Logs | 2023-01-January

January 31st, 2023

9:38 am — Taste develops faster than ability

There’s a nuance to the “taste gap” meme. Sure, over time, you close in on the gap between your actual ability and the abilities of your heroes (who you’ve chosen through your taste). But, even though the actual gap shrinks, the perceived gap grows (almost exponentially). When you start, your hero is a caricature. But as you approach them, you understand the dimensions and depths of their ability. When you can fully grasp another’s craft, it makes you realize how far you actually are. You shift from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, over and over and over. As you practice, study, and refine your artistic language, it’s a constant stream of discovering what you don’t know. As you dive into the gap, the size of the gap increases. It makes you realize that Great Artists are freaks of nature. They’re the compounding output of talent & effort. They’re rare. They’re power laws. And now that you’ve dove in for a few years, you realize there are decades ahead of you if you want to be in that same league. The key thing here is not to get discouraged in comparison. These heroes of yours, in reality, are unattainable. So it’s not sensible to ever be discouraged by that gap. Instead, see them as books to learn from. Ultimately, through obsessively studying a unique constellation of heroes, you emerge as your own phenomenon, an amalgamation that’s impossible to replicate, but has an allure to get others into the game, and so the cycle continues.

9:23 am — A good breakout room question has the ‘ping pong’ effect. It’s not about issuing a prompt that the 1st person speaker can answer. Otherwise, a breakout is a series of monologues. There’s no discussion, and no one gets to know each other. It’s all about crafting a question so that the 2nd person (the listener) has a model for how to respond and react to the kickoff. If you give the listener a tool for how to respond to an emergent and unpredictable story from a stranger, it works. As long as you can get one back and forth initiated, the conversation kicks off and takes its own twist and turns.

8:12 am — I’ve under-appreciated the power of my systems and habits on my mental health. Over the months and years, I’ve internalized a system that leads to positive feedback loops. But during a move, it’s easy for all those systems to shed away. I’ve under-estimated how easy it would be for me to spiral into negative feedback loops. It makes me wonder how much of mental health is emergent from process. Of course, genetics are at play here. Some have higher intensities of inner chaos, and some have lower capacities for order and process. But I wonder if there are some foundational skills that could be useful enough to help the average person. The key underpinning is that outputs are downstream of inputs. Whenever we’re in a mood, we think it just emerged randomly in that moment. But any mental state is an output of days, weeks, and months of prior inputs. Even if this is mostly BS, there is utility to it. It’s self-fulfilling. By believing that inputs change outputs, it leads to action instead of hopelessness.

January 30th, 2023

3:39 pm — New essay on the way called, “The Babbling Idiot Theory of Consciousness.”

It’s an extension of the Stoned Ape Theory by Terence McKenna, and it’s entirely speculative. McKenna’s theory is interpreted to mean that constant exposure to psilocybin mushrooms (over millions of years), led to the rapid increase in human brain size. How did this happen though?

I’m proposing a variation with McKenna’s theory. Sure, it makes sense that early humans stalked cattle across the plains as African forests dried up, coming across mushrooms in the process. Chances are though, within a tribe, not everyone got stoned at once. The heroic dose might have been found by one member, who proceeded to trip balls in front of the sober and hungry tribe. They were the ‘babbling idiot.’

On a high-dose of psychedelics, they likely experienced ‘glossolalia,’ or, an increased capacity to make random mouth noises. We can imagine an outpouring of new sounds. From the tribes perspective, it was mostly non-sense, but in a few rare cases, a mouth utterance was registered with a meaning. Association made! The tribe might have found some of these language mutations to be useful, and they adopted them.

The Babbling Idiot, when he comes down from his frenzy, likely retained no memory of what happened. Yet, the whole tribe is now using a new word that he memed during his trip, and he has no idea that he was the inventor. Even if this theory is total BS, it rings true with the artistic process in general. The artist is at the edge of language and consciousness, often outside of memory, and needs either another person, or a medium (paper, canvas, instrument), to bring artifacts back to the culture.

So during each hunt, someone would eat the mushroom, turn into the Babbling Idiot, fire off some slang, and the tribe would add a few new words to it’s repertoire. Sure, this could happen without psychedelics, but it’s possible that frequent exposure to mushrooms radically accelerated the rate of mutation. This means that it’s not the mushroom that evolved consciousness, but language.

The early brain might’ve always had the capacity to be much larger, but it was bottlenecked by a lack of language. As our language grew, it helped the brain grow to its fullest potential. The mushroom created an outpouring of language, and the tribe gradually retained more and more new words from the Babbling Idiot’s state of ecstasy. Each new generation was born into a slightly more sophisticated web of words to inherit.

8:11 am — Cycles of conviction and cynicism lead to perpetual motion. If you only inherent one, you’re in trouble. You’re either blindly optimistic with no means to improve and course correct, or, you’re so critical and judgmental that you can’t even get started. Go back and forth. Love and hate. Love and hate.

January 29th, 2023

9:03 am — Reminder: write a post about DMT burial rituals.

8:56 am — When I look back at old school papers from high school or college, I’m usually fine chucking them. But I found a few boxes of paper and books from my 2-3 years after college— and going through them felt rejuvenating. It was an important flashback. I saw artifacts from dead-end trails that were filled with belief. I also saw the early seeds of the path I’m currently on. It would be tragic to lose this stuff. Even if I only look at it once every 3-5 years, it can lead to perspective shifts that help me steer through the current situation. I went through everything and pruned, cutting out 50-60% of it, so that next time I return, there’s a higher density and quality of old work.

