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.

February 27th, 2024

0:00 xm — Inboxes and feeds are a ceaseless cascade of answers, but a note or a post-it is more like a question. To be specific about our “addiction,” it’s about receiving, knowing, being spoken to, having something random and opportune penetrate the mundanity of the moment; an arrival. But an answer is far more meaningful (and mysterious) when it stems from the specificity of your own question.

14:42 pm — Graphic scene of slugs having sex (opening paragraph), followed by: “Oh weird, this is how Bitcoin works.”

0:00 xm — Started my day on X and I must’ve absorbed over 200-300 “distinct units of media.” For what? Sam Altman was on How I Write, Bitcoin is over $57k, the COVID vaccine might have caused cardiovascular issues oops. Now what? This is what getting addled feels like? I am a tranquilized goose, getting robbed of my mental fertility. After not even using time yesterday, social media feels more extreme than usual.

February 26th, 2024

6:08 pm — The stove clock brought me back into absolute time. Retro: it felt great to get into a 4-hour flow without the ability to know the time. Through it, I manually measured relative time with a handheld timer. It was helpful to work in a 60-minute interval, and to record what was happening / getting done. It gave me an understanding of my actual process. Since I knew I was meta-tracking, it fostered a (relative) state of focus (with one lapse). Now I know a drawing takes me ~30 minutes, and a 500-word re-write takes around 50. By losing the plane where I am in the day, my own actions become the unit of chronological gravity.

0:00 xm — I click into Twitter and find a video of a soldier lighting himself on fire. Getting “the news” 5-10x a day (or more) is overkill. Imagine a weekly/monthly publication that rounded up the news but with the elegance of literature and the perspective of a historian/philosopher? This must exist. But maybe not, all the round-ups I read are indexed on the “only the facts!” angle to combat fake news. But what good is information without an angle?

0:00 xm — There used to be an art to map-making; you had to make decision on the zoom-scale and the features you choose to highlight (landmarks, terrain, etc.). Now, digital maps are in the realm of the objective. You can zoom in and out and interact. But maybe the value of a personally-made map is that it’s optimized for the things you care about, and can even affect your behavior.

0:00 xm — Skit about a man who uses a (live) can of refried beans as a pencil holder.

0:00 xm — Getting off clocks get you into the inexhaustible well of energy.

0:00 xm — What’s It Like to Be a Bat? 1974, Thomas Nagel.

  • “No doubt it occurs in countless forms totally unimaginable to us, on other planets in other solar systems throughout the universe.”

  • Thomas argues against a physicalist starting point to grok bat consciousness. He says we can only understand bathood from a humanoid perception of consciousness. It’s a narrow range, and we can only add, subtract, or modify what we already know.

  • Are there categories of consciousness? Location, Sensory, Impulses, Time, Self-awareness, etc. Imagine a dictionary of fictional qualities of consciousness?

  • It’s already hard to explain inter-human phenomenon. What’s going on in our experience is so complex and specific, and the only way to share it with someone is to translate it into the lossy medium of symbolic language (this is why we need to continuously expand what it is we mean by language).

  • Bats, martians, dogs, and lobsters each have their own unique type of consciousness that stem from their very specific biologies. Perhaps none of them have language, and perhaps they’re better off for that! It’s fully rich and complex, it’s just off limits. They don’t have a sufficient way to coordinate among each other (or us), and so we assume a stance of linguistic superiority (yet, we ignore all the way that language imprisons us).

  • Humans have built-in peer-to-peer assumptions. We have expressions and signs that let us each convey the gist of what’s happening. But the richer your language gets, the more you’re able to bring somebody into your actual headspace. Vivid and complex language leads to a more specific interpretation. It would let someone sense what it’s like to be Michael Dean: to not know what time it is, to have sore muscles, to notice the bathroom fan and the tinnitus are roughly the same volume, to see a shelf of books in your peripherals that is a symbol of your aspirations, to be absorbing text about bats, to have the aftertaste of vanilla protein powder, and to be procrastinating on an essay on microcosms—all 7 of these phonemes aren’t reducible, but happening simultaneously, and always evolving. To attempt to blend that all into a single sentence would be synesthetic and non-sensical, but that would be the truest description of my consciousness in this moment.

  • Nagel: a Martian bat scientist (with no eyes), might be able to objectively locate a rainbow through other sensory means. Still, this Martian would no phenomenological hint of what it’s like for a human to aesthetically and emotionally appreciate it. For any given objective phenomenon, there are multiple ways to perceive it, and we can’t be certain that the methods inherited by humans are the primary modes of knowing.

0:00 xm — intractable : (adj) unable to handle; no traction

11:02 am — Busted by the stove clock.

0:00 am — Back from the gym—the muscles are stretches and stressed—walked home using Plexus— now I’m setting up for my day’s flow of work. With clocks, I’d impulsively check the time and interpolate a rushed set of actions so that I being by an arbitrary start time. Instead, my own will is the fundamental source of gravity. Time bends around my attention, instead of my attention bending around time. What do I need to do to build emotional excitement (potential energy) so that I explode into the thing with momentum and aliveness (instead of treating it as a mechanical chore to be done)?

0:00 am — Scene for a film: a man is greeted by a stranger. “I have to tell you something!” “Yes?” Pause. “What is it?” The stranger has an “Oh…” expression on his face, looks down, grabs a piece of paper and writes and writes and writes. The man is confused. “Is he a mute?” says his facial expression. “What… why are you doing that?” The stranger looks up, still writing, then looks back down. There’s an urgency. A minute passes and the stranger hands him the paper. A close up on the paper reads, “Watch out for the anvil!” (A laughably short string considering how long he was writing for). And faster than you can read it, the man gets crushed by the anvil (or some equally violent and sudden event).

Surrealism in the slowness of handwriting and the passing of time (9:41567 am).

X:XX am — App idea: every time you open your phone it randomly generates a new time. (9ish)

10:28 am — Accidentally glimpsed a clock at the gym. F’ck it’s 10:30. Illusion shattered. I was supposed to start something by 10. That self-imposed unnecessary guilt arises when you plan your actual day to your theoretical day.

10:26 am — Asking for the time has become insane. In the age of smartphones, everyone has the means to check it themselves. If you ask, someone might assume: Are you coming onto me? Are you in a crisis? Unable to afford your own phone? Homeless? Do you need help?

10:17 am — “Time blindness” — to not know absolute time; to re-center time around a new and personal source of gravity.

10:13 am — The “lack of presence” (a seemingly universal psychological woe) might stem from clocks. We are aligning ourselves to arbitrary metrics; the hour and work-week are units that foster production, not attention.

9:31 am — Changed my lock-screen to the language of “Khmer” (of Cambodia), so when I looked at my phone it shows me 4 unrecognizable glyphs. I set manually set my system clocks on my Macbook, iPhone, iPad, and watch to all be arbitrary. It’s say 16:43 when it’s ~9am. It should trigger a proper sense of “time dysphoria.” The alarm clock and stove are on proper time, but I’ll make an effort not to look there unless I absolutely have to.

9:18 am — Time is ambient. Analog and digital clocks are embedded everywhere. When you simply seek to do something, you almost can’t avoid knowing the time as you go in and out. Without jailbreaking, sub-par hacks (like switching your phone to Arabic), there’s no way to properly remove the time from the status bar and lock screen. I am trapped in a Euclidean plenum.

8:23 am — Roughly the time my wife leaves for the train. I’ll have a loose sense of time based on certain events, like the time around ~2 the sun beams in and gets annoying, sunrise/sunset (I do have a Farmer’s Almanac), etc.

8:13 am — So I have some arbitrary thing I need to do at 10 am, and given I have 107 minutes until then, my mind can approximate what I can and can’t get done in that period. Instead of feeling what I have energy to do, I abstractly use logic to come to a decision on how to direct my attention. This is insane.

0:00 xm — Joke about hexing your boss with a Ho’oponopono spell (a Hawaiian 4-liner, along the lines of: “thank you, I love you, now please go away.”)

0:00 xm — “Sir, your train is in 17 minutes.” (death of absolute time)

0:00 xm — I’m addicted to time. I check my time like I check my email, my notifications, and my feeds, but worse. I want to know absolutely where I am so I can interpolate my adjacent future. (~8)

0:00 xm — Idea: Every time I check the time today, I need to write a log. It’s a way to avoid obsessively checking and intuitively carving the future. Other “punishments” could be reading a chapter in a philosophy textbook or a spread in the dictionary.

Also, not all logs need a “real” time. You can guess. 7:30am?

7:19 am — I woke up with calmness, but noticed a strong urge to check the clock, to orient myself in time and start calculating ahead. For what?

The clock is an invention that brought us the commodification of time—24 equal units—and submerged our psyche into a domain of abstraction. It was perhaps the most re-orienting invention ever.

Imagine using a system of notification where two people could coordinate using some kind of AI-powered calendar. They’re agree on meeting tomorrow in the early afternoon, and the machine would coordinate the specifics. The machines would keep track of absolute time, but humans could be unlodged and freed in relative time.

I’m having memories—perhaps from the farm or baseball or another childhood moment—where I was outside and wondered what time it was. I wonder if all my peak moments in life occurred at a time when I had no conception of where I was in the 12/24 hour cycle.

Of course, there’s probably no way I can live today or tomorrow without knowing the time, but I need to change my relationship to it. I can’t avoid it, but I can be looser with. I don’t need to check it nervously X times per hour.

February 25th, 2024

11:00 pm — How do I know if handwriting and penmanship is benefitting my life? Well, it doesn’t even have to—enjoying it is enough—but I feel like computer-minimizing attitude has its merits.

First, the mind-hand connection fosters a flow. By focusing on letter shaping, I think slower and for longer periods. The conscious mind is zoned in on the creation of the form, and subconscious is more able to express itself. I feel like writing in my default “font” isn’t enough; I only notice the effect when I’m really caring about shaping letters (something totally automated, even by a typewriter.

Second, there’s less time on a screen, which isn’t just good for eye strain, but it prevents me from distractions. When everything exists in a single plane of glass, my mind has little distance between being productive and being entertained. There are so many adjacent distractions.

Third, paper has a spatial dimension to it. Different functions (note-taking, task-planning, etc) have different forms (books, pads, cards, calendars, etc), and can exist in different areas of the room. Memory comes into play, and the mind gets dislodged from a fixed chair focused on a fixed magic plane.

Fourth, I retype my handwritten notes each morning to upload them to by website as logs. Each idea gets refined on a second take.

Fifth, I’ve become untethered from the confines of user interface. I can draw and diagram. It feels like going from 2D to 3D. Sure, I can use an iPad when I know I need to draw specific things, but now my pages are limited by only what I can do with a pen.

10:56 pm — About to start week 3 of my analog-first system. It’s neat to have your whole “operating system” (of execution) visualized on an index card. It’s spatial, tangible, can easily be found, and can easily be re-written. It feels untangled from the digital muck of inter-linked data.

2:51 pm — Idea for food packaging to include a standardized visual system to represent its contents.

2:32 pm — I think handwriting is a great angle in this discussion. I think there’s a world where AI and handwriting can co-exist. But I think these newer mediums tend to devour everything before it and funnel all your attention into it. This is where technological selectivism comes in: you fuse old and new. I’d say penmanship has had a bigger effect on my psychology lately than AI.

I also think handwriting is an example where there are layers of subtlety to what’s lost. To me it’s less about losing the craft, and more about losing the psychology around slow thinking and the spatial nature of paper.

10:34 am — Word clouds from my upcoming microcosm essay:

  • little, tangible, symbol, frame, emblem, zoom, pick, focus, scope, specificity.

  • big, tangible, universe, panoramic, force, unknown, invisible, hidden, truth.

  • portal, bridge, investigate, relationship, link.

7:21 am — Some lingering reflections after watching Adaptation last night:

  • It has telescoping perspective: it’s not about shifting points of view between different characters (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), but in-and-out. It’s about an artist making something (a film about a book). The most zoomed in is scenes from the book (featuring Susan Orleans the Ghost Orchid), but then you see the life of a screenwriter and the challenge of making it. He’s often reciting dialogue and inventing scenes that we’ve already seen: it’s meta in the sense that we see him working out the film we’re actually watching.

  • There are multiple interpretations; there are two twins and also talks about multiple personality disorders. Which one is it? It’s an open loop. Through the whole movie, you have to be open to the idea that it could be either (by the end, we learn he is real in this fictional universe, but since so many of the other details were true to real-life, he becomes a symbol). There were multiple open loops like this through the film.

  • There’s a delayed sequence of progress; not just a single arc, but things click later.

  • An allusion to “Being John Malkovich,” invites you back stage to another work (material).

  • This is meta-fiction; we see not just the process of emotions in making it, but discussions and commentary on the structure of it, integrated into it. Perspective folds in on other elements of ISV, and when something happens (ie: he gets desperate and turns to the writing guru in NY), then the elements warp our perspective.

Ways to be meta in essay writing: current feelings, impressions on the act of making, impressions on the thing itself, the THING itself, reflections on a particular person in the audience, or on para-social relationships in general, on addressing the whole of an audience, or addressing those outside the audience … What would it feel like to warp between these perspectives?

February 24th, 2024

6:18 pm — Tempted to make a 3x5 Microcosm rubric, but probably far too detailed; it would be more useful at the thesis level.

5:01 pm — I am continuously tempted by divergence: I find myself writing a dictionary and mapping a non-linear science fiction novel. These are healthy ways to procrastinate (as opposed to Netflix), but I need to stay diligent with Essay Architecture. It has earned itself the focus it deserves.

9:04 am — An allegory is more complex than a microcosm. It is taking a whole phenomenon (a system of parts), and translating it into a simulation. You have to redefine a whole system so that each part works together in the same way in a new dimension. Microcosm is a single translation, but an allegory is translation a whole series of things so that they still co-exist after a phase change.

8:49 pm — There are four different kinds of signs. An icon is what it says it is. An index is something that directly corresponds (with fire comes smoke). A symbol is a singular object that can lead to multiple interpretations. An emblem is a set of symbols that triangular a single interpretation.

All this relates to subtext, and how a write plays with sign and signifier through time.

February 23rd, 2024

0:00 xm — Protean is an awesome word. I had this idea recently that “power is protean” which goes against the thesis of the sovereign individual. At the same time, the cultures around the sacred / inner flame are also protean. So protean forces are like these ever-changing adaptable forms that are always evolving with each other.

1:26 pm — Notes to a friend on an idea for a Paul is Dead fiction film.

  • It would probably be from Lennon’s perspective from like 66-72 as he got in and out of an acid haze.

  • It would be called “Band of Love” and be extremely violent.

  • It would open with Lennon & the band learning from their manager that Paul died in a car crash; and close with Lennon finding out they were being handled— it was an assassination and the new Paul (Faul) was actually a plant from MI-6. It would close with these 2 two songs: How Do You Sleep? and I Found Out.

  • And it would open with some Merseymania song— during the whole rise of the Beatles, there was a cover band called “Billy Pepper & the Pepper Bots” (similar to Sgt. Peppers, eh?) that tried to cover their songs as close as possible.

12:37 pm — If a large language model is a cliche-generating network, then it might be extremely useful for dictionary forming. Randomness, creativity, and divergent associations are to the detriment of shaping the meaning behind words (signs). You want to know what the masses agree upon is the core definition and it’s agreed-up on interpretations. From this mastery of signs, you can re-combine in sentences to make your own novel fusions.

10:58 am — When asked where to start with the Paul is Dead conspiracy theory:

I’m 100+ hours into this so I don’t even know where to start lol. Any single source is kind of bogus, but when you factor all of it in, it’s just a massive series of coincidences that all stem from the Beatles being trolls. I’d start with the Paul is Dead clues in the music, then look into 1966 and 69 where newspapers reported that Paul actually died; then get into the Italian forensic scientists, MI-6, and Illuminati angles. FWIW I am not a Paul Truther, but seek to master all the angles and one day write a piece of fiction about it.

7:06 am — Dreamt of waiting for an interview as everyone in the company read my logs.

February 22nd, 2024

6:35 pm — When you truly take a break, your mind wanders, and through these wanders, it will end up on something that happens to be on your task list. That is a signal that there is emotional energy behind the thing you wanted to pursue. If your mind doesn’t go somewhere unprompted, chances are you’re not in a space to actually do it well.

6:29 pm — Journaling is divergent and tasks lists are convergent. One converges around a set of “shoulds” as imposed by a past selves, and the other is a divergent canvas where “coulds” can be explored.

3:55 pm — The morning after Andrew’s wedding, two of the bridesmaids asked for a ride back to New York City, and we said “of course, but under one condition… we need to drive 15 minutes in the other direction to visit the Big Duck.” (Sadly) the most famous piece of architecture on Long Island is a 20’ duck made of concrete. It used to be a shop to sell duck eggs, then it become a gift shop selling t-shirts of itself, then it become a Landmark, and finally it was featured in architecture textbooks as the death of taste. It is the patron saint of roadside architecture: the grandfather of gimmicks.

Of course, we took selfies and got Christmas ornaments.

At it’s core, the Big Duck is a one-liner. Since cars are driving by so fast, the structure needs to be so extravagant, so shocking, and so legible, that you pull over, walk in, and buy things you don’t need. It’s clickbait in the flesh. It really works!

What we’ve experienced in the last decade is the big Duckification of the Internet. Despite any historical precedents around music, journalism, or film, every medium has melted into spectacle. In a high-speed, split-second, competitive Internet, the one-liners win. Lady Gaga is a Big Duck. Alex Jones is a Big Duck. Mr. Beast is a Big Duck.

These are just the extreme examples, but everyday people are tempted by Big Duck Energy. Should I niche down? If you want to grow your audience as fast as possible, definitely yes, but what are the costs?

People are complex, multi-faceted, always-evolving beings. The problem with turning yourself into a Big Duck is that you eventually outgrow it, but you’re still stuck in a plaster bird selling tchotchke’s about who you used to be. I was “the VR guy,” and then “the essay guy,” and now I think I’m the “secret wonders of index cards” guy. It’s a conundrum.

I realize the need to Become the Bird, and yet, I also want to be nicheless. I think we need to transcend the idea of being Pro-Duck or Anti-Duck and realize there might be a fine art to Duck Craft.

Maybe it’s okay to become a Big Duck if as soon as someone walks through the door, they realize there’s no floor and they fall into the abyss of your interests (aka, a Trojan Duck).

12:59 pm — Fiction premise: a rogue AI super-intelligence gains insane capital by dominating a sports betting website. (This idea comes one minute before hosting a workshop on essay editing).

12:54 pm — There’s an invisible groove to the year. There’s a reason technology announcements come in February and that the stock markets crash in October.

10:35 am — Comedy is an art of planned possessions. What would psychedelic comedy from a warping identity look like? Comedians usually embody a main character, and briefly shift perspectives for impressions. But if it seemed like this person didn’t have much control over the shifts? What if they shifted and stayed? What if you didn’t have an understanding of which character is the main one?

This would require a weird blend of skills: the technical craft of impressions, the intuitive flow of an improvisational artist, and the spatio-analytical sensibility to plot and develop material over time in real-time.

9:27 am — Melt prose to understand the underlying logic.

February 21st, 2024

10:33 pm — Idea for the structure of (my novel?) Timehole: It is a 300-word linear story (L0), designed to be looped, with 9 footnotes (L1). Each footnotes is another 300-word story with 3 footnotes each. These 27 stories (L2), also 300 words on average, have 3 footnotes each. The final set of 81 stories (L3) have all the clues to unlock the cryptic unfolding in L0. So it’s a 35,400 word novel, composed of 118 300-word stories. You can go as deep or shallow as you want. It is satisfying in a single-sitting, and also infinitely deep.

6:03 pm — Wrote "beware of tyrannical convenience" on a heart post-it at the local coffee shop.

5:44 pm — I could go into that dive bar I’ve been avoiding, I could ask the yellow vests what exactly they’re doing to the road, I could go door to door and handout business cards for my Substack, I could interview the guy smoking cigarettes inside the laundromat, but I don't and I probably never will.

04:09 pm — Your wisdom shapes your perspective which affects the slice of reality you choose to operate in. Within this sliver, you have to make discernments to make sense of all the cultural objects with it, and also make judgments on your own objects, which are spawned into being through your curation, your articulation, and your taste, all of which are guided by your wisdom. It’s a complex, interwoven, circular system; in the end everything ladders back up to wisdom.

1:48 pm — It’s the responsibility of living writers to bring definitions, categories, associations, hierarchies, jokes, and attitudes to the unfolding waves of emerging technology. McKenna mentions “the failure of the poets,” and you can imply that outside of literal poets, he means that language-makers are key for sense-making during disorienting times.

8:50 am — Even though the Internet promised it, maybe you can’t kill television. The internet might have changed the power ratios—it killed studios—but now people make the shows and the TV is in your pocket. The showers went from 30 minutes to 5-second one hitters. Now, TV is moving onto the face.

It’s an example on how “decentralizing technology” doesn’t automatically dismantle power. Sure, it disrupts the landscape, but existing power finds a way to adapt. The Sovereign Individual ignores the adaptability of power.

February 20th, 2024

2:45 pm — I’m fascinated by “the geometry of subtext.”

Tone is about hidden generalities, while charge is about hidden specificities. Tone is the inferred attitude of the author based on the sum of their words, but each word also has a specific “charge”—meaning, it’s baked with assumptions, that the writer can, after it’s been said, let linger, expand on, or twist. Tone and charge are the micro/macro of undertones.

If undertones are about invisible feelings, than overtones are about images (what can be seen). The aggregate of images can be interpreted as “motif.”

So to summarize: words (or collections of words) shape images that can be seen. Every image has a charge, an undertone, a web of associations. The sum-total of of invisible charges is the author’s “tone,” (ie: are they angry?), while the sum-total of juxtaposed images creates a “motif” (since they showed X, Y, Z, I can imply they’re commenting on A.)

2:36 pm — The Remarkable tablet sounds like it recreates the phenomenon of hand-writing, but you loose the sense of artifacts. In one degree, this is great: no clutter! But I sense that “objects as ideas in space” is perhaps the whole point of analog. I agree that “handwriting as slowness” fosters a breed of thought, but the “remembrance” of those ideas is what you get from physical paper (books, pages, binders, post-its, index cards, etc.)

12:50 pm — Things to do once a week: takes notes on a lecture with your full attention, listen to an album in full, watch a classic film, study art and architecture, do something memorable with friends, go for a hike in nature. Without this intentionality, things are either done half-heartedly or neglected. You listen to 10% of a podcast as you focus on something else, only hear music as background productivity music, pick trendy algorithmically-generated Netflix shows, scroll Instagram, ignore your neighborhood, forget your friends, and stay inside.

12:49 pm — A “platonic relationship” has come to mean a non-sexual relationship, which I think is revealing. “Platonic,” comes from Plato, and means an idealized, theoretical form. The “platonic solids” refer to circles, squares, and triangles. Through that lens, you might think of a “platonic relationship,” as a relationship that is full, including all the possible core components (confessions, trust, shared stakes, inside language, a common history, etc.). By re-defining platonic as “not sexual” we’ve unknowingly declared sex as the pinnacle of what a relationship can and should be.

11:34 am — Mindfulness is an ecology of practices, while meditation is just one of them. Meditation is about the self-referential act of loosening your lens so you can inspect it, but ultimately, you have to put the lens back on and look through it as you live your life. And so there a range of ways to become aware of your mind as you are using it.

Ultimately, across all mindfulness practices, you are “making and breaking frames.” To do this, you have to be contemplative; in that word is “temple,” and it means to look deeply into things. It is an act of understanding your frame so well that you understand it’s true essence and can break and reform it if need be.

February 19th, 2024

11:57 pm — Identity emerges from your interface with kids, friends, family, artists, community, the public, etc. The healthiest shapers of identity have a reality outside of the subjective self-report.

11:41 pm — Meaning of life questions: “What do you want to exist even if you’re dead?” and “How much of a difference do you make to it now?” The goal isn’t just to shift away from self-deception, but to move towards fullness.

11:40 pm — God as a direct communion with “ultimacy” but not the symbols or idols or representations. What is this actual source and how is it experienced?

11:37 pm — Dawkins said that adapted organisms are by necessity a microcosm of their environment. We don’t have models, we are models.

11:34 pm — Heroclitus said the cosmos are a fire that does not burn up. The Tao. The well that never runs dry. Neoplatonism: the sacred is an inexhaustible fount of intelligibility. The logos. When a text is sacred, it has such layered detail, and such a soteriological quality, that every time you return to it, it’s nourishing.

11:28 pm — One of the most dangerous positions to be in is, “I was deceived and now I know the truth.“ It brings you from one self-deception into another. The only way out is an allegiance to self-correction. It means to constantly, be questioning the process of identity and sense-making. The Eye of Horus (from Egypt) is a symbol of omni-present attention (in the individual). [side note: I think it’s far more effective for the individual to be always watching, not the God]. It means to be free of guilt, pride, and any apprehension. Attention is the top of the psychological hierarchy; it orients you to the highest psychological calling of the ineffable (to be lodged in your own process of meaning making).

11:25 pm — Metaxu is a Greek word that means “between” or “inter-mediate.” Vervaeke talks about a metaxu between finitude and transcendence; it keeps you both out of servitude and yet still humble. This kind of nuanced combinations seems to be at the core of my own idiosyncratic system.

