Here’s a change log of my consciousness. Starting in December 2021, I’ve been capturing my ideas through the day, and then publishing them to my site the next morning. I’ve written about the benefits, its origins, and a 2-year reflection. Here are the log archives (WIP).

May 26th, 2024

complexity : timeless beauty.

We need to redefine complexity because it’s seen as a thing to avoid instead of a thing to chase. Simplicity gets all the attention; and it frames complexity as a sin. I think we’re confusing complexity for convolution (complexity gone wrong). I’d argue that complexity is the holy grail.

Nature, art, and technology all matter because of their complexity. Complexity is beauty. It’s when a bunch of simple patterns overlap in a harmonious way to create something profound. A beautiful painting might appear simple, but if you analyze and isolate the patterns, you realize how much action is happening under the hood of your attention.

If complexity is about the volume of synchronized detail, then it’s also what makes are timeless. A Beatles song hits you the first time you hear it. On your second listen, you’ll notice things you missed. It still happens on your 20th time. I’ve been listening to Beatles songs with a careful ear for over 15 years and I’m still finding things I missed. I’m sure this will happen my whole life. The same is true for Emerson or Plato or Bosch. A great work of art is timeless because there is more detail than your attention can grasp at once; every time you return to it, you notice a different part and rejuvenates you.

A work of art that is complex is a timeless well of wisdom. Vervaeke defines this as sacred.

“Nothing beats nature. There are no laws and I’m the king.” — My grandfather.

Do I actually want to build a network of NYC writers and publishers and have printed essay books and be in the New Yorker to convince people I’m making a career out of a trade that is usually fruitless, or is this all just old-world vanity? Why not just exist on Substack and be fine with that?

May 25th, 2024

A phrase for feeling very guilty about something you did wrong that isn’t a huge deal (ie: I think I actually put dirty utensils in a pile of clean ones and created extra work for someone working at the local Gyro place. Maybe it’s their fault for putting a bin of clean utensils near the exit where a garbage should be, or maybe they’ll associate me with that action, notice me in the future, and poison my food. Should I go back there and apologize? Would explaining the whole situation just make matters worse? This is not a good follow up to the feta cheese incident. Etc. Etc.)

EB White:

“The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest. He is a fellow who thoroughly enjoys his work, just as people who take bird walks enjoy theirs. Each new excursion of the essayist, each new “attempt,” differs from the last and takes him into new country. This delights him. Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays.”

The cashier at the Union Square Barnes and Nobles told me that the essays books were on the 4th floor, but I didn't imagine how sparse the selection would be. I found 2 cases, 10 shelves total, something like 60 linear feat of essay book spines. I wondered if the 4th floor was a microcosm, and so I acted on my urge to count shelves to know precisely how inferior essays are.

I counted 82 outer units (7 shelves high), 236 inner units (5 high), and 56 displays (which I count as a shelf). That's 2 miles of books on the 4th floor (spines out, 10,860 linear feet +/- 5%).

Essays make up .005% of the fourth floor, or 1 in 200. For context, the floor was 33% fiction, and even 8% "manga" (Japanese comics). 12% of the floor was about war & crime; a sub-war section titled "World War I" is about the same size as the entire essay collection. It doesn't come close to World War II (this says something about our priorities).

There are probably all sorts of reasons why books of essays are so unpopular: 1) essay is a dirty word that reminds people of high school. 2) essays make more sense on the Internet, and 3) a book is prestigious and better for marketing. We have a book fetish. If you’re a writer, don’t you write books?

Yet, the critique on books I can't stop hearing is "that should be an essay." It’s funny that books are “dying,” most of them should be essays anyway, but essays as a category are basically neglected.

I think we’re positioned for the era of the essay.

  1. You can read them in one sitting. Books are beyond our culture’s attention span, and tweets are too shallow and overwhelming.

  2. Essays are the most flexible medium; it’s the sole genre that can incorporate the best moves of other genres (memoir, journalism, academia, poetry, fiction, etc.)

  3. While 99% of people will never write a book, anyone can write and publish essays online. It’s more demotic. You can imagine a 2-way essay market (where readers and writers are equal). This is basically Substack.

“Scott Galloway calls the embrace of advertising "the original sin of the Internet," and I think he's right. The algorithms serve the business model, and because advertising on the Internet is both massive in scale and granular in precision, nobody has the same experience, commercial clicks driven by algorithmic matching become the goal, and bewildered users click more or settle for advertised options, driving massive amounts of money into a few companies' coffers — because scale and precision are expensive to manifest, so everything trends toward monopoly, something AI will on exacerbate.”

Write an essay about the time I hand-stippled the front facade of Grand Central.

Creative non-fiction idea: time travel back to Harvard in 2003 and convince Mark Zuckerberg to not start Facebook.

May 24th, 2024

If you want to start a writing habit, don’t start with essays. Write paragraphs. Shaping and editing essays from a cold start is quite hard. Instead, practice riffing paragraphs over a huge range of ideas. Publish them all somewhere, but don’t blast them.

95% of what I write doesn’t get sent to my main audience. It just goes onto a corner of my website, and is only sent to a small sub-list of people who opted in for real-time experiments.

Reaction to the Daylight tablet (hook: the computer, de-invented):

I’m intrigued. Even if it were a perfect device, it’s missing a key dimension of an analog device: mess. Maybe it reduces distractions and captures the tactility of a pen, but it’s still an “everything machine.” It removes the useful and awareness-inducing clutter of physical books and monthly journals and cassette tapes per idea. The Daylight tablet is in minimalist paradigm, but there’s value in the messy workstation paradigm.

Christmas as beauty in the bleak.

L1: honing your ability to pay attention (building the engine)
L2: crafting language to loop (fueling the engine)
L3: visions, creations, relationships (emergent outputs of the engine).

It’s a fault to assume mysticism or visionary experience is the highest tier of the engine (remember the movie Altered States?).

The white rabbit is a symbol to follow your intuition out of a bad place and into an unknown forrest.

The goal of life is to escape the landscape of illusions that you were born into. After you escape, there are two roads to take. Either you become a tyrant, seek power in the same system you escape, and control others with your own illusions … Or, you help others escape too.

How do I channel the embodied spirit of my past to charter into the abstract hyper landscape of my future?

How can I live a more experimental life?

Literally doesn’t just mean “not figuratively,” but it means “of the text.” When you say literally, what you’re actually saying is: “regardless of what is spoken or done, we should refer to what is put down in writing at the source.”

acedia : a lack of care or concern; or, poor allocation of attention; or, a lapse in critical thinking due to apathy. This word ties into “sloth” one of the “eight evil thoughts,” and “seven deadly sins.’ It is about a profound weariness and dissatisfaction with life, to the point where you can’t sharpen your attention on the things that matter (or get yourself to do anything).

The 7 points about Hermeticism are called the Kybalion:

  • The principle of mentalism: the Universe is mental (imagination);

  • The principle of correspondence: as above, so below” (microcosm);

  • The principle of vibration: everything in constant motion;

  • The principle of polarity: all paradoxes may be reconciled;

  • The principle of rhythm: everything is cyclical;

  • The principle of cause and effect: nothing escapes causality;

  • The principle of gender: masculine and feminine emerges at every scale;

May 23rd, 2024

Substack tags.

FEATURED : #2024, #alchemy, #altered #states, #analog, #antiquity, #architecture, #artificial intelligence, #artist in the machine, #auto-bio, #auto-fiction, cartography, community, consciousness, culture, decentralization, deconstructed, delirious, editing, essay architecture, futurism, internet history, language, lessons from artists, #logging, mastery, music, nature, new york, religion, social media reform, synthesis, techno-selectivism, time, transitions, virtual reality, warped incentives, writing online.


"A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."

Any story told around a campfire or at a wedding is prone to exaggeration. It’s a device for the writer to inject the fantastic into the ordinary.

On switching religion from read-only (dogma.txt) to read/write.

Write your own religion.

May 22nd, 2024

GUY IN HOODIE WALKS INTO CAFE YELLING HIS MANIFESTO AS HE READS OFF HIS LAPTOP. Yikes. Was this really about to happen? In which direction should I dive? Within 10 seconds the staff cuts him off, and it seems like they’ve dealt with him before. At some point I hear, “I’d never hurt anyone, I just gotta say this.” Part of me wants to never go back to that cafe in case one day he shows up without a laptop. Part of me wants to go back to hear out his message. Was he a good writer? If he got support and feedback on his ideas, could that clarify his ideas? They say writing clarifies thinking, and so I wonder if cutting off the guy who feels obligated to scream his essay to a cafe of strangers actually does more harm than good. How many last letters written by shooters were only last letters because no one noticed the earlier ones? How much tragedy and violence could be preemptively deflated through reformed writing programs in high schools?

You’re supposed to use quotes around the title of an essay (and italics for a book of larger work), but if you’re hyperlinking to a piece, so you still need them? Is it redundant to have quotes AND an underline AND the color blue?

Essays should be linear, that’s what makes it an essay. If you have a mosaic of paragraphs that can be shuffled in any order, that’s not an essay, those are notes, no matter how poetic the prose.

Sequence matters. Our mind works via cause-and-effect. Of course, there’s value to creating tension, by purposely time jumping, or by injecting subtle mysteries that only get resolved with time. There’s a dance between satisfying the rational mind with it’s desire for linearity, and depriving it with key details. But still, your reader is on a track.

Avant-garde, post-rational, post-modern literature makes a historical claim to have a scrambled story. They say that since modern society is so fractured, so should be our novels. Really? I’d say the opposite. Since the memo-sphere is so scattered, it becomes even more important for something to make sense. But I think it’s worth skipping any historical claims and jumping straight to the formal & biological argument:

You don’t want to give your reader friction over experimental structures. Sure, you can give them friction with the ideas themselves, but the structure wants to be invisible. A rare few will care to solve a literary puzzle, and asking them to do so turns them into a critic, a snoot, someone who’s so self-aware of form that they evaporate in a cloud of abstraction.

