Literary Themes

A major symbolic theme is that fear of darkness or evil or death is not necessarily bad. In fact, it is our fear of these things that make them so.

Satan, the devil, darkness— these are necessary. We must not run away from them. We must confront them, even accept them. In this, transformation occurs.

The things we’re taught to fear, the unknown, darkness, evil— they’re not necessarily bad. Our fear of them is.

They are entirely necessary for growth, for our evolution and metamorphoses.

That’s a quality I try to seek out in others. I respect others that acknowledge conventional fears and limits, within them or society, but choose to march onward, to act and live in spite of them. Try new things, be something new, different. Explore the unknown, the unfamiliar. There are no limits. It’s all in your imagination.

The world exists as a projection of the accumulated stories we tell ourselves, that we learn from others, society, family. These stories are nothing more than that: stories. Fictional narratives. Amendable, fluid.

That’s the aim of art: to guide humanity to higher truths— universal truths, incommunicable truths, that must be experienced. Art is a metaphor for truth. There is no higher truth than metaphor.

Archetypes grasp these transcendental truths, these metaphors of man.

god is within

The fact that we have an infinite consciousness, a consciousness that allows us to perceive anything in the imagination, is quite fucking incredible, and special.

What is the flame that lights the interiors of the mind, that shines awake moments of conscious awareness?

What is god? fuck if i know. But there is a fire inside living things, and it burns especially bright in humans. We transpose something from nothing. Ideas materialize from the recesses of our imagination, spring into the world as if spoken by god. We do that. We create.

As far as I’m concerned, god is within each man, that which cannot be spoken, that which illuminates the darkness, that which gives rise to life.

The flame is there, and it unites all men who kindle it within themselves, who acknowledge it in others.

But it doesn’t always shine bright, and its often obscured by apish impulse.

Forever Fools

Forever suspended in this little void of the universe,
this valley in space separated by abysmal folds of darkness,
floating on this mote of dirt,
this churning orb of atmosphere and magma,
sprinkled with crystallizations of moving matter,
dustings called life,
confined to the prism of our meaty mind,
forever condemned to wrestle with the infinite gaze of consciousness,
and the finite fixation of our permanent place as frail fools.

The Master and Margarita by Mikail Bulgkov Chapter 3: The Seventh Proof

I found this to be a brilliant scene/ chapter. The first chapter begins with an introduction into the scene and setting, and the two main characters, literary editor Berlioz and homeless poet Ivan Ponyrev. Homeless Poet has submitted a piece on the trial of Jesus Christ, and editor Berlioz is chastising him on the story, and why Jesus is not real, and why he needs to alter the story to ensure that Jesus is portrayed correctly.

There are some foreboding or foretelling elements and mentions that are easy to miss at first read. The main characters are trying to sort out this fellow they just met, the Professor, who is making wild and outlandish remarks and surreal claims, and so they initially write him off as a crazy person. This makes sense, and as a reader, you try to reconcile what’s real and what’s perceived, and what’s magic or some other mystical phenomenon.

Chapter two is a sudden departure from the main plot with a story told by the main antagonist, the Professor (the devil), detailing his encounters with Jesus (he claims to know Jesus, to have been there during his trial with Pontius Pilot). Not coincidentally, this scene could and might very well in fact be the very scene written by the poet Homeless for a submission that editor Berlioz is lecturing him on.

Chapter three resumes the plot, in which the primary characters suspicions continue to rise. It’s not until the very end of chapter three when Berlioz dies a gruesome and sudden death do you realize that there is more to this story. The antagonist is not just a regular person, nor is he crazy. His nonsensical remarks are transformed from lunacy to prophecy and powerful prediction.

Up until this point, the main characters act as any reasonable person would when meeting a strange fellow who makes bold and outlandish claims. The narration proceeds with them trying to sort out who this fellow is, and humor him. As the professors remarks become more and more eerie and uncomfortable, Berlioz does what most concerned citizens would do, and decides to head to the police and report this man.

What is most fascinating is that there are these slightest elements that shed light on the actual situation.

The main characters are debating the veracity of Jesus Christ. Homeless Poet Ivan wrote a piece on Jesus that was satirical, and the editor Berlioz was critiquing him, lecturing him on how Jesus never existed, that he wasn’t the son of god, and so on, and Homeless listened intently.

What’s most interesting (in hindsight) is that the author made special mention that Berlioz has some type of psychotic episode just as they sat down on a bench (though its not immediately apparent the nature of the episode, just that its powerful and leaves Berlioz feeling very, very strange), right before he resumed his lecture on story of Jesus. It was right after this mention that an apparition appeared in the form of the antagonist, who the author would call the devil.

While speaking with Ivan and Berlioz, the professor/devil makes mention that the poet Homeless has been institutionalized for schizophrenia. It’s a small but important mention that is critical for the plot.

We don’t know the narrator, or where he got his facts from, but after Berlioz dies, and the poet is the only remaining protagonist, we must ask ourselves whether Berlioz actually saw the strange/professor/devil/antagonist, or whether this episode was all imagined in the poet Homeless’s schizophrenic imagination, and if in fact he was having a schizophrenic episode provoked by Berlioz’s adamant lecture on the falsity of the character Jesus.

I’m only a third of the way through the book, but the complexity of the narrative, and the psychological threading of these themes and subtle plot elements, is quite incredible. There are so many symbolic messages sprinkled throughout.

What happens when a man rejects the idea of Jesus, when he dismisses the veracity of Christianity, which has served as the entire foundation of western civilization, and provided a sociological structure in which humanity hangs and balances an individual’s psychology, allowing a proper and moral orientation of conscious experience?

I find it bold and brilliant that the author uses Berlioz to illustrate this point, and his death to symbolize the ramifications of rejecting societies religion, which can be argued serves as the fundamental basis of sanity, and maintaining a stable socio-psychological disposition.

I can’t say enough how awe inspired I am by the author (Mikhail Bulakov).

PC culture is killing truth

Also— holy shit. My creative writing class has been eye opening. The biggest eye opener is how fuckin PC our culture is.

It may just be the Bay Area, but my god. We spend half the class reading student workshop submissions

Everyone is so PC. “Those stereotypes are offensive and won’t work”

“You should consider sending it to a PC editor when you’ve completed it to ensure you’re not offending anyone and you’re respecting everyone’s cultural sensitivities.”

It’s like… tense.

The class is “turning personal narratives into fiction”

I’m like. Back off! It’s their story! Stop being so sensitive!

It’s crazy… I feel uncomfortable at how tense it can get when people point out things that they are offended by

“There’s too much gender stereotyping happening in this piece.”

I feel like such a douche, a white privileged enemy of the people, being lashed by their suspicious eyes as I try to provide a contrasting opinion, and tell the author that the stereotypes worked, that the humor relies on stereotypes, that you can leverage stereotypes to illustrate how inaccurate they are…

Haven’t been near a classroom in 5 years, and the last one I was in was in the Bible Belt as a fairly conservative school, when you compare to other schools on the west or northeast coasts

Has been eye opening. It’s ironic, because it leads to censorship. It’s weird. Bizarre.

You can’t say that.

You can’t think that.

That’s offensive.

It’s not okay.

No matter if it’s how you feel or what you think. Repress it and make it PC. Truth? We don’t want truth if it hurts, if it’s offensive. Make every word and thought and feeling conform to vanilla diarrhea so we can all enjoy it without convulsing in oversensitive horror.

And in some cases, we read a work of professional/ published fiction, and the author intentionally makes it a bit graphic and explicit, for effect. Maybe there is some hyper sexualization happening, maybe some aggressive characterizations about the female form, but it’s for literary effect! It’s not even… what’s the word… gratuitous. It’s artistic. I read the passage and I’m like.. ah. Yea. I feel that. Or I cringe. It makes me feel.

And then the other classmates are like… “omg. Next time you assign this reading I need a heads up, because I need a trigger warning. It made me sick, and it was very uncomfortable. I almost couldn’t get through it.”

And I’m just blank faced, slack jawed in awe that someone could personalize literature in this way, and feel trauma that could make them physically ill.

