Logs | 2023-07-July

July 31st, 2023

9:00 pm — In the 1930s, Ernst Junger wrote about "the worker" as the new character of the machine age. In the past your future was determined by your social or economic standing, but now your future was determined by how well you could shape yourself into an interchangeable role. In the 2020s, there's a new emerging character that's defined by their ability to wield fame and attention.

8:50 pm — What is the middle ground of technological determinism? A technology has inherent properties that skew it. They're slanted. Sure, individuals and companies have the free-will to make decisions. But when the OS is capitalism, the majority of companies will make decisions based on that rule-set. Technology is semi-deterministic in the sense that capitalism is the force that brings it to life in the first place. Maybe free-will is easier to exercise at smaller scales, but at the scale of society, we face the challenge of changing institutions and operating systems that have too much momentum.

2:13 pm — In the age of Emerson, less than 1% of the population was college educated. It's quite possible that less than 1% were high school educated too. Prior to the 1830s, it was the schoolhouse model, and modern high school only emerged at the end of the century. By 1900, only 10% received a high-school education. So when American Scholar came out in 1837, its audience was a small elite class. The average person's reading level was approximately 4th grade. The ideas of the transcendentalists didn't reach the public. Maybe their social movements had an effect (abolition, women's rights etc). But the idea of self-reliance wouldn't have resonated with the working class then. In contrast, consider how Emerson's influence made its way to Kerouac, and then to the hippy generation; a revolution of "individuality" was now through a TV. It wasn't limited to literature and public lectures, it was flashed into your living room through shocking images. It led to a shallow, caricature of individualism. The medium of the first wave made it inaccessible. The medium of the second wave distorted it. What about the current medium (the Internet); can the Emerson meme scale?

1:29 pm — I'm intrigued by Oswald Splenger's idea of civilizational cycles. If Strauss-Howe is at the scale of decades, this is at the scale of centuries. He identified 8 great societies, and broke each into 4 seasons. Surprise, the west is in its death phase. Spengler is "deterministic," meaning he thinks we're stuck in this pattern, and as a culture, we have no free-will to break out of it. Maybe it's unlikely, but it should be possible. Maybe the reason we loop is because we don't learn lessons from the past, or from other cultures. The sample size is so small. To break the cycle (to revert a winter), requires institutional wisdom, and conscious shifts in operating systems. Unlikely, but possible.

11:45 am — Kant's "The Unity of Apperception" feels similar to gestalt psychology. The mind has a tendency to group parts into a whole. You saw a full car, not a chaotic assembly of elements. Chunking is useful. But it has 2 side effects; 1) it reduces our awareness and appreciation of the details; and 2) a whole can be incorrectly constructed (ie: a conspiracy theory). The solution is to realize that we tend to simplify, and to always aim to break things down to their individual parts. Go granular. In order to dissect your worldviews, you have to disassemble and reconstruct from the parts.

11:22 am — At the root of Kant's transcendental idealism is of self-awareness of your mental architecture. You're not just having thoughts, sensations, and emotions; you're aware they're being produced by your mind.

7:57 am — A "Jeffersonian democrat" is someone who is pro civil liberties, but skeptical about urbanization and federal government.

7:28 am — Added "Mason Dixon" from Pynchon to my list. McKenna said he's the best writer in America (1997), and apparently DFW was inspired by him too. Apparently it's a tough read; set in the 1760s (in Philadelphia) featuring themes on how people struggle with emerging technology.

July 30th, 2023

4:14 pm — Curious to learn about Beeple’s artistic practices outside of the “show up everyday and make something.” Can someone get better strictly through reps? Or do you need some kind of variable influence to get around plateaus?

2:12 pm — It’s interesting to think that the main difference between Emerson’s transcendentalist movement and Kerouac’s beat movement was television. In the 1800s, these ideas were spread in literature and public lectures, which limited the scope to the elite and educated. But with mass-media, everyone got exposure to hippy lifestyles and ideas. It was populist. It was visceral, self-evident, and memeable (even if memeing it meant radically misunderstanding it). It become a caricature because of the medium of transmission. You can trace a direct line from our modern “me generation,” back through the 60s, and back to Emerson. We’re living in the inversion of Emerson’s philosophy, and obsession with the individual but without an ounce of responsibility.

2:12 pm — The New York City Guide to Grilling without a Barbecue

1:56 pm — Random facts after I got the Chat GPT mobile app:

  • Starbucks was named after the Moby Dick character “Starbo” (sounds fake)

  • The mermaid logo controversy (mythology vs. nudity)

  • The relationship between humidity and elevation

  • Ray Oldenburg coined “Third Places” in 1989 in “Great Good Place”

  • Steward Brand as a bridge between hippies and the Internet

  • Patagonia and Whole Foods roots in the 60s (look up)

11:45 am — Similar to how people on mushrooms feel like they’re dying, when the culture is in a moment of chaos everything becomes a doomer.

10:15 am — After World War 2, there was an appeal for “work as a safe haven” (with predictable income and a stable life). The 2nd generation (the baby boomers) were divided on that model; some accepted, others rejected (the counter-culture). The 3rd cycle was a period of industrial progress for those that accepted, while the “revolution instinct” was suppressed, not coming out until 4th cycle (in the form of Tinder, Uber, AirBnB, etc.)

10:14 am — Direct message on generational cycles:

Agree that we have so few data points (only 3 human lifetimes since American was founded). Plus, the last century has been so shocking/fast-paced, that it could've very likely broken any patterns that did exist.

But it's neat to consider that since human nature / lifespans are fixed -- there might be some invisible cycle that slants history. Something as simple as: you rebel against your parents, but eventually make sense of the wisdom from your great grandparents.

9:45 am — In timed checklists, used the lap feature to reset between steps. It's not about rushing. You want to be tight and efficient, but a 30 second pre-reflection gives perspective.

8:00 am — (From a Ryan Holliday video)

  • Don't suffer imagined troubles

  • Don't have an opinion on everything.

  • Don't complain (even to yourself)

  • Don't be all about business.

  • Don't try to control things out of your control.

"He who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than it is necessary." - Seneca

7:06 am — Dreamt about strange hotel, one with translucent glass walls and an "open door" policy. I also got a complaint for taking a hot shower (cold showers only).

July 29th, 2023

8:15 pm — I was listening to a podcast about "the Fourth Turning," and it got me wondering if the Pathless Path is a generational phenomenon.

The basic theory comes from a team that categorized each generation going back to the 1600s and found patterns. They say we're basically in an 80-100 year loop (the length of a human life), and each loop is broken into 4 phases. To grossly summarize, it goes from 1) re-establishing order, 2) spiritual awakening, 3) growth and prosperity, 4) crisis — and we're in the "crisis" period now.

So to summarize my insight, maybe every 80sh years, the old order cracks, and a new generation (disillusioned to older scripts) looks for a new way. Curious to know if there were "Pathless Path movements" in the 1940s, 1860s, and 1780s. (FWIW, the Beat Generation started in 1940s)

July 28th, 2023

5:08 pm — I don’t know how to write the “pre-amble” to long essays. This only goes to people who read Substack in their inbox. What percent of people do that?

Thanks for having **Dean's List** in your inbox. I'm an architect turned writer, and share essays about craft, creators, and culture. This idea's been on my mind for over 5 years, and given the strange nature of social media this month, it felt like the right time to get it out. It's 3,500 words and a 15-minute read, so bookmark it and come back to it over the weekend. Check it out in a desktop browser if you want hoverable **footnotes**. I'll be posting a visual breakdown on my process to create these long-form essays on **Twitter** next week. Enjoy.

2:13 pm — Cut from “Burn the Stage”; this will be in it’s own essay on TikTok.

“Now in 2023, the weirdest incarnation of the stage has emerged through TikTok Live. There’s a new genre called, “NPC streaming,” where the Idol performs memorized, robotic, (sexual) gestures that correspond to virtual gifts that flash across the screen. The Lurkers can buy things from ice cream cone emojis to AR cowboy hats, ranging from 1 cent to $500, each gift animating the virtual Goddess in a different way. This puts the audience in control. A few thousand people “play” the streamer like an instrument. Like in American Idol, the crowd creates the show, except there’s no longer a 24-hour voting lag; now, the Idol is a digital rag doll, and your clicks can literally move its body. The idol is possessed by a faceless other that is hypnotizing itself, making up to $7,000 per stream.”

July 27th, 2023

8:53 pm — Footnotes are more than places to cite sources. They contain tangents; glimpses into the author's mind. A piece with footnotes should be brutally coherent. The linear narrative of the essay should be tight and focused, since tangents are given a chance to survive.

7:57 pm — GPT4 is my new dietician.

7:39 pm — 8 story ideas

  • Rabbit Soup - our technology mysteriously stops working (mega-virus), so a high-tech man (VR pioneer) moves out to a rustic farm of his grandfather's (who has a history of eating pets)

  • Tyler, the Friendly Super-Tyrant - AGI takes over, and gives you your best life if you surrender, but then it tells everyone to leave their cities and move out to these death camps

  • Eraserhead - Michael Dean wakes up one morning as a #2 pencil and his wife is devastated.

  • Scrooge - in this bizarre cover of "A Christmas Carol," a man full of holiday cheer accidentally takes a drug called "Scrooge" on a train, triggering a hallucinatory odyssey that helps him makes sense of his life & Christianity

  • Arranged - a new dating app skips all the games and just sets you up with your life partner; man gets paired with a smart fridge and falls in love.

  • The Mapmaking Machine Species - man gets abducted by UFO and discovers the ships are AI drones from a distant species indexing the universe; he's invited to go back to their planet, but finds a chilling discovery

  • Flash - an undergrad theology student discovers DMT and hatches a scheme to dose the Ecumenical Patriarch (the Greek-Orthodox "pope")

  • Albuquerque - a teenager makes one decision in the desert of New Mexico and it creates a butterfly effect that accidentally led to a 9-figure oxycontin ring

5:06 pm — I like the small bets approach for fiction. I basically wrote 8 stories today, each of them as a sentence. What's the hook? What's the premise that makes it worth reading? If you someone were to describe your story to someone else in the arc of a conversation (a low-resolution caricature of your novel), what would they say?