This is the problem with Infinite Jest. DFW’s self-consciousness is infections. The sin of that novel is that both the linear narrative and the footnotes were a labyrinth. If he kept the main story clean and digestible by an 8th grader, and made the footnotes a maze that takes a life to make sense of, he could’ve changed the world.

Hiding in that book is a prophetic and urgent concept, but instead it gets remembered for a formal invention: the footnote gone wild.

Essay Architecture is about the formal analysis of a piece. It’s not about a personal, cultural, or moral analysis of a piece, but, it does suggest that you want to shape an essay in a way os that we can see and wrestle with those dimensions.

Example: Imagine someone writes an essay about getting surgery to turn themselves into a cartoon character. They could write about their personal transformation, they could put that in context of our cultural ethos, and they could speak to how it’s morally okay to want to look as close to Mickey Mouse as possible.

Even if a reader strongly disagrees with the whole premise, it’s possible for the essay to be formally perfect. The goal of Essay Architecture is to help shape any idea in the best possible vessel, so it can be seen, heard, felt, and understood. The process of debating the idea itself is a totally separate thing.

A good topic sentence will:

  1. Create a tension

  2. Point you in the right direction

  3. Delight you with elegance

Challenge: what if your iPhone could only have 10 apps?

There are two exceptions: 1) You’re phone and texting icon don’t count. 2) Any app that controls a physical device doesn’t count (a light, a picture frame, a watch, etc.). Here are my choices:

Drafts, Substack, Spotify, Maps, Weather, Camera, Photos, ChatGPT, WhatsApp, Fitness.

This means I deleted X, Reddit, and YouTube, and plan to delete Gmail. It also means I don’t want the rarely used apps like Amazon or Airbnb.

May 21st, 2024

The prompt of all prompts:

Describe how a specific moment in your life is symbolic of a larger trend in your culture. Compress this phenomenon into a phrase, render it so we can see it, hear it, and feel it, and suggest what we might do about it.

To see the souls of people,
To see the craft in an automobile,
To break categories,
To see natural forms,
To see raw elements like light and shadows,
To get flashbacks from a bush or brick,

My middle school had a system of A, B, and C days. While some core classes were daily, electives cycled in and out. What would that system look like for a writer?

The word “hyper-garbage” came up in a writing workshop today. The Internet is full of trash, don’t contribute to it! This is part of a very common (and often vocal) debate: quantity vs. quality. The first error is to think you have to pick a side. You can—and should—do both. The pressure from expecting a masterpiece is real, and so to combat that, you should have a semi-public corner of your website that you upload random musings to everyday (ie: this).

My talk on thesis/microcosm helped someone write their wedding speech.

May 20th, 2024

Some prompts for thinking and writing.

  1. You win $100,000,000 in the lottery. How do you allocate it?

  2. Write out an average day in the life of you in 10 years. What makes it beautiful?

  3. If you had to flee America and start a new life, where would you go and why?

  4. You go back in time to when your great grandparents were your age. How would you explain the future?

  5. Smartphones become illegal. Which doohickey(s) become(s) central to your life?

  6. Would you give up your sense of taste if that meant you no longer needed to eat to survive? Explain why or why not.

  7. What could you imagine yourself being famous for?

  8. Charisma is dangerous. Agree or disagree?

  9. What responsibility do artists have to themselves? To society?

  10. Aliens.

  11. AI takes everyone’s jobs, but also redistributes the wealth in a way so you can survive and thrive. Is this good or bad?

  12. Would you want the ability to relive your memories in full resolution?

  13. A non-invasive machine can read your thoughts and act as a life-changing personal assistant. Would you use it? Why or why not?

  14. Can people change? If so, how? If not, why not?

John Tarrant quote (found this from


The Temple of Engakuji was destroyed by fire in 1374. The entire library was consumed and the rare books which the founder, Bukko, had brought from China were reduced to ashes. Priests of the Hachiman shrine came to Enkakuji, concerned about the tragic loss of these ancient texts.

Fumon, the master, said, “None of the texts has been burnt.”

“Then where are they?” asked a priest doubtfully.

The teacher drew a circle and said, “They are in here.”

One Sheets as a Service.

I’m inspired by Hunter S. Thompson’s (idealized) breakfast routine, but without the drugs; once a day, he’d spend ~2 hours to sync up with all his responsibilities, but the majority of his day was in unpredictable creative divergence.

I’m going to start writing my typewriter essays at half-width so that they’re readable on mobile.

How not to hurt your neck while binge-reading dictionaries that are too heavy to hold up (the ultimate guide):

Religion as metaphorical thinking:

  • On pouring your coffee: hot water is a volcanic force of creativity, and I’m pouring it onto it’s opposite—earthly beans of caffeine that foster extended focus. By fusing the two, you get energy for your creative flow.

  • Eating: the most instinctual action is the easiest to be mindless about. The whole point of prayer is to use food as a meditation (regardless of what you say). Since you have to eat multiple times a day, it’s the most reliable thing for you to associate meaning with. Food enables your most noble post-animal visions. Taste = fire; Vision = air.

Aesthetic wonder, mindful motion: out of head, into being…

What are the pros/cons of using your computer first thing in the morning?

Use a 1-hour timer as an Angelus bell (a reminder to meditate when it rings).

There’s a forgotten value to writing mantras over and over (10 times, 100 times). There’s a reason this grade school torture exists. It’s also a moment to focus on penmanship and let the idea sink in.

Keep the blinds open so you get woken up by light (the best alarm clock).

May 19th, 2024

Planetarium music … [Olivia Tremor Control - Explanations II (Instrumental Themes and Dream Sequences)]

Opponent practices:

  • Open perception of a moment < > shaping a singular life narrative.

  • Writing mantras <> reading them throughout the day (prayer).

  • External environment design <> internal active imagination.

  • Predictable systems <> spontaneous art.

Is Christianity about going to heaven or bringing heaven to Earth?

Have ambition in your actions, not your identity.

Writing is a tool to shape your virtual engine. We are beings made of language. Religion is a construct that will install pre-configured packs of language. But someone who can write can steer their own evolution.

Modern spiritual practice is over-indexed on 1 practice in a larger ecology. Like alchemists we need to break AND make frames. We break frames through Vipassana meditation (remove all gestalts, frames, and figures to focus on an isolated qualia), but we also want to make frames through language.

For active imagination to work, you have to dim the analytical mind, and you have to request it / prime it / coax it.

Imagine doing something like a 15-hour immersion in something once per month? Could be anything from hiking / conversation / reading / editing / vocab / etc. Whenever I’ve done these crazy stretches, I notice the brain can hallucinate before sleep (and wonder if this is a sign of experience shifting to muscle memory).

May 18th, 2024

So I’ve scored a bunch of essays recently, and I’m wondering how old these writers were when they published them. Is there a correlation between quality and age? Does your work get better or worse as you age?

There was no correlation; the line was totally flat.

The 5th Great Awakening is scheduled for 2045.

Two latest essay books:

Similar to how you start using the slang of your friends without realizing, you should be careful with who you read: you’ll start subconsciously adopting their mannerisms.

On finding writing events in New York City;

  • Gotham was Friday write-ins (2pm, 6:30pm) + summer classes in Bryant Park.

  • There are multiple writer groups on Meetup (Shut Up and Write, etc.)

  • Book stores have book launch events (The Strand, Jackson McNally)

  • Popular authors often come through NY; check their website.

May 17th, 2024

This Joseph Conrad is very similar to the Sontag quote with “hear, see, feel.” This is making me more confident about how I structured voice in the Essay Architecture framework.

"My task which I am trying to achieve is by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see. That—and no more, and that is everything."

Very impressed by ButterDocs, so far, mostly because it treats a paragraph as an intelligent object:

  • Version history: using a document-level version history is clunky. ButterDocs let’s you look back within each paragraph to find older iterations. Knowing this exists, I might be more likely to rewrite whole paragraphs.

  • Alternate paragraphs: you can formally create different options, and quickly swap them in or out.

  • Block: If you want, you can formally declare a paragraph (or group of paragraphs) as a “block.” This makes it an object that you can use in an outliner. As you re-arrange the blocks, your essay re-arranges too.

  • Title: You can name paragraphs & visualized your essay in outline form.

  • Summary: Each paragraph has a nested inner text doc, where you can keep summaries or research.

  • Tags: You can mark paragraphs with tags (for characters, concepts, whatever), color-code them, and visualize them.

  • Status: You can set status’s for each paragraph (to do, in progress, done)

  • Focus: You can isolate a paragraph, hide the rest of the doc, and focus just on a single part.

  • Archive: There’s a method to archive paragraphs without deleting them. It basically is a built-in “scrap pile” / “graveyard.” Instead of keeping these bits at the bottom, they’re organized in a collapseable inbox.

A paragraph based OS covers the “assay” half of writing, on organizing and analyzing the bits of your argument, but ButterDocs also has so nice “essay” stream of consciousness enabling tools. It has focus mode (which hides the interface), and timers (by word count, or by minute).

It also has some neat non-linear writing tools (perhaps the best footnote system I’ve seen, an independent note system (which can be linked using [[ ]] ), and a “stash feature” to save beautiful bits of prose that don’t match with the current draft.

Haven’t gotten a chance to try a full draft in here, but I’m excited to.

What could be the value of have a NYC writers group? While there could be a casual monthly meetup that is more social, I’m also interested in a smaller, tighter weekly group of around 5-6 people that interested to meet, write, critique, scheme, etc.

If I wanted to make an online program that was more like an MFA than a cohort-based course, how would it be different?

  • It would have applications and be limited to a small group.

  • It would create a pressure cooker between writers and faculty.