I’m super sympathetic, but my god people. Have you lived? Do you live under a rock? Is your life a padded room plastered with messages that simply reaffirm what you want to hear?

How dreadful.

Get uncomfortable. You ain’t living if you ain’t uncomfortable. Get used to it, then get over it.

We are in a simulation

Consciousness is, quite literally, a simulation.

Your conscious experience is not reflective of an actual reality, just a simulation manufactured by your neurons, pulsing energy in rhythmic patterns. What you think is reality, or truth, is simply a subjective perception. We perceive things, and these perceptions exist in our mind, not in the world.

They exist in the minds of the collective imagination, as a social simulation. Rather than a silicon simulation, we live in an organic simulation, made of meat rather than metal.

There is no objective reality. There is no absolute truth. Truth is whatever we collectively agree upon. It’s a sociological fabrication by consensus.

Everything happening outside us, our mind, beyond the narrow sliver of senses, is a soup of empty space and vibrations, much like a computer is simply 1’s and 0’s and analog wave forms.

Everything is relative. Hardness, softness, redness, blueness, pain and pleasure, good and bad.

It’s all relative to how it suits this fleshy vehicle in its quest for survival, of self preservation and procreation, via collaboration with other fleshy vehicles.

Everything is energy, distributed in varying concentrations throughout the universe, with each knotted ball of energy-strings vibrating to specific wavelengths, allowing it to knot with complementary knots of vibrating energy, which accumulate into increasingly larger bits of unique particles, which eventually comprise larger bits, gaining even more mass, until the vibrating field surrounding this ball of energy is so resonate in its synchronous vibrations, that it produces a force that gives the appearance of substance, of elemental matter.

So you ask: are we living in a simulation? I think we’re living in a simulation. Read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

But it’s not a simulation we can escape. Just one we have to accept as illusory. And I think through the acceptance lies the portal into the true nature of reality.

The art of writing

Having a strong story/ plot allows a quicker story to develop. The leaps are more continuous and connected, and the writers mind just seems to weave it together, because the story is a whole, and not pieces. So describing the whole isn’t hard, because every word is about and relates to every other in a cohesive way

When the story/plot is weaker, things progress slowly, at times. Or it can anyway. Because the writer seems to be making it up and connecting the dots as they go

I truly believe that the best stories are whole and complete stories.

Perhaps that means a ton of retreading and refinement.

Or, the writer knows the story, the contours of the message, and the writing process is about adding decor, color and depth

There is no “correct” writing process.

Sometimes the writer knows exactly what he wants to say, and writes accordingly.

Sometimes the writer doesn’t know what he wants to say, and the writing process pulls it out slowly, piece by piece.

The art of good writing is polishing the story so it’s a cohesive whole, so it resonates from word to word, and every detail has its place in the universe of the narrative. Visualization is a crucial method for constructing a believable world, believable characters, and believable stories.

They say writers live life twice.

Childhood Dreams

I loved childhood with my Pitman buddies. Literally loved all of then. There was about five or six. Thought they were all the coolest. We had so much fun. As much as I kinda hate on the small town mentality, it gave me so much. A small community. A safe community. We literally could walk or bike anywhere in 15 minutes. There was nature and great sports. Everyone was pretty equal. It was a tight class. Walking or biking to school with friends.

Yea there were some crazy ass parents and administrators. But everyone cared and was pretty involved

Not a whole lot of diversity, but you know. The familiarity made everyone more comfortable.

I feel like my friends made childhood everything

My parents did their best, like all of ours did. Shit, I think about raising a family and yea it scares me. I can understand where they came from, but i gotta say, they made life hard. It sucked. The militaristic religious bullshit. Psycho. But they cared as best they could, and tried their best, despite their own histories and childhoods

But my friends made it worthwhile, memorable, and so much fun.

Florida was also amazing. But different. Also amazing though.

When I was trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life, after I moved to Florida, I remember seeing how much different life could be. I wished my parents put me in better schools, but in hindsight, I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

I have memories and experiences and friends that so many kids only wish they had. We were tight, like a family of brothers. It was easy to take for granted because that was the only thing I knew. We went through shit. The close community and small town made the relationships tighter. In this day and age, that community is harder to get. The digital world and the expansion of suburbs leave people more disconnected. I’m glad we were born on the cusp of this technological boom. We experienced life in analog. One of the last generations, if not the last

I still can’t wrap my mind around Todd and why he killed himself, how that could possibly happen. Why?

It’s one of those experiences that just shatters your innocence in one fell swoop. Changes your perspective on life and relationships forever. The fragility and temporality of it all, the unpredictability.

Plans are great. They provide a comfort. You are confident in the way things will play out, and so you get comfortable.Then life bends you over, takes your naive little dreams, and shoves a massive dick up your ass. It’s confusing. You ask why? I never asked for this. It’s painful. Is this what life really is? Will it ever get better?

But then you learn to stop asking those questions, and do something about it. You decide to make your life, to choose your life, to define your life, and not let circumstances do the deciding for you.

I love that my childhood group has kept in touch. You were my group. My brothers. I didn’t have another group. I forged memories with each one of you. Each of us has different family situations. Crazy parents, indifferent parents, distant parents. But what we lacked in family, we had in each other, our brothers. We relied on each other, depended on each other, we fought with each other, we fucked bitches and played music and rode bikes and dominated the sports field and made art and explored and dreamed together. We supported each other, through thick and thin.

This is how I remember it.

Every so often I go back and read my journals. They’re mostly dark and depressing. Bitching out my strict parents and their efforts to fix me through god or medication or counseling and therapy. But the highlight is reading about our adventures. I’d document the parties, the girls, the drama, the mischievous fun, sneaking out, experimenting, blowing shit up or starting fires, building bongs, playing music, trips to the shore, trips to Montoloking, the pine barrens, relishing the music, incubus and Deftones and RHCP and brand new and bright eyes, catching turtles and snakes and frogs and growing marijuana, and selling marijuana, and car rides where we baked and rode around for hours.

Engineering Education for the Future

I’m sitting at my desk in my room, listening of an audio message from a friend comment on my other friends weekly Writer’s Guild writing submission, a group of us who discuss and exchange literature and writing. We’re all aspiring writers, and we decided to start a group chat, and meet every Sunday to read each others writing and provide feedback.

How is work? Work is great. I think. I’m happy. It’s challenging, and I appreciate the freedom and flexibility it provides.

My girlfriend is touring with her ballet company in Washington DC and NYC for a Balanchine festival celebration, and I’ll be meeting her early Friday morning, when I arrive from taking a red eye from SFO to EWR. I didn’t want to miss Thursday’s data science management class.

My days have been consisting of reading random books on science, math (calculus mostly), writing, literature, and other random topics.

I’ve been learning about the Arduino Micro-controller with C/C++, and the Raspberry Pi Microprocessor with Python. I love learning about how electronics work. Electrical engineering is most fascinating. Mechanical engineering is also pretty neat, but electrical engineering and radiation and the physics of wave forms and information and communication theory is just amazing. I love it.

I spent time with Ravi on Sunday. I rode my motorcycle around, gave it a good wash, had a burger at Jack’s Prime Burgers, and stopped by to help Claire and him garden and landscape. Then we talked about their work in the lab, and how everything is progressing at their post-doc positions and project proposals. Ravi is examining Killifish, and will be screening and raising about 100 fish to identify neuropeptides as they relate to aging. He’s trying to establish a definite connection between hormones and aging, which has already been established in IGF-1 and insulin, but thats about it. Its a fascinating proposal, and I love learning about how they must build the experiments, and consider endless factors to minimize variables. They’ll be using cameras to track behavior, and have automated feeding machine to regulate nutrition. At the end of 6 months, they’ll collect and dissect and biopsy and analyze imaging data and results.