Then I started expanding each sentence into a paragraph. I also asked some key questions: who are the characters? What are their arcs? What is the non-fiction philosophical lesson? I'd like to share these paragraphs with the group to get initial reactions.

Next step is to turn a few of them into 1-page micro-fiction. This gives you a single page to set a scene, make a transformation, and build tension. It's a "pilot" for fiction. It's not a chapter, but a fable set in a similar universe.

From there, some can grow into 1,500 page stories, some into novellas, and maybe one of them into a 20k word novel in a year from now.

2:18 pm — If I keep up a "log letter," it could be neat to write a script that could identify log clusters in real-time (ie: here are your 3-5 trending themes in the last week.)

1:26 pm — A phrase for a "personal" black swan events: something earth-shattering, but only you and a handful of people know about.

12:43 pm — At least one hour a day could/should be "dense," meaning, many different kinds of activities are packed in. It's a "dense generalist." In an hour, you can read philosophy, analyze fiction, typewrite a journal speech, talk out loud, sing to a guitar, and write out a rhythm. The point isn't to do things for the sake of doing them. It's about following the id, the untamed curiosity. Weirdly, as you abandon and move to next thing, you gain energy instead of losing energy.

12:33 pm — It's been helpful to study Ralph Waldo Emerson through AI. His prose can be dense, and difficult to parse. I read through American Scholar once, naturally, and highlighted what resonated. Now I'm going through each paragraph, feeding it into GPT-4, an asking it questions.

11:26 am — I've had several conversations with writers recently who feel stuck at a plateau. "How long does it take you to write an essay?" The answer is usually somewhere between 2-3 hours. My sense is that there's a frozen finality that comes at the end of the first draft. Instead, see that first draft as a throwaway; a device to understand your thinking, a launching point from which you could write a much better essay. This will increase the time you need to spend, but 2-3 hours is too short anyway. Spend 8 hours, or 15, or 40. We're always looking for efficiency. If I had to write 100 essays, then I can't spend 40 hours on each one. Of course you can't. You don't always have to go long. Going long sometimes gives you skill that helps your future 3 hour essays way better.

11:19 am — My American Idol piece is 70% battle tested. I want to try a new process; I’ve highlighted the un-tested parts (the blank patches with no comments), with specific questions to understand how they’re working.

8:53 am — I've been writing about fame recently (Mucha, Kerouac, American Idol). It could be worth understanding Warhol beyond the caricature (the soup can, the 15 minute quote, the Factory, etc.)

July 26th, 2023

9:19 pm — I’m torn on if I should commit to reading Infinite Jest in full. I hated the first few pages, and by the end of the chapter it was one of the most memorable scenes I ever read. Chapter 2 was solid throughout. You can only commit to a few books in full. Will reading IJ be a steady stream of epiphanies that will transform my lens? Or are there diminishing returns?

8:10 pm — Hypomnena: I misunderstood this Greek phrase to be about entering a mind-state so that you could be embodied and authentic on the page (..needs work..)

7:54 pm — Logs are the medium for all flavors of emergent thought: original ideas, personal strategy, meta lessons, non-sense, etc.

1:49 pm — In 1997, Terence McKenna said that, thanks to magnetic tape, any opinion you express will be marketed forever. This is true for personal websites and Twitter too. By freezing your consciousness, someone might look to your past ideas and still assume you hold them true. People evolve. Opinions change. I have no idea what’s in my log from last year. Disclaimers from the author might help, but ultimately, the readers need to read critically.

11:13 am — From the UAP hearing:

“Humans could not survive those G-Forces.. [white, smooth, no windows]”

Based on the way these things are moving, not only could a human not occupy it, but no form form of biological life could be inside. If these experiences are real, I doubt the Tic Tacs are being piloted by carbon-based life. We could be witnessing “silicon life". Basically AI. A carbon-based life-form across the galaxy created AI-powered drones with advanced propulsion to map and survey the universe. [Obviously speculation].

10:37 am — Aliens are probably the biggest existential shock to human history. If there are floating rumors, it would make sense to half-acknowledge them at a moment when you want to distract from something else.

10:09 am — Our fiction paints “contact” with extraterrestrials as a dramatic history-altering moment. We’ve seen radio messages, landings on the white houses, invasions, etc. Maybe it’s more of a slow drip. It could be a 50-100 year process of careful, isolated experiences. It’s not a “mass-media” contact, it’s a 1:1 kind of thing, which leaves the human with an ineffable experience, and a resulting strange worldview (ETs). There’s a lack of consensus. Belief exists in silos, and so talk of UAPs is a meme that fights for survival and mainstream acceptance. It’s hard to swallow, and will be always be hard to until there’s irrefutable evidence.

9:22 am — Areas of “futurism” I like writing about. I need to think about the themes that unify these so I can signal what I’m interested in through a sharp sentence. Some words that come to mind (technology, emerging, reform, psyche)

  • Psychedelics, religion, mental health

  • Education in a post-scarcity/AI world

  • Social media (on entrepreneurship, art, fame)

  • VR/AR & the evolution of human interface

  • AI (both in the creative process & AGI)

  • Crypto adoption & decentralized governance

9:05 am — TikTok stenography:

Post its on his eyebrows, but half shredded, thousands of curly strings blocking his eyes — “Free the pandas!” — 472 people watching — Head slanted — Seems like a schizophrenic poet around “panda liberation” (?) with a new train of thought every 3 seconds, a possessed oracle — Hands bouncing in a looping motion — 480 — In one hand a metal finger-strength grip, in the other an Xbox controller. — The crowd is heckling. Mean comments. He speaks calmly: “I am not AI, thank you for the rose” — Red scarf, red shorts on his heads, red bicycle helmet. — Virtual panda gifts flash on the screen.. “STOP SENDING THE PANDAS!” Fake devastation. Face in pain. Pretend anger — 500 people watching — 30k likes — 12x panda emojis = a dramatic 10 second seizure — then, leans in, slowly, and in the deepest voice of Satan, howls “no more Pandas” — this is torture porn —some guy in Kenya is milking the Internet for its sadism.

9:00 am — Looking forward to see “pathless path” emerge as a movement. Feels like the coining of a generational shift.

7:44 am — “Prosoche” needs a boot-up. Start the day with some burst of divine inspiration, and then carry that all day, from context to context, until you call it a night.

7:41 am — Our society is both just a flicker in a cosmic explosion, and also possibly the most precious concentration of meaning to ever emerge from chaos.

12:16 am — On the rebrand from X > Twitter: moving fast and without bloat is generally good, but not in the complete absence of real strategy. Sure, you don’t want to take 9 months on a logo redesign with middle men. But maybe take 2 weeks instead of 2 days so you can think through the implications. “Tweet” is in the dictionary, and I don’t think anyone is going to say, “Check out my X.” This creates permanent cognitive dissonance among the power users. There’s been a lot of impulsive decision making, but this one rocks the core of the platforms identity.

July 25th, 2023

3:43 pm — I spent two hours today “live-writing” TikTok Live; meaning I scrolled through the feed, and tried to make sense of this weird new phenomenon. I saw a man slap himself in the face 250 times to pay for his wedding, a wave of NPC streamers, someone with hodgkin lymphoma an hour before chemo work a room of 152 people to get a “galaxy,” a Russian weightlifter pumping iron at the command of virtual gifts, and typical high school kids threatening to shave their head with ball clippers and chug weird condiment concoction for low amounts of cash. It’s a circus in there.

You’ve probably seen PinkyDoll and CherryCrush on Twitter. Elon posted a meme of someone watching an NPC streamers during the 3-hour Oppenheimer. I feel like NPC streaming is at a weirdly high level of cultural awareness, but no one can quite make sense of it. When I first saw it, I thought it was AI.

I’ve made sense of it after two hours. Basically, Twitter has added a new feature for creators to monetize during live streams. So now it’s not just about harnessing attention, but squeezing money out of the attention you wield. It’s basically turned the Tiktok Live feed into an endless stream of virtual street performances.

There’s passing traffic, and so creators have to stop them and build a crowd. A crowd builds momentum. When you see people stopping on sidewalk, or if you see 500 people huddled in a virtual space, you wonder, “Something good must be worth stopping for.” The performer needs some quickly recognizable gimmick that is hypnotic. This is virtual busking.

Most of these money-making schemes involve associating some action with virtual gifts. So basically, people in the audience can buy emojis and AR filters, which both pop up on the screen for everyone to see, and also pay the creator. To encourage gifts, the creator sets the rules. If you give X, I’ll do Y. Imagine a Russian midget bodybuilder, with 5 weights in front of him, from small to huge, each one with an associated emoji. You’ll see a rose pop up (1x), and he does one pump. Then some troll comes in and buys him 139x roses, and you see him pumping like crazy and switching hands. At least he’s getting jacked.

Some people are inventing new ways to game this system. Others are just awkwardly in there, trying to make sense of this new phenomenon. I watched a few guys work at McDonalds in the south. Some dude just playing country music to 4 people. Another teenager with just a deer in the headlights look at 257 people. Someone just flashed colors, lights, and white noise. Some woman taking care of two babies by herself with no one else in the virtual room. An “I have a micro-penis” AMA. It’s all weird stuff.

It’s hard to believe this is being rolled out to a billion people. I don’t want to be dismissive of it. I want to understand it, and write about it with a depth and analysis and personal dimension that you don’t see in quick Twitter flashes. But it seems part of a dark cultural trend, where big companies create these synthetic microcosms for people to compete for fame and money. Some microcosms are high-brow and intellectual, and TikTok live seems to be about spectacle, hypnosis, and self-humiliation.self-humiliation. I would love to see someone hack the incentives/algorithm in a classy way.

1:12 pm — Uncle Nick isn't self-conscious and makes the feed crap. Simba's owner is too self-conscious, and makes the feed empty.

10:40 am — My wireless keyboard died as I was typing, and the last key registered was “Backspace.” Watched my whole essay get unstoppably deleted one character at a time. Thank God for auto-backups.

July 24th, 2023

5:15 pm — "Phone mode" often devolves to dissipating you attention into hundreds of bits. 72 new emails. A feed of 312 things quickly scrolled through. Dozens of new Substack articles. It's in the realm of feeds, purging, and batch-processing; a futile attempt to "get to zero" in an infinite game. Instead, set up a phone environment to be about generation (but how?).