January 28th, 2023

2:41 pm — Lessons from the Sun God on 5th Avenue (a post about James Turrell’s ‘Aten Reign’ exhibit at the Guggenheim in 2014).

2:23 pm — Christianity has gone senile. It’s built around the Christ meme, yet it’s lost touch with the core activities to properly install it. Sure, at the individual level, Christianity can work for a lot of people, but in the aggregate, it feels like it’s devolved into dogma and radicalism, which is leading to a sharp rise in atheism.

10:11 pm — 275 linear feet of books (almost a football field).

4:36 pm — When I left Ohio, the song playing in the airpot was “Hoobastank — The Reason” (8th grade flashbacks). When I landed in New York, the same song was playing in a different airport. Funny synchronicity. Hoobastank all the way down.

2:35 pm — The flight attendant walked by and said, “Seatbelt! You’ll thank me later!” in a super happy tone. What knowledge of the future is he withholding from me? Routine water landing?

12:19 pm — For productivity systems to function, there’s an act of ‘weeding’ that’s required. It’s about pruning, deleting, and discarding old and irrelevant material to not overwhelm the system. Unfortunately, this can turn into busy work. What if AI could auto-archive for you? It moves stale data out of your conscious awareness, but through search, you can re-surface and revive.

11:45 am — A landing page for a freelance dictator.

11:20 am — The field of architecture has the highest suicide rate for white-collar professions. It probably has to do with the delta between the romantic vision of the architect and the specialized, mundane, intense reality of life on the job.

January 27th, 2023

8:22 am — Social media for introverts.

8:17 am — The absurdity around nuclear war media.

7:57 am — Now that the machines can procedurally generate John Lennon, everyone can embody him at once. Infinite John Lennon clones, half supporting Ukraine, and half supporting Russia. His voice will become a commodity.

10:32 pm — Personality models

  • Myers-Briggs (INTJ)

  • Enneagram (the investigator)

  • The Big Five Personality Traits

  • Questioner, obliger, upholder, rebel

January 25th, 2023

4:56 pm — The fundamentals of marketing;

  • Do more people know about you?

  • Do the people who know about you trust you more?

  • Are the people who trust you willing to pay?

1:25 pm — Words are spells; use them carefully and responsibly.

January 24th, 2023

1:56 pm — A phrase for when the shadow hijacks the creative imagination.

7:36 am — I’ve been putting off Thus Spoke Zarathustra for too long.

7:26 am — Writing morning logs is a great warmup. It lets you write through a bunch of ideas, and find the ones that have emotional energy. If something feels hard to write, you abandon it after 1-3 sentences. But if something flows, you stick with it as long as you can. This is how essays start. It’s craft x emotional energy. No matter how advanced your craft gets, the writing is flat if there’s no genuine excitement behind the thing. Given craft is kind of automatic, the most important thing is to work on the right things at the right moments.

January 23rd, 2023

9:44 pm — I find myself at a hotel bar in the middle of Ohio in January. It’s 10pm. My team is retired, and I’m overhearing bar chatter about the Grateful Dead. They’re talking about how the 1980s Dead are far better than the 60s dead, and I strongly disagree, but I don’t say much. I’m exhausted. I just spent 1.5 hours editing a long-form piece of mine that I’ve edited into the ground. It’s great, but I’m detached. I’ve tortured it, and now I feel done. It feels like I’ve forgotten how to write and edit. It feels like an emergency, but it’s really just the product of losing steam. I rationally know this, but emotionally feel like an uninspired typist who is routinely stringing words together out of habit.

8:21 pm — Titles are vague and visual, but sub-titles are clear descriptive. Sub-titles hint at the nature of the mystery behind the title. It gives you just enough, but it inherently can’t reveal too much due to the nature of how compressed it is.

January 22nd, 2023

1:03 pm — I generally make playlists to capture what I listen to each month, but I wonder if it makes more sense to have seasonal playlists, so I’m looping through the same set of music each year. ie: Winter tunes might include Radiohead, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Ought, Of Montreal, The Fugs. Some artists just land better in the cold.

10:24 am — A “borderline personality” disorder is an interesting title for a disease. If you look it up, it has a specific diagnosis, but the name literally implies that the symptoms are hard to detect. This person is on the edge, straddled right in between a normal person and a mental illness.

10:10 am — The Beat Generation and Christian monks might seem like completely different archetypes. One is the hooligan, the other is the hermit (at least on the surface). But they share a sense of voluntary poverty through rejecting materialism.

9:47 am — Curious to study the lyrics of the songs I like to see the breakdown of what tense they’r in (1st, 2nd, or 3rd-person).

9:24 am — Deerhunter songwriting tricks:

  1. One looped mantra with ethereal background noise

  2. Many tempos, trippy transitions at the beginning and end

  3. Arpeggios as a melody hook, same stripped down chords as a verse backing

  4. Memorable lyrics, in rhymes or repeated

  5. Loop the beginning of an arpeggio riff, add reverb and effects, then burst into the chorus 

  6. Use a lyric in back to back lines (ie: farm), but in different contexts — it builds understanding. (In writing, I try not to have unique words in adjacent lines, but since music isn’t visible, I think it actually helps).

  7. Lyrics / pause — space to reflect on what was just said — vs. Dylan, relentless march forward

7:40 am — I’ve undervalued scent as an element in environment design. Smells can be associated with states, especially if you’re a hyper-suggestible person.