SOo.. I’m officially enrolled at the College of San Mateo as an engineering student.  I’ll be taking 6 credits a semester or 2 classes, starting with Physics with Calc I and Intro to Engineering (or CS252 intro to C++ depending on scheduling).  If I do spring/summer/fall, and combine my credits with my previous college work, I’ll get my A.S. in Engineering in 12-16 months. So long as I enjoy this process, I’ll have most requisites to apply for most Masters in Engineering programs.

So, what is life? What is the purpose? Individually speaking, it’s about growth. Right? I mean, if you ain’t growing, you’re dying.

How much growth? As much as you can. Modify and augment you mind, your body, your ideas, your relationships, your vision.

A tree doesn’t just decide to stop growing one day. It grows as much as it possibly can with the resources available. And fortunately for us, unlike trees, we can uproot and find resources that aid in our development and growth.

I think it’s our responsibility to this gift of life, of being an American citizen in the 21st century, to seize every opportunity available to grow, personally, professionally, relationally, whatever. You are not a static entity. You are an evolving being.

I was trying to think of practical education. Education that will be an investment in my skills, in my abilities, in my knowledge and understanding.

I was considering an MBA, but I have an associates in business administration and a bachelors in economics… I took all the accounting and managerial classes. I’m not convinced an MBA would increase my earnings, or even current career prospects. Not at this moment, anyway. And I feel that on the job training is exponentially more practical.

An MBA would, however, be amazing for Virtue Signaling. AND great for networking with other hungry business leaders. And it’d be a great vehicle for a career pivot, maybe into something more finance or consulting related? Which, I’m not sure I’m there yet, or ever want to be there. Same rational with a JD.

But it’ll be $40+k a year for two years, plus significant lost wages if I pursue full time. If I do a part time and evening program, it’s same cost, but over three years. If I do a reputable online program, which is often significantly less, it kinda negates the networking exposure aspect, which is like 40% of the value of an MBA in my opinion. And, I’m still paying off a decent chunk of student debt. I’d like to pay that off the next few years before I add any more on.

So the other options were something technical that I can leverage that would help with problem solving.

Science and Engineering seemed like good technical disciplines, but science is more theory/ discovery/ research oriented. Sure, it’s great training, but it’s primary focus is less about creating and building than it is accumulating deep knowledge in a specific field/domain. If I wanted to pursue a career in biotech, for instance, I think a biology or chemistry education or classes or a degree would be a good idea.

But engineering (of any concentration) is the epitome of problem solving, and creating solutions. The training would make me a better problem solver, and I think it signals to others that you can do hard problems of any kind.

I didn’t take any science classes in college, sadly, even though its one of my favorite subjects. Took a lot of math classes for Economics and Finance, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even though they were a struggle at times.

I love reading and writing, but I don’t think taking more philosophy or psychology or sociology or writing classes would be challenging enough. I think I’d come out the other side more of the same. I make it a point to read all that shit anyway, because it’s just damn relevant and fascinating. And I write because I love it, and I need to. So that’ll all happen regardless.

Whereas engineering classes I know will challenge me, and force me to grow as a person. I know because I don’t gravitate to these problems the same way I do to the humanities, and I’d really like to, and I think training and classes would allow me to be more comfortable with those types of problems, much like philosophy has done for any topic relating to the human condition.

The other thing is, I’ve worked in the field of engineering for 5 years now. It’s demystified, and a lot less intimidating than when I was 20 trying to decide a major.

In addition to just the technical training and challenges and exposure, I think so long as I remain in the field of industrial automation, it’ll be a complimentary degree and education, and only make me more competitive.

State schools in California are so cheap its mind blowing. A couple hundred bucks per class. I’d be amiss not to take advantage.

I’m taking three classes at Stanford this semester in their continuing education program, and I just miss the classroom. I love having peers and teachers to talk to about interesting topics.

I recently read a story about a gentlemen from India who was a business executive of a mid-sized company who was laid off. He couldn’t get another job. So, in his mid forties, with a family of five, he picked up and moved to the united states, and took more menial jobs to support his family. Once his kids graduated HS, he began his education again. He just received his PhD at age 66.

That story inspired me. It’s never too late to become an expert, to learn, to grow. That’s what life is all about.

And of course there are other priorities that need to be accounted for. Family, work obligations, etc. But, when life allows it, and you have the time, I think you must take advantage of the opportunities while you can, because life is short, and investments in knowledge and education compound, and you never know what kind of returns you’ll reap if you’re proactively investing in your future.

Paychonaut

My buddy and I had an incredible trip at Joshua tree with a bunch of righteous dudes last weekend. We were in the desert, under this black abyss of a sky saturated in fiery starlight and streaking with meteors, climbing massive rocky mountainsides like deranged goats, full moon, simmering campfire and guitars and melodious music.

I came back this week with this ultra refreshed state of mind. Anxiety was purged. It happens every time. This gradual accretion of mental knots that suddenly tightens during a trip, then unravels, leaving you cleansed. No paralysis. Just present. The harder the trip, the more purified you come out.

No sure if my buddies felt the same, but I really had an intense (and fun) trip, and worked through all this shit that was strangling my subconscious. And this week I was just like who… clearsighted, energy, productive.

Whenever I haven’t dosed for a time, the respect for the trip is like amplified, and I have this inherent reservation that I always ignore, but it’s there. I ignore it because I’ve tripped enough that it’s just irrational, and the intensity is what gives birth to the catharsis that waits on the other side.

I respect the experience. It’s truly a therapy. And i truly believe it’s an amazing way to cleanse the mind of endless knotted thoughts and anxieties that weigh the conscious experience down like weights, like mud.

I truly hope it gains mainstream acceptance as a reasonable and healthy way to purify the mind from anxieties, from moods, from the ego that hijacks the waking experience and makes you a slave to this self surveillance and self judgement.

Psychedelics just extinguish the ego, the me, the I, the self, and you come out on the other side present, without effort. It’s a mental housekeeping, like dusting the cobwebs that collect on the windows of the soul.

You come out of the experience in the now, present. Everything is happening, unfolding, flowing, and you just are. There’s an integration. A presence. It’s effortless. It’s like waking up and new eyes greet the day, greet new thoughts and feels as if you’ve been rebirthed.

The stench of stagnation is eradicated. There is a clearing. It’s quite amazing.

Typically I find my mental state accumulating thoughts and feelings and moods and states of beings like a rolling stone, collecting dirt and moss and snow and mud and odds and ends, growing larger and larger until I can barely stand it, and i indulge in radically distracting activities and behaviors to cope

Maybe drinking, maybe womanizing, or dating, or smoking a zillion cigarettes, working out like a crazy person, or scheduling and weighing every iota of food i consume, or some compulsive impulsive obsession. Or i want to sleep, and escape by dreaming, and living on the other side of the coin, in my sleeping dreams… for hours, whenever I can. I’m aware of these progressively accreting states, but it’s hard to escape yourself: wherever you go, there you are.

Meditation… sure. It’s probably the best habit ever. Mindfulness. Duh. Prayer. Whatever. Working out can be like that. So can writing. Or playing music. So can travel… travel always alleviates the accumulating webs of constraining mental matter and moods.

But psychedelics? Specifically lsd? It’s like. A spiritual awakening. Sometimes trips are hard. It’s like giving birth.