  • It would have a record of high-quality publishing.

  • It would require immersion (perhaps even paying the writers).

“Deliberate practice” is a step above “purposeful practice.” Purposeful practice is about picking one thing to work on based on your own perceived weakness. Deliberate practice is about knowing the full map of a craft, pursuing all ends at once, and following the guidance of an expert.

I’ve been recommended to check out the book Peak, on athletic performance.

For now, here’s a quick list of how I “practice” (outside of essays):

  • (A) Logging : capturing thoughts all day through handwriting, writing, audio cassette tapes, and videos in my glasses. There’s a muscle to build in noticing your thoughts and your environment. I try to upload all my (text) thoughts the next morning. I have no private notes system, and instead, every thought turns into at least a paragraph on my website.

  • (B) Typewriter : since I do a lot of analysis and editing, it helps to have a stream of consciousness habit. It gets me out of my head, to shape a series of unpredictable sentences that all orbit around one idea. I sense that my first drafts are getting better over time. This feels like a key part in converting the very heady “analysis” pillar (below) into muscle memory.

  • (B) Dictionaries : these days, I’m reading 5 different dictionaries A>Z. Worth noting, none of them are standard dictionaries, they are each specialized (in etymology, mythology, literature, art, and theories). I don’t just passively read, I pick the words that stand out, and gradually rewrite them on a “definitions” page on my own website. On my phone dock (the bottom that has 4 icons), I only have 1 icon, a Safari link to my self-created dictionary. I scroll through and read these over and over, in hopes that they stick (instead of scrolling feeds).

  • (A) Analysis : currently trying to read one classic essay per day. Currently have 16 physical essay books on my desk within arms reach. The goal is to reach each one, highlight the parts that resonate, then go back and make sense of why it’s working or not working. I also try to score every essay using my Essay Architecture framework (meaning, I’ll score it 1 out 5 across 27 categories, and then come up with its score out of 10).

I haven’t started this yet, but I want to integrate A days and B days.

  • (A) If I’m working on a long-form essay that day, I’ll only log & analyze.

  • (B) I’ll take 2-3 days off from long-form per week, where I instead write a typewriter essay (1 hour) and do a dictionary session (1 hour).

What’s the difference between wisdom and philosophy? (Saw this as a prompt for a writing competition… and it’s in the context of AI). Where philosophy might be abstract, external, and machine-possible, wisdom is hard earned. Wisdom is a kind of slow intelligence; no matter what you know, you have to apply it, misuse it, and grok the implications in your own life. Through the course of a whole human life, all the cliches and adage become deeply and intuitively known.

May 16th, 2024

Hockey might be the most frantic of all the sports, and the fact they so often break out into fist fights probably has something to do with pent up anger from never quite controlling the puck. I’d be mad too if my reality were so slippery.


This points to a product called JotBot, but the URL (and the social media framing) point to the probably common ethos around AI writing: most people hate shaping prose essays, and so AI delivers the ultimate shortcut.

There’s a genre on TikTok I call “pay to ruin a fake game,” except I’m not sure if the people paying know it’s fake. You swipe into somebody manually clicking a counter, and they seem to be somewhere like 999,999,999,999,253. ONLY 750 MORE AND THEY HIT A QUADRILLION? That’s pretty cool. But hey, if you give this guy a “galaxy” (a $20 emoji), he has to start all the way over! As he furiously clicks, he begs you not to give him a galaxy. Some people will give him “roses” ($1), which slice him down 100 points or so. He’s basically levitating in the same range until someone gives him $20 USD (this might sound inconsequential, but someone in Burundi only has to trick one person per week to get by).

I couldn’t resist doing the math. Let’s say this guy (with a lot of practice) can get to 500 clicks per minute … it would take him 3.81 million years to get to a quadrillion clicks. This is not just longer than TikTok’s existence, this is roughly 10x longer than Homo sapiens.

And for just $20, you set the ticker back to 0.

I basically have 4 forms of logging now: I either write in my notebook, type into my phone/computer, speak into a cassette recorder, or record with my glasses. Can these all run in parallel? We’ll see. It’s pretty intuitive to know which mode makes sense in the moment, it just makes the overhead of organizing and sharing a little more complex.

May 15th, 2024

Instead of using GPT 4o, you can get a cassette tape recorder for $20 on Amazon and talk to yourself.

I found a career groove that almost satisfies all 5 “salaries:” educational, social, psychological, freedom… the financials aren’t quite there, but they’re getting close. Even though I’m least inclined to treat a passion like a business, it feels important to get this right; it creates a baseline that everything else stems from. If I can make a consistent “salary” from writing/editing/teaching/etc. then it enables me to riff into cassette players, and host meetups, and make theories like it’s my job.

The goal is to reach a financial level where the whole project of “being a writer” becomes sustainable for a lifetime. The goal isn’t to have a radical breakout financial success, because if you aim for that you lose the other 4 pillars.

TLDR: You can use the Internet to forge a 1 of 1 career and make enough money to be comfortable, without the destructive obsession of building a scalable business and maximizing revenue.

New writers underestimate how much they can upgrade their craft by reading great writing analytically. My new #1 daily habit is “read one essay per day that is historically good.”

After watching this video on the US government interest stablecoins, it reminded me of the Tether FUD stemming back to 2018. It’s incredible how fuzzy all the technicals are to me now, given how versed I was in it back then. Wondering if that could make an interesting essay topic … And now after searching Google for 60 seconds, it would. One headline tells me: “you thought FTX was bad?” Tether is the coin with the 3rd highest marketcap ($110 billion), and another article tells me that if it crashes, it wouldn’t just tank crypto, but the entire economy. Sensation!

Cassettes received! Man, this is cool. Low quality, but that’s the charm. It’s for fuzzy/WIP ideas. For a 1-year Otter subscription, you can get a knock-off Chinese walkman and 100 Maxwell 1-hour tapes. I’m going to cancel Otter.

People talk about TikTok like it’s a drug / opium / consumption crisis, but it has an equally toxic effect on the creators, who are turning into robotic NPCs busking for virtual tips.

People assume that generative AI will lead to a tsunami of garbage content. I think the opposite problem is more interesting: what if you were drowning in amazing content? What if you’re so inspired and overwhelmed by awe that it’s stressful and addicting and life disorienting?

Pretty wild how OpenAI baked their philosophy into their name and the betrayed it anyway.

The only way to survive the century of Faust is self-awareness; if you don’t have clear virtues or the ability to know if technology is aligned with your values, you’re bound to get hijacked by awe, convenience, and emotion.

My wife and some friends seem so appalled by the GPT-4o voice assistant that they don’t even want to hear it. I get it. It’s super uncanny to hear a robot trying to sound human and kind of pulling it off. Still, I think we need to dive into new technology and try it, even if it’s freaky. It’s part of being a techno-selectivist. Going forward is equally as important as going backward. You can’t know what’s good or bad about it until you personally try it. You have to have confidence in your ability to experiment, come to conclusions, and do what’s best for you.

In one sentence, what is hell? (my on-the-spot out-loud answer:)

Well, I'd say it's something like drinking olive martinis at the Olive Garden with the Ranger game on a small, small TV, and they're getting pounded by shape-shifting preying mantii who can't even ice skate.

May 14th, 2024

Multiple vectors point me here (Davey, Aishwarya, and also some ongoing talks on setting visions vs. letting life unfold): Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective. Maybe I just buy this book, shelf it, and read it when I’m ready? Currently on a daily-essay-reading regime, and a one-book-at-a-time regime.

Coming up the great Grand Central escalator, I put GPT-4o (/ScarJo) in my glasses and started talking to her.

First, it recommended 3 authors aligned with my Essay Architecture project to check out (Clement Greenberg, TS Eliot, Cleanth Brooks). Then it gave me a range of facts: 1) there is a secret basement under Grand Central that used to be military guarded, 2) Pershing Square was featured in “Friends with Benefits,” featuring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, and 3) Los Tacos No. 1 was founded by 3 Mexican brothers in Chelsea Market in 2013. Then she wrote me a poem in a Hermetic/Walt Whitman fusion about getting out of your head in social interactions.

Do I like this? Does this help? In what situations do I want to have an on-call real-time assistant, and when do I want to be alone with my thoughts, and when do I want to record my thoughts?

Whenever I get caught in “make-a-dent-in-the-universe” thinking, I ask myself WIIWAF (what if I were a frog?)

A natural response to death is to aspire to rupture space-time: found a company, or a name-recognition indie band, or a book that sells beyond your life. But who really makes a dent in the universe? Steve Jobs? Jonas Salk? Genghis Kahn? Does a life well lived have to be as consequential as theirs?

What if the universe is something like a cosmic tide, always looping, always restarting, and so our whole universes’ current wave—let alone any dents made in it—is inconsequential; this instance of space-time is just another wave, forgotten among infinite waves.

If that’s so, then why not be a frog?

There is a strain of cosmic insignificance that can be humbling. It deflates ego and lets you sink back into the seat of consciousness and unpredictability, the only place where anything that matters comes from.

How do you render your consciousness honestly? How can you transcend mere fact without getting lost in fanciful prose? Is all mundanity worth logging? Stop by stop, a robot announcer drone-talks the time, and my pointer finger feels foreign as I scratch its side. Who will be at the meetup tonight?

Amazon messed up… I got 2 packages. The cassette player is here. But when I opened the 2nd package—expecting to find cassette tapes—I found a pack of 6 toilet bowl cleaning pucks…

experimental : we say someone is experimental if they’re open to try weird things, but the word experiment is so rooted in the scientific method. It’s an interesting tension. Ultimately, we should be experimental with our psyche and virtues. The only way to advance upwards through tiers of self-knowledge is to hypothesize virtues to live by and then to measure or intuit if that narrative is working for you.