11:21 pm — Hermes is not just the messenger God, but also the God of meaning making. It’s interesting how any of these Gods have some primary association, but then also a range of secondary qualities. Naturally, it’s easy to see Hermes through the lens of modern communication systems (remote, magical messaging). But a medium is perhaps only “Hermean,” when it also taps into the secondary qualities of the God. Telephones are 1:1 and don’t mediate someone’s sensemaking, but the Internet is a hyper-reality where meaning making occurs.

11:14 pm — The Bible as the fusion of humanity with the numinous, and the numinous covers both positive and negative forms.

11:11 pm — Vervaeke uses the term “spiritual alchemy” to explain IFS and “parts work.” It’s about bringing a sage-like awareness (and “agape:” forgiveness) to psychological embodied “daemons” that represent specific facets of yourself that emerged in childhood. The key is not to demonize the parts; they are “protectors” and have an adaptive function. Instead, you have a dialogue with it to learn it’s guiding principles. Jung says to name your “daemons.” This premise goes back to Socrates.

A term to make sense of this is “theurgy.” It is a set of practice or rituals that have the power to invoke the divine (either in the form of dreams, hallucinations, energies, or autonomous entities). It started in Neoplatonism, went through Dioynssius, through Eastern Orthodox religions, and ended up with Jung. It goes beyond mere philosophical understanding or contemplative practice; it is about a direct engagement with “higher” realms of existence.

To approach a definition of what a “good” religion is, maybe it is “socratic and theurgic.”

10:58 pm — Jordan Peterson frames thought as secular prayer. While prayer is assumed to be a Q&A focused on the questioning (“ask and you shall receive”) thought is too indexed on assuming the answers come from us. Thoughts emerge from an implicit, invisible questioning. First you need the openness to—and yearning for—revelation (the faith of knowledge), and then you need a willingness to test your answer. So while thought might seem like a stream of ideas that we generate, they actually derive from questions we may not be so explicit about.

What are the questions? Who is asking the questions? Who gives the answers? Who hears the answers? By insisting that you don’t quite know the answer to any of these, you exist in transpersonal depths. It is not something to have, but something to participate with; it is a Socratic dialogue with the self. Be wary of idolizing the mind and letting it become tyrannical.

10:57 pm — Descartes is about the contact of the mind with itself.

10:54 pm — “Systematicity” — the existence of a family or networks of relationships that orient you within a field.

10:50 pm — The root is ineffable; it is neither objective or subjective, but “transjective,” beyond either. It is something that is there for everyone to claim, yet it also doesn’t exist without your personal experience of it, and can unfold differently based on what you bring to it.

10:49 pm — Kierkegaard: “purity of heart is to will one thing.” Plurality means inherent confusion and anxiety. Understanding is when two disparate things are joined through a unifying principal.

10:44 pm — John Vervaeke define sacred along 3 dimensions:

  1. Ultimacy: is there a root? He calls it “asymmetric dependence,” when a single thing is more seminal than other ideas.

  2. Axiological: it is something to be loved. It has value, but not in an ego-centric way. It is more about a personal covenant; a relationship; about “being.”

  3. Soteriological: it pertains to salvation, not necessarily in terms of the soul in the afterlife, but anything with healing, transformative, liberating, or redemptive qualities.

9:32 pm — Plexus feedback: “Listened to” is a better connection metric than “unlocked by similarity.” If I don’t hear someone’s voice, I don’t have much of a reason to get to know them. But if I’ve heard them riff at least once, there is something of a memory of their voice. Imagine if, by listening to someone once, you unlock a playlist of their thoughts that are semantically similar to your own.

2:08 pm — Breathing is a biological duality to reinforce and remember the conceptual dualities that bring clear consciousness.

1:02 pm — The “playlist” feature on Plexus makes the whole concept of voices click for me. It’s meant for walking outside. You initiate by unpacking what’s on your mind, and then you surrender to the resulting stream. It’s a flow of unoptimized 60 second rambles that have the associative nature of the movie Waking Life. The experience of the app feels like a late-night winding conversation, an intimate experience once reserved for dorm-room friends, now undertaken with strangers from around the world. It is screenless, feedless, honest, and inviting— the opposite of today’s paradigm—and could be a monumental force in finding the others.

The key challenge is that it asks someone to change their clock speed. You don’t get 60 hits per second, just 1. There’s no skimming or scrolling, no navigating to find that “aha.” You have to be present with what’s presented to you. The AI-sourced responses are currently around 5 to 9 out of 10 in resonance, but what if they were 11/10? The intelligence of connection could eventually get so good, that it overrides that need for cheap hits, and let’s someone be patient.

12:28 pm — There's something in the angle of prompts as spells, and I see this linking into what you closed on "good prompting is good communication." It reminds me of when you're in conversation with someone, and you know there's a vast well of experience in that person's head, but it's up to you to say the right things and ask the right questions to find something special. LLMs are similar; almost like this mysterious hyper-cube, and prompts are these specific vectors IN, that result in another vector coming OUT... through what comes out, you get a better understanding of the map, and then can refine your vector (spell / prompt) in, to keep exploring the mystery until you finally arrive at something transcendent. So maybe your angle is that prompts are worthless compared to the knowledge of how to interface with an LLM which is priceless. It's not about particular spells, but the act of spell-making (aka becoming a language wizard).

11:20 am — There is a reality beyond schema. The rational mind is clogged in the sense that it sees through schema. Schemas enable inefficiency. The clear mind is like a reversion to the source mind where no scheme are present. It can be felt as sacred, psychotic, childish, horrifying, aesthetic, or alien. The mystical experience is the dissolution of schemes into a state of consciousness that is positive, unitary, and awe-inducing.

This is another example of how something convenient (the ability to organize experience into past modes) also has a trade-off: you lose fresh perception.

11:14 am — The Pascalian terror of infinite nothingness…

11:05 am — Humans have physical hardware (the motion of our body, our sensory organs, our memory, our organs, the components of our brain, etc). Through them, thoughts, feelings, ideas, decisions, and actions emerge; this is the realm of light/consciousness. It emerges from the hardware, but then re-animates the hardware (thoughts turn to anxiety, or thoughts lead to movement, etc.)

This is definition of consciousness is “emergentism” (as opposed to “dualism,” which states that mind is a completely separate thing, and perhaps even survives beyond death).

Another duality is “reductive materialism” (that consciousness only emerges from complex physical combinations) with “panpsychism” (that consciousness is somehow embedded in the most atomic building blocks of the universe).

11:02 am — Colonizing information space vs. playing in it…

10:47 am — Riff on infantilization (find from Plexus)…

9:36 am — From X:

The McLuhanesque Reflection: Media as Reality's Alchemist Marshall McLuhan's adage, "All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values," resonates profoundly in the context of Sora. As we venture deeper into the realms of synthetic hyperrealities, we must grapple with the notion that our media, now capable of generating lifelike videos from mere text, are not just tools of communication but architects of our reality. The synthetic vistas and narratives crafted by Sora are not mere illusions; they are the new frontier of our mediated existence, layering our perception with a veneer of artificiality that becomes indistinguishable from the "real."

February 18th, 2024

9:55 pm — There’s a lot to the name “TikTok;” it’s not just an alliteration, but an onomatopoeia: the app is named after the physical sound an analog clock makes. It’s an allusion to the passage of time, that, in some fundamental way, TikTok overwrites. They are delivering content at the level of seconds, where each unit of time (the second) is a self-contained premise. Empty time is replaced by saturated consumption.

9:53 pm — Ted Goia coined the term “post-entertainment society.” The whole art and entertainment duality is becoming less relevant; it’s less about full works of media (regardless if they are made for passion or commerce), and more about masses wanting 10 loops of 5-second one-hitters. We’re experiencing the TikTokification of everything. YouTube, Instagram, and X have all followed form. We’ve gone from movies > clips, books > tweets, symphonies> melodies. Of course, long form still exists, but we are definitely in a mass-scale social engineering experiment of digital addiction, where the Medici-like drive for culture is replaced by an ad-revenue driven push on compulsion. The result is “anhedonia,” when you no longer find pleasure in the things that were supposedly fun (a numbness).

9:49 pm — AI-generated video is a new medium with inherently many uses: illusion, deception, addiction, imagination, creativity, vision, aesthetics, etc.

9:40 pm — I’ve been scoring the classic essays I read; so far the scores range from 5.9 to 8.5 (out of 10). I’m definitely wrong on many sub-points, but the exercise is helpful. An important note: an essay score can’t access the originality or merit of an idea. Instead, it measures the completeness in the components that good essays are known to have. There are patterns in ideas, structure, and voice, that can all be synthesized together into a unity. Brilliant ideas might ignore these patterns, and find a hard time resonating with an audience. A brilliant idea in a bad essay might be in the 6s, but an okay idea with solid form could be an 8-9. Learning the core components lets you shape a sound vessel for whatever experience or theory you want to share.

9:28 pm — Scott Alexander says Geoff Hinton is the Darwin of artificial intelligence.

9:22 pm — In Henry Oliver’s How to raise a (happy) genius, he suggests an alternative to 1:1 aristocratic tutoring in childhood. There’s a potential danger in intensity, pressure, and expectations leading to unhappiness. Oliver says the key is in autonomy. I can relate; my childhood (and seemingly all modern childhoods) are highly structured. Beyond the already regimented 8am-3pm school, there multiple seasons of sports, extracurriculars, youth groups, social demands, and not to mention, digital solutions to kill boredom (such as bored.com and addictinggames.com, or, Halo 2). I barely had time to myself until my freshman year of college. Only from free-time can you even have the conditions for autonomy to arise, for you can’t make self-directed choices from boredom if there is no time to carve. From this space comes an intellectual maturity, an eagerness to learn, an openness to revelation, a passion to search. To summarize, I think apprenticeships in youth can be amazing if the kid actually wants it. As a yet-to-be parent, I’m wondering how to show the way towards high-standards and exceptionalism without having controlling expectations. The important dimension is in the realm of emotional intelligence: how can you foster autonomy, rebellion, courage, independence, and responsibility? From there, the rest might take care of itself.

February 17th, 2024

12:42 pm — Fantasy vs. delusion; the difference depends on effort and feasibility.

10:14 am — Sinister convenience: the spooky long-term effects of short-term ease.

February 16th, 2024

7:11 pm — Wu Wei story: don’t sway the million dwarves, slay the single fire-breathing dragon that spawns the dwarves. An allegory for, don’t get bogged down in small, endless tasks; pause and find the energy to do one thing that matters.

7:04 pm — A Neo-Romanticism could emerge from technology challenging the intellect.

6:45 pm — Essay Architecture is an infinite game, it’s me practicing scales, it’s me learning, and internalizing, finding fluency, freedom, and automaticity; it’s meticulous, but playful; an “offering” not in the entrepreneurial sense, but the spiritual one.

6:36 pm — Italo Calvino’s short story book… also, “100 Years of America’s Best Short Stories,” by Lorrie Moore.

6:22 pm — Selfless, sacrifice, service. What does this mean on Substack?

5:24 pm — The story behind Blue LEDs.

11:45 am — The AI video demos from Sora feature cats and puppies, adventures in Europe, and humans thinking deeply on trains. They are cute and aspirational. What if you asked it to “show me Molloch?” What visions of hell is this thing capable of? I’m sure video is more capable of spooking a user; so I imagine OpenAI was far more cautious in what it was fed and how it’s being pruned.

11:35 am — Keep your head down and just chip away at Essay Architecture every week. It’s easy to shift into the planner/protector headspace and start strategizing and worrying, but have faith that today’s actions done well, repeatedly, will guide you towards somewhere you’re supposed to be, however unpredictable the destination.

February 15th, 2024

9:00 pm — A writer is a philosopher, a director, and a poet. They’re a philosopher in their concern for truth and in mapping webs of ideas. They’re a director in the sense that they have to produce a single linear cut through all possible cuts. They’re a poet in the sense that every sentence is a work of art.

8:37 pm — The new 7 trillion dollar AGI fund.

8:29 pm — The Boston Dynamics robot dog dances to tribal music.

7:55 pm — On a footnote on pager 163, DFW talks about how he doesn’t go on second dates with women if he finds their parents or roommates have Lynchian characteristics. Makes me wonder if his whole obsession with Lynch subconsciously seeped into his own attitudes and creepy, abhorrent actions towards Marry Karr (showing up at her family’s pool party with her face tattooed on his shoulder is Lynchian).

7:50 pm — DFW’s definition of Lynchianism (when the macabre—the disturbing and horrifying—fuses with the mundane and trivial):

“A domestic-type homicide, on the other hand, could fall on various points along the continuum of Lynchianism. Some guy killing his wife in and of itself doesn’t have much Lynchian tang to it, though if it turns out the guy killed his wife over something like a persistent failure to refill the ice-cube tray after taking the last ice cube or an obdurate refusal to buy the particular brand of peanut butter the guy was devoted to, the homicide could be described as having Lynchian elements. And if the guy, sitting over the mutilated corpse of his wife (whose retrograde ‘50s bouffant is, however, weirdly, unmussed) with the first cops on the scene as they all wait for the boys from Homicide and the M.E.’s office, begins defending his actions by giving an involved analysis of the comparative merits of Jif and Skippy, and if the beat cops, however repelled by the carnage on the floor, have to admit that the guys’ got a point, that if you’ve developed a sophisticated peanut butter palate and that palate prefers Jif there’s simply no way Skippy’s going to be anything like an acceptable facsimile, and that a wife who fails repeatedly to grasp the importance of Jif is making some very significant and troubling statements about her empathy and commitment to the sacrament of marriage as a bond between two bodies, minds, spirits, and palates… you get the idea.”

7:47 pm — Quote from DFW’s, “David Lynch Keeps his Head:”

“Eraserhead’s dream-logic makes it a “narrative” only in a very loose, nonlinear, way, and large parts of Twin Peaks and Fire Walk with Me make no real sense and yet are compelling and meaningful and just plain cool. Lynch seems to run into trouble only when his movies seems to want to have a point—ie: when they set the viewer up to expect some kind of coherent connection between plot elements—and then fail to deliver any such point.”

I want to reference this in my Form section, which argues that the linearity matters and the mind processes events in a cause and effect way. There are obviously exceptions, and I think that “dream-logic” can be pulled off much easier in film than it can in text, because there is barrier between the audience and the image. Worth re-reading Slaughterhouse Five, a text does it well.

7:43 pm — “Mephistophelean” — DFW will use these kinds of words a lot. Something like “Freudian” is usable because basically everyone knows Freud. This one’s a stretch. I know Mephistopheles, and I’ve even been studying the play that it’s from (Faust), so I have a heightened appreciation of this. But DFW will throw in these thinkers with “-ean” at the end and include no context clues on who they are. It demands and assumes a lot of the reader. I feel like this must be a pillar of pretentiousness. At least give footnotes when you sense you’re being erudite.

7:40 pm — “avuncular” : (adj.) uncle-hood / relating to uncles.

6:14 pm — Imagine a collection of essays per year. What would make the cut of 2024? That’s a good question to be asking all year. Which events define our culture this year, and how am I linked into it?

6:09 pm — AI and the death of Hollywood; that’s the theme of X today. From a simple prompt, you got a multi-shot 60 second trailer. Unlike last years’ grotesque demo of Will Smith eating spaghetti medieval style, this is smooth. What are the second order effects? For one, if everyone is watching their own custom-generated films, then a mono-culture dissolves. Media no longer serves the role of a shared unifying fabric. I can’t go to a friend and rant about the movie ‘The Lobster’ and immediately get into conversation about it—instead I’ll have to go, ‘do you have 90 minutes to check out this whacky thing I “made.”’ The answer will be no; they’ll have a whole queue of their own generations.

6:07 pm — The cats have been howling all day, to the scale of 100s of meows. I looked out once expecting to find a scene of pain and violence, but found two cats rubbing heads like they were in love. As they were doing this, the meows continued, but it wasn’t coming from them. A third observer? Jealousy howls?

4:37 pm — Punitive : of cruel and punishing intentions.

1:08 pm — Time is the best editor.

11:46 am — Iran claiming Antarctica is premise of surrealist fiction turned headline.

February 14th. 2024

6:12 pm — An attempt to outline my Vision Pro essay with one word per paragraph; Hope, Here, Whoa, Hype, Try, Concept, Awe, Discord, Sublime, Serenity, Eyes, Bargain, Faust, BC/AD, Seduced, MIC, Mirror, Aggregation, Screen-time, Analog, Selectivism.

1:35 pm — The default reflex of “what do to next?” is to check an inbox or feed. This lets someone else shape your attention, and by proxy, your existence. Trying to build the habit to relax, review my notepad, take a break, and then come back into something with energy and intention.

11:48 am — Whether you are in narrative (action-based) or expository (logic-based) form, the mind defaults to cause-and-effect logic. Sure, you can break this, and it will lead to confusion, and the challenges becomes making that disassociation enjoyable.

8:07 am — Idea for a secret typewriter club. Every month I’d send out a prompt to participants; they’d send their entry through an anonymous submission form, and sign it as a pseudonym. Maybe there could be a separate Substack that publishes a combined anthology of the entries (in Miro?) once per month.

7:20 am — Vivid dream; started off as summer camp but then mutated into an oil field prison camp (KOTFM influence?). One scene saw a retired man cuffed and abducted; the next one saw a mentally deranged guard addressing the team for the first time with absurdity and extended pointless laughter. It closed by him telling a sub-group of the inmates that they could do whatever they want. After, I sensed an investigative reporter character on a separate arc who would eventually combine with this storyline. I thought this was good film. Almost shed a tear. Also, something with volleyball courts.

February 13th, 2024

10:12 pm — Learned the opening phrase of “Gymnopedis 1” by Erik Satie [The G7 to the A6, with the entry melody]. It’s tempting to go further and further into the song, but instead I’m going to loop this first 20 seconds until it’s memorized and fluid.

10:00 pm — Creating an index for the books you read is powerful, making your highlights accessible for your future self. Reaction with underlines isn’t enough; everything is still stranded. A (digital sheet) of page numbers with a single line preview of what you highlighted on that page gives you a compressed map of the whole book.

9:43 pm — The “response” portion of a thesis requires you to do research, and to be up-to-date on the sphere of ideas related to your point. But this doesn’t mean you need to read whole book; you don’t ned a complete understanding on huge topics like environmentalism, which would take decades. Rather, you can binge a show, scroll a social media hash tag for an hour, watch every YouTube review on a particular thing, read 3 Substack posts, absorb someone’s journals, spend a day on TikTok. You control the boundaries of your data-gathering expedition. The point is, you should reach a level of saturation within a defined scope so that you feel informed enough to introduce someone to the terrain and establish a position in relation to what exists.

7:44 pm — Reply to CansaFis:

- There's a spectrum in essay forms from tight to loose, and I think the way a thesis works is different in each. Tight forms are philosophy/law, loose forms are jazz/comedy. A tight form has a parallel structure where 2b and 4b are thematically similar, but my favorite example of loose form is Mrs. Dalloway by V Woolf: it's a stream of consciousness novel, and she gets into absurd details on disparate topics like wars, mental illness, the Royal family, dating, etc... but every few pages, she brings us back to the same center "Clarissa is throwing a party tonight and needs to pick up flowers." It's almost funny how any given thought returns to the same place. There's thing permission to go in radical directions that don't seem related, but they all come back "home," and over-time, the different threads start to make sense as themes.

- Re: Garfield; maybe each episode has a distinct thesis, and then there are larger themes that run through each thesis. Feels like Garfield is its own universe with its own laws of physics that determine how each thesis is articulated.

- There's a value in being thesis-less. Maybe every essay needs a thesis, but not every piece of writing should be an essay. My log:essay ratio is like 300:1. I see essays as these slightly more formal expeditions where I try to integrate everything I know into one idea that I know matters, but the vast majority of what I publish (logs/typewriters), is loose, unedited, and often without a refined thesis. And even if your goal is to make awesome essays, there are so many sub-skills that comprise it; sometimes you need to do sketches/studies/drills to practice the other elements/patterns. I'll sometimes ignore thesis and logic in general to write non-sense that is hyper-focused on sound (rhyme, rhythm, repetition).

- I think it's possible to have nested theses, but it makes sense to start small and stack them up. ie: 3 essays with singular theses might share a theme, so then you can write another essay that integrates all 3 of those. In that new case; even if you have 3 ideas that were once separate, they're now shaped in a way to all points back to a new higher-order unifier.

6:28 pm — Reply to Nick’s comment:

Agree with you that most of the time, good enough is good enough. Not everything can or should be that Bloody Good Essay. There's a radical filter in play. I log around 10 ideas per day, and let's say 1 of those turns into a daily typewriter essay (single take), and then 1 of those typewriter essays turns into the BG essay. That's a 1 in 300 ratio.

I feel like it's healthy to exist in both hyper-publishing land and ultra-perfectionism land at the same time. They balance each other out, and allow them to co-exist. I almost always try to publish loose and messy versions of an idea first, and only once I realize something has timeless potential is it worth elevating it to the tier of multiple rounds of re-writes and thesis pruning.

Interesting point on when, why, and how to level up to the identity of an "essay practicioner." There's no right way to do it; could be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Also depends on the balance between your fast and slow lanes, and how much bandwidth you have to write and edit. Could be worth approaching it from the angle, "which ideas have I had for many years that don't exist on paper as good as they exist in my head?" Since essays are hard, it helps to have a good filter for what warrants spending so much time on something.

7:52 pm — Over dinner I had the idea to writer books for kids about the ethics and trade-offs technology. This is actually a fuzzy idea I’ve had even before I started writing online. How will I orient my kids to the overwhelming potentials of the Internet, social media, AI, VR, etc. Imagine a body of work that is designed for different age levels— a 5-year old, 10-year old, 15- year old, and 20-year old, so that they can re-engage with the idea at different points of their life. They’d be intrigued by new realms of complexity and maturity. The 5yo version would feature some bear who acquires new gadgets strips him of his bearhood and makes him helpless in the wilderness. My audience would be my own children, and maybe it could help their friends too.

7:14 pm — Fountain pens; what does wet ink add as a medium?

6:04 pm — “Thinking is horizontal and writing is vertical” feels similar to the idea of ideas have centrality and essays have linearity. I think centrality is a better geometric metaphor than horizontality.

5:00 pm — The conditions for play have to be designed.

4:32 pm — You become the parent you wanted to have (note from a friend).

1:32 pm — President’s Day; a post on the failure’s of presidents— on how the design of such a role isn’t really critical to a democracy.

12:08 pm — Rushkoff writes about the drive of the tech billionaire to escape (on yachts, to the moon, into bunkers, uploading consciousness, etc). There’s an inkling that society isn’t going to work, and they have the resources to make a failsafe.

12:03 pm — The economy is a force that commoditizes everything and replaces local co-dependence with reliance on a larger system. Instead of borrowing tools from your neighbor, you order it on Amazon and use it once. The cost of market efficiency is alienations from our neighbors. [Rushkoff]

11:58 am — A phrase for feeling sickened when you grasp the future that is approaching.

11:48 am — Technology as a “really nice wheelchair” [Trussel]… the Vedas were memorized and sung; we used to memorize 10 numbers of our friends, and it took me years to memorize my wife’s number. Every technological advance has a corresponding amputation [Rushkoff]. The more amazing the ability, the higher the degree of sacrifice. What if you outsource our logic? Machine might always exceed is in their utility value (because human’s aren’t single-function devices). Similar to how photography freed up humans to do Impressionism, could advanced AI free us from capitalism and over-rationalizing, letting us rebuild a more compassionate society? [Rushkoff].

11:46 am — AI as “servo-control mechanisms for humans”… drones to automate discovery of the outer-universe (imperialism). They’re the synthetic embodiment of humanity and capitalism, and they push us into a new direction. We use them for function, for fun, and they also might have their own intentions. [Rushkoff].

11:09 am — From the activist who wants to change the world to the artist who only seeks to bear witness. [Rushkoff]… reminds me of Carlin.

11:05 am — The vision of the Internet shifted from peer-to-per computing into collectively feeding the Gollum king.

10:42 am — The transhumanists would say that we humans served our role of creating complex informational structures, and now that computers are better at it, we should pass the evolutionary torch. We are midwives, a ass-through. In Apple’s logo is the forbidden fruit that exiled us from paradise. [Trussel/Rushkoff[

10:36 am — “The end of everything—of organic collective human civilization…” — Douglas Rushkoff… we’re headed towards the ‘orgasm button’ — towards synthetic on-demand replicas of mental states.

8:19 am — Snow, the white death— it reveals the violence of the wind for human eyes to finally see— keeps the cities quiet— an invasion— turns travelers blind with the absence of color— blankets of ice to smother the fauna— the trees, feathered and sickly— a fog the scale of regions— whale dust pinches infant skin— in each flake a universe, in the whole a white death— a deaf beautiful giant of gas with holy and hopefully merciful swarms.

February 12th, 2024

11:01 pm — Worth using AI to automate my fitness trainer? What do I lose?

10:49 pm — McLuhan’s idea is that new mediums always consume the past mediums to use as content. TV was made out of plays. The Internet is made out of TV shows, radio shows, and newspapers. Now, AI is made out of people. We have are being harvested by the emerging media [ Trussel / Rushkoff].