7:36 am — Some life events are like a meteor that shake your foundations — your shelter, your loved ones, your routines. In moments like these, creative projects are halted, checklists go neglected, and you shift into adaptation and survival mode. It’s a temporary slice of novelty that you have to navigate through, and you have to trust that the other side will be better. Still, it can leave you feeling like a tiny being in the back of your skull, looking out through two peepholes, trying to use levers to operate the machinery of your body.

7:32 am — I have weird, OCD habits around measurement, and I’ve found myself marking each day 1-4 over the last year. Not sure why this is useful. At least it confirms that January 2023 has been an objectively lousy month.

7:30 am —

  • It’s weird watching home videos of your 5-year old self and seeing your personality as an adult. My 10-20 year old self looked back on my childhood self as quiet and mousey. But in this clip of me playing baseball in the backyard, it looks like I’m bold, loud, and expressive. A leader? It’s weird dissonance.

  • Home videos (via a 1990s camcorder) are great in the sense that they capture moments as they actually unfolded. In the age of smartphones and selfies, it seems like everyone is posing. A picture represents the death of the moment. But the camcorder acts as a disembodied observer.

  • The Rayaban Stories glasses I’ve been wearing feel like a modern camcorder. It captures moments, and it doesn’t draw too much attention to itself. They’re lightweight and almost invisible, compared to the clunky plastic on your shoulder that draw attention and self-consciousness. Given the friction of recording with a heavy handheld device, only ‘special’ moments were captured. These things let me capture the mundane.

7:23 am — A decade ago, the public became paranoid of our data being collected. Some are still paranoid of having a Google Home in their bedroom, with the fear that some developer is going to be tapped in to their conversations, perhaps even stumbling into low-resolution sex audio. Now, I keep a public log that basically shares 90% of my ‘private’ thoughts. 1st person video footage is even more revealing. The more open you are, the less you have to lose, and the less paranoid you are about being spied on. (note: the concern comes from how the sum of all your data can be synthesized and used against you without you knowing.)

January 21st, 2023

7:38 am — The Kill Tony show shows how hard standup comedy is.

6:52 am — An unknown burst of new subscribers naturally gets me thinking — “is this some sort of joke that I’m not in on?”

January 20th, 2023

5:04 pm —

  • Romantic in the Rand/Emerson sense

  • Emerson: vague nobleness, thorough sweetness

  • Write of Passage: a beacon of earnestness in a cynical world

  • Not ironic, hostile, or apathetic

9:10 am —

“Spectacle is the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity” ― Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

January 19th, 2023

12:38 pm — A lottery sperm with legs and thumbs, here to save the species.

7:44 am — Substack launched a new feature to make your account private. How could this be useful? Increased vulnerability? Gates to get in?

6:29 am — Write about the spectacular dive I did on the last play of last night’s racquetball game. High stakes. Match point. I jumped, twisted my body, and hit the ball upside down in mid air. It was spectacular, cat-like even. I crashed to the floor and busted my knee. The ball hit the wall, then comically came back perfectly and hit my stomach as I was stretched out on the floor. That counts as a foul on my end. I lost the point. Game over.

6:27 am — The power of taking breaks and returning. If you’re stuck on a guitar riff, take a break and come back. By removing your conscious attention, it engrains in your subconscious, and you can do it better when you come back in 10 minutes. Same holds true with racquetball. I’m surprisingly better in Game 2.

6:20 am — I’m waking up to a mess. Four browser windows are open, one of them has 6 tabs, and the other has 92. What a waste of fresh energy.

January 18th, 2023

4:24 pm — Monetized transparency: when you put your most vulnerable and personal content behind a paywall (ie: your emotions, your income for the year, etc.) It’s a new trend. There’s a shortage of honesty & transparency, and it seems like people are willing to pay for it.

January 17th, 2023

1:02 pm — The shift from analog to digital has unintended consequences on the creative process. One example is with Walter Murch, a film editor, who found his best ideas through the random impressions rom moving physical tapes forward and backward. (get more details here).

7:54 am —

Simplicity often has a secret complexity. Great works can be appreciated both at the surface and in the depths. Think of a Beatles song. After one listen, you might like the song, but after the 5th listen, you realize, ‘whoa, I never heard that layer before.’ (Also true for art, architecture, writing, etc.). There’s so much richness that it can’t all be absorbed in one sitting. It’s important that complexity isn’t distracting for a first-timer— it’s elegantly organized, waiting to be noticed.

Originality often has an intentional imitation. There’s a gap between the artist’s influences and the audience. If you’re an average Beatles listener, you might not know the bass line from ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ is a Chuck Berry riff. If you ask Paul, he’d say, ‘of course it is.’ It’s just a bass line. It’s one element of something entirely new. What the audience sees as originality is often a synthesis & mutation of multiple sources.

January 16, 2023

11:11 pm — The Smile, Live on KEXP (ex-Radiohead)

Someone in the comments said ‘the pinnacle of music ability and creativity.’ Amen. This performance made them click for me (though, that’s after a decade of listening to Radiohead). I become an uber-fan in 2008, right after In Rainbows (2007), which could be my favorite album. None of their releases since have gotten me as excited as In Rainbows, but I’m getting increasingly excited about The Smile. They seem out of a rut. By bringing Thom and Johnny together, and shedding the pressure of the ‘Radiohead’ entity, it seems like they’re growing/evolving in the direction that I was hoping they would 10 years ago.

