see these in basketball and pole-vaulting. You see adaptive ripples throughout writers in the creator economy too. There is game to play in copying the tactics of the lucky ones who came before you. But unlike sports, the rules of the game evolve. When an algorithm sets the rules, and the algorithm changes for whims we can't see, we find ourselves running out old patterns, or blindly reaching forward to understand the new landscape.

Experience and disposition are the foundations that support and color acquired knowledge.

A phrase for the dread when you see someone from a past life phase in a crowded place and you’re unsure of the move to make. If you make eye contact, there's almost an obligation to greet. Otherwise, it's a mutual admission that a once strong bond is officially eroded. Without eye contact, either party can play it off.

Some more thoughts on Batshit Christianity.

Allegro (and his writings on the Dead Sea Scrolls) point to the existence of the Essenes. They were an obscure Jewish sect, outside of the more known ones (the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Zealots). They lived out in the desert, rejected society, and were somewhat of a monastic tribe. They had rituals and rites of initiation (as did the other Greek and Egyptian mystery schools).

Whether they used mushrooms or not is likely limited to speculation. Similar to Eleusis, so much of these mystery schools escaped historical recording (by design). I haven't read the Mushroom and the Cross yet to have a stance on it (only one of his other books).

Regardless if there was a mushroom cult, the existence of the Essenes were confirmed in the 20th century when we found all these subterranean libraries of theirs. Allegro's contemporaries approached them with a 'nothing we find here can change the history of Christianity' attitude. Allegro was the only who approached the finding with openness, and he was ridiculed and sabotaged for it.

I've been wondering about the bridge between the Essenes and the early Christians, and I think the answer lies in St. Paul. The Christianity we know today is basically an invention of Paul (separate from the Essene angle, this is covered in some writings by James Tabor). If Paul had any contact with the Essenes, it would confirm that he was the missing link, and I think it exists.

What did Paul do after he crossed the desert and landed in Damascus? (this is when he had his vision of Christ.) He met up with an Essene satellite community in Damascus, and stayed with them for two years. Chances are, he 'initiated' with them in some form, and learned about their back story.

He likely found out about their 'Teacher of Righteousness' -- the charismatic leader of their sect, who was crucified in 86 BC, along with almost all the other men in the town. This event devastated the psyche and morale of the Essenes. From what I remember, their scripture after this event was about the return/resurrection of their society/leader.

Here's where my speculation comes in: I think Paul sees potential in re-inventing the Essene mythology and marketing it towards a Greek/Latin audience. Christianity could have been designed as an idea virus that appealed to the supernatural sensibility of the dominant polytheistic religions, while propagating the monotheistic beliefs of the Jews. Crazy stuff.

To tie the whole thing in, the Essene literature we discovered writes about 'the Great Deceiver' -- someone who infiltrated their cult, stole their secrets, and lied to the world. Could this be Paul? If so, the implication is that Christ was actually a mortal man, who was crucified almost 100 years before we thought.

This kind of 'historical distortion' might actually be fairly common when it comes to ancient writing. The Renaissance thinkers became interested in an ancient writer called 'Hermes Trismegistus.' They thought he was a contemporary with Moses, but then eventually found out he was post-Christianity. 1,500 years off! (This is why you should put the date on your blog posts.)

September 16th, 2022

Clouds: These retarded bulbous sacks of rain mope around the ancient sky, frowning down, wishing to be modern humans. What is more marvelous than a five-fingered glass-wielding slice of cosmic meat? (I realized "retarded" is a tasteless word, but when I was trying to come up with word-associations for 'cloud' what came to mind where cliches around beauty, and so I just went with the polar opposite.)

Howard Roark stands for an impeccable, unreasonable quality bar. In practice, this is both a hinderance and a super power. The pragmatists get tangled in nuance. Those who goff will never feel the gravity of the sun.

Junko Tarry? The bikini single house quaff berry con qui qui. Pandeloremosa? Sting verifon the slitch. Trigger fly. Drugger slo. Fran foo glong stillopechey.