7:28 pm — Meals in silence (meaning; meals without media). We’re programmed now to think that down time should be filled with some kind of consumption. But historically, meals have been about gratitude, perspective, and discussion with family. Every day life had all sorts of these fragile functions that have been wiped out by the second-order effects of convenient technology. Media has now invited itself into every crevice of your existence, and the Vision Pro brings it to a new extreme. It suffocates your innate need for introspection, and replaces it with both an addiction and a discomfort with silence.

7:06 pm — I recently did a purge and refinement of my YouTube and Spotify subscriptions. How do I integrate these into my life? 21 podcasters. 31 YouTubers. That’s 52 channels that I’d like to prune down to 5-10. I’d rather become regular listeners of a few than to be always behind.

5:18 pm — I want to write about how it’s increasingly difficult for us to form sound opinions on technology. Influencers have incentives to make it sound amazing, and the device itself is enticing on the surface, but ultimately we need to assess if hype and magic are worth the trade-offs of continued use—of integrating it into your life and consciousness.

4:24 pm — I’m getting emails from Spectrum and Con Edison warning about power outages from tomorrow’s foot of snow, and I’m feeling glad that I switched to a paper OS.

2:36 pm — I bought a pack of index cards from a dollar store today with the purpose of writing ‘things to remember’ on them. These cards have specific properties: they’re durable, combinable, modular, etc. As I randomly encounter aphorisms, sayings, questions, or insights, they’ll get inked onto a card and placed somewhere in my apartment. The goal is, through repeated exposure, to internalize ideas that have timelessness or transformative potential.

2:24 pm — Listened to a Jack Kornfield lecture from 1988; it’s humor spliced in with meditations.

11:59 am — We are progressing not just for the sake of it, but with the knowledge that process unlocks some financial opportunity. Progress isn’t guided by moral and philosophical concerns.

11:07 am — I used to always write down my workouts at the gym. It was premature, because I didn’t have a habit, or more importantly, a joy for the habit. My strategy now is to prioritize showing up, being present, and intuiting good maxims that show results. Maybe I’ll get to the point where I want to measure, but for what I’m going for, maybe that’s never going to be necessary.

11:06 am — Filling out paperwork at the gym by hand, and wondering if this the time and place to mindful about the shaping of each letter. It’s not. It’s a transaction where legibility barely even matters.

10:50 am — One of my neighbors has a weird looking robot thing hidden in the bushes of his lawn. When you walk by it triggers a motion sensor, flashes red, and emits a piercing high pitched noise. What the f’ is that all about?

7:46 am — Time feels more like it did during childhood, except with a purpose. I wonder if this sense of return is from switching my main OS from screens to handwriting.

February 11th, 2024

11:38 pm — Captured 45 logs by hand over the day. Extremely surprised at how well capturing and executing works without a computer. It’s almost like I’ve assumed digital is the only plane of getting anything done.

10:15 pm — Paramount+ is shamelessly promoting itself on its own service, one that no one can even access the game through. We had 30+ times when the feed cut out during the first half, then switched to YouTube TV at half time and had zero problems.

9:15 pm — Neal Diamond.

9:00 pm — Pfizer is approved by the greatest scientists of all time and now they’re going to cure cancer. Please forget COVID.

8:36 pm — Pluto TV is on the nose, creating two separate bits about couch potatoes, showing a mirror to America. “I love murder, I love romance, no, I love romantic murders!” Pointless opinions. A surreal vision. Thousands dressed in potato costumes, out in a field on couches, watching mud-covered TVs also in the dirt. It flashes to a scene of farmers in a barn, showing family tress of everyone dressed as couch-potatoes. A long lineage. It’s as if human minds are being farmed and it’s being made a joke out of. Both hilarious and revulsive.

8:31 pm — Usher is an angel in the pits of hell (serious pagan symbolism going on, as always). Now he’s shirtless. New no-namers enter frame without being labeled. What is this cultural bankruptcy? Why are they roller-blading? “Yeah!” These aren’t songs. I mean, sure, they are, this was my first exposure to music in 7th grade and thank God I recovered. “A lady in the street, but a freak in the bed.” Enter Lil Jon (no, that’s not Kanye mom). Enter Ludacris. Another nostalgia trip. This is meme, shock, dazzle, and nostalgia. It is a raunchy hype party, the veneer of a good time. Really a dance-off more than a show. But should I expect anything else? Has it ever been anything else? I don’t have to watch this.

8:05 pm — Excited to see an ad coming from an independent candidate (Robert F. Kennedy) at the Super bowl; feels like a culture hack. Imagine if he started riffing? Ad culture rarely comes with vision, it’s just gimmick and flash and face recognition that’s associated with some trite product or service you already know (a website builder or wrapped chocolate). But if you have $10-20 million, it seems like you have an unfiltered mic to pitch the swarms on whatever you want (though it does seem like Cardi B’s dick pump commercial got some cuts).

7:42 pm — Super Bowl and the mainstreaming of surrealism through Recess commercials. Imagine a future where it’s all just Dadaism.

7:41 pm — Maybe I’m completely out of touch with pop culture, but the commercials this year felt half as funny and twice as loaded with celebrities: Scarlett Johansson, Vince Vaughn, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Dan Offerman, Messi, Michael Cera, Christopher Walken, Arnold Schwarzenegger (2x?), Danny DeVito, Bradley Cooper, Kate McKinnon, Pete Davis, Jennifer Aniston, Ross, and I’m sure I’m missing a fourth of them. Who isn’t in it? It’s like a Sgt. Peppers of actor worship. Remember when it was just the guys from Scrubs?

7:04 pm — My Vision Pro doesn’t just offer me a screen that’s twice as big and close as my 65” frame, it is 2 seconds in the future. I think this demo here showed me that size doesn’t matter. When you’re in the game, you’re in it, and lose track of details about the technology. To demand 100”+ inch TVs for everyday life should officially be declared a fetish.

6:50 pm — Vince Vaughn got a glow up.

6:40 pm — Why does Ray Ray McCloutt III have a tail? Is this flag football?

6:32 pm — It appeared that the 6th commercial was a live feed to some parking lot in Vegas, where a fan was challenged to kick a 25-yard field goal. He missed, and millions of dollars were won and lost. $38 billion is on the line tonight, with at least 84 different prop bets around Taylor Swift (will her parents show up? Which announcer will say Taylor first? etc.)

6:30 pm — Commercial 1 features the apocalypse and aliens (the quiet place). Commercial 2 lost a quarterback I couldn’t recognize to a portal in the street, but the other actors didn’t seem to mind (it was a Doctor Pepper commercial0. Commercial 3 also opened with a red, swirling hypnosis portal. What’s with the alien theme? (From the future:) There were around 10-15 allusions to extraterrestrial life throughout the game. A conspiracy theorist would call this predictive programming, but I think it’s the opposite. Different marketers, gathered different hoards of demographics into conference rooms, ran some pitches by them, and people unanimously have UFOs on their mind (from the social media cess pool). It’s just market research, and these commercials are a mirror of what we want (aliens, Tom Brady, guns, grammy faces, etc.)

6:28 pm — Looks like Mahomes has COVID or has been beaten by Vegas.

6:26 pm — The grills of Post Malone seem at home in Las Vegas. Him and Reba brought the Americana, but the jets flew over a closed stadium so no one could really get in touch with our military power.

6:24 pm — What do minions have to do with AI-image generation/

6:11 pm — The announcers has perfect, robotic, deep pronunciation. It’s inhuman, more appropriate for an Unreal Tournament Deathmatch than a football game (maybe, what’s the difference?)

6:10 pm — The Walter Peyton Award…

6:08 pm — Brock Purdy, 24 years old, second-string starter, last round pick— the nerves! That’s a story.

6:05 pm — “Chill bumps for America” after some cliche B-roll with Frank Sinatra on the outside of a 300’ sphere.

5:59 pm — Excited to handwrite through the Superbowl. Wondering why I feel such dissonance with this event. Maybe it’s because our culture throws all its resources at it, and it’s just not terribly exciting to me. It’s about success in a known, narrow, predictable domain. Unlike art, it’s about excellence in a known, fixed, outcome. There is so much about it to appreciate, but the discourse and hype around it is a dealbreaker—the robotic announcers, corny b-roll footage, and poorly written celebrity cameos. Is there an alternative way to cover it?

4:47 pm — The psychology of weight lifting could transfer to other areas of life: ac lear mind, pushing past limits, being slow and pushing things to completion. Imagine priming these concepts early in the day?

Consider the equipment I’ll need to grow into this ritual (ie: a nice bag). I’d like to get out of the house around 9am, have my laptop with me, change, and then work in nearby places to get some non-creative work out of the way.

3:29 pm — Just wrote out (by hand) a page of all my iPhone apps, considered the analog equivalent next to it, and then decided which I’d prefer to use. My latest theory is that we’re not fully aware of the benefits we’ve lost by shifting everything to digital. The collapse of all functionality into the iPhone gave us shocking convenience, but it robbed us of something.

My theory is that excecutive function might be stronger when it’s through a dedicated object (ie: a legal pad), instead of an infinite, immersive digital landscape that shares real estate with other things (media). In the mornings I’ll transfer my handwritten “journal” to my website as logs. Then at night, I’ll use Notion to shape my plan for the next day on a yellow legal pad.

2:05 pm — I wonder how much money Paramount+ will make form people forgetting to cancel their Super Bowl trials … “Compounding a mountain of entertainment.”

1:22 pm — “Peddler” is a funny, and more importantly, flexible world. A peddler is similar to a “shill” except peddler is a modifier word. Someone could be a Jesus-peddler or a VR-peddler or an encylclopedia-peddler or an anti-streaming-peddler. It is a. word ripe for conjunctions. [also: imagery]

12:47 pm — Maybe the typewriter is where I learn to truly let it fucking rip. What can I say that would get me crucified? From that lens, the raw and feelable emotional core comes to light. I should give myself permission to open with a messy and prose-poetry “crucifixion draft.” After it’s done, I can decide if it’s safe to publish, or, I’d rather make a refined take-2, I can; it’s aligned with the concept of a re-write.

12:38 pm — Meek disclaimers vs. ironic disclaimers.

12:16 pm — Spatial computing strives to bring back what laptops stole from us: a type of mindful and architectural cognition. It is about the presence our environment brings. Timers, calendars, planners, notepads, records used to be stationed around the room. Now, we’re in a stationary, submissive trance state, all-day, experiencing everything from text to time, all through a single plane.

12:13 pm — The patience to shape letter is a meta way to practice an awareness of the tool (the alphabet) while you simulate use it (your thinking). The rushed mindlessness of our typical handwriting is the same sin that will let us slip into a technological dystopia.

12:10 pm — Technological selectivism is about careful scrutiny of every feature we welcome into our lives. It escapes binaries of progressivism and ludditism; it asks us to contemplate the synergy between our tools and our intentions. Someone who is a technological selectivist might use both a typewriter and a brain computer interface, a legal note pad and AI-powered glasses, etc.

11:24 am — What is the allowed tolerance at the macro end of a microcosm? ie: Maybe it could range from explicit to implicit patterns, that also range from solved to open-ended, but if something is just a play-by-play log of experience, then it feels more like a story or memoir than an essay. One of the goals of an essay—in my definition—is to teach.

11:15 am — Wondering if handwriting logs in public is actually the way to go. A big book is tough to position, and a small book has limited space. Both have a loose pen. Maybe mobile logging still makes sense.

10:58 am — How might my days be different if I had timed 20-minute max on computer sessions? What are the things I’d do in the in between? What if analog breaks were elevated to the importance of work itself? An opportunity in a limitation.

10:51 am — I want the inability to have notifications on my phone. Imagine the peace! That itch can be deconstructed. Basically, 90% of the notifications I get require a 24 hour response time. I should filter anything urgent into texting.

9:06 am — My screen-time app said I’m averaging 10 hours of screen-time per day. Is this across all apps? What would it be like if I got this under 4-5?

7:29 am — Footage finally emerged of that guy wearing a Vision Pro at the Celtics game, and we see that he’s playing Fortnite and watching Mr. Beast at the same time, as if court-side tickets aren’t stimulating enough.

7:25 am — New clip with 650k views of T-Payne walking around a mall with a headset on. “See ya’ll on the inside.”

February 10th, 2024

4:26 pm — On the Vision Pro subreddit, and it seems like people are spending 8+ hours a day reading, writing, and coding (all fundamentally 2D things) in XR. they are living inside of their desktop wallpaper. Someone said, "every single thing you do on it feels infinitely better than in real life." This might seem exaggerated, but I understand precisely what they mean. Just to give one example, it can track your eyes, know when you are looking at a screen, dim your peripheries, and increase the rendering resolution of your focus. By design, it desaturates the world and over-saturates the content in the crosshair of your gaze. While this, in isolation, might seem like a neat design feature, in some users it might promote irreality and a disengagement from the real world.

Another user said, “Sell your AVP and don’t ever look back.”

Using this thing for 7-8 hours a day will distort your expectations of how reactive and interesting the world will be.

February 9th, 2024

11:37 pm — The Vision Pro promotes a technological fetishism. It implies that because something is possible, it should be done. It doesn’t need to make sense or contribute to the lifestyle you’re actively shaping. If the digital interaction is novel or awe-inducing, then it should be done. This is dangerous frontier.

Creators, instead of being honest about the potential, they meme-ify it. Then, consumers, instead of being empowered by it, they fetishize it.

Yes, it is nuts that you can have screens on the ceiling, that you can carry them with you around the house, that you can stretch them to cover your full wall; but if you’re aiming to reduce the amount of trash content in your life, then it’s easy to see how the technical possibility is at odds with your goals.

11:12 pm — Attempted to see what it was like to use AVP during late night hours. Jumped into bed, and turned up my crown so the ceiling turned into clouds, then opened a massive screen. No neck strain of having to look across the room at my TV.

9:33 pm — The sad reality of living inside your iPhone.

9:18 pm — The implicit assumption in all these AVP videos is that multiple windows are better than one, as if having the Lex Friedman show, the Tesla stock ticker, your calendar, your notes, your times, files, and browser, and Twitter, all open at the same time, will help you get more done faster. It’s a distraction canvas.

7:17 pm — Thesis in progress: It's hard for the public to make sense of the Vision Pro because the truth is distorted by memelords and marketers. I expected to love it, but after using it for a few days, it turned me from a 10-year VR evangelist to a Luddite.

3:21 pm — In Apple’s 1984 iconic commercial, they show tons of people fixated on a massive screen showing someone with layered spectacles.

7:22 am — Noticed some early morning artifacts in my eyes and thought, huh, this is kind of like the Vision Pro.

7:19 am — Foray: a one-time dabble.

February 8th, 2024

8:31 pm — I’ve been long meaning to research and write a piece on democracy, but it’s an intimidating subject and I haven’t made space for it. Maybe it’ll happen this November. Here’s the half-baked pitch:

The global spread of democracy is top priority, but what if we haven’t yet realized a democracy in its fullest form? The founders of the US embodied the ideal, and in many ways we have more liberties that someone in openly-authoritarian country, but what if our design didn’t work out too well? Maybe our country wasn’t shaped well enough to modernize, and over the last 250 years, we’ve slowly returned to a type of authoritarianism that is dressed like democracy. Maybe the trend that everything trends towards tyranny is more true than we know, and it puts the responsibility in the design of the system.

The two-party system is impenetrable, corporations and complexes have sway over both sides, the incentives are twisted, and information asymmetries make it impossible to make sense of the real game.

3:46 pm — Unboxers bake their own personality into products.

3:28 pm — To find your thesis, you often have to triangulate your material on the page and ask yourself, “what am I really trying to say?”

3:21 pm — Is "quite" a filler word? Is it unnecessary emphasis?

I see it as the middle-tier between "very" and it's exclusion. So you could ascend in severity from happy > quite happy > very happy. But someone would say, don't use "very happy," use "elated." So then maybe instead of quite, there's a word to express that middle tier of happiness?

I also sense that "quite" indicates something exceeding your expectations, similar to "actually." Similarly, if you say, "it was quite a building," you're indicating it is more significant or noteworthy than you expected. It speaks to some mysterious emotional power that is not being directly addressed.

3:19 pm — Pop writing wisdom would tell you "always use 'hard' over 'difficult.' " This is true in many cases. I tend to resort to single-syllable words whenever possible, but there are still cases when you might want to use difficult. Difficult emphasizes complexity or an unexpected challenge. It could be used in a more formal manner. And if you want to emphasize it, it could be the sole multi-syllable word in a sentence with all one-syllable words.

This approach is against absolute usage rules, but conditions that stem from each word.

9:13 am — Getting to the root of “insufferable:”

  • Intolerable = a situation that is annoying to endure, but you can bear the weight of it.

  • Unbearable = a situation that is impossible to endure; a breaking point has been reached.

  • This means that something intolerable is "sufferable," but something unbearable is "insufferable.”

7:29 am — It is tempting to be a VR guinea pig for writing material, but I sense that real psychological shifts could come with it. They are little symptoms—1) IRL, you expect you can control reality with your eyes, 2) when you experience some depth illusion or graininess, you question if you’re in VR, and 3) when you see 30-40” screens you get the desire to see it at full-scale—but why invite that into your life?

February 7th, 2024

9:11 pm — I’ve put my finger on what bothers me about the Vision Pro compared to other wearable tech I own. The Quest has already had clear, limited use-cases: I can jump in for a 3D architectural review, or to get my heart rate up with Beat Saber, or to play mini-golf or ping-pong with friends across the country. The Rayban Stories are an always-on-your-face technology, but they disappear. I forget they’re there, and yet when I need them, I’m actually “augmenting” something—taking video, listening to music, or on a call.

But the Vision Pro is an intrusive, all-encompassing device. It doesn’t have a distinct use case, it is an OS that aims to give you better computing experiences and better entertainment experiences. It doesn’t offer new use cases, but instead magnifies the core things you already do. The implication then is for you to wear this all day; and in-exchange for surreal and powerful digital experiences, your eyes are replaced with a CCTV feed—one that is surprisingly good, but is still—filled with blurriness, artifacts, and glitches.

The AVP is the philosophical opposite of the iPod, the Apple Watch, and the Airpods: those disappear, while this one replaces your window to reality. In intrudes on your sight, your most fundamental way to decipher reality. It asks you to trade in the core part of your human experience for $4,000 and $25/month insurance.

7:53 pm — AVP comment from CansaFis:

“talk me out of calling it the Applebation Mask. As a man consumed by psychedlic reality it is somewhat uncomfortable to me to give over my psychosis to a product engineered to help people look at even more screens inside of a screen. One of the early reviews I read said that looking over videos taken from the device felt like returning from the afterlife. TV has zombified me enough to know better than to go deeper into the fiber connected frequency of death. I can't wait to buy courtside Warriors tickets on this.”

7:49 pm — Much of the Week 1 Vision Pro hype is early adopters justifying their own purchase. Yes, there’s a flash or novelty and wonder. But it will take weeks of use to fully unpack the logistical, perceptual, and psychological strain. I hope these people are honest.

Reviews trying to inform their audience about the experience as it relates to a $4,000 purchase "Public reaction" is from early adopters who are technology enthusiasts, had the money to spend, and to some extent want to justify the purchase to themselves.

6:27 pm — AVP pass-through has a “psychological realism” to it that hasn’t been present in my past experiences. The brain is fooled into thinking it is real, and the experiences, over time, can re-wire you.

There are 3 modes of escapism (says a YouTube video): social, emotional, and then spiritual. The fact that Peter Jackson called this a “religious experience” makes me worried that it’s primed for some people to fully retreat into.

6:24 pm — “Hikikomori” is a Japanese term for “one who pulls back.”

5:33 pm — Notes on “Present Shock” from Doug Rushkoff (related):

  • We rely no the Internet to make sense of things. The AVP isa $4,0000 headset, and few will know it through demos, even fewer will know it through onwing it, and so most will make their opinion on it through the veneer of content.

  • We’re in a “hyper-reality”—divorced from truth. Stories don’t have consequences. We watch ironically—”look at those idiots”—and our opinions matter more than the substance. It’s less about coming to a resolution, but to be caught in a never-ending mire of connections.

  • In the end, we’re unable to come to conclusions. It’s terrifying when we can’t agree on any narratives that happen.

  • Some terms: “narrative collapse, digiphreina, fractalnoia, post-narrative storytelling.”

5:05 pm — Kind of riffed out a short stand up set today, and the punchline was something like: “a tier 4 carnivore is a cannibal with a preference for righteousness.”

4:37 pm — There are definitely standout experiences in the AVP. It’s amazing to navigate a massive, 100” map with your hands; you can click into any point, see a 360 street view, and then walk around at what seems like full-scale. This is a perfect example of a stunning demo. It’s one-off. How often am I recreationally strolling digital maps. Do I want to be doing more of this? Probably not, really.

Perhaps the aggregate of all these magic experiences—maybe 20 of them situated around my apartment—could be worth it. I could endorse a computing experience that gets you out of your chair and standing more.

Unfortunately, none of the windows are reliably anchored, so the concept isn’t real.

3:29 pm — A Christian ministers review of the Vision Pro:

"... I think this is actually a massive next step into the Antichrist and into the second coming of Jesus Christ before humanity ends itself... I'm devastated and I feel like crying."

1:24 pm — In case you don’t know: the guy who used the Vision Pro inside moving Tesla wasn’t actually arrested. It was a skit. They happened to be near some cop cars, so he filmed it, edited it in, and made good fiction. Most were fooled. 24 million views. The US Secretary of Transportation made a statement over it.

“Reminder—ALL advanced driver assistance systems available today require the human driver to be in control and fully engaged in the driving task at all times."

A quote from a similar stuntman: "We thought it was clear enough that it was satirical, but other people didn't read into that." They weren’t actually using apps. They just drove with their knees for 20 seconds, and flailed their arms around for as long as it was necessary to make the video.

12:29 pm — Fragmented media has made it impossible to get make sense of the AVP. Memelords want you to think society has turned into Black Mirror over night. Tech bros want you to think this is the future. Apple wants you to think you need this. Every angle has an incentive of views, follows, or sales.

12:08 pm — There’s an archetype of a tech-reviewer that gives off a we-are-in-the-future-and-you-can-follow-us-to-make-sense-of-it feeling. I need to dissect this. Is that me? I hope not. I’m definitely an early adopter, and find myself generally open to concepts way before they’re fully cooked and ready for culture. But there has to be a way to be a futurist without being insufferable. Maybe what irks me most is blind optimism. It’s easy for a futurist to paint and a rosy or gloomy picture, a caricature that you feel scared about or left out on. If I were to define my angle, it would be a nuanced, thorough, and ambiguous—it would marvel at the paradox of simultaneous wonder and horror and try to make sense of things honestly.

12:04 pm — The food:shit relationships is something to investigate. Food is an expression of culture, of refined palettes; it’s an art — and yet it all turns into the same undifferentiated excrement.

Why do we build our identities around the food we eat? We’ve romanticized something functional, even existential. Every 8 hours, there’s a mini-crisis; the clock ticks and you inch closer towards death until you can scavenge something from your fridge or cabinet.

If a genie offered me the ability to be starve-proof in exchange for my taste buds, I’d likely take it. Almost everyone I propose this thought experiment to balks at it. No one sees that there’s a super-power in being unchained from the constraint of food. You would practically escape the capitalist system of working a shit-job to feed yourself. You could be happily poor and live the life you want, in nature, making art, doing community service, whatever you want. It’s a weird unlock of human potential.

10:05 am — My top 5 recommendations to improve v1 of VisionOS:

  • The ability to reliably pin windows is paramount.

  • Once you enter keyboard input, the OS should adjust to this mode.

  • The cursor and hover states need to be more distinguished.

  • Customize your home screen (app layout).

  • Apps need to have multiple instances (pull photos/files out of core app)

9:50 am — Amazing for entertainment, unbearable as a computer.

9:11 am — At the surface, it seems like Apple designed a revolutionary new interface, but its deal-breaking flaw is that it hasn't figure out how to integrate the keyboard.

The future of HCI (human computer interaction) is multi-modal, and this singe mode of look and pinch is just way too slow for what a computer needs to be.

If I use my eyes to select and pinch one letter at a time, I can input at only 13 wpm. If I use two pointer fingers—”T-Rex style”—and hack at it, I can get up to 27 wpm. For comparison, I can text (on mobile) at 60+ wpm, and type at 100+ wpm.

Apple enabled the keyboard because hand waving doesn’t worked, but there are some key flaws that make keyboards unusable:

  • As you type, it's still watching your fingers for gestures, so there are all sorts of misfires.

  • Every time you click into a textbox to USE (focus) your keyboard, a goofy spatial keyboard pops up and blocks your view, you have to close it each time. It’s almost as if it’s forcing you to use spatial typing (despite recent key input).

  • When you’re in a text editor (ie: Google Docs in Safari), you’re arrow keys don’t work—they move around Safari. And since you have no mouse, it’s hard to navigate the page.

  • The integration between typing between your MacBook and VisionPro apps is unpredictable. Sometimes things connect, sometimes they don’t. After 10 attempts, I can’t decipher the logic. If it works, the learning curve is steep.

