Logs | 2022-12-December
December 31st, 2022
Music from the day:
4:09 pm — “That which you most need will be found where you least want to look.” This quote is rooted in a branch of Ancient Philosophy called “Alchemy,” and is quoted as “In filth, it will be found.”, but Jung used this phrase frequently, particularly referring to filth as our unconscious. [Google]
3:59 pm — There’s some numerical significance between ‘the 7 days it took to create the world’ and Lucifer’s 6/6/6. The last day was the Sabbath, a day of rest, a lack of structure and order. 6 represents never taking the day of rest, or, endless work. (Taylor Foreman)
3:52 pm — Male heroes often have feminine qualities (Christ, Braveheart, Aragon). There’s a riff here on Jung’s anima vs. animus. (Taylor Foreman)
3:38 pm — A church in virtual reality is a sacred space made of light. It takes that old symbol and makes it literal.
3:03 pm — What is the difference between a vampire and a succubus?
2:53 pm — The opposite of power is play. Power is desperate, while play isn’t attached to the outcome. Indifference is the truest form of power.
2:28 pm — A phrase for when you return back to simple, abandoned beliefs, because now you’ve derived them yourself, instead of just inheriting the answer for someone else.
2:24 pm — When you initiate the ‘swing script’ the ball is still a second away. Your ability to calculate the trajectory of the ball isn’t as good as you think. Don’t lose sight of the ball. The swing should be a secondary automated function.
2:19 pm — Video games are flow state machines. They’re also microcosms that embue a morality. Sure, something might be obviously a fantasy simulation, but it still seeps into the subconscious.
2:17 pm — I’d appreciate an AI-generated summary of the western cannon. Obviously it doesn’t replace the original work, and obviously, I’ll never be able to make it through the whole thing. Ideally it compresses everything down to a paragraph, and I can consume the whole thing at the lowest possible resolution. Then, I do another pass, and read half of the items in slightly higher resolutions (maybe this time, with excerpts). Eventually, I’m diving in and reading full books. The summaries helped give me the map and the context to know where it’s most worth me diving in. The chances I could just stumble upon the right ancient book are low. Bonus points if you can render the summaries in any vernacular. For example, if AI could ‘summarize the Civil War in the Fortnite vernacular,’ it would open up history to a whole generation who might not care about it in classical terms. The cannon would be a struct, one that warps itself to meet the reader, and then it eventually phase-shifts back into it’s original form.
2:05 pm — “There’s always a snake in the garden.” Taylor Foreman
2:00 pm — The phrase ‘bootstrap’ comes from ‘lifting yourself up by your bootstraps.’ It’s a leap of faith. It’s impossible. How do you lift yourself up with your own body weight?
12:17 pm — “Keep your eye on the ball.” It’s a cliche saying you heard on some elementary school baseball field. When a kind swings and isn’t even close, this is the corrective advice. It’s so simple and obvious, and yet, hard to internalize.
I was playing racquetball, and caught my mind drifting. I missed a round of points and was losing to my dad. But as soon as I reminded myself to ‘keep my eye on the ball,’ everything turned around. I won point after point, and hit every shot with precision.
The power isn’t in knowing the lesson, but in the real-time awareness to always be implementing it. It’s all about mindful focus, and it applies way beyond sports.
In racquetball, or any ball sport, it’s somewhat feasible to anchor your whole attention to single moving object. In racquetball, it’s a royal blue ball in an orange court. Hard to miss. But what’s the ball in life? What’s the thing that, if you could focus on it all moments, would lead to transformed actions?
I was talking about this with Taylor Foreman, and it seems like the core thing worth focusing on in life is death. It sounds obvious, and it's quite easy to know this, but much harder to operate from this position in every moment. To help, you could use a visual symbol. For some people, it could be the cross. For Shakespeare, he kept a skull on his desk.
12:17 pm — A phrase for the feeling when you come across a scheduled tweet of yours that you forgot about so it feels like a tweet from someone else.
December 30th, 2022
7:45 pm — I showed my cousins images from the James Webb telescope, and the reaction was a combination of awe & disgust. Awe because the colorful images are naturally beautiful. Disgusting when the rational mind processes that were surrounded by ‘this?’ It’s almost more comfortable to imagine we’re just floating in infinite blackness. But to visualize and grasp the nature and scale of complexity around us sheds the Euclidian nature of the furniture and wallpaper around us in a surreal light.
8:19 am — In what situations can I be more impulsive?
December 29th, 2022
7:27 pm — The Arecibo message is a condensed capsule that can explain the human race to an exotic alien species. It’s a feat of compressions, designed to outlast us. What would you include in a personal Arecibo message? How do you distill your whole life down to one document that can be digested by someone in 100 years from now?
7:24 pm — Pessoa:
Romantic love is a rarefied product of century after century of Christian influence, and everything about its substance and development can be explained to the unenlightened by comparing it to a suit fashioned by the soul or the imagination and used to clothe those whom the mind thinks it fits, when they happen to come along. But every suit, since it isn’t eternal, lasts as long as it lasts; and soon, under the fraying clothes of the ideal we’ve formed, the real body of the person we dressed it in shows through.
7:21 pm — How can you explain the effects of the Metaverse without mentioning games, virtual world, or headsets? Teleportation. Imagine. Teleportation is invented. It’s a consumer product too. $9/month. What are the implications? How is every society of affected? The limitations of distance are truly obliterated. It’s not just text, images, and videos that can blink across the world in half a second, but bodies and perception too.
7:20 pm — From a Greek Orthodox archbishop:
“The boundaries of the human person are extremely wide; each of us knows very little about his true and deep self. Through our faculties of perception, outward and inward, through our memory and through the power of the unconscious, we range widely over space, we stretch backward and forward in time, and we reach out beyond space and time into eternity. “Within the heart are unfathomable depths”, affirm The Homilies of St Macarius. “It is but a small vessel: and yet dragons and lions are there, and there poisonous creatures and all the treasures of wickedness; rough, uneven paths are there, and gaping chasms. There likewise is God, there are the angels, there life and the Kingdom, there light and the Apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasures of grace: all things are there.”
7:18 pm — The consequence of truly original work is being misunderstood. Humor is a translator. John Oliver does this with politics. When you get someone to laugh, the meaning behind what you’re saying slides in. Anyone can do this, and it doesn’t have to be political. If you have cutting-edge, renegade, non-conventional ideas, you should present them with levity instead of pompousness.
6:52 pm — A strange four step visualization I invented at the gym. First, take a glance at someone and imagine a scene from their life in high detail. Then, imagine their ancestors in some non-modern environment. Third, imagine that each person is actually an ant or insect. And finally, realize that everyone is some form of space dust, that collectively, we are each a manifestation of the universe becoming embodied and aware of itself. I’ll need to write about this more if I want it to sound not-absurd.
5:22 pm — I’ve developed an odd system for gathering feedback. Each editor gets their own isolated doc, and they use emojis or quick reactions to let me know how they’re feeling in a given moment. In a separate master doc, I translate their reactions into a color-coded system. It lets me instantly see how each sentence is performing, and lets me know where/how to dive in.
3:11 pm — The metaphor of the matrix applies to online writing, because those who do it well seem to be able bend reality around their will.
2:30 pm — RIP Pele, highlights
December 28th, 2022
6:52 pm — Is first draft bloat avoidable? Thoughts emerge with all of this nuance and context, and only after is on the page can I firmly scratch it all, and double-down on the one sentence that actually matters.