Your anxieties manifest and you can’t hide. And you face them and squeeze through them. But you always make it through. It’s always an incredibly powerful experience. And you go to sleep, and when you wake up, things are different. Free. Relaxed. Open. Present. Life is happening. And you embrace. You don’t fight. You just are, unattached, yet involved… apart of the flux and flow. It’s still not well understood, and there’s still a culture lacking around it, but I believe it’s like one of the most powerful little therapies available, if approached intelligently and openly and authentically

I remember the 90’s

I remember when Kurt killed himself. My neighbors middle school brother was crying. He was such a bully. But he was crying. It was like, weird as hell. I remember asking him why he was crying and he told me nirvana lead singer killed himself. I didn’t really have any clue what that meant at like 8 years old, but I do know that a couple years later I learned about how incredible his music was and became obsessed. Along with like nine inch nails and the offspring and sublime and Green Day and sound garden and smashing pumpkins and bands like that. I remember Michael Jordan and the bulls, and all my elementary classmates being obsessed, wearing jerseys of Rodman and Jordan and pippen etc. I remember riding BMX bikes and skateboards. Riding all over god’s green earth. No cell phones. Just roaming. And carrying folded up pieces of paper containing everyone’s number. And trying to pinpoint where people were. I remember Nickelodeon and rockos modern life and Doug and ren and stumpy and mtv music and whiffle ball in the yard and gack and crossfire and gi joes and ninja turtles and legos and kinex and LA lights shoes and slingshots and catching frogs and snakes and insects and fireflies and playing tag or kick the can or other games like jailbreak with the neighborhood kids. I remember collecting cool pencils for class and having a cool pencil case, and cool folders for school. I remember loving guns, and anything that shot, or resembled shooting, like nerf guns. I also loved remote control cars that had like 10-15 min battery life. which sucked but I asked for one at like every birthday because they were cool. I remember playing baseball and catch with friend. Leather baseball mits. I remember collecting comic books and reading them with friends. And Pogs. And yo-yo’s. And collecting coins from the rare coin shop. Spending money made from mowing neighbors grass on magic the gathering cards, or model kits for model airplanes and tanks from the hobby shop. And putting together model rockets, and going to kindle field to fire them off, and losing them. I remember going to the swim club and spending like 12 hours a day there every day in the summer. I remember Pokémon and power rangers, but also being too cool for them. I remember legends of the hidden temple and salute your shorts. I remember the simpsons being like crack, and parents thinking it was so anti god.

Joshua Tree

Under the desert sky,
scaling mountains and rocky cliffs,
massive boulders,
reaching the peak,
and poking our gaze from the fishbowl
into the blackness beyond,
peering into the abyss above,
admiring the starlight,
the balls of blazing fire dotting the black backdrop,
the moonlight bathing the desert sands,
whitewashing the darkness with silver shadows,
rattle snakes and bonfires,
and mental machinations that twist terrifying thoughts,
and overall relief,
of worry and tension,
memories of cosmic meteors,
that blaze and extinguish in moments,
amongst empty stretches of sky,
uneven horizons of pointed pebble peaks,
around the fire with wide eyes
and smiling cheeks.

Fckry

The whole fuckery is that what humanity craves and desires is fundamentally what ends up destroying society. We advocate free markets and capitalism and while that’s great and all, we end up giving people the garbage they crave.

It’s business. It’s economics. No government should tell people what’s best for them. Supply and demand.

I mean, yea, ideally we have a philosopher king, like the one Socrates advocates for in Plato’s Republic, and this philosopher king was a wise and benevolent ruler who understood virtue and ruled accordingly, but how do we ensure the character of such a person, so that the next ruler is just as benevolent and wise, without ensuring our demise when a malevolent and egomaniacal ruler steps up and completely inflicts misery upon the people?

But our primal instincts seek ease and comfort and pleasure, and forego struggle and pain and discipline, the very character forming elements that render and strong and virtuous society

So free markets are like, you like sugar? We got sugar. And you’re obese as fuck.

You want porn? You got porn. And stable relationships begin to decline. And pedophiles and pervs and antisocial characters breed.

You want want entertainment? You got entertainment. And people sit in front of a flickering box of light for an average of 5 hours a day in the USA, or 77 days straight per year.

You want to isolate yourself from the world? We got you covered. Everything delivered to your door, and remote work.

You want to be told what to think? We got you covered. Media that confirms your bias and world view. Algorithms that feed you exactly what you want, etc.

Not sure if all this is as bad as I’m making it sound. Just economics.

We don’t think about what’s best. We want ease. We want comfort. We want pleasure. And we rarely consider the long term consequences of a world that caters to everyone’s wants.

We’re seeing it with this whole victim mentality and PC bullshit, of course.

So, this is what I think about equality: You don’t deserve a shit. Life is not fair. The world doesn’t owe you a thing. You earn it.

I like to think that virtues and good character are learned behaviors as a result of struggle and sacrifice as discipline. It’s the only world to instantiate order from chaos in this world.

A man is born into the world, and he must earn his keep. Those that do develop character, as a result of right thought and action, and consequent habits that follow.

And these good habits are emulated and passed on to others and your offspring, and a culture develops. Your offspring may not have the same struggles, but they absorb your habits because you teach them these important values. You don’t need to starve to know the importance of hard work and sacrifice. Your parents can instill this in you. The culture of the community can properly socialize you with these good virtues and habits that embody a productive and competent character.

And those that are product and competent will be rewarded and should be. We should care for each other. Because we are stronger and more productive in numbers.

But let’s say there is a group of people who want the same care and support, but completely lack the character, who are unproductive, lazy, and not competent.

Why should they deserve access to healthcare? To education? To resources that others earn?

There is this entitlement.

What intimidates you most about what you want to write?

That the truths I want to capture, which I believe thread all of humanity together, cannot be adequately captured and conveyed in an appreciable way.

My desire is to take these transcendental, universal truths, what Joyce meant when he said “in the particular is contained the universal”, and weave a grand narrative that speaks to each and every human being, regardless of race or color or age, and brings humanity into agreement.

What intimidates me is that I want to communicate truths that are universally accessible, but I feel eternally constrained by my language, by the language I’ve acquired through the limited set of circumstances that not everyone may relate to.

The epic-ness that I envision for this narrative is daunting. I’m sure every writer feels this way, to ensure that the sheer power of written word produces a revelation in the reader.

But who am I to take up this task?

Nevertheless, I feel that if I do not devote myself to this endeavor, my life will count for nothing.

What is writing class?

Writing class is a psychotherapeutic exercise of learning to understand the importance of honesty, and embracing vulnerability, and mining into the unconscious, and capturing the particular experiences comprising our lives that shape our conscious experience, and transposing them to paper. As Joyce said “in the particular lies the universal”

Threading the needle of order and chaos, learning to tap that spiritual vein and let it bleed onto paper, mold and shape it into something alive .

It’s an exercise of the dao, the line that demarcates order and chaos, light and dark, and maintaining the balance of both that ultimately leads to coherence and harmony that all of life strives towards .

Writing is a therapeutic exercise, of excising the experiential truths we’ve learned to suppress, the internal voice we were taught to quiet.

It’s learning to listen to that voice, to value that voice, and really learning to tame the defenses that artificially guard our sense of self, but in reality keeps it small and stifled. That’s what writing class seems to be all about.

Poetry, short story, words, thoughts… it’s rediscovering play.
There are no rules regarding the veracity of your experience, and how you capture and articulate it. It is yours.

Learn to honor the expression of the spirit within you through the medium of language

Writing Groups

Who is your audience? Does having an audience in mind matter? That’s been a key revelation recently.

I asked the professor, who do you write for?

Cause that’s my biggest hurdle. I can write for days… and I do. I compulsively journal my thoughts, but for the life of me, writing a “story” or a book seems to be this monumental feat. And it’s all cause there’s no real or obvious audience that I feel compelled to tell a story to. Ya know?

Her response, “to my children, and their children”: to pass on a legacy.

And that makes sense. Her writing reflects it.

But I was reading about these literary writing groups, and when you have a respected peer group as an audience, it sharpens you.

It’s so much easier to journal because it’s just my internal mania that doesn’t need to make sense to anyone but me…. but when I write a story, it’s like for an audience, and that’s been my hang up.

Who am I writing for?

If I’m writing for myself, then journaling is just fuckin fine, and I need to get over writing a god damn book.

But, if I have a story to tell, or truths to communicate, then who am I telling that story to? Who is my audience?

My children? My parents? My peers? High brow or low brow? Why is my story worth telling? Why is it worth listening to? Etc.

In April I started my little novel story and for the first time, I wrote to an audience. It was the kids I don’t have ha. Same thing my professor said. Future generations. And it really helped he get my story out.

But I want my peers to be apart of the process, to challenge me, and I want to learn from them— which is why I enrolled in this creative writing class, and why I want us to join together as devotees to the craft of literature.