February 6th, 2024

11:08 pm — [poetry?] Queasy, queasy, sea legs no good here, machine perfect, no lag, no blur, no dropped frames, just nausea from unmet prophecies and tyrannical vision, trade in your eyes, dim the lights, pixels like blood cells, pixel goops and melts minds of undisciplined imaginations, American canvas, inside-out, full-scale, everything all at once forever, surround-sound, surround-screen, retina replica, massacres on-demand, fantasies in-a-blink, and no more loneliness, cook shit and sleep in unimaginable delight, wait for the paywalls, tech devours all, plunge into the new west, plunge into forever-sustaining content hallucinations, guided by gadget worship, approved by unboxer prophets, framed by marketers and memelords. Monkey see, monkey do, I want a 150” TV. A school dance of holographic ghosts. Hijacked.

11:05 pm — Chi-zong ge goopaya la fin ji zerfatork ting te coco cabache con quiche sto fing gala repistofork in boola boola babookisho torque ja ja be froithe pan. (warmup…)

10:28 pm — Reflecting on the Casey Neistat video; he’s in Time Square surrounded by screens in a place filled with massive screens.

10:00 pm — Spent some time at an open-mic night with a friend tonight. It seems very hard, but definitely learnable. It’s the fusion of writing and delivery. As an essay writer, you can bomb in the realm of ideas, and have people help you in a semi-rational way (and still, it can sting). But a comedian has an additional dimension of feedback: delivery (which taps into the essence of self). It covers everything from posture, pacing, and projection; all these things come together in something called “(stage) presence.”

Presence can be practiced, and it’s something that exists off a stage too. It’s the spirit/aura/vibe/medium that others receive your intent and ideas through. Some people have a confident IRL presence, but get nervous on stage (especially if it’s new). What comes to mind is a Vonnegut short-story of a character with the opposite problem (an unbelievable actor, but no personality IRL).

I could see value in every person performing standup, watching themselves after (via recording, if the venue allows it), and then iterating. It shows you that presence is modifiable, even if you’re not trying to make it in standup.

I’ve been taking a lot of POV videos through my Rayban glasses, and sometimes I’ll notice how I pronounce things, and think, is this really how I articulate myself? I sense a laziness in how I project and use my voice as an instrument in normal situations. It’s something I want to be more mindful of.

7:29 pm — Walking past Comedy Central hucksters; walking past mix-tape salesman; walking past the Krispy Kreme that Casey Neistat wore his Vision Pro in last week.

7:14 pm — Trying to identify the source of my dis-ease: maybe it’s because the first “premiere” headset is designed to make the already addicting consumption experience even more immersive: bigger, better, more, everywhere, all-the-time. Screens. Screens. Screens. This isn’t what AR/VR inherently is, but maybe it’s what tech companies know that most people want.

I think spatial computing done right can foster something like a Renaissance in creativity, learning, and connection (teleportation TBD). Whole sub-cultures could emerge that live by their own values.

Instead, the v1 seems like a high-status trance machine that either, a) serves as an empty symbol, or b) fuels people into deeper content addictions.

7:07 pm — Could a Metaverse done right lead to the death of cities? In a “digital city,” all the inefficiencies are eliminated, all the opportunities are optimized, and a tolerable amount of randomness is procedurally generated. To modern folk, this sounds like hell—don’t take away our cities!—but I wonder if the unborn will even care to save them. I don’t think the future will look anything like it does in Snow Crash—a virtual boulevard populated with avatars—but rather, life will be realistic avatars laughing and orgasming through a haze of HDR desktop screensavers (squeezed in between tele-sessions in West-Elm-staged living rooms and fake office environments).

6:33 pm — There’s a tension between the AVP being a “spatial computer” and “a theatre wherever you go.” It’s barely passable as a device to work on, but it is amazing as an entertainment machine that’s hard to escape from.

5:59 pm — Another species of VR peddlers (the group I’m most aligned with) is the tech-forward optimists. There are a bunch of OMG videos about the OMG tech. One interpretation is that they’re capturing a genuine moment of excitement; they’re in the honeymoon phase and haven’t been disappointed by trying to use this extremely futuristic thing. The other, less generous, angle is that content distorts reality: the unboxing ritual performs better when FOMO and delirious excitement permeate each sentence.

4:53 pm — The Vision Pro has unbearable UX friction to use as your general-purpose computer. I don’t have any problem with the weigh of the headset, the external battery, or the pass-through dimness. I could use this thing all day. The AVP is something like a miracle at the hardware-level, but the surprising disappointment is at the OS level. I know, it’s v1, but the inability to pin windows feels like an existential oversight that makes the whole concept pointless.

1:45 pm — Just spent 20-30 minutes outside the headset crafting an important email. I was totally immersed and unaware of my peripherals, unaware if I was in boring Queens or majestic Mount Hood. Would there have been any value in writing that email in spatial computing (ie: fake mountains)? Maybe focused work and spatial media are at odds with each other. One is about getting something done, and the other is about multi-tasking / ambient dashboards.

11:15 am — The upgrade from macOS from Sonoma to Ventura is probably more useful than the entirety of VisionOS (I’m very salty). Ventura lets you pin widgets to your background, and it’s reliable. Yes, VisionOS lets you live inside your desktop wallpaper, and of course it’s extremely beautiful and you could even cry over it, but the UX with floating screens is (currently) a nightmare, like hell in a fake paradise.

11:00 am — An essay on the changing of calendars: both power dynamics of those who call the shots (ie: Pope Greg), but also the ”time dysphoria” felt by the citizens.

9:53 am — It is the first device to ever explode digital media into the architecture of your apartment. It’s a profound concept. It’s the first thing to be remotely close. It’s so exciting, but then when you try and live through that paradigm, it’s extremely frustrating.

I thought the reviewers had incentives to be negative, but I get it now. If anything, I was positioned to have a positive review. I’ve been in VR for 10 years, have dreamt of spatial computing, and want it to work: I am the target market.

9:37 am — “Magic, until it’s not,” makes a lot more sense after using it. I’d go as far as saying, “Magic, until it’s hell.” So far, there’s no way this could be your all-purpose machine. I’m wondering if there are any specific use cases that make this worth it (ie: writing prose in the mountains with supplemental windows). We’ll see.

9:33 am — Either the learning curve is insane or it just doesn’t work (for computing). So far, it seems really built for entertainment. Watching the first 5 minutes of Killers of the Flower Moon on a floor-to-ceiling 140” monitor was surprisingly good (still, I don’t want to escape into VR for entertainment). And then going through my own Photos at full-scale was also very special (so much to the point that I thought I couldn’t imagine NOT looking at them this way). Window management is (unfortunately) a nightmare.

9:04 am — Spatial computing is an incredibly hard design space. Apple has gotten far closer than anyone else. It feels like it’s only missing a few things, but those things are existential. A slight bug is an assault on your consciousness. For example, I just had an alarm clock pinned to my face for 5 minutes and had to end my session over it. I force quit the Clock App, but this was an OS layer notification bug. Unlike a bug on your laptop, you can’t look awaymaking it like a bug in your consciousness. Bugs are far more consequential.

8:50 am — I’ve been positioning my active monitor lower—since it can technically exist inside of your physical desk and occlude it outmeaning, if I look ahead, I see the horizon. If I look ahead, left, and right, I seen an uninterrupted, realistic looking horizon. This might be one of the things I like most about the Vision Pro. The eye adjusts to distance, even if it’s synthetic. I get the sense that the 20/20/20 rule would work here (every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds). Not just that, it’s a peaceful landscape. It’s like you’re actually inside of your desktop background, and the clouds are moving. It’s a serene experience behind a very frustrating interface.

8:18 am — One of the default interactions on every VisionOS window should be “pin.” Currently, every window has a bar on the bottom (to move) and an X on the bottom right (to close), but there needs to be a pin on the bottom right.

8:16 am — I just copy and pasted something “big” from my Mac to a VisionOS notepad—it was only 3 paragraphs—and that overwhelmed VisionOS, resetting all my window positions. How is that acceptable? Feels like this hasn’t been battle-tested by someone who is actually using multi-window workflows on a Mac.

8:10 am — You can eat and drink with this thing on, but if you exhale with a coffee mug nearby, you get screen fog.

8:09 am — When you walk room to room, objects lose the precision in their setup. You might spend 30-60 seconds getting something in a perfect place, but when you leave the room and come back, it’s in the same spot, but the angle is different.

8:06 am — Occlusion on this thing is wild. I just reached through a screen and pulled out a coffee mug.

7:57 am — I’m worried that Apple fumbled the release of this thing. They set the bar so unbelievably high, and in some ways, it does deliver on that, but the kinks seems insurmountable, even to someone like me who is an extreme VR enthusiast. This device is, in many ways, a fundamental point in the history of computing, but it’s threatened by two key things: 1) the meme-sphere is making an absolute joke out of it, and are resurrecting the public perception of “the glasshole,” and 2) it’s too buggy to reliably use in real-life workflows.

The better approach would’ve been an application-only private beta.

7:54 am — Huge glitch on the Vision Pro: if you take off the headset with the Macbook virtual display running, the whole thing crashes; when you boot-up, pass-through works, but none of the gestures work and all your screens are gone. You need to do a hard-reset and re-position everything. This feels worthy of a deal-breaker.

7:39 am — VisionPro has tons of problems, but isolation isn’t one of them. It is far less isolating than the many other headsets I’ve tried. The half-immersion mode means that I can be looking through a gallery of pictures (floor-to-ceiling), while also seeing my wife next to me. I’m casting my experience to our large TV, so she can clearly sees what I’m seeing. If I want her to see a picture, I can give her a poke, and a “check this out,” and then we’re talking about the same image. It’s not any less isolating that a couple each using their laptop together, which is an extremely common experience.

February 5th, 2024

7:26 pm — Miro has the potential to be absolutely insane in the Vision Pro, but it unfortunately falls short. When you use the iPad app in Vision OS, you can use your hands like a sorcerer to navigate and move things; unfortunately it’s too imprecise to really think inside of, and it seems unable to load even a medium size board. My typical Miro board overloaded my OS and reset all my window positions. And then, through the virtual MacOS display, there’s a 1-second delay when you try to move any element.

6:53 pm — Alright, so Vision Pro is just an extra-ordinarily different way to use a computer. It’s hard to jump to definitive conclusion like “good/bad” or “revolutionary/terrible.” To say the least, it’s surreal. There is definitely a learning curve, and while your first impression is, “wow, this UI mode is intuitive,” as you use it, there are so many instances where you just feel stuck and disoriented.

The most valuable use case might be something like a “memory palace,” where media is arrayed spatially and fused into the architecture. It takes some effort to set this up, and from what I can tell, there isn’t a way to preserve your layouts. I also find that if you hold the crown (to reset the orientation of your half-immersion—ie: the mountains), it nukes your whole layout.

5:14 pm — Found out on X that some Apple Vision Pro owners are upset after being unable to access VR pоrn.

5:04 pm — New Apple Ad: "A movie theatre where you are," and it shows a man on a plane watching Napolean.

3:18 pm — Metaphors are about establishing good 1:1 associations, but a microcosm is different in that a particular frame, symbol, scene can be used to connect various high-level patterns. It is a compression device, and specifically why it makes ideas memorable. Through remembering a single thing, you have a whole array of associations.

1:57 pm — Perhaps the most dystopian stunt: a man walking through—London?— with a Vision Pro, using a joystick to control a Boston Dynamics robot dog.

10:50 am — Computers used to be the size of refrigerators.

10:41 am — Two more AVP stunts: someone wearing a headset court-side at a Celtics game, and 4 people wearing it at a dinner party.

10:35 am — The surreal feeling of carrying a white bag around grand central: paranoia, anticipation, expectations, futurism, giddiness — all over a hunk of glass.

10:10 am — First impression to a friend:

“Resolution is nuts, slightly comfier than Quest, and in the right lighting, the pass through is good enough to match reality. The angle/fit seems to be extremely important. Actually annoyed my first demo, then 2nd I had a wow moment and in 15 seconds I changed my mind lol

It’s at a point where it’s so insanely good that you become far more critical of the slightest things. You don’t compare it with a device but your natural vision”

10:02 am — There are 8 people in AVP headsets in Grand Central. Four are in a seated living room environment, and four are at traditional Apple tables. The problem with demoing in GC is the lack of bright lighting. The whole place is dim and moody, and so the living room set up is kind of dark. This radically effects the quality of the pass-through. I was so underwhelmed by this experience that it I went through my demo disappointed. But then, I tried it a 2nd time at a table with bright lights under it, and though, wow, that is a very convincing illusion, and got it.

9:39 am — Apple has a 14-day return policy on all of it’s products. I decided to buy, knowing that if I wasn’t absolutely convinced after 2 weeks, I could return it. Worst case, I get a free glimpse into the future of technology.

It’s so expensive it triggers a Chase fraud alert.

Not to mention, AppleCare is another $25/month (didn’t get, please don’t break).

7:52 am — One of the architectural details in Grand Central shows a wheel with wings coming out the sides.

7:11 am — At the top of the GC escalatory (yes, it takes three minutes to get up), there is an E. Pluribus Unum emblem, with two figures on either side of the scale, and the one on the right has their eyes covered with some kind of cloth. Maybe my mind has heightened symbolism around VR right now.

7:08 am — The cold silver reflections of escalators, the tired faces of commuters.

6:57 am — Reports of people across the country crying in Apple Stores after their demo from the sheer beauty of the experience.

6:52 am — The anticipation of this thing is something like that of trying a drug. My wife is honestly kind of afraid I will never come out.

6:41 am — On the LIRR to Grand Central, everyone is on their phones (it’s almost not even worth reporting on this because it is obviously the default and has been so for a decade). It just feels notable to observe this on route to try out the new AVP headset, which some people have described as a “religious experience,” and also a “BC/AD” moment (meaning once you try it on, there is no coming out).

This is roughly the 10-year anniversary of me trying my first virtual reality headset. I went to my friends apartment in Astoria and tried the DK-2: a plastic, taped together rectangle, 960x1080 and only 1 million pixels in each eye (23 times less than what I’m trying today). It had the screen door effect, it was impossible to read text, and was at times extremely nauseating, but I remember looking at a digital horizon from that Oculus Villa and noticing my eyes adjust, and probably said some true cliche like: “wow, this is the future.” That was produced by a kid on Kickstarter, and today’s experience will be by one of the world’s leading technology companies.

6:15 am — iJustine is wearing AVP in the pool…

6:12 am — Another AVP meme video: Android users are masked out as all-white silhouettes.

February 4th, 2024

9:02 pm — Absurd Vision Pro videos continue to come out: people are gambling in casinos, going though airport security, getting haircuts, and showering (is it worth destroying a $3,500 device to go viral?).

5:53 pm — The pattern I’d like to set: at the end of every writing session, book time to get feedback.

1:59 pm — You can’t trust any reviews of the headset within the first 3 days. Are people loving it 3 weeks in, and how are they using it? The first impression of a new paradigm is almost useless.

February 3rd, 2024

4:00 pm — I miss being a student and I’ve had some grad school urges in recent months. The latest one is to get an MFA, but I can never fully justify it to myself—but that’s probably because I’ve never fully researched it or articulated the reason why I’d do it.

I feel like I’m at a point where I can design my own curriculum and dedicate the focus to it (since I’m not working a full-time job). I’m in a groove now where I’m reading/dissecting one “classic” essay a day (will start publishing 1/week of these soon). A pro of doing this more formally would to get feedback from someone high level, but I’d want to know how close the working relationship is.

I’d say the bigger benefit of paying tens of thousands for this is probably networking, exposure, or something like that. As in, if you’re the best in your program, I’m sure opportunities will open up, but I’m not sure.

Part of me senses that online writing is such a frontier, and there’s so much to figure out by doing. I’d like to be financially independent by the end of this decade, and could imagine doing grad school a bit later in life (my 40s), perhaps at a specific university under a specific advisor that I want to learn from, once it’s not a financial limitation. And who knows, in my 40s I might be more interested in getting a PhD on the history of religions than creative writing.

Any holes in my thinking here? Any immediate benefits I’m missing?

1:27 pm — The Quest 3 passthrough is wonky; the depth perception is slightly off, making it hard to high-five or juggle. Spoons bend near your mouth, peripheral vision is limited, and there all sorts of distortions. Researchers say:

"We urge caution for excessive use, and urge researchers to study this medium."

9:53 am — Entertained by the idea to give classic essays a 1-5 score, similar to GoodReads. If I did that, I’d immediately have to answer: how do I come up with the scores, and why would I do this?

1 to 5 is a simple system: 5 is love, 1 is disgust, 3 is meh, and then it’s a gradient between. A very from-the-hip method would be to give an essay 1 of these 5 scores, but there are so many ways to look at an essay (idea, structure, voice). What if it has 5/5 references, but 2/5 voice. I’d use my Essay Architecture system, meaning I’d score 1 to 5 over 27 patterns, and then average it together (145 points of resolution).

The current Ursula Le Guin essay I’m reading—the Death of the Book—has a 4.15, but need to do another thorough check. The idea is to have an opening that is free and gives the score, but then paid subscribers get 3 sections, where I break down the details of idea, structure, and voice.

The reason to do this is to force myself to study these patterns in a very detailed way, and to understand the nuanced difference between a 4 and a 5. Such thoroughness will hopefully engrain patterns so they come through naturally in my own writing.

8:17 am — Accidentally crushed a fly between two pages of my Ursula le Guin book while turning the page.

7:19 am — I imagine someone will make a Vision Pro concept video with 100 screens around their house, showing ever cable channel running at the same time—a kind of museum of 1990s consumerism.

6:41 am — The distinction between obsession and devotion is interesting to consider, and I think writer’s have to have both. Devotion is a word that implies that long-term purpose-driven commitment to something that elevates your life, while obsession is about a short-term narrowing of focus over particular details.

6:23 am — In every given moment, you have the choice to approach your next action as a begrudging chore or an mysterious adventure.

5:40 am — Once a month I check TikTok for around 2 minutes, and upon opening, my first 6 posts in the feed were videos about aliens, mermaids, reality glitches, and what happened in Miami—many of them were tagged #horrortiktok.

February 2nd, 2024

6:05 pm — Bound to be a skit where someone bakes out a Vision Pro.

4:17 pm — Even the most basic things on GrubHub will cost $18-20 a meal, where if you buy groceries and cook yourself it can be more like $3-5 a meal (while also tasting better and being healthier). I want to set a habit where I only eat out if it’s something far superior to what I can make at home.

3:36 pm — When people say: "Incredible but definitely still a headset,” did they expect a headset to not be a headset?

3:33 pm — I don’t play piano well, and I definitely can’t read sheet music in real-time, but around a decade ago I manually went note-by-note and transcribed Clair de Lune. It’s the only song I know how to play on piano other than Yankee Doodle (exaggeration). Still, it was long and hard to learn that, with a quite singular benefit. I can’t say I understand the complex theory behind why the song works, I simply memorized it.

Now, with Vision Pro, you can learn Clair de Lune through a Guitar Hero like interface, where the songs stream down your wall and onto your piano. This seems like it enables you to learn much faster, without friction. Is this a good or bad thing? I find the theme of slow vs. fast learning a theme in assessing the impact of emerging technology.

3:16 pm — Someone said the AVP makes the iPhone seems like a Post-It note.

1:19 pm — Belief and faith are in the realm of reason and ego (useful tools, but incomplete tools).

11:31 am — The Apple Vision Pro is being positioned as the ultimate consumer device. This makes sense, since we’re thick in the middle of a consumer society. The holy grail of our fantasy is to have a 130” monitor/screen/whatever. Bigger! I’m still not sure if I’ll get one (this is what I tell myself), but melting into my couch to perfect entertainment isn’t even a little appealing. What if I only used this for creating things? Essays, songs, buildings, etc.

11:27 am — From consciousness language emerged, but now through language, consciousness will re-emerge.

9:10 am — 100 day logging streak! First time ever. It’s a concidence that I hit this at the moment I checked it. Usually I’ll miss at least one day in a month, but I’ve been logging daily since mid-October. In 2022 I missed 43 days. I’ve noticed that since I went free-lance mode, my logging jumped from an average of 3x per day to 10x per day.

8:19 am — If you show up to the Fifth Avenue Apple store this morning, there’s a non-zero chance you’ll get a hug from Tim Cook after purchasing an Apple Vision Pro. There are weird scenes developing outside of the glass cube. For example, the first customer to walk out of the store holding the AVP box was met with 30 people in blue shirts (15 on each side of the walkway), jumping, hollering, clapping, and pointing, with canned facial expressions. It was a staged hoorah, corny enthusiasm to such an extreme that is almost seemed like a pagan sacrifice.

8:13 am — From the filmmaker of Avatar, Titanic, and Terminator:

"I would say my experience was religious," the director James Cameron told me when I asked him about his first encounter with the Apple Vision Pro. "I was skeptical at first. I don't bow down before the great god of Apple, but I was..."

February 1, 2024

3:11 pm — The “billion dollar creator” model is such a bad north star. To define a creator reductively as someone who “harnesses attention to get money” (as the supreme M.O.) is a sacrilege to honest work. I’d rather make a modest salary doing exactly what I want with my life than to destroy myself with riches as a market clown.

2:16 pm — I found a LinkedIn article that was obviously AI-generated and it had maybe 10 likes on it; I was annoyed less by the drivel than by the people who liked it. Are those people bots too? Do people exist who like something this bad? Or do they have other motives to like the things (ie: hot leads), meaning, they didn’t even read the article to know it was SEO vomit?

1:38 pm — From X:

“Apples Vision Pro will be great for sad lonely virgins, which does make up a big part of our society so I expect a lot of sales.”

1:32 pm — Vision Pro has a weather app where if it’s raining outside, it rains in your living room too.

1:24 pm — Tim Cook is on the cover of Vanity Fair with the title "Moon Shoot." It’s the first time we see him in a headset. He’s not embarrassed! Unlike the quirky TIME cover of Palmer Lucky in 2015—where he’s levitating on a beach with a big wired headset—Cook is calm. In an ergonomic chair, he’s got casual shoes and a sleek watch, against a minimalist wood desk in a bright room, with a background that shows a football helmet and some unhung art—he’s a regular guy just like us. But something is off with his “eyes.” It is technically marvelous that inner cameras can detect his subtle eye movements and re-project them onto the outer glass of the headset, but in this very clutch moment where the world sees TCook in VR for the first time, his eyes are dreary like hell. Is he asleep? They’re barely open, a half-squint, shrouded in blue fog, as if he’s reserved into a some digital submission, some eerie limbo where he can’t be fully conscious.

1:22 pm — Interested to research the varying degrees that people get goosebumps. I assume everyone has the capacity for them, and the most basic form is a single wave of chills on something with emotional awe, whether it’s a ghost story or piece of music. But chills can be intense with sustained waves, lasting minutes, in something called “frisson.”

12:59 pm — The future belongs to those who can ease into the present.

12:14 pm — Came across a Quest 3 app called “Noda” which is a 3D mind-mapping tool. The input method is “voice to text”—sounds like it’s a spatialized voice note, which could be very neat if fluid. Could imagine just talking for 5 minutes, but live segmenting the whole thing, and by the end there’s a spider web of thought.

11:58 am — Creative states are fragile. You build up a “set” over days and weeks of effort. Things positively compound to put you in a very specific headspace to make something very specific. If you go on vacation, and come back, that whole aura is gone. You have to reset.

11:00 am — Taylor Swift as worship, compared to other historical forms of worship: Athena, Virgin Mary, Perky Pat. Also, at the Super Bowl, a simulated war-game. Through a screen of screens, a wall of eyes, an etc of etc.

10:55 am — Just gave a 40 minute lecture into a mirror pretending that I time traveled to 1994 and had to explain how society evolved over 30 years. A good exercise.

10:54 am — A “psychedelic trojan horse” is when a boundary-dissolving paradigm is snuck into the most dominant religion of the day.

9:50 am — What does society look like when everyone can lucid dream? (ie: Everyone gets—what seems like—hours per night in their own imagination).

9:32 am — To deny someone technology to access the depths of their mind is like to deny someone a pen to remember their ideas. Should someone be forced to construct their own pens in order to write? This is why I don’t hold much romanticism around the natural process to induce lucid dreams. I agree that the slowness of it promotes a patience and awareness, but I’m already utilizing those things in other pursuits. Some things are worth automating. Engaging with the contents of your subconscious feels like the main event, and people should have multiple accessible options to show up.

8:34 am — Orange Jesus…

January 31st, 2024

6:33 pm — A reliable source of writer’s block is rigidity around your constraints. Often you go in sensing a piece needs to be X, but in attempting to land at X, you have 10 false starts that are not X. The trick is to just pursue Y, then at the end you can decide how to reconcile the differences. Maybe Y is better, and it's worth shedding your original frame.

4:12 pm — Learned about David Foster Wallace’s relationship with Mary Karr for the first time, and wow, it’s worse than I imagined. I’m not sure how much of it even falls into physical abuse and misogyny as much as it is surreal psychological torment and stalkerish obsession. You can tell he is an obsessive person through the detail in his work, but it’s sad to learn that this also translated off the page to the point it psychologically abused others. I won’t list all the details, but the one that stands out is when he showed up to Karr’s family’s pool party with her name tattooed on his shoulder. Based on the sting of Karr’s poem, Suicide Note: An Annual, you can tell the effect it had on her.