6:40 pm — Why write annual reviews? They help clarify where you’ve been and where you actually want to go. By writing, you see your future path in higher lucidity. You might starting a review in one domain (say Twitter), only to realize you have no idea what you want from it. You can write out 3 different paths, see how they feel, and then commit to one of them. It’s a process of rendering out potential realities, and committing to the one that feels best.
5:20 pm — High leverage habits have better returns than the flurry of pings and tasks. Thinking to convert my feedback from my performance reviews into an always persistent list on my desk so they’re top of mind.
12:49 pm — The average GPA at Harvard was a 2.7 in 1960, and shot up to a 3.0 by the end of the decade. It’s slowly climbed to a 3.8 today, and is trending towards 4.0.
The 1960s was an influential generation in many ways. We’re witnessing ‘the soft spot’ of the consciousness revolution in this graph. We overdosed on empathy. We became so concerned with everyone feeling okay, that we’ve flooded the barometers of quality, and jammed the compass towards improvement.
I’m sure that the business is part of this too. If you’re failing 20% of your students, you’re retaining less for the next semester. An increasing average GPA is good business. On the surface, it seems good for the students, but it’s actually terrible for learning, and the whole premise of higher education. It turns the whole thing into a participation trophy instead of intellectual exploration, personal development, and excellence.
12:49 pm — From Turn on your growth engine: “Through a suite of new features we launched this year—recommendations, our new apps, improvements to the web and discovery platforms, and more—Substack is now driving 40% of all free subscriptions and 12% of paid subscriptions.“
10:20 am — Slowness is a trait worth adopting in society’s whose pace accelerates very day.
10:18 am — The Zettlekasten system was devised at a time when the cutting edge innovation of the time was the index card.
10:06 — The origins of baseball aren’t what you think. Legends say it was invented by Abner Doubleday, a Civil War general (who also invented the curveball). This was all post-Great-Depression marketing to bring allure & mythology to Cooperstown. Baseball games from rounders, a 18th century British sport (played almost exclusively by school girls).
9:59 am — My lotto ticket just got wrecked as I scratch it. Turns out, I unknowingly picked up a Mexican coin that doesn’t have ridges on the edge.
December 27th, 2022
7:06 pm — Super tempted to use Linktree for my personal site, and host all my writing on Substack, but the dealbreaker is that you can’t use a custom domain. Leaning towards using Substack as my sole online home. I’ll probably call it ‘Dean’s List’ and still use the domain of michaeldean.site.
11:02 am — Feedback is a gift. It’s a mirror. Whether it’s 100% accurate or not is fine. Distortions are part of the game. It’s an approximation of your blindspots.
The Holy Spirit — what’s within me (and what only I can bring out)
The Mission — working with the best people, on a specific track.
The Family — raising a family (shaping others who shape the world)
December 26th, 2022
11:43 pm — I tried watching ‘Rings of Power’ for the first time last night. I was dozing in and out, so I don’t have a great read on it yet. But my first impression is that it’s a never-ending cut scene. It moves from one massive event to another, and then shows you a 30 second scene to ‘make it human,’ before moving into another massive, slightly related event. I felt no real correlation between the characters and the scenes of Middle Earth. It mostly seemed like a special effects orgy, that happened to be in the vernacular of middle Earth (instead of using CGI to bring a breathing story to life). I’d watch again with a more discerning eye, either to give it a second, or, to be able to articulate exactly what’s wrong with it.
8:41 pm — Board games with non-intuitive rules help build patience. The logic isn’t self-evident, so you have to bear with it. You can be a dismissive asshole from the start. Or, you can keep an open mind, and allow patterns to emerge. In many ways, it’s the antidote to a lot of the instant-dopamine you get from advertisements and social media. What are the activities that allow patience to develop? So far, board games and baseball are good bets.
6:08 pm — You know those stickers on weight machines that show the muscles isolated if you use it? I need to see all those diagrams overlaid into one image. Bonus points if it’s an app. I want to be able to click on a part of the body, and then be directed to machines (in the gym), or exercises to isolate it.
2:23 pm — Watched two guys from Gamshaw replace a hot water boiler today and took notes. I feel slightly more acclimated with the guts of the house.
12:58 pm — The day after Christmas, I sort all my chocolate and candy (stocking guts). I usually shed at least 50%, and then put the treats I’d consider into bowl. The bowl is always comically large. The amount of distilled sugar is nuts, even after the purge. I call this the ‘bowl of sin.’ It stays out for one week. If it tempts me, fine, but then I chuck everything on New Years.
9:36 am — I woke up and could suddenly hear everything in the neighborhood. Sound has been reborn, but not in the good way. I hear the humming of the trucks, the rumbles of the boiler, the footsteps of the neighbor, and the wings of a butterfly. Low frequencies are especially loud, given I mistook the boiling coffee pot for an earthquake. Something’s up with my left ear. It’s not sinuses, wax, or fungus. The urgent care doctor looked inside and said it’s all squeaky clean. The temperature dropped, a pipe burst, and now my inner-ear machinery is flooded? Who knows. Maybe this gets better with time, maybe the ENT finds the cure, or maybe I’m half-deaf by the new year. Probably not, but still doom-dreaming. If I can’t get on a plane, I’ll have to road trip to Florida (bright side).
8:23 am — Differentiation is not the goal, it emerges through the refinement of personal taste & the cultivation of new skills.
December 25th, 2022
10:00 am — Christmas is about the rebirth of consciousness. Separate from the holiday cheer and the traditions laid on top of it, there’s a certain attitude baked into it. It’s more than joy. It’s a reverence, a nostalgia, an openness, an appreciation, a willingness to let anything slide. A shedding of the ego, and a return to the original mind.
9:55 am — New mechanical keyboard from my wife! (hello world). The neat part is that the 26 letters of the alphabet pop in black (among whites, grays — and a single yellow, green, and orange key). After each stroke, the key flashes a light, which slowly fades after a few seconds. It’s a reminder that the specific combinations of these 26 keys can lead to crazy things.
Some Christmas tunes:
Miztle — Adrineck (lo-fi)
Vince Guaraldi Trio — Linus and Lucy (classic)
And of course Bing Crosby
December 24th, 2022
3:48 pm — Discovered Posthaven today (through Sam Altman, of course). It’s a blogging platform designed with longevity as the main selling point. By paying (and posting?) for at least a year, they’ll host your site forever. Appealing, but also seems kind of dated/sparse. I want that 500-year horizon, but don’t want to sacrifice functionality for my current self.
6:14 am — There’s a power in unloading yourself from the present moment. There’s an invisible script you can shut off. Try to see yourself as the person from 1/2/5/10/25 years ago, but sitting in the same place you’re in now.
December 23rd, 2022
6:32 pm — AI Art from Lexica (failed essay art)
4:04 pm — Dumbstruck is the right word here. The most mundane thing can burst with unimaginable weirdness if you let it.
From Friday Finds: “I'm intrigued by Schopenhauer's description of art. Before him, people believed art was manufactured. But Schopenhauer believed that art is innate. It's born out of a 'dumbstruck contemplation of the world.' Like kids, they're in a state of pure perception. Artists, then, live inside their own daydreams. They move intuitively and instinctively, pulled in by the magnet of curiosity, perpetually unsure of the ultimate intentions behind their work.”