Some notable writing groups:

The Fugitives (Robert Penn Warren)
The Agrarians
The Junto (Est. 1727)
The Dill Pickle Club (Est. 1917)
Los Contemporáneos (Est. 1920)
The South Side Writers’ Group (Est. 1930)
The February House (Est. 1940)
The Socrates School (Plato)
The Bloomsbury Group
The Dymock Poets
The Algonquin Roundtable
The Inklings (The Coalbiters: Tolkien, CS Lewis)
Stratford-on-Odeon
The Factory (Warhol)
El Floridita (Hemingway)

Continue reading “Writing Groups”

Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the Worlds

A bunch of successful businessman and entrepreneurs and investors were asked about their favorite books, or recommended reading for the next generation of leaders.

Peter Thiel recommenced one book: Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World

The central premise is that mimesis, or imitation, of ideas or behaviors or methods or whatever, is one of the central phenomena that explains the human condition, or why man does what he does.

And René Girard sees a cyclical procession between mimesis, scapegoating, and violence.

We imitate each other until we forget the point (learning for utility) and become absorbed with the people we are imitating, until progressive abstraction culminates into the worst of imitating man, and then man collectively creates a scapegoat to transpose this guilt to purge responsibility, and then inflicts/justifies violence.

Imitation is everything. It’s appropriation, it’s emulation, it’s representation. The mind perceives, then reproduces. It’s embedded in our brains, in our mirror neurons.

It’s central to social behavior. We imitate to learn, to acquire how and what others acquire.

And yet, in the western world, we’ve overlooked the grip of mimesis because it connotes a herd like mentality, which contrasts with idea of autonomy and individuality.

So rather than really take a look at the impact of mimesis, and how these behaviors of imitation drive our behaviors and values and structure society, we more or less suppress them, and pretend they don’t exist, and the consequence is we live like the herd.

Liberalism is the transformation of mankind into cattle.
—Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (1878). I.67

What does this mean? Liberalism, in the philosophical sense that Nietzsche is using it, is an ethical framework in which man is free, equal, and autonomous. While this conception of man resonates with most as evidently true, I maintain that this is an illusory conception of man. Do we really believe that we are free? Equal? Autonomous? As with most comforting notions, we avow these ideals simply as a means of preserving the familiar, a mechanism of evasion that allows us to avoid the biting reality of our situation; namely, that we are not free, nor are we equal and autonomous.

What does Nietzsche mean when he says that liberalism is the transformation of mankind into cattle? It is the process in which individuality is smoothed over en masse, in which minds are watered down into a cloudy collective consciousness, where man is no longer a thinking spirit that possesses a unique soul but a mere facsimile. Being lead to believe that our thoughts are freely chosen, that we are as valuable as any man, that we can choose according to a unique volition, we cease to employ our internal reason, fail to reflect on our position, and assume that the ideals in which we derive our greatness are a right rather than a product.

In sum, by embracing these liberal ideals, we deny the keystone mechanism driving mankind: imitation, and therefore allow it to flourish.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes about the phenomenon in his essay Self Reliance, and why it’s so important to trust yourself, and experiment, and not take others word.

It’s the Matrix, which was inspired by Simulacra and Simulation, a 1981 philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard which explores the phenomena of abstracting signs and symbols (meaning) from reality, and then utilizing these signs and symbols to navigate socially, and abstracting them into meta signs and symbols, until they’re meaningless noise and jargon, not pointing or referencing any shared experience or meaning or reality, but nonetheless comprise the language constructing institutions and pass as truth.

“truths are illusions of which one has forgotten that they are illusions, metaphors that have become worn-out and deprived of their sensuous force, coins that have lost their imprint and are now no longer seen as coins but as metal.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche, Truth and Lies in the Nonmoral Sense

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche, born OTD 1844.

Culture and Abnormal Psychology

It’s quite incredible to think that 50 years ago Doctors used to cut out people’s brains out of their skull as a reasonable treatment for depression and bipolar and schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

The last lobotomy was in 1967.

These are doctors, the medical profession.

The same doctors also though injecting massive doses of insulin to induce a coma, from days to weeks, was a reasonable form of mental illness treatment. “Insulin shock therapy”

People regularly died.

This lasted until the late1970’s

If they didn’t die, many patients emerged from treatments morbidly obese, or brain damaged. Just crazy to think doctors really don’t know jack shit about mental illness. Still don’t.

It’s weird because mental illness is not universal. It’s impacted by culture and society and a host of sociological factors that shape psychology. Different countries have different rates of mental disorders and they manifest differently. How they interpret them and treat them changes.What behaviors are seen as abnormal or within the spectrum of normal. It’s very subjective. And how we treat people determines a lot of outcomes. If we treat them as broken, they’re unlikely to recover

If they’re treated as someone that can be rehabilitated, it changes things

This applies to criminal systems as well.

Back in the day there was a therapeutic nihilism, or the idea that it’s impossible to cure people or societies of their ills through treatment.

Then there was a resurgence of “heroic measures” or heroic treatments that were high risk, but better than the alternative of a life in an asylum, so they began these crazy ass treatments like lobotomies and insulin shock and electro shock.

LSD would repair things. It’s like a reboot I enjoy it.

Allows me to step outside myself, beyond the conditioned unconscious perspective dominating the subconscious that ultimately informs conscious experience.

It’s not like an everyday thing. Or every week. Honestly, i really don’t like doing it until I’m in a comfortable place to do it. I’m hyper aware of my responsibilities and I don’t want to be irresponsible or be too causal about it. I guess that’s with big trips, life changing doses.

I enjoy the occasional casual micro dose, like an 1/8 of a hit on the weekend to sharpen things up. But I always know that even doses that exceed two, that it’s always gonna be alright. I always wake up the next day feeling more clear headed.

Like, priorities are more obvious. The minutia melts and what needs to be done, or what’s most important remains. For better or worse, but in my mind always for better. And i say for worse because sometimes I think our society rewards being a neurotic, and psychedelics really massage that mentality, and allow you to gain distance from these delusional problems that we perceive to plague us, but are really just nonsense bullshit we buy into, that pervades advertising, and is implied by our cultural values, in media and entertainment and the rat race and politics.

So it’s always for better. But sometimes being disenchanted makes it harder to buy in, if that makes sense.

Like the Kardashians and Trump need to drop. Their sense of self would dissolve and they’d implode and have a spiritual awakening. But I’m not sure that’d be good for their brand.

It’s very interesting to read history and try to understand their notion of mind and psychology, and how intimately it was tired to spirituality, to spirits inhabiting us, and how far we’ve secularized these ideas with science. But there is something intuitive about anthropomorphizing mental illness… being possessed and what not. I do think of minds like computers that run programs. And you have faulty programs and shit

Like. I look at videos of people with mental illness back in the day and they don’t look like the way characterize people nowadays.

Just weird. Trying to reconcile how the mind works… what causes this shit

Progress is Disembodiment

Another thing that struck me while speaking with my 85+ year old grandparents is that society has changed a fuck ton. Not necessarily human nature, but how society is organized, and what community means, and how we spend our days.

Community used to be something tangible. You physically relied on those closest in proximity to you, and church was where everyone socialized. It was pretty much the only place where socialization took place, aside from the farmer’s markets, and schools for children.

But these days community is abstracted, and we can live next to someone for 20 years and never know them or talk to them or depend on them. There are communities on top of communities, locally and over vast distances. People connected by digital identification markers, entirely and utterly removed from the physical space they occupy.

In this world people’s identity is wrapped up in gross abstractions. We identify with a community we will never meet, we will never actually depend on. The community serves one purpose: reinforce our worldview and strengthen our identity.

In our modern world, these layers of abstracted communities defined by occupation or ethnicity or culture or interest or education or wealth live on top of each other, pass each other every day, and never know each other. They are simply the “other”. And the horrific consequence of this reality is that people get lost, they get forgotten, they become displaced, dispossessed, and long for a sense of belonging, a real sense of community, of connectedness that’s real and authentic. And what they find are other seekers, and so they find each other and band together into a tribe whose only commonality is their ever receding sense of belonging and their desire to persecute those who are responsible for the crisis.