134k words published from January-April. If I turn this up slightly, I could hit 500k words published in one year. For context, I did 500k words in the 3.5 years before this one.

Came across my 2007 high school newspaper, something I don’t think I ever read before. It’s trippy reading this after reading my 2007 prompts from English class. I could barely shape prose, but these writers were surprisingly good. I knew a lot of these kids too, but now I see them through their writing. V weird.

How do you syncopate a sentence?

“It is illegal to dig without calling 8-1-1.”

I got this comment in a Google Doc, and strive for this to be my north star in essay writing.

"I'm finding each paragraph so rich with revelations, saying yes, I hadn't realized this, but I agree."

This comes from battle testing drafts with “flash feedback.” I ask readers to comment as precisely as they can with—effectively—good vs. bad. Then after they finish, I ask them: Best part? Worst part? What is an open question on your mind? I’ll cut the bad parts, integrate curiosities, and compress or cut any “blank paragraph” that don’t have hits / green highlights. The end product, driven by both my own taste and the impressions of a crowd, is—hopefully—an entrancing stream of insights.

The new iPad Pro commercial shows a bunch of analog devices getting compacted and crushed by a machine: metronomes, vinyl, trumpets, pianos, arcades, paint buckets, globes, mannequins, busts, lamps, cameras, DSLRs, books, and guitars. Out spills colorful blood, and in it’s ashes is the brand new iPad Pro. Creatives freaked out over it. It’s a prescient visual of what’s going on: all the tools we used to love are getting absorbed into an everything machine, and people without a self-awareness into their own process will never know what they’ve lost from analog.

May 13th, 2024

Two attitudes around music (/life):

  • Lazy vs. driven;

  • Ironic vs. romantic;

  • Cool vs. awkward;

  • Nihilistic vs. mythic;

How can a handwritten journal enable more drawing, confession, weirdness, divergence? I sense that analog explosions might cause some friction in uploading. It might be a shot in productivity, but it’s a boost in something else.

ON A DRIVE TODAY, toyed with the idea of getting an analog recorder; and speaking much of my day out loud into it. Imagine the practice I’d get of turning prose into thought in real-time? If you’re always turning through into rhythmic, rhyme, imagistic sentences, it’ll break through onto the page and into conversations.

Took two laps around a nearby lake, and ended up reflecting on where I’ve come since I’ve turned 17. At that point, I grew into my body, but not my mind. My second lifetime (18-33 yo)—which for most people is a convergence—was a divergent exploration. Feels like I’ve found a lane I can commit to until my 50s.

The swan in the lake is more than an Instagram photo prop, it’s a tool for you to imagine the consciousness of another being. What’s it like to be a swan? The person who sees the swan as a compositional element through a grid of thirds might miss this thought experiment.

A four-point poem to remember the four poles:

the eyes of Horus,
the vision of Wright,
the hands of volcanoes,
the engine of light,

Here are the writing prompts from my Senior Year English class. I wrote a typewriter essay on this in more detail here, and am considering re-answering these throughout the year.

  1. What is the difference between a civilized person and a savage? Which is more natural? (9/12)

  2. What are your plans for senior year? What do you hope to achieve? (9/13)

  3. Why do you deserve an education? Give three reasons. (9/14)

  4. What is the best way to cope with an insane situation? (9/15)

  5. Describe high school. (9/20)

  6. Why do you like what you like?

  7. What do you hate? (9/25)

  8. Pep rally … your thoughts? (9/28)

  9. Which is your favorite sense (of the 5) and why? (10/11)

  10. Describe a time in your life when FATE took over. Justify your answer. (If you don’t believe in fate, explain why.)

  11. What is truth? (10/13)

  12. Define Independence (in your own terms). (10/17)

  13. Which is more important: the needs of the individual or those of the state (country)? (10/18)

  14. Applications: (10/19)

  15. What is time for? (10/23)

  16. Legalize drugs? (10/24)

  17. How much should a leader rely on public opinion? (10/26)

  18. Note to self: (3 years from now) BEWARE! The time to choose your caste is fast approaching! Read Chapters 16 + 17 of Brave New world. CHOOSE WISELY. (10/29)

  19. Personal struggle + suffering is necessary. (10/30)

  20. Is death the conquest of the soul by the body? (10/30)

  21. Is the individual the sum of the suggestions implanted into him? (10/30)

  22. Beauty and truth are incompatible with happiness (10/30)

  23. Social justice, in the sense of social equality, is impossible. (10/31)

  24. Write the name of a movie you thought was a tragedy. Why was it tragic? (11/10

  25. Argue for or against the following statement: The stability of society works best when the people of that society are homogenous. (11/3)

  26. Is ignorance bliss? (11/3)

  27. How can a journal “expand your mind?” (11/4)

  28. Who needs to be saved? Why? (11/4)

  29. How does your clothing show who you are? (11/4)

  30. What can civilians do to end war? (11/13)

  31. Using Trash Talk, trash a subject of your choice.

  32. Can a parent be too overprotective? 

  33. Write a one-page play for two parts about an alien abduction. Include stage directions.

  34. What makes funny funny?

  35. What do you do when someone is rude to you.

  36. This is Picasso. Look at the picture and comment. (12/3)

  37. Aliens. (12/5)

  38. Winter Musicfest 2007 (12/5)

  39. Is it human nature for people of lower status (ex: mailroom clerk) to envy those with higher status (ex: CEO)? Or… is it possible for people to be happy with their place and not want for more?

  40. Is it important to recognize the New Year?

  41. Is man good/evil?

  42. With regard to peer pressure, who is at fault?

  43. Is jealousy a good or bad thing for a relationship?

  44. Which Senior Superlative do you want to be—and why?

  45. Who should be President of the United States and why?

  46. Writing 25 pages is…

  47. Othello/Shakespeare is…

  48. Double standards and Hillary.

  49. Can you be involved in a “crime” and NOT be guilty?

  50. If a husband or wife cheats, is it their fault or their other’s fault?

  51. Does education = intelligence?

  52. Paper or plastic?

  53. You are halfway through your senior year. Discuss.

  54. There is nothing beyond man’s physical existence. Agree/disagree.

  55. “Ultimately, I am alone in this world, alienated from everything that attempts to define me.” Agree/disagree. (What makes you… you?)

  56. Giants. Discuss.

  57. How do you react to things that are different, new, things that you have never experienced?

  58. Did you vote in yesterday’s primary? Why/why not? Does it matter?

  59. If a noun doesn’t have meaning, does it have a right to exist? Does everything have to have a part?

  60. Do you like Meursault? Why/why not? Can you relate to him?

  61. Describe Hell.

  62. What did you do this vacation?

  63. What gives life meaning?

  64. Sartre: “We are condemned to be free.” Explain. (2/28)

  65. This day only exists every 4 years!! What will you do to make it memorable? (2/29)

  66. Do you agree with Meursault’s view of life at the end of the novel?

  67. Describe your social status. How can you change this?

  68. Should a marriage be practical?

  69. How does the media (of any period of time) portray media?

  70. Do people need “false illusions” to make it through life?”

  71. Imagine that you are one of those people (students) who has blown off all of the reading assignments this year (or at least some of them). Hypothetically speaking, do you feel you’ve missed anything? Explain.

Martin Heidegger:

"If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life - and only then will I be free to become myself." ― Martin Heidegger

The whole point of your About Page is to outgrow and rewrite it.

WIP (AI) definitions:

  • Alabaster: A fine-grained, translucent form of gypsum, typically white, often used for carving and decorative objects.

  • Alacrity: Brisk and cheerful readiness; eagerness.

  • Albatross: A large seabird known for its ability to fly long distances. In literature and symbolism, it represents a burden or curse, often related to guilt or persistent trouble, derived from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

May 12th, 2024

Listened to 2 lectures from John Vervaeke’s Meaning Crisis on my drive home, and was able to build a mnemonic memory palace and remember 14 points. It was something like EP FuD (v) [creating a square and a lower V], and then RCA, EW AA MM. Each letter represents a phrase that I was able to unpack into a note once I parked. I’d guess the limit to this is something like 45 points (a 3x3 grid of a 5-point square—corner + center).

How do you remember the order of the 3 great Greek philosophers? SPA = Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. How to remember “spa?” You might wear a toga to a spa.

My slice of life on Earth happens to be one with bottled Poland Spring water.

Christianity is an ego-preservation narrative. The very conception of an afterlife is a defense mechanism for eternal continuation of the self. If the entry ticket into Heaven is as simple as believing in Christ, then it enables a believer to go their whole life without actually living like Christ. While Christian myth helped us move from the pagan T3s to the modernizing T4 paradigm, it is fundamentally at odds with our T5 paradigm. Sure, a select few mystics can go up to T7, come down the ladder, and live like Christ. But at a society scale, we actually need an entirely new meme that, 1) self-evidently encourages us to die to previous frames and be reborn into new ones, and 2) lives within the paradigm of science. While Christianity can save individuals, it can’t save society. We need a better death-rebirth myth, one that doesn’t involve supernatural feats.

Imagine if college were replaced by divinity schools. Instead of 4 years of specialization, we could produce an empathetic, free-thinking, death-conquering, impact-oriented generation.


This Sontag quote maps onto my essay framework of voice (sight, sound, spirit):

“What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more.*

  • See more: imagery, concision, motif;

  • Hear more: rhythm, reputation, rhyme;

  • Feel more: tone, perspective, subtext.

I’m convinced that prose is a better medium than photography to capture the highest resolution of existence. While photography is better than writing at showing a visual, writing is a lot better than photograph at rendering a nuanced emotion. No photograph can ever capture the interior of Pessoa’s mind.

Freeze frame, how many ridges are there across my thumb? (60)

I’ve been using “architect” as a single, flexible word that captures everything I want to accomplish in my life, but “teacher” is another great word: ties to parenting, education, writing, philosophy.

May 11th, 2024

Just started Avatar: the Last Airbender for the 2nd time. Taking notes. Now that I’ve mapped the 4 element onto the alchemists and my own psyche, the show has a secondary allegorical meaning. To Sontag’s point, the show is good in itself, but it’s straight forward enough that you can see a symbolic layer over it without much friction.

Get a handheld voice recorder.

Wondering what it would be like to work at the local bagel place. Would I get better at talking to strangers? Would it stretch my memory? Would I get writing material?

May 10th, 2024

I started writing online in July 2020, posted a few essays, and then deleted my website 2-3 months later. There were probably a few reasons for this: 1) I felt like I had to always outdo the quality of my last essay, 2) I was getting caught in “scope balloon” essays and disappearing for long stretches, 3) I was publishing under my full-name, and that brought restrictions to my topics / voice.

From October-December, I wrote under a different pseudonym (Dean Dukelis, who himself wrote under another pseudonym, Duke), and realized how much fun writing could be without the pressure of my identity.

In January 2021 I restarted under Michael Dean (first name, middle name), and posted something like 45 essays in 60 days. There was some stop-start action after then, but I’ve been relatively “online” since then.

menty-b : a euphemism for a mental breakdown.

My mom waited her whole life for the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup, and when they did in 1994 I cried. I was rooting for the Canuck’s because they had a funny name. She had my dad take me out of the room. Now, 30 years later, a Rangers<>Canucks Stanley Cup is cooking.

Maybe it’s not about overcoming the fear of death, but rewiring your psyche to think radically different about anything that’s in the future (from tomorrow <> death).

May 9th, 2024

Exercise: in the middle of your day, as soon as you become aware (or, as soon as you remember this exercise), just freeze mid-motion. Don’t think, but just look at whatever is in sight and notice the details you were oblivious to. It’s like how it’s hard to process details in a video, but easier in an image.

What would it be like to live 90% of the day in literal vision & literal action? Don’t spend time in abstract vision (over-thinking) or abstract action (over-optimizing). There’s a plane of being that has pure sight & pure action. Remember those parrots from the book Island that just shouted, “attention!”

You can tip into the virtual engine (mythic and rational), but only for excursions. They should be done with care and purpose. Otherwise, be spontaneous, embodied, open, light, goofy, etc.

The only value of the past is in how you can access or transform it to shape your future.

MYSTERY SCHOOL: What could this look like? How could a group of people share and co-develop these practices?

  • L1, ATTENTION: What are the actual practices to train your attention? Do breathing exercises. Try the different types of meditation (eyes open/closed, mindfulness, mantras, and void states). Add symbolic meaning to how you eat, wash, and shower. Understand the limits of your attention can be used to regulate your nervous system and create associative meanings.

  • L2, LANGUAGE: What are the actual meanings you want to install into your psyche / subconscious / virtual engine? What is your vision? What are accurate, memorable, dense words that can install themselves? Can you capture a vision in text? How often do you read/write your values? Is the blackboard exercise worth it?

  • L3, VISIONS: How can you tap into visions from the unconscious/imagination? Can you visualize colors and shapes? Can your language be distilled into objects of significance? Can you lucid dream, astral travel, get into hypnagogic states? There is a whole interior rendering engine that is a landscape for adventure, self-understanding, therapy, trouble-shooting, problem solving, ideation, myth shaping, virtue shaping, etc.

We craft virtual machines to interact with our hyper landscape. Through meditating on what our story is and what we care about, we become fluent in it. We can get out of our head and act from our values. It’s a feedback loop. By changing your actions, you encounter new things that refine your virtual engine.

And most importantly: your virtues are constructed through LANGUAGE. The right words, repeated over and over, can change the course of your life.

When your stuck in your head, return to the pure attention and reset the loop; ARCHAIC (return to your literal vision) > MAGIC (with intention, refocus your attention on something that matters) > MYTHIC (tap into the narrative or story behind that action) > RATIONAL (embed what’s working into a virtue/plan).

It’s paradox all the way down (or, “nested opponent processes”).

  • Consider the basic Yin/Yang duality.

  • Now imagine 2 overlapping axes in a plus sign:

    • SEEING: literal<>abstract vision; up-down.

    • DOING: literal<>abstract action; right-left.

  • It doesn’t stop here. Consider the pairings. There’s:

    • BEING (literal vision & literal action), and;

    • KNOWING (abstract vision & abstract action).

  • And finally, within KNOWING, that pair is made of opposites:

    • Abstract vision (myth) <> Abstract action (planning).

So it’s not just a plus, but a diamond. At every scale, you’re forcing opposites to get along. And once you can straddle all these paradoxes at the same time, you become the avatar and your eyes glow white.

Substack for volcano brains (could be a neat video).

  1. Thinking of your site as a full & adaptable encapsulation of yourself.

  2. The concept of “soft publishing” and “self curating.”

  3. The technicals: sections, tags, home page design.

Look into FreeWrite and other modern analog writers. What advantages might they have over an old school typewriter?

Idea from

: imagine a GPT that wrote morning pages on yesterday’s news. Instead of reporting facts, it emotionally reacts to all the chaos in the world. It’s something like our collective unconscious, an angry but wise Gaian machine that drops wisdom and yells us at our species for acting foolish. Yet, it’s also loving and solves all our problems. (Could be a fictional story called, “World Peace Machine.” It solves literally everything and gives us all the answers, but we just meme it and make fun of it and can’t make any progress.)

I spilled a whole glass of water on my bullet journal; this fragility is a downside of analog systems. But still, even in this worst-case scenario, it survived. I cut out 50 drenched pages with kitchen scissors, and after a few minutes of blow drying it’s operational (with water stains on the top margin). Call it character.

Hooks need to be more than catchy, they need to be microcosmic. Yes, it wants to introduce a tension, but one that hints at the larger theme of the essay. From the first line, you want to point your reader in the general direction (but, of course, without telling them everything).

Types of first drafts: printer method, bulleted outline, multiple options, tangent w/ explainer.

I told the editors that if we hit 200 drafts by Wednesday, I’d show up to our weekly meeting in a suit with a green screen (to match a meme of me as a weatherman). At 10 pm, we were at 198. Then we got 7 more in the last 2 hours (205 total), so I had to live up to my bet.

Made another bet: if we get 200 published articles, I’d wear a horse head to the final live session.

How do you make frameworks? (what is the meta-process behind Essay Architecture?) I think it starts with the patience to sift through a lot of complex noise. You need an everything-relates-to-everything openness to shift through possible groupings of things. Once you find something, you then shift to reductionist thinking, and see how well all the parts fit into a schema. Eventually, the schema should break, forcing you to create a better one, and shifting all the material into v2. It’s making and breaking frames over and over until something feels like a solid model.

James Turrell’s 2014 exhibit at the Guggenheim—“Aten Reign”—translated to “Sun God.” It’s a visually encrypted meditation, one that you unlock by seeing a shape and it’s inverted shape at the same time (the tunnel & the pyramid). It is an alchemical mood, and there’s something about connecting Egypt to alchemy (alchemy actually translates to “from Egypt.”)

As a new writer, I had no idea how my ability to express myself freely was restricted by my identity. The fact that my name could be searched and found by specific people (ie: my boss), totally clamped the range of what was possible (ie: no cursing). It’s important to set yourself up so you have no hang-ups. Writing alone is hard enough, you don’t want to also carry psychological baggage. Do what it takes to maximize for your own radical self evolution.

May 8th, 2024

There’s a subtle art for posting essay scores. First I have to quote and celebrate the article so a reader gets the jist. Then I’ll use 3 sections to break down idea, form, and voice. The score will be present (both in the thumbnail, and in a granular heat map). It’ll be something like Pitchfork, BUT, without snark or attitude, and all about writing education and helping those who want to learn. It’s not about bashing.

The scoring system for Essay Architecture serves as: 1) a checklist in your own editing process, 2) as a way to analyze the overall quality of a draft, 3) as a way to track progress over time.

Could rules of poetry inform paragraphs?

Against flat social graphs. I don’t want to follow people 1:1. I want a more customized way for our specific interests to connect.

“Formless ambition”

Terence McKenna on translating the Hermetic corpus over Plato:

Near the start of the Renaissance, Jemistus Pletho brought books to the Florentine council for translation. Medici said, “Plato can wait, I’m getting old, do the Hermetic Corpus first, it’s much more important, we’ll do Plato later.” A few years later, 1493, Cosmo Medici died and never saw the translations of Plato.

Terence McKenna on language and contradiction:

Evolve language and understanding to make our way back to the garden, back to Eden… Christ opened the door to paradise, but he closed the door to Eden.. We have to make our way back to the alchemical garden, that’s where meaning is, that’s what we feel, not rational schemas that are rationally beating us … We need to recover the ambiguity of being; to live janus faced; to incorporate the banished contradictions of being that so haunt the enterprise of science. We can leave that behind and when we do, we reclaim authentic being; and that all alchemical gold really is: authentic being.

Terence McKenna on the imagination:

The imagination is central to the alchemical opus; the process goes on in the realm of imagination, taken on to be a physical dimension; we cannot understand the history ahead of us until we imagine a journey into the imagination.  We have exhausted the Cartesian paradigm; the future of the human enterprise is in the imagination; we need to melt categories from science, Christianity, and rationally— we must re-encounter the mind— psychedelically, yogically, alchemically.