11:10 am — We’re equipped with smartphones and software, but our research methods feel like an Industrial Era assembly line. There are inputs (reading) and outputs (essays), with a series of checkpoints in between. We capture what we consume, annotate it, re-route it into an organized system, and then remember to search it while we write. When it works, it’s saintly, but it can be a Herculean chore to maintain. If one link in the chain is broken, the whole system grinds to a halt. Assembly lines make sense for factories, where outputs lead to profits that the manager can re-invest to hire more people to focus on distinct parts of the chain. But as a solo-creator, the assembly line is forever fragile.
10:57 am — AI will only get more shocking, not less. Sure, text generation will get radically better, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. A whole new breed of tools is being birthed, with San Francisco as the cybernetic midwife. The implications for writers are far wider than anyone is considering. This one tool that simulates the act of writing is (sensibly) the least useful to writers who already behold the craft.
9:38 am — There’s a trade off between ‘read it later apps’ and social writing communities. In one model, you clip articles, and bulk read them later in a separate. This is good for reading, but often separates you from the social channel where you can reply. If you read directly in the Substack app, you’re more likely to like and reply, but you can’t push your highlights into your second brain (perhaps you could use a desktop clipper tool, but not sure about mobile).. the pace of tool change can be dizzying.
8:10 am — Playing with title phonetics (all bad options):
The map is mostly water.
X. M. X. Mx. Xx
The dean rewires the machine.
X. E. X-xx x. Xe
The dean is on Benzedrine.
X. E. X. X. XxxE.
The dean is a demolition fiend.
X. dE. X. X. Dxxx. E
The dean is dealing rewires.
X. dE. X. dEx. Ex
The dean is obscene.
X. dE. X. xE.
The dean deals dopamine.
X dE. dE. Dxx .
The dean rewires reality.
X. dE. Ex. Exxx.
8:03 am — I used to think that every input was an object to be saved, connected, and one day expanded on. This kind of thinking doesn’t acknowledge the true nature of inputs, that they’re constant, infinite, and like a tumbleweed in the street. Now I see inputs as reminders of thought, potentially to be discarded. I look at them, copy the text (maybe), then delete them. Instead, my system has a series of pages, each one representing a sub-area. It’s like a collector, or a scratchpad. It gradually collects fragments until I feel like structuring it. But this system is “leak proof.” Notes don’t grow infinitely. A fixed set of pages get more refined overtime.
7:33 am — The four states of consciousness
Mindful awareness / perception / seeing the kingdom
Perspective / contemplation / trillion year perspective
Flow / problem solving / creativity / divergence
Checklists / operations / machine consciousness
December 22nd, 2022
Music from today:
3:18 pm — A media company about self-publishing is a quite an interesting and exciting paradox. For one, it’s not using words to sell something like a gym membership. It’s promoting writing through writing. This short-circuits the rules of copywriting. The medium itself is the messenger, the product, and the end-goal.
12:58 — Honest internal peer feedback (twice a year) feels like a powerful feedback loop for a company. I already feel subtle changes in my behavior. If this happens with everyone, it’s like we all update our operating system at the same time. Compare that with a company where feedback is just a formality to solve issues that are already obvious.
SLOW VS. FAST WRITING
8:12 am — Almost always, the fast word is the wrong word. In the rush to construct an idea, you’re reaching for the most accessible word on the shelf. Like an automaton, you loop within the same patterns of language. Slowness lets you find the right metaphors and associations. Patience dissolves cliches. I do wonder though, if that intentional slowness can also breed an unhinged and unapologetic speed that can rapidly spawn words from far-reaching corners of the imagination.
THE SOUND OF WRITING
8:00 am — I’m going to construct a paragraph guided by rhyme. Words are like lights that steer. You use one word, and in a split second, scan the dozen of words options that are near. Is there a fit? In a split second glitz, you pick a rhyming word, and change direction of the story arc. On reflection, it’s kind of an unheard of process. It’s like handing the steering wheel to a sugar-addicting squirrel who is navigating based on the faintness of jingles. There’s little wiggle room. But in the heat of a race, this agility helps. The results can feel saintly. It also might cause you to paint shitty metaphors. I’m alright with that, at least in the logs.
If you read it out loud, and listen to the sound, you know if you got it. Through editing rounds, spoken lit can turn symphony. It just takes times to read and glide through sentences to find variations of meaning that ring better.
TYPEWRITER USE CASE
7:56 am — In 7 minutes, I can blot out 300 words. Which means in 35 minutes, I could write 1,500 words, (or 5 short vignettes). It’s a brain dump, a prose warm up. Doing this on a typewriter would be fun, but that probably serves me a different function.
The typewriter really has 3 things going for it.
1) Physicality. As a device, it’s analog, loud, and physical. It saves my eyes from a slow LCD death, and the pavlovian bell of finishing a sentence keeps me going. It’s just a joy to use.
2) Voice and rhyme. A different person comes out with the typewriter. What is typically structured turns into incoherent glowing goop. I’m focused on rhyme and metaphor and free-association. The first pass is usually garbage, but then little by little I structure it, which leads me to point 3.
3) Re-writes. I love having the constraint of an 8.5 x 11 page. It’s a forced stop. Whatever I was trying to say, I need to start over. There’s a value to re-writing over editing. Instead of polishing words, you get to the essence in sharper and brighter ways.
ONE MILLION WORDS
7:49 am — I’m doing napkin math as I’m lodged inside the delusion of a goal: 1 million words by the end of 2023. An impressive feat. An arbitrarily cool trigger for a back pat. It would require a push though: in addition to weekly essays (of a nonchalant 3k words each), I’d need 1,500 words a day of logging. Sounds insane, technically possible, but still uncomfortable.
The only way to achieve that would be to slam words on the page. And while that sounds like drivel, chop, pointless excess to meet some goal that even I won’t care about looking back, I see the value. It stretches the noggin. By simply outputting so much words, I moving language out my mind and widen the lanes. I could even use the ‘dangerous writing app,’ where your work gets ‘deleted’ if you stop writing for more than 5 seconds.
It could lead to a sharpening of prose. The logical mind can’t keep up. Your first take has to be right. I could see it helping with rhythm. I can lock into rhythm and in real-time stretch the nature of my thoughts between short fragments and long winding rivers that take you for a ride. The real-challenge is composing structure and coherence on the fly. To somehow, plot structure into the future, while also remembering what you just said. Of course, all this will land on my site without editing or proof-reading (maybe once).
That’s the fun, twisted nature of this. The reader will have read things that not even I have read. The label of ‘log’ gives me permission to do just about anything. A permission for fuckery. Not to be confused with my polished and highly (eventually) perfect essay, where every word has been tortured and tested to degrees you can’t imagine.
December 21st, 2022
8:39 pm — At Nashville music festivals, they reduce admission from $25 to $10 if you bring your own guitar. You’d think the incentives lead to strum circles instead of spectating. It’s true in a sense, but there’s a natural gradient of skill, and the rippers become focal points as most people watch with guitar in hand. It’s an interesting point that relates to social media, it’s hard to structurally reduce the intimidation to create in public.
3:24 pm — A killer Substack name would be ‘The Dean is on acid,’ but I’m unfortunately not on acid. It’s just funny to image the educational fountainhead of a program to be loose, experimental, and bizzare.
Music from the Day
The Grateful Dead — I Know You Rider
(live at the Fillmore East, New York, 5/15/1970)
11:11 am — There’s a value in shaping creative experiments that are destined to fail.
Lately, I’m focused on the pillars that can’t fail: a daily tweet, a weekly essay, and a monthly log. I’m naturally experimental, so it’s important for me to focus on the opposite: how do I stick to things, even when I’m pulled in other directions?
This doesn’t mean experiments should be abandoned. Charlotte introduced a neat model to think about it. Do something for a month, knowing, 1) that it only last for a month, and 2) that you will likely fall short of your ideal version of what that can be. This flips two assumptions I usually have with experiments (what if I did this perfectly, forever!?)
The idea here is to plan small experiments where effects are felt and lessons are learned, simply by doing the thing once. Maybe there’s a process where successful experiments are folded into a reliable way of working.
Here’s an attempt to shape some experiments for 2023.
JAN - Write short summaries for the best articles I read and call it “Dean’s List.”
FEB - Write a daily thread that visually analyzes a famous writer (I tried this last year with impressions, which was crazy hard, but an analysis can be done in under an hour).
MAR - Write a daily poem (in private), submit the best one to a publication, and write an essay on what the medium taught me.
APR - A blitz autobiography, one paragraph per year of my life.
MAY - A podcast of 2-minute voice-notes (through a decent mic, with great titles, but easy to make)
JUN - Write and release one lyric-drive song.
JUL - Write 5 pieces of fiction on my typewriter that are each limited to 1 page in length.
AUG - Take a 2-week writing retreat and blitz out a stream-of-consciousness novel. Start with an outline, and let it pour out in week 1. Edit it in week 2. Maybe call it “shitty first novel.”
SEP - Experiment with short Miro videos on Loom as content.
OCT - Get interviewed on a podcast.
NOV - Short daily montages of video clips from the day (using Rayban camera glasses, 60 seconds with 90 clips, hopefully assembled automatically through an app)
DEC - Get paid for content on Substack ($100 is a success!)
Each experiment gathers data that helps shape the next year. For each one, I can ask: did this bring me joy, skill, attention, insight — or — pain, waste, yawns, and regret?
11:08 am — I don’t want AI to automate sentence construction for me. That’s the core craft of a writer. Even if a chatbot can mimic me, reading a chatbot doesn’t equate to the joyful, creative challenge of crafting prose. If others want to automate their writing, that’s fine. I’m more interested in working with bots that assist me as I write prose. While some people love the at of researching and hunting down factoids, I could live without that, especially if it lets me write mote. Bots can be my scouts. As I do my thing, the margins could become populated with real-time references from books and authors, perhaps one that I haven’t had the time to read yet. In this case, the bot isn’t generating text for me. I’m generating the text. But an army of bots have already binge-read my reading lists, and now their analyzing my text in real-time, scanning their index, and using probability to link me to excerpts across history that are most in-line with what I’m currently thinking. I’m not using AI to generate content, but to curate it.
December 20th, 2022
I’m brainstorming titles for a potential substack. The word ‘rewired’ stands out as a word that captures a lot of what I’m doing. As an editor, I rewire words (I’m a structural editor, not a copy editor). I write about non-conventional approaches for creators (a kind of rewiring). And my non-meta essays aspire to be boundary-dissolving and re-orienting. It’s a good word the unifies everything.
R E W I R E D (again)
The X X is rewired.
It’s time to re-wire.
11:46 pm — I wonder how much of editing comes down to patience and pain tolerance. If you want quick resolution to things, editing is a slog. You have to be willing to sit with something and bask in a state of the unresolved. If you sit with it, and it brings you pain because you’ve refined it so much, changes are, it will be even that much more pleasant for reader. There’s an inverse relationship between editing & the reader experience. The more painful is for the writer, the more painless it is for the reader.
11:01 pm — Semantic satiation: when you look at words and they lose their meaning. A result of editing?
10:35 pm — It’s easier to be clear in conversation that in writing. Spoken words are ethereal. A stream of invisible words are too much to grasp, and the receiver can’t alter the pace or the stream. Words are often flooding by, and you’re grasping to hang on. In text, everything is frozen. A reader can move at their own pace, rewind, and truly grasp the structure of an idea. Writing shifts ideas from ethos to logos.
10:27 pm — Naming things pulls them into being.
5:35 pm — “In effect, we witness a reversal of the old order of performance. Instead of the performer being the means to present the music, which exists independently in the tradition of song, the music has become the means to present the performer. The music is part of the process whereby a human individual or group is idolised. In consequence it has a tendency to lose all musical character. For music, properly constructed, has a life of its own, and is always more interesting than the person who performs it.” The Cultural Significance of Pop — Sir Roger Scruton
Know your bandwidth
9:18 am — The kind of second brain you should build is 100% dependent on your bandwidth. If your a full-time researcher with 40 hours a week and an audience of academic researchers who demand peer-reviewed sources, you should go crazy with a hyper-linked system of bi-directional linking. But for casual writers and creators, information systems are rarely the bottleneck. Obsessing over inputs can detract from outputs. So much important is placed on the validity of ideas in an arena that is arbitrated by attention, not truth. If you already have a swell of ideas, focus on craft, not constellations of ideas.
AI Art from the morning: (9:05 am)
December 19th, 2022
7:09 pm — Four decisions per year can lead to radical change. The decisions can be small daily habits, or mustering courage through one-way doors. You can make them all once, or you can spread them out. But a decision is more than something you want, it’s something requires either laser focus or guts.
7:04 pm — Any individual or company is operating in a complex terrain. There are known unknowns in front of them. They’re invisible if you spritz over it, but with laser focus, you can start to render the obstacles and frictions ahead, and graph them out. It’s not simple, it’s messy. You want to take simple actions within simple maps, but you can’t make useful maps unless you can truly grasp the nature of the terrain. So in this way, wrestling complexity is one of the highest leverage things to be done. But the really challenge and skill to develop is how to communicate it, share it, and help other people sift through it in a way that isn’t overwhelming. Let’s say you can grasp the true nature of reality. You can’t just go galaxy brain and show someone a zoomed out perspective of a whole Miro board. We are not those aliens from arrival. It took minutes/hours of intense/laser focus to create that map. In order to communicate it, you need to construct a linear story that zooms in and out. Here’s a simplified diagram of the full map, and now lets Zoom in, walk step by step through this one path of the terrain, and extract the lessons we can learn from it.
11:22 am — Good gifts are personal, rare, and useful. You know the person well enough that you can source something they didn’t know existed, that is right within their taste, that also happens to solve some problem (ie: I need baby clothes, and I had no idea they made onesies with Koroks on them [from Zelda]).
Two highlights, 8:49am
From The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa
“Who am I, finally, when I’m not playing? A poor orphan left out in the cold among sensations, shivering on the street corners of Reality, forced to sleep on the steps of Sadness and to eat the bread offered by Fantasy. I was told that my father, whom I never knew, is called God, but the name means nothing to me. Sometimes at night, when I’m feeling lonely, I call out to him with tears and form an idea of him I can love. But then it occurs to me that I don’t know him, that perhaps he’s not how I imagine, that perhaps this figure has never been the father of my soul.”
From On Being Known, by Ava
“When we’re young, feedback from adults and peers literally creates our identity: how popular am I, how attractive am I, how smart am I. Our sense of self is necessarily socially determined: if I think of myself as “smart,” I obviously can only be smart in relation to other people being less smart than me. We learn to understand our attributes and abilities from the feedback we get, and we’re crushed when our performance doesn’t match up to our hopes.”
