Categories
Internet Culture

Day 521 and Lots of Words

Today is the second day in #1000WordsofSummer. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a program run by Jami Attenberg. I am not using my daily writing exercise to “count” for it as they are separate experiences in my mind. So now I suppose I’ve really opted myself into a very prolific two weeks of writing.

I wanted to begin on my story when I first woke up. I had ideas for plot points and details running through my head. But I had some other work that is due on Monday so I put my head down and pushed through everything else so I could get to my science fiction.

I considered writing the thousand words first but I don’t like the idea of using writing to procrastinate for some reason. I’d prefer to get the main tasks down and out of the way. Then my fun writing gets it be a treat and serve as a carrot to get other deliverables done.

So I got my power point done and then I went straight into my short story. I did an edit pass and that somehow added in an additional 700 or so words as different parts got more fully realized. I sketched out some plot points and areas I wanted to explore. That was another 300. It was much easier going for second try than the first. W

hich is a very good argument for just doing something and not judging it. By the time you come round for the second try, you will have learned some tiny sliver of something. And that little something slowly over time makes it all easier. The struggle is the work.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 520 and A Thousand Words

I’ve done a lot of writing that isn’t for this blog recently. And it’s mostly been about DAOs and corporate governance. My talk for Consensus involved a fair amount of original writing and research. If you want a preview of it it just went up today. To be honest I was tempted to just repost here to count for today as it’s very good. I hope you will read it.

And then this morning I decided why not jump into Jami Attenberg’s #1000WordsofSummer. It’s a two week community exercise in putting the proverbial pen to paper. I’ve been wanting to play around with writing science fiction as it’s my favorite genre.

I got down a thousand words about a a woman who is a sentiment analyst for a a bunch of DAOs in the 2070s. I wanted to explore what an alternative corporate governance structure fork from hierarchical limited liability corporations into decentralized autonomous organizations might look like practically. I’m not sure if it’s any good but I had fun with laying out some thought experiments.

She was probably stuck with low yield yoga and step side quests which wouldn’t do much to make up for the loss of her analyst pay. Investment DAOs paid better than scientific ones. Anyone that contributed to price discovery remained well remunerated. That had been true in her grandma’s day too.

My protagonist is trying to take a break from her workload but still needs to earn some side hustle to make up for the shortfall. I take you through her thought process on what to do. It’s mostly an excuse to riff on how we will sell different kinds of our personal data but maybe also get more in return. Lots of theory of labor value goofing off that I hopefully find a way to put into an enjoyable narrative structure.

It seems a bit crazy to take on an additional writing experiment when I already opt into writing every single day. But this blog has really evolved into a personal space to explore how I feel and what I’m working on. It doesn’t really build on itself in a natural narrative fashion. So I’ll keep poking away at a thousand words of fiction and see what happens. I can’t promise I’ll publish it but I may just put it out there for fun.

Categories
Internet Culture Media Politics

Day 482 and Vibe Shift

A month or so ago a piece written by a New York marketing executive titled Vibe Shift went viral among the chattering classes. The premise is that we are on the precipice of a cultural change that is upending everything from politics to fashion. And depending on your perspective, this shift might include crumbling dystopian decay or vibrant fuck it optimism. Or in the case of web3 absolutely both.

I think the Vanity Fair piece on the New Right is chronicling one of the first emergent vibe camps to emerge from the vibe shift. The article is a look at the art, intellectual environment and personalities of the “not quite conservative” new right. And it’s a largely positive even glowing send up.

If you believe the Citadel is a corrupt institution and moral moral crisis then the Vanity Fair piece should have been negative. It’s a surprise that it wasn’t. Not long ago we were subjected to intense narratives about the dangers of nRX neo-reactionaries and it’s infiltration of Silicon Valley. It was a real and urgent issue that the center of so much money and power might doesn’t align with the cultural values of media or academia. If you don’t speak this language the Citadel is code for the left leaning creative and cultural institutions like Hollywood, academia and media.

So why isn’t it a crisis any more that there is a new breed of influential “not quite” conservatives? If anything the right in America has shown itself to be capable of so much more than just boat parades and goofy hats. Some of these fuckers were expanding the Overton window on peaceful transitions of democratic power on January. It might actually be getting worse.

Except now the left fucking sucks too. Now I’m not justifying fascists. These Christian Nationalists are trying to roll back modernity and pluralism. Fuck them. They fuckers don’t even have a demographic majority. So it pains when I say the vibe shift is showing the left as the worst version of themselves while the right is showing a new cultural ascension.

To a lot of normal moderate people the left looks controlling, scolding, frigid, and conformist. Everything from mask politics to gender relations has started to make the left look insane. It’s entirely rational people would be seeking a vibe shift for something more welcoming.

My theory is we are about to see a massive resurgence of affection for all kinds of conservative hobby horses. Especially of vibes that used to be the province of the traditional left. Everyone is sick of being shamed while they go about living their lives. And whoever wins that vibe war will win America.

Categories
Travel

Day 433 and Walking

Walking is the only way to learn a city. I’ve never been able to pick up a feel for a city any other way. Being driven or driving in a car just doesn’t help me get a sense of place. It’s only after several days of pounding the pavement that I finally feel as if I can navigate without the help of a map or a GPS.

I’ve been doing my best to traverse the key neighbors in Frankfurt on foot over the last few days. I’ll set out for a basic destination like the grocery store or pharmacy on foot without my phone. Then I’ll choose something further afield like a restaurant or shopping center. Today I went for the ultimate test. I set off for the city center to visit a museum. Specifically Goethe House.

Goethe House Plaque

I barely needed to check my map at all. I made it to the philosopher’s house without any issues. I enjoyed an hour or two of history and then I set off on my journey back. I remembered a restaurant I wanted to visit on the way back. I realized I was near a store I’d been meaning to visit so I veered off track to check in. I found myself in a new district entirely. I spent some time visiting a mall. And then I set back for my Airbnb.

My the end my lifeline, aka my phone, had run out of battery. But I still knew exactly where I was. I was picking up my place in space. I was centered. And also extremely tired as I walked 13,000 steps steps in the space of three hours.

Categories
Aesthetics Media

Day 366 and Auld Lang Syne Motherfuckas

I’ve got a routine with this blog. I’ll write my post. Then I’ll tag it and hit publish. But before I put it on Twitter for everyone to see, I text it to my friend Phil. He doesn’t always respond. I doubt he’s read every single post. Even I haven’t. But he’s the first person to get a link. I’m not entirely sure how I established this routine but it might have something to do with a video series called The Burg. Let me explain.

Back when Phil and I were idiots in our twenties, we lived in Williamsburg Brooklyn. It used to be the hipster neighborhood. And because the creative class is what it is, someone decided to make a short video series about living there because narcissism. Phil and I were obsessed with this series. It was before professional quality had become a worthwhile investment for YouTube content so we didn’t have endless options. The show felt like it was meant for us. Someone actually bothered to script and shoot a show about solipsist hipsters in our own neighborhood.

The show made a special new year’s episode. In it the characters play a game where they do absolutely unthinkably cruel thing to their friends. But it all must be forgiven at midnight because “Auld Lang Syne motherfuckas!” Their tradition is you have to forgive each other no matter what has been done. The song demands it apparently. It’s actually a really beautiful meditation on friendship and the capacity we have to hurt the ones we love the most. Also hipsters are assholes.

Now because Phil and I were idiots as kids, we also did unthinkably cruel things to each other. Just like on The Burg. We had massive blow ups. We didn’t speak for a few years. But somehow we started a tradition of sending each other the Burg’s Auld Lang Syne episode at midnight every New Years. I guess we knew we needed a ritual to find a way to forgiveness. Without it we would have drifted apart. With it we’ve been friends for fifteen years.

We are long past those volatile years thankfully. But we still text each other Auld Lang Syne as the year turns without fail. I went so far as to download a copy of the episode in case the cloud isn’t a safe space for it anymore. I have to have to accessible to send to Phil at the stroke of midnight.

So this is a roundabout way of explaining why Phil always gets the link first. A habit I also started fresh on a New Years Day. He’s the first person I start fresh with on New Years. He embodies the spirit of forgiveness and new beginnings for me. So every day now he gets a link. He probably wishes he didn’t. But Auld Lang Syne motherfuckas! He’s got to forgive me.

Categories
Finance Internet Culture

Day 359 and SOS

A few days ago I wondered what project or cultural artifact was going to grab our mutual cultural attention during the Christmas vacation week? Something always does. One year it was fucking Quora if you can believe it. This year I’m ready to call it for $SOS at least if you are into Web3 and crypto economics.

On fucking Christmas Day these degenerates drop a contract to let anyone claim tokens who has ever purchased an NFT on the OpenSea marketplace. And people went ape shit. Suddenly someone had taken all the visible contributions from OpenSea and manifested them in a token and said this is ours. Fuck corporate dominance of profit your users hold the real value. I’ve never seen anything so ballsy. Last year when Wall Street Bets decided to taken on hedge funds I felt like we had entered a new era of community behavior.

An emergent community has swum up from the sea and eaten the lunch of a supposedly greedy centralized platform. Web3 just attacked what we didn’t even realize was Web2. A crypto darling turned parable for centralization in the space of a few years. $SOS seemed to say community owned this value all along. The airdrop showed us the balance of power in a web3 community if we all work together. I’m so impressed by the sheer cultural force of the statement. It could all go horribly awry but god damn if it isn’t utopian.

I’ve got not fucking clue if this is a legitimate contract or not. I’m not going to FUD. But from a first principles, we are building a new internet where the incentives of the users align with the technology statement, then this is quite a shot across the bow. Also I’m pretty sure this makes it harder for OpenSea to IPO if their user base is in open rebellion against who gets rewarded.

The thing is I believe Devin to be a well meaning and genuinely forward thinking guy. He’s a terrific communicator that set out with the utopian intentions that we all do. But we are moving so fast with breaking cultural norms and acceptable societal level rewards for contributions to an economy that I think we might have just spiraled up to some kind of cultural singularity. Crypto might just be moving that fast. Whatever happens this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen from a startup. Score one for the anonymous degens.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 317 Walk Without Rhythm

I struggle with accepting the reality that humans have natural rhythms. I struggle even more with the idea that living by them is to my benefit. Circadian rhythms and seasonal rhythms control our days and nights. The body craves the repetition that rhythm brings even as the mind rejects the idea that we are behold to it.

Call it a Calvinism of the body. We are predestined to our rhythms. We’ve got freedom to chose how we live, so even though rhythms bring strength to our bodies, our mind strains against the constraints. We must have free choice we say. Except what good does it bring us to reject our natural physical rhythms?

There are many types of rhythms. Our world is built out of them. Regular, random, progressive, alternating and flowing rhythms give shape and order to everything around us. All of our art forms leverage the beauty of rhythms freedom and constraints. Nothing is new under the sun but the combinatorial possibilities are infinite.

I’d do well to retain that sense of wonder at the infinite as I fight against the sense of indignation that I am limited by rhythms. We are all limited by the forms in which we exist. Until I get to discover what is beyond the veil of physical existence I’m stuck. Maybe beyond that I’ll find the formless freedom of pure comprehension. Or maybe I can learn that freedom always comes with the constraints of its medium. That doesn’t mean I’m not free to be creative within the form I have.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 312 and Future Perfect

After a disastrous year in San Francisco, in which I broke up with a cheating boyfriend and discovered I was almost completely incapable of integrating into the culture of the startup which has purchased mine, I fled to Williamsburg Brooklyn.

I had rented, sight unseen, a bedroom in a large converted industrial loft on North 6th and Berry off of Craigslist. The lease holder was bald Turkish hipster with a corporate job working IT at Bank of America. He loved partying and dance music. We rarely saw each other. It was an ideal home for a 24 year old.

The loft was above a furniture store called The Future Perfect. They had extremely expensive, extremely tasteful shit. The owner David was very nice but he probably knew that his neighbors would never be able to afford the designs he stocked and curated. Well, at the time.

The building shared a courtyard backyard so I got to fantasize a little about having great taste through exposure. My proximity to Future Perfect’s design slowly shaped my taste, even though I slept on a $300 futon whose defining feature was pebbled black pleather.

I never really believed I’d live a life where I had the stability that investing in furniture required. I mostly had sublets and moved by trash bag and taxi. My godfather introduced me to his “guy” for moving which let me acquire some Ikea but otherwise I didn’t invest. I was used to instability having moved a lot as a child.

Maybe that’s why the furniture store spoke to me. Future Perfect. A future that is perfect is one you will never live in. So it’s safe to indulge in the fantasy, knowing you will never take any real steps towards making it reality.

An older male friend of mine, who I had wanted to fuck but who never reciprocated, bought a couch from Future Perfect. I was impressed by his good taste and capacity to invest in real furniture. He had taken on a lease in a building in SoHo with plans for spending part of his time in New York. He let me stay there when he wasn’t. I luxuriated on the couch. I remember reading Watchmen for the first time on it.

At some point he decided New York just wasn’t for him. Or at least having a lease there wasn’t worth it. He asked me if I had a moving guy. I gave him the name of the guy my godfather has introduced me too. I got a phone call a week or two later.

“I’ve got a couch for you. Can I bring it up?” My mind was blown. My friend had just given me the couch. He didn’t even make a big deal about it. He just paid my moving guy to pick it up and deliver it to me. I cried. I loved that couch. It was the first truly nice piece of furniture I could ever call my own.

Sometimes I think about how my friend had more faith in the future than I did. That he was willing to invest in making his current moment perfect in a way I never could. I still have the couch. I moved it cross country with me to Colorado. It’s no longer the nicest piece of furniture I own. But only just. I invested in a working desk a few months ago. But nothing will ever rival the Future Perfect couch in my heart.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 304 and Higher Resolution

I finally watched the new Dune today. This post probably has spoilers. I liked it a lot even if it breaks no new aesthetic ground. It’s just a higher resolution envisioning of David Lynch. I’m no film critic. I don’t give a lot of thoughts to cinema. I prefer TV. But it’s fascinating to see just how much the Denis Villeneuve version matched it’s predecessor. It’s got the same muscular Christianity that tosses up messiah myths in the desert but this time with Baudrillard’s hyper reality.

It’s fantastic to see really. Dave Bautista is a great aesthetic match for the grotesque petrodollar plutocracy. You love to see it. Timothée Chalamet is a terrific white savior. Zendaya is Pocahontas. Also great gear fetish work too. Apocalypse fashions are functional just like in cyberpunk. But now with water filters!

It’s all a look and I’m so glad the director of the Fifth Element isn’t being asked to break any new ground on his own aesthetic brand. It’s even got pandemic masks baked in! And the best villains are as always environmentalists. And just like Star Wars it’s mostly a movie about trade policy. All our best movies are about money in modernity. End of empire is our favorite romance. The death of empathy is about seeing numbers in humanity because going from authoritarian to communitarian must involve proud patrilineal martial men.

If you walk without rhythm then you won’t attract the worm!”

I felt the same way about Mad Max Fury Road. Everyone was raving about it as an aesthetic achievement and all I could see was that it had simply polished up the mood board of the original. It’s a miracle it got made said the reviews. And I’m like no this seems like the system working as designed.

Of course we get to consume a new hyper reality. We get a better version of our childhood beamed back to us. Also parables about feminism because someone feels guilty about all those princes movies that rotted our brains.

South Park called it ‘memberberies and made fun of the culture of nostalgia. It’s astonishing how much of our current entertainment is just better versions of what we’ve already had. We are so spoiled for choice and it’s all the same.

Baron Harkonnen is still fat and flying over rooms. It’s just all a lot slicker than on the first go. It’s all sexier and smoother and utterly absolutely the same. No wonder none of us can imagine the future anymore. The future’s aesthetics haven’t changed in two decades. We stopped in the aughts and went hard into refinement culture. Skalla the Lindy Man got this aesthetic nuance just right and I feel like I’m only just noticing how much I hate it.

It’s enough to make me want to stop wearing clean lines just as some desperate attempt to break free from the inexorable horizon of the long now. Ben Hunt points out that we’ve broken ourselves off from investing in our future so we never get there.

And it’s all very good. And it’s all well executed. And I enjoy it all. But it’s just a fraction off from being authentically good. It’s not quite the reality you’d hoped for but it’s somehow crisper than you’d imagined. It’s polished and it’s boring. No wonder Gen Gen Z is over all this shit. Crystal clarity in all our media makes the soul despair. I say let’s clutter up the web with financialized jpgs. At least the vibe is different.

Everything else feels decadent and rooted in the cannibal consumption of the late empire’s transition to capitalism. And I mean America not Arrakis. The slice of people commenting on any of this are necessarily removed from the reality of day to day life. My asshole take on shit is just the most removed crap and it’s comical I even take the time to signal it into the abyss. That’s excess labor value in the form of a social class. It wouldn’t be any surprise if we brought on our own apocalypse because we couldn’t face a future with consequences. The spice must flow.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 263 and I’m Baby

One of my friends got me an embroidered “I’m baby” patch with a Moomintroll holding a knife in place of the original Kirby. It’s an elaborate play on the “I’m Baby” meme and was a truly excellent Christmas gift. I’m a fan of the Finnish children’s author Tove Janson who created the Moomin series and also emotionally baby and my friend knows it.

Original “I’m Baby” Kirby meme vs a photo of my Moonin “I’m Baby” embroidered patch

The “I’m baby” meme is generally a play on why someone should be allowed to continue with their behavior or emotions without consequence. It’s a kind of elaborate joke about wishing to dodge responsibility if only for a few minutes. Obviously it’s very popular with Gen Z but it’s really more about wishing to live in a world where it’s even possible to be a baby when life feels overwhelming.

The original meme came out of an emergency but it’s come to be a kind of wishful demand and hope that one can just well be a baby for a bit and have someone else handle it.

Moomintroll is an excellent stand in for Kirby in the meme because in the Finnish cartoons he never has to live without Moomin Mama. Moomintroll is an archetypal baby. The Moomin universe has constant catastrophe (no seriously there are floods and asteroids) but Moomintroll can always count on Moomin Mama. It’s a soothing set of books for children obviously but it’s also just nice that there are parental figures to which one can turn. That’s a fantasy we all have at some point. Especially when shit looks bad.

But being baby also means someone else has to be the adult. The willful insistence on being baby is about giving your power to someone else. Unless you are literally baby (in which case how are you reading this blog) you’ve chosen to put someone else in the position of power. Which is an important lesson for adulthood. You always have the power. Even if you chose to be baby. Especially if you are baby.

So be careful when you say “I’m baby” and act helpless. You gave up your power. And that’s alright. Being helpless can be a totally cool sex thing and it’s great to chose your kink when. But you’ve got to have consent for that shit. Bringing someone else into your fantasy of being baby might be non-consensual. When my friend jokes that I’m baby it’s because he knows I like to give up my power. But alas it’s a fantasy and I can’t go back to being Moomintroll for real. But it’s a nice patch right?