January 15, 2023

9:47 am — An obituary for Ed (expand on this)

  • the anarchist bookstore

  • barbarians at the gates of the public library

  • visions of st. teresa of avila

  • psychedelic society of brooklyn

  • philosophy handbook

  • cancer

6:36 am — Three release valves (or, the capture stack):
1) Logs to capture ideas
2) ToDoist to capture tasks
3) Glasses to capture memories

January 14, 2023

1:49 pm — [Ought inspired call and response lyrics, looped over and over, 16 times, over changing chords & ambient distortion]
Q: You feeling under the weather?
A: No, I’ve never been better!

12:38 pm — New Substack discovery this week, you can have two custom navigation bars. Go into settings > publication details > homepage links > edit. You can structure a list of URLs into groups. So my top nav will include Home (essay), Logs (active), Links (check this out), and About, while my secondary nav will include my essay topics, and an archive of monthly logs.

11:51 am — I asked AI to summarize my logs from December, and here’s what it came up with:

“This document is a compilation of notes and thoughts related to writing, exploring the idea that writing can lead to transformation. It discusses the idea of "the matrix" when it comes to online writing, focusing on the one idea that really matters, and the four states of consciousness. It also talks about using rhyme and free-association to guide thought, the use of "read it later" apps, and the idea of using words as a design element. Finally, the document highlights the importance of writing with a 500-year time horizon, and the notion of computing as a peak human achievement.”

11:18 am — Maybe taste is directional, and quality is metric. Taste is like a constellation of millions of good/bad (binary) judgements of value. A creator subconsciously consumes and creates from the lens of their taste. Taste can be wide or narrow. There isn’t a right or wrong here. While taste is loose, quality is definable. It’s biological. Good art strikes an eruption in the nervous system. Quality can even be categorically dissected, evaluated, and scored out of 100. These two systems work together. Two works of art of completely different tastes can share a degree of quality.

9:59 am — AI-generated art shifts visual composition from right brain to left brain. It strips away technique and passion, shifting the game to one of language puzzles. 

9:52 am — “Life is art”... where does this phrase come from? There’s some thread between Pessoa, Kerouac, Justin Hall, reality TV, the Kardashians, Twitter, and TikTok.

8:59 am — Just had a daydream about a short story that’s written in a way to sound believable. The plot: through a sequence of small but believable events, I’m invited to shadow Robert Caro as he finishes his last novel. Big honor. The deal is that I’m invisible, a fly on the wall, unacknowledged. I can only piece together his process through what’s visible. As I observe him, the details get weirder and less unbelievable, eventually to a point where it gets Lynchian / exotic / nightmarish. By the end, you know it’s not a true story, but a piece of creative fiction. 

[Maybe Caro turns into a reptile? Reptile isn’t correct.. that would be a tasteless shock. The magical realism has to be rooted in a true characteristic in Caro, and I don’t know him well enough. Reptile implies bad guy, and I think Caro’s a good guy, so I don’t have the key ‘event’ to make this worth pursuing.. Another path: don’t make it about Caro, but shadowing a famous, fictional writer, one who seems good on the surface, but is actually evil.]

[[Story concepts evolve and mutate from seeds, until a point where they make no sense, or, until they’re too appealing to ignore.]]

8:52 am — Three identical dogs [song title]

7:29 am —

7:25 am — Text-generation apps like Chat GPT aren’t designed for mimicking voice, but it’s definitely possible. I’ve already seen apps (in 2021), that can perfectly mimic the voice of HTS, Jane Austen, or Seinfeld. It’s just a matter of UI and training data. You can imagine a tool that lets you translate your posts into the style of your favorite authors (like a Tim Urban effect pedal). Voice replication could be a thing, and it might mask a lack of craft and taste. What is the volume of essays needed for a voice to be trained?

10 songs I’ve liked from the last week:

January 13th, 2023

9:28 pm — Works In Progress (check this out)

6:06 pm — As you dive into the weeds of a craft, it doesn’t lead to more clear answers. It leads to a clarity in how you articulate the unsolvable mysteries. There are dilemmas and complexities that are unsolvable, but through grasping, you know how to wield them in the right context.

5:20 pm — If you’re always been in the tailwind of motivation, you’ll be shocked at how easily it can deflate.

Proper winter music (5:18 pm)

5:17 pm — A phrase for the misery of knowing your potential.

3:34 pm — AI-generated art from Lexica.art

1:19 pm — I had an idea for a writing analysis of Rebecca Black’s song Friday. There are 4 definable ways that the lyric writing is structurally bad. When they all happen at once, it’s like a perfect storm that is universally cringe (and viral). They boil down to, 1) adjacent repetition, 2) awkward rhyme schemes, 3) low perplexity, 4) implicit context. (I’d have to explain these for them to make sense). But I’m hesitant to write a ‘what not to do’ analysis. Kind of feels like a ‘dunk.’ There’s another person on the other side of this meme. She’s on YouTube, still making music (which is obviously way more mature and better), but she’s still in the shadow of a song she made when she was 13.

9:14 am — All productivity systems should be ‘leakproof.’ If you pour data into pipeline 10,000 times, does the process still function, or is it flooded?

6:57 am — A phrase for training the fear out of yourself in lucid dreams.

6:55 am — Had a dream where I made a life decision through a dice roll. I articulate 6 different options, and then rolled a 2. When the number appeared, there was a momentary worry. What was 2 again? I re-articulated what options 1-3 were again to myself, but this time, knowing that a decision was made, that ‘2’ was my destiny. It let me reconsider all the options in a new light, and turns out, 2 is what I actually want below the layers of rationality.