On wooden planks the hippy twins bob and sway, their tremolo rings into the gelatin of everything.


  • Her laugh croaked like rubber.
  • When charisma is a commodity, intentions get scrambled.
  • Billboards for defunct software companies.
  • The switch operator vs. the board summoner.
  • Durango-rango
  • When I close my eyes I can feel the plastic boyish shapes of wiffle ball bats.
  • When angelic technologies falls on deaf souls.

Imagine writing that can sweep in and out of clarity and chaos. Periodically, meaning would emerge from an ocean of noise, and it’s lucidity would transform non-sense into mystery.

Turquoise thrones and tin announcements, the bipedes sleep with eyes open, glass, gas wraps around the undulant iris, chrome airhorse gets a 10-man service, nervous, throat spikes and airport conscious, delays extend, the crowds pile, Austin ignites, attendees taunting, Group A calls and the first man aboard is on old face, from an old job, with a slim, round face, whom I’ve shared many elevator rides with but can’t recall his name.

Sometimes I write with the intention to be understood. It’s a basic, but important skill. Other times, I’m more focused on stretching my limits— to reach beyond my grasp of comfortable phrases and ideas. The goal is to reel in some irregular constellations of words that glow in a way I’ve never seen. It doesn’t always work. Like baseball, 3 for 10 is good for prose fishing.

September 15th, 2022

The typewriter marches only forward into the fog of the valleys of his mind.

September 14th, 2022

What if imagination is an internal, auto-generated, autonomous, fantasy world, built upon the contents you perceive? Every impression, from subtle microwave beeps, to the profound passings of relatives, leave an impression, more than a memory, but a psychic piercing. Memory is just one output. Experience might be an input passed through a biological, generative algorithm. It transfers, twists, and improvises upon experience-- it populates the interior continents of your psyche with animals that take on a life of their own. So when you find yourself humming some mindless melody, it's not random. Melodies are snakes that slither back into the world from which they came. The imagination is a sponge and a breeding ground. An artists has the ability to both see it, and to capture the wild animals that have been roaming unchained.

Randomness short-circuits the story-privy mind. It is a story diffuser. Those who cling to stories in the face of randomness get wrecked. ($500 roulette justifications).

"The vanishing volatile froth of the present which any shadow will alter, any thought will blow away, any event annihilate, is every moment converted into the Adamantine Record of the past. We walk on molten lava on which the claw of a fly or the fall of a hair makes its impression, which being received, the mass hardens to flint and retains every impression forevermore." -- Emerson

September 13th, 2022

It's tough to undergo a re-write if you don't have faith that the next draft your better. It's the faith that, through having gone through the process, the primitive idea can re-coagulate into a higher form. It's the faith that all the accidental and resonant turns of phrase will be collected and consciously re-inserted into the new piece.

(Uninformed speculation here.) How did we go from farms to the moon so fast? What accounted for the rapid tripling of the human brain in the last 3 million years? Perhaps it's not a matter of biological evolution, but instead, an external technology (language) unlocking the latent potential of what was already there. Consider how if children don't get exposed to language, it stunts their development and brain size (fact check). For millions of years, brains might have had the capacity to evolve, but our systems of language were primitive and unsophisticated. As we shifted from rain forests to grasslands, our language still existed in the form of practical pack signals. According to McKenna's Stoned Ape Theory, mushrooms were like a lightning bolt to the human consciousness. But it's worth getting specific on how it happened. If early humans had psychedelics, the states were fleeting, and they have no effect on genetics. So how does that effect evolution? Psychedelics didn't evolve consciousness, they evolved language. They lead to the proliferation of syntax and semantics. They create a hyper-fluid mental state where the limits of language are pushed. So tripping apes rapidly introduced new random language to the collective tribe. Most of it was probably gibberish, but some associations were made and kept within the group. Through frequent or infrequent trips, the tribe slowly expanded their language set, which touched upon all future children that were born and raised. It might be less a matter of an evolving organ, and more a matter of increased exposure to an external technology that enabled an organ to fully mature (and perhaps we're still in that process).


  • The more simple, unspecific, and adaptable the systems, the better. There is no silver bullet.
  • Find a 50/50 balance between meta-reflections and original subject matter that utilizes your systems and reflections.
  • Always obsess over improving the student experience. Good product is subtlety compounded. The difference is in the details. There is no end.

There are two approaches to monetize your writing. At one end of the spectrum is using writing as a means to another end. You can use writing to build an audience to then sell a course about X (which then requires great, detailed thinking about marketing, operations, and product). Or, you can write, meet the others, and then open a glowing opportunity that has nothing (or everything) to do with writing, and perhaps aligned with that thing you've always dreamed of. At the other end of the spectrum is monetizing the means itself. This looks like a paid Substack newsletter. It's the closest thing to charging for the work itself. Book sales hold the original model, where you pay for a fixed piece of work. Substack has adopted the Internet/Spotify/Netflix model, where you pay a monthly fee, and trust that the author will provide you a consistent quality stream of ideas that meet your expectations. In either case, craft, distribution, and strategy feel like a pre-requisite. Audience-first. The nuance I'm dealing with: how do you build the right audience instead of the quick one? If the strategies and tactics of growth are true and tested, then it's worth being slow with strategy (if your situation enables it).

September 12th, 2022


  • Dinosaur classification
  • Collecting bottle caps and pencils
  • Organizing the shelves at grocery stories
  • Counting as high as I could (I kept track)
  • Baseball statistics
  • Excel spreadsheets

When you walk into a church, you'll see a system of coordinated visual symbols (through icons, painted ceilings, furniture details, etc.). There’s both 1) aesthetic harmony between the different mediums (ie: matching colors, matching visual patterns), and 2) Symbolic meaning that pops out to the initiated. A non-Christian can walk into the church and miss this meaning, but then a Christian walks in and can be overwhelmed to the point of tears. The point here: as someone learns more and more about a religion (or product, or a band) the subtle layers that were, at first, just aesthetic, all of a sudden burst with significance. This gives some context to the phrase "Gesamtkunstwerk"-- a German word that translates to "a total work of art." When all of the mediums of space speak the same aesthetic language (landscape, architecture, furniture, utensils),  it's a "total work of art." But when a designer embeds nested, linguistic ideas in the art, that only the initiated can understand, it creates a potential "religious experience," for those who have done the pre-requisite work.

September 11th, 2022

Writing online is one of the most undervalued opportunities in the world right now. This might seem counter-intuitive. Writing? Isn’t the world moving towards new forms of media with YouTube, TikTok, and podcasting? It’s hiding in plain sight, but writing is the foundation of our society. We’ve done it since we were kids, it’s the language of the web, and the average person already writes hundreds (or thousands) of words a day without realizing. The problem is, the majority of us aren’t leveraging our words. People write, but not what they care about, not towards the people that matter, and without utilizing the greatest tool of our time– the Internet.

On both sides of my family, there is talk of the supernatural. Some see dead people, some have strange visitations, some have bizarre dreams, some have 'precognitions.' My maternal great-great-grandmother was apparently the town's psychic midwife. There's something going on, something between superstition and a biological "sensitivity" towards weird states of consciousness. I wonder if this is a form of a benign / adaptable "schizophrenia." I don't think of this word as an illness, but instead as a decreased barrier between the conscious and unconscious mind. It's the brain juice of artists and lunatics. While I don't know if any of the stories I hear are objectively true, I believe they're subjectively true. The interpretations could be off, but the source experiences are valid and eerie. At times in my life, I've felt exposed to these states. Once I started smoking weed in college, I went through a phase of psychic turmoil: frequent sleep paralysis, aborted out of body experiences, vivd hypnagogic visuals. I mostly resisted it. I was able to put it all back in the bottle. My caution with psychedelics comes from knowing the possible nature of the eruption, and the month-long journey of integrating everything. I want it, if only once, but I feel no urgency.


  • Hot sauce on the foul pole.
  • Rise of the statue accounts.
  • Within earshot of an ex-president.
  • Any piece of writing is a fleeting one-dimensional imprint of a multi-dimensional, evolving force.
  • What was Jackie Bradley Jr. dreaming in 1994?
  • A striving towards impossible standards that don't debilitate.

September 10th, 2022


  • Towards the airport, with heavy Uber eyes, the cab driver drums on the steering wheel and chants along to an Islamic song with a melody that sounds like the Beatles.
  • One iPad ruptures time and crash lands into the Beat Generation.
  • 2022 is a year of turbulence -- personal, professional, political. Constant change. A tube of unexpected twists and turns.
  • Hovering over the JFK terminal is the skyline of the world-- a collage that combines the Eiffel Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge, and all the world's iconic skyscrapers. Austin is missing. Though it's not a classic city, with romantic architecture that presses onto magnets, there's something brewing there.
  • Baseball statistics flooded my childhood, and shaped the crevices of my mind.
  • The greatest feats sometimes require no money, but courage.
  • A phrase for the nostalgia felt from hearing bad songs from past decades that you didn't even like, but are associated with people you miss.
  • Writing is increasingly for myself.

Instagram Reels has a way to drip feed you the freaks of top performance. It's a hall of fame of the greatest strangers, from all  trades-- the athletes, musicians, dancers, comedians, skanks, cooks, and rollerbladers. The app strips away years of practice and toil, and shows you a never-ending river of 5 second clips of excellence. Constant transmission. This experience is the opposite of baseball, where you sit around for hours, sometimes for just one explosion of excitement.

Now they make you barter for in-flight Wi-Fi. By watching one-minute ads for Tommy John boxers or Norwegian cruises, I can earn 20 minutes of connectivity. I was hoping I could binge them all at once, and rack up 80 minutes, but they throttle you to one at a time, so you have the come back every 20 minutes. What's the hidden psychology behind this?

The plea for Substack pisses me off a little. The argument goes, "well, I only read through the Substack reader app, so if you're not on it, I'm not going to read your stuff." It's promoting centralization when it's not even necessary. The whole appeal of the email newsletter was decentralization. And if you want a reader app, use Feedly, where you can pull from Substack, and wherever else you want. The "Substack or bust" ethos feels coercive. The creators who promote this attitude are adding to a gravitational pull that's being designed through product design, network effects, venture capital, and convenience. This might just be the way the world is moving. Like how Spotify creates an ideal environment for listeners, Substack is doing the same for readers. Could avoiding Substack be as dangerous as a musician avoiding Spotify? Can you survive as an isolated node when the markets flea to algorithm pimps?

The authoritarian voice in my head compels me to scour the App Store for a vocabulary flash card app. It's a strange impulse, and one that my 17-year old self would never believe. I forced myself to do this for the SATs, because my future depended on cram memorizing several thousand words. Now, I'm drawn to the same thing from a new impetus-- to aid in creative expression.

There’s something about long and winding sentences that fire up the brain, tongue, and ears to max voltage. I say ears because writing is musical. Even if you don’t read out loud, the syllables and consonants sing to you telepathically. There’s an invisible rhythm that delivers meaning, and you’ll never find it if you're bent on compressing ideas through the fewest words possible.

I’m not paying attention to the words of the flight attendant, but her voice soothes. She could get away with dire warning of water landings and that would only enhance my nap. There’s a skit in here. Her voice is so beautiful, that even as the plane malfunctions 35,000 feet in the air, her trained tone remains the same, and nobody panics as they crash into a farm in Oklahoma. There’s a truth in here too: that delivery skews meaning.