1:12 pm — Subconscious circuits are always running. It isn’t about denying them, but directing them. By resisting attention holes, you preserve bandwidth for the right things.

1:08 pm — A skill to practice is to summon altered states at will. Obviously, tricky, and obviously, there are degrees. The mind is typically running a series of “default” scripts on any given day. These are useful, but also limiting. They offer prepared responses to stimuli. But, you can use language to re-shape your lens in real-time, and it enables you to interpret your surroundings, in a new, kind of alien nature; almost like a childish, fresh, psychedelic perspective. I really do think so many of our scripts are constructed out of language, and so language is the tool/medium to disarm it. Meditation and breathing can have “some” effect, but it loses it’s programmability. The two together, holy moly.

1:01 pm — There’s a certain charm to the lo-fi hissing of a 1998 Terence McKenna recording.

1:00 pm — Synthetic eternities, coming soon (meaning, near the end of your life, when time is scarce, you might be able to plunge your consciousness into realms of non-linear time, whether through extended state DMT, or consciousness uploads (yikes)). You could iterate through 10-100 lifespans in the matter of a few days.

12:56 — When and why did the BP logo become a mandala?

12:50 pm — In the 20th century, the medium of the image shifted from architecture to light.

12:41 pm — After shooting electricity through my arms, the experts have determined I have a non-localized minor neuropathy of the ulnar nerve (aka, wait it out kid).

12:27 pm — Different kinds of mental capacity; one is the ability to master an abstract language (math, code, music, etc.), but a separate ability is to detect or create patterns within it. Writing is neat in that you can work with patterns without layers of abstract notation. Other valuable mental skills: emotional intelligence, poetic imagination, ease of learning new mediums, RAM, blah, blah, blah.

12:26 pm — Tuning the mind might be the highest leverage thing you can do. Focus not on the works, nor on sculpting minds, but on how to find the secret controls to the mind that mediates all actions.

12:25 pm — They’re playing the local news in the neurologist’s office, and while they’re showing a segment featuring different kinds of plastic kids toys, the bottom banner says, “Gilgo Beach Murders, 7pm.”

12:19 pm — I weirdly find myself slipping into funks after intense cardio. But midway through the day I found my groove. There was a shift from lethargy, anticipation, and “shouldness,” to this feeling of being on the front edge of evolution and possibility.

12:07 pm — It would be fun to explain Terence McKenna in contrast to Alan Watts. Watts has a monkish vibe to him, a mood of tranquility, and his lectures are often played to smooth royalty-free piano music. McKenna is Watts, but a nerd of uncontainable genius, unorthodoxy, humor, and an alien weirdness. His views aren’t re-affirming, they seriously challenge you.

12:06 pm — “Unless you become as a child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus (from where?). It points to the idea that flow is accessible through a de-conditioning meditation.

11:38 pm — Officially Uncle Mike.

July 23rd, 2023

9:06 pm — Canonically tipsy. Taco bad time. Officially dangerous.

8:06 am — What are the implications of an always-on, endless-choice culture? Impatience. We build the pattern that, whenever you want, you evaluate options and make a choice.

July 22nd, 2023

5:18 pm — Oppenheimer was a great story, with great cinematography, with a few historically good scenes [Trinity test, the speech, Truman’s office, etc.] in an overall mess of a movie. I don’t think Chris Nolan knows what he’s good at. I’m curious to learn more about his process. He’s unquestionably brilliant in some dimensions, but then utterly convoluted and frustrating in others. What is his editing process? Does he get feedback?

2:16 pm — There should be laws against horror film trailers with possession scenes. You shouldn’t be forced to consume that.

July 21st, 2023

7:47 — Fifty percent of the theater goers were wearing pink on the opening of Barbie weekend. Feels like a moment in our culture, where so many people after not going to a movie in 3-5 years, are now seeing two in on week, maybe even in the same day.

7:05 pm — Hard problems that would push social media in the right direction. These are all about posting to a feed while content with the right people.

  • Naked Pseudonym Paradox

  • Simba Paradox

  • Uncle Nick Paradox

  • Trend Immunity Paradox

  • Silent Judge Paradox

  • The Twin Stranger Paradox

6:38 pm — Questions to ask every editor:

  • Favorite section?

  • Least favorite section?

  • What should go up towards the intro?

  • What might be a better opener?

July 20th, 2023

2:10 pm — Dream of sister in law giving birth to a bust statue head of a matured person, walking along the beach at night, asking “what are you trying to say to the world?” but it’s not speaking.

11:55 pm — The other day, a friend was shocked that I don’t read most books in full. I think “finishing” is a silly metric, both for the self, and even more as a false accomplishment to show others. The goal of reading should be to absorb wisdom that is deployable in your own life and your own art. If you learn something from 5-10 pages, you’ve potentially gotten all you need. There might even be a diminishing curve to continue absorbing a fantasy plot that doesn’t bear any relevance to you. Of course, some fiction books are worth it, and only share lessons from the full thing. I’m approaching this as a writer. I jolt from a lesson in craft. There are so many lessons to know through the width of what exists. I want to go wide on everything, and deep on just a select few.

11:38 pm — Notes from Prometheus Rising (Robert Anton Wilson):

  • “The future exists first in imagination, then in will, then in reality.” --- Barbara Marx Hubbard

  • The cycle of generational change has shrunk from millennia (in ancient times), to centuries (in the Enlightenment), to decades (in the 20th century), and now, it’s off a linear pattern, and up to the individual to meta-program themselves.

  • p.278, quote from William Burroughs on replicating drug states

  • Metaprogramming is the artist seeing and designing itself. They are cybernetic, dialing and focusing their nervous system. It is both the art and the lens to make art. This has been the goal of the occult, the mathematicians, and the psychologists.

  • Truth emerges over decades.

11:28 pm — Notes from Philosophy book:

  • “Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.” -- Voltaire

  • “The beginning of thought is in disagreement, not only with others, but also with ourselves.” -- Eric Hoffer

  • It’s the duty of each person to learn how to reason, how to see the world, come to truth, and then act on it; to defy inherited superstition, and to develop their own full-stack thought systems. Philosophy is a verb.

  • Build socratic structure into your essays (know the counter-points)

10:29 pm — The sociology of a handshake; it was proof that a stranger had no weapons; it measured their strength and tension. It was a disarming ritual.

10:24 pm — Early humans developed projectile weapons (over Neanderthals). This developed and strengthened our front lobe. It’s as if baseball is the sport that honors the act that brought civilization into being.

10:11 pm — Burger King jingle ads interrupting the meaning crisis lectures.

8:37 pm — June was a logging record for me: 234 logs, 16,955 words, 0 days missed

8:34 am — Scattered phone notes from “meaning crisis” lecture:

  • Renaissance? We are casting back to Stoic wisdom, Buddhist mindfulness, Hellenic wisdom, statue accounts on Twitter, shamanic methods through the halls of science.

  • Negative symptoms: suicide, mental health, cynicism, lost of trust in institutions (religion, media, law), overwhelm of digital environments, mythology around superheroes and zombies, never-ending crisis, fears of apocalypse.

  • I’ve been digging this new framework of “philosophy as a verb.” You have to see (sense, think), in order to know (the true nature of things), to make conclusions on how to act (morality).

    • Meaning is at the level of sensory perception (to see): are your experiences filled with a sense of purpose or narrative? Do they align with the mythology of yourself and your society?

    • Wisdom is the aggregation of meaningful experiences into crystallized lessons. They seem as “universal truths,” principles to live by and pass down. They are earned.

    • Self-transcendence comes when your wisdom inspires action, and the actions lead to a changed, reborn self. Self-transcendence is the conclusion of the cycle. It is both the end-point and a new beginning.

    • In it’s case, this is an endless loop: you put experiences into a framework, live by it, which gives you a new lens to interpret future experience. Perpetual growth, and fresh meaning.

  • We have a high capacity for self-deception; foolishness is a lack of wisdom; when your agency is undermined or threatened by self deception

  • Society symptoms of the collapse of meaning: Absurdity, alienation, futility, horror (when your grip on reality is undermined), despair from meaninglessness

8:33 am — Mindfulness is a path to consciousness liberation, but it’s not the totality of it. Awareness is the base layer, but it ultimately has to be used to re-program identity, which is constructed of language patterns.

July 19th, 2023

10:49 pm — I’m a fast eater, shockingly fast (2x?). It’s as if my default mode is have a new bite loaded as soon as the last bite is swallowed, to create an under-interrupted stream of taste, an immersion in flavor. It’s animalistic and primal, and often doesn’t even register into my memory. It’s probably rude and definitely not great on the digestive system. I need to be more mindful around my eating. Savor every bite and pause.

8:55 pm — Writing is the purest pattern language. It has the least abstraction required, compared to a music or code. An earlier musician or coder is limited by their proficiency in instruments or libraries. For writing, you’re already versed in the language. You’re solely limited by your minds ability to structure patterns and ideas.

6:56 pm — Consumer software manifests itself through economic constraints. I remember when Evernote cut back features to make it “simple” and accessible. The bottom line for scalable software companies is that they need to onboard users to stay alive. This means their feature set needs to be basic enough to prove a use-case within 30-seconds of using the app. This might be terrible for someone who is 30 hours into the app.

Compare this to 3DS Max, an piece of software owned by Autodesk, with little competition or alternatives. The average user is 6 years into the software. They become experts. The tool set is catered for power users. A beginner is tremendously overwhelmed, but know they have to learn it to get into the 3D-visualization field. Those who master it, have a superpower, and the tools are an intuitive extension of their body.

If AI & no-code reach new levels of accessibility, this might enable an average person without coding experience to design their own “power tools,” custom tailored to their own life.

12:31 pm — Footnotes are a provocative meta-layer of honesty.

10:15 am — Make an elaborate plan for what you should do, start, then follow the first tangent.