6:50 am — Surfing the pings = playing defense.

January 12th, 2023

10:26 pm — These logs all start as half-coherent breadcrumbs in iOS. I revisit them the next morning, and re-write the ideas straight into a Substack page.

3:46 pm — By the time I got into NYC, my glasses were already at 10-20%, bummer. They died almost instantly. I messed up the charging cycle. Typically they’re good for 8ish hours, but I goofed. It’s funny how I see this event as an ‘unfortunate gap in my recorded memory,’ but this has been the reality for every memory in my life up until 2023.

3:42 pm — In any given moment, there are 7-12 arbitrary and innocuous things happening at once. They’re all around you, and usually worth ignoring. But if you can take them all in, all at once, it can feel like a symphony. The day-to-day stream of worry and execution fade away, and what emerges is cold breathe, brisk skin, a pack of school kids, assorted lone strangers each with a fictional backstory, birds and city rumble, and pencil towers behind deathly-looking (leafless/naked) trees. This kind of contemplation feels functionally useless, but it’s not; it’s a squeegee for the ego.

3:41 pm — A phrase for when an overdue moment of being alone acts as a welcoming reset.

3:37 pm — Reminders: I’m not owed anything. There’s no further state to attain. At any moment I can dip into the beautiful mystery that hides in the mundane. Keep perception clean and squeegee the ego frequently.  None of this is an excuse to turn down the intensity. Wrestle unreasonable perfectionism, take breaks to gaze at cardinals, and see the humor in it all.

3:33 pm — When I die, turn my name into a bench. [Lyric]

3:18 pm — Creative fluidity is like a muscle that builds over many long years. It’s a  mix of diligence, patience, and conviction— to persist through shitty ideas. Associative thinking develops through reps. What if the only thing preventing creativity is the openness to constantly generate stupid ideas? ‘Creative genius’ might be nothing other than the volume of stupid ideas tolerated. Said earnestly, it’s the playful genesis of solutions with the willingness to be rock. It’s an inner lack of filter, paired with a seriousness to improve.

3:17 pm — Subway angel, down here with the rats. [Lyric]

3:16 pm — Through these glasses, I can create ‘visual’ logs that show the construction of prose. Kind of cool. It’s like one of those cheesy Instagram effects, except actually done manually. It enforces the spirit of ‘no-editing’ and ‘writing as live spontaneous performance. Dancing letters, fingers, and thumbs— hopefully it’s legible.

3:14 pm — We’re all at risk of selection bias. We want to feel good about the choices we’ve made. Regret is a bad look, for the self, and for others. There’s always a way to justify our past; some sliver to bring into high-resolution and confirm, ‘that was worth it.’ But it’s never the full meal. To chase the white whale without compromise is unlikely and irrational. A tremendous risk. It’s a sacrifice of everything that isn’t the white whale.

3:11 pm — Feeling the urge to monologue through my glasses on the subway platform but my inner mouse stops me.

3:02 pm

A return to a Manhattan, 
The Mecca, 
The old beast, 
The chain reaction continues,
The center of the petri flash,

2:53 pm — Twice a year, the spirit of adventure knocks and seeks to destroy everything. It has cunning English, and is deaf to compromise and reason. It is an inspirational fool, an impressive devil with blind judgement, and likely a bad influence. Still, it’s worth hearing him out.

2:51 pm — There are two ends of the ‘legibility’ spectrum. There’s plain English that means what it says. Then there’s the cryptic meaning of the poets, where phrases have multiple meaning. What’s the middle ground here? How can you be both direct and novel? How can you transmit visions without valleys of interpretation?

2:48 pm — A phrase for seeing big box stores as a senile America.

January 11th, 2023

10:59 pm — I asked Chat GPT to write me a story about a man who buys a cheap beat-up house in Kentucky to obsess over his writing. I read through 3 options. The prose was boilerplate and flat, but it was interesting to see the range in plot arcs. Of course, I could detail any of the 3 paths better, but a human mind is likely to converge around the first plot they get excited about. GPT can generate dozens of plots without clinging. I see value in using AI for rapid prototyping, to quickly explore all directions (supplementing your own studies), before you dive in on the analog process.

10:24 pm — At least twice a year I’ll go onto Zillow and browse cheap beaten up homes in the middle of American nowhere. I could buy this shelter in cash, and just retreat there and write.

1:11 pm — A phrase for when panic kicks in at the first signs of success.

11:41 am — I’ve caught myself saying, ‘Damn, I forgot to capture that,’ in recent days. My 1st person capture glasses habit lost it’s strength as real-life kicked in my first week back to work. There’s a big point in here. By wearing a ‘capture device’ on my face, it only takes a split second to capture video/audio. A quarter of a second tops. It’s instant. It arguably can’t be any simpler. It proves the necessity of ‘mindfulness’ here. Sure, you can optimize your system and pick your tools. But in the end, you need to realize that you’re having thoughts and experiences worth capturing. Usually, we’re so caught in the fluidity of life. There’s a kind of parallel processing required to both live and capture simultaneously. Some portion of bandwidth is folded back to observe itself observing.

9:36 am — Byrne Hobart: “An unfortunate truth about the content business is that the more it scales, the more it gets commoditized. And once it’s commoditized, it can get squeezed between a cost structure the content company doesn’t control and a distribution system that’s operated by another business with its own interests. If scaling entails lower quality, any sufficiently high-growth media business is indistinguishable from spam.”