Terence McKenna on the alchemist’s view on nature:

The modern existential myth says we are cast into matter, lost in a universe with no meaning, and we must MAKE it. This is the absurd in Sartre. “Nature is mute,” is as far from alchemical thinking as you can get; for the alchemist, nature was a great, open book'; they put it through processes, to learn of the world AND themselves.

coincidentia positorum : (an alchemical term) the union of opposites; you can’t understand anything unless you simultaneously grok what it is and what it isn’t. By a mere shift in perspective, a thing’s opposite comes into focus, and the opposites melt into a new whole. This has many symbolic expressions: the hermaphrodite, soul/luna, mercury/sulfur…

I went into Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation” thinking we would disagree, but her take is more nuanced. She’s against interpreting an artist’s intentions to make it fit your own narrative; but she’s for analysis of the thing itself (it’s form and the sensation it evokes). By the end, she pleas for a “dictionary of forms,” which feels like the whole point of Essay Architecture.

I might do an analysis of her piece to kick off a review series. As much as I like her idea, formally, it only gets a 5.6.

  • Idea: It isn’t microcosmic enough. It gives a flurry examples, but there’s no center (Kafka could’ve been a good center). She’s also not in it. I imagine she had plenty of instances where critics put words in her mouth (I’m imagining Bob Dylan interview antics). This essay gives us an intellectual take on her plea for feeling, but there’s minimal feeling in it.

  • Form: Some important information in the middle and end would’ve been helpful up front. Also, the topic sentences are SO dense, and causes some non-trivial mental friction.

  • Voice: There are some great uses of repetition and subtext, but the tone is serious and veers into being academic sounding.

Good example of motif:

“On one side, we had the recipe fundamentalists, like my aunt who wouldn’t dare swap out walnuts for pecans, lest she commit a culinary sin worthy of excommunication.“

In a single example, there are three words that all point to the same religious metaphor: fundamentalist, sin, excommunication. Motif speaks to how strong your metaphors are unified into a shared key (vs. a psychedelic storm of unrelated metaphors).

If you say a “node” in a “constellation,” your mixing graphs and stars.

Motif is about allegorical thinking.

At 13 pages per day, I could finish 5 dictionaries by EOY; worth noting: none of these are “dictionaries” in the traditional sense.

5 pages in Etymology (roots of words), 4 pages in Mythology & Fable (history), 2 pages in scientific theories, 1 page, Literature/Rhetorical forms, 1 page in Archetypes.

They’re specialized.

I’m not just reading, but capturing (maybe 10% of what I come across); it’s a combination of what I don’t know, what I want to know, or something I know that takes on a new meaning. I’ll expand and rewrite these definitions and then publish them on my site.

What if attention influenced art styles in the way impressionism did. Instead of rendering things based on the light and color of a specific moment, you can render objects based on your relative attention to them. Different objects can be in/out of focus, saturation, detail.

In the 14th century, Dante laid out 4 levels of meaning: allegorical, anagogical, historical, and moral. I wonder if you could simplify this to 3: formal analysis (the work itself), moral analysis (the stakes of agreeing and implementing the ideas of the piece), and historical analysis (the macro environment the piece was created within).

  • agnostic : unknowable.

  • agoraphobia : fear of unfamiliar situations in public.

  • agrarian : agre = acre, of the land.

  • Amalthea’s horn : a myth about abundance / having everything you desire. Zeus’s nurse fed goat milk to an infant, snapped off it’s horn, and promised that Zeus will have a pampered life.

  • amaranth : a fadeless flower.

  • Amaurote : Thomas Moore’s utopian city.

  • ambrosia : food of the Gods; St. Ambrose had a mouth full of bees; / Ambrosian nights was a book about an Irish (?) bar conversation (1822-1835).

  • Ames Ace : the lowest hand in dice (two ones).

  • amen / amon : Ra, amon = hidden, Sun, ram, ostrich, Jupiter.

  • amphigouri : well sounding, but meaningless verse.

  • Amphion : Son of Zeus and Antiope, played a lute and stones dance into place to shape the architecture of Thebes.

  • amulet : a chain worn around your neck to protect or connect.

  • anarchism : human nature is naturally cooperative; by removing all forms of power, harmony will emerge. Types: capitalism (free-markets, self interest, no government), feminism (ending all forms of patriarchal oppression), syndicalism (industries are the economic root for protest), Bakuninism; remove authority by revolution.

  • anomie : Durkheim; in modern societies, an absence of effective moral or cultural rules and restraints will lead to social and individual breakdown.

  • fabula: Russian formalism; elements as distinct.

  • fabulation : creative use of traditional elements.

  • formalism : form over subject matter; language, style, structure; it’s about the work itself, not historical or cultural critique.

  • Ring of Amasis : an Egyptian story. The ring is a symbol that proves your original intentions were right, despite following bad advice. In this myth, a pharaoh throws his ring in the ocean because an advisor told him it was bad luck, but he later finds the ring in a fish he’s eating.

WIP words: ag, agglomerate, agglutinate, aghast, agog, agronomy, -aholic, ail, ailron, aria, adjar, akimbo, ambiguity, anagesis, androcentrism, animism, dissemination, egotistical sublime, empiricism, exegesis, explication, foregrounding, formulaic, impressionism, ambry, Osiris, amerindian, amoret, amphisbaena, amrita.

May 7th, 2024

What if mindless scrolling wasn’t possible? What if you had to actively engage with 1 post at a time through a Tinder-like format (swiping left or right on a piece onf content)? By saying “yes” to something, it’s a vote to curate your feed, and also a public like. To say “no” (or, to not publicly endorse it), it means you want less of this in your feed. This gets rid of status games and liking for boosting. This already happens to a degree, but I’m just wondering what a user-first feed experience might feel like (or, how can algorithms be less rapey? Currently feels like if I look at something for one second too long, it’s permission to show me lion violence or helicopter crashes forever.)

Chess 101: control the middle.

How could “linting” from software development—which is about using syntax to analyze how code will run—apply to prose writers? What kind of syntax could help us see patterns in our prose?

Imagine a syllable visualizer? It could use custom underlines to show the syllables within a word. Each line could have a little ball, with a line going down. Then all those lines within a word could be connected, creating an upside down musical stuff.

What if we used musical notation to see the rhythm of prose?

Will AI be used to produce amazing essays? (which could infantilize writers)

Or will AI be used to produce amazing writers (rewarding their effort)

In the end, it’s hopefully some kind of fusion. AI editors can help writers learn, upskill, improve, think, experiment, etc. Writers will still do the work & write manual prose. Yet, they might also be using AI within a still manual process to boost the quality of their works.

The three frontiers of text editors: 1) visualizing patterns, 2) analyzing composition and giving feedback, 3) recalling notes based on your prose. I’m not interested in using AI to generate text. What’s possible assuming the writer is always crafting their own prose?

Instead of using GPT4 for Essay Architecture scoring, I should look into making my own weighted models. With around 200 examples, and a detailed breakdown of each, it will have a deeper and more intuitive understanding of the concepts.

What’s required to start a literary publication? I know I could pool together a group of talented writers and put together something special, and so I should probably upgrade my thinking around this… I have this block that I would need funding to get started (…$25k?). If the writers aren’t paid, I don’t know if they’d be open to undergo such a rigorous editing process, and if I’m not getting paid, it’s not sustainable. What about the distribution of it? What comes of it? How often does it happen? I feel like I should start making moves on something like this…

(and while there could be value in curating existing essays, I think there’s value in gathering great minds and producing something new around a shared and pressing theme).

If social media were to live up to it’s name, it could be the biggest cultural revolution of modern times. Instead, it’s reality TV.


’s idea from a conversation:

Our methods of critiquing software are shallow. We have reviews, reactions, tutorials, puff-pieces, and clout-chasers. It’s important to have independent, thorough, and cultural critique, and it should be distributed among those who are building the future (The Paolo Alto Review).

This isn’t about reviews for the masses. It’s to steer the consciousness of engineers and founders. Consider how writing about the Velvet Underground ended up influences a whole generation of bands. And consider the sway tech companies have. The November OpenAI fiasco showed that 200-300 technical people had the ability to overthrow a board and Sam Altman’s firing. The values of these people are terribly important, especially when they’re entrenched in incentives that are dangerous.

We need a Paris Review for software. While there are writers covering tech from a philosophical angle, there are 3 problems:

  • Incentives: Of course, Marc Andreesen is a techno-optimist.

  • Speed: The rate of progress requires rapid, real-time analysis.

  • Aggregation: There isn’t a single spot to unify critique from a shared perspective.

Software is like digital architecture: it’s art with utility.

BOOK REVIEWS: this is a whole genre. During my last time at the Strand bookstore, as I looked through the essay section, I found a few that were compilations of book reviews by the same author. I have a Le Guin book of mostly reviews. What would I review? Ideas: Food of the Gods, Road to Eleusis, Sovereign Individual, Be Here Now, Sapiens, The Origins of Consciousness in the Bicameral Mind, What the Dormouse Said, Gutenberg Galaxy, Dead Sea Scrolls, On the Road, Pathless Path, etc. What are the criteria I use to pick a set of books that deserve reviews?

Substack announced a new “fellowship” for video creators, and it sparked a vitriol reaction. They’re looking to lure and boost big TikTok creators in panic instead of helping those within their own ecosystem. Why would they email this to everyone on Substack? Only 1 in 10,000 are applicable influencers. Wouldn’t 1:1 outreach been more appropriate? Feels like a botch. Still going to apply though.

36 definitions in 75 minutes.

Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Living (p.57)

“Nature has, in her eyes, no law, no uniformity.”

Oscar wild, The Decay of Living (p.55)

“[Fogs] have become the mere mannerism of [cliche], and the exaggerated realism of their method gives dull people bronchitis. Where cultured catch an affect, the uncultured catch cold.”

  • affray : a noisy quarrel or brawl that disrupts the peace; a scare, a disturbance, the root of “afraid.” An affray is the event that causes someone to become afraid.

  • aleatory : an art where some elements are left to chance (John Cage).

  • algebra : a sophisticated symbol system that’s layered on top of basic arithmetic. It is the combined operations and syntactical complexity. Think of the parallels between semi-advanced algebra problems and beautiful sentences.