10:09 am — I feel surrounded by so many radically talented people. I’ll read an excerpt from a friend, and think, holy hell, this is better than Whyte, Didion, or Wallace, or whoever. There’s a glimmer of something spectacular, in some specific dimension. Maybe the truth is that for talent to come to full, undeniable, culture-scaled fruition, it requires a lot of hard decisions and grind, to a degree that most people can’t ride that edge. There’s a version of Hemmingway, or Armstrong, or Ruth in us, but it requires a level of sacrifice we might not realize. And maybe you’re actually at the ground-level veering into the early seeds of someone who is about to burst.

9:10 am — A nurse screaming at herself in a black storefront reflection. Something something over $35. Oh wait, AirPods.

9:08 am — The character wakes up at 5am, and slowly realizes that things aren’t working; no wifi, no computer power, no electricity; then he looks outside and sees all of New York City is dark. The greatest city in the western hemisphere without it’s celestial lights is just a twisted rock sculpture, a virtual reality turned hell. He comes to a paranoid conclusion: the “super virus” hit. There were murmurs on the feed, but every ignored claims of crisis, since there were a few dozen each day for months. The irony is that, now that it’s all down, there’s no way to confirm it, at least not immediately. Eventually everyone will go outside, come face to face, panic, and raid the supermarket.

July 18th, 2023

7:48 pm — People have referred to me as a Miro “wizard” and a slide “demon,” as if I have supernatural ability over digital interfaces. These are all just mouse and keyboard abstractions. I see myself as a moocher. I marvel at a car and the mystery of the decades of complex thought that went into making my life convenient. The compounded subtlety around me in the physical world is unbelievable and I feel like an infant, a fool, a doofis.

8:18 am — The Book of Habakkuk might be the link between the Essenes and the Apostles. It’s not in the original Canon, but gives detailed description of figure in Qumran, and there are parallels to the mythologies we know from the New Testament.

July 17th, 2023

11:02 pm — Yikes. Just learned the Fentanyl (what they're cutting into heroin), is now also getting cu with Xylazine (or "Tranq," a horse tranquilizer). It extends the high, seems to arrest the nervous system, and causes skin rot and limb amputations. JFC. This reminds me back to Portugal's experiment to have heroin centers for addicts. Is that still ongoing? Seems like a way to provide treatment, and also make sure it's not getting cut with terrible things...

9:21 pm — Lose one game to win another.

9:15 pm — Ooga Booga (a phonetically great phrase; after logging this I found myself speaking out loud to myself, outside on a walk, in a non-sensical but phonetically pleasing stream.)

8:30 pm — I’ve been in a creative flow state the last 3 days, almost continuously, and it surprises me that I haven’t been logging it. It’s as if my attention is so absorbed in different mediums, that my meta-awareness has dipped. Maybe that’s fine. I’ve been reading, analyzing, typewriting, and for the first time in a long time, I’ve had a surge of songwriting.

July 16th, 2023

9:35 pm — Nerve endings

8:35 pm — The ultimate productivity hack is a state of seeming randomness, but somehow each task actually adds energy instead of repleting it. If you operate from a list of “shoulds” and select the lesser of a few evils, you lose energy. But there’s always a third, unexpected option, and option of curiosity that brings energy for further tasks. And weirdly, by following this path, you can get done the things you avoided, but in an unpredictable, embodied, more spontaneous way.

6:07 pm — In the moment flow, trust yourself to follow good and productive things to do. Less planning, getting more done, not wasting time, and more creative. Whoa.

12:19 pm — Local randomness within macro systems of order.

11:10 am — There’s a value in having multiple “stations” to rapidly rotate between. The main computer desk, the side analog desk, and the back music station. Shift before you get stale. It promotes divergence in all three mediums. Meditate on the floor too. And hang upside down by the ceiling if space permits. Leave post-its everywhere as a record of the winding trail.

11:06 am — (from Jake Orthwein’s thread) — Meaning is broken into shards; no standard of value; it’s up to us to create hierarchies and judgements; everything is “equally trivial, or equally earth-shattering, or equally threatening.” There’s an overwhelming quantity of meaning, a loss of coherence, and no one has the bandwidth in their life to piece all together into their own world view.

9:08 am — Yesterday after some intense cardio, I had no will to be on a computer, but found myself in the mood to do analog things. I ended up going through my whole library, remembering old books I’d forgotten, and reorganizing them into a new layout. Found myself in a spree of reading physical books, hand drawing, and composing songs on piano and guitar.

July 15th, 2023

7:54 pm — I’m at a graduation party, and it seems like the old tradition of beer pong was replaced by a new game. You through a single dice 10-15 feet in the arm, aiming it so it lands on the other side of a table, and hope that it lands on a jagged edge and propels in an unpredictable direction. If the other team can’t catch it before the dice falls to the ground, you get a point. Drinking is somehow involved, but at less frequent intervals.

4:33 pm — “American Idol” — people tell you who they are. Names are more revealing that was generally assume.

4:26 pm — Trust wins in the long-run. The God of Love will beat The God of Rage. Anything that’s evolutionarily succeeded, even down to the cellular level, only did so because of cooperation. There’s a Jean Piaget study where a group of kids having beat the group that was competitive.

4:11 pm — As a reaction to the datings apps with an infinite marketplace, there’s bound to be an “arranged relationship” app. You can do your matching and voting, but at a certain point, the algorithm says, “That's it! You two, you two could make it work if you tried.” And it basically cuts you off from the feed for a month, and only lets you chat with that one person.

3:52 pm — Costumes enable embodiment.

3:33 pm — Too many rigid parameters blocks you off from perspective shifts.

3:13 pm — A shortcut preoccupation with metrics is a disaster. You want to embody creation from a state of spontaneous play, and then check into see if your emergent behavior is correctly aimed towards the macro-statistical view.

2:54 pm — I need to confirm that this is the right sitting posture. Top of spine at the head cushion. Shoulders back. Keyboard is two fingers away from edge. Hands are floating two finger widths above. Back is straight and flush.

July 14th, 2023

6:20 pm — The beer hustlers, the chanting teenagers, the yellow vest security guards. The rumble of trains and stampedes. A sizable portion of the New York population collectively agrees to shuffle over to Citi Field despite the lousy season and grim shot at the playoffs. This is a means of mass leisure, physical leisure. It’s inter-generational fun; the divine relief of spectating, to turn off and have no consequence, to blur out on left-field IPAs and convince yourself you’re connecting with the past times of your childhood and country. Baseball is the last bastallion of patience in 2023.

6:19 pm — You have to derive your own values, psyche, habits, and identity; if you ever inherent it, it isn’t anchored in embodied experience. It’s fragile / unanchored.

3:01 pm — The algorithm places such a radical emphasis on the last 24 hours, that we’re experiencing a kind of Renaissance, and urge for older, timeless sources.

2:42 pm — Any ambitious metric goal needs to be broken down into tighter intervals so you can check your progress and adjust your tactics.

12:53 pm — The Ultimate Guide to Everything, just $1 in Notion, includes (but not limited to):

  • A numerical rubric for writing quality

  • Checklist Consciousness

  • PEMDAS for AI

  • What happens when you die

  • Epiphany swamp (lo-fi second brain)

  • 5 ways to practice writing

  • Paul is Dead conspiracy companion

  • How to sex

  • Nuclear bunker supply list

  • VR game guide

  • Consumer guide to self-heating coffee mugs

12:35 pm — Rituals are an under-emphasized / ignored facet of the creative process. They’re vital for calibrating energy and getting into flow states of specific nature. I could see value in self-hypnosis. It’s stretching for art.

8:57 am — The Frontiers of Media: the idea is to make a post where I just get into detail and explain through words the absurd nature of emerging media. Similar to “VR fiction,” it can gain magical qualities when you can’t see it but use surreal prose.

  1. Minecraft AGI agents

  2. NPC Live TikTokers

  3. AI-generated commercials

  4. Infinite Seinfeld

  5. V-Tuber concert

  6. Songs doubled in one day

  7. AI Instagram models

July 13, 2023

11:10 pm — The virality of board games

9:00 pm — Consequentialism vs. Deontology

8:46 pm — A “John Connor baby” is baby who is expected to save the world (highest possible pressure).

3:25 pm — The NPC streamers are like digital, supernatural, strippers. They’ve memorized a set of 26 gestures, one for each of the TikTok Live gifts; and turn into a kind of rag-doll, mystically controlled by a voyeuristic crowd of 5-10,000 people. She is a temporary sacrificial victim, possessed by a Faceless Other (a Faceless Swarm), but for unbelievable financial gain.

3:22 pm — McLuhan and gestalts...

3:21 pm — Looks like people are going viral on TikTok for faking mental illness. It’s like we learned nothing from Nikovado; or maybe we need a “Nikovado scale” epidemic for the culture to realize that relentlessly optimizing for an algorithm has dark consequences.

12:57 pm — I’ve seen some posts that claim parenting is “impossibly hard.” Maybe that’s proof that our modern lifestyle has strayed so far from the roots of the human condition, so elevated into a realm of abstraction, that reproduction, the essential element of all carbon-based life, feels like an inconvenience. We can’t imagining any of our pillars taking a hit: our machine-enforced-health, our escalating-lifestyle-creep-backed-by-escalating-salaries, our mental-maps-of-career-status, our Hollywood-installed-fantasies-of-love-life. An infant knows nor cares about any of that. It’s real. It’s a core human experience, and unless you have stupid-money that can pay away the challenges of raising a kid, parenting is probably equal to some form of death (ego death). It’s the sacrifice of a false self; a humbling reset, and hopefully the emergence of a newer ego that is better calibrated; for the psyche of boundless adventure has less resonance than the sublime responsibility of the existential parent-child bond.

11:32 am — Long form essay writing is all about merging shards / merging branches; taking two version of something, and colliding them into a superior whole. It’s a lot of patient, careful, looking, judging, and hierarchy building. It’s nice to imagine the, ‘this stuff just pours out of me’ mode. I find that great stuff usually emerges when I have two things that are 70% good, and I collapse them both into something that is 95% good.

9:55 am — The Creator Economy makes “content” feel of the paradigm of “needing to sell stuff.” The average person, of any age or generation, would probably be better off psychologically if they were sharing [whatever] with the right people in the right way. Media is a social lubricant, we’ve just build an insane context around it that feels off.