The pairing of bebop prose and radical counter culture is only happenstance. Bohemians were drawn to experimental language, but it's not reserved for them. Spontaneous prose can also render the bare banalities of mundane life. Sublime normalcy. There's no need for all writing to be laced with profound insights and clear takeaways. I write to develop a bridge between the eyes and fingers. It's possible, but rare for a photograph to capture the full essence of a moment. The fidgety man in front of me rocks, and the other dozen download movies onto shards of pocket glass, escaping their own minds as we collectively soar over empty American fields en route to Austin. These logs are for me. Weight lifting for the soul, slightly edited. The forms of clarity hold little relevance here. I’m carving a hedge maze through the overgrown shrubs of my head and inviting you to get lost in it.

Reading Kerouac feels like a reset --- a reminder to marvel at craft. Moments ago, I was lodged in a crisis of tactics. I feel this pressure to shift my writing onto Substack. Then, I pondered, what is my name? I've grown distant from all of my names. The nagging sense returns, where I question what I could and should be. I know not to trust this voice, and do a decent job of smothering it when it sneaks in. True joy comes from making things. As long as that happens in public, there's no need to optimize or worry about it.

Thought experiment: you go back in time and you're asked to write a poem for Gallery Six in the 1950s that explains the future.

Most VR virgins in 2022 probably don’t know that consumer headsets are loaded with more than half a dozen cameras. They’re just as important as the lenses. This breaks the trope of VR as an immersive escape, and paints it as an fleet of head-mounted scanners that will gobble the world. It untangles perception from proximity. It’s more than just transmitting a first person feed. AR headsets will map the world, creating a spatial digital trail behind us.

September 9th, 2022

In a landscape with no permission and credentials, teachers and creators with a certain skillset win-- those who can wrangle complex ideas down to simple frameworks and diagrams, and those who can communicate and articulate. The best presenters reign. It's both uplifting and dangerous. Uplifting because there are no barriers to prevent the truly talented. Dangerous because someone with charisma can spread ineffective ideas. The incentives aren't necessarily aligned. It requires an innate passion for truth, to ensure that what is popular and memorable is also timeless and substantive.

When you take the productivity red pill, you realize that productivity philosophies, systems, and tools are all placebo. Sometimes worse. When you dish out 'productivity red pills' through writing, you're going to polarize your audience. To some, your offend the systems they hold sacred. To others, you help them shake off an ideology that has grown stale for them. It's probably best to be honest, to say it like you see it at this moment, and to let others sort out their own opinions on you and your musings.

September 8th, 2022

6:32 pm – I'm really drawn to this metaphor of "shapes" and "shapeshifting" around writing/editing -- when we construct our first shape, we're glued to it, and feedback feels like rifles. Why are we glued to the original shape? I wonder if there's something about the Buddhist concepts of "self" and "not-self" that can help writers embrace editing and re-writing (or, how to make it not suck). As in, the self isn't a fixed thing you carry around from the past, perpetually into the future. It's something you can recreate and see (relatively) fresh from the present moment. I wonder if it's a similar "muscle" (one around association, deconstruction, re-association) used around identity & writing. As in, are people who continuously update their self-image more likely to embrace editing?

4:43 pm — There's value in online writers being able to submit essays to a service to get their writing 'scored.' Of course, certain things are subjective, but it's possible to develop a reliable, definable, and consistent way to evaluate essays. Of course, no metrics are 'arbiters of truth,' but any standard could be helpful for new writers to identify areas worth practicing.


  • Is boiling hot coffee excusable? – 4:00 pm
  • "Time is monkey" – 4:39 pm

11:23 am – It helps to think of these as opposing forces that work together. Content is an infinite game, value-creating, exploratory, emergent, and driven by intuition. Marketing is defined, time-bound, value-protecting, conservative, automated, and driven by analytics. They feed back into each other. Successful content experiments can build their way into lead magnets and sales sequences. Analytics can inform content delivery strategies and areas of focus.