But the “final solution” is not as obvious as pointing to a community whose superficial appearances are foreign or unfamiliar and blaming them.

And it’s not capitalism, overtly anyway.

There is a natural progress toward increasingly abstract structures that we rely on to support the complex population growth, that marginalize individual significance and divide our utility into granular contributions requiring little more than rote behavior, but simultaneously depersonalize and isolate, and ultimately degrade a meaningful sense of self worth.

A man can live a lifetime in this day and age and never leave his home, never have to communicate with a person, never have to depend on an individual and their goodwill, never participate in a tangible community of humans. All that is required is the reliance on digital structures of information, boxes and blinking dots, to get paid, to get fed, to put a roof over your head. We’re in a living simulation, where the collective conscious experience is progressively being driven from the ecology of nature, from the natural community that engages the entirety of our senses and relies on a cooperative effort of give and take for sustainable harmony, and into a static simulation where values are depersonalized from people and deeds. We read words that are assembled into soundbites, sixty character characterizations and pithy headlines, associated with avatars of people with titles and blue check mark’s and followers and likes and we’re told that they are the authority, or no they are not the authority, I’m the authority. And these words become platitudes that slowly desensitize us to what they actually represent, and manifest as empty chattering noise and flashing lights that stroke our amygdala to fight or flight, friend or foe, and we just spend our time reacting to the onslaught of noises and lights, and find others that react similarly to call our people.

And this is the collective experience.

Man builds these abstracted information structures to organize people into efficient microprocessors of ideas and material goods to concentrate resources, influence and wealth. In a word: power.

Progress is a necessary evil that ultimately leaves mankind disembodied.

Recent Occurence

So two things that I have been re-reminded of recently:

1. It’s never too late to begin learning. Literally. We are never to old to start. And knowledge compounds and leads to exponential gains in expertise.

2. College classes are always an available resource for learning, and quite honestly one of the best resources, even after the conventional four year degree is over.

Its like you get a bachelors in english or philosophy and you’re like, this is my domain, my identity, and I will cling to it, and reinforce it, despite my curiosity for other subjects, which I have so little experience and confidence in. Math? Oh that’s not my strong suit, so I won’t explore economics or physics. Too intimidating. Writing? Writing is so painful, and writers block is excruciating, and reading those philosophy or critical literary analysis piece is dense and boring as fuck, and I can’t write like I’m on an LSD trip for 20 pages, so probably should’t. Or whatever the fuck

But the truth is, you can literally take classes, start with the basics, wherever you feel comfortable, even if its at intro to college algebra or fundamentals of composition, and begin layin the foundations.

You can literally get a degree in whatever subject you want. Like, anything. Start with the intro class. You might think it’s a big time investment. That it’ll take too long, too many years.

Well I’m watching kids who graduated after me graduating as doctors and passing bar exams and attaching PhD on the end of their names, and some of these people it’s only been 4 or 5 years since graduation.

If you start some classes at 30, what’s 3 years to get an associates? What’s another three to get another bachelors? Sir John Doe got a bachelors degree while working a job like everyone else, except rather than watching television programming or binging on talk show podcasts or watching sports, he spent an hour a day reading some class material, and one night a week he went to a classroom or watched a webinar for a few hours on a dope as subject.

Even if you don’t get a degree, you can take classes on dope as subjects. Like, literally become educated in whatever subject that interests you.

And how this acquisition of knowledge impacts your daily perspective will ultimately influence what opportunities you perceive and seize upon. Whether you wanna pay for classes and join a community of interested peers, or just utilize free resources and books to self study.

This revelation is pretty dope.

It’s my Birthday

I’m thirty two years of age. As I write this, I sit at the cluttered desk in my room, my work surface pro at the left of my periphery, and a 32 inch 4k lcd monitor to the right with the profile of a large golden lion complete with hoary mane, typing on my macbook pro, a floor lamp illuminating my desk.

Thirty two years of age.

I woke up with my girlfriend. She surprised me last night by showing up with a birthday cake and candles. I didn’t expect to see her. She said she wanted to be alone, which was strange, because she has never once said she wanted to be alone. I even insisted that I would come to the city, that I didn’t mind that her place was dirty, that I would clean it and cook for her, but she insisted. So I got on the phone with my childhood friend, returning a missed call of his from the weekend, and drove around, ultimately ending up at my favorite little mexican joint to get a burrito. Gabriela called me several times, and I told my friend I’d have to call him back, that something appeared to be wrong. Gabriela asked where I was, and then the sneaking suspicion hit me that she took a lyft here and surprised me for my birthday. I melted. I’ve been trying not to think of my birthday. My existence doesn’t need celebration, or attention. Birthday’s invoke memories of family and longing for belonging, none of which I wish to conjure at the moment. It’s been a few months since I decided to step back, and distance myself from my family. I love them, yes. And it may seem cruel to stop talking to your family, even as they continue to reach out. The thought of distancing myself from my mother is particularly painful. I know she loves me ever so dearly, and always has, despite whatever has happened or will happened. There’s no exact reason for this passive distancing, just a vague sense of otherness I feel, of feeling as though I don’t belong, and I never belonged, unless some conditional circumstances made it convenient, such as the fulfilling the obligations to play family, or celebrate some achievement that a parent would be proud of, such as graduating from college, or winning a competition, or traveling around the world for the sake of manufacturing memories and pictures to share with others that give the impression of close family intimacy and blessing and fortune. Am I blessed? Without a doubt. I count these blessings. I have a family, and we all have a commonality. It’s in our blood, our blond hair, our eccentric dispositions, our shared trauma, from the continual transitions to new towns or renovating homes or coping with radical death when most families are coping with the next holiday. We share that bond.

When I arrived at my apartment to greet my girlfriend the lights were off save a small candlelight emanating from a cake on the dining room table. I walked around the apartment to find her, into my room, into the living room when she jumped from a dark corner and shouted boo! And I shouted an ferocious ARGHH!!! She nearly gave me a heart attack, and my response almost did the same to her. Then we hugged and laughed and melted into each others arms with passionate affection and gratitude. We split the burrito I bagged to go and clinked our bottles of Pacifica and enjoyed our meal. Had I been home, we would have enjoyed the $40 Whole Food rib eyes that have been aging in the fridge since last friday. It would be painfully disappointing if they went to waste.

We then went to the grocery store to get her dog food and ice for her swollen feet. I cleaned a cooler and filled it with water. We cut the cake and sat and exchanged stories about our week, since I’ve been out of town for a couple days. She explained the new choreographer challenging her in ways she has never been challenged, and satisfaction and discomfort this produced, not only emotionally, but physically, as her muscles ached from endless fouettés they were practicing again and again.

She showered and iced her feet on the side of my bed. I had selfishly finished the last remaining two or three episodes of a television series Ozark without her, one we started some weeks ago, and opted instead to read more of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s book My Struggle, first to myself, then out loud as G became more irritated that we were sitting in silence. I insisted that we continue watching the television show, that I didn’t mind re-watching, but she wouldn’t have it. So we laid there until I grew tired of reading Karl’s fascinatingly banal memoir aloud, and picked up a new hardcover copy of Ovid’s The Metamorphoses translated by Allen Mendelbaum. I was excited about this translation since I fell in love with AD Melvilles while picking up the book three hours into an LSD trip, and reading pages and pages of poetic verse that seemed to possess an oracle like quality that communicated universal truths about the human condition that transcended mere words into a sublime rapture of enlightened understanding. Mendelbaum however turned out to be a bit too prosaic, and what the plain speak gained in clarity, is lost in the aesthetic sublimity that poetic allusion and rhyme capture.

G slipped under the covers next to me, nudging her way into the nook of my arm, and I read until I could barely open my eyes and my gaze would blur and I would lose my place. I hazily woke to G tucking me in and kissing me goodnight as she turned out the lights.