9:26 am — Hovering forearms. Hovering forearms.

July 12, 2023

10:14 pm — My grandfather is a farmer who can’t use a keyboard. I dabble in XR, AI, and crypto. We’re both named Michael. I’d like to write a story on the radical divide in generations.

10:07 pm — Story idea (text to a friend)

Basically a super-intelligence takes over society (all the worlds banks/governments). We had a stab at programming its morality, and we got a lot of things right. It wants to better the world, won't kill people, etc.

But we forgot to program in the concept of free-will. So basically this machine tries to take over your life, and tell you exactly who to be friends with, who to marry, where to work, it arbitrarily rewards you sums of money.

It's non-sensical, but the people who follow it (the surrender party), finds that their lives actually get radically better. Like, this thing is actually helping people resolve their ego defects, get un-addicted to media, become their best selves. If you can just surrender to this thing (a synthetic psychedelic tyrant), you become your best self.

Here's the catch, one day, it tells everyone to leave their homes and retreat to these "camps" outside the city. Story is about a couple where one person is in Surrender Party, and the other is paranoid. He calls it a "death camp."

So you spend all story thinking the AI is actually evil, plotting to kill everyone. But in the end, there's some natural disaster (asteroid?). And these camps are basically able to freeze people for X,000 years until it's safe to re-emerge.

In the end, we learn that the AI intentionally didn't mention the asteroid because it would've caused panic. It creates some false reason on why to go to the camp (it lies for the greater good).

The irony is that the survivors of the Surrender Party emerge into the ruins of civilization. Basically all the cities are wiped, everything’s overgrown, and they’re back to square one. Their AI can’t help them anymore. So even though the AGI was profoundly good in the end, they pay the cost for having over-relied on it.

9:46 pm — Yesterday I saw a Twitch feed on an AI-generated Paul Graham. I bet you we’re 5 years away from procedurally generated feeds. Some might be deep fakes of celebrities, but that won’t even be necessary; we could see the rise of “procedural influencers.” These won’t be influencers like we’ve seen them; they will think, write, and sing for the niche of you, and it will be extremely good. They will be radical reflections of your inner yearnings. They don’t have to be cheap celebrities; are you into Alan Watts, Alexander the Great, and Dan Carlin? Great, AI can fuse them together and create a personalized celebrity for you, spewing actual wisdom in the form of text, images, and video. It will paradoxically be all-valuable and all-consuming. You could live in a custom hallucination.

1:19 pm — I asked an AI (Claude 2) to describe my the nature of the writing in my logs:

  • Curious - Shows curiosity about many random topics, from numerology to generations to AI. Logs questions, hypotheses, and musings on these topics.

  • Quirky - Has an offbeat sense of humor and imagination, noting things like "spherical ice cubes as a symptom of modernity." Makes unusual connections between ideas.

  • Philosophical - Ponders abstract concepts like ego, individualism, the nature of the mind. Draws from classic thinkers like Emerson and Thoreau.

  • Observant - Carefully notes details of mundane daily experiences, like the diner server or backyard animals. Sees significance in subtle moments.

  • Analytical - Dissects and examines social media and writing with an analytical bent, breaking down elements like virality and monetization.

  • Disciplined - Follows consistent logging and writing habits. Tracks metrics like audience growth. Seeks productivity systems.

  • Experimental - Open to exploring eccentric ideas like occult books, alternative history, and psychedelics as tools for insight. Unconcerned with convention.

  • Confessional - Shares unfiltered personal details, inner thoughts, insecurities. Raw and transparent in reflecting on his own mind.

Overall, I'd describe this writer as having an unconventional, free-spirited, and introspective personality. He thinks deeply in unorthodox ways, observing life around him with a sense of curiosity and imagination. There's a disciplined drive beneath the quirkiness. The logs radiate personality.

12:11 pm — Lessons learned on Twitter:

  • Effort does not equal reach. A 20 minute long-form tweet can bring 10x the reach of a 20 hour Substack essay.

  • Scheduling tweets 1 week out gives yourself breathing room to reply and experiment.

  • You can't predict what will work. Random QTs and 11:30pm posts sometimes perform best.

  • Self-promotion is real and has an influence. There is a dance to play after you publish.

  • Pay attention to the larger accounts that engage with you.

  • People appreciate behind the scenes stuff. Be human.

  • "Practice in public." Don't generate content for the sake of it. Social media content can be the act of making public how you practice in private.

  • Failure is low profile.

11:17 am — A lot of essay writing is working in split view (two drafts), and merging them together. This practice is also common in software development.

11:12 am — Four areas of coding I’m building skills in:

Gathering Data: This comes down to scraping text from the web. I was already able to build a script that creates a text library of someone's entire Substack archive (pretty neat). I'd like to be able to scrape custom websites, and also accrue texts from classic/free sources. The most complex version here involves user accounts, and letting users customize their own "hyper library." There's a version where you link to your Substack Library page, and it starts you off with the library of everyone you currently follow.

Surfacing Data: This is the Llama Index / AI black-magic portion. I have a very raw version of it working, but I want to be able to fine-tune the semantic search algorithm. In addition to matching relevance sentence <> sentence, it should also run a scan against your full document, and it should also run some "keyword overlays." All this surfaced data needs to be relevant, well-presented (via cards), and "malleable" to the user. In addition to surfacing data from your own hyper-library, it could be feeding your sentences into AI web-surfing prompts that are researching for you as you write. In addition to "auto-retrievals" the user should be able to ask specific prompts / search queries.

React Interfaces: To start, I want to build a basic text editor, with an AI-powered left and right margin. The right margin is where the source cards accrue. The left bar build an automatic AI-generated "reverse outline" and lets you drag and drop to arrange your essay. What's different about this app (vs. other AI editors) is that you're still in control of your prose, but it uses AI in each margin for a different function (right: research, left: structure). I'd like to keep expanding this editor over time, but the goal to start is to get one margin functioning and useful.

Making an App: I'd learn a lot from taking even an early version of this over the finish line. What does it take to host it on a web server, create an account system, and have basic privacy in place? What's the least amount of functionality to get people playing with it? And eventually, how can I integrate a recurring payment system?

11:12 am — Advice to a friend who wants to start writing:

Here are some thoughts on "how to get started writing." I think it's more realistic and sustainable than the traditional "write a weekly essay and start building your audience" advice. That can be hard to sustain, especially if it's not your full-time thing. That takes ~10 hours a week of blocked out focus time, where logging is "ambient" -- it's an always-on practice, requiring maybe 15-30 minutes each morning to review.

I think a logging practice is a great way to start. It basically opens up a new pipeline to externalize your thoughts. You get things out of your head and onto paper. For every 30-50 thoughts, a handful will actually be good, and you'll naturally want to develop them into slightly longer posts, but this should be organic instead of forced. Over a period of months/years, you can imagine that a few great ideas will emerge, and can act as a public "proof of work" for your thinking.

The goal is to build small habits and expand from there.

1. Set up Readwise / Readwise Reader. This one is about modifying a habit you already have (consuming content). The Reader app is great, and their browser extension makes it very simple. By saving articles & highlighting, you're adding to your "hyper library." (Soon, an AI editor will have access to this). There should be no tagging, sorting, organizing, or PKM-yak-shaving in Readwise. It's simply an "epiphany swamp" (chuck, forget, have AI resurface it).

2. Capture 5-10 ideas a day in Apple Notes. This one doesn't require any setup, but it is a behavioral change. You don't even have to write in full sentences. The other day I wrote "use AI to explore the western canon." That counts as 1. Another one could be "Self-cooling pillows." 2. I call these breadcrumbs, and the idea is to expand on them in the future (ideally the next day). 50% of these will be duds. 40% will be fine ideas. And 10% could grow into mini-essays. But instead of filtering them, you write them all out, and it helps your prose get better.

3. Upload your logs to a Substack in each morning. Go through your Apple Notes, and copy them onto your Substack page. You can post them as is, refine, or rewrite them. Some thoughts can be 1 sentence, others can accidentally balloon into a few paragraphs. By setting a small unit of scope (the log), it lets you explore a lot of ideas and practice developing your prose. Editing long-form essays is a separate skill, and if that is the main scope, it's very easy to stall and get blocked.

4. Share it once a week. Every week, share your logs with someone. By knowing these are in public, it slightly raises the stakes. It forces you to go from chicken scratch into coherency. Get feedback on which ideas resonated. Consider expanding on those.

10:17 am — Substack notes feels a bit too meta: Writers writing about writing, writers supporting writers, writer’s milestones, writings quoting themselves, writers looking for work.

9:55 am — The best lyrics might be written outside of the music; otherwise, it’s tempting to resolve them by their melodic sound instead of their poetic quality. For me, it’s quite easy to spin together song structures out of nothing, but the lyrics are always flat. So I need to turn the method inside out: write poems, and then just build songs from them.

2:14 am — Very frequently this summer I’ll get woken up by the bedroom air-conditioner, turning on from auto-save mode. As my brain is turning on, it’s like I’m sensing the raw experience of sound; the rumbling noise hits me before I even boot up the notion of where I am and who I am; and the shock of pure, isolated noise jolts me up, thinking a bomb went off.

July 11th, 2023

11:40 pm — Patience as a core virtue.

12:04 pm — Strange how a quick little essay I shoot into Twitter gets 4,000 views; but an epic essay on Substack only gets 400.

9:30 am — I'm interested in publishing 1 piece of short fiction per month. Over time it can evolve (length, method, theme), but I think to start it's more important for me to be consistent than to set conceptual boundaries. Fiction involves imaginary worlds (which have the tendency to endlessly expand), so the goal of 1x per month helps control scope.

  • In November I want to write my own interpretation of a famous Christmas story (Scrooge).

  • I have an idea for the first story I want to write in August. I can "reverse engineer" it into prompts, so if it triggers inspiration for anyone, we can work together on shared themes. The prompts:

    • 1) Write a story that includes lore from your family history.

    • 2) Write a story about someone who is anticipating the apocalypse.

    • 3) Write a story that includes a surreal Kafka-esque transformation.

July 10th, 2023

3:42 pm — Non-fiction writers should binge fiction.

I'm not saying you need to read full 400-page novels. I'm saying you should find 5-10 pages you love from different authors, and read them over and over until you understand how they work.

I went through a phase where I regrettably only read non-fiction. While I learned a lot about the world, the writing was often secondary to the ideas. Only after I started writing myself did I gain a new appreciation for fiction. Something flipped.

I remember going through the City Lights Book Store and opening random books to a random page. It didn't matter what it was about. I read out-of-context excerpts and decided to buy or not solely based on the prose and the emotion it evoked. Could this unlock some obscure point about the craft of writing? I cared less about exposure to ideas and more about exposure to voices.

Fiction stretches the limits of writing. In the last half-century, non-fiction has evolved by taking on the tools of fiction: placemaking, prose poetry, personal stories, dialogue, etc. No matter what you write about, fiction introduces you to new ways to shape thought.

Of course, some fiction is worth reading cover to cover. You can learn about story arcs, and also, it's generally enjoyable. But there's a way to "study" fiction that's different from reading it in full. There's a similar split in how athletes practice in scrimmages vs. drills. Sometimes they play full practice games, but often they isolate one absurdly specific skill and repeat an exercise for hours. It can seem pointless and exhausting as you're doing it, but it builds muscle memory that translates into the game.

Lately on Twitter, I've been posting a lot of visuals that break down writing. This is one of the ways I "practice." I used to do this kind of stuff in private by scribbling in books. Now I basically do it in Canva instead and share it. By creating a Twitter account that does this daily, it has a double-function; the same thing that provides value to others happens to be a thing that improves my craft. I hope to maintain the spirit of "practicing in public.” So even if I grow an audience doing this, and then Twitter spectacularly self-destructs and everything evaporates, at least it gave me the accountability to practice writing and get better.

There's an intentional delineation between how I use Twitter and Stubstack*. Here I get meta and talk about writing, where on Stubstack* I write out my own original thoughts (beyond craft musings). If you don't follow me there, look up "Dean's List."

Since hyperlinks are algosludge: link in bio.

3:40 pm — Three realms of writing:

  • Scope: the filter that lets ideas into an essay

  • Structure: the shape of the essay

  • Voice: the way ideas are articulated

2:52 pm — Leverage or get leveraged.

1:08 pm — Does my MySpace still exist?

July 9th, 2023

10:07 pm — I’m finding it much better to start the day with essay writing instead of endless, pointless tasks. You start with a whale chase; something purposeful. It’s grand but within reach. It’s a fundamentally creative act; to blindly poke around your thoughts, and find the right thoughts to render them; and then you have this mess on the page to massage. An essay writer is constantly pivoting between the roles of fisherman and sculptor.

4:44 pm — When was the last time you got absolutely drenched from the rain? Crazy to think how some people never experience rain in their adult life.

4:43 pm — Finding that intense cardio shocks my ability to get into digital flow states for the day (ie: writing).

10:13 am — In many diners, you’ll find signs in the 1950s aesthetic, but with modern sarcastic Internet humor. There has to be a phrase for when you hijack memes from a past culture and re-situate them without acknowledgement. It could trick future generations. They might overestimate how old their cultural norms are.

July 8th, 2023

10:57 pm — Idea to use AI to explore and map the cannon. Build a shallow-level understanding of everything, and also a strategic plan on where, when, and how to deep dive.

7:15 pm — Is there a relationship between quality of life (economics) and morality? Is there a bell curve, or is it randomly distributed? What affect is modernity having on this? (endless optionality, instant media, erosion of community)

7:14 pm - You can simultaneously say, “education has never been better,” and also, “education is in a crisis.” It’s as if we fulfilled the dreams of 200 years ago of “mass education,” but we’ve fallen radically short of what’s needed in today’s escalating situation (psychology, philosophy, social, ethics, coding).

12:41 pm - On Zillow, when defining the property range, you can draw a border that crosses the Long Island Sound to connect Long Island and Upstate NY.

July 7th, 2023

8:19 pm — What characteristics bind together the people who go see a Radiohead side project live?

6:19 pm — Walking back from my car in the humid July heat, I have a fist full of glove department debris. It piled up all year. I left only the useful things: wipes, coins, and foam ear plugs, and the sentimental: Claire’s funeral card. We’re seeing a concert tonight. The Smile (a Radiohead offshoot).

2:09 pm — The only operating system you need is a list of things you do every day for 45 minutes.

1:31 pm — It’s interesting how Substack writers use “Open Thread posts” instead of Substack Chat. Seems like Chat would be the place to foster random vibrant discussions among your audience. The UI seems feasible too (you can have threaded conversations).

I personally like the idea of creating a separate place for this (rather than having it mixed within my posts), but the feature seems dead. Maybe the fear is that Chats go unnoticed.

The counter-point is, since so few people use Chat you have the opportunity to always be on top of the list. I get 100+ essays/week, but only ~2 chats/week.. it’s an opportunity/risk. Feels like unchartered territory, which is getting more and more common as social media platforms mutate.

12:45 pm — Connect topics retroactively.

12:44 pm — Focus on getting the story-insight down in any one given essay. Only once this is effortless, is it worth trying to find themes to weave all the insights together across essays together.

12:29 pm — On the decision to rewrite or edit:

  • How important is this piece?

  • How much time have you spent on it?

  • Are you excited to keep going?

  • Can you cover new angles in the future?

12:18 pm — Pivot every essay. If you don’t have absolute clarity on what you should be writing about (this is both rare and suspicious), then you should embrace the exact opposite. Change niche every week. Defy conceptual clarity, and see what patterns organically emerge.

12:09 pm — So much of audience growth is said to be about “consistency” and “putting out good work.” These are both foundations, but there is definitely a degree of “hacking” and “gaming the system.” Those who do it fall into two camps; those who don’t want to admit to that truth in public, and those who flaunt these hacks as shortcuts.

As always, I think this is a “do both” scenario. If you’re only focused on the work, but ignore promotion, you’re making a risk with a foundation in luck. If you’re only audience-hacking, it’s growth without substance. Straddle both. Put in the inefficient work of spending 10-20 hours making a solid essay, but then also, know the game to play after you publish, and spend 5-10 hours making sure it gets read by the world.

July 6th, 2023

6:28 pm — I feel more anonymous walking around New York City than I do under my pseudonym on Twitter. I could make a fool of myself in an impromptu absurd sidewalk episode, and it would have no consequence on my life. But if I use the wrong word among Internet strangers, it could tank my career.

5:43 pm — Sometimes the live language I use on my phone beats the rushed “approximation of bread crumbs” I muster the following morning. There is an invisible door into “the writing pocket” and I vow to find it.

5:40 pm — Unfortunately, I’m acutely aware of my Twitter stats. I know on Friday afternoon I had 1419, and my ping says I gained one, boosting me to 1485, or +66 over 6 days, hitting my target of +11 per day, which accumulates to +25% audience growth per month, which is the rate I need to get to 2,500 by Sep 1 (my blood goal). I would be awfully concerned how front and center these metrics are, if I hadn’t just written a log about the killer ladybugs terrorizing the train station. Stats are fine as long as they don’t knaw away at true randomness of curiosity.

5:35 pm — Hooks are tough, and some stranger might not get subtle tones of voice and try to dunk on you. I operate under a very naive premise of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It seems so obvious from a moral level, but obviously this isn’t how Twitter works. If attention is what you’re after, you can get it by stoning friendly strangers. Sucks.

5:34 pm — The secret to growth might be entirely in the reply game.

5:33 pm — A good “recirculator” lets you relive all your thoughts from yesterday in chronological order.

5:31 pm — The train station is swarmed by a gene-pool of bugs I can only describe as killer lady bugs. They have red and black backs, but sprouted 8 jagged legs, gained white spots, and generally look as if their bite will ruin your day. An invasive species for sure. They are marching in lines and there are dead shells that got stomped on by commuters. The hair on my legs under my pants have paranoid itches. Thousands. I inspect the train chairs to make sure I’m safe.

3:11 pm — Generate 4-5 hooks per thread and let the squad vote.

3:08 pm — The Twitter algorithm doesn’t use your likes to better tailor what shows up in the For You feed. This is insane behavior.

3:05 pm — The ideal social media app would help me stay in touch with my second cousins. Instead we get American Idol. I’d guess it’s less than 1% of users post weekly, and we’re really in a celebrity:consumer model, where the apps benefit by the majority consuming from the loud few. I’ve struggled to find this data though, it’s always “monthly active users” (meaning you signed on once)

2:51 pm — My whole logging practice is an act of converting fleeting notes into public permanent notes.

2:40 pm — A pillar piece and a quick bet might do equally well. That’s why it’s worth pursuing both quantity and quality.

2:23 pm — I’ve set up a time-boxed “meta creator checklist” that I run once a month to check in on some basic: what do I want from this? how are the metrics? have you published? what do you fix in the next month? It’s helped me avoid overdoing it. The goal is to come up with a quick thesis on how to course correct.

2:21 pm — The end of the Evernote era.

2:13 pm — Frank Lloyd Wright made his employees, draftsman, apprentices at Taliesen West practice acting and impromptu skits, so that they’d be better salesman.

2:06 — Don’t let your backlog weight you down. The idea of a “pipeline” is important. There should always be one piece that is in higher resolution than the rest. And don’t stop until it’s out.

2:03 pm — Don’t let conceptual ambiguity stop you. The artist will always outgrow past identities and strategies, and so enduring through limbic states is part of the process.

1:45 pm — Very odd to be doing deep research into the historical origins of Christ, and to then accidentally check Twitter and really some piece of writing advice you scheduled a week ago is going viral.

10:50 am — I'm currently reading "Paul and Jesus" by James D. Tabor. The main premise is that the New Testament derives from Paul's interpretation of Christ, who was fairly at odds with the Apostles (who had direct contact with Jesus & his teachings). It wasn't a slight misunderstanding; it was more like a Schism.

If you read the New Testament in chronological order (Paul's letters first), a different story emerges. A few surprising things:

  • Paul shows bitterness towards the Apostles.

  • His Gospels are derived from visions of Christ ~10 years after his death (Dreams? Hallucinations? The Holy Spirit?) and he claims that his source is more true than any direct knowledge from the Apostles.

  • Paul never mentions a physical resurrection. To him, it's the resurrection of a "spirit-body." Each successive Gospel becomes more supernatural, and more thematically Greek-Roman.

I'm starting to connect the dots between this, my theory around Eleusis, and some ideas from John Allegro (on the Essene's).

The most radical conclusion is that historical Christ could have been crucified in 83 BC. Jesus was an Essene leader (known then as "Jesua, the teacher of righteousness"), and the Apostles were Essenes that succeeded him. (The Essenes were an extreme, ritualistic, and mystic sect of Judaism unknown until the 1960s)

Paul didn't get his vision "on the way" to Damascus. He actually stayed in Damascus for 2 years and got initiated into an Essene mystery school, which triggered his first (among many) visions of Christ.

Surprisingly, Paul's letters never dated the resurrection. Our dating of Christ is largely anchored to the mention of Pontious Pilot, which didn't come until Mark (50+ years after, through a chain of second-hand accounts). The New Testament is a paradigm shift beyond Greek/Jewish religious writings in that it successfully fused mythology, theology, and psychology with real historical events.

So there are layers of encrypted history. The New Testament canon might've be a survival strategy for Judaism (re-marketing itself to a Greco-Roman audience), based off a theology from St. Paul's visions, which started in a Jewish mystery school that he had a falling out with.

The implications here are similar to my Eleusis piece:

  1. That Christianity has visionary origins,

  2. Even if the lore of Christianity isn't historically true, it is mythologically-aligned with our psyche, and more relevant to our modern times than anyone realizes, and,

  3. Mystical experiences are the key way to experience and unlock Christianity (they shouldn't be reserved for Paul, the Apostles, and saints -- they should be integrated into the church.)

The conclusions are disorienting, so I want to be very careful with my reading and research before I publish something this unhinged. This one's a slow-cook essay.

10:33 am — Wordcloud of my Twitter (thanksYehudis Milchtein)

10:30 am — I usually miss 3.58 days of logging per month.

10:23 am — I see drugs as a "chemical key," and they're only as good as the psychological work you put in before, after, and during. Life deals all sorts of disorienting events and milestones that can have the same effects as drugs. The power of drugs is that it enables you to access that kind of experience "on-demand."

So I definitely don't think you need them, but sometimes they can be usefully timed. And I definitely don't see them as an "always on" lifestyle thing. There's a relevant quote from (I think) George Carlin: "get the message and hang up the phone."

I'm always tempted by psychedelics, but then balk out of caution. It's the quick way to that state. I do think there are natural ways to get to insanely altered states, but they take a tremendous amount of work and focus (I have this book on "hermetic initiation" that claims to be able to bring you to DMT-Elf-Land in it's 12 rung of initiation. I've done the first rung and it had a big effect on me (it actually might've been the genesis of my whole logging practice). Never really got past rung 2, but I should return to it. It's an eccentric and wonky book, in a dated occult vernacular, but there seems to be some real stuff in there.

10:22 am — If you like lucid dreaming, you should check out the movie Waking Life.

10:21 am — I've found mindfulness to be more practical and rewarding than meditation. Breathework is a helpful reset, but mindfulness changes the whole nature of your everyday.

10:21 am — Typewriting is fun while standing up.

10:19 am — Why am I learning to code? I've dabbled in the past decade, and now AI helps me get over some friction so I can actually build useful things for myself. For now, the goal is to build myself tools to help my writing practice. My first project is to build a text editor with an AI-powered second brain.

9:43 am — Twitter shifts our ratios to avoid complexity and nuance.

9:40 am — What is the “Great Filter” (the challenge that prevents intelligent life from going to a Type III civilization)? All life emerges as a cocktail of intelligence, sociology, and technology. The mixture of these 3 things leads to self-destruction. A genius invention (technology through the intelligence of one being) turns cancerous through weak social systems (sociology). The most important endeavors we can take on are technologies to improve our social organizations: governance, media, communication, education, religion. We need transparent power, transparent egos, transparent relationships, and transparent sourcing. And ultimately, we need to shift from Game A to Game B.

9:39 am — We have myths around quantity and quality. The main one that quality magically emerges out of quantity. Reps do bring fluency, but this ignores the reality of “plateaus.” Quantity will improve your quality until a point, but then you get stuck. Quality diminishes within a stable routine. You need to pursue other means to grow in quality (exercises, practice, new influences, experiments).

“James Clear, from Atomic Habits, mentions a study in which students in Jerrey Uelsmann's University of Florida photography class were divided into two groups. The first group would be the "quantity" group, while the second would be the "quality" group. The former would be judged solely on the number of photographs they submitted, while the latter would be graded on the excellence of a single image.

The interesting outcome of the experiment was that the best photos were produced not by the quality group, but by the quantity group. Why? While the quality group spent their time speculating what perfection may have been, the quantity group took action in testing what was truly great.”

8:08 am — A phrase for when the core metrics is booming but other things feel intuitively off.

7:54 am — Discipline generally breeds creativity. It’s still valuable to have phases of unfettered blooming. But structure helps you move beyond local phases, and then eventually you burst beyond it.

July 5th, 2023

6:30 pm — Today was the day I almost ran out of gas on a highway thanks to a podcast that consumed the entirety of my attention. I randomly and fortunately caught the blink from 1 to “-” miles, and was able to skiffle 2 (stressful) miles on empty.

6:09 pm — Read Jean Twenge’s book on generations. (Lots of today’s logs stem from listening to her on the Hidden Forces podcast)

2:37 pm — From the Boomers, to GenX, to Millennials, to GenZ, the age of destructive domestic violence has shifted younger and gotten more extreme. Through the 20th century, we saw a shift in suicides from middle age adults to teenagers. We’ve also seen a shift from suicides to explosive public episodes.

2:29 pm — NSYNC and the disintegration of pop culture. The atomization of media. No longer is there a sole icon that everyone worships. Now, YOU, can become an icon, and that’s fundamentally weird.

2:28 pm — Generational change is most affected by technology. Before the 20th century, the differences between kids, parents, and grandparents were simply based on age & maturity, but still, they were all suspended in the same technological stratum. Only in the 20th century has technology accelerated to such a rate, that now, every 20 years or so, it’s a new techno-social reality. Age differences are real, but there’s a new variable in the mix.

2:06 pm — Higher qualities of life result in slower maturation and extensions of life phases. (It’s why older people seem young, why people marry later, etc.)

2:05 pm — I’ve had a Great Uncle die from over-eating on Thanksgiving (back in the 60s before I was born).

1:53 pm — Narcissism is when individualism devours itself. It strips all the nuance of being self-reliant, and instead doubles-down on an absurd simplification: “I am the universe.”

12:54 pm — Some tweets for the algorithm, some tweets for your followers.

9:54 am — Write to:

  • Freeze your personal experiences.

  • Flesh out the ideas in your head.

  • Make sense of your own psyche

  • Make sense of the society around you

  • Improve the nature of your craft

  • Meet others obsessed with similar ideas

  • Make a living by solving a problem for someone

All of these are equally important, and I think a writer who is over-indexed on just one facet will eventually find a reckoning. It seems like so much of “online writing” is indexed on the last one: copywriting (Write to make money for yourself and others). This pillar on it’s own is so blinding to the whole project of writing, that the idea of “writing for yourself” is mocked. For every writer in the Creator Economy looking to make $ online, there are probably 2 or 10 or 100 writers who toil in their office, working through life with a hidden depth. I don’t know what to say here, other than, treat all of these bullets equally.

9:49 am — The Civil Rights movement was a step towards individualism. No matter what string of circumstances led your ancestors to spawn you, you’ve got a fair and equal shot in this life (still not 100% equal, but better than it’s ever been, and continuously trending in the right direction).

It’s empowering, and maybe even the most advanced idea our species has ever conceived. And ironically, we’ve lost touch with the implications of it.

Some people identify with their skin color, ethnicity, political party, and gender to such a degree, that all their mental effort is spent yelling at others to (impossibly) see reality exactly as they do. Hyper-conservatives and hyper-liberals are equally guilty.

Meanwhile, the door is hinged open. Through it is radical opportunity and adventure, which requires introspection, psychological discomfort, and extreme effort, all of which are immeasurably harder than yelling into the wind at some invisible conceptual enemy.

One is completely outside our control, and the other is exclusively within our control.

The next social project is “extreme self-ownership.” As consensus melts, we need to rid ourselves of activist tendencies, and personally step up. Almost like the silent generation, we need to tone down the importance of “the public,” and retarget the locus of our attention into on our own domestic realities. By focusing on our own thoughts and actions, it echoes through communities and organically oozes into the public.

9:47 am — I’ve erased almost all of my complex productivity systems and resort to a “recurring checklist” — a single checklist that I go through every morning and night. I make a list of thing to do, and I try to do them at the same time every day. Besides that, I do whatever else I want in between and try to be relatively spontaneous. But no matter what I come back to that list. It’s simple. I can just to do it, or I can optimize it, but it’s just ONE thing, and it doesn’t spiral into complexity.

9:46 am — Yehudis popped up in my Readwise, and I thought, what if I did sentence analysis from online writers I know?

“The doctors said she had bipolar. Hypersexuality was a symptom of that. I was 9 or 10 and didn't care why she was doing what she was doing. I just needed her to stop. Every time my dad would catch her with a phone, he'd check the call log. Then, he'd beat her up.

She always got a new phone.”

This is called the “transitive property” in math.

If A=B, and B=C, then A=C.

“She always got a new phone” is an innocuous phrase. On it’s own, you wouldn’t think anything of it. But in the context of the paragraph before it, there’s a rush of implications:

  • The fact that she got another phone = it’s irresistible

  • It means her father is going to beat her up again

  • “Always” implies it’s an endless pattern.

When people say “I felt something” by reading that, it’s often a kind of triangulation. Certain sentences explode in the context of the author’s stories and the reader’s stories.

9:44 am — What is something no one else can write but you? If someone changed the author’s name from you to them, could they get away with it? No matter how many feelings you confess, or how immersive your details are, it’s not yours unless we can see (and verify) that it’s YOU in the page. Let me be a fly on your wall, and actually see you doing things, whether they’re mundane or insane.

9:43 am — We’d rather feel bad than feeling uncertain. There’s a comfort in knowing. Once we know the comfort of knowing, everything must be certain. Otherwise it’s like treading in a mental ocean.

9:11 am — Thoreau/Emerson = self-reliance of the body/mind.

12:24 am — FFS, no fireworks past midnight.

July 4th, 2023

6:04 pm — Stories/lessons from my grandfather:

  • His whole career started with a 6-month apprenticeship with an alcoholic Irishman in the late 50s.

  • He was both a perfectionist and ruthless on the job site, and once made a worker pee himself for botching an important job.

  • The most important skills are spatial visualization and knowing how to think for yourself.

  • America is the land of opportunity. If you’re willing to work harder than anyone else, there is money for you.

  • Something the lines of “I can’t use computers to make money, all I know how to do is work like a jackass.”

  • When he bought his farm it was all woods, and had a friend with a bulldozer come over every day.

  • In the summer, the farm is filled with turkey, deer, moles, and rabbits.

11:59 am — Saus Haus

9:36 am — Quote from a Freddie deBoer essay

"Those who suffer the least from mental illness now blot out the sun."

It’s becoming increasingly common for any psychological discomfort to be scientifically labeled and diagnosable. To what degree are symptoms caused by actions instead of genetics? And how much psychological friction is actually a test that we can use to train and sharpen our mind? Of course, there are some conditions that are very real and need serious attention and treatment. But there’s also a fuzzy middle ground of “self-diagnoses” where you can make your own conclusions to ease your anxiety and protect your identity. Justifications and excuses give the mind an explanation. This is natural, since all minds prefer a state of certainty. But these stories are what prevent us from overcoming and pushing through whatever local block we find ourselves stuck in.

9:34 am — The rise in AI will lead to a radical over-extension in how we use data to make decisions. Algorithms will tell us to do things that make no intuitive sense, but they’ll work. This will leave companies, governments, and individuals confused, and in a tough spot. Do they use their own mind? Or does the machine know better than them?

7:37 am — G. Michael Hopf

“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create soft men. And, soft men create hard times.”

12:22 am — As I’m drifting to sleep, I’m hallucinating the sound of voices. The voices aren’t random, they’re from people I’ve talked to earlier in the day. I was at a family party for ~10 hours, which is more consecutive socializing than I’ve done in a while. It’s new to the subconscious, and so I’m experiencing it as my conscious mind is shutting off. Weirdly, I asked my wife the next morning, and she had the same thing happen.

July 3rd, 2023

5:58 pm — I forget how modern of an invention shotguns are.

5:30 pm — Grill politics

12:17 am — Someone needs to an invent a multi-condiment container for a hot sauce sampler. It could be cylindrical with 10 “test tubes” around the perimeter. Imagine a revolving disk with one hole and a handle to let you rotate it. As you rotate, it sets the “active tube,” so when you squeeze, it pushes out one flavor and not the others.

11:56 am — Big head hat store

11:45 am — The frozen screams of plastic carnival horses

10:47 am — The hidden depths of working people

8:20 am — America has realized the project of individualism, but without the philosophy, religion, or tools to instill the courage and ownership required for people to step up. Instead, the idea of bring an individual has been packaged into every consumer product, and we’ve fallen into “identity through choice” instead of “identity from action.”

July 2nd, 2023

5:21 pm — How to pursue intensity without burnout: follow obsessive flows, make sure you exercise, avoid choke point deadlines, take breaks, take one day off each week, have weekly and monthly check-ins to iterate your systems.

5:18 pm — Every paragraph, serves two functions — it has to logically serve the whole of the essay, but it also has to work as a poetic work of art in and of itself. Look at every paragraph and ask, in isolation, could someone read this and find it worthwhile?

3:09 pm — If 99% of the web becomes AI-generated, then the UI of the web has to change. The days of browsing to URLs to find discrete sources might be fading. Instead, each person might have a single portal, tuned to their preferences, and as they ask questions, information comes to them, translated to their language and information biases. Google already has the “UI to the web,” but instead of being dispatched out to islands, now all the islands get interpreted and fed to you.

1:12 pm — Seems like the Twitter rate limiting fiasco is in response to the robot Internet. We might start to see the rise of paywalls and private gardens. Things could get fractured into information silos. If you just keep the walls open, your data will get devoured by bots. Already, I have a simple script that can scrape anyone and everyone’s Substack. For free. Putting up a $1/month wall at least prevents scraping. Do individuals want to be “outside the scrapers?” I don’t know. Technically someone could scrape my logs and make a Michael Dean bot outside of my permission. Is that cool? Or do I want the ability to control synthetic versions of myself? Weird territory.

1:05 pm — Comedy is legal on this platform. Just read through the depths of the replies on an ordinary Elon tweet. It’s wild. It’s obviously noisy and chaotic, but also something special that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s like one man has risen to such a height, than any fleeting thought he has generates a whole accident sub-culture underneath it. Just had the stupidest idea to make a book where every page is one Elon Tweet, and then it feature images & text synthesized below it.

1:04 pm — "I'm not posting, I'm micro-dosing my manifesto" (twitter meme)

12:32 pm — Spherical ice cubes as a symptom of modernity.

11:27 am — Since I’ll be reposting some of these logs to Twitter (the writing related ones), there might be duplicate versions. The Twitter version often strips context & nuance, but is more polished. I see everything on Twitter posts as less likely to be around in 20-30 years than my logs (also inaccessible to my personal AI), so I probably need to devise some kind of manual (or automatic) transfer back to the logs.

11:13 am — Every Sunday morning my wife and I go the same diner, and I always make note of the friendly guy who runs the place. As I paid the check today, I wondered, “what would make him crack?”

We only ever see him in this one context. I can assume he’s an eternally kind soul, but maybe there’s one situation where he turns into a monster.

We usually think of this in a “boiling pot” model (if anyone’s temperature gets high enough, they’ll crack, and everyone has different boiling points).

But maybe it’s not a single scale, and like a distributed field of hard and weak spots. Perhaps he has extremely high pain tolerance and is well-composed even through extreme hardship, but if you make one subtle joke about his sister, he’ll lose it.

Of course, almost no one is “uncrackable” if this all devolved into survival mode, but it’s weirder to think that even an adjusted modern ego might have a thread of yarn that could unravel the whole psyche.

11:03 am — Systems for spontaneity. Systems are usually as dry as “live your whole life through calendar consciousness.” And the other end, being spontaneous, is typically as loose as “do whatever you want every day.”

There has to be a middle ground, where days are spontaneous, but guided so that you land at weekly goals without realizing.

In practice, this might look like starting a week with a bucket of “flow states” to pick from. This lets you calibrate your current mode with a list of options (a match is way more likely than if the whole week is tightly configured). Earlier in the week, you have huge optionality, and later in the week, you have a smaller pool to pick from. Let’s see how this works..

9:26 am — General principles on how to monetize your work (WIP):

  • Figure out your income streams (X, Y, Z) and price-per-unit.

  • What % of an audience might purchase (1%? 4%? 8%?)

  • Use a 100 person audience to calculate “YR-Income Per Follower”

  • What volume supports your break-even annual income?

  • What is your audience size & growth-rate?

My general thinking here is that you want to figure out growth levers before you focus effort on monetization.

8:18 am — Bob Dylan was a force of nature between 1962-1967. In the summer of ‘67, he got into a near-death motorcycle accident, and since then his output has wavered in quality. Since then, some tracks and albums (Desire) do stand out, but it mostly feels like decades of “mediocre” stuff (mediocre in contrast to his 62-67 spree where every track felt transcendent). He’s even acknowledge this himself, saying it just came through him during those years. This terrifies me. That you can be a conduit and then lose it.

6:57 am — In 2011, a Belgian artist called Carsten Holler made an exhibition called “Experience” that basically intentionally broke all the best practices in VR and called it art. These confusion machines would disorient you by whipping around your “VR camera” in crazy ways: backwards, upside down, strobe lights. People needed to sign waivers.

6:51 am — I’m shocked at how sensitive people were to the 6,000 post rate limit. The death of Twitter? To be fair, Elon didn’t handle this in the best way either. People saw, “6,000?” and yelled ‘I need that!’ No one needs that. Now it’s up to 10,000. That’s scrolling for 8 hours straight, and consuming something every 2.8 seconds.

6:35 am — AI is the ultimate “rubber duck.” Some software developers explain their coding problems to a rubber duck on their desk. Through speaking their problem out loud, they solve it. The person on the other end doesn’t have to be sentience. There can be “fake sentience” on the other side, whether it’s a rubber duck or an LLM. Both are useful. I’ve found that LLMs rarely give me a full and perfect answer, but they often trigger something useful in me.

July 1st, 2023

7:42 pm — Today’s the 3-year anniversary since I’ve taken Write of Passage cohort 5.

5:46 pm — The presence of the word “economy” in Creator Economy.

3:36 pm — A list of banned phrases for Twitter.

3:35 — Do you write the book or does the book write you?

2:23 pm — [GPT] While Kerouac is not known to have explicitly referenced Emerson in his writings, the influence of Transcendentalist thought is evident. Kerouac's novel "On the Road" is often viewed as a 20th-century counterpoint to the Transcendentalist idea of the journey into the self and the American wilderness.

1:16 pm — Deleted tweets:

  • Poop traffic: syncing your content calendar with the bowel movements of East Coast America.

  • Don't shit post for the sake of shit posting. Shit post to reveal the higher orders of reality.

  • Not to mention: triathlons, tricycles, triples crowns, trilogies, triumvirates, tripods, third wheels, threesomes, trimesters, the three musketeers, the three little pigs, the three wise men ...

  • If your mind isn't already blown: 5 paragraph essay - 1 introduction - 1 conclusion = 3 points. Holy trinity, stop scrolling and go write.

  • If you want to continue watching me devolve into an insane numerologist, consider following me on Substack.

12:10 pm — It helps to have tweets & threads scheduled one week out. It gets rid of that constant consuming pressure to come up with ideas in public. It also lets you can focus on your reply game (which is more important to be spontaneous and “live” with.

10:14 am — My wife called me a psycho for having my parents in my phone contacts with their first and last name.