January 10th, 2023

5:32 pm — Can AI triangulate my emerging logs, my body of polished essays, and my theories on what “great writing” is? I wonder if there’s a world where each log can auto-convert into a full essay. This is only possible, or, ‘authentic’ if, 1) I have a bank of personal experience it can draw from, and 2) my voice is organically re-generated through other works I’ve written. In this case, the insights (the logs) are the driver (the analog input), and all my past work is leveraged to reach increasing scale and quality. Of course, this strips away the process, pain, and struggle of writing long-form, which I do love. Instead, it is presenting you with finished outputs, as if they’re emerging from your subconscious. It actually seems holy / religious / eerie, to have your own inner landscapes materialize in front of your eyes without effort. Almost if there’s some portal between the impossible depths of your subconscious and your word processor. I’d like to imagine there’s a world where I can have this, and still dive into the analog process.

5:10 pm — Tibetan meditation techniques might be so visual (ie: colored shapes in the minds eye) because they were up in the mountains with minimal stimulation in their surroundings. @Christin

1:10 pm — Deleted sentence: The word “Metaverse” has been poisoned by VC hucksters, moonboi futurists, and hungry-hungry-data-hippos who would love to give you creepy and unsolicited advertisements based on your wandering eyes.

8:07 am — “I don’t know anyone who achieved anything great without at least a mild form of psychosis.” (I don’t remember if I said this or if I heard it somewhere, so using quotes without attribution feels right here.)

8:06 am — A story about a person who goes extreme lengths to avoid conflict.

January 9th, 2023

11:48 pm — An algorithm that tries to hijack the reptile brain might get short-term gains, but users will leave once they realize the game.

11:37 pm — It makes sense how our rational culture is interested in the logos of Christ. Historicity matters. Biology and archaeological records are discarded, because the literal truth of the resurrection is the linchpin of a Christian worldview. The mythos of Christ is what needs resurrecting. The values and utility of the “Christ myth” are far more important than history of it.

11:18 pm — The common view is that Hitler was inherently evil, but another angle is the Hitler summoned the spirits of his crowd to become evil. From the little I know, his early speeches had little notes— he spoke, vigilantly observed the crowd, and adjusted his angle. The process was similar to an improv comedian, but instead of optimizing for laughter, he optimized for outrage. It was his path to power.  Hitler tapped into the unconscious and spiteful vengeance of his base, and his character was co-created.

11:07 pm

Whale-hunting — psychic movement —

[this is an example of a breadcrumb from 5 days ago. I have no idea what idea I was pointing to here and now it’s gone.]

11:01 pm — The ideas you capture are useful for ‘spark’ or ‘search.’ Spark is when you browse your old notes to find a new idea that’s exciting to start. Search is when you pull from your notes to augment an existing idea.

10:56 pm —

Simplicity often has a secret complexity.

Originality often has an intentional imitation.

10:29 pm — After wearing my Rayban story glasses around people IRL, I’ve noticed a common arc.

1) Surprise: ‘Oh you have glasses now?’

2) Weirdness: ‘There are camera in there?!’ I give them a demo. I show them that the glasses are only recording when the LED light is on.

3) Glimpse: I show them the montages that get auto-created. They’re naturally pretty cool, and the fact that background music masks the audio, it’s less intimidating.

4) Share: I’ll generally share clips with someone if they’re in a montage. In several cases, they want the file, and they’ve even shared that file with friends.

8:38 am — Since the start of the new year, I’ve naturally heard talk of ‘taking things slow.’ Culture is accelerating at an intense pace, and there’s a natural counter-reaction to disengage from it, to detox, to take the path of a monk, to not set higher standards for yourself, and to be accepting of every situation. I have a slightly different take: I’d like to build resilience to the chaos. I embrace the throttle. I think acceptance, fortitude, character, and courage are build in proportion to the size of the dragon you’re up against. Be Saint George.

January 7th, 2023

11:20 am — Rank the utensils in order of how effective they are to stir something: a spoon, a fork, a knife, a stirrer.

11:19 am — I’d like to better understand the history of dog, cat, and horse breeding.

9:27 am — Here’s an example of “idea soup.” It’s a series of associations that came together faster than I could organize in prose. It’s like I’m connecting ideas through a series of breadcrumbs. In the moment, it makes sense. After the fact, it’s cryptic. I could unpack this, but it’s tricky, so I’m just going to freeze this here.

Frontiers — DMT/LSD:VR/AR — financial & conspiracy — voyager in consciousness & technology — forward — inward — history of consciousness revolutions — not outward like in space (outer edges of the universe) — sure Webb Telescope — but radically, and weirdly inward — AI, machines become sentient — this is the century of ‘the apocalypse’ — the end of linear history — the great scrambling — higher chance than ever of self-destructing — don’t say that with fear — with calmness, for only if you accept chaos can you even begin to navigate it — if you cling to the survival of the species, you’ll be a paranoid activist with no actual levers to pull — instead, accept — we’re on an uncontrollable spiral, and regardless of the death of the species, our own death — something to grapple with — purpose, answers, experience — not in the shallow ‘see the world’ tourist, spectacle, signal type of way — but to seriously dig in and make sense of the weirdness of our situation — to drop your ego, to drop your human-centric view of the world — to see yourself as an insect with arms, self-reflecting — universe became self-aware— and it’s reached a point of overwhelming and awe-striking brilliance and density.