We woke this morning and kissed and cuddled. I was still tired, and could feel the deep sleep linger in my bones like a hangover, so I was reluctant to open my eyes and get out of bed when the first alarm sounded. G wiggled and maneuvered through the knotted blankets  closer and closer to me, her bare body pressing against mine, and I caressed her soft skin, tracing her cheekbones, gripping her petite neck and spreading my hands wide open as they continued down the back of her tiny lean frame. Her head was positioned under my chin, and with a purse of the lips I would kiss her forehead. She stroked my cock, but the weight of sleep, and the overall feeling of vapid emptiness that has continued to plague me to varying degrees throughout my life was present, as it has especially been the past nine months, overpowered my desire to return the affection with more than caressing and gentle kissing.

I know this bothers her immensely, not only because she brings it up regularly as a deeply bothersome struggle of insecurity due to the lack of my proactive sexual advances, but because she becomes visible upset, and withdrawals into herself, except for the raw frustration that surfaces thereafter, the distant stares into space, the shortness of patience that she reluctantly extends. I am pained by this response, but I understand it, and it pains me, because I cannot explain why I feel hollow between my legs while my heart gushes for her. Its as if my heart has been disembodied, and this zombie corpse that embraces her, feels nothing sensual, only spiritual connectedness. While is counter intuitive and contrary to my rational understanding of love as a perfect union between two bodies and souls.

It feels wrong to defend my desire for her, my attraction, which is perfectly preserved. She is the ideal beauty, perfect in every way: the almond eyes that coyly seduce upon every glance, the luscious lips soft with desire, the cheekbones, the dark flowing curls that unfurl to the bottom of her waist, her petite frame, erect and proud posture, the endless feeling she greets every moment, sensitive to every soul she greets, every act she meets.

The alarm rings for the dozenth time and she sits up and climbs over me with her naked body and heads to the bathroom where she begins to shower. I continue to sleep, but mostly dream, wonder, thinking about the day. I see the beginning of birthday wishes populate my messages, texts from friends, and from family, from mother and father and sister one and sister two. I shut my phone off, and let my mind expand into space, diffuse into peace, and let the images flicker into flames of feeling and dreams of alternative lifetimes.

G returns to the room and fumbles through the clothes on the floor, pulling out various outputs and sizing up what to wear for the day. Her body is etched with beauty, lean lines shadow the contours of her body like a marble sculpture, her breasts hang like ripe fruit just above the outline of her sharp obliques and abs. She is a perfect specimen of beautiful, an embodiment of power and grace.

I reflect on my own form, now soft and bulging, and how far I’ve fallen, and continue to let myself fall, from the ideal of health and fitness that I prized for so long. I reflect on the causes, the same causes I attribute to my overall lack of libido and energy, and how I explain the absence of sexual desire, that I ceased injecting exogenous hormones after six years of steady use, and sometimes abuse. Sometimes that ideal seems so far, as if it’s almost beyond reach, something that was realized through drugs alone for so long, and was attainable without drugs, but doubt weighs on my body’s ability to ever fully recover, and the hyper physique I attained may have forever altered my expectations of a healthy body. But I know this is not true. I am young. My only problem is myself, and my excuses, the lack of resolve to begin habits, and persist through the struggle of physical exercise without the aid of performance enhancing drugs. Either way, the problem is me, and my lack of self respect, something that I’ve struggled with long before drugs or my girlfriend. It’s just something I’ve always been able to cope with through other means which lend the appearance that there’s no struggle at all.

We lay in bed and she begins to cry. I reel, and begin to kiss her softly, all over her neck and cheeks and forehead, kissing her moist eyes, and ask whats wrong. She is stressed. She says she’s late for class and she hasn’t eaten, but I know she feels rejected, and that I’m responsible for her pain. My heart seizes and melts and I cover her with my caressing hands and lips, and watch her face rest motionless on the blankets, inspecting her delicate features, while tears slowly form at the corners of her eyes, under the long thick eyelashes, until they pool and pour across the bridge of her nose and drip silently into the covers. My heart aches. I continue to kiss her forehead, and try to reassure her that everything is okay, that ballet class and rehearsal will be great today, asking what I can do to help, but she just apologizes, and insists its just the emotional pressure of a long challenging week.

I have a psychiatry appointment at 8:45, which I mistook for 9am, only to find out when I arrived late, so I reminded her that CalTrain or Lyft were the only options. She gets up and calls a lyft and begins gathering her belongings, packing her bag, stuffing her purse, and collecting her dogs travel crate. I secured the velcro of a tiny pink puffy jack around her small little dog. I was wearing sweat-shorts and a sweatshirt, and slipped on sandals to follow her outside. The driver arrived and I kissed her goodbye as she ducked into the car and pulled away.

I went back upstairs and took a shit and shower. I felt better after that. I checked my phone to gauge my time for the doctors appointment.

I was reflecting on the conversation I had with my grandparents yesterday. We spoke for two hours after I called them asking them to tell me about their lives, about my fathers life, about their childhoods, their parents, growing up as a kid, the dynamics of family life, the joys and struggles.

Life is long, and short, one of the many irreconcilable paradoxes we are forced to live and cope with.

Never Stop Learning

Today I’m 32.

We’re so damn young.

Fuckin mere children.

I spoke to my grandparents for two hours yesterday. These 85+ year old stewards of wisdom, possessing vast perspective. Reminded me how insanely young I am, how much life I have to live, how much I have to learn.

One thing that I was reminded of is never stop fuckin learning. The sooner you pick up that book, the sooner you pick up that skill, that craft, that hobby, that trade, that subject, the sooner you’ll be on your way to being an expert.

It’s never too late. Start learning now. Don’t put it off. Knowledge compounds like interest. It’s not significant in 1 year or even five years, but 10 or 20 years, when we’re 40 or 50, the gains will be so fuckin astronomically, the Pareto effect manifests in full, and your propensity to learn begins to work for you, or against you. You’re either the bottom 80%, or the top 20%. Or the 20% of that 20%, the 4%.

We’re never too old. It’s never too late. Learn as much as you can every day, every week. It’s not a sprint, it’s a slow steady marathon, of pacing yourself, day by day, never giving up, reading the books. Knowledge is the real power. Remember that. What you know, and who you know because of what they know, is what makes us or breaks us. 20’s and 30’s are for learnin’, the 40’s and beyond are for earnin’.

How do you learn? Experi-fuckin-ment. Play. Explore. Risk. Fall. Fail. Reflect, readjust, and repeat.

Falling and failing is inevetifuckinble. You only stay down when you lose hope, lose vision, lose sight, and let your dreams die. When your dreams die, you stay down, and lie down, and get comfortable there, and die.

So long as you are breathing and you have a fuckin mind, you have an imagination, and you can paint pictures of possibility, and landscapes of dreams to look forward to, waking dreams to yearn for, to march towards.

If you’re alive and you’re capable of thought, you can create hope. It’s not a given. But so long as your breathing you can get the fuck back up and try try again, start over, reset, or just persist.

It’s only over when you’re fuckin dead.

Your dreams are your dreams. Don’t let anyone else dream for you. That’s how you stay poor in spirit, by allowing others to convince you of their dream, while yours remains gray and empty and hopeless.

The saddest thing is when you’re 60 or 70 or 80, and you discovered something, a passion, an interest, and you become addicted, and you say “I wish I started when I was younger”. I wish I wish I wish.

Agatha Christie, Twain, Tolkien, Vonnegut, Orwell, Carlos Fuentes, Richard Wright were 30 when then first published. Twain published Tom Sawyer at 41, and Tolkien published the Hobbit at 45.

Bronte, Chaucer, Lessig were 31, McCarthy and JK Rowling were 32, Emerson and Virginia were 33, Coetzee and Harper lee 34, Jules Verne 35, Jane Austen 36, Ralph Ellison Cervantes and Pulitzer Waller stevens 38, Burgess and Burroughs and and Toni Morrison 39, George Eliot 40, Angelou 41. Marcel Proust didn’t publish until 43. Henry Millers first Book was 44. Bram Stoker published Dracula at 50. Bukowski first published at 51. Raymond chandler’s the big sleep at 51, Richard adam’s watership down at 52, Daniel Defoe’s robinson Carusoe at 59, Laura Ingalls wilder was 65. Pulitzer Prize wonder Frank McCourt’s Angela ashes at 66. Tolstoy’s War and Peace at 35. Dickens’ David Copperfield at 38. Fitzgerald’s Gatsby? 29. Naipaul’s A house for Mr. Biswas? 29. Dostoevsky wrote Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov mid 40s.