Music from the day:
December 18th, 2022
7:55 pm — Electric drums boost your heart rate by 50 bpm. They can make your ears ring and give you blisters. It’s the kind of simulation that closely matches the real thing. I need to get back into drumming.
Music from the day:
9:52 am — Considering the name “REWIRED (again)” for my Susbtack. It’s a tough decision, but there are a few reason behind it.
Substack is all about named blogs (not creators)
“Rewired” is a term that applies to editing, strategy, culture. It’s about re-arranging parts into new structures. It applies to works, workflows, and identity.
The (again) part is a reminder that rewiring isn’t something you do once, it should happen over and over. It’s against our nature (to flee from certainty and comfort), but this kind of re-association is what’s needed to excel and adapt. It’s a reminder to always consider a re-write, to audit your own strategies, and to see things fresh instead of seeing through a lens of the past.
REWIRE (again) — one word is capital (and maybe spaced), the other is lowercased an in parenthesis. Feels informal and not too serious.
7:33 am — Chat GPT3 is good for specific word puzzles. You can fuse multiple search prompts together, such as: generate ten synonyms for "ranger," "explorer," or "seeker" that start with the letters "R" or "W."
December 17th, 2022
8:56 pm — Bitcoin is a virgin birth myth.
8:48 pm — Tackling the revival of religion is a St. George vs. the dragon project. An impossible, but most-worthy pursuit.
8:46 pm — Judaism has an inner tolerance around levels of abstraction, but Christianity has a clear line in the sand (the creed). What is the memetic utility of this?
8:41 pm — What’s more important, the truth of Santa or the magic of Christmas?
8:26 pm — All simulations lead to the story fo Christ/God. Monotheism isn’t an accident. It’s a near-perfectly compressed myth, that emerged after multiple iterations (Horace, Thor, Zeus). The fact that it’s sustained for this long proves that it’s a well-formed meme. But the fact that its waning means there’s a missing facet to it.
8:15 pm — Hot take: Substack is fascist (joke).
Music from the day
Grateful Dead — Space (1980)
December 16th, 2022
3:24 pm — Excellence is more than just a checklist, it’s a statistically designed checklist. I have a non-negotiable end of day wrap-up. Not only do I follow the list, but I use a stopwatch to time each step. The stopwatch adds a “working under the gun effect,” and reminds me to get through this stuff fast. This isn’t the open-ended creative work. This is about closing all the loops so I have a clear head the next day. These are simple things, where the mind state as you do them doesn’t matter as much as the effect of compounding.
1:17 pm — “In the depths of winter I finally learn that within me lay an invincible summer.” — Camus
1:16 pm — To allow for great things to happen, you have to be okay with letting little bad things happen.
10:19 am — Free-diving is a sport that fuses mindfulness, technique, athleticism, and survival.
10:16 am — I’m neither an angry nor a chill person, but I’d rather be furious than bored. Rage is touch in the moment, but it’s fire that can be wielded. It’s a vector, and hopefully guides in a good direction without spilling out and infecting the adjacent.
9:13 am — A band with 2 or 3 songwriters leads to better songs. They’re all competing to have their song make the set. There’s a friendly competitive drive, but it doesn’t consume itself because they’re all working towards the same goal.
9:11 am — I have a new fascination with writing 10-20% length summaries of other articles. This seems like a futile thing in the age of GPT-3. The difference is, AI has trouble doing it with style. It compresses for meaning, but can’t add flavor to density. This is like a stylistic cover, though not quite a cover (which is usually 1:1, 100% length). These shorter versions won’t compete with the original. They’re supplemental. They should also include the author in the 3rd person as a character.
8:57 am — How will I guide my kids when they’re assigned pointless homework and feel the need to cram study? Learning happens through spaced repetition, and everything’s a waste if it’s not archive through digital notes.
8:39 am — Always forward.
8:38 am — What role should the teachers actually play? In architecture school, the teacher didn’t lecture, they coached. Design studio was our most important class. It was 3-4 hours. The teacher lectures gave a pep talk for the first 5-10 minutes, but then everyone went off and worked at their drafting desk. The teacher would walk around, 1 by 1, and spend 15 minutes with each student (class sizes were around 12-15). The teacher met you exactly where you were at, and helped you with your own design problem. It was so intense, to have an expert suddenly jump into your project and re-orient how you should think about it. People called it, 'a post-crit hangover.' It was peak-engagement, and the most useful moment in the week. In addition to design help, they’d also help with time management, scheduling, and overcoming psychology blocks. Just a great example of how teachers can be low-touch, 1:1, high-intensity.
7:18 am — Playful writing is at its highest form when it actually aids in comprehension. It’s more than just being silly or being elegant prose. It’s when some left-field metaphor that makes you chuckle actually adds clarity to some heavy idea.
December 15th, 2022
7:42 pm - There’s an overlooked merit to perfectionism, that is, if you know how to wield it without it destroying you. High performers across trades have obsessive tendencies: Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, you know them. They excelled through having tough standards, and they often pissed off the people they collaborated with (Paul ticked off John). A perfectionist has tolerance to deal with discomfort, uncertainty, and complexity. They exhibit patience and calmness, when others rush to easier solutions. That said, perfectionists can easily short-circuit. It’s a problem when it prevents them from starting or finishing, or when it leads them up pointless mountains. At least they build muscle. When collaborating with others, it’s important to know when to turn it on and off.
6:25 pm — Totals books published is an old-school metric for writing credibility. It does indicate a certain level of grit and commitment to but tens of thousands of words towards anything. But it’s not a guaranteed indicator of quality in craft or ideas.
10:13 am — What is the role of the sub-title? It’s the Robin to the Batman (the coined phrase). The main title should be mysterious, phonetic, and pithy. The sub-title plays a role in orientation. It gives some context to the title, but not too much. It’s also an “ah-hah” moment that you can mention again at the end of an essay.
7:31 am — It’s always fun to remember the peaks and valleys within a single writing session. Starting is hard, but when you can tap into the euphoric high 45 minutes in, it lasts the whole day.
December 14th, 2022
12:42 pm — Traditions are good, but it’s worth auditing rote customs that no longer serve any purpose (ie: the slip from heartwarming holiday letters to picture cards).
12:27 pm — A good team retreat involves eating every meal in the same room.
10:44 am — I have no true recollection of my 5-year old self. It’s been distorted through my 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 year old self, through the comments of others, and through pictures (which are a kind of false mirror).
10:43 am — Good interviews are natural 2-way conversations.
10:42 am — Write with a 500-year time horizon. You can aim for the Library of Congress, or the local library, or a journal for your great great grandchildren, or even just a single paragraph indexed by a search engine that AI surfaces and delivers to some writer in 2145 AD (it could make their day).
10:39 am — Do the rules of marketing get inverted when audiences become aware of marketing tactics? A Gen Z writer reads carefully. When value is made so explicit, they know they’re being sold to and become numb. There were creators, courses, and campaigns that were initially appealing to me, but lost me through following a formula. On the contrary, honesty, confessions, personality, and voice keep me intrigued. They’re rare, scarce, and real. These are often about the seller more than the buyer. It’s the opposite of ‘make the flip’ — it’s a naked brand. By opening the curtain in honest and strategic ways, you build trust, which is the root goal of any marketing campaign. Can this be done in a 4D chess kind of way? Can you reveal facts about yourself that directly align with the values and desires of the reader? There’s a subtle art to doing both simultaneously — explicit selling with strategic transparency.