9:26 am — A phrase on ‘becoming’ a psychedelic mind (separate from the drug experience).

9:20 am — I just realized Terence McKenna’s stories of the DMT elves bear a resemblance to social media. In his trips, he’s blitzkrieg by dozens of entities who are all competing for his attention. “Look at this,” “Look at THIS,” “LOOK AT THIS!” They’re each spawning self-transforming objects for him to fixate his attention upon. This is like the highest-possible form of a social media feed. Even in hyperspace, sentient disembodied intelligences will compete for your attention. Yikes.

9:15 am, written during a shower

When you truly believe in the forces you wield

There is nowhere to go but forward

Don’t cringe, cry, and clutch to the roads you mapped

Because all paths lead to same destiny

Don’t panic when the bridge falls

Because desperation kills

You are already in the kingdom

You are already in the apocalypse

So fly towards the blue ball

January 6th, 2023

In case you don’t know, you can “involve the ghost reader” in the new Readwise Reader app. You have a few options. (2:37 pm)

  1. Ask the document a question

  2. Summarize the document

  3. Generate thought-provoking questions

  4. Generate Q&A pairs based on your highlights

2:36 pm — The internet increases variance. It will reward merit like never before, and, it will consume the public.

2:24 pm — AI opens up a new domain for the age-old impulse of cheating. It will scramble old forms of credentials, and force new forms of proof. [second test in Substack Chat]

1:22 pm — Thought experiment. Teleportation gets invented. It’s $9/month. Accessible through iOS and won’t accidentally merge your DNA with a fly when you respawn. Where do you go first? How does your life change? [first test in Substack Chat]

Lessons from using the Rayban Stories (7:37 am)

  • Demo of the light (not always on, 30 second clips)

  • Show the end result (clips on phone, montage, cool output)

  • Self deprecate — and make jokes about what you’re capturing (self-narrate)

  • Don’t record in vulnerable situations — light, fun, day to day

  • Don’t try to recreate moments you miss (makes everyone feel like actors)

  • Share montages with the people in them

January 4th, 2023

6:40 pm — “Substack curious”

7:31 am — When you travel and work remotely, you appreciate all the micro-optimizations of your home setup.

7:29 am — Extreme experiences give you perspective into things you do and don’t like. By going all-in on something stupid and then crashing (ie: going to Miami for college and starting a fraternity), it gives you the ability to re-calibrate. Otherwise, you never get it out of your system.

6:36 am — The past as a dream you can’t remember.

January 3rd, 2023

1:20 pm — A coined phrase around if you go with default or custom software installations. There’s some parallel here with religion: do you accept templated answers, customize your answers, or design your answers from scratch?

12:40 pm — The person next to me on my flight yelled at me. I didn’t turn off my laptop, even after the flight attendant asked me to close it twice. I was finishing the Runway prompt! I expected anger from the staff, but why this person? What’s her internal story? Am I defying her value of obedience? Did I endanger her physical safety, or could my use of wifi crash the landing? I forgive both of us.

10:49 am — There are all sorts of nightmares where you fuse AR technology with data analytics and tech corporations. Worth listing them all out in one post? ‘Here’s all the ways we can seriously break down our already fragile orders.’ There’s always this surreal ‘whoa!’ benefit, and then a sneaking evil that is unexpected (the snake in the garden) —- (example: as you pass by strangers in a city, there’s a visual symbol that displays your compatibility with them. Potentially, it’s a way to find your partner, and also, it totally distorts the randomness of first impressions)

10:43 am — In the future, companies will have to make apps for all mediums; browser, mobile, voice, and soon, spatial. We’re going analog.

10:41 am — The access points from technology generally shift from structure to ambient. Computing started with bulky boxes on top of desks, and now you can access that same functionality, anywhere, from your pocket, with a slightly different inputs (thumbs on glass instead of 2 hands).

AR/VR is similar. It started with a huge head mounted display plugged into a gaming PC with a wire. Eventually, you’ll have a single pair of glasses that can be AR/VR. It will spawn holographic monitors when and where you need them, and you’ll be able to interface through typing, swiping, waving, or speaking.

10:12 am — The ultimate form of remote telepresence is AR/VR connection. It’s the final form of the telephone. The only thing beyond it is literal teleportation. Two people are suspended in a shared simulation. The person in AR is hallucinating a ghost. The person in VR is suspended in a dream.

9:46 am — I’ve been using Spotify liked songs as my main source of music. It’s a massive pool (5,000+ songs?) that I’ve accidentally accumulated by liking songs and albums in the past. Now I listen through it (usually on shuffle), and weed out music I don’t like. Over-time, this will collection get better and better. If I come across something I really like, I’ll ‘re-like’ it so it pushes to the top of the list (it’s sorted by recency). I can then plug these into logs and playlists.

9:35 am — I usually try to write song lyrics by feeling it out, and the approach almost never works. Lyrics are dense. There’s so much meaning that needs to be compressed in such little space. This is probably known by more veteran song titles, but I think you need to start with the title, and work backwards. ie:

‘There’s Always a Snake in the Garden’

This could be both a title and the refrain in the chorus. You could imagine a song with multiple verses, each pointing to that same line. Now, instead of diving in and shaping lyrics around this title, there’s another layer of abstraction.

What are all the situations in where ‘something evil pops out of something that seems good on the surface?’

Brainstorm time. Could be in relationships, corporations, friend groups, nature, etc. It’s almost an act of map-building. What are 3 good, differentiated examples, that all point to the chorus? Once that is solved, you’re ready to dive into lyrics, craft, and image-making. Now you have proper constraints. All the puzzle pieces will slot in and make sense.