9:01 am – What leads to an effective day of logging? Some days I forget to even start my log for the day. Other days, I launch it, and then don't add anything past 9am once the work day starts. On my best days, I'm completely on, and write 40-50 excerpts. My intuition here is that writing prose in the morning helps logging throughout the day. If you spend 90 minutes crafting prose in an essay, you're properly stretched and warmed up. It's easier to communicate fleeting thoughts in half-legible prose during the day. Let's see.

8:59 am – There's always a decision between publishing and getting feedback. I feel angsty about my "Epiphany Swamp" essay. It's been backed up for 1-2 months. I just want the world (my small following) to read it. But, no one has seen these 3,000 words in their full form. I haven't gotten feedback to know if a section is confusing, or if the phrase "batshit tinkering" will upset the PKM community. It's not clear if the urgency to publish is an effective "will to action," or, an anxiety for sitting on ideas for too long.

September 7th, 2022

Night – My first stint with the Reminders app escalated into a typical productivity cluster-fuck, where my whole life was managed through around 70 items, at oddly specific cadences across a dozen folders. Nuked that, and re-built a system with 5 daily things, 5 weekly things, and 10 monthly things.

12:50 pm – In recent years, I've fallen back into an old songwriting trap– the belief that songs should be, before anything else, melodic and chord-based. This makes sense for someone with an angelic voice, but it doesn't play into any of my strengths. I'm a percussionist who happened to learn other instruments. I should start with drums, find the groove, and then tell sharp stories with relatively 'flat,' odd melodies. Throw in some polyrhythms and tempo changes.

Early morning – I woke up screaming from a nightmare, not from the violent action kind, but from spotting a peculiar, dubious stranger in a typically safe location (my childhood home). It was just an exchange of glances, but it unleashed a full on nervous system meltdown.

September 4th, 2022

The architecture at the Atlantis resort: A fully conceived, artificial religion, to a non-existent lost civilization that worships fish (adjacent to an epic fish tank and casino). Currently owned by Brookfield Properties, a New York developer.

September 3rd, 2022

With shoulders linked, Greek circle dancing symbolizes an endless chain of family rotating around a central point, celebrating the mystery of being.

At the center of Greek Orthodox Christianity is the 'mysterio.' At the center of the liturgy is 'the sacrament.' The language used here is not accidental, it's a direct lineage from the Eleusinian Mysteries, the core Greek religious ritual at the time that Christianity took over the world.

September 2nd, 2022

An old Hemmingwism sticks with me: Always stop writing when you're in the peak of flow. He thinks of it like leaving a breadcrumb, or a prompt to launch the next session for your future self. But Susan Sontag says the opposite, saying you shouldn't "stop peeing once you’ve started." There's a reason it's called "flow."

DMT has been a mysterious bastard drug since the 1950s. No one knows what to make of it. It's the strongest hallucinogen we know of-- it's non toxic and leaves you stone sober, but you get an 8-minute 'flash,' where your environmental dissolves and you're greeted by entities communicating to you through a visual language. Yikes. The weird thing is, this experience is systematic and repeatable. Terence McKenna coined these beings as "the DMT machine elves" in the 80s, and last week, the most powerful man in the world tweeted about them. "Who would win, Benadryl Spiders or DMT Machine Elves?" He quickly deleted it, but it's surreal to 1) see Elon using language coined by McKenna, and 2) to imagine that Elon might be using DMT. What would he make of it? Some interpret this experience as more than a hallucination, but an external realm, outside of space-time, where non-carnal entities exist. In the last 3 years, I've caught wind of 'extended state DMT therapy,' where you get administered DMT consistently through an anesthesia machine, letting you extend the flash for hours. IIRC, there's around 10 people being trained like astronauts to safely explore this. The idea of Musk using extended state DMT therapy seems right out of a Phllip K. Dick novel.

I always assumed the 1967 Velvet Underground album with the Warhol banana cover was famous. I didn't know it flopped at the time. But Brian Eno gave some context to it in 1982: "While the album sold only 30,000 copies in its early years, everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band." It's a case to me that absolute statistical reach is less important than taste, impact, and relevance to the people that matter most.



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