December 13th, 2022
Time is an instrument
In 4,000 weeks, we’re disillusioned about our control over time. When we look at is ‘an instrument,’ we see ourselves as desperately trying to carve out the future, instead of experiencing the moments we’re, like it or not, lodged within. Is there a middle ground? Not sure if in-the-moment-mind is the sole mind to occupy.
Ultimately you want alignment between the two. You want to accurately structure the week ahead of you to aim your life (even by 1% in a certain direction), and you also want to escape into pure flow within those blocks. If you feel trapped, you need to either better design your blocks, or, radically steer your life to get towards those blocks you want.
Not to mention, breaks are important. Maybe no more than 25% of your week should be structured. Anything more than that is claustrophobic. When you’re outside of calendar mode, you have to really reject it (and do crazy, unpredictable things).
The felt sense of trajectory
7:13 pm — “It is a sense of enormous expectation, the sense that one’s life is important, that great achievements are within one’s capacity, and that great things lie ahead.” (Fountainhead, Ayn Rand)
The visuals of words
1:02 pm — Aside from literal pictures, diagrams, and doodles, words themselves are an under-utilized design element. You can control paragraph lengths, indents, bolds, italics,
fonts, and the hierarchy of header and sub-header visuals. While it’s not ‘the writing’ — it’s the medium that your writing gets delivered. It’s the subconscious delivery method. Might as well be intentional with it.
The newsletter tease thread
8:29 am — What comes first.. the newsletter or the tweet? Substack, Ghost and other sites make it easy to cross-post to Twitter, but I’m feeling the opposite approach is better. Write a killer thread, and then tease a deeper dive coming out in 24 hours.
7:10 am — There’s a kind of essay that doesn’t go deep, it goes wide. Instead of fully unpacking a topic, it’s a list that explores the extents of an intellectual theme. It’s a syllabus of future essays, showing the places you’ll go. “The map is not the territory,” is a common phrase, but sometimes having an exciting map is the unlock to propel you to dive into the jungle.
December 12th, 2022
11:07 pm – Blackworms are jingles written by the devil.
5:04 pm – The holy spirit, the family, the mission.
11:27 am – A phrase for those ambiguous memes where someone is insulting you without explicitly saying it.
Get warmed up
9:06 am – Its incredible to feel the difference in excitement between minute 5 of writing and minute 45 of writing. Give yourself the chance to keep writing after you’ve warmed up. That’s where the magic happens. Being on the edge of a new essay sets the tone for the rest of the day. It unlocks excitement.
December 11th, 2022
People as reflection
5:43 pm – We’re often blind to our own gifts. Only through watching reactions from others can you possibly begin to notice.
8:53 am – I think it's time to do a visual analysis of David Bowie's 'Blackstar' music video. It's almost 7 years old. It's a weird, beautiful, occult work of art he secretly made as he was dying from cancer. It's focused on his death, but there are layers of intricate symbolism throughout it, and I'm suddenly obsessed with breaking it down.
7:36 am – The constant aiming of attention in the right places will make you the master of your reality.
Computers are under-appreciated
7:27 am – It's easy to grow numb to the magic of computers and smartphone. We sit at them all day, and any frustration or burnout we feel, we project onto them. Hint: they're just the medium. It's easy to be ungrateful. Computing is the peak human achivement. The sum total of our lives are in some way condensed and coordinated through handheld machines that can fit in a backpack or pocket. They're not everything– they don't replace life. But they're more mysterious or magical then you might give them credit for in the every day.
Theory vs. embodiment
7:17 am – There’s a vast difference between knowing best practices & having the discipline to embody them in your every action.
December 10th, 2022
8:43 pm – (In a TJ Maxx) The last few Christmas's I've noticed how a Steve Wonder song holds the identical chords of David Bowie's 'Blackstar.' The chords are identical, and the melody is even similar. Yet, in the gap of the Wonder melody is where Bowie inserts his chorus ('I'm a black star.'). Borrowing chords is common. Yet, it's a pretty brilliant strategy (if intentional) to borrow chords from song that's embedded in an annual cultural tradition. Every Christmas, I'm reminded of Bowie and his death. There's the other coincidence of 'a star' being the object on top of a Christmas tree.
Notes from a call with Taylor (12:20 pm)
Individuation is the act of unify everything into a core value / position. It's true for an individual's psyche, a company, and for the gods themselves. If fractured, it leads to psychosis.
The word 'sin' comes from the word 'sumatra," which in archery translates to 'to miss the mark.' Our morality comes from the act of 'aiming.' Out of all possible ways we could act in any situation, what is the right one? Aiming represents the focus on one thing at the exclusion of all others. It leads to microchips and incredible technology. It's no wonder the pitcher's presence on the mound is a state of reverence and laser focus.
Apes can't pivot their hips, rotate their ankles, and release through their wrist. Sure, they can sling shit, but with poor aim. The human's ability to throw is the creative utilization of our anatomy, and it might have even guided the evolution of our prefrontal cortex.
Man's realization of the future is paired with the realiziation of death. With the glory of planning & control comes the existential dread of nothingness.
Baseball is a turn-based game. Every at bat is an opportunity to gather statistics. There is an oscillation between moments of tedium, and moments of extreme stakes. Every position is occasionally thrust into a situation where they can be a hero or a dunce.
Baseball captures the mythical structure of reality.
In the 1700s, 'Rounders' was a popular game in England, and is almost structurally identical to baseball. Baseball's ancestor is clearly rounders, not cricket. It was even called 'Base-ball' for a short time, but Rounders caught on.
Compared to other American sports, baseball is the most chess-like. There are differentiated players, and their equipment varies based on role. The pitcher is the king. The catcher is the queen. The first baseman is the bishop. The shortstop is the knight. 2nd and 3rd baseman are the rooks. The outfielders are the pawns.
Do kids look up to baseball players more than top athletes in other sports? Is there something about the sport that glorifies the individual?
Appreciating baseball is like an initiation. Most of the game is filled with non-eventful back-and-forth toil. But if you pay attention and are invested, you'll be there for the moment of tension and release, when someone transcends the situation and becomes a hero. It's like you witnessed a secret, you felt that moment, and others who never experienced won't get it. You'r initiated.
The glory of baseball has been killed by highlight reels and TikTok culture. Clipping the best 15 seconds out of context takes away the magic of the game. SportsCenter ruined baseball.
A smart cynical person might see baseball (and all sports) as a pointless distraction. It's the Roman equivalent of 'bread and circus.' But it's so much more. It gives a kind of mythical fulfillment, it passes down the art of throwing.
History oscillates through cycles of divergence and convergence. Since Nietzche's 'God is Dead' era, we've been floating around this explosion of technology without a unifying ethic. The old structures of Christianity carry forward, and provide the foundations of our world, but the timber is basically rotting and at the point of collapse. We're like animals, caught in a rut, stuck in a behavioral loops. New discoveries in the 20th century provide clues on the path forward – Jungian psychology, the synthesis of psychedelics, etc.. The dots are there, but need connecting. It's a noble mission.
Mosquitos fly in random directions until they detect carbon dioxide, and then they zoom in on the human. Flying in a random direction is better than stasis.
Hell is worse than death. It's more than pain, or 'the bad place,' -- it's when the intervals of time collapse, and it's uncertain when the pain will end.
Psychedelics are blunt messengers. They help deliver the message that your mind is vast and programmable, but they aren't the only means to learn that. That message is perhaps more important than the experience itself. You can find your own ways to dive in without literally plunging 400 feet without a life vest.