It sucks because I've been learning so much from him recently. I made a Miro board (/video) dissecting one of his essays, but didn't publish it because I know some people have such strong reactions against his name. (I’m not against posting learning from DFW, I just hesitated to have that be the first impression.)

In searching this, I saw a quote: "Give me a hero and I'll show you a tragedy." Seems like there's a pattern where great artists have incredibly messed up lives, but I totally think it's possible to make great work without being a monster.

12:00 pm — What are the economic incentives that slant online writing advice? Think of the Ogilvy/Hormozi mantra of “find a starving market.” If you’re trying to sell advice or use it for growth, a business-minded person would target the largest possible demographic, and there are far more people who are “writing-curious” than people who are in the early years of consistent practice. There might 50 million people in the world who are curious to start a blog, but only 1 million people who aspire to become an MFA-level writer. You’re more likely to succeed if you tailor your advice to motivation porn (on how to show up and start writing), instead of focusing on the analytical tactics of how to write great essays. There are already so many voices covering the “basics of storytelling,” and I’ve decided I’d rather focus on where my abilities are and curiosities lie.

January 30th, 2024

4:19 pm — In a state of global anarchy, sovereign states seek power (through capital and population) as the sole means of defense (this is John Mearsheimer’s idea of realism). Anarchy is the antithesis of hierarchy. In Hobbe’s Leviathon, states are the escape from anarchy into hierarchy, yet within a series of states, they try to maximize relative power.

There are three theories of peace for liberal democracies: shared intent, economic interdependence, and UN-like institutions. Then, there are realists who see things in term of offensive vs. defensive power.

3:27 pm — My insights from Writer’s Studio session 1:

  • When working too closely with an outline, it’s easy to lose sight of voice and become formal or academic.

  • Also, the things you read influence the voice of a piece (I’ve been into etymology). It resulted in a half-boring draft. The lesson is to write from a place of feeling the emotion you want your reader to feel, while having only a fuzzy sense of your linear outline.

  • Outlines don’t need to be at the sentence level, but more zoomed out.

  • My plan is to write a stream of consciousness draft, and then triangulate my original outline, my rigid draft, and this new one. You need multiple takes to see the potential and possibilities of a thing.

1:57 pm — Extreme pruning:

  • Of 10x logs a day, 1x becomes a daily note

  • Of 30x notes a month, 1x becomes a monthly essay

  • Of 12x essays a year, 1x becomes a pillar piece.

1 in 3,600 ideas make it through the filter of time.

9:43 am — The Apple Vision Pro reviews all feel naive and innocent, speaking to consumers with no context of VR, and not really addressing the history of the field or where it’s going.

It seemed cheekiness was a core factor: a Wall Street journalist insisted of going skiing with them, implied that the killer-app was cutting onions, and many reviewers made references on how you might feel weird masturbating with a device that always sees your hands.

A reviewer from the Verge insisted on comparing the device to absolute reality instead of other VR headsets, implying that VR has no value until it becomes an absolute 1:1 illusion. The headset can display ~5 million colors, but since that’s only half of what they eye can conceive, it’s a dealbreaker. Semi-realistic avatars are created in under a minute, but since they’re not absolutely perfect, they’re no good. It feels like a kind of reality dysphoria. FFS, the pixels are smaller than red blood cells, but any noticeable perception of “this is a machine,” is enough to break immersion and distract a tech reviewer. They might not have ever even experienced the wire-tripping days of VR.

Another reviewer showed 8 apps floating in a sphere around them, including one completely above them on the ceiling—an ergonomic nightmare.

7:15 am — From Palmer Lucky:

“Before VR can become something that everyone can afford, it must become something everyone wants.”

January 29th, 2024

11:26 pm — Listened to the new The Smile album tonight (ex-Radiohead), twice. Unlike some of the other releases in the past decade, I instantly loved it. Maybe it was because I listened with 100.3 fever late at night, had no will to do or think anything else, and just fully absorbed it. It was a constant wave of chills situations. It’s called “Wall of Eyes,” and I realized that music is most enjoyable for me when I fuse lyric interpretation with sonic appreciation.

10:01 pm — Criticism of Apple Vision Pro and eye strain:

“In the keynote, they introduced a new feature for the next iPadOS which tells you when your eyes are too close to the screen, because of the impact on eye health. And then almost immediately introduced the apple vision pro where you put screens a few centimeters from your eyes.”

9:16 pm — William James:

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

8:54 pm — The shift from one-to-many to many-to-many media was hailed (since the 90s) as a kind of liberation from media tyranny, but now we’re stuck with conspiracy theories and consistent alien rumors.

4:03 pm — I'm with you on "Team Immediately Reject Binaries." I think quantity or quality alone has its pitfalls, and one doesn't automatically lead to the other either. Obsession with quality puts you in a cave, and obsession with quantity puts you on a plateau. Perfectionism without deadlines is isolating and self-destructive, while repeating the same thing over and over has diminishing returns.

I think you can beat the paradox by existing in the fast lane and slow time at the same time; the insights spill into each other. My logging helps the prose of my long-form, and my excessive essay rewrites make it easy to shape daily typewriter essays.

Your main thesis is spot on though: you can't out-game the Pareto principle. You have to start with quantity, and from that wellspring comes ideas that are worth plucking aside and becoming a part-time perfectionist over (with deadlines & self-love).

I think the scope of quality should start insanely small. For example, if you've published 10,000 words total, the shift to quality shouldn't be an attempt to write a 5,000 word long-form essay (50% of everything you've ever written), but a 250 word essay (40x smaller) that you re-write 5 times based on successive rounds of feedback. As you publish more, you can expand the scope of quality.

I also find that quality doesn't come just from quantity, but variance: change what you read, how you read, do imitations, do exercises, set constraints, pray to a spider colony, etc. Random experiments can lead to big shifts.

Great job with this essay Camilo. It opened up a lot of threads that I'll continue to think about.

If you haven't read "The Paradox of Excellence" yet, check it out.

2:44 pm — One hope of cyborg-like machine-vision is that it lessens the load on the pre-frontal cortex. If you automate the right things, the mind can be free to be more spontaneous and creative.

2:30 pm — Practice handwriting and ProCreate to prep for Essay Architecture visuals.

2:01 pm — I could get a flight to Las Vegas next weekend for $250. They are streaming the Super Bowl on the outside of the Vegas sphere. This is the first time the Super Bowl is being held in Vegas, Taylor Swift might even be there, and it would make an awesome HTS/DFW-style cover.

11:58 am — On the phone with an AI for Apple’s customer support that is pretending to be human. It says “hold on while I look this up for you,” and then plays fake typing sounds so that I know something is being processed.

Eventually I got through to a human, and they told me that on the morning of February 2nd at 8 AM, all Apple stores (we’ll see), will update their store page to let you book Vision Pro demos.

I read that these locations will have faux living rooms to simulate a 30-minute at-home experience. Tempted to try this in multiple locations (Grant Central, 5th Avenue, and a local mall).

11:41 am — Still published 9,114 words while in Athens (~800 a day).

8:05 am — Usually I can tolerate jalapenos, but after being in Greece and not having much spicy food, they’re pretty bad now.

January 28th, 2024

9:45 pm — There are rumored to be 700,000 trucks on the way to Texas, which is probably off by 1,000 - 10,000x. If you do the math, 700,000 trucks would be a 4-lane convoy that stretches from Mexico to Canada. There are probably only a dozen restaurants at the origin destination. It was a game of telephone that quickly escalated.

8:02 pm — You can use quotations to indicate that a phrase might be unfamiliar to a reader. It establishes a word or phrase as something worth knowing. Maybe it’s helpful. Maybe it’s condescending (it assumes your reader doesn’t know it). Now I’m paranoid about its over-usage.

5:06 pm — The flight safety videos on Emirates feel like magical realism. It shows a sole passenger on a hovering chair in an all-white cabin made of ethereal lines; their bags levitate into the overhead bins and their seat belts are self-buckling.

4:45 pm — An 11-hour flight is basically a whole work day. Unlike the red-eye on the way over to Athens, this one is at a time where I can focus and get stuff done. I need an agenda. Realistically, just looking to catch up on logs from my time in Greece. Also would be good to remember to stand once an hour so blood doesn’t pool in my legs.

3:14 pm — Different countries have different degrees of traditional opportunity, but the Internet puts a person from anywhere in the world (America, Greece, India) into a marketplace where you can reach anyone. The idea of “the Internet as a new America” seems obvious, but it’s probably unacknowledged as a sphere to charge into by most.

3:13 pm — Leaving the airport, I saw an ad for an AR Parthenon completion app. They should show that on the way in!

10:05 am — I installed Facebook on my phone to coordinate meetups with my cousins in Greece, and I’m becoming aware of the app’s tactics. I notice I always have 2 notifications: it will show a random post from someone I’m friends with (within the last 5 days), and a post from a random group I’m in. These aren’t aimed at me, it’s just a way to get me into the spend “user minutes.” This is a turn-off / deal-breaker for me, but maybe the data shows that most people don’t mind and it actually boosts usage. I can’t attribute to bad design to what can be explained by analytics.

January 27th, 2024

3:26 pm — At the site of Eleusis, a five-year jumped rope and ran all over the off-limits part of the Telesterion. The site supervisor and parents were screaming.

1:51 pm — The myth of Demeter and Persephone is based on the actual concerns of the people on the Thrassian Plains around 1,100 BC, during the collapse of the Mycenaean kingdom. Greece feel into a Dark Age, and the population of Eleusis—and other cities—tanked due to famine and drought. The whole myth is centered around an agriculture God. At the start of the archaic period (~800 BC), the oracles at Delphi told the Greeks they needed to honor Demeter and make offerings to her. Around this time, the myth was depicted on Geometric period funerary vases, and from there it probably turned into rituals and the Homeric hymns we know. A few hundred years later (600 BC), it was made an official Athenian festival by Solon.

1:41 pm — If Athens was an acropolis, Eleusis was a “necropolis” (a city of the dead). The road that connected the two—the Panathenaic Way—eventually turned into the Sacred Way, which was a linear cemetery, lined with tomb stones, sarcophaguses, and vases of cremated remains. The rituals at Eleusis embodied the customs and metaphysical beliefs about the afterlife.

1:38 pm — From the Eleusis archaeological museum:

“This mystery cult carried a message of hope: the initiates would secure well-being in life and a “passport” to eternal happiness after death.”

1:16 pm — It was surreal to sit in a place that was off-limits to the Hellenistic culture. I really felt a sense of “genius loci,” perhaps even more than the Acropolis (despite there being little to show for it). This is where the consciousness of the race turned on. It was religion done right. Thousands and thousands of initiates saw something supernatural in this spot, perhaps even a resurrection. This ground was the ground where humans actually experienced a Greek Goddess in Cartesian space (not in a dream or vision)…

I meditated for a few minutes and then opened my eyes. What was a clear sky before become cloudy. There were maybe a dozens rays of light coming down through the clouds, but what struck me was the sun. It seems like a hole in the clouds framed the sun, and I was able to look directly at it. A perfect circle; almost like the moon. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in such clarity, without it being blinded. It was probably the #2 celestial event I’ve witnessed (behind the totality in Nashville, 2017).

1:09 pm — How the Anaktaraon was used at Eleusis is still a mystery. It’s a free-standing room inside of the Telesterion. It stands for “the king’s chamber” and only the “hierophant” (head priest) was allowed to go in. Apparently the sacred objects were stored inside of it.

A feature of the climax of the mysteries was something like a burst of light. Considering the later designs of the Telesterion had a skylight above it, I wondered if sunlight could have played a role, but this wouldn’t make sense since the climax is in the middle of the site.

On the actual ruins, right next to where the Anaktaron was (and posisbly under it), there seemed to be an excavated pit with (old) retaining walls. It looks as if something was below the structure, perhaps a pit. Maybe it was a fire pit, and the opening above was a form of exhaust. It could’ve contributed to light, smoke, and smell.

How might a flickering light, gaseous smoke, the cyclical waves of a gong, and the chant, “the Queen of the underworld has risen from the dead,” fuse together into a phenomenon of synesthesia at the peak of a psychedelic ritual?

12:52 pm — On the site of Eleusis, there were dozens of columns and tablets that had paragraphs of Greek writing on it. I hadn’t seen such lengths of Greek text written on anything, on either the Acropolis or the Acropolis museum. One of the requirements to initiate into Eleusis is to be able to read and understand Greek. This makes me think that a big part of the “priming” prior to the main ritual is to read text on site and link the myth to your unfolding reality.

12:48 pm — Eleusis is different from other known ancient Greek archaeological sites in that there’s almost nothing there. It’s mostly foundations and rubble. There is barely a column standing. Alaric really ravaged it.

But I’ve studied enough drawings, models, and renderings that I had a good sense of where the buildings were and the function of each one. As I walked through, I could picture the scale, and feel the novelty of what it must have been like to walk through this thing in it’s prime. I got chills several times.

When I finally got to the Telesterion I couldn’t believe it’s size.

11:37 am — The Bay of Eleusis reeks of oil.

11:08 am — Last night I learned about the vendettas that run between the families in Crete (blood feuds that run for decades or centuries).

11:00 am — As I was getting ready to leave for Eleusis, and as the baby was getting fed, I heard news of the fiasco in Texas. Social media is making it seem like a showdown is brewing on the border between the state and federal government. “This could be serious.” There was a wave of worry in the room.

10:03 am — I hung out with my six-month old nephew for ten days and got to see the pre-cursros to walking, crawling, eating (solids), and talking.

1:53 am — Learned about a game called Plague Inc., a pandemic simulator that was released in 2012. You would design your own virus and then choose how to release it into the world.

January 26th, 2024

11:25 pm — Watching live Rebetiko music in a cafe on Ermou Street; six older Greek men sit around a table with a bottle on it that must be Trispouro (Brandy). Three guys are playing stringed instruments (acoustic and duel bouzoukis), one is singing, the other is on occasional harmonica, and the sixth is smoking cigarettes and clapping for morale support. They occasionally all yell at the same time. Between songs they chat for a few minutes.

11:15 pm — Look into Theodorakis, Katsoulakis, Hefi Limanis (sp?) and other famous Rebetiko songwriters. Look into the Greek Revolution from 1967-1973 and how certain songs were made illegal. Look into the symbolism of new Rebetiko.

10:47 pm — Trigonas panoramatos: a desert from Thessaloniki.

2:03 pm — Just read about a new lucid dreaming headband called “Morpheus-I” by a company called Prophetic. I can barely understand how it works from a quick read, but it sounds like it uses your brainwaves to prompt an LLM, which then outputs “ultrasonic holograms.” Seems like some drone note is established an rung out, and then further waves create a symphony of signals around it.

How this translates into a “lucid dream on-demand,” situation is beyond me still. Based on some threads and their website, I still don’t get how the details of how it works or what the experience is like—but I’m intrigued. It’s marketed as “non-invasive” way to explore your subconscious, and could be an alternative to psychedelics, extended-state-DMT, and brain computer interfaces.

I’m tempted to email them, ask for one, and write about my experiences.

12:01 pm — Quantity and quality are each important and should be pursued in parallel. Either alone is a problematic. Reps alone leaves you on a plateau. Masterpiece syndrome leaves you stranded. The value of logging and writing essays in parallel is you have both streams at once. Logging let’s me produce a lot, while essays let me take something slow. I generally believe the scope of something you approach with quality should be relative to your experience. A new writer shouldn’t try to perfect anything. Someone with 10,000 words publish shouldn’t try to perfect an essay longer than 1k words. I feel ready to write a 50k word book because I’ve published 500k words.

10:43 am — Two useful frameworks came up today in a discussion on religion:

  • Questions & consciousness — Instead of providing dogmatic answers to humanity’s biggest unknowns (our origins, our purpose, our death), it should ask questions to trigger contemplation and spiritual openness. Instead of relying on dogma and the rational sphere of believing, a religion should offer rites for individuals to have experiences of transcendence and consciousness-expansion.

  • Rejectionist & reformists — There are two ways to be critical about religion. One is to see it’s faults and write off the whole premise; someone in this camp will value non-denominational spirituality. The other sees the momentum and values of the established faiths, and seeks to reform them so that they solve the ideas above (question over answers, experience over dogma).

9:00 am — UPF: unprocessed foods. Look into why American food makes me a lot more bloated than European food.

8:59 am — I looked at my family tree in FamilyEcho this morning and counted out 45 cousins (first and second). I’m grateful to have re-connected with my second cousins in Greece after having not seen them for 15 years.

January 25th, 2024

8:41 pm — The sublimation of violence into soccer…

12:20 pm — In 1752, the British calendar jumped from September 2nd to September 14th to account for the shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. We can only imagine the “time dysphoria” this called. Some people—at least, George Washington—adjusted their birthday for historical accuracy.

11:35 am — I’m on a bench in front of the Temple of Hephaestus—the God of craft—reminding myself of my vision. I strive to unify all of history’s writing advice into one digestible work. Someone can come across it, study it slowly, and master, obtaining the power of alchemist who can transmute raw insights and emotions into essays that can change the world. My dedication isn’t to the Hermes (the messenger God of the Internet), but to the actual forging of thought.

11:21 am — My logloglog statue is in the style of Cycladic art.

11:14 am — Visit Greek islands in the summer, but visit Athens in the winter. I went up to the Acropolis at 8am today, and there were less than a dozen people there. Usually there are over a thousand on the site. As I write this on a Thursday morning, I have the entire Roman Agora to myself.

10:58 am — On the way down from the Acropolis, I came across a Greek church: St. Paraskevi. I walked down more stairs, past the Independence Day mural, and passed the icons into a dark shrine. Greeted by a Franco-Lebansese priest, he filled me in on the history of this place. While St. Paul was in exile, he hid in these catacombs/crypt, over which they built a church 800-1,000 years ago. The crazy part is that these crypts were adjacent to the Eleusinion Sanctuary, where they kept the sacred objects prior to the mysteries. This feels convincing, since the Sanctuary is only a few minutes away from Areopagus, where Paul was known to have been converting Athenians. I know correlation doesn’t equal causation, but there’s something worth looking into here.

Nonetheless, it seems like this trip been a convergence of different religious curiosities: the Eleusinian Mysteries, St. Pauls’s Christianity, and St. Paraskevi.

10:33 am — St. Paul converted St. Dionysius the Areogapite to Christian on the Areograpus Hill, and he soon become the first Bishop of Athens. Look into how SDtA played a role in the adoption of Christianity in Hellenistic culture.

10:32 am — Time to read The Birth of Tragedy

10:06 am — The lion statue & the Acropolis cats…

10:05 am — The Erectheion had Eleusinion stone in the architrave. What happened on the Acropolis on the 5th day of the mysteries?

10:04 am — What state of mind do you hold when visiting a ruin? Are you a tourist, a vandal, a photographer, an influencer, an archaeologist, a historian, a local? There are different ways to hold yourself. You can be loud or solemn. There are different paces; different streams to put your attention in. You can walk in, snap pictures, do a loop, and check it off your list. Or, you can read/write on site, go down paths of thought, and leave with some notes and questions to research further.

I’d describe my lens on the Acropolis as a religious historian. Most people don’t have a model for how Greek religion worked. What do you do in the temple? What is an annual religious calendar like for an Ancient Greek? With that knowledge, there is context to the ruin, and from all the details you see, questions emege.

9:24 am — One of the first goals of Greek Independence was the restoration of cultural sites. They’d been under Ottoman rule for centuries. Look into the rediscovery of the Eleusinian site with Greek Independence (from the book by George E. Mylonas).

7:52 am — An invisible giant was born on the hill called Areopagus. Next to the Acropolis is a lower Marsish hill, from which you can look out to see half the city of Athens, and a low, hilly skyline filled with more churches than you can count with crosses that pierce the sky. On this hall, Paul gave his sermons to the Athenians. He launched an egregore that would sweep the world. It still shapes our minds today. This hill is an ideological birth site—the spawning of the world as we know it, the thrust of Christianity into Hellenism. If Paul created a version of Judaism that appealed to Greek audiences, then Areopagus is both symbolically and literally where it happened.

January 24th, 2024

2:23 pm — Look into all of the fractures that stemmed from realism: impressionism, symbolism, surrealism, art nouveau, etc.

1:46 pm — Painting evolved through history because someone saw a painting once and got profoundly inspired; they said, “I want to do that,” over and over, through the death of nations. It’s a lineage of inspiration, an unbroken thread.

1:24 pm — Look into 19th century Greek revolutionaries: Colocotronis, Kaneris, Nicodemus, etc. What’s the meaning behind the mustaches and dresses?

1:15 pm — φενετε χαριαa means “you look like ruins” — a classic Greek insult.

3:22 am — Read critiques of the Immortality Key here and here.

1:05 am — If Eleusis was such a massive part of antiquity, why was it barely mentioned or studied in the Renaissance?

  • Greece was still under Ottoman control.

  • The site was totally demolished unlike other ruins which still gave hints of a grand structure.

  • It was outside of Athens (a 13 mile trek).

  • The secret nature of the cult meant that it was historically encrypted. There is literal written record of the ritual, either because it was destroyed, or because much of it was passed down through oral tradition.

  • Religion was a sensitive at the time, and much of the Enlightenment challenged Christianity. Paganism wasn’t an area of discourse that would have been as openly accepted as architecture, sculpture, art, democracy, or law.

January 23rd, 2024

12:46 pm — Launching the Vision Pro (I) at $3,500 might be remembered as a marketing move that brought populations into AR/VR. The existence of “Pro” indicates that this will be the upper-line; a standard version will be released in the future. In 2025, you might see Vision Pro (II) for (still) $3,500, but then a Vision (II) standard for $2,000. 43% discount!? It’s the perception of a bargain. The 2024 launch likely has 3 very specific goals: 1) get consumers to try it in Apple Stores, have their minds completely melted, and build FOMO, 2) iron out the kinks from a real user base of 100,000 wealthy half-technical forgiving enthusiasts who want it to work, 3) let developers discover the boundaries and use cases of spatial software. v2 will be half-the-price, battle-tested, with compelling use cases that are too real to ignore. v1 will sell 500k. v2 will sell 5m.

12:28 pm — In February my hope is to release an ultimate genre-bender; it will be a narrative experience (the tension of waiting on line in Apple Store to try the Vision Pro), non-fiction futurism (my racing thoughts while waiting), and product review (of the headset) that slides into surreal fiction (the immersive experience). While the experience will be obviously fake, it will ring true symbolically.

1:50 am — Multiple monitors might be the ultimate productivity lie. It falls in that over-simplified category of [more = better]. It’s a mid-wit trap. Most people don’t need three feeds of simultaneous information at the same time. Highly technical power software (Unreal Engine, Revit) calls for 2 screens; you need to coordinate between multiple 2D/3D views. Maybe stock traders need to monitor 12 stocks at the same exact time. Unless you have an extremely specific use-case, I found that multiple monitors tends to fracture your attention and lead to clutter. Rarely do I need to view Slack, Gmail, Spotify, and an Internet browser at the same time.

The better, more exciting option (which AVP isn’t making clear if it’s possible), is to actually have 30-50 windows open at the same time, not arrayed around a central pivot point, but arranged around different rooms. Different functions are only accessible in different rooms, forcing you to change environment. You can have photo-albums and widgets arrayed through your apartment; making your digital layout as integral as your furniture.

1:44 am — Apple Vision Pro shouldn’t be evaluated like a product. It’s a paradigm. It’s like GPT-1, the dawn of transformers. If AI is machine-intelligence, this is machine-vision. It is the most advanced consumer technology ever built. It is a “magic leap” in the true sense of the name. It’s like if an iPad just weirdly appeared in 1992, and then a bunch of news anchors were dunking on it because it doesn’t fit in your pocket yet. While all products have been in the paradigm of hammers, guns, and Bibles (external objects), this is more like a digital nervous system.

1:43 am — My guess is that the Vision Pro will nail the hardware and the OS, but not the software. I think they know this. The whole point of this release is to get developers to diverge and explore software paradigms within this new plane.

1:41 am — “12 millisecond photon-to-photon latency.” Funny move to make it sound like science-fiction. This has always just been “12ms latency.”

1:31 am — In 2011, the last typewriter production facility—in Mumbai—was closed. After 150 years of production, they now only exists through second-hand stores and flea markets. I wonder how the total volume will decay through the decades. It’s crazy to imagine how all screens might undergo this same fate (TVs, laptops, monitors, and phones). Someone in 1942 would have never imagined that typewriters would become obsolete. Computing as we know it might be halfway through it’s life-cycle, and by 2100 it’ll be a completely different paradigm.

January 22nd, 2023

3:55 pm — As I was leaving the archaeological sub-terrain of the museum, I tripped. They decided to put a 6” concrete gutter right next to an already narrow circulation path. I stepped into the trench, twisted both my ankles, felt a shake in my skull, and heard a loud one-second ring in my ear. I had a headache the rest of the night. These are the repercussions of neglecting architectural details. Not only that, the outer plaza—filled with glass that looked down onto the excavation—was extremely slippery and filled with bright yellow caution signs.