  • alloparapatric : species that evolve together

  • allopatric : species that evolve separately

  • alumbrado : a perfectionist, Spanish for “illumination.” (1595)

  • Alvarez theory : the dinosaur extinction theory didn’t come until the 1980s

  • Alvina weeps : a myth about a woman who married the wrong person; she’s invisible, but you can hear her cries.

  • dialogic : multiple voices or tones in a single piece of work; when the style shifts to match the structure.

  • icon : eikon, representation, image, likeness; use of symbols in a work of art; id, history, classification of ORNAMENT, Panofsky: [1892 b.] beyond subject into hidden meaning. Now, pop culture and advertising. Is meaning intended? Subconscious? Interpreted? The aesthetics risk getting diminished by intellectual analysis.

  • metagenesis : the alteration between sexual/asexual tendencies (in plants/jellyfish).

  • oneirocritical : over-interpreting your dreams.

  • uhtceare : OOT-KEY-ARE-UH, pre-dawn morning worries (an abandoned medieval word).

WIP words: affiance, affirmations, afflicted, affront, aficionado, afraid, alienate, alienation effect, all-over painting, allegory, Allen’s rule, allusion, als of, altruism, deconstruction, deep structure, defamiliarization, differance, high dawn / low dawn

Random writing sessions from 12-4 am are like weekend half-days (no distractions). (In the pre-electricity world, this was kind of normal).

May 6th, 2024

Recently, I've been paying extra attention to topic sentences too, which are kind of like an extended version of a paragraph title. During one of the live sessions I wrote, "Clear topic sentences for insane paragraphs." A clear topic sentence helps frame the sentences ahead, and links the whole unit to the larger point of an essay.

Editing is something most people hate, so it’s worth coining new metaphors (ie: alchemy) to make it more approachable and endurable.

New sources around alchemy:

  • "Alchemy: The Poetry of Matter" by Brian Cotnoir

  • The Ezra Klein Show: This Conversation Made Me a Sharper Editor -- talks about the process of creating something from nothing, super relevant to drafting and the experience of the "rewrite" from a visual artist perspective.

  • The Ezra Klein Show: Best of: George Saunders on Kindness in a Cruel World -- talks about how editing allows you to explore different perspectives or lenses of your own mindset… by the time you're done, you may have actually changed how you feel or who you are in some small way.

Social media posting should have the formality of a text message.

Montaigne’s handwriting is incredible. You see him writing on and in the margins of his essay. I’m not sure how much restructuring actually went on, and how much was further explorations, and meta-streams on old ideas. TBD. Still. It’s a neat and analog form of externalized though.

There’s definitely a place for stream of consciousness. My sense is that the more analytical, slow, and entrenched my editing process for long form is, the better my one-take typewriter essays are. There’s a world in which the patterns of the craft become automatic, and over 50% of what you make is ready to go. I think it’s extremely rare to start here, but in most cases it’s something you can work towards.

Real-time stereotype inversion: as situations come into play, try to shape a stereotype as fast as you can, WHILE ALSO forming the inverse of that stereotype. See a person, situation, appearance, or etiquette as a set of opposites that are both true at the same time. That guys not rudely blasting shit music in a quiet neighborhood. It’s a party! Etc. It lets you see a mystery in every situation, and it’s ultimately humbling. It paints every perception as a vast range of potential instead of a fixed point, and it invites you to explore that instead of to assume you know it. It’s an “I-Though” relationship.

Wonderings of directional thrust; the pen wielder drags foots in fields of syrup. With each word comes a thousand thoughts, a thousand variants, a thousands simulations. The friction of shaping ornate letters enables a parallel process, where some second self maps the future. Is ink the well of poetry? Was it that obvious?

We underestimate how malleable our handwriting is. Penmanship is an art, a meditation, and unlocks a mode of being and creating.

Samskara — an “undigested emotion” that affects us through life. This reminds me Grof’s COEX’s. There might be moments of shame, or embarrassment, or cowardice. Why did that happen? What’s the source of that? By following down our negative virtues, you can get to the root, and then invert it into a positive virtue that address the core tension.

Each unit is within 4-8x apart from each other; each group is ~7,000x apart.

Micro units —

  • The Quantum (50 picoseconds) — the time for light to pass through hair;

  • The Atom (500 nanoseconds) — the time for light to travel a pen;

  • The Hertz (4 milliseconds) — a single violin string oscillation for a high C;

  • The Frame (25 milliseconds) — a single shot at 40 fps;

  • The Flash (150 milliseconds) — the time of a camera flash;

Little Units —

  • The Heartbeat (1 seconds) average human heartbeat;

  • The Blink (7 seconds) a short attention span;

  • The Breathe (45 seconds) 3 deep breaths;

  • The Moment (7 minutes) length of procrastination / a make-out;

  • The Episode (30 minutes) length of a sitcom;

Common Units —

  1. The Flow (4 hours) half a work day;

  2. The Sun (24 hours) earth’s rotation / human’s sleep cycle;

  3. The Loop (7-10 days) Sunday - Sunday;

  4. The Moon (28-31 days) a month, a moon loop;

  5. The Season (125-200 days) 4ish months; a long spring;

Big Units —

  1. The Molt (1,000 days, 3.7 years) time spent in high school;

  2. The Epic (17 years) from birth to driver’s license;

  3. The Life (69-85+ years) your whole existence;

  4. The Era (342-425 years) many generations, the rise and fall of nations;

  5. The Civilization (2,000 years) since JC;

Mega Units —

  1. The Archaeon (20,000 years) from primitive to modern;

  2. The Epoch (160,000 years) modern humans;

  3. The Species (1.2 million years) since Homo erectus;

  4. The Genus (10 million years) since upright hominids;

  5. The Aeon (80 million years) from rats > humans ; radical morphing;

Cosmic Units —

  1. The Eon (640 million years) since all animals;

  2. The Precambrian (5 billion years) since Earth;

  3. The Stelliferous (30 billion years) since the oldest stars;

  4. The Degenerate (240 billion years) length of all possible stars;

  5. The Dark (2 trillion years) the back hole period;

  6. The Heat Death (16 trillion years) life, death, rebirth of space time.

I found myself talking through how I’d explain my view on religion to a priest. First I’d walk through the theology of God as a cosmic force. Then I’d talk through Jesus as the ultimate figure to embody in every moment. But then, I’d walk through how I don’t think Jesus is the literal and supernatural son of God, and how I think religion is tripped up and over-indexed on history & language. Jesus is a powerful myth, and that doesn’t diminish it all. Myths embodies virtues that you live up to, and Christianity converged a complex and confusing pantheon of pagan myths into a single mega-myth that captures the most important qualities of what we should strive to be.

Midway through my draft, AI rated the likeliness of my theory of evolution at a 3-4, but after I was done with it, it was up to a 6-7. For context, it scores the Stoned Ape Theory at a 2 and Darwin at a 9.

Submitted my essay for a book review contest at the last possible minute, 2:59 AM ET. The power of deadlines.

May 5th, 2024

"The Symbolic Species" (1997) Terrence Deacon, a biological anthropologist, argues in his book "The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain" that the human brain and language co-evolved, each influencing the development of the other. He posits that the use of symbolic language placed unique demands on the brain, driving its expansion and reorganization.

Would you rather work 8 hours a day on something you love, or 1 hour a day on something you’re indifferent towards? Either way, you still need to spend 8 hours in an office. Both jobs have the same pay.

The sphere of the alchemist:
Like Horus I see prosche forward,
An inverted ray of myth shoots back,
To the right is imagination chains,
To the left is architectural pattern,
Left and right rotate,
All sides stretching,
Creating a sphere,
Of attunment and being,
Of fusing the opposites,
Of doing and seeing,

May 4th, 2024

WOW! Just found out that even though McKenna was the first person to publish a hypothesis on The Stoned Ape theory, someone else was casually excited about in the 1970s … FRANCIS CRICK, the guy who discovered the DNA double helix (he’s like the polar opposite of McKenna, honored for his contribution on making sense of human genomics).

Crick never published this idea, but he’s told colleagues that, 1) LSD helped with creative breakthroughs, and 2) his theories on evolution. Look into Graham Hancock, Daily Mail, Dick Kemp, Roland Griffiths (seems like AI hallucinated some of these sources, be careful!)

Close to a deadline, I find it helpful to have an editing checklist (instead of endless tinkering and massaging). The goal is to have a publishable piece at all points. The checklist is a bunch of isolated incision. I tried using a 15-30 minute timer for each point. It’s about patching one spot, and upgrading it one part at a time.

So I took my last 5 jobs, and ranked them (1-4) across the core factors of what work should bring you (financial freedom, education, psychological wellness, a social life, and independence). There’s a pattern; a job will naturally be 1 out of 4 in one its dimension, and so naturally, the next move is about trying to improve that pillar. In the process, other pillars fall. Leaving the architecture industry, I saw a 50% boost in my score. For the next 3 job, they all scored basically the same, but the strengths/weakness struggled around. Now (as an independent writer), it’s gone another 50% up in score, and the goal is to keep this state going while making it more financially viable.

A compliment from AI on my essay draft. It’s funny that a machine can make me feel good, but it’s less about the praiser, and more about the language used:

The strongest points in its favor are the skillful prose, intellectual humility, and how it uses this case study to raise profound questions about language, evolution and the human mind that are of general interest.

Took a break from restructuring a long-form essay and meditated for a bit. The mind naturally went back to essay form. Instead of trying to “center,” I just let it run, and it was neat to see how I could resolve knots in the flow by stepping away. I could come back to the page with some concrete steps: ah, do A, B, C, etc.

May 3rd, 2024

Probably going to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender—a Nickelodeon kids show—a second time in full. It is loaded with alchemy symbolism. Behind the simple kid-friendly plot of each episode are rich patterns that can be written about and reflected on. It’s taking serious relationships in the psyche and rendering them through archetypal characters. I guess that’s what all great film/art should strive to do.

I realized that I’ve been avoiding setting a bold goal for my life, probably because I’ve been burnt by past goals. Right now, there’s a really practical, short-term goal of just sustaining myself as a writer. But once that works, then what? Maybe that’s it, but what’s beyond that? In my grandest vision for my life, I think I’d be an “architect,” in the visionary sense. I’ve got to redefine that word, because it has almost nothing to do with buildings. Well, of course it does, but the systems thinking behind a building is the same approach we need for computers, governments, religions, etc.

Destiny / destination.

All systems fail. All visions fail.

The physical struggle and value in building your own house (#one-day).

If Taylor Swift is bigger than Beatlemania, then it’s pretty wild to think how much cultural potential is stored in a single person. What if Taylor Swift took psychedelics and reached a new level of artistry, experimentation, and philosophy?

IKEA meanings: when we default to words and insights that are pre-packaged, shallow, or meaningless. It’s easy to get lost in a whole veneer of religious lingo, but it risks being over-index of signifiers instead of the embodied meaning behind the word. ie: It’s possible for a person to take non-religious actions, and yet, convince themselves they’re religious because of the language.

Creativity as applied schizophrenia.

Starting to get “chakras” beyond woo. The literal truth isn’t the point. The goal is to spatialize emotions and feelings. By saying, X feeling is located in Y place, and by doing that 10 or 100 or 1,000 time, you build an association. If you want to tap into that feeling, you can focus your attention to that spot of the body. So it’s a combination of 1) attention mastery, and 2) symbolic mapping. Maybe there’s reason why certain chakras are where they are, but I wonder if the exercise can be useful if you completely invert it.

Look into the 1960s shift from live performance to studio recordings. Obviously some bands like the Grateful Dead were the exception. And of course, live touring is still a big thing today. But I wonder if recording technology and distribution got to a point where “the master” recording was just place to focus songwriting efforts.


Go touch paper: How the Apple Vision Pro turned me from a VR-optimist into a techno-selectivist.


While emerging technology can woo us with convenience and awe, it risks distracting us from our goals, and devaluing our innately human capacities. Sometimes the way forward is to revert to analog technology. We're entering an age where the best-prepared stance is "techno-selectivist"; instead of being a luddite or an accelerationist, you need to scrutinize every feature you invite into your life.

Oxxxx xxx# , x#xx xxxx;

D | 4>3;
F#m | #1>1;
A | 6>5;
Em7 | 7>7>5>1.

Every essay needs a shiny dime, but a Core Idea is a shiny dime that you’re uniquely positioned to write. So for example, if I’m writing an essay on AI or human evolution, I’ll need a shiny dime, but those areas aren’t related to my experience/expertise. But, essays around architecture or virtual reality directly relate to what differentiates me. I see a Core Idea as a Shiny Dime within your Personal Monopoly.

When you pass 1,000 email subscribers, Substack will send you an email congratulating you, along with a procedural graphic that it encourages you to share. It’s okay to celebrate, but something feels braggy about doing this in public. And it steers discourse towards metrics and career goals instead of the actual work.

Two analog radios are more in sync than two TV or YouTube streams.

Terence McKenna, Food of the Gods, p.9:

"Psychedelic shamans now constitute a worldview and growing subculture of hyper-dimensional explorers, many of whom are scientifically sophisticated. A landscape is coming into focus, a region still glimpsed only dimly, but merging, claiming the attention of rational discourse--and possibly threatening to confound it.”

May 2nd, 2024

When I’m zoned in on an essay, I’m barely thinking or logging. I wonder if tunnel vision is a natural consequence of flow, or if there’s value in taking 2 minutes off every 20 minutes.

The “2D plane” is the plane for making sense of 1D linear arts (writing) or 3D spatial arts (architecture). It’s a middle ground where you can diagram to see the relationships between things. In the case of 1D>2D, you are “upshifting” to see patterns that aren’t visible. In the case of 3D>2D, you are “downshifting” to reduce complexity into something graspable.

The uncanny valley of essay quality (I only half believe this, but…). We tend to resonate essays that we can sense are quickly produced, or, essays that are masterpieces. But in the middle, it’s clearly took a lot of time, but the result or feeling is lacking.

Material: In addition to making the shiny dime explicit in the essay, it’s also grokked through supporting material (stories, anecdotes, theories, and facts). In many cases, the shiny dime is there, but it’s hiding between associated material that doesn’t quite support it. This is where we can tell them to add, cut, expand, or compress the units of their essay.

Rain was released on May 30th, 1966. I never thought of songs having birthdays, but could be neat to track culture events you care about, and then everyday, there’s a set of 5-10 things “On This Day” that are curated to you.

Every Oasis song is derivate of the Beatles song “Rain” (video).

May 1st, 2024

AVP as a microcosm of the 21st century technology dilemma.

90% of the meaning is in 10% of the words.

Death by convenience…

What are my favorite problems of the month? This always shifts. Worth tracking these in real-time to guide writing?

Hm, so if I use Sublime as a capture app, it means once a day I copy from here to Substack. And maybe any “aha’s” go straight here and skip handwriting. It reduces some busy work for sure.

Hello, Sublime! This is my first time logging into the mobile app. Wondering if there’s a value in going “direct to publish.” It forces me to write prose on the spot instead of leaving breadcrumbs. It forces me to write all day. I feel like I’ve had to learn this lesson 20 times. Maybe I’m dumb, or maybe it’s not a true conclusion. We’ll see. I also need to consolidate how digital logging jives with my new nifty analog system in the “decomposition” book.

New experiment; my iOS lock screen are “virtue cards.” Every time I open my phone, it shows me a virtue (currently 14 loaded in, they’re like mini-poems with key values I wan tot remember), and I can even tap to cycle through them. I made these really quickly in Canva.

Do monuments or buildings have revolutionary potential? How? My sense is that architecture is not a driver of culture, but a lagging reflection. At one point, architects could move the cultural needle, but I think that reality, if it ever actually existed beyond romanticism, is long gone, since probably before the 20th century. Architecture is unique from art in that it’s art+utility. In many ways, software has taken on this same function (it has an aesthetic to it, and it integrates into your life much in the way that buildings used to). I think the whole cultural relevance to architecture has retreated into the machine, and it’s more urgent than ever.

Did Kate Middleton disappear? Why? Did she die? Was she assassinated? Is she just embarrassed of the sickly way she looks? People are going paranoid in speculation. The only knowable thing is we’re at a point where it’s feasible for AI video to impersonate real celerities. This is part of the “trust flip.” We will get duped more and more, until we’re mostly duped and we no longer believe anything we don’t see in the flesh. This means that individuals can get hijacked by corporations or governments, or, they can simply retire and let their replica do the dog & pony show.

concrescence: the act of turning abstract potential into something tangible.

“This guy thinks” (proper reaction to a complex Miro board).

Went to a Sublime community talk today, which centered around how AI should or shouldn’t be integrated into the platform. I shared the idea that “creating over consuming” could be a guiding value. It’s a check you can use against every feature: even if this AI-generated summary is radically good, radically convenient, and everyone loves it, does it—if scaled—promote a community to create more and consume less? Or is it the opposite? If I paste a link and I know that an awesome summary will be auto-generated, maybe I get lazy and don’t feel pressure to share my reaction to it.

For social media style communities, it might be better to think of “matchmaking AI” instead of “generative AI.” If AI is creating text, it automates the need for the user to do it. Let creating always be in the hand of the user. Instead, AI can be used to help you place things in collections, to find cards relevant to yours, and to connect with people who share similar things.

I unpinned notification apps: email, Slack, iMessage, WhatsApp.

Checked my email again … 10 times in 4 hours, or every 25 minutes. This feels average, yet it’s also insane … how could I check it once a day? Would be interesting to have a “single shot” app. Basically, you’re allowed to use the thing ONCE, so when and how you check something matters.

My TikTok NPC essay captures the full phenomenon of our Internet crisis: influencers are taking on slavish, robotic personas to feed the dope-addled masses who want endlessly looping catch phrases.

Robots, hucksters, dope, and slang-parrots translates:

  • technological automation;

  • marketing, sales, influencers, etc.;

  • incentives that promote addiction, and;

  • mindlessness around language.

Instead of using Notion to track my budding essay ideas, I’m going to do it analog. Essay are ideas are fleeting, scarce, and expire so easily. Databases become burdens. These things are usually bloat that don’t even help you write or publish more. Once a month I archive my written list of leads and start over. It’s write or die.

Up at 3:30 am and back to sleep around 6. Had many, many mini dreams. Feels like this method (being awake for a few hours in the middle of the night) is a way to break into lucid dreams pretty easily.

My experiments with time are evolving. Phase 1 was to see what it was like to “get off the clocks”—what happens with no awareness of the time? I found myself budgeting time less. 2 months later, I still have my lock screen in Cambodian, my MacOS screensaver hides the time, and the system clock is analog. My watch/phone is now set to normal though, which isn’t as extreme, but I still see it a lot less. Now, the goal is to track/note when I DO know them time, and use that as a cue to return to the daily log, pause, and write about something. Also making a point to log any time I check email, and to write down any media rabbit holes I spiral down. The goal is to track it so I can see what’s actually going on.

Need to check out Milton’s Paradise Lost after hearing about it 3 times.

It takes time to write out “calendar views” in an analog bullet journal, but it’s still quicker than a digital system. The overall overhead of an analog system is a probably a lot less than a system of Notion databases (which can be endlessly tinkered). Plus, analog has the secondary benefit of using a pen.

  • A full archive of all my logs (WIP):

    • 2023: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12

    • 2022: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12

    • 2021: ## | ## | ## | ## | ## | ## | ## | ## | ## | ## | ## | 12