Myths provide meaning and purpose. If you're not intentional about what you worship, you'll find yourself running bad script on auto-pilot. People can worship heroes, gods, ideas, or institutions. All four of those categories have a kind of hierarchy, in the sense that smaller components ladder up into an organizing figure. Similar to how all the Greek Gods ladder up to Zeus, and how beneath God is a legion of characters (from Christ, to angels, to saints), you could say that 'America' is an aggregator that bundles a bunch of 'sub-gods.'
Finding true consensus
6:48 am – Good conversation closes the gap between deep structure (what someone really means) and surface structure (what someone says). Accurate consensus comes from good questions, paired with the delivery (from eye contact, to body language, tone, expressions, rhythm, word choice), built offa genuine desire to understand each other's maps.
December 9th, 2022
Three types of feedback
4:19 pm – This popped up in Hypefury. I don't remember typing it, and don't know where it came from. Weird. But it makes sense.
Crowdsourced: A community where different people jump in to comment on some of your releases.
Mentor: Someone who will read all of your work and guide your evolution.
Critique: A group of supportive people willing to attack your work for 30 minutes.
Surreal thoughts waiting for an airport burrito
12:42 pm – The most realistic illusion-proof state of being is one of sensory overwhelm. If you can silence the chatter, see as an infant, wonder at the strange juxtaposition of objects, and acknowledge the forces that bring you into this moment and out towards another— it all computes as a surreal dream. Each expression is mask hiding a galaxy. Stranger’s faces are weird fish or long lost high school friends. To watch thousands screaming at a TV as Brazil scores a goal, and realize the shared nature of the scripts we run.
Using geometry as metaphors for self-understanding
8:45 am – Use mindful awareness to destroy cubes of illusion. Every thought is a 2D surface. After they're shaped, they subconsciously slip away and form constellations– our habits, our worldview, and the lens we filter everything through. This cube then becomes the environment where other thoughts form. Careful. Mindfulness lets you perceive outside of these cubes, or, laser in on the nature of these cubes to dismantle them.
Slang and novelty
8:18 am– Slang, metaphors, and visual words add novelty and density to old and tired ideas. If they’re used in a way so that they’re coherence, they offer novelty both to new and seasoned readers.
Myths drive behavior
8:15 am – Religion is enforced by rituals, morality, and community. These are the inputs that all respond to an output (ie: our purpose). In the face of death, religions construct inputs to cope. What happens when God dies? The output gets replaced. We shift from God, to kids, to art, or companies (or sometimes, twisted outputs like narcissism & excess). There is some myth or ideal that sits outside the grasp of our everyday and organizes society.
Pessoa's image of quicksand
8:13 am – "May I at least carry, to the boundless possibility contained in the abyss of everything, the glory of my disillusion like that of a great dream, and the splendour of not believing like a banner of defeat: a banner in feeble hands, but still and all a banner, dragged through mud and the blood of the weak but raised high for who knows what reason – whether in defiance, or as a challenge, or in mere desperation – as we vanish into quicksand. No one knows for what reason, because no one knows anything, and the sand swallows those with banners as it swallows those without. And the sand covers everything: my life, my prose, my eternity. I carry my awareness of defeat like a banner of victory." (Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet)
How GPT short-circuits broken writing education
8:10 am – So much of writing education in high school is about proving that you can simulate and imitate the act of thinking and expressing. Things get reduced down to structural formulas and technical rules. As long as you regurgitate information through those standards, you're a master. GPT will thrive at this. It will effectively destroy a system that was never well-formed to begin with. It will force schools to teach writing in a way that is beyond formatted bullshit, and in a way that encourage automony, free-thinking, and expression.
December 7th, 2022
5:51 pm – Mexico has bridges over their highways to let monkeys cross.
Chichen Itza notes (11:18 am)
I assumed we'd be able to climb the pyramid, but it's been closed for a few years after someone fell down it and died. Apparently some Tiktoker jumped rope and climbed anyway, only to get heckled out of the park (trash was thrown). In 1987, my mom climbed it and froze at the top. It's easy to climb, but terrifying to scale down (perhaps you were meant to be kicked down). If you look to YouTube videos of the pyramid back from the early 2000s, you can see people carefully climbing down on all 4s, spider style.
The ambience of the park is on brand. Chirps, flutes, and jaguar howls. I hear people talking about the jaguar howls, bu wasn't fully paying attention, and also didn't see the source. At first, I assumed there was a real jaguar in a cage. I keep hearing more and more, and started to wonder, where the hell do they keep these things? Turns out, it's a tourist trip – it's just a 'jaguar whistle' you can buy.
The pyramid is a calendar. The Mayans had 18 months of 20 days. You can see both numbers in the architecture. This only adds to 360, and so the last 5 days were rest days to rest and 'practice fighting demons' (did I hear that correctly?) The Mayans are number obsessed (and superstitious).
The Mayans believed in a 52 year cycle of death. Interesting to note if there are any similarities to the Strauss-Howe generational theory (80 year cycles of big wars). Could each one be matched to the average lifespan of a human during the time? Apparently the Mayans anticipated these cycles, and scheduled sacrifices and construction accordingly.
The Mayans were sonic tricksters. If you clap at the bottom of the pyramid (centered on the square) – the sound moves up the stairs of the temple (at a 45 degree angle), and then amplifies through the temple up top (which has openings on each side. The temple was a speaker. Also, in their "ball court" – the walls are arranged and angled so that a sound is echoed 7 times (also a symbolic number).
Chichen itza translates to 'the mouth of the fountain of the sorcerers.' They were shamanic people – into healing, numerology, magic, and ritual. The Catholics came over, thought they were satanic, and destroyed their libraries with 500+ sacred books (only 3 remain). Who knows how much of this knowledge was hullaballoo, and how much of it was concrete psychological hacking.
The elite used their knowledge of astronomy, architecture and farming to manipulate the population. They new that the solstice sun would strike their temple at a certain angle, illuminating surfaces and sculpture to appear like a serpent of light was descending the pyramid. They also knew that crops were returning in April. Instead of explaining these phenomenon, they put their high priest on the top of the pyramid, and had him pretend as if he was being possessed by KuKulkan (the serpent God). Knowledge asymmetry creates the perception of magic and the basis for control.
Polk-ta-pok was a Mayan sport that closely resembled Quidditch. It was 7 vs 7, each team with a captain. The team had to throw the ball up to the captain, who could only use his elbows, hips, and knees to volley the heavy ball 15' up into a tiny horizontal hoop. It's almost like the snitch. It's fairly impossible, and if it happens, game over. Otherwise, points were scored based on how many times the ball moved across the field. Oddly enough, the winning captain was beheaded. This sacrifice was a great honor, and framed as being a messenger from the people to the Gods. There's numerology in the game too. 7 players per team represent the 7 holes in the head. The 13 remaining players represent each socket of the human body.
8:54 am – How many AB and R were there in the 2022 season? Less than 5% ratio?
7:58 am – 162,000 baseballs to fill up the 90’ baseball diamonds? How many baSeballs are used in a year of league games? (Probably only half)
7:51 am – Baseball is loaded with symbolism. The pitcher is not only the peak of human evolution, but he’s wielding a Euclidean sphere, an impossible shape in nature, made out of pigskin. It’s so dense and handheld, it might be the only ball in sports that’s dangerous enough to be a weapon. The pitcher’s mound is also 10” above the ground, letting him tower above the batter. (Lexica, show a monkey standing on a pitchers mound)
December 6th, 2022
Be in the trenches
9:11 pm – “Be in the trenches” could be a WOP way of working. It implies that the course organizers are engaged in the same process that we recommend to students. The people running the live sessions are also writing, editing, publishing, and going through the same psychological challenges. It gives the curriculum more credibility. It's not a dated method from academia, it's derived from the frontline. It's also the only way for the curriculum to maintain relevance in a landscape that is rapidly changing.
December 5th, 2022
Mexican beach music
3:31 pm – After a snorkeling venture in Cancuun, I was most impressed by the weird folk music we were greeted with on our return to shore. It was was spilling out of someone's backyard, with no context on what it was for. It had the merengue beat, but just on a bass drum (XooX XoXo), with flutes, maracas, some brass instruments, and mysterious yelling. The brass section would hold a dissonant chord for 2 loops, and then be silent for 3 loops, where the flutes noodled and maracas rattled. The scenery for this music included 3 military mens with guns using their phones, scattered people loitering, locals gathered around a TV watching Brazil beat South Korea 4-1, and man with a burnt face.
1:45 pm – High performance is a checklist. What are the morning pages of company? Which habits compound?
Do good work
7:05 am – I feel like more resolution needs to be added to the 'don't care what other people think' meme. When people are obsessed with controlling their perception, it's actually futile. Information vectors are outside your control. There will also be a lack of bandwidth, missing details, and emotional distortions. Instead, make an impact. Do good work, and people’s impressions will form around your actions. Your impression, though still imprecise, is more rooted in reality, and it' s not a front. Impressions are emergent form of impact.
December 4th, 2022
Prompt syntax as satirical tweets
3:44 pm – New tweet style: prompts that don’t show an output, but are satirical & self-aware of the new AI-craze. They can show hilarious combinations of things, and demand insane things. For example: Schedule a daily blog, 7,500 words, in the style of Tim Urban ripping off History Channel epiphanies from the 1990s, always start with a story, 20 doodles per post, continue for 30 years, auto-reply to comments.
Mexican highway dividers
3:36 pm – Driving down a 2-lane Mexican highway with untamed dividers, I see lucious exotic plants spill onto the road, and gain a split second glimpse of a man standing within it, posing at me, as if it were a hallucinated glitch in the matrix.
3:30 pm – Driving on the wrong side of the road (in the UK) is like playing Mario Kart in Mirror mode.
Sneaky tenses (2:09 pm)
The following items are singular, even though they appear plural. Notice the 'is'
Politics is – though it ends with 's' – politics is singular, like 'science'
The Republican Headquarters is – this is a singular place
Everybody is – 'Everybody' represents a group through a singular phrase.
The pile of books, pens, and paper is – even though it's a list, the first referenced noun is singular.
Other grammar notes from elements of style (12:02 pm)
12:23 pm – Use dashes ( — ) to connect points in one idea that all mesh but don’t have a clear causation.
12:20 pm – Use colons ( : ) to unpack a noun. You can't end on a verb (ie: the ritual requires: ...), only on nouns (it requires three props: A, B, or C). The noun can take on various forms: a quote by Oscalr wilde:, a message for the nomads:, Dear Mr. Montague:
12:15 pm – Rhythm not only makes sentences dynmic, but it allows you to unpack details that matter. Every detail exists at multiple scales of resolution. You can say something short and concrete, or, unpack something in long, winding, descriptive prose. There's an intentionality in choosing which ideas to unpack, and which ones skirt the surface.
12:06 pm – Inter-sentence fragments uses commas to nest detail, like names and supplementary ideas.
12:02 pm – Oxford comma as a visual cue.
Steps to shape a project (11:42 am)
What? What is delivered by completing this? How do you know it's done? What does it enable? What changes? Be specific.
Why? How does this ladder up to a larger goal? Why now?
How? What are the steps needed to get this done? Look at the full ecosystem fo active projects– what is my available level of focus on this?
Who? Am I doing this myself or am I delegating? Who are the collaborators? Does this need approval or review before it's started? Who gets informed? Who gives feedback?
Where/When? Block out times and send invites as needed.
11:41 am – Spaced repetition for language and information patterns to guide your mind and body towards goals. It's like a psychological OS / software.
12:27 am – Idea for a paid podcast on Substack — share ideas daily, low friction, but personal, insights & takes
December 3rd, 2022
Notes from a call with Taylor (12:00 pm)
What if human consciousness is just a vehicle for language to continue on it's upwards ascent?
There are two ends of the spectrum of human/AI collaboration. On one end, humans are using AI to automate digital slave labor. At the other end, AI's converse with each other and form epiphanies & breakthroughs without caring to even inform humans. The middle ground is a symbiosis, where human & AI interface and grow together.
The Internet can augment or memory, but AI will augment our workflow.
It's tragic to consider the range of potential and ideas locked in everyone's heads. AI will reduce the barrier between your imagination & the outer world.
Problems with social media (8:08 am)
Suppression (unjust decreased visibility / shadow banning)
Amplification (unjust increased visibility of one idea/account)
Misinformation (enabling fake information to be allowed)
Flood (promote the encounters of a type of idea)
Distortion (real-sounding but incorrect interpretation)
Silos (buckets people into self-referential groups)
Cancel mobs (scare people expressing)
Gossip traps (everyone talking shit about X)
Secret algorithms (no ability for users to view or tweak)
Content moderation (bias in the people moderating)
December 2nd, 2022
7:46 pm – Imagine yourself as grandparent surrounded by your clan. What are the visible and invisible values shared between everyone in the ground? What do they value? What do they say and do?
December 1st, 2022
Quick stream of consciousness lyrics from the shower
Persephone loves me, I met her in the underworld, She’s the kind of girl that gets down with the deadheads, She’s well read, travels the world, But her heavy metal father, he won’t read her poetry, Up in the apple tree, you’ll find Persephone, Hooking up with a snake, I did a double-take, Never thought I’d be jealous of a reptile, It’s been a while since I’ve hit the New York dating scene, She’s a dream, dripping with venom, Plenty of fish, sautéed by the devil, Don’t take it personally, It’s all a joke, you learned on the big screen,
9:22 am – Maybe you have a vision for one area of life, but no time today to work on it. The thing you actually have to do today is exciting, but if you carry the wrong vision, there’s a mismatch. Ideally, you want your manager self to carve out the time to do the things that matter, and then you tap into the right visions to charge you through it.
Before starting an essay
8:53 am – I wonder if each essay starts as a scratch pad to gather ideas. I should slowly let these accumulate ideas until a few things are checked off: a story, some facts, coined phrases, a hook, an emotion, and a shiny dime.
8:50 am – Logs don’t have to be elegant prose. Looking back to August, it’s interesting to read some lists that document the small insignificant things that happened to me during my day (ie: getting approached by a stranger). These details, structured as a skimmable list, make perfect sense.
The essence of December
8:37 am – December’s arrived. Last year, it was a phase of open-space experimentation. No two years are ever the same, but the holiday wind down is a force that you can lean into. Excited for this month.
The exercise of rap
8:16 am – I've caught myself rapping to myself as a kind of word exercise. There’s something neat about using rhyme & free-association to guide thought. If you just loop a chord progression, you can think along a different axis (rhyming & story, instead of chord movement & melody)