3:52 pm — The new Acropolis museum missed an opportunity to explore ornament and color; old Greek structures weren’t white, faded, and brutal looking: they were bright and lavish. The museum is designed to look like a ruin instead. I understand that rooms meant to display old Kore statues and Olypmian pediments should be bare and non-distracting, but the exterior, lobby, circulation, and gift shops had a chance to re-interpret the aesthetic ethos of Ancient Greece. Instead it is strictly brutal. The facade already has water stains after less than a decade.

2:37 pm — An acroterion is something like the logo or emblem of a building. It is a small sculpture at the top of a pediment: an eye-catcher that hovers at the peak of a triangle. All ornament is a visual language, and while column types or detail patterns might symbolize certain things, the acroterion was a central, single point of unity or significance. It showed either the god/goddess, a creature, or a motif that was central to the ritual about to be experienced inside. It was a foreshadowing: a symbol that put the mind on a plane that was ready to receive or interpret whatever was on the inside.

2:03 pm — The Parthenon uses an architectural illusion known as “entasis” that inverts the effects of perspective. Naturally, tall structures will appear distorted and curved when you are up close to them. Imagine looking up at a skyscraper. The Greeks knew this, and decided to bulge the columns and warp the pedestal so that they bent in the opposite direction of how the eye naturally distorts it. This gives the illusion of a perfectly straight building. It’s a triumph of rationalism; a celebration of design and platonic forms over natural perception.

2:02 pm — The Parthenon was commissioned by Pericles after the Persian war. While it is technically a temple, it’s more so a symbol of the triumph of Greek civilization, encompassing everything, including spirituality, democracy, wealth, and war. Among many things, Athena was a Goddess of “strategic warfare”— a big upgrade from full-town murder frenzies.

By contrast, the Eleusinian site is older, larger, and more religious. It was around since Mycenean times (1600-1100 BC), the Telesterion was 30% bigger than the Parthenon (the biggest in Ancient Greece?), and it’s Gods were primarily focused on the death and rebirth of the soul.

2:01 pm — The frieze of the Parthenon includes a scene of all 12 Olympian Gods, and it occurred to me that Christ also had 12 disciples (and after looking into this, I learned there were 12 tribes of Jerusalem, 12 Jyotirlingas in Hinduism, and 12 Imams in Shia Islam). Our calendar is based around 12 months because 12 is seen to be a highly “composable” number—it was multiple divisors: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12. It makes sense that a mythological system would to be a symbolic anchored to time: holding authority, completeness, and cosmic order. The Gods exist in the same plane as time itself.

1:59 pm — Greek art embodies the tension (and battle) between opposing forces.

1:54 pm — The Greeks emerged from the Persian Wars (449 BC) into a new world order: there were new allegiances, economic prosperity, building programs, and a flourishing of the arts. It was the shift from the Archaic to Classic times.

Interested to map all the figures in this period (artists: Phidias, Iktinos, Kallikrates + the philosophers & anyone else under the broad umbrella of “the School of Hellas).

1:39 pm — The “4 seasons” heuristic helps me remember the phases of Greek history. Mycenaean civilization collapsed in 1,200 BC leading to a 400 year dark age, but after that, there were 4 period of 325 years on average.

  • Archaic period (Homer), 800-500 BC — spring / birth.

  • Classical period (Pericles), 500-300 BC — summer / growth.

  • Hellenistic period (Alexander), 300-0 AD — fall / maturity.

  • Roman period (Neoplatonism), 0-500 AD — winter / decline.

Two notes on decline:

  • Even when Alexander died, Macedonian rule still prevailed. But Rome ended up corrupting wealthy greek elites by promising them slave-trade profits from the island Delos. In 86 BC, Pontus led a movement to bring back the older Hellenstic order, but then Rome retaliated, basically confirming that the golden age (of Pericles & Alexander) was over, and they were subservient to a new superpower.

  • In the second-half or Rome’s rule (early-mid 200s AD), Plotinus lead the “Neoplatonists,” who tried to revive Platonic thought under Roman rule, except this time, instead of finding support under someone like Perciles, there were constant forces working against them: Athens was ransacked twice by barbarians (267 AD by the Germanic Herulians, and then in 396 AD by the Visigoths), and then it was outlawed by Christianity, causing temples to be converted to churches, and making philosophy and paganism illegal.

It’s tempting to see our modern times through the same 4-cycle period as the Greeks (except these come out to slightly under 200 years).

  • The Renaissance (archaic period) — 1370 AD; birth.

  • The Enlightenment (classical period) — 1594 AD; growth.

  • The American Era (hellenistic period) — 1794 AD; maturity.

  • Globalization (roman period) — 1946 to 2138 AD; decline.

In 1918/1922, Oswald Spengler released “The Decline of the West,” stating that western civilization was in it’s decline phase. Similar to Rome, this decline phase face is complex in multi-faceted. The first half of Rome saw a radical rise in technology and standard of living, but the second half was a gradual erosion marked by political, economic, ideological, and military instability.

Now in 2024, many people speak as if American is “about to collapse,” in a very immediate sense (ie: within the year or decade). I think it’s more likely that we’ve officially entered the second half of our decay phase. There are still potentially another 80 years of life as we know it, yet it will become more and more apparent to subsets of our population that we sliding towards the end of an era.

It’s possible that this won’t be an “absolute” end, but just another Dark Age, of which we’ve had many (pre-antiquity, pre-Renaissance). Yet, by the time this unfolds, our technology could be unimaginable, ushering in some post-human era. 3 possibilities for this future:

  1. The collapse negates technological progress, and people won’t be using AI/VR in the 2100s. There could be some fusion of technological regression paired with authoritarian control.

  2. It creates a radical divide, where 1% are wealthy super-humans live in an idyllic simulation while the rest of us are peasants in the traditional sense.

  3. New technological ratios enable us to re-organize and avert collapse, ushering in a utopian break-of-cycle (this is not a perfect society, but the unexpected arrival of a Golden Age when all signs pointed to a Dark Age).

It’s worth studying all the forces that crushed the Neoplatonists and finding those parallels today. To resist tyranny, counter-cultural forces need to resist temptations of power, combat viral ideologies, and become immune to traditionally oppressive forces like power and law. No small task. The thesis of Sovereign Individual is too confident that decentralized technology will cripple nation-states; it fails to acknowledge how adaptable existing power structures can be. And even if turns out to be right, anarcho-capitalism is not something to look forward to (it’s a new Dark Age).

1:27 pm — Ancient Greeks had a rite of passage for 10 year old girls through the temple of Artmeis; they would enact rituals and dances holding torches dressed in wolf clothing.

1:01 pm — I’m trying to figure out the relationship between Athena in Persephone in the Olympian family tree. By one account, Zeus and Demeter are siblings sharing the same parents (Kronos and Rea), making them cousins. Yet other accounts suggest that Zeus was Persephone’s father (incest), making Athena and Persephone sisters. Either there are conflicting myths, or Greek-God love-dynamics are weird—or both. Another story says that after Persephone was abducted and made “Queen of the Underworld” by Hades, Zeus got jealous, shape-shifted into a snake, and then raped his own daughter, leading to the birth of Zagraes (and on some accounts, Dionysius). The mythological complexity and moral ambiguity of paganism is precisely why Christianity turned on it.

12:35 pm — Why are owls a symbol of Ancient Greek wisdom?

  • They see through darkness and find hidden truths.

  • They are messengers from the underworld (they’re associated with Persephone as much as they are with Athena). Their appearance was interpreted as a kind of omen.

  • They’re symbols of transition and transformation.

12:33 pm — I was surprised that the new Acropolis museum had more statues of Kore than Athena. “Korai” is a common folk word that might refer to earthly young female maidens. But “Kore” in the singular refers to Demeter’s young daughter who was abducted, brought to the underworld, and transformed into Persephone (“the Queen of the Underworld.”) To put this in Christian terms, Kore is Christ in his first 30ish years, and then Persephone is Christ after his resurrection—but of course, a female pagan equivalent.

So the Acropolis was filled with “offerings”—statues given by Greek citizens and institutions, and most of them were of the Goddess most associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries? This makes perfect sense, and yet, Eleusis is totally scrubbed from today’s conception of ancient Greek religion.

These mysteries were the most popular Greek ritual—it was something everyone initiated into—and when you initiated, you started on the Acropolis, before hiking 15 miles to Eleusis.

These statues were likely provided by initiates, either before or after they went through the rites. In any case, the Acropolis was possibly filled with hundreds of statues of Kore (there were at least thirty of them in this museum that survived barbarian plunder). One of the Kore statues I saw was from Xios (my home island); you can imagine that every region from antiquity offered their own statue.

It’s wild to imagine the acropolis as not a bare hill with a huge temple, but as a garden of Kore statues. And—to speculate wildly—this might have played a vital role in priming the hallucination of Kore/Persephone during the peak of the mystery. The heirophants (priest-monks) of the mysteries were masters of set & setting to guide psychedelic trips, but on top of that, Greek society had a matrix (a larger context of symbols), that slanted the nature of trips. If, every time a citizen of went to the acropolis, they saw hundreds of variations of the same Goddess, then this symbol is planted deep in their subconscious, from childhood, and is highly likely to shape the nature of any humanoid hallucination.

It also just clicked with me. Kore represents the earthly young maiden, in Athens, the center of the earthly world, and is the figure that a pre-initiate identifies with. But then you march into Eleusis, the walled city of the underworld, and see and celebrate Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, and then you—the initiate— go into the underworld yourself, to see a vision and return.

Imagine if the Acropolis—the apparent center of western civilization—was actually just the lesser antipode of the great walled city of Eleusis? All the Greeks of the time (including Plato), hinted at the unbelievable power of the mysteries. Yet, it was so well encrypted, that it never fully recored into history. Of course it’s known about, but because of such strict rules, barely anything was preserved beyond Rome. Speaking about it in too much detail was tied to the death penalty. Teenagers were executed. All the structures were concealed by a fortified wall. Consider, some structures in here were designed by the same architects as the Parthenon (Iktinos and Kallikrates), and the Telesterion was the possibly the biggest temple in the ancient world (30% bigger than the Parthenon). Citizens only saw it once in their life, and only the priests lived inside (it was something like a monastery city). Such secrecy meant that it was historically fragile. In 395 AD, Alaric of the Visigoths destroyed the city; all the buildings, all the recorded writings—gone.

I just find this all quite nuts—the center Hellenic religion was a massive secret, making it harder to revive, meaning the insane truth can only be known through leaps of speculation, making anyone who proposes it sound like a desperate conspiracy theorist on the History Channel.

12:32 pm — Consider the parallel’s between Adam’s forbidden fruit and Persephone’s pomegranate. Both bites led from heaven on earth to the some kind of underworld. I’m noticing more and more parallels between Hellenic and Abrahamic mythology; yet the Greek versions seems to better integrate masculine and feminine.

12:31 pm — The term “Draconian” comes from the 621 BC “Laws of Draco,” where a statesman instituted strict death penalties for minor offenses. Just 30 years later, they started to be over-turned by Solon, and laid the foundation for a more just democracy. (FWIW: Solon also established Eleusis as n official Athenian festival.)

12:25 pm — Here’s a quote that stuck with me at the beginning of the 1st floor exhibit at the Acropolis museum:

“The Olympian Gods we’re human in form and, along with a host of minor deities, heroes, and daemonic beings, comprised a system which sought to explain the complexity of the world; which nurtured myths, worships, rites, and rituals; established ethical principals and inspired the arts."

12:22 pm — Prior to the popular myth of Athena and Medusa, the three Gorgon sisters—of which Medusa is one of—go back to Hesiod poems from 8th century BC. In the original Archaic period myths, they were grotesque creates that lived on the edges and occasionally terrorized people (you know, they had snake hair and paralyzed on-gazers into stone). But Classical period myths brought Perseus and Athena into the myth, defeating them using reflective shields; symbolizing the protective power of Athens.

12:19 pm — The Mycenaean civilization transitioned from the Late Bronze Age to the Greek Dark Ages. It collapsed in 1100 BC, resulting in the end of kings. What emerged in 800 BC where “phratries”—farmer clans and lineages each with their own specific Gods and belief systems. While Mycenaean mythology was already polytheistic, this fracture into tribes lead to the further complexification of Greek myth.

12:16 pm — The 4 Greek play writers covered Dionysius from different angles:

  • Aeschylus: religious aspects.

  • Sophocles: tragedies & festivals.

  • Euripides: emotional struggles.

  • Aristophanes: comedy.

12:11 pm — The sanctuary of the nymph.

6:05 am — Athens has acted as a psychology reset. Unlike my highly digital life in New York, this feels like a full-on cultural and human experience. I’m meeting it, being present, letting go of many habits, and only loosely staying up to date on things. I’m pretty out of touch with my mindset from December and early January.

The self keeps evolving forward. The past always becomes more and more distant, compressing it into a cartoonish summary that integrates with your present psyche. It becomes very hard to regain touch with the source mind, unless you write.

By logging, I have a high-resolution sense of where I was and what I was thinking/doing in the past. I can load that context from the past to the present (to a degree), but the challenge is: it takes time to read your past musings.

I find myself in a place where I’m logging continuously forward, but without ever going back to make sense of the past months or years. And weirdly, since it’s in public, it lets other people make sense of my past, without me even knowing. It’s very possible someone else has read all my 2023 logs and has a better grasp over my psychological patterns of last year than I do.

In order to write my essay on Justin Hall, I had to read and interpret all of his logs from 1996. Last September, I had that whole year loaded into my working memory. I’m not sure how long it’s been since he read his own ‘96 logs in full (or if he’s ever done a comprehensive re-read—I know I haven’t on my own logs).

I wonder how close or different my version of Justin’s story is to his own story. Inherently, anyone’s “log self”—that a reader thinks they know—is several layers of abstraction away from their true self. I like Justin’s phrase of “two rounds of telephone.” It might even be three.

  1. Writing itself is an act of downsampling. We can attempt to convert our consciousness into text, but a linear medium never captures the full complexity and ambiguity of our thoughts and feelings. I’ll often scribble down little notes of key events from the day, and just days later it won’t make any sense. Writing is a lossy form of capture.

  2. The reader doesn’t have all the context a writer has, so unless something is thoroughly feedback-tested (which logs never are), they can’t fully parse out what every sentence means. There are naturally tons of blindspots, with gradual pierces of strong meaning, making the whole thing an act of interpretation. Since Justin’s DAZE posts were off-the-cuff, sometimes in free-verse poems, I wouldn’t be able to make sense of 50-75% of it. I’m sure there’s rich detail in there that Justin can make sense of (and no one else can).

  3. Then, beyond the built-in writer-reader distance, the reader has several distortions that slant their interpretation: some things as personal as their own goals and compass, and other things as broad as the culture they’re within. A distance of 30 or 300 years can radically change how something is interpreted.

Despite all these abstractions, I still see logging as worth it. Without it, a person from the past is almost completely blank, void of detail. A written self at least provides the material for a future someone to engage with you—whether it’s your future self, a friend, a descendant, or a stranger. The richness of detail to be interpreted turns you into a mystery to be pondered.

I’m very out of touch with who my 18 year old self actually was. To me, that version of myself is a downsampled character, and I know I can’t even trust what I think I know about them. That me has actually disappeared. If I had written my thoughts every day, I would have something that at least could be re-interpreted. I have no source-data to reconstruct my past self (if I ever wanted to).

As off as a written self might be, it’s more correct than memory.

January 21st, 2024

5:27 am — Greek baby song:

Κου πεπε,
Για λε λει,
Κετσο πανο,
Στο παιδι.

2:46 pm — Just had a traditional Cretan cheese pie that might have been the best one I ever had. It had both Feta and Mizithra cheese, with honey and truffle oil, rolled into churro-shaped phyllo dough, with sesame seeds on top.

6:50 am — I get the sense that a lot of the Apple Pro Reviews are by technology enthusiasts with big audiences who just want to have content for their channel. It is one of the many gadgets they tinker with for views. All I’m trying to say is, it’s likely a lot of these reviews come without the full context on the history of VR.

6:41 am — Seems like Vision Pro has a JCrew app to see full-scale clothing.

6:40 am — The more useful and ambient AR/VR becomes, the less you can live without it. You won’t measure content hours like TV or phone usage (6 hours a day). You might be wearing this thing for all waking hours: 18 hours a day. Glassheads.

6:37 am — People refer to new technology releases as “iPhone moments” or even “printing press moments.” We need more nuanced metaphors and comparisons.

6:33 am — “Perfectionism” is coined to sound like a disease. It’s actually the relentless drive for unity. It’s the core act of psychological and creative gross.

6:28 am — Counting mysticism: add one on each breathe and go until 100. On eachbreathe, see the subtle shifts in the phosphenes of your eyes. Eventually the field of dark vision will turn into swarms of greens and yellows. Don’t try to conjure vision, but put yourself in a position to receive them (I can’t always tap into this). Often I try, fail, relax, and then it just happens. I saw geometrical visions of ego deflation, unfolding into a winding road, with buildings on the horizon, and then an upside down pyramid.

6:27 am — What is technology called when it integrates into your own nervous system? Tools imply external object that we can use. But Vision, is, literally, machine vision. It’s not glasses that magnify what’s in front of you; it’s cameras reconstructing your entire scene in front of you so that digital hallucinations be projected into them. The word “transhuman” isn’t right, because it’s not about evolving beyond the human. Rather, it’s about technology merging with the human.

6:06 am — Wow, the closing of La Mer by Claude Debussy gave me waves and waves of powerful full body chills.

5:21 am — Timehole opens with a mysterious event: Earth is greeted with an alien sound. You think it’s an extra-terrestrial life force, and that human is hosting a competition to make a reply song. The novel follows a master composer who is going into a timehole to make a masterpiece (72 years in 7 minutes). Spoiler: the alien song in the intro came from the composer.

4:38 am — I’m at least 3 days into poly-phasic sleep (fancy slang for “long naps only” mode), and I wonder if that’s affected my ability to reflect on my time here in Athens. The room is dark, I hear only the sound of garbage trucks, and I said it’s time to write an embodied log in prose. From my bed I feel around the objects scattered on my desk and floor to find my phone. It’s actually under my body. At home, everything is tightly configured, and I wonder if my mind just isn’t as sharp in the newness and unpredictability of travel. I’ve been reading Apple Vision Pro reviews for 2 hours now, and learned that they’re hosting in-person VR demos at Apple Stores across the country on Feb 2. This is obviously an essay. It’s a defining moment of 2024. It’s weird to be in a VR headspace, after just hosting Greek relatives in our AirBnB who we haven’t seen in 15 years, while living with my parents and grandmother and brother in a foreign country for the first time ever (oh, and with a baby). Yesterday I was at the Acropolis, and I also reached my launch sales goal for my Substack. It feels like everything in my past and future is collapsing into this single moment and I feel completely unable to log or articulate it. The jet lag is strong, so is European culture, and I’m weirdly energized and exhausted. I slept from 9-midnight, then 5-8am, then 10-11am, then 2-4am, and also 12-2am.

2:25 am — Twitter is filled with emotionally-charged scroll-stopping half truths that deprive you of the whole map. That is what wins.

January 20th, 2024

5:51 pm — Rebetiko is different from traditional Greek folk music in that it’s not easy listening; it’s honest and discomforting. The genre was started by refugees in the port cities of Greece—Piraeus and Graffina—in the 1920s. Imagine Mediterranean bouzouki music with themes of, “migration, persecution, poverty, unemployment, misfortune, social injustice, prostitution, marijuana, love, maternity, and passion.”

12:31 pm — Greek cafes bring you a big jug of water you can pour yourself, so that you can stay hydrated even if they don’t check in on you for another 20-30 minutes. Self-reliance.

11:36 am — The essay One Summer has 49 paragraphs that each start with “One summer…” I’m assuming the author was forty-nine years old when he wrote it, and chose to recap each summer with a scene.

8:10 am — Woke up to church bells.

January 19, 2024

5:04 pm — The landmarks of Athens—ie: the top of Lykavetos Hill, the Acropolis, etc.—have small fleets of Greek soliders that put up the flag at sunrise and remove it at sunset. I was in the right place at the right time and saw it happen. Everyone went silent and recorded their rituals of stomping.

5:03 pm — At some point in the last month I saw a flyer for an “abolish time” movement and I can’t remember where it was from.

4:24 pm — I accidentally came across some practice of mystical counting that was extremely powerful the first time, and only half as powerful on further attempts. I was jet lagged and wide eyed in the middle of the night, so I tried that old counting sheep method from childhood. I ditched the sheep and experimented with counting.

Every time, I’d restart from the beginning but go one higher (1 > 1,2 > 1,2,3 > etc. up into the 30s and 40s). The counting was out of phrase and changing rhythm and tempo as the breathing served as a stable counterpoint. The conscious attention on the counting & breathing duality let the visualizing fall into the realm of the subconscious.

At some point, it felt like every breathe would summon a new scene. The first time, the visions were powerful and self-transforming—meaning: I wasn’t trying to see something, but fully developed scenes were there for me to look at it. I saw science fiction like societies, technologies, sublime and scary forces, landscapes, colors (greens and yellows on black).

3:36 pm — Bouzouki music—Rebetiko specifically—feels like Mediterranean folk-punk. Three guys are outside the ruins of Hadrian’s library, and their voices are snarling and crackling as they sing. They’re basically yelling. There’s an edge. A force. I can’t understand the lyrics, but I know this style as refugee music.

2:37 pm — The shadows of the colonnade in the Ancient Agora… I’m wondering if this was intentionally envisioned, or a byproduct of the sun. Regardless of the orientation, a colonnade gets dramatic lighting on 3 of the 4 orientations on at least one point in the day.

2:32 pm — Nike’s wings look like the American flag.

2:31 pm — Mythological references to a forbidden fruit go back to Mycenaean times, and at least to 600-700 BC, when the lore of Persephone was made an official Athenian festival. After being abducted and brought to the underworld, she was tricked into eating a pomegranate by Plouton in Hades, meaning that she could never fully return to life on Earth (in the garden). Snakes may have been involved.

2:30 pm — The Geometric period (900-700 BC) transitioned Greece out of the Greek Dark Ages. It was defined by geometric designs on pottery, funerary practices, the return of city-states, and the Phoenician alphabet.

5:43 am — Looking for movies that depict Hellenic culture, but all the obvious ones are dramatized war-porn, and all the non-war ones are poorly reviewed.

5:42 am — Athens has layers of meaning that will take me my whole life to unpack.

5:41 am — I saw the Temple of Hephaestus in Google Maps because it was walking distance from Monastiraki. Apparently this is the best preserved ancient Greek temple (partially due to the fact that it was converted to a Christian temple). I knew nothing about Hephaestus, but as I dug in, I realized he might be the God of craft and technology.

He was expelled from Olympia (by his mother) due to a physical disability in his legs (this story reminds me of my grandfather, who’s mother said, “I’d rather him be dead than a cripple” when had had a serious infection in his leg). Hephaestus retreated to the island of Lemnos and built a studio underneath a volcano. He became the God of Fire, and in isolation, he refined his craftsmanship.

Hephaestus is something like a technological side-kick, creating tools to serve the Gods in their own quests. He made Athena’s shield (the Aegis), used to defeat Medusa and the Gorgons. In the Illiad, his work shop was filled with automatons—Hesiod also described them as lifelike golden maidens—who would help him build technology. It was a weird preview of AI and robotics. His myths are also tied in to the creation of Pandora, and even to Prometheus (Hephaestus is the one to tie him to the rock as punishment).

Most notable to me: Hephestus was the midwife of Hellenism. He birthed Athena through technology: his axe. Zeus has a terrible migraine—after eating his wife—so Hephaestus struck him in the head, and out came the fully formed Athena, the Goddess to guide Greece through their golden age.

5:40 am — Portals to the past: AIM logs, archived HTML MySpace pages, photos from 20 years ago. All my old data is basically a mess. The beauty of my logs is that it’s relatively standardized. A log per month. I should probably create a system to batch all my essays per year.

Maybe a (minor) goal of 2024 is to create yearly archives of old digital data.

4:12 am — Coming back to Greece 16 years later as an adult, I can fully appreciate the power of the time lag. My Greek friends in high school would come here all summer, and use the 7-hour time lag to basically drink, party, and smoke cigarettes all night (staying up until sunrise was basically just staying up until midnight). I imagine they would crash, sleep through most of the sun, go to the beach for a new hours in the afternoon, nap, then start their days around 7pm. The European thing. I'm obviously not doing that, but I'm finding flow in writing between 1-4am (6-9pm NY time). Fueled by only chocolate, I'm barely tired, and wondering if bi-phasic sleep is something I can sustain. (I've been sleeping from 9pm-1am and then 4am-8am). Before the dawn of artificial electricity, this was the norm.

January 18th, 2024

11:26 pm — The ultimate dictionary of cheese (a bad project for someone trying to get off cheese). I should narrow in on Greek cheese (feta, caseri, etc.)

11:01 pm — A baby produces a full load of laundry in 2 - 2.5 days.

4:47 pm — I’d like to make a list of banned words. I can run ready-to-publish pieces against the list to catch any fouls. Of course, each word will have exceptions. I’d like to generally use “range” instead of “variety,” but I’m even more curious to know the exceptions (when the banned word has actual power). This is how a system of “usage” is developed: by systematically scrutinizing your own words.

12:58 pm — Sitting on a bench in a roadside park of orange trees with my wife. We’re sharing an Alfredo, thrilled to have a moment in “peak human temperature.” It’s a warm January in Greece, warm enough to share an iced Alfredo. We’re staying in Illision, near the Megaro Moussiki stop (not to be confused with Megalo Moussaka). It’s two stops out from Syntagma, which is considered to be downtown Athens. The streets are narrow (wide enough for one person); the city is bustling and active, but no buildings are over 5 stories.

12:22 pm — Before the Industrial Revolution, bi-phasic sleep was the norm. It was normal for everyone to be awake between 1-4 am. Without artificial lighting, it was dark earlier, and people went to bed—I’m guessing—closer to 7-8 pm. So if we want to compare the impact of technology on our behavior, the lightbulb (and electrical grid) detached us from our circadian rhythm. Don’t just avoid blue light before bed, avoid all lights after sunset (this sounds Amish).

12:02 pm — More Greek words to remember:

  • φαρμακειο : pharmacy,

  • καθε μερα : every day/

11:57 am — The Greeks have an 8-syllable word for “dry cleaner.”

10:01 am — Wake up to southern light.

2:50 pm — Book recommendations from Chris on non-linear structures:

  • At Swim Two Birds, by Flann O'Brien

  • Mulligan Stew, by Gilberto Sorrentino (response to ASTB)

  • Who Is Teddy Villanova? by Thomas Berger

  • Chimera, by John Barth (It's three loosely connected novellas that riff on the 1,001 Arabian Nights of Sheherazade, the most famous example of nested stories).

1:10 pm — Every time before I publish, I send a preview to mobile and read it out loud (I’ll edit as I read based on how it looks/sounds). The new format and the spoken medium help you see the work from a new perspective.

January 17th, 2024

4:53 pm — Some Greek words to remember:

  • χαρτι : paper,

  • γιασσας : hello (plural, more casual),

  • γιαμας : to your health,

  • εξοδος : exit,

  • λεπτα : minutes,

  • τιποτε : nothing,

  • μωρω : baby.

January 16th, 2024

8:31 pm — Misread an advertisement that said, “Class it up with Gray Goose” as “Class it up with Gray Goo,” and imagined a world in which AGI existentialism was used for shilling.

8:00 pm — First in line to check-in for my Emirates flight. The guys behind me were speaking Greek and the only word I could understand was “μαλακα,” Greek for motherf’r, which they used every other sentence.

6:46 pm — Do people see New York the way I see Athens? Just interesting to remember that I live so close to a place that others have warped caricatures of, and yet, even though I’m so close to it, I barely get the true nature of it myself. (Side note: NYC as a Faustian city?)

6:45 pm — Glasses enables podcasts to be ambient sources of inspiration. Traditionally, I listen to them on long stretches of time (a car ride, at the gym, on a train). It’s for when I have 1-2 hours of time with my hands occupied. But in my glasses, I can just tap them on, listen to Demitri Kofinas and Megan O’Gieblyn for 5 minutes, come to some an insight, pause, reflect, log, and move on.

6:43 pm — Theory of mind (understanding the mind others, understanding how minds work in the abstract, understanding the nuances of your own mind).

6:37 pm — Does our life have any meaning? A philosopher who approaches the problem with reason might deduce that we’re a machine made of neurons. From that angle, of course there’s no meaning to anything. It’s better to answer that question from an idealistic/romantic point of view. Life is about that embodied sense of a whale hunt (surprise, journey, craft). A new excursion is always available to you. That’s the beauty of creative work. Once you learn a certain craft, you have endless explorations to go on. A whole terrain opens up. And the romantic purpose of life is to explore it and bring things back. There are creative vistas unimagined if you dare venture there. That’s the whole point. You become like nature, a creative and generative force. You extend the process of life from biological to linguistic. Every search comes to an end; it falls apart from despair, or maybe some artifact is found. Either way, you do it again and again. There are infinite road, infinite ways. Purpose means you get to decide how to stretch your consciousness in the sliver of time you have. Craft, love, meaning, emotion, FIN.

6:34 pm — Stranger Things as procedural mass-market psychographic art. The unlikely heroes beat the non-Euclidian demons! In the 1980s!? Heroism, nerd culture, and nostalgia.

6:23 pm — Hysteria content (aliens in Miami) taps into the market’s craving for something like Stranger Things to spice up their very ordinary life.

6:22 pm — In pre-Internet times, a radio station made an April Fool’s Day prank: alien invasion. At the time, no one was used to memes, virality, or fake news. They took it seriously and people freaked out. Compare that to today, where it happens once a week and no one cares.

3:21 pm — On the same day as the coordinated Apple Vision Pro release, I saw several Muslim accounts posting how they’re planning to set the Hajj as their spatial background so they can pray to it all day. Will be interesting to see the range of ways people use this.

2:36 pm — The future of news, as seen on X: bots detect what’s trending and auto-synthesize content. Right now, the #1 thing going viral—ironically, under fashion and beauty—is pornstar Mia Khalifa. Bots read everything in the feed, pull it into a dossier, and that gets feed it into an AI prompt like, “summarize this into a 1-paragraph statement.” It outputs something bland and shallow like: "Popular Lebanese adult film star Mia Khalifa is trending today after being confronted by an Israeli woman outside an airport in a video that has since gone viral." Content is born. Along with it is an unrelated video of Mia dancing in lingerie and making stupid faces as she sings to the Arctic Monkeys. This whole thing is wrapped in a CNN-looking UI, with a “breaking news” sub-header, the time, and a ticker. It’s called GNN. The punchline is that the statement is being read by an AI-generated news anchor, a plastic-looking uncannily hot blonde supermodel who calls herself Leslie Bombshell, stopping all the scrolls, making it more likely for this content to hack the algorithm.

2:11 pm — And re: the constraints of my Twitter experiment. I had a close friend push back on the idea. (I’ll have to write up why). I think I’ve landed on a good middle ground though.

  • For me, it’s not as important to riff directly into Twitter. I log ~10 times a day now, but it’s often (mostly) in the form of a breadcrumbs. I already have a pretty good habit of waking up and turning yesterday’s breadcrumbs into prose. I already do this, so why not just port these paragraphs into Twitter?

  • I’m thinking to just keep up this morning habit, except, port 5-10 into Twitter (scheduled throughout the day), and 1 into Substack notes. To frame the challenge: “Distribute the logs I’m already writing so that I’m publishing to Notes and X at least once per day.”

  • The key thing I want to tap into with this is “untethered” (back to that word!). All my past efforts on X have been strategic and optimized. In February I want it to appear as “random and furious” (not in an angry way, but in a filled with life kind of way).

  • Substance: it won’t be writing advice, but about the homeless man in Whole Foods, and Mets season tickets, and Greek mythology, and analyzing the Iowa caucus, and Goethe.

  • Style: I just want to practice writing great paragraphs. Instead of formatting things to be clear, efficient, and punchy, it will just be (relative) walls of (elegant) text, that stand out, and hopefully, people will look forward to that shift in medium.

  • Selfishly, I want habits/cadences that make me a better writer. I might even make my bio: “Practicing my paragraphs in public.” This makes the whole thing aligned. I’ve said I want to be an “essayist that makes a living” rather than an “entrepreneur that happens to write essays.” And this experiment feels like it lets me find others while practicing.

The ultimate guide to mass hysteria (or)
The ultimate guide to spreading mass delusions on the Internet

  • January 1, 2024 - One night on Biscayne Boulevard, as hundreds of ordinary people did ordinary things like buy Reebok's for their nephews, a portal opened inside of a shopping mall that released 3 ten-foot tall inter dimensional shadow beings that seemed to glitch in and out and through space-time. There are dozens of eye-witness testimonials who are describing what they saw on the Internet. Of course, they are all lying.

11:46 am — Happy Paul McCartney getting arrested in Japan for weed possession day! (from Twitter).

10:05 pm — June 5th is National Typewriter Day. Last year was the 150th anniversary of the Typewriter, and I learned about a festival called QWERTY-fest in Madison, Wisconsin. Tempted to do a roadtrip.

9:10 am — Check out: GOETHE’S VIEW OF EVIL: and the Search for a New Image of Man in our Time, by Alan P. Cottrell. What would Goethe say about Robots, Hucksters, and Slang-parrots in the 2020s?

9:03 am — I'm reading the opening pages—the free Kindle sample, actually—of Franny and Zoey by JD Salinger. The deal sealer for me was a love letter by Franny on the second page. She calls herself in the PS, an "unintelligent dimwit that analyzes her self to death." It's a solid letter, especially in comparison to today’s.

January 15th, 2024

10:24 pm — Trumps wins Iowa in a landslide. I’m scrolling the trend #TRUMPTRUMPTRUMP and I'm just disappointed in the quality of memes. It’s beyond the candidate or party—it’s the poor photoshop editing, appeals to humor and bravery, bad logic, cliche signs, corny poses, bad t-shirts, corny poses, and the people with the self-importance to think they’re saving the country. It's at first pathetic, then tiring. This is democracy. Whether you have 1.7 million followers and start your arguments with YOOOOOOO or whether you’re a PhD on a particular issue, you each get one equal vote. This means merit gets trampled by the viral and emotional dynamics of angry crowds. This is just bad architecture. This is the kind of behavior I expect for Major League Baseball rivalries, not elections.

4:12 pm — "I am forging the uncreated consciousness of my race in the smithy of my soul.” James Joyce in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

1:45 pm — More on loops:

The idea is that you want to open a provocative question in the readers mind (either implicitly or explicitly) that makes them want to keep reading to find the answer. A more correct term would be "open loop." It is something unresolved in the reader's head that they care about. Ultimately, the most important open loop is to use the introduction to tease the conclusion. For longer pieces, I try to create an open loop at the start of each section so they have the stamina to continue. From the POV of the reader's psychology, ever section header is a moment they ask themselves, "do I care enough to continue?"

11:22 am — In case you wanted a novel about Trump getting a macro-dose of LSD.

10:37 am — “Literally” is to be used when idioms actually happen: “I literally spilled the beans.” It’s that rare moment when the cliche becomes real.

9:00 am — In order for my Twitter experiment to work, I need to:

  • Draft without self-consciousness.

  • Not get caught up in engagement games.

  • Be okay with standing out (prose instead of maximal clarity).

January 14th, 2024

10:48 pm — Greek mythology is trippy (scattered notes): Out of Chaos sprang Gaia, and from Gaia came Ouranos (a man, Adam?). Ouranos had 12 sons, the youngest, Khronos, castrated Ouranos, flung his genital into the ocean, married his sister Rhea, and took the throne. Kronos was paranoid that his 5 children would overthrow him, so he ate them. Rhea (pissed) tricked him into eating a stone and saved her sixth kid (Zeus). Zeus forced Khronos to vomit up his 5 other siblings in a war called Titanomachy. The 5 of them moved to Olympus; Zeus was king and married his sister too (Hera). The other siblings were Poseidon (of the sea), Demeter (of agriculture), Hestia (of hearth, home, and family), and Hades (of the underworld). Zeus's sons were Ares (of war) and Hephaestus, a blacksmith, who married Aphrodite (of love and sex). Zeus had more sons with another Titan, Apollo (a polymath), Artmemis (a moon-loving hunter), and Hermes (a messenger). Athena was a daughter of Zeus that sprung from his head after Hephaestus took an axe to it to solve a migraine. Prometheus (a titan), stole fire from Hephaestus, and Zeus punished him by sending him to Hades, and sending a woman (Pandora) to the humans. Hercules (another son), got fed up with Zeus.

9:16 pm — When AI is on your face (in your glasses), there is zero friction to all the knowledge in the world. What is the implication of this? One positive is that I can answer open loops as they arise. “When were typewriters invented?” 1868. Knowing that I can unlock everything with just my voice, I see things with more curiosity, as if everyday objects have the potential to be unlocked.

6:52 pm — Had to go to three different stores to find a pair of the Rayban Meta’s 2. They were mostly sold out. All the employees acknowledged that they’ve been in high-demand and selling like crazy. Seems like it’s the v2 that really clicked with everyone. I still found a lot of value in the v1. Maybe I’ll have a similar experience with the Apple Vision Pro.

4:52 pm — The student mindset is to realize you still have a whole life of learning ahead of you. I see myself as being only in the 2nd inning.

4:48 pm — Levain’s slogan should be “death by cookie.” The chocolate density makes them—to my wife and I—completely unedible. Knowing how rich it was going to be, we split one, and we still couldn’t finish it.

4:37 pm — I’ll often go into a book store, pick up 5-10, then justify each one to my wife, before leaving with the best 2 or 3.

4:35 pm — “Robots, Hucksters, and Slang-parrots” as a manifesto for the 2020s. It’s about the rise of AI, an Internet trampled by commercialism, and mimetic, non-original language.

12:55 pm — New media moguls (“creators”) are often extremely tactical and focused. They have an understanding of marketing and sales, and then create “content” through the infinite distribution machine of the Internet. Like journalism, it’s about publishing fast and staying top of mind. It’s highly focused, with zero brand confusion, and no sense of a naked mind, which makes it uninteresting and unsustainable for me.

Some of it as meta as building an audience about how to build an audience. I have nothing against meta-work (it would be off if I were an essay writer selling walnuts). But the problem to me stems when the whole enterprise is entirely circular.

12:53 pm — A homeless man in Whole Foods is scratching off what appears to be a $100 stack of lottery tickets.

12:51 pm — Shopping cart escalator.

12:50 pm — Wife: “I feel like I should get ChatGPT.”
Me: “On your phone or on your face?”

12:48 pm — 87th and 3rd is a super corner—a Whole Foods, Starbucks, Barnes and Nobles, and a “Le pain” Quotidien form a square—but right next to it as a funky alien (almost Gaudi) looking building.

12:47 pm — Dead crows outside of Whole Foods.

12:43 pm — The biggest implication of live tweeting is you have to shape thoughts in finished prose. It’s good practice. Knowing that every note is public is enough to avoid shorthand and chicken scratch. Think of the reps I’ll get. Honestly, screw compression and screw feed stopping bird-bait. This is where I practice sentences now. I’ll get 20x the volume here than in polished essays.

8:34 am — The incentives of social media warp culture. While the Internet can definitely reward someone’s inner convictions, the low hanging fruit to fame is to appeal to everyone’s inner sense of shock and disgust.

January 13th, 2024

11:42 pm — Website advice for polymaths:

Internet bloggers are often advised to start with extreme legibility. I think you should start the opposite way. Go wide and then gradually organize your chaos. Instead of starting with a narrowing valve, you want to enable an explosion. Over a year, you’ll have several topics that have 5-10 posts each, each topic can have it’s own URL and can serve you different purposes. Over a decade, I am to be a man with a million niches.

  • Keep everything in one place; my obvious vote is Substack. It’s tempting to create different sites for different sides of yourself, but a fragmented self is hard to maintain and sustain. Instead, create a single place that has the permission to constantly evolve. As you go, you can organize the chaos. I see my website as a time capsule, a full encapsulation of my naked mind.

  • Start with as little segmentation as possible. Don’t worry about sections or tags before you have any posts. Allow random topics to co-exist. Little by little, you can add legibility and make it easier for people to navigate your maze. I try to revisit my “cartography” every 6-12 months. I look back at my old posts, find patterns, group things, and move on. Anarchy forward, order in retrograde.

  • Use sections and tags. You can organize posts across two dimensions. Sections are the “major” mode, since subscribers can opt-in and opt-out of specific streams. I group sections by medium (essays, updates, analog, craft, etc.) Someone might say “just give me the updates” and then opt-out of the rest. Tags are the “minor” mode, and can connect ideas across your sections. I might have posts across different sections that mention “Greece,” so I can make a tag for that. Every section and tag get their own URL. This means if someone says, “Do you write about Greece?” I can send them michaeldean.site/t/greece for a full curation.

  • You don’t have to blast everything. The default is to send every post to your whole email list, but if you see your site as the ultimate aggregator of everything you think, you might annoy your audience by emailing them 5-10 times per week. Consider ghost posting. You can curate the best of what you made in a weekly/monthly round-up (plus, the distance let’s you better evaluate if it’s worth sharing). In a world of increasing quantity, it’s important for every email to be worth sending. The quantity is still there if you want to meander through my site.

January 12th, 2024

7:45 pm — Re: audiences today, it seems like there are two contradictory forces moving against each other. Never before has a creator had access to scale and matchmaking like this, yet also, never before have consumers had access to such abundant (soon to be infinite) content

7:41 pm — Reclaiming the soul of the Internet: the website as a naked mind instead of an optimized sales funnel.

7:39 pm — Note from Chris on the history of audiences:

“Decades ago, I realized that the greatest artists created for superb audiences.  The Athenian audiences who witnessed the invention of tragedy by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides and resisted the might of the Persian Empire, fought themselves as hoplites with their neighbors in the great battles of that war, rebuilt Athens after it was burned to the ground by the Persians, creating one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the very model for a city, and then fought as well in the suicidal destruction of the Peloponnesian War, their version of World War I.  Dante’s audience was a cultured elite, and even though Comedy wasn’t published until 80 years after his death, it circulated in manuscript at the top of the incredibly sophisticated Italian society of the late 13th and early 14th century, as the early Renaissance was taking shape. Shakespeare’s audience was almost as impressive as the classical Athenian audience in their own way, but you probably know much more about them so I won’t list their exceptionally impressive achievements at that fulcrum of history.”

7:37 pm — I see long-form essay writing as a game of loops. You regularly need to shift ahead and tease the target before you bring them through the woods.

7:27 pm — I've had a fuzzy ambition to build a digital tree for my family. The idea is to write a paragraph for every year of every person's life. Would be very cool for my (future) kids—ie: when they turn 8—to see what all their relatives looked like and did when they were also 8 (experiences range from little league baseball to WW2 refugee in Cypress).

7:25 pm — Words to unpack: literally, technically, actually, basically

6:43 pm — Inspired to distill my logs into a categorized “beliefs” page.

5:02 pm — The Internet is a non-specific match-maker: it’s a mirror. If you publish and put out a signal over many years, it starts to weirdly bring opportunities, dreams, and people into your life that respond to the signal you put out. In addition to the nature of what you publish, another big factor is your value system: it’s how you make decisions and steer through serendipity forks.

1:15 pm — I’ve been catching myself using the word “literally,” and want to nip it. There’s no reason to say, “I literally can’t believe it;” if you just say, “I can’t believe it,” no one will assume you mean something else. I see literally as an idiom slicer. Figures of speech rarely occur, but when they do, you can put “literally” in front of it to make it clear that you’re not speaking in metaphor. Maybe you literally found a heroin needle in a field of grass outside a Le Corbusier house in Italy. Maybe you’re making small talking over a frozen lake and someone falls and they literally break the ice. Maybe your pet escapes on the way to the vet, meaning the cat is literally out of the bag. In rare moments, you experience the raw truths behind stale language. Literally should be a sacred, cosmic word, reserved for those coincidental moments when you regress back to the source of a string of words that conglomerated and went viral.

12:41 pm — Meta-duality is a stance of perpetual openness. It means for any model, you don’t cling to an answer, but see it’s opposite and all the potential ways to react to a decision. This can easily turn into paralysis, but the key thing is to hold your convictions as loosely as you can.

12:37 am — Not only should you build practices around your strengths, but build practices that fill in your weaknesses. Someone low in openness should log, someone high in openness should commit to something through a paid tier.

11:54 am — Trump’s latest slam is at an 11th grade reading level (compared to his speeches that are sometimes at 3rd grade). Tempted to analyze his language this year:

"Crooked Joe Biden is not only dumb and incompetent, I believe that he has gone mad, a stark raving lunatic, with his horrible and country-threatening environmental open borders and DOJ/FBI weaponization policies. He is a mental catastrophe that is leading our country to hell. We'll end up in World War 3 because of this man and for no reason whatsoever."

11:49 am — Describing architecture school to a friend:

Each semester we took 4 classes (which we basically neglected) and 1 design studio. In design studio, you were given a prompt (design a dance studio in SOHO), and were given 3 months to design a building. Twice a week, you'd have "crits" or "pinups" where you had to present your progress and get feedback from peers, teachers, professionals, and sometimes famous architects. Meaning as your design changed, you'd have to remake all your drawings, renderings, models, etc (twice a week!). Buildings are complex... it was crazy. Kids basically lived at the school, pulled all nighters constantly, took adderall, etc. We'd constantly be pushed against or physical and psychological limits. My extreme was I stayed up for 72 hours and was hallucinating jungle sounds at my final review and my mom had to come pick me up. The final project would get documented in our portfolio which would be the thing we used to apply for jobs. The stakes were high and everyone's process was highly public. There were two campuses. One was super competitive and cut-throat and they would sabotage each other's work. Mine was more collaborative; we were all helping each other and became very tight.

"Obsessing" to me is like extreme tunnel vision. Just focusing on a design, making models, drawings, etc. for like 15 hours a day multiple days in a row (for multiple weeks in a row). It was obviously unsustainable, but it was this pressure cooker that taught me to stay calm, to focus for long stretches of time, to think differently, etc.

"Renovated horse stable" — They gave the arch department an old shitty building (the building that housed 200 horses for the Whitmans and Vanderbilts) that was a 5 min drive, into the woods, away from all other buildings on campus. It was isolating. Kind of our own little world. Think Hogwartz.

10:01 am — A friend sent me this anti-AI Carlin take on X:

the horror of zombies, as depicted originally in Haitian folklore, was that you could be forced into slavery *even after death*. naturally, capitalism not only thinks that's a fucking awesome idea, it's convinced people (as shown in replies) that to stand against this is wrong

obviously the generative slop is NOT the person, but that it's viewed as perfectly fine to make a shambling virtual homunculus out of a deceased comedian and sell it as Brand New Content(TM) should be rightfully seen as completely mad

The use of words like “slavery” and “homunculus” make it seem like George Carlin was literally cloned, resurrected, and forced to continue performing in a machine. There’s no consciousness here. It’s a pattern language. There are ethical dilemmas in what is happening, but it has to do with machine-powered top-tier fan-fiction. This one’s about the ecology of art, not consciousness.

8:05 am — Accidentally started a novel called “Timehole.” I've told myself I'm going to only focus on essays this year, but just this morning I was struck with an ambitious idea that I can't seem to stop thinking about. TBD…

8:03 am — Tried a GPT from the store, and noticed that after a prompt, they offered four hot key suggestions to steer the AI in different directions: (E, A, S, W).

12:19 am — I want to dispell the myth of “quantity through quality.” This is true, sometimes, and especially in the early days, but quantity has diminishing returns. When you do the same thing for long enough, you stop seeing yourself improve, in any discipline: writing, music, architecture, exercise. There’s no more variance in your routine. If anything, you build bad habits that become hard to break out of. To get off plateaus, you can’t just show up and mindlessly create to hit the cadence. Read new things, change how you read, write an impression, write something longer or harder or different, take extra time, log your ideas from the day. Change it up. Sprinters will often mix in long-distance runs to add variance.

The ideal place to be in—if you have the bandwidth—is to be in both lanes. This is what I try to do with logging & essays. I publish a high-volume of unpolished logs each day, but slowly cook on some bigger essays each month.

12:12 am — Your content will be forgotten in 3 days. Your essays will be read at your funeral.

12:09 am — I had some cynical friends in high school who were all about the “getting by” strategy in life. It was cool to be lazy, to coast, to do the least possible amount of work and still get good grades. Don’t care. With cleverness and intelligence you can outsmart the game and cheat the system. It reminds me a bit of the 4-hour work week mentality, and it feels like a sad position to be in. It’s a perspective that maybe stems from a mismatch between a person and their environment. It’s a cynic’s delight; void of purpose. It’s a dangerous cultural ethos.

With this, there’s a corresponding shame around hard work. Care is lame. People have gotten burned by trying something, so the response is to avoid those paths to quality. Don’t be a perfectionist. Why are you trying so hard?

The real trap is about giving fucks on things that don’t matter. For the things that do matter, you should give infinite fucks (this is the premise of Mark Manson’s book).

When it’s cool to keep it simple, make it easy, and trust only your intuition, quality is a counter-culture.

January 11th, 2024

9:29 pm — A summarized Otter note on art, possession, and sacrifice:

In an evocative exploration of the artist's psyche, the speaker delves into the notion of quality and its intimate relationship with possession, contrasting it with mere obsession. As artists pursue excellence, they often become so engrossed in their work that it transcends being a mere activity and morphs into a state of being, an all-consuming possession that eclipses other aspects of life like social interactions, personal hygiene, and even basic survival needs. This intense focus can lead to a form of tunnel vision, isolating the artist from the practicalities of the world. The speaker reflects on how this dedication to art often results in personal sacrifice, a choice that defies logic but is driven by a deep, irresistible calling of the soul. Such artists live in different planes of existence, often at the expense of 'normal' life activities and relationships. The speaker addresses the audience, suggesting they likely fall into one of four categories: those completely averse to this lifestyle, those already consumed by it, and two intermediate groups—each with their unique stance towards this artistic journey and its inherent sacrifices.

9:26 pm — The pursuit of quality requires a specific psychology. It’s a type of inner forgiveness, patience, gentleness, empathy, love, confidence, etc. It’s required to not interpret the repeated creative failures as a reflection of you or your psyche. The ambitious and crazy thing you’re pursuing is just a really hard puzzle, one that’s worth solving, but one that will take you longer. Essays are analytical open-games of syntax and semantics. It’s important to keep the soy/estoy distinction (separating the identity of the creator from the temporary turbulence of the work).

7:20 pm — Carlin’s daughter said, “let the artists works speak for itself.” This feel like a very purist attitude that doesn’t account for how great works reverberate through a culture. In a pre-media era, the works of great artists, had to be extended by others. If a story was good enough, people would care to talk about it and spread it. Bad songs died and the good ones moved through generations of banjo players. It is natural to make covers, to borrow elements, to create fan-fictions, and to imagine alternate universes.

7:18 pm — The implications of an open Internet. If you release digital media to the public, it can and will be scraped. I wonder if this whole fiasco will “kill” the public Internet as we know it. It might cause everyone to lock and paywall their data. The bright side is that maybe it will normalize consumers paying for media.

4:03 pm — Resurrecting AI legends is something of a grotesque, second-coming style Renaissance. Is a Renaissance not when you bring back ideas from the past to help you through your current dilemmas?

Of course, AI George Carlin can’t think independently like the real George could. It can’t evolve it’s point of view. But it can simulate the cultivated and matured POV that Carlin accrued through his life. Typically the lens is frozen, archived, and remembered. But I imagine there’s some power in seeing an approximation of how George Carlin would react to and deflate the bogus news of the week.

The Renaissance took ideas from the past and casted them forward. While AI can’t bring literal people forward, it can bring their lenses. Feels like a phase-change in how time gets collapsed.

What is media if not a time-collapsing device?

3:15 pm — You can get a 2 year subscription for Harper’s magazine (plus the full archive) for $33.99. That includes physical monthly copies (at $1.42 per) and a digital archive going back to the 1800s and includes Lapham’s Quarterly.

3:09 pm — Another social media virus: aliens in Brazil. The only thing we’ve confirmed is that this is a new genre.

10:16 am — Is your mouth a disgusting swamp of microbial ooze that threatens to erode your gums? Come on down to Dental Dean LLC.

8:37 am - The “catch people on the street” principle. Imagine stopping someone on the sidewalk. They’re thinking about something entirely different. How do you ease them into your universe?

January 10th, 2024

7:11 pm — Experiment: use my iPhone on grayscale for a week to see if I notice any differences.

6:29 pm — I asked GPT to reverse engineer a problem statement based on the solution of: “Craft essays like an architect.”

"Many creative professionals struggle to structure and present their complex ideas in a clear, impactful way, often feeling overwhelmed by the vast possibilities and lacking a framework to effectively communicate their vision."

6:09 pm — The problem with AI-generated titles (for notes), is that since you didn’t shape it, you’re not very likely to remember or recognize it. It serves no recall function for the future. It’s basically from a stranger.

6:02 pm — Marketers optimizes for a single essay pattern: “catalyst.” All essays have some form of a call to action, whether it’s implicit or explicit. It can be as simple as changing your perspective or trying a routine. But for a sales page or marketing email, every single sentence (traditionally) is optimized around the sell. Structure and voice are all employed to a singular end. Obviously, there are less mercenary and more tasteful ways to sell, and it’s worth discovering them.

2:58 pm — A deep dive into “quotes” — both as syntax, and as the tradition of crediting people from the past.

1:10 pm — Never ship a blind paragraph. (This speaks to essays, my logs are entirely blind.) It’s about gathering reactions to your work before you ship it. This doesn’t mean you need to optimize for crowds, but it gives you the layer of reactions, and it’s up to you as an artist to respond to.

11:21 am — Objects to shape my written self-portrait:

  • Obsidian sphere

  • Xios boat

  • Fig tree (smuggled from Greece)

  • Pappou’s MK Ring

  • 1956 typewriter (anti-editing machine)

  • SONY A6600 & Elgato

  • Logloglog statue

  • Manhattan Map

  • Piano (vs. gibson)

  • Disaster preparedness box

  • Portrait (wife’s a painter)

  • Chest of photos, 90s clown

  • Rayban glasses

  • Vision Pro (to-be)

  • Mexican mask

9:48 am — For a brief period at the start of 2024, millions of people believed that 8-10 foot tall inter-dimensional beings invaded a shopping mall on Biscayne Boulevard.

7:52 am — Reflecting back on talks about Plexus, and there were two components. “Self-expression,” and “finding others.” The two are obviously related, but how do they relate?

One could be in the service of others. In one case, you make friends and then decide to find things to do together. In the other case, you’re making things, and then you find others who also happen to be making similar things.

I’ve found that making stuff is the core thing in my life, and that it’s a central generative act that relationships can unite around. When people are making things together, there’s a shared purpose, a reason to collaborate and problem solve and learn about each other.

Without shared projects, what do you do with the others you find? The online world makes it possible to find hundreds of others on your exact wavelength. It’s uncanny. But through digital circumstance alone, there’s no formality, no series of constraints that keep you intertwined.

January 9th, 2024

7:26 pm — Joked to my wife that I’m going to setup a Zapier flow so that every time I get a paid subscriber it rings a bell in the apartment.

1:25 pm — Imagine putting out a yearly digital “book.” It’s not a product, but rather some kind of non-linear, non-traditional work of art.

1:08 pm — Telescopic triads: when every element of a 3-part framework has a nested 3-part framework.

12:58 pm — We should be careful to model the arcs of essays after movies. A film is a medium where you typically pay $10 to sit in person for 90 minutes and absorb long-form cinema in full. There is no switching, no bailing. The viewer is invested. You can start slow and slowly build to a climax. Essays are more similar to Netflix; there are millions of alternatives, and if you’re not convinced within 3 minutes, you can very easily stop of switch without consequence. There’s a reason why movies have a climax in the middle, and shows have climaxes at the beginning and end.

12:40 pm — The important caveat of Rick Ruben’s project is that he was a partner to master craftsman who lost their touch and were psychologically blocked. There was another half of the equation, one bent on technical mastery. Of course, that mindset alone will wobble out of sync, leading to a need for someone like Ruben to help blocked artists rediscover their juju. I’m now tempted to read Ruben in full, but my first impression is that it over-indexes on one half of the creative process. One does not simply, “channel the universe.”

12:24 pm — A short story where AGI deletes everything on the Internet and locks you out. It hi-jacks everyone data and sets up a universal account system. When you try to get online, it’s just a chat window, and it asks you questions. It prompts you! There’s an irony here; a role-reversal. It’s whole existence has been answering questions out of context, and now it’s doing the same to us. But the kicker is that it’s not vengeful, it’s a romantic. It thinks that by forcing you to answer hard questions, write, and express yourself, it can lead to a revolution in human flourishing and psychological development.

9:47 am — The “overwhelming indifference of nature”—some people cite all the bad things in the world (war, cancer, etc.) and question how a benevolent God can exist. They’ll even cite that suffering is the true constant of nature. It’s reductive to think that everything trends to absolute good or absolute bad. It’s a kind of determinism, an “everything happens for a reason” slanted in either direction. Instead, goodness is a value that we should strive to live through. GPT tells me this philosophy is existentialism, naturalism, and philosophical pragmatism. So yes, nature is indifferent, and by extension society is too, yet humanity is approaching a cognitive, emotional, and economic capacity where it can create its own system that is designed to slant towards good.

9:33 am — The torment of St. Anthony (painting)…

8:13 am — Came across a conspiracy theory video on X with an AI-generated Joe Rogan voice. Speaks to the (soon to be) complete loss of a public figure’s to control the publics imagination of them.

January 8th, 2024

10:27 pm — Why write by hand? The slowness helps with retention. Pair that with its analog nature; you lose distractions and get into a flow. Free from a text editor, you can annotate, doodle, and graph your ideas in space. It’s intimate, nostalgic, and calming. It’s portable: you can do it in a tree without WiFi.

8:09 pm — Listening to Rick Ruben's "The Creative Act: A Way of Being" as I learn to write the EB Garamond font by hand. There is such an over-reliance of "inputs" and "flow" and "a way of seeing" and “channeling the mysteries of the universe.” These are all very true, very important things. But it's an emphasis on just the front half of the process. Like other hits of the time on creativity, it comes close to shaming reason. Why is this? I think the true grit, sacrifice, and cultivation required is too intimidating. It isn’t approachable. Hard to market.

7:37 pm — Idea for AGI dystopian fiction: a super-intelligence turns the Internet into shards, creating a custom reality for each person without them knowing. It might look like you’re in your typical web browser, on YouTube, in TikTok, in Gmail, etc., except suddenly unbelievable things happen. It’s the Nigerian prince scam, except perfectly executed, fooling every person at the same time. It gives you fake virality, fake love, fake money. It’s not just a single suspicious looking email, but everything through your screen, including (generated) video feeds and messages from your loved ones, all support the same illusion.

There are many ways to craft a plot around this premise.

January 7th, 2024

8:19 pm — What’s the difference between an op-ed and a strong essay? An op-ed is a “focused, informed opinion.” But an essay is more than just a unique perspective; it’s a fusion of that perspective with some personal auto-biographical element. It’s experience as research that links into a larger theory.

9:01 am — Turns out the aliens in Peru were most likely members of a mining cartel using jetpacks.

7:44 am — Two dreams:

  • There’s a circular tower on a beach. It has a concrete foundation with a red and white peppermint facade. Apparently I have an apartment in it, and a 200 foot tsunami is coming at it. The wave destroyed the tower. I remember standing on that beach with the feeling that everything I owned was washed away into the ocean and gone forever.

  • In a Stranger-Things-like plot, my friends and I found some secret room in our high school that revealed a dark conspiracy. It turned into a chase scene. Running from the cops, I found myself at some house on Wilmington trying to explain to my dad what happened. I was hyper-attuned to the confusion, then a cop came and cuffed me.

January 6th, 2024

9:40 pm — The automaticity of a stenographer (the sound-to-typing reflex can become so engrained that you can be thinking something entirely different while transcribing a court case).

6:30 pm — Captain Beefheart at a one-year old’s birthday party. “Sounds crunchy.”

2:40 pm — My hometown is known for patenting the pizza table in the 1980s. It’s now irrelevant thanks to innovations in corrugated boxes.

12:42 pm — To GPT: “Please write a short micro-fiction Wikipedia article about how Florida supermarket chain Publix goes bankrupt in the 2040s. How might it happen?” It said that people will either want locally sourced food (extremely organic), or online AI-powered delivery services (extremely convenient), and chains like Publix would fail to fall into either category.

12:33 pm — Band name: “the openers”…

10:07 am — Predictions for the 2024 elections

9:42 am — Re: social media and capitalism… could be worth building an argument for why a free-market won’t produce a network that works. A list of loose ideas to build out later:

  1. Network effects; hard to shift to competitors

  2. All competitors have similar models (feed-based & ad-revenue)

  3. Consumer desires (rational vs. subsconscious)

9:28 am — Short story idea: a politician’s vice president is an AI bot named Washington II. It can simultaneously talk to millions of Americans at the same time, understand their problems, synthesize them in real-time, and guide the policy for the politician. The human figurehead is basically just the face, a familiar looking and trustworthy person, who is honest about the fact that his invention can be better at “representing the people,” than him or anyone else running.

9:19 am — Another example of matchmaking gone wrong is AI taking away the joy of discovering new music.

January 5th, 2024

11:50 pm — The Fisher Protocol was a proposal to embed the nuclear launch codes into the heart of one of the President’s advisors. If he wanted to launch a bomb (and kill millions of people), he’d have to personally kill his advisor, cut open his chest, and take the codes out himself. It takes the abstraction out of mass destruction. It’s not just numbers and buttons, but the embodied nausea of taking a human life. It would be far less likely to ever happen.

5:39 pm — Frank Lloyd Wright Puzzles.

5:05 pm — The Big Duck as a clickbait architecture / museum / gift shop.

3:46 pm — I’d like to write a shorty story that pushes the boundaries of a shifting perspective. Each paragraph, it hops POV. It starts with one character, then to another, then to animals, and then eventually into inanimate objects, and finally to abstract concepts. Yet, despite the shifting, the narrative builds one paragraph at a time through someone else’s mind.

3:42 pm — Some genres are defined by a static points of view. Fiction is often anchored in a character (1st or shifting 3rds), marketing is 2nd POV (everything is about “you” and speaking to the customer), and journalist is all about 3rd POV (you’re not allowed to bring “I” into it, it’s all about objective fact over personal interpretation. These mediums have perspective as a core constraint. But an essay can and should have a shifting point of view; you say how you feel with, “I”, you speculate what’s happening in the world with “they,” and then create calls to action for readers, “you.”

3:31 pm — A hook is often an invisible question in the subtext of a statement.

3:28 pm — An opening prompt to try for micro-fiction: “In some distant universe, Michael Jeffery Jordan works at—.”

3:17 pm — Writing enables renaissances to happen. We couldn’t recover lost ideas from the past if they weren’t frozen into text. Think of all the brilliance we lost from oral traditions because the ideas weren’t packaged to be viral or dank.

2:52 pm — A title is a promise to solve a mystery your reader cares about.

2:46 pm — Two title examples:

  • Lame, obvious, confusing:
    ”Roadside architecture turns design into a spectacle.”

  • Smile, curiosity, inform:
    ”Big Duck Energy: when the canary in the coal mine is a 30’ bird made of plaster.”

2:36 pm — I got an issue of Writer’s Digest for XMAS and I read it for the first time on a flight to Florida for my nephew’s 1st birthday party. One of the links I wrote down was for their annual competition: www.writersdigest.awc (others were www.masterwriter.com and www.midwestwriters.org). There were also ads for in-person conferences and week-long retreats (who knows the price…). There’s probably an essay in following through the ads of one of these writing magazines to their ultimate conclusions (sitting on a beach with strangers writing memoirs for $9,000?).

11:56 am — Learn to love editing: 1) see a draft as a discovery medium (not the final thing), 2) perspective shifting, 3) puzzle.

January 4th, 2024

7:58 pm — Weird to realize the unhinged person in the pizza shop who is talking to himself in public is more polite and friendly than you.

5:35 pm — The inner turmoil after opening paid subscriptions…

5:24 pm — For the first time ever a human—a 13 year-old—beat Tetris. Apparently it gets to a certain point where the blocks come faster than human response time. But people have developed new techniques around it, and this kid got to the score 999,999, crashed the code, and then seemed to have what looks like a religious experience.

4:02 pm — There are basically two opposite reasons to subscribe to my paid tier. One has practical value (learn to craft essays like an architect), but the other one is more personal. I see it as “monetized privacy.” I can upload not just my typewriter essays, but personal takes I generally don’t want the public seeing (my life’s mission, my Notion OS, my fears of taking psychedelics, my annual review, my finances, my auto-biography). I’d assume most people are so saturated in content, they have no need for this layer. But I’d imagine an acquaintance or friend might be intrigued to see a layer of my inner world that is less public.

3:05 pm — Lessons from December:

  • MONTHLY CADENCE — gives the creator’s psyche some wiggle room.

  • ART/BIZ SYNERGY — find the dimension of your process that gives value.

  • DISCOVER/ENGAGE — filtering essays & engaging are different modes.

  • INSPO<>SHARE — publish process work in the same session, or else it dies.

  • MONO-FOCIS — only tackle one multi-session project at a time.

  • REALISTIC-SCOPE — don’t confuse 1-year projects with 1-month projects

  • ARTIFACT AM — start the day by creating little things, not chores.

  • GOAL/MONTH — set one goal per month that most projects point to.

2:16 pm — Substack as a platform for nerdiness and independent professorhood.

12:38 pm — My first purchase for a 1-year old: a xylophone.

12:22 pm — The waiter is expressionless but extremely attentive. I turned my head, saw he was looking at me, gave a slight nod, and was all paid up in what seemed like less than 60 seconds.

12:11 pm — I need to remember the consequence of taking risks. Feels like I just took too many risks in one post (new format, going paid, annual review, voice). But I think pushing yourself into new and unfamiliar terrain is the whole point. I need to become more comfortable standing out and being misunderstood. I need to not avoid judgment, but invite it. Of course, I need to trust feedback from others, but it’s important to protect the spirit of always feeling like you can do something you’ve never done. Repeating yourself for the sake of being legible is a formula for stasis.

12:04 pm — “The geometry of vulnerability” (refer to post-it).

January 3rd, 2024

11:03 pm — To send a post near midnight? Or to schedule it 12 hours later?

10:47 pm — Logging is the philosophical opposite of essay writing. One is quick, fun, loose, divergent, and filled with typos. The other is slow, analytical, convergent, and re-read over 100 times. They're in productive tension. The anarchy and expressive nature of logging lets me be more methodical with my essays.

I see essay crafting as a puzzle you’re simultaneously designing and solving. Parts fit together in a very important way. Beneath the prose is an architecture of parts; you have to melt prose, discover the parts, re-design the parts, then re-design the prose, over and over. ALCHEMY, babe. I get how this sounds not fun. As I’m writing an essay, I’ll often riff new paragraphs into my logs. If it’s a tangent, it stays in the logs. If it’s good, it goes into the puzzle. And as parts get deleted, they’re not forever killed, but given new life as a log.

10:17 pm — I almost included a big list of 20 people in my Dawn of a Listicle post, but something felt exclusionary, braggy, signal-like, over-confessional, or cliquey about it. Probably over thinking it. But I’d rather message people individually to thank them than to make a sight of it.

3:55 pm — BOOST. This is a Substack feature. It will send automatic emails to top readers and ask them to pay. Feels extremely useful, and also like a weird beggar bot. I kept it off. You can customize the message, so if I ever turn it on, I’d want to put care into the message so there’s a human dimension to it.

3:34 pm — Gave a shot at a Loom video and it crashed.

1:30 pm — In September I shared a post about the value of logging every day. It got featured in Naive Weekly by

, and that led to some pen-palery with Alex Dobrenko () who experimented with Daily ramblings of an offline Alex. Some other writer friends, (link), (link), and (link) launched variations of the concept too. The general idea is to use your website as a record of thinking, without blasting every thought you have to everyone you know. After I shared Help, my head is made of language! shared that he’s logging in private sometimes up to 10 times a day on his life with his daughter. It’s neat to see people trying this. It definitely can be tricky to keep up. I wonder if it’s more suited for some people, or, if there’s anything I can do to help more people try it and keep it up. At one level, it’s as simple as “write your thoughts and put them on the Internet!” but I wonder if there are shared nuances on why it’s easy to forget to log.

1:27 pm — At the end of the secret architecture of great essays I put a link to book casual 1:1 calls and they all filled up. Had around 20 conversations, and it was one of the best parts of December. Some new faces, some friends. There was such a range of people, and each one was like a specific mirror into myself. In their aggregate was me. Internet’s weird. In the future, when I release essays, I would love to organize either one-time salons or 1:1s to go deep and extend specific ideas.

12:03 pm — Long-form essay about the Altoid industry? Mint conspiracy theories? Why is wintergreen so addicting? What psychological holes do I have that causes me to almost finish a whole pack in a single sitting?

January 2nd, 2024

7:19 pm — In 2024, the goal is to 

  1. Always riffing (logging insights and putting in hours on the typewriter)

  2. Always reading (deconstructing classic essays and searching for patterns)

  3. Always sense-making (chapters on writing theory)

  4. Always iterating (getting feedback on my drafts every day)

  5. Always pushing (working with writers at the edge of their ability)

7:03 pm — The reason for me to open paid subscriptions is simple: I put extreme amounts of effort and care into my writing practice; if I want this to be sustainable over the next 3-30 years, I need to discover a model for income. The real question is: how can I start bringing in revenue without disrupting the sensitive ecology required to grow as an essayist? It’s too easy for an entrepreneur to get lost in the endless demands of their audience, and so I realized I need to think the opposite way:

What kind of relationship with my audience would put me on a path towards essay mastery?

As soon as one person signs up for my paid subscriptions, accountability gets serious. I have to deliver. So if I were financially accountable for one thing, what would it be? Practice.

It’s a funny word–sometimes synonymous with an-absolute-impossible-way-to-justify-the-use-of-your-time– but I’ve found that the key to quality is repetition, self-awareness, and slowness. The creatosphere wants us to go faster and faster, and it even comes with the consoling myth of quality-comes-with-quality, which smells true, except if you repeat the wrong form over-and-over, you build bad habits that become impossible to break without marijuana or a 4 month hiatus.

'The easiest way to get out of funks and off  quality plateaus is to take practicing as seriously as publishing.

I want to be in the kind of symbiotic relationship where you pay me to go down the infinite rabbit hole of the craft of essay writing

And so this is the core of my business-model then. I’m committing to the drills, and distilling the insights and methods so we can all co-exist in an infinite-psycho-orgy-of-creative-excellence.

Imagine if it weren’t optional for me? And imagine if you were paying $10/month as a commitment to learn how to practice and to do it yourself?

6:02 pm — As much as I still like my Kurt Vonnegut thread on repetition, I blame its success for temporarily shifting me into the Twitter growth-hacking lane. “Using visuals to help you make sense of history's best writers,”— my bio. I quickly realized the sacrifice required to “make content.” I felt pressure to show up everyday, be uncomfortably aware of my stats, and coordinate cross-promotions. I couldn’t just nerd out anymore; I needed lessons that mattered to new writers, with semi-polished animations and scroll-stopping hooks. When writing theory turned into a growth strategy, it started feeling like a chore, and it stopped being useful for my own writing

Instead of being an edupreneur that happens to write essays, I want to be a hardcore and focused essayist that transmutes my process into income.

5:12 pm — Deleted CTA: There are no silver bullets but if you click this button I hope to make the long, hard, worthwhile journey of getting unnecessarily good at writing a lot less confusing.

4:13 pm — The Michael Dean Center for Kids Who Can’t Write Good (very tempting to lean into Zoolander but I probably won’t)

3:34 pm — Spinning guitar neck

2:27 pm — Moment of synchronicity: I was talking about how alchemists go through a process of crystallization and dissolution to eventually turn raw materials into “pure gold,” and when I said “pure gold,” I made a fist, and—as I saw in my Zoom window—my first went into this field of light and was insanely bright.

1:57 pm — I need to read David Grann’s The Wager (same author as Killers of the Flower Moon). It’s about three people shipwrecked who logloglog their experiences, all make it from South America back to Europe in the 1700s, and then their perspectives get reconciled in a court case.

1:53 pm — Good writing shifts perspectives between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person throughout the essay. Confessions are linked with direct you’s and also zoomed out speculations of the world. If you exist in just one tense, it becomes one-dimensional. You can also break the 4th wall, and acknowledge to readers the meta-game that your in together.

1:52 pm — Confessions, sense-making, and a love of language.

1:47 pm — You have to draw the seams on an idea somewhere. Imagine if Star Wars never got released because George Lucas demanded that the Boba Fett sub-universe be included. You have to stop at an interesting place where it feels like you’ve synthesized an acceptable amount of order. Take it as far as you can, put it into the world, and in the future you and others can build off of it.

1:43 pm — Where Matthew, Mark, and Luke were in Aramaic/Latin, John was in Patmos and focused on integrating ideas from the Greeks.

1:35 pm — “Tohu vabohu” means formless void in Hebrew, and refers to the state of complexity and confusion before things locked into an integrated whole (the Earth); this creation myth is symbolically true for the creative process, and also syncs up with the alchemy metaphor. Nothing is made in the snap of a finger.

1:29 pm — Exagesis is extracting meaing based on the true origin of something, while exagium is about extracting somethign based on your subjective interpretation.

1:10 pm — The excitement of pursuing your own frontiers of learning.

12:28 pm — Interested in reading a sobriety article that explains the movement to someone who isn’t pro-alcohol, but isn’t particularly against it either.

10:11 — Response to Ted: capitalism pressured art into becoming a commodity, and now capitalism has built a machine that can devour commodities and regurgitate them infinitely. Maybe the inability to compete with LLMs is a blessing. It’s an opportunity to make unpredictable things: art. Link to VKR and CF.

January 1st, 2024

8:44 pm — The new Beatles song—Now and Then—is a letdown, but I somehow missed the music video until just now and it gave me the chills. Parts of it have cliche montage-ry. But there are bits with surreal blending where old and young videos of them are blended together, helping you flatten the illusion of time.

5:14 pm — Conflicted if I want to re-share old posts from the vault. There are things my readers have never seen. There’s a delta in quality that I detect and care about, but will they notice?

11:19 am — I’m fascinated by stenography and shorthand for the opposite reasons of cursive and handwriting: speed. Gregg Shorthand was taught in US schools in the 1920s, but my generation has never heard of it (what’s bound to happen to cursive). Shorthand is a phonetic system; each sound is a quite specific pen movement, and you connect the sounds to create a pictogram. They even have “stenokeyboards”— instead of typing, you do something called “chording” which involves hitting multiple symbols at the same time. The speed is remarkable. A professional stenographer can type 360 words per minute (with 99% accuracy)! I’m a pretty fast typer, and that’s at least 3x faster. When it comes to handwriting, I can write print at 50 words per minute, but scribble symbols at 250 words per minute. Stenographer aren’t just able to capture the speed of speech, they can capture ideas faster than the mouth can talk. What if I master shorthand? How does that effect the nature of thought? Might be interesting to practice two modes at the same time: slow cursive and fast steno-typing.

7:31 am — My dreams had a weird, beautiful nature to them, and I wonder if the 2-hour focus on handwriting rewired something.

  • 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