Leo Goodwin founded GEICO at 50, previously working as a run of the mill insurance accountant. Col. Sanders founded KFC at 65. Robert Noyce founded intel at 41. Reid Hoffman founded LinkedIn at 35. Martha Stuart started a catering business at 35 which would begin her career and fame. Vera Wang was a journalist before she began designing clothes and founding the billion dollar namesake at 39. McDonald’s Ray Kroc was 51 when he started the franchise. Marvel Comics Stan Lee wrote his first comic at 39. Donald and Doris fisher founded gap jeans at 40 and 37 when Doris couldn’t find jeans to fit her husband. Henry Ford founded his namesake at 40. Lynda Weinman of online education website Lynda.com founded at 40. Herbert Boyer of Genentech started his company at 40. Bob parsons of godaddy at 47. Chip Wilson of Lululemon at 42. Charles Ranlett Flint founder of IBM at 61. Bernie Marcus of Home Depot at 50. Bill Porter started a scrappy electronic trading company with $15k called trade plus at 45, and nine years later at 54 tried again and founded billion dollar company Etrade.

Peter Mark Roget published his first book title “Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases” at 73. Gary Heavin founded Curves fitness at 40. Robin Chase founded zipcar at 42. Samuel Jackson was virtually unknown at 43 until he played in Stan Lee’s jungle fever. Sam Walton was 44 when he founded Wal-Mart. Jack Weil founded rockmont ranch wear at 45. Rodney Dangerfield was unknown until 46. Darwin was relatively unknown until he published origins of species at 50.

I mean, fuck. Socrates was a random stone mason mid 30’s before his infectious inquiry transformed what it meant to reason, and gave birth to all of western civilization as we know it, laying the foundations for the first academy of learning in the world, his student Plato and his student Aristotle literally coining the subjects of logic and classification and science and biology, transforming the world with a legacy carried throughout Aristotle’s student Alexander the Great, inspiring the Roman Empire, and enlightening all of Europe during the Renaissance when these thinkers ideas resurfaced.

Jesus was an obscure carpenter who didn’t begin his religious apologetic revolution until he was 34.

Just sayin. We are fuckin young as fuck.

Young and dumb and so much to fuckin learn.

So don’t ever stop learning. Don’t ever deprive yourself of that curiosity, that class, that subject, that hobby, that experience.

It’s only over when it’s over, when you’re dead.

I tell ya what. I graduated college, and thought that my career would stimulate me with endless challenges and keep me preoccupied. How disappointing that was. So I decided to, you know, preoccupy myself with working out, because most colleagues and adults I observed looked grotesquely out of shape, which, most preoccupations do, turned into a obsession that really bordered on stupidity, in hindsight. I’ve always read and tried to self educate, but I really got depressed reading and having it feel aimless; like what’s education for education’s sake? Why read these obscure subjects for curiosities sake? What kind of tangible investment will that get me? It seemed like a distraction from my job. 

Fast forward six years and it occurs to me that fitness, while regular activity is necessary to compensate for civilizations increasingly sedentary demands, is about most ill advised investment of time and energy in the long run, since our bodies have a pretty predictable rate of depreciation, and no amount of exercise will extend our years to overcome death. And if the quality of life is determined by how we spend that time, and most of my waking life revolves around the Sisphyean struggle to break and build my body, what can I really say about the yields of this investment? Fitness is like learning to build a increasingly elaborate and byzantine sand castle on the shoreline, forever digging out the moat and gathering up sand to repair and build, while fighting wind and waiting for the last great tide to wipe it all out.

It’s always impressive to see a massive sandcastle. But if you take a day or a year off, it’s like, oh. I have to start over, pretty much.

So it re-occurred to me that investments in my mind, in knowledge and exposure and experience, are really the absolute best investment. And that’s why I continue to put my money where my mouth is, and pick up books, buy books, all the books, go to the library, and read and read and read, and do shit, draw shit, participate in shit. Create Meet-ups on subjects. Go to meet-ups on subjects. There are no rules for learning or reading. I have bought books and it took me years to finish them, or years before I just happened to pick it up and read it for the first time.

And most recently, I discovered something even more exhilarating: You can go back to school.

You can take classes. Enroll at community college, and take night classes, online classes, enroll at continuing studies classes at Berkeley and Stanford, for credit! And it is cheap! As in, rather than like $3,000 a fuckin credit, it’s $100! A three credit semester class is like $300!

You can literally take night classes, and get a fuckin degree, while you work. You can learn new subjects, and become learned in pretty much any fuckin subject!

And it doesn’t matter what school it is, because, it’s fuckin knowledge. It’s a community of people who want to learn. People to discuss ideas with, to learn with, to challenge each other. It’s quite amazing.

It occurred to me that while learning never ends, education never has to end either. You can take classes and pick up degrees and be an expert, and still live a life

Truth, Lies and the Power of Narratives

I’m taking a creative writing class and I couldn’t help but think of Nietzsche’s essay “On Truth and Lies in the Nonmoral Sense” and his quote:

“What therefore is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms: in short a sum of human relations which became poetically and rhetorically intensified, metamorphosed, adorned, and after long usage seem to a notion fixed, canonic, and binding; truths are illusions of which one has forgotten that they are illusions; worn-out metaphors which have become powerless to affect the senses; coins which have their obverse effaced and now are no longer of account as coins but merely as metal.”

Everything is stories, and ultimately which stories become truth is more a function of power than “truth”.

Nietzsche said “All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”

I’m also skeptical of the critical theory these ideas support.

At the end of the day, it’s all about networks, and networks are another word for “tribal connections”.

There is a famous paper by Stanford professor Mark Granovetter titled “The Strength of Weak Ties”.

“Private knowledge” does not exist.
In the sense that, all knowledge just like all language is a byproduct of social activity. Your network or tribe is a collection of individuals possessing varying levels of economic resources and social status/influence. It’s why education can be such a powerful instrument for socioeconomic mobility.

It’s why going to top academic institutions matter, in the sense that they connect you with elite networks positioned closest to power, ie economic resources and influencers. Inequality of opportunity is the biggest hurdle we face in rectifying outcomes.

But do we really want someone outside our tribe earning a spot that would otherwise be filled by our own tribesman, son or daughter? Are we willing to compromise with competency in order to provide opportunity to those we are most obligated to protect, ie our kinsman?

You can make an argument that education is education is education. You can become a relative expert in any domain in this day in age whether you learn from online classes, local colleges, or top universities.

But this misses the most significant point: knowledge is not enough. Your ability to execute is constrained by access to resources and networks.

So you want to engineer a billion dollar solution.

What is the problem? Who controls the market of that problem?

Certain problems are only obvious when you have a vantage point of seeing the entire system at work, and understanding the value of those problems within that system. This requires being in a place of privilege.

Even if your idea could revolutionize an industry, introducing it into the industry has hurdles. Who will buy it? How will it integrate? What is the value proposition? How do you deliver or manufacture?

How do you gain access to the people who have these answers, or the capital to realize these solutions?

Understanding how markets work and the relationships comprising them is why venture capitalists and angel investors are such a popular avenue. You can leverage their place of power.

There is a reason why there are so many entrepreneurs attended top universities, worked at top consulting companies, or private equity or banking, or even worked for a top corporation.

Being so close to those who own and oversea these networks and systems provides a unique vantage point to understanding where the problems are and the real value of a given solution.

Each tribe or network is defined by their “stories”, their experiences and exposures and the ability to identify as a group with these narratives. Protecting the tribe, and restricting access to a network is a means of self-preservation, and protecting individual identity.

Guilds, secret societies, associations, tradesman apprenticeships, social clubs— these preserve and protect knowledge and access to opportunities.