I’ve found it really hard to write lyrics bottom-up, and blindly reach my way towards a coherent structure. But I’m sure once you get the top-down process a few times, it becomes more intuitive to start bottom-up.

6:43 am — I should make a running list of Substack feature ideas and complaints (maybe this grows into a post).

  • Why are the ‘related posts’ underneath each essay not showing posts that are within the ‘section.’ I want topical relevance. ‘If you liked this essay, you might like these.’

  • Custom styling happens on desktop, but not in the reader/feed/app.

  • Seems like I’m getting double subscribers (same person, two email addresses) — Is there a way to consolidate?

6:32 am — Consciousness revolutions are only as powerful as they can cut up into power structures and influential people.

January 2nd, 2023

Music from the day:

11:49 pm — The ‘great indoorsman’ is someone who pursues adventures at their desk, in a chair, through a screen.

11:37 pm — Essays I currently have the momentum to write:

  • Living in the future (self-heating mugs)

  • Visual logging (Rayban stories)

  • AI Prompting (essay cover art)

  • Teleportation (AR/VR)

  • Road testing (feedback)

  • Grades, Harvard’s average GPA (3.8), and essay scoring

5:10 pm — New Chat GPT use case for me — explain legal terms to a 5th grader (this puts everything in the context of a lemonade stand).

2:50 pm — General lessons from last year — on teamwork, on identity, on keeping things simple, and on the power of embracing the apocalypse.

2:39 pm — When you assume the death and destruction of anything, or that the apocalypse is already here (just at a molasses-rate), it can shift you to a vantage point of liberation. You move out of emotional fear and desperation, and towards a point of view that is calm, swift, empathetic, and risk-seeking. You stop clinging for some other reality other than what you have, and instead, embrace play.

9:26 am — Why do Substack comments feel more alive than Twitter comments. It might be the lack of a character constraint, and also, the fact that it’s directly below the work (instead of below the link to the work).

He would see faces in movies, on T.V., in magazines, and in books
He thought that some of these faces might be right for him
And that through the years, by keeping an ideal facial structure fixed in his mind
Or somewhere in the back of his mind
That he might, by force of will, cause his face to approach those of his ideal
The change would be very subtle
It might take ten years or so
Gradually his face would change its shape
A more hooked nose
Wider, thinner lips
Beady eyes
A larger forehead

He imagined that this was an ability he shared with most other people
They had also molded their faces according to some ideal
Maybe they imagined their new face
Would better suit their personality
Or maybe they imagined that their personality
Would be forced to change to fit the new appearance
This is why first impressions are often correct
Although some people might have made mistakes
They may have arrived at an appearance
That bears no relationship to them
They may have picked an ideal appearance
Based on some childish whim, or momentary impulse
Some may have gotten halfway there
And then changed their minds

He wonders if he too might have made a similar mistake

January 1st, 2023

7:41 pm — Usually technology slowly layers to a point where you can’t even realize what’s changed. Today, I felt a strong sense that I’m living in the future of my childhood. My coffee mug heats itself, I talk to AI (out loud and through text), and now I’m wearing glasses that capture my 1st person point of view.

6:47 pm — A New York bucket list from a person who never makes bucket lists:

  • Bike the full perimeter of Manhattan

  • Queens / Brooklyn / Bronx Botanical Gardens

  • The Greek Parade / Neptune Diner

  • Steven Holl library in LIC

  • Argosy Bookstore / Central Park / Serendipity

  • BAM Rose Cinema / Black Forest Brooklyn

  • The Museum of Morbid Anatomy lecture

  • Hudson trip / Catskills / shooting

  • Robert Caro documentary

  • The MET (Frank Lloyd Wright Room) / Levain Cookies

  • Vertical tour of St. John the Divine Cathedral

  • Lincoln Center show / Columbus Circle

  • Rocking climbing in LIC

  • Opening day at Citi Field

  • Comedy Cellar / Washington Square Park bars

  • Fire Island weekend / day trip

  • Sleep No More / Chelsea galleries

  • Catskill Mountain Jubillee

  • Jayne’s Hill / West Hills country park

  • Sagamore Hill / The Roosevelt Museum

  • Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium

  • Woodstock / Kingston

  • Caumsett State Park

  • The Whaling Museum at Sag Harbor

  • Governor’s Island / live music

  • Cooking class (somewhere)

6:31 pm — The Rayban stories glasses are a form of visual logging. They capture not just the video, but your audio narration of what’s happening.

Music from the day:

10:04 pm — Here’s the prompt I used to generate my Substack cover.

A crest showing greek leaves, columns, letters, and wires, in the style of Dan Mumford. Linocut, high contrast. Mysterious and intricate. Cyan, blue, green. Abstract.

It’s likely temporary, but it has a few things going for it:

  • The middle looks like two halves of a brain (representing structured and creative thinking).

  • The Roman numeral I can represent a few things: a respect for the past, the first thing, the ideal thing, the best thing.

  • The 4 pointed circle resembles the cross. This has both Christian parallels, as well as parallel to a visualization I do (up = mindfulness, down = perspective, left = creativity, right = discipline). Jung has a similar 4 pointed diamond.

  • The Greek leaves / flowers give a sense of classicism, mystery, nature, and organic thinking.

  • What does the color green represent? (rebirth, life, nature)

9:45 am — Attempts to generate a cover icon for my Substack: