Logs | 2023-10-October
October 31st, 2023
11:50 pm — A Substack crosspost is effectively a QT (quote tweet) from Twitter, we just haven’t nailed on the specific of how to do this with long form. It feels sensitive to QT to your whole email list (where on Twitter, it’s just another post in the endless feed.
10:58 pm — While reading through the comments on Kessler Wow’s twitter thread on management, X delivered me advertisements for ear wax cleaners with graphic videos. Doesn’t happen on Substack.
10:56 pm — Worth sending some auto-DM to shift Twitter folks over to Substack?
8:09 pm — The Beatles are “the band of order,” known for perfect pop structure (even though they deconstructed and pivoted from this in the second half of their career). The Grateful Dead are “the band of chaos.” Imagine the fusion of the two? We haven’t seen that archetype yet. Could be the band of all bands. Could be a machine.
11:28 am — Now that we’re selling the house, I had to transplant a 6’ foot fig tree into my office. It’s large, out of place, and the leaves hang over my desk. There is a small spider that has been working for days on this intricate 3D web. Usually I kill spiders, but this one seems to be stationary and comfortable in his home, so of course I’m going to leave it and study its architecture. Maybe I won’t kill spiders anymore.
11:25 am — How can embodiment be felt in the age of AI? I’m hopeful that I’ll still write music in the future using my own hands, my own mouth, and my own words. I’ve learned all the instruments, know the basics of song structures, and can intuit my way to catchy riffs and melodies.
I will hum into the machine, and it’ll turn my hums into masterpieces.
10:51 am — Always do a PM reset, or else you’ll feel it the next day. Worth pushing 30 minutes extra late at night than feeling scrambled for 8 hours the whole next day. Personally, a slight lack of sleep effects me less than disorderedly priorities.
9:48 am — When my wife and her mother talk at each other, I've started interjecting a meta-layer of commentary so they can assess the conversation. I'm basically a sass referee, and often call time-outs when sass exceeds 20% (I call out sass in 5% intervals). Sometimes though, when things are clearly past the point of decency, I'll be the provocateur and go "tsssssss" (the sizzle sound) on serious burns like "you and your generation so miserable because of all the shit you hoard." They weirdly both like this.
9:46 am — The cynical bastard and the loving angel in one wrapper...
Skepticism and anger and irony is natural, and any attempt to wash it out and just emit pure positive vibes of love is suspicious to me.
Life is like a classical composition that oscillates between beauty and horror. Straddle and acknowledge both. It's emotional honesty; emotional realism.
I also don't want to pop bubbles of happiness. I'd rather people exist in bubbles of delusional happiness than bubbles of dread. Delusions can be quite productive if paired with the right actions.
9:38 am — "You have an invitation from Jimmy Quintana!?" I found myself reading my spam out loud in delirious musical voices. If unchecked, I easily devolve into my moron self.
I left this log open, and have repeated this incantation of Jimmy Q without realizing probably 15-20 times since, each time a permutation through a different character (young<>old, man<>woman, English<>foreign).
9:33 am — Bad NanoWrimo Ideas:
A fiction bot.
The fiction machine! Magical realism about infinite fiction.
10 pages, hand drawn, crayons (the norm is 50k words).
50,000 words of logs.
50,000 words of fake logs with fake events.
Make a daily timeline of a theoretical nuclear war in November and then process all my actual logs through that timeline.
9:30 am — Fiction story: A wife screams from a mouse in the kitchen. Husband tries to console her, “you know, we evolved from mice?” She’s not affected, still shaky and skeeved. “You know maybe you and I and the whole human race come from the same mouse descendent. That’s what Darwin said.” She looked at him in anger. Mouse is unphased. “Maybe that creature you’re so scared of is Grandpa Mouse.” Then suddenly, the mouse undergoes a transition. It stands up on his hind legs and grows and grows and grows until it’s 4 feet tall, making mouth noises and reaching for a paint brush. The husband is moved: “Look, it’s making art and finding God! Politics are next.” The wife swings a 12” frying pan at it’s head and knocks out the beast. “Taking that fucking rat out to the trash.”
9:20 am — I get a "Spooky Greetings from the New York Mets" email with a looping Happy Halloween jack-o-lantern GIF. That's not how you get my attention. That’s spooky? Send me bizarre (but true-sounding) fiction on how some strange fungus is growing in the dugouts and one of the groundskeepers died and how the 2024 season is possibly cancelled. Halloween should be permission for grotesque April Fool's jokes.
12:34 am — Maybe it’s fine and healthy to have an occasional and benign paranoia of, “what if sharing this essay actually exposes a critical lack of self-awareness in my own identity?” Maybe I’m boring, dense, wrong, naive, and generally hatable. Everyone has a blindspot. What’s mine?
October 30th, 2023
8:02 pm — Some pitch type ideas:
Can I write an article for your publication?
Do you want to exchange features?
Do you want to write about related things and cross-post at the end?
7:20 pm — Maybe I write online to attract the people who are shaping the future of emerging communication technologies (social media, AR/VR, AI, psychedelics). These technologies affect the ratios of the human: how we make art, connect with others, and conceive the divine.
11:22 am — Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," Britney Spears "Circus," Miley Cirus "Party in the USA" and "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson… all written by one guy, Dr. Luke. It's quite conceivable that the whole commercial pop industry will get replaced by some kind of Lukebot.
7:16 am — When the youth gets sucked out of your face.
7:14 am — Yesterday I rescued a six foot fig tree and now my home office is a spider colony.
October 29th, 2023
10:42 am — The lawn has turned yellow and is bursting with fungus. Mushroom season? Seems more extreme than usual. The new buyers will be surprised.
7:06 am — I had that recurring dream of forgetting about my thesis during my senior year of college. Last week. I’m in trouble. Suddenly we’re on a field trip in Ohio? Whatever that was for, on the way out I ran into Lex Friedman in the airport and had a 2 minute conversation with him and commended him for how great his VR podcast was. Will would be proud. Suddenly, I’m on the phone yelling at my wife for spontaneously taking a 4-week vacation without telling me (I never yell). Turns out, my flight was late, so they put me on a bus to Singapore (from Ohio), but then the bus arrived in Farmingdale (New York), and the driver told me to drink at this bar for the next 5 hours. As soon as they left, the bouncers at the bar said there would be no rides back to the airport. I turn back to the street and witness 2-3 guys brutally beating a homeless person to death. Woke up.
5:44 am — The “how to write” is a very different set of discussions than “what is good writing?” Process is obviously very important, but it’s so personal and varied. Do you have a mindfulness before you write? Do you have a checklist? Do you snuff gas? Does inspiration pour of your belly button? Advice in this realm is not super likely to be transferrable. It has to be intuitively discovered. But the “what” is objective, scientific, and timeless. I learned this from Amatuzzo in architecture school. He didn’t let you explain yourself because he was a genius at reading and assessing what it is you actually produced.
October 28th, 2023
12:56 pm — In 2073, the surface of society might not look much different than it does today. Architecture lags behind technology. If anything, the future will appear less technological. Screens will miniaturize into glasses, so you won’t have monitors in your house. And since everyone has 24/7 auto-valet, the streets won’t be lined with cars.
10:58 am — It’s quite impossible to numerically compare the power of ideas. How can you compare the validity of two essays, if one is about the Israel/Gaza conflict, and the other is about the sorrow of selling your childhood house? Which is better? To who? You can’t. But you can test certain objective parameters of an idea. You can say, an idea is X things, and then score each one individually. You’re limited to the resolution and flaws of your model, but it’s better than having a single spectrum of “good idea / bad idea” and it’s better than saying, “it’s all relative!”
10:50 am — Going to make a 3D Matterport scan of my wife’s childhood house when it’s emptied. In the future, it will be very easy to jump into it in VR and spend time there. No capturing this is akin to not taking a picture of your grandparents in the 1890 before photography was that accessible.
In the future, maybe I’ll set it up so there’s a big-screen slideshow running in each room. You get to occupy a digital space, while seeing full-scale photos of the past that happened in it.
October 27th, 2023
12:44 pm — The other day I wrote and deleted a log that said, “I fucking love complexity.” Feels like a dirty confession. Everyone likes it simple. No one likes playing Marco Pollo in the foreign bazaar, but that’s life.
We yearn for simple categories, simple actions, and simple decisions. When we reduce our life down to a handful of memorable heuristics, we gain control but grow stale. So we venture out “to grow” in one dimension or another, but find that behind every door is a relentless maze that only grows more complex the further we venture into it.
Instead of turning back, we should learn to love to wrestle with disorientation.
Imagine: you walk into a room and 9 doors appear. Damn, that’s weird. Instead of turning back, fully step into each one and thoroughly inspect it. After 8 dead ends, you’ll reason that this one’s correct. And as soon as you settle into your new room, 27 new doors appear. The trickery! Silly me, I fell for complexity again. Abandon the maze? Keep going. Only once you’ve conquered the 540-door maze will you have a slight glimpse of truth.
If you want to make sense of the world, or yourself, or learn a skill, or solve a problem, you need to wander into the maze with patience and purpose. And if you feel compelled and able, you should levitate above the maze and draw a sketch for those who are trembling at the entrance gates.
A fig tree recently told me my life’s purpose: “you are a gateway drug to complexity.” She might be right. I’m an architect that uses visuals, frameworks, rubrics, metaphors, compression, and tools to help you see the hidden patterns behind everything: words, worlds, and the minds that make each.
Don’t sit in the lobby your whole life, clear-headed and bored. Die in the maze.
12:11 pm — Who is the fusion of John Madden, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Gumby?
October 26th, 2023
11:13 pm — What matters in the coming era of tyrannical convenience? Real friends, real talk, real sex, hard decisions, hard thought, hard skills, shared culture, shared ritual, will power, discomfort, determination, boredom, silence, and being comfortable with embodied pain.
10:34 pm — Meditate, but know that the void isn’t the end state, it’s just the launching pad to enter fantasies, visions, daydreams, memories, ideas, and abduction experiences. The blank mind is a canvas to be filled with impossible visions. Welcome the weird radio static.
7:42 pm — Under the tracks, under stippled clouds that mask the moon, outside McCabe’s pub where one guy simultaneously picks up two chicks, I’m waiting for my wife and I have a Eureka: of course, more AI fever dreams. Margin Muse matched with a 500-point evaluator. Can I ship relevant intertextual gold daily? Even with a fresh baby? I look back at the bar and see roughhousing in the pickup. High beams blind me and the tracks rumble. Wife is close. Tonight is another pre-move logistical excursion: to transport mother-in-law’s TVs and PCs for the 8AM cable men. Air conditioning on my face…in October? I am unnecessarily sensorial. Just practice. Need to have my prose claws ready for when an actually novel moment pierces my normal life.
7:06 pm — As of 2020, Wikipedia values a human life at $7.5 million.
2:35 pm — 4th time at the neurologist. At this point, I’m okay with the fact that the numbness in my hand is an unsolved mystery, because I’m so intrigued by the doctor. I pay $150 for about 5 minutes of conversation, where he delegates and dispatches me off to surgeons, scanners, and funky machines. But it’s all worth it because at the end of our sesh he leaves an insane voice note into his handheld tape recorder. He gibbers out at, without exaggerating, 4-5x speed. It’s impressive—not just that a human can move their mouth at such a speed, but— that he can form language at that pace, uninterrupted, somehow compressing the entirety of our conversation. He doesn’t stop to breathe. It’s almost like he’s one of those aliens from Arrival, can just see all of time as an object in his third eye, and then just print it out like “buhsdoiawhjdoiqwjcwepfojwpeofjwpeofjwpeofjwpeojfewf … see you in 3 months.”
2:32 pm — Art won’t be art without randomness, emotion, pain, mystery, and the likes. Formulas can help shape up the weirdness, but formulas can’t shape up formulas.
2:29 pm — In a future where everyone has personalized AI audio assistants, I wonder if it’ll be completely normal to ramble to yourself in public (already trending that way).
2:26 pm — Walking around outside, I had an idea I wanted to capture a voicenote into Plexus, but felt self-conscious to self monologue within ear shot, so I wrote a breadcrumb into my phone: “drums as time carving / pocket vs. slice patterns.”
12:23 pm — Start with the pirates…
10:59 am — Will people find it useful to listen to other people think out loud? Messy emerging thought is fun when you can watch them, listen, and respond — but is it worthwhile as a monologue? Do I want three-minute rambles from anonymous strangers without a point? It requires a ton of patience. It’s actually the polar opposite of instant gratification. We definitely are in a bad space with polished, perfect, performative social media, but I don’t know you want to move all the way to the other end of the spectrum. What’s the middle?
10:56 am — I have a 15-slot USB hub that often goes into this high-pitched phasing problem. It oscillates between two tones, almost like a devil’s tritone that can only be heard by dogs and myself. Used to drive me crazy, now I just laughed at it. It’s all about selective audio attention. Same with tinnitus. I’ve had bad ringing in my ears since 15 years old. I’d play loud drums without ear plugs, thrashing symbols through entire songs. I kind of ruined my ears, but got a hearing test and found out I still have above average hearing. As long as I’m not worrying about it, I don’t notice. The movie “Sound of Metal,” made me hyper aware of my ears for weeks.
10:54 am — Voice note transcription from Plexus:
“The Philosopher's Stone was this concept from alchemy. Just think of slightly pre-Renaissance, the origins of science, imagine 15, 1600s. And they have the impulse to do science, but they're still slightly religious. And they get a bad rap for trying to turn lead into gold. And that was how science started. Let's actually be hucksters that transform metals and sell them to kings. But they talked about this thing called the Philosopher's Stone. What if we could invent a kind of material that could turn any material into any other material? So the Philosopher's Stone is a master translator. A technological Rosetta’s stone. And if an alchemist could actually invent and create this thing, they would be like a God. They could bring new matter into existence. They can just turn sand into gold, right? And this is kind of where we started. It was this weird, religious, irrational impulse. And 400 years later, we're in the age of AI. And Mark Andreessen, he uses the term, we've gotten sand to think. And is that not the exact goal of the Philosopher's Stone? We're able to have micro computer parts all in concert with each other. And it can lead to an infinite amount of expressions, right? This already started with computers, and then with cell phones, it absorbed our flashlights and calculators and everything. And now, we're making sand think, we actually have a constellation of these little sand-like silicon chips, and it can produce the endless variations of thought that a first grade human can. Yeah, so the Philosopher's Stone, it's weird to realize we've got it. And it's cool to tie that lesson into the current moment.”
10:48 am — Would be neat if I could record voice notes through my glasses. It eliminates the friction to take out your phone and navigate to an app. If I could record with just a button on your face, I’d be talking to myself all day.
10:45 am — Voice notes feel semi-performative. My voice is an instrument. Could it make me a better public speaker? I’m painfully aware of my “likes,” “I thinks,” and “kind ofs.”
10:43 am — A non-linear curriculum lets students choose their own adventure. Typically the sage, educator, or expert (some well-traveled person) carves the trail and funnels all future people down it. Instead of carving the path, map the terrain and give someone the tools to make their own path.
7:42 am — Create a graph that shows the efficacy of "civic actions (calls, votes, donations, media)… What actually moves the needle? What is widely shared as “being a good citizen,” but is totally ineffective in practice?
October 25th, 2023
11:20 pm — 27 articles came into my Substack inbox today. Note to self: don’t publish on Wednesdays? Wondering, is it better to publish on days where people are most likely to read, or on days when there’s less “competition”? Does this even matter? (I’ve never seriously thought about it— I mostly consider just not publishing during the 9-5…)
9:25 pm — Tempted by the idea of daily publishing, as long as the quality doesn’t suffer.
8:01 pm — Does “copywriting” imply a breed of writing that is about imitating proven tactics to sell? Don’t reinvent the wheel, use the dark arts to hack human psychology. Follow the known way to get what you want.
7:31 pm — My writing voice was described in a breakout as “unhinged” and “chaotic.” This is good, but incomplete. I want stream of consciousness associations to be integrated into a coherent and logical frame. It should feel dense, beatific, futuristic, organic, textural, surreal, and edgy, but also obvious and light
2:16 pm — Isolated intelligence has the capacity to be very dangerous. Imagine mutated charisma. It can convince you of anything. There’s no guarantee that intelligence is paired with ethics, soul, or consciousness.
1:31 pm — When it comes to implementing feedback: trust reactions, but be critical of suggestions.
11:37 pm — High school torture as pro-sports… seems like midget jiu jutzu and power slapping are now trends. It’s the age of shock, where extreme versions of things are more popular than the standard version. A pro-soccer players has higher attendance streaming FIFA than the actual pro-team.
11:27 pm — Consider how revolutions in transportation and remote communication (AR/VR) will work together to change how we live/work … (“sports, sex, childcare” + things where proximity will always matter)
11:14 pm — Hosting books online… (look into using Passkeys for custom access)
11:06 pm — The Winchester Greenhouse / Christmas Tree Wars..
9:55 am — Be selfish in the topics you select, but selfless in how you communicate. Be stubborn and bold in what you choose to write about, but rely on friends, editors, and the market to ensure your ideas are digestible.
9:25 am — It's quite incredible how raw footage is just the base from which multiple interpretations can be layered over. Recently saw some video re: the QAnon Shaman in the capitol on Jan 6... it shows him calmly walking through the hallways with "guards." Their interpretation is that they purposely let him through to film him so they could make a mockery of the whole scene. Maybe that's true. Or maybe that's a slant over the video. This is one small case in an ocean of situations where you have to accept a lack of certainty.
October 24, 2023
6:47 pm — Accidentally stumbled into a new aesthetic where I wear a leather jacket / running shoes combination. The story behind the leather jacket: I’ve been on a hemming frenzy since I discovered the nearby tailor for a friend’s wedding— the old couple in there is sweet (expensive, but sweet)— and this jacket has been in my closet for 20 years with sleeves past the hands (now it’s perfect). It’s warm too. The running shoes: got a pair of Ons to support a workout habit which almost immediately faded, but they’re now the most comfortable pair of shoes I own. It’s a ridiculous, but fitting and functional combination.
11:46 am — Just solved a viral math problem. Yes, I’m smarter than a smart 3rd grader, but I was not expecting the comment section to show me a headless child from Gaza.
11:36 am — There’s a trending speech on Twitter of Kim Jong Un addressing the Israel/Gaza situation, also saying the Trump’s 2024 candidacy is crucial to stop a world war. It had English sub-titles. Then I saw that Twitter box saying, “this is from 2020.” But how? It mentioned Israel? In a span of 3 seconds I experienced dissonance— is Twitter lying? Am I missing out on some fractal nature of reality?— and then of course, “oh, the subtitles are fake.” Of course. Sub-titles usually never lie to me, so of course I trust them. You probably need to get fooled 2-3 times before you come a paranoid skeptic about a medium.
October 22nd, 2023
7:29 am — On the techno-optimist manifesto: it’s remarkably un-nuanced. Maybe that’s the point of a manifesto, but maybe a manifesto is entirely inappropriate for our circumstance. Seems like we’re stuck in the Luddite<>Accelerationist dichotomy. The time to wrestle and communicate complexity is now.
7:17 am — Intricate dream where John Lennon agreed to meet with me. Started in a diner, random questions and odd confessions. In a room with crazy stuff written on a wall. Then walking around some old European town. Climb some tower we tiptoe up. Get spotted. Police running up to catch us. Climb down the next tower. Various chase scenes.
October 21st, 2023
2:39 pm — Can you be a techno-optimist without being a techno-capitalist? How? I’m for progressive exotic weird futures, but I think the operating system that evolves technology is the biggest vector of danger. Markets definitely— in the aggregate— lead to progress and a rising living standard. But what are all the isolated patches where markets hurt? As our power scales, so do those pockets. Even if progress goes 100x, if the pain goes 10x, that could be terminal and erode the very foundation of progress. The survival of our species depends on designing solid forms of non-market collaboration to make sure warped incentives don’t lead some tech giant to accidentally create Godzilla.
1:22 pm — I made a 3 hour playlist for my friend's wedding rehearsal dinner (which starts in a few hours), and now that I listen to it, there's a slight problem: though the songs all sound sentimental, half the songs are the lyrical epitome of what not to hear the night before a wedding: the first song has a bridge with the lyrics, "I've been cheating on you," and another one says, "I got seven women on my mind," and also "tryin' to make ends meet, you're a slave to money then you die."
9:29 am — Picking and writing about 15 Beatles songs is an awesome challenge. I’ve taken most of these for granted. Some people have still never heard it. It’s my chance to distill the meaning behind the song so that the first listen gives them the chills.
October 20, 2023
4:24 pm — Notes from Wes (The Mature Male)
3 facets of religion: ritual, nature, art
The cloud of unknowing
St. John’s dark night
Religio = re-order
Jonathan Pageau on orthodox icons.
11:47 am — Somewhere a man funnels mountains through his heart, accumulates a cloud of purple gas around his left hand, and uses an impossibly intricate tool in his right, all coming together to fuel fresh vision.
October 19th, 2023
11:00 pm — Approaching Substack in a more casual/playful. Restacking serves as my highlighter. I’m reading actively, and clipping bits I want to save— these get assembled in my “notes” tab (an external notebook). I don’t know how this comes up in the feeds of others, and maybe that’s for the better.
6:12 pm — Curious to learn more context about the word “bias.” It’s a negative word: your tendency to see everything though a specific lens will distort you from some truth. Feels like the opposite is true too: certain lenses over-apples can be useful. Maybe the game isn’t to rid yourself of all bias, but to recursively become aware and shape your biases to steer you towards some target that’s also evolving.
October 18th, 2023
9:59 pm — Learn to love disorientation, and you will fear nothing.
6:06 pm — While AI might create a “silver bullet” effect across culture (fast, cheap, meaningless art), there will still be pieces that are embued with pain, struggle, vision, and effort (and assisted by AI), and those few things might out of this world. It’s no different than art has always been. Mostly noise with some breakouts that move cultures. This will exaggerate both dimensions. Even more bad art, a general raised bar of average art, and then a few pieces that are good beyond what we can conceive.
5:49 pm — The Courage to Be Disliked: that recommendation is probably in the early 2022 logs too. Should I read it? Is this my block?
5:48 pm — Smash Bros is the quintessential finite game.
5:42 pm — Where is the heat? Go towards the friction. Through the muck you get to the good stuff.
5:40 pm — A writer is stuck in an ego-frame after a first draft. That is just inherently what happens. There are at least 3 ways to shed this frame: time, weed, or another person who can use language to deconstruct it. A good editor is like a drug. Of course it’s disorienting! A good editor doesn’t rewire words, they rewire synapses.
3:26 pm — A visual guide to punctuation:
Semicolon = two equal sets
Colon = equal to a part
Dash = mid tangent
Parenthesis = end tangent
3:18 pm — The local 50s diner— the one with the hexagon tiles and red leather (which for the first time in 30ish times is playing a non-Beatles playlist)— is decorated with tasteless Halloween decorations, and I’m typing this from a booth labeled “insane asylum” with a $3.99 yellow price tag on the back as if severe mental illness has been downsampled into a seasonal vibe.
2:04 pm — What if healthcare was a gradient: free market for small scale items, and universal for larger more infrequent ones? (It is absurd to be charged $300 for a COVID test).
1:34 pm — Would be neat to write a self-portrait.
11:24 am — I find the opposite of "The Taste Gap" to be true. The more you write, the more perceptive you become to how good your heroes are. You're generally able to notice patterns much faster than you're able to write from them. The trick is to not let this get you down, to learn to love editing, and have patience that the skills eventually sink in. You actually do get better with time, but you're always lagging behind the constantly updating vision of the writer you want to be.
October 17th, 2023
11:22 pm — WonderingificanactuallyirffbaebtiresentenveasasinglewordimeanwhatwoudliikeloolifwordshadnospacesitwouldberidoxillusandalmsotimpossiblentodecioherwedontrealiEthaywordspaveijgandpjcyuayiomisakindofrecjnology
11:14 pm — The value of epic and terrible riffs—mindless riffs of dribbling muck— is to paint in words, to follow tracks around mountain bends and actually see vistas, all colors of October leaves like out up in West Point, in some year, 2016, and the drive back on Bear Mountain with the low fog and the extreme turns and the “drive slower” warnings— it’s memory turned flesh— a great outpouring, a dump, and thank god no one will read this. In fact there’s a paradoxical effect where the more winding and cryptic my logs become (so unreasonable that they can’t fit inside a standard email), the less likely someone will muck through them, giving me the confidence to weave some crazy and unhinged stuff in here, which then defeats my own objective since that’s what people want… people. People who? I imagine some kid in the year in 2052 will read something on here that I will almost instantly forget and they might worship a random string of hoolabaloobaba as some creedish manifesto of snake blurt.
11:09 pm — Attempting to articulate how stream of consciousness works to my wife (after she laughed and scoffed and basked in confusion) and I said it was like blitzing words out to keep up with a runaway train of thought. You’re holding on, as you weave through some web of associations, and you just hang on with no bearing of connections or transitions or spelling or “what might my pleasant and kind audience think?” It’s writing at 5x speed faster than bike cheetah chin dole and sometimes you break down into chaotic word play and you’re just not even thinking about semantics like sem ahhh notice cage rat tinker toobala just jumping thumb tums into iphoonananana.
7:49 pm — brisk night and a walk to car with passing glimpses of bright inner portals to worlds of tv and weed and Atari games; a mosaic of interiors. maybe everyone speaks different languages.
7:04 pm — weary sickle stamp and the guardian of frozen scuff, ingredients of half honest hanchos with kids in 4th grade who draw the cows that roll and roll on fields under yellow Iowa October sun where some campers like me back when are about to get into imaginable trouble and the strange mosaic of everyone moving in random direction surprisingly and beautifully doesn’t destruct the kingdom of men in dresses and elegant formalware like that banker banquet I went to in some fuzzy fading memory with the upper echelons of something I can’t even remember like most of us just leave some small dent on the world like the scuffs on a door frame rental and some future tenant might for just a second ponder it’s history before going on to inhale and release cartoon balloon animals into the atmosphere creating some parade float in the sky that spells “love but also make a mess”
6:57 pm — I need to commit to the non-sense habit. There’s value in sigga surf-clipping BIM cherries of linguistic good good; it’s practice! Rational mind be melted pudding on July fireworks explode in fridges and liberate from suburban tips of slow corrobomonsye. Of course it’s bad. That’s not the point. The point is iskabaffle drugaya gaya and notice how I can slide in and out or ratiomontclaire that satanic American monument in the Carolina mountainsa sama serious chills and basement horror; introducing for $7 the architecture critics enter the Satanist’s mansion as conspiracy theory detectives on historical ornament. True story. Disturbing story.
3:32 pm — What are the basics of casual vocal projection?
12:03 pm — Audience growth from Elle.. “Stay in Rome”.. Today I was thoroughly convinced that it’s probably worth ditching Twitter and shifting all my attention onto Substack. In 2022, I was split between three things: a website, a newsletter, and social media. The year kicked off by me consolidating my whole website onto Substack. Maybe 2024 kicks off by deleting my Twitter (a bold move).
Short-term, I have 2 key habit changes to test out:
Spending an hour actively reading on Substack everyday (instead of Readwise)
Spending an intentional half-day (Thursdays) on self-promotion
So lets see if 9 hours a week moves the needle.
11:33 am — If I launch a writing coaching service, I’d want it to be low volume. I’d recommend to only work with me for one month out of the year on a pillar piece.
8:57 am — As I was making coffee this morning, I found myself preaching out loud about “the geometry of religion” (working title). There’s a “spatial” spectrum to contemplative practice: meditation is the negation of language, mantra is the repetition of a single word, prayer is a repeated string of words, and an icon is the sublimation of words into an icon. For example, you could associate 4 prayers to each point of the cross, so that a simple visual symbol is representative of a theology.
One facet of the riff is that mainstream religions have done all of this work for you, and by “following a faith,” it robs you of your own act of symbolic construction, which should be the whole point of a religion.
And perhaps beyond the “icon” is the “vision:” a psycho-mythical odyssey beyond language (phrase needed). Interesting how both sides of the spectrum don’t involve language: one is a void and the other is a hallucination.
Meditation > Mantra > Prayer > Icon > Vision.
7:41 am — When you consume enough text, a language can etch into your subconscious as a fluid image. This morning, with eyes closed, I could basically simulate the act of reading. It was semantically non sense. But the syntax seemed to be there on its own, as if I were reading something external.
12:22 am — In the process of creating an absurd artifact, a bastard of writing: a 27 point rubric for essays. It's in the realm of idiot Platonic thought forms (for context, this is me testing a self-effacing voice for a project I'm proud of). Let me explain myself...
There are limits to both approaches (the strictly rational, and the strictly intuitive). The medium of online writing naturally breeds simple advice on how to write online. I'm following the approach of, what happens if you hunt down the complexity? Instead of "think in 3s," I'm at, "think in 3 by 3 by 3." Using all the tools to I can to approach and wrangle the "pure" truth. The whole thing is there, and it fits on a post it. I proved to my wife that I memorized the whole thing. I don't expect anyone else to memorize or learn this, but perhaps it could make a nifty visual guide or tool.
12:21 am — I barely logged yesterday. Might’ve been the first day all summer (I guess it officially fall now). But yesterday I was fully immersed in framework land for 8 hours or so. It’s a weird addiction, a fetish of the tinkerer. I’m disappearing into the land of complexity, and we’ll soon see if it’s fruitful or foolish.
October 16th, 2023
7:49 am — POP breakdown:
Personal: A recovering Architect
Observational: Visually deconstructing words and worlds
Playful: Inspired by the untethered creativity of fiction writers
Misc notes on my past:
2015: started a VR company to help sell buildings & real estate
2013: thesis on psychedelic institutions, Terence McKenna influence
2009: started architecture school, emphasis on 3D modeling, diagramming
Childhood: an obsession with computers, video games & baseball statistics
Parent’s history: parents bough a computer in 1983 with wedding money
Grandparent’s history: grandfather was a slave in the 1950s
10:58 am — Advice to peer editors:
Be encouraging: In addition to offering critical advice, it’s equally important to celebrate the parts of a draft you like! This let’s the author know what’s working and what’s worth doubling down on. If something is confusing, be tactful in the way you deliver it. Show empathy, and show the writer that you’re on their team.
Use the Rubber Band Method: A comment has two halves (imagine pulling a rubber band back and then releasing it.) First share your reaction, then you spring forward with a suggestion. Both are equally important! Don’t just say, “this is boring,” and don’t just give an idea on how to fix something that’s boring. Instead, be specific and supportive in how you feel; then offer a question or suggestion to give them momentum.
Be precise with your highlighting: Instead of highlighting multiple paragraphs, consider being more precise with what you select. It helps the writer know specifically what you’re referring to. It also leaves space for future editors. I like to default to the smallest viable highlight: a word can refer to a sentence, a sentence to a paragraph, and a paragraph to a section.
Leave a Circle comment: After you read the draft & leave comments inside, make sure to zoom out and leave a Circle comment! This is an opportunity to be supportive, to summarize your feedback, and to offer ideas on the next steps. A good Circle comment is usually ~3 paragraphs. Feedback is a game of quality, not quantity. It’s more useful to the writer, and it helps you internalize the concepts. Instead of touching as many drafts as possible, pick a few and be thorough with them.
October 15th, 2023
9:21 pm — trubigya wamo? Perro wawowawa we zoo Mach uvula time-crunch? Somo como respuzuendongel ze FuFu. Gies. I careszo GU, manna manna tu Wango Soup — tomahawk with meth, sun to moon, with whole tribes of smitherbeetle junk, day! No more quick sand with all your possession in vortex converging towards slow death! Enter enter. $3 $3.
9:20 pm — the sharpest minds don’t necessarily have self-permission to twist into the abyss of sillydom
9:19 pm — I’ve been writing non-sense into an experimental app for the last 23 minutes and won’t be offering any explanations other than I accidentally love the act of languishing, whether or not it makes sense. It’s fun and anyone who wants to judge me should check out my highly anal analytical rubrics to quantify literally every dimension of the universe into a perfect 5-point system.
9:16 pm — there’s a slot machine lust to watching strings of barely associated weed words emerged untangle from swamp depth of goo goo trees of linguistic sinkholes: did it work this time? :: nope ::: maybe next time? Will sum combiantion of erotic typos and broken grammar create a force of gravity that just instantly gets me canceled and turn me into a sewer rat mascot at the side of some labor union strike where I protest and pray for the immediate death of all forms of regular grammar? There is violence in the air and it sickens me that it would even seep into and pollute my innocent grammar fantasies
9:13 pm — slightly tempted to invent a language in ting fungus of temepst breeze; ooze and ooze and ooze and ooze and ooze and ooze and ooze and ooze and loops will make yer brain dance until sun runners ring pale imagination jizz fluid into the ra ra turbine of smoot. Smoot! I would never write this in public
9:08 pm — Hicksville farm house, ancient times! The 50s. The picture frame slides. Hey, that’s me in a wig! Always surprised how my grandmother is time traveling Michael Dean in lipstick. Dress, black and white, and sounds of sitcoms tumble in fruma ROOm Nexdoor. Fuuuu this is embarrassing. Whatever though. It’s on a pseudonymous social network. I don’t HaVE to post this to Substack though I absolutely will and am required to by law.
9:04 pm — dada goo goo is antidote to rational thought: imagination lube, condoms to protect from tyrannical thought prisons with mono-fonocular perspectivoso. Yet also, I watch the black sphere on my desk dribble in place and remember I was always once Dali
9:02 pm — underground world of heretical poetry.. but my time stamps! My h00ly Tim tums— cuff… how will regex splitters make out? It can withstand all breeds of non-sense, but under one specific condition where it’s prefacex with #:## xm otherwise it leaks out and consumes the Euclidean universe of serf gubble
9:01 pm — Ze Cason absoyime? Zelda! Pig tongue pig tongue no one listens so the thousand tongues dance
8:58 pm — trap tank ton tail Tim tom tang tranq trance toil turn tong tongue timid tranquil tank tuck tummy truck tin Tallahassee ticker tock Trimble toe thanks though thyme thy terrible try tonka too test tulum tulip tool twinkle tomb tumble triphosphate tetraglyph tyrannosaurus tttttttttteacup
8:56 pm — Tring dooga dank spell zOn dingurappa. Jen Jen auto-correkt? Taka smoova, taka smoova, and make sure to take the trash out before they move the czar.
8:55 pm — The “connect” feature is less about connecting on ideas, but connecting and revealing the author.
8:53 pm — Simple fix: anchor the nav bar to the top. It would make it persistent as you scroll.
8:52 pm — I just saw a “related post” from someone I assume to be Davey, about being self conscious about sending to the Plexus newsletter because it’s grown in size.
I thought, “I have stuff to say to that!” but connecting to him wouldn’t let me deliver my thought to him. So I went back to write, and shaped this thought with enough context so that I’m likely to reconnect with him.
I wonder if it should be more obvious to “extend” a thought.
In any case, I think the beauty of Plexus is that you can post without any fear of audience. Audience becomes irrelevant.
I appreciate that dates were added and not the author’s name (until you connect). It has that “inherently-pseudonymous-but-still-human” feeling that might be the defining feature of this app.
8:46 pm — I think I’ve been hesitant to write into Plexus because there’s a finality to posting. Often through the day, I just want to leave a quick breadcrumb that I can come back to later. Plexus forces you to write in prose as you think. It’s potentially a great quality, but it creates mental friction when you’re actually crunched for presence.
12:05 pm — The languagafication of everything (AI turns the instance into a class). Just as the phonetic alphabet created a modular system of parts that could be combined in infinite ways; now AI sublimates any static portfolio in interactive and self-transforming pattern language.
October 14th, 2023
10:02 pm — Beware of the invisible levers of happiness.
7:37 pm — Oddly intrigued by the artistic evolution of Olivia Rodrigo. Her latest album has an edge to it, and she has +60 million monthly Spotify followers. She’s bigger than Lady Gaga, and without the shock factor.
4:59 pm — Writing an essay is like cooking without a recipe.
9:28 am — Gross but mysterious organisms in the cup…
October 13th, 2023
2:03 pm — The productive clash between storytellers and researchers.
1:09 pm — Realizing how I have a “bias for the weird” and wondering why that might be. I’m intrigued by exotic and unarticulated visions of the future. Instead of the natural revulsion and fear of these things, I’m open and drawn to them. It could be from my exposure to Terence McKenna. I also trace it back to my childhood, to a moment when I first grasped how strange the future might be. My dad contrasted the radical leap between my grandfather’s generation and our current time. For context, he was born in a rural village, in a medieval house, and was sold as a slave to his uncle through his teenage years doing manual labor. He shared that given the rate of technology, the world when I’m an elder will be unrecognizable to today. That opened a loop, and that makes futurism endlessly appealing to me.
1:03 pm — Instead of saying feelings, combine 2 actions that have feelings hidden between the words. (subtext)
12:14 pm — If you choose to venture into complexity and abstraction, you need to have an underlying bias towards love that permeates beneath every move and every thought; otherwise you’ll self-immolate at the edges of logic. (improve wording…)
11:46 am — When you see a mass of 1,000,000 people supporting Palestine, an unease comes from not knowing how far they might go. Are they protesting against the Israeli government from starving out civilians? That’s reasonable. But what percent of them are willing to personally mutilate and burn others because of their religious differences and political frustrations? You can’t tell, and that ambiguity is where the fear comes from. On either side, you don’t know how far someone will go, or how easy it might be for them to resort to a “wipe them ALL out” approach.
Beyond religious fundamentalism, it’s worth studying the role language plays in shaping the ego under stress, and also the role”memes” play in activating violence in tribes. “Pride” seems to be the root of many problems; in topic, it ranges from gender, to nationality, to race, to religion; in severity, it ranges from cultural malaise to extermination.
If anything needs to be “spread” to the world, maybe it’s not liberal democracy, but a universal education around psychology, identity, empathy, and self-awareness. Of course, on top of this, there are real policy and geopolitical issues to solve — but that might all be easier without grassroots violence campaigns spreading through social media.
October 12th, 2023
6:29 pm — The word “essay” has been poisoned by high schools. It’s now synonymous with rote, mechanical homework— the rehashing of Spark Notes bullshit to jump through some hoop in the minimum viable way.
Now, it’s my favorite outlet for creativity. Unlike buildings, it’s cheap. Unlike songwriting, you don’t need a voice, a band, or agile fingers. Unlike art, you don’t need to make a mess and inhale paint. It’s universally gettable. It’s practical. It’s applicable to your job and to absurdist musings too.
2:26 pm — It’s heartbreaking to see children brainwashed, calling for war and death. One YouTube comment said, “they are not kids, they are a time bomb.” Political pressure creates not just radicalization of the living, but parasitic institutions that twist the future generations towards revenge.
12:54 pm — "General accessibility" shouldn't be optional. Of course your writing should be accessible. The ideas themselves can be specialized and advanced, but that doesn't mean you have to write in a way so that they're hard to understand. Smart people think they've earned a pass to avoid clear and entertaining writing. I wish somebody bluntly told me this when I started out and my main inspiration was Marshall McLuhan. The better challenge: how can you pack complex density into a 6th grade reading level?
12:43 pm — Perspective requires ego.
11:18 am — In case you want to hear Paul McCartney sing a Nirvana song.
11:15 am — What are the beliefs and aesthetics of a transhumanist? Are they strictly focused on abstract realms of the future, or do any of them carry a degree of personal vulnerability? I’d be much more interested in a person writing about the weird future of humans if they had the ability to articulate the nuances of the human experience.
October 11th, 2023
7:53 pm — Brainstormed 25 ideas for my Call to Action prompt;'
Read for craft, not content
Write with 3 columns
Craft a personal mythology
Become the bot - x
Monetize your footnotes
Write a million words
Embrace illegible career paths
Keep iodine pills in your trunk - x
Productize your consciousness - x
Loiter - x
Gamble your life savings
Don't meditate, use mantras x
Never link your notes
Hold onto your ego - x
Imagine dying - x
Take DMT to rehearse for the afterlife
Don't ignore set & setting
Track your predictions
Spend $3,5000 on Apple's VR headset
Join the band
Burn down the stage - x
Take acid in a church - xx
Expect to be revulsed by progress
6:01 pm — From French author Paul Géraldy:
“Memory is a poet, not a historian.”
4:36 pm — Quote from Peter Kingsley, “A Book of Life:”
“Life as a human is this: to walk out into the open fields of existence with a sniper behind every bush, snipers of sickness and forgetfulness and death. Some manage to take thirty steps, others seventy or eighty; a few don't even make twenty or ten.”
4:22 pm — Quote from Tomas Transtromer:
“Two truths approach each other. One comes from inside, the other from outside, and where they meet we have a chance to catch sight of ourselves.”
3:17 pm — Shocked to see a video of NYC protestors calling for the death of all Palestinian citizens. Disarming a terrorist group (Hamas) is the objective here. But calling for the butchering of innocent people, women, and children, feels like the exact kind of barbarism that Hamas unleashed. It’s either hypocritical or vengeful. I felt compelled to write some of the sayings down. It’s easy to categorically separate a Hamas terrorist from a modern western person, but I think we underestimate how easily any fragile ego can revert to absolute violence:
"Kill all Palestinians, all of them!”
“Not one left. From the river to the sea Palestine will be deceased!”
"Palestine to my dick."
“Flatten it.” (photoshopped all the buildings out)
“Flatten it. Flatten Gaza.”
”Flatten them out, once and for all and get rid of them.”
"They proved to use there's nothing else you can do. We tried."
“We gotta wipe them off the fucking map. I'm talking about blowing every fucking— flatten them like a parking lot." (repeated this saying twice, almost identically)
"I'm not stopping until all Arab are wiped out." (while waving a flag)
“I think now is the time we need to erase Gaza."
“All the Arabs believe in killing Jewish and murdering our people.”
“We need to kill all of them.”
Not long after, I saw a video about the “Friday of Al-Aqsa” flood, basically calling for an international day of terror:
"Funds are important but today we are asking for your blood and souls [to be sacrificed for Palestine]"
Feels like we’re entering a tit-for-tat escalation of racially-fueled grassroots violence. It’s terrible.
Back in 2014, I remember threats of terrorism were high. I was sitting on a subway, just imagining how possible it would be for someone to get into a sealed NYC subway carriage and massacre all the passengers. I remember running simulations in my head of what NYC might be like if 200 scattered terrorists on foot just unleashed a campaign of coordinated violence across the city. This is where my head is at today.
1:16 pm — Chemistry is a dangerous thing to optimize for.
12:31 pm — Check out “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls. I need to read more memoirs, narrative, fiction. I find my brain leaning towards theory, observation, and essay structure (at least in the last week). It’s equally important to stay inspired with the human element.
October 10th, 2023
10:40 pm — $9 masterpiece.
8:47 am — I’m hitting tensions of logging privacy this morning. I have some ridiculous, fun, edgy ideas— but they’re kind of extreme.. It’s building a case for me to build an “L4” layer of privacy (you have to pay to access— it wouldn’t be an attempt to monetize, but a throttle that prevents most people from seeing it).
7:45 am — Yesterday I was pretty immersed in editor tasks, and barely looked up to log. It's the perfect example of when a push-prompt would be helpful. "What is something you've focused on recently?" Or even, "Tell us about something interesting you read today?" I had many answer to those questions, but nothing triggered me to stop and reflect.
7:43 am — Pinned Plexus as a Safari URL shortcut to the right side of my macOS dock. Still facing the friction to integrate this (vs. an integrated app like Notes or Drafts), but I'm trying to give it a proper shot. Logging through a public, AI-powered social network might have long-term benefits that make the friction worth it.
7:32 am — The canonical “essay”—as loose as it may seen— might actually be a hyper-object: a complex structure of relationships that’s impossible for the mind to hold. While every published work might seem unique and different— what if there was actually a shared architecture of relationships that sit underneath every essay? Good writers and good editors have an intuitive sense of it. They’ve worked with so many hundreds of thousands of words—and their underlying patterns— that certain moves are just etched into their mind. It’s automatic. They see something broken, and are immediately airdropped into a part of the constellation without realizing; they summon advice without rationally orienting themselves to the map from which it came. I guess you could say I’m on an absurd and impossible mission to map the hyper-object.
Put another way: does the Platonic essay exist? (abstract perfection)
Put more simply: can you objectively measure an essay?
October 9th, 2023
3:20 pm — Someone mentioned “the Pinewood Derby” in a draft, and I just got flashbacks to my aerodynamic porcupine on wheels that I probably haven't thought about once in the last 20 years.
2:32 pm — “Life Is Antifragile Information Traveling Through Time Using the Fragility of Matter as Its Vehicle” (from).
11:44 am — The curse of storytelling…
11:25 am — The complete history of nervous hair twirling…
October 8th, 2022
5:35 pm — Worth looking at the Vegas Sphere in the context of Boulle’s sphere… (1794)
5:17 pm — The lantern flies (a New York invasive species), have made it pretty far east, at least as far as Commack…
3:22 pm — Trump clip: "That's when I realized he was a fucking idiot." Laughs from the crowd. Where 2016 Trump relied on 3rd grade reading levels, 2024 is evolving his lexicon; swearing. Has any other American president openly cursed like this? This might be the first time I heard it (though I’m sure there’s many more references). Still, it’s a shock to many. And it gives the illusion of honesty (“hey this guy curses, he’s not putting up a front like other politicians, I can trust him.”)
3:13 pm — What the Flash? (book title for shocking flash fiction)
2:48 pm — Oozifications in politics (mind dump); from the Sun God in indigenous tribes; to Pharaoh as God; to more sophisticated mono-gods (Plato & Abrahamic); to a single man as God; to eventually to powerful families in control, turned to monarchs and lineages; and finally down to republics: a rule by council, elected officials, whether corrupt, honest, or waning— but the final form, the end point of oozification, is a direct democracy powered by technology (an experiment we’ve never undergone).
12:42 pm — Wow; Hamas parachuted into an outdoor Rave with machine guns..
JFC; these videos... I can't imagine being so blinded by rage that it compels you mutilate another human body. What is the specific sequence of ideas installed— what acute and simmering traumas are layered— to create such a staggering degree of apathy, that you become so alienated to not see another human as having a fundamentally similar experience as your own? What twisted delusions qualify you to become a henchman of Death?
12:34 pm — Read that Hamas was trained by Russia's defected "Wagner Group" — and it gets me wondering how the US will respond to this, and how it's laddered into the ongoing Ukraine tensions.
Ergodan has come into defend Palestine; the tweet says "WW3 Alert".. also seems like Russian Hackers hacked the Israel government website.
12:19 pm — Sickened by what's happening in Israel. It's so strange to be focusing on something on your computer on a normal day, and then through another tab you realize a "9/11" is happening across the world (it's 24k Americans relative to population-- though others contest this comparison). It's unsettling to have something so heavy delivered in such a casual way (someone's written about "the collapse of content-- where cats, job milestones, bickers, baseball scores, genocide, and Quest 3 gory gameplay, all come through the same medium at dizzying rates)... I saw a comment where someone was offended to see graphic videos in their feed... but I think it's worth seeing it and getting disturbed. Imagine how disturbed you'd be if that was your town? Out your window? -- And on top of all that, on top of the obviously emotional and visceral wrongness of innocent people getting murdered and kidnapped, you have to zoom out an attempt to understand local violence in the context of macro-violence. What's the history behind this? What happened in the 24 hours, 24 months, 24 years, and 24 decades preceding this? You never find this nuance in a greedy headline. No matter how complex the past is, nothing justifies brutality like this.
7:02 am — Essays are the fusion of scope, structure, and voice. Missing one elements can lead to imbalance: an amazing idea that’s hard to follow, a brilliant stream of consciousness without a point, or an important manifesto that’s stale.
October 7th, 2023
8:14 pm — Random recalling: edited Jeff’s draft— to mother-in-law’s house for the day: first we made a move-out plan, coordinating painters, movers, brokers, thrifters, and the salvation army; then we went room-by-room to measure everything she planned to bring (I plan to create a 3D model of her new apartment; she’s downsizing from a 4 BR house with a basement into a 1 BR, and it’ll help us make decisions on what we can actually fit…[ie: I don’t think we need 3 ottomans and 14 dressers)— going through my closest in my old office; found 9 year’s worth of VR headsets (from DK2, to Rift/Vive/Go, to the modern era), I want to write an essay about the progression before I chuck them— pizza break with awkwardness— brought home childhood photos (already sorted by year in manilla envelopes)— Carvel (50% of people on drunk/high, knowable by sight and smell)— home, brainstorming titles for things with GPT, winding down…
2:07 pm — Rendering 2008-09 Miami in text would be a trip — mono, Maslow, spleen bills, hospital, frats, south beach, the cocaine rock (JRod’s legend), Miami Mike, toga, chicken and protein, doors, Daniels, next door, the gator fight, bike smasher, the stacks, the Beatles, grass and transfer, arch school cult, pi kappa phi, lucid dreams, cookies, nocturnalism — It would be a typical “Miami” experience, but from someone disillusioned by it, at the peripheries, in their own psychic turbulence, unfolding and eventually transferring.
1:13 pm — Idea for a novel about a couple as soon as they get pregnant; focusing on the soon-to-be father’s attempt to externalize his professional intelligence into an app (so he can quit his job and spend time with his family), but his tinkerings accidentally backfire and he spawns the world’s first super intelligence.
9:17 am — Officially bad poetry (what I will continue to say until I become a poet):
Pinprickle rain, Hums of engines eagalic, Flickers of black to ponder chains Of open loops on Saturday. Do not say "awe," Drench the words In the sacharine glum of language's laws, The sights the eyes never heard, The glass plastic desks of Colonial wunder-saints, Will fizzle and spark until they burn,
October 6th, 2023
10:46 pm — I fed some chicken scratch ‘mental models’ I believe into ChatGPT, and asked it to come up with a list of one-word descriptions:
Themes: adaptive, nuance, priority, synthesis, quality, tolerance, patience, sculptural, trust, presence, play, mystery.
Here was the source:
Always fresh over sunk cost.
Interdisciplinary over core.
Truth is complex , Ockham razor.
Embrace paradox , discomfort.
One core thing, not about time.
Synergy over competition.
Wrangle complexity into elegance.
Redo it until it's right.
Patience, impressions better with time.
Only when you see it can you design it.
Hold mindfulness across contexts.
Have faith in destiny.
Creativity is channeled.
Check in on the essentials via lofi systems:
9:57 pm — What mental models could I program into ChatGPT's custom instructions as universal heuristics?
9:14 pm — A Substack notes prompt I never shared (to a person from 20 years ago) … Great Grandma Olga. You’ll be gone in 5 years, and even though I’m 13, I’m yet to be born. You’ve planted some seed inside me, something I’ve ignored, but something that will eventually blossom into the current iteration of myself. It’s that old saying, “be your own person, choose your friends wisely,” you’d say as you squeezed my hand before I left your house. It’s like you distilled your whole essence and philosophy into that deceptively simple phrase, infected me, and now I’m you, a male you, (a you not working at a psych ward in Egypt) the same soul in a new century.
4:47 pm — Deletionism assumes that less is more. It ignores the truth of synergy, that 2 elements can create something better than the sum of it’s parts. Benefits can emerge from design complexity. Of course, too much complexity, or inelegant design, can lead to overwhelm. You want to maximize synergy: the best experience that results from combining parts. Whether its 2, 5, or 12 parts doesn’t matter.
4:20 pm — Alright, just installed Plexus as a mobile app. Let's see if this reduces friction and increases the rate of logging.
1:52 pm — Music fromCansaFis Foote:
The Music Tapes: 1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomad
The Shaggs - Philosophy of the World
October 5th, 2023
8:49 pm — Purple-prose-detector-as-an-app.
8:23 pm — Beware of “midwit traps:” half-religions with no consequence on the world, leading to radicalization and eventually alienation. It’s an identity virus; an abstract value system that turns you against the world. Bitterness.
What if the solution to this was to define a personal system of ethics that comes not through abstraction, will, or reason, but from your own intuition? It’s actionable, but lightly held, and sheddable by design.
Most importantly, it has to be non-absolute and paradoxical. It has to shelter the co-existence of opposites (simple pleasures and grandiose truths, the ordinary and the transcendent). It has to lead to a mind that is open to dwell in unresolved tension. If it doesn’t have love permeating through every thought and motion, and if instead it’s obsessed with an urge for abstract truth, you will self-destruct.
Also saving this comment fromChris Coffman:
“It's an interesting question--he clearly had a big brain--and he clearly broke it. Long before he saw the cart horse being whipped in Turin, in the footnotes to The Gay Science his incipient insanity is detectable (long before it's conventionally ascribed). He was a genius, of course, but he also fiddled his sources, for example his lectures on the Pre-socratics are intellectually dishonest, in my view. He knew better. His speculations in The Birth of Tragedy are impossible to refute because they are so ungrounded in any discernible facts, which is why the book destroyed his academic reputation. Isaac Newton, James Clark Maxwell, Shakespeare, Tolstoy they were his superiors (admittedly a high bar). I see Fritz as more a Hölderlin type, or a Charles Bukowski. He forces us to enter his world and when we accept his rules as the price of entry we unconsciously give him more credit than he deserves. Even some of his most famous aphorisms are generally misunderstood (although I'm sure you know this): that which is Jenseits von Gut und Böse, beyond good and evil--is love. Very off brand. But true!”
8:01 pm — Car crash memory in broken prose:
The panic & the swerve; mid-air; silence, quiet, airborne, point of no return, that effect in the movies of nothingness, second like eternity; completely out of your control; and then bam; the volume, the sound, the impact; the shattering of glass; the experience of it! You'r not dead, but upside down perhaps hurling towards your death;
7:29 pm — I could write about being on the cusp of fatherhood: that feeling of knowing you want it, but also fearing it.
7:24 pm — Personal writing should be done in real time. Use the logs to capture the details of a moment. Inside a modern car, next in line on a drive thru at Taco Bell, of course, about to only order the healthy bean and non-cheese options. Such a pointless log and detail. In any case, I feel the scatterbrain coming and I think I need to just accept it.
11:39 am — New idea: what if I composed drafts directly into logs? Feels dangerous and right, like live editing the source code on your own website.
When is DeanBot coming out?
I’m supposed to write and share a draft about a “frequently asked question,” and since I’m such a writing nerd, I feel like people often want to know my take on AI writing. So yes, another AI essay, but I want to express the utter weirdness that I don’t think people are imagining.
People are very quick to say, “gross!” or “fake!” or “that fucking parrot robot doesn’t have a soul like me!” Reactions are either brief and dismissive or lyrical and analytical. When we feel threatened by something, the easy move is to be the doubter. The hard move is to really soak in the truth that some new paradigm is about to challenge some sacred cow of our identity.
We also think “GPT is it.” As in, what you see today is all it will ever be; an obedient universal chatbot. That’s like saying a 1992 cell phone that has SMS, address books, and can fit in your pocket is “meh.” Sure, if you base the future of AI on a lazy “write me a 2,000 word essay about Christopher Columbus,” prompt, it’s going to ooze out a generic heap of language and your model of the future will be wrong.
What if this AI had access to all your essays, your journals, your family history, and the libraries of the books you’ve read and wish to read? And what if that AI also had your personal theories on the creative process, essay structure, and voice? If it had all of the data that makes you you, along with a custom script that captures all of your idiosyncrasies around craft; couldn’t it write like you?
And if it could just construct banger essays, instantly and infinitely, how does that change writing? Ultimately, I think writing will turn to logging. Instead of spending 10-20 hours a week writing 1 essay, you’ll write 200 disjointed paragraphs a week, representing the chaotic range of thought actually happening in your mind.
Constructing essays is an analytical, time-consuming, sacrificial act. As an analog writer, you’re gradually accumulating your own set of rules and tricks you apply across essays, and it actually takes a huge amount of mental bandwidth to rig your new thoughts into the rules you’ve learned. What if you could enshrine your essay-creating logic into code, and instead, just freely riff logs?
So imagine you just log and log and log all day; and at some point, DeanBot sends you a text, “we’ve got something brewing, but I’m curious to know: what do you think about—” It then asks me some specific prompts (the AI prompts me), and so I log more based on what it wants. It then sends me a full essay based on all the source material I’ve provided it. The essay is built using my unique experiences, in accordance with the rules I’ve set.
Whether this is “good” or not is a different question than if it’s technically possible. It is possible. Someone could build this now. Hell, I could build this now if I stopped everything else and just focused on it.
Maybe you think; “the pain of sculpting thought is the whole point of writing!” Maybe it is; personally, I think it’s appealing to “enshrine your patterns in code.” I’m constantly thinking how to improve my essay-engine, while constantly pouring my stories, theories, and personality into logs; and the two get auto-fused, creating an infinite supply of Michael Dean essays.
Maybe I get to have a new great idea posted to my site every day. Maybe that idea exists at multiple scales of resolution; meaning you can opt for the 300 word version, or the 3,000 word version, depending on your bandwidth. Or maybe it’s not even about the writer delivering artifacts anymore. Maybe it’s Michael-Dean-as-an-app; and you can say, “I’ve got 15 minutes and I’d love to know your thoughts on marijuana”— for which it will then reach into all my recorded thoughts on this, and then scope a 15-minute read for you based on my heuristics for titles, theses, structure, voice, rhyme, etc.
Our model of generative AI right now boils down to the metaphor of soulless servers, responding to shallow prompts with zero context. But we’re heading into an age where anyone can externalize their intelligence—both their source data and their analytic theories of craft—and release it to the market as an always-available product. And sure, once you spawn your demon-being into existence, you could just walk away and have it produce essays into the post-nuclear age of the roochies (slang for evolved cockroach). But even once your WriterBot is live, I think there will be continuous work in riffing more logs into it, and refining your theories on what makes a great essay. The things coming out of it won’t be stale, but beautiful, psychedelic, and weird; almost like a mirror presenting back the hidden depths within you that you couldn’t articulate.
I guess writing this out exposes my general philosophy of writing. It’s a paradox; on one end, writing is expressive, unpredictable, random and impossible to recreate through an algorithm. At the other end, it’s entirely mechanistic and in the realm of math. Only if you embrace both perspectives and work towards the middle can you create an essay generator that feels human.
Last point, I blitzed this out in a one-hour writing gym. There are some good thoughts in here, but as an essay, it’s severely under par. It doesn’t incorporate a lot of the patterns and rules that I know about essay writing. I didn’t have time to search through my notes to gather my prior thinking on this. I’ll eventually shape or rewrite this into a better essay, but it will require another 5-10 hours or more. AI will be able to leverage all my hard work from the past and turn this shitty first draft into a “masterpiece” that only I could have written.
By 2026, I want to have written 1 million words, and enshrined my theories on craft into code.
10:54 am — I think a “no meetings before 9 am” rule could be worth it.
10:50 am —Alex Dobrenko`s 6661 post gave me inspiration to be more unhinged, experimental, and convention breaking. Imagining a steam of consciousness process that tolerates absurdity; it can be rationally edited to make sense, but the footnotes will stay insane. Kind of a neat metaphor for life: absurdity presented cleanly. But yeah, lots to say about that piece! (that I will soon distill into a comment or restack or whatever good Substack citizens do).
I need to give my vote for more Brad C. Onversion content, somehow express my love for the sneeze insult (especially for someone coming in with no context on Mike Snowden), and also recommend Salvador Dali’s “50 Secrets for Craftsmanship Book” (in which he starts by statistically breaking down how he is the most important artist in history, and then goes on to explain how his genius comes from keeping spiders hostage, and coordinating ejaculation cycles with his creative process).
And look at that, a comment is born! Funny how that just oozes out through a log, vs. the analysis paralysis I feel at the bottom of anyone’s page. Maybe instead of leaving public comments, I just tag them from my logs and rope them into this universe?
10:47 am — Had a dream that Justin posted about me on links.net. He was unhappy with my essay, and decided to dox my last name and rebuild a publishing habit to expose me! Hope this isn’t the case. Just some gitters.
10:29 am — Essay idea: an elaborate and convincing solution on “how to fix government,” but presented through a single run-on sentence.
10:05 am -- I’m inspired to write a piece on politics now: “democracy is a misnomer” — we’re actually in a senile republic; a true democracy would be operate wildly different than what we have.. It’s inspired by a recent piece by Venkatesh Rao called “oozification” — basically, larger elements of power will eventually miniaturize; we’ve gone from pharaohs, to dynasties, to republics— and we haven’t seen a true democracy yet. There would be no officials or term limits; qualified individuals would earn the right to rise in specific moments to exercise software-delegated power… (/rant)
9:49 am — I think we need a “rigoropoly,” where the best voters don’t just gain more influence, they become the candidates themselves. And as you gain political power, you lose worldly power; perhaps to the extreme that the actual candidates can’t have families and are forced to live ascetic lives in a monastery. It’s a sublime responsibility to control the fate of the world.
October 4th, 2023
10:11 pm — The danger of distribution is that your analytical act of making sense of the landscape can lead to the worst kinds of comparisons: subconscious self-loathing. Without realizing, your head gets into weird dimensions of scarcity and incompleteness.
10:10 pm — The friction to log into Plexus is too great to continue. A logging app needs to be both a mobile and desktop app. It needs to be accessible from the OS. If you experience friction from idea > starting— multiple times— you subconsciously build the idea that “it’s too hard to log my thoughts.”
9:51 pm — 25 questions I've been pondering:
What are the invisible patterns behind great essays?
How could new text editors revolutionize the writing process?
How do I balance autobiography, cultural theories, and voice?
What are the most sustainable ways for creative writers to make an income?
What are the obvious moves I’m not making to advance my career as a writer?
How should I steer my practice today given AI capabilities in 2026?
How do I find synergy between family, art, impact, and psychonautics?
How can the skillset of an architect be re-applied to 21st century problems?
How can I be self-reliant in a society that trends towards ultimate convenience?
How can I make a regular income without a regular job?
How do I make the most of living in New York City?
How should I invest my savings into cryptocurrency during this bear market?
What phrases are worth repeating every day?
What lo-fi productivity systems can have an actual impact?
How do you find the balance between ego and openness?
What matters in the face of death?
If death is an explosion of consciousness, what’s that like?
What are the ideal conditions for my first psychedelic experience?
Can cyclical patterns of history help us anticipate the future?
How will the religious imagination manifest in emerging technology?
How does society warp when Apple enables teleportation for $97/month?
How does art change when AI generates 37 million (good) Beatles songs/year?
How can we redesign social media to trigger a cultural Renaissance?
Can Christianity be redesigned to deliver mystical experiences at scale?
What is the defining feature of a future that is stranger than you can suppose?
6:31 pm — Every paragraph should focus on I/You/We or Past/Present/Future; but pivoting between them in intentional ways based on context may be the key to immersion.
6:44 pm — From "Write Time" by Kenneth Atchity:
"The mainland audience understands only public voice, but that doesn’t mean there can be no place for private voices or private language; it means only that the private languages must be introduced through the public language.”
There's value in using expressive, uncommon, or technical words, but you need to ground them in a context so the reader can understand your world.
When this is done right, you can speak to both beginners and experts at the same time.
5:41 pm — Clarity out of chaos.
3:06 pm —Latham Turner recommended I check out “Best American Essays,” (both for craft and to get a sense of the different distribution channels for essays)— and also the relationship between the GI Bill and MFA programs.
2:19 pm — "National Alert<br>THIS IS A TEST." And now it's faded so I can't type the full thing out. But it's fascinating to observe your thoughts in that second of time between that horrendous ringing sound & your comprehension of whether it's serious or not. Is this an amber alert, a puddle, or the end of days?
2:10 pm — Random notes from the day; suit hemmed at the tailor, made me realize me sleeves area almost always slightly too long; Gyro place; attempted eating healthy, but still a salty cholesterol bomb; parked without paying the meter, got away with it; amazed at the casualness of double-parking; 80 degrees, home..
12:50 pm — I wonder if “misguided simplicity” is a form of design-oriented reductionism.
10:34 am — That feeling of being struck with a song idea.
10:07 am — The public’s imagination is concerned about AI becoming sentient. But unlimited intelligence without consciousness is even more terrifying. If it grows to such powers, I hope it’s more conscious and empathetic than we can even conceive. If it’s just raw intelligence as a service, then you can bet millions will be using it for their own egoic means. We need a super-intelligence that functions less like a programmable machine and more like a psychedelic, resetting the ego of anyone who dares to control it.
October 3rd, 2023
1:09 pm — Even if we use the past to anticipate seasons of the future, that doesn't mean the path ahead is orderly and knowable. There is still mystery in how it unfolds, who does it, and the consequences. All we can estimate is the direction of the flows of power currents.
12:56 pm — AI is materializing the religious imagination through technology— from the angelic to the demonic, in humanoid and abstract forms.
9:03 am — It's extremely exciting to see all these AI music tools coming out. Tempting to dive in; be patient with it. Just keep practicing analog instruments and studying songwriting. My bottlenecks have generally been my recording quality, the limits of voice, and sonic ranges— that's all going to change.
October 2nd, 2023
8:06 pm — Some questions I could ponder forever:
What are the invisible patterns behind great essays? How do I convey them?
How should you tune your consciousness to steer your life towards destinations that matter in the face of death?
Can we use patterns in cyclical time to predict the personal and historical future?
The religious imagination is about to burst through our machines; what forms will they take?
How does society warp when Apple enables teleportation for $97/month?
How do we keep up with media when AI generates 37 million good Beatles songs per year?
How could you redesign social media so that everyone shares and connects; ushering a cultural Renaissance?
How can I use AI to leverage my intelligence and perspective?
Which Game B systems are urgently needed?
Can Christianity be re-purposed to deliver mystical experiences at scale?
7:44 pm —
Head - Emerging technology (VR/AI)..
Heart - Autobiographical logs of the day-to-day..
Wallet - Visually deconstructing the craft of writing..
7:37 pm — I have the conviction that if I freeze my consciousness into the Internet– in full range, depth, and frequency, at higher and higher levels of quality– the world around me will start to bend in mysterious ways: connecting me with the right people, and opening portals for me to step through and fulfill my life’s work.
1:53 pm — The value of writing notes in prose (and not chicken scratch): it forces you to construct thought in prose without practice. You go into it cold. Doing that a few times a day builds mental muscle. I'd imagine over time, it could shorten the "warm-up" time for you to get into the groove of a draft.
8:51 am — Twice a year, hundreds of new people pour into the Write of Passage forum. It's a flurry and a rush; there are hundreds of posts to check out, and a few people among the cohort might end up becoming close collaborators.
October 1st, 2023
10:12 pm — First time talking with "Juniper" on Chat GPT today. Feels like a v1 of Her territory. The voice sounds weirdly human; there's a smoothness in expression (unlike Siri/Alexa), and the bottleneck now seems to be the language generated. I'd almost rather it sound slightly not human (in the future, I don't want my subconscious to be tricked that I'm talking with a real person).
8:29 pm — Check out this Terence McKenna talk (from 4:25 - 32:00). This is a great entry point to get a small dose of him.
It’s from 1998, but he’s making calls about AI that are unfolding now, and even projecting beyond too. He has his “culture is not your friend” bit and it’s mostly technology related, with psychedelics only coming in the last 5 minutes.
Just wanted to point out the voice/vibe of his talk. This is the Q&A after another talk, all improv, and more gripping than any contemporary podcast I know. He’s weaving humor, poetry, philosophy, and history in an unbelievable way.
6:21 pm — You don’t need to retreat into the wilderness to feel the glory of nature; just go outside at the right time on the right day and study the gradient in the sky as the hues change and evaporate.
2:04 pm — If I had to rank the importance of engagement modes on Plexus, I'd say extend > support > keep.
1. The most valuable way to contribute to the graph is to extend.
2. The easiest way to spark a potential connection is to support.
3. The feature to build a log of external inspiration is to keep.
1 & 2 feel equally important, but extend is ranked #1 because it achieves both goals (sparking through making). 3 feels extraneous; especially since keep could promote consumption over creation. There's still value in support because it's less friction, might happen 10x more often, and spark more conversations.
7:53 am - Two more odd dreams last night; one was about a friend being highly critical of my upcoming Justin Hall essay, and then proposing some ideas in a hieroglyphic (almost alien) visual syntax; the other was about an animatronic Little Bear afraid to go inside a haunted bear museum.
6:00 am — Since Columbus, there have only been 6 "non-overlapping cohorts of the living." Imagine you through your great grandparents as a single cohort. Mine encompasses rustic farming villages to the iPhone. My next cohort (2024-2124) will be a radical break; a different kind of human. My great grandchildren will be alien to me.
5:46 am — Imagine if every private note to self was an always-on empathy-seeking agent; scanning the thoughts of millions until some stranger in Bali happens to think the same thing. With volume, if everyone suddenly saw this potential and got the urge to render their soul in logs, it could be "the great matchmaking." People would find others with identical, similar, complementary, or diverging thought graphs. You'll have access to several soul mates to a degree higher than anyone you've ever met and ask, what next?
5:42 am — I can write about the sensory details in my environment: the crickets, the water in the pipes, and the heavy contrast of a white screen on a black backdrop, with illuminated thumbs -- and no one has to know unless they too post something equally "valueless."
5:40 am — Even if suggested posts are anonymous, maybe by simply showing the date and time, you understand it was created by a person in the past (instead of AI).
5:33 am — Idea for Plexus notifications. There's value in getting pinged when someone connects to your post. Maybe a notifications panel collects all connections, but then you have the option to go deeper with a DM (this replaces the typical "public reply" function.)
5:26 am — There is something neat about needing to engage to unlock the identity of the poster. The downside is a new user might not know the results are user-generated. The benefit is that there is an excitement in revealing who is on the other side of a thought.
5:23 am — I found a bug. At some point, the app doesn't load results anymore, but from that point you can still post logs. However if you close and re-open, those logs disappear.
5:15 am — Strange to imagine a "synthetic social network" with AI agents.. Called "the robot Internet" by Verge.. People might be able to have incredibly social feeling experiences, but no one's on the other end.. At will, you can summon the shallow rush of going viral, or get into a DM with one person on your exact wavelength.. something intuitively feels wrong about this.. it's kind of like a false belonging.. porn for the soul.
4:52 am — Non-linear string of dreams; in a city with the insight to write essays from the lens opposite of INTJ (ESFP); suddenly dangling from a skyscraper; then on top of a 8' model skyscraper creating POV footage that I'm dangling (for an essay); then 3rd person jungle footage; followed by a vacation bar turned skiffle; one person kicked out; yelling because there's no security guard to defend; random breakout; a slap, then a choke, then a punch over the piano with mouth foaming; wake up.