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Aesthetics Emotional Work

Day 481 and The Mood

There is a scene in Dune where heir apparent Paul Atreides is dismissing the danger he is in from the Harkonnens. He tells his instructor he is “not in the mood” to train.

It proceeds to be a standard issue coming of age issue. Paul realized being responsible means finding the mood if the need arises. The circle of manhood. You’ve read Joseph Campbell too so you can fill in the hero’s journey.

But I’ve recently noticed an uptick of people not being in the mood. This isn’t for lack of desire to build and and will manifest. People are exhausted by the increasing chaos. The entropy pulling on all of our lives is weighing on us. People have let big life decisions go by as the uncertainty plays out. We want to stop to attend to those problems. We’ve got health issues we’ve not checked out. We’ve got family members who are struggling. We’ve put off buying homes and making trips and investing in things b

But we cannot let the pace and uncertainty of the now prevent us from setting the foundations for our future. We may not be in the mood. We may be tired and scared and overwhelmed. But the occasions that require action do not care for our moods.

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Internet Culture

Day 469 and the Discourse

On the one hand, the discourse today is horrible. Elon Musk threatening to buy Twitter is breaking people’s fucking minds. On the other hand, it’s the height of culture to be so singularly obsessed with a topic of such little consequence. The zeitgeist is full on psychotic.

This isn’t about free speech. Fuck that. No one gives that much of a shit about corporate governance that they’d super impose a civilizational problem like free speech onto securities law. This isn’t an episode of Billions. In except that both make me want to scream “that’s not how this works, not how any of it works” into the void.

This is all an elaborate publicity stunt to feed the narcissism driven logic of markets obsessed with celebrity and personality. Because everyone knows what everyone knows, pricing discovery is a function of lurching forward a narrative for the vox popli. Except everyone is convinced they are uniquely brilliant so they can’t possibly also be manipulated by the transparent agitprop. Yeah yeah sure I’m a galaxy brain too. We’re all playing 4D chess. Everyone is winning and the markets only go up.

Categories
Internet Culture Startups

Day 461 and Remora

I saw a headline about how Trump’s social media site is failing. I’ve got no idea if that’s true but the media likes the story. This is playing out in the context of Elon Musk using corporate governance as a public relations stunt with his new Twitter board seat. Everyone wants to be an attention grabbing technology company even former presidents and aerospace billionaires. Because even the stupid stunt stuff in tech can be world changing.

I’m at the big Bitcoin conference in Miami. It’s a lot but it’s not fundamentally any gaudier than any other industry event I’ve attended in twenty years being adjacent to startups. Before my current stint as an investor I worked in fashion and beauty so I’ve seen a lot of excess. M I was raised in a boom time Web1 startup family. But also my family went bankrupt. I’ve seen the dark sides. I still work in tech. Like Trump and Elon I too just want a piece of the action.

It’s because startups change the world. Even stupid weird dopey absolutely cult adjacent shit can and does change the world. All these prestige television takes on frauds and crashes and the cult of personality nonsense miss that sometimes those freaks actually do it. Sometimes they change the world. Ok most of the time they don’t. See the current unraveling of Fast. 99% of the time shit goes bad. But to have even a little bit of the action of the 1%. It’s fucking dazzling. It’s worth being adjacent to all the bullshit.

I hold in high esteem the folks who work at the flameouts. Anyone who takes a chance and has it go bad has my admiration. I’ve been one of them. I’ve failed a lot. I’m lucky I don’t get punished for it. At least not much. I’ll never know how much shit like my gender or my ridiculous social media personality factor into that shit. Because I am always allowed to get right back into the action and make shit. Making shit is our currency.

I think this is why even the most powerful people gravitate towards startups. You actually get to make shit. At the earliest stages you get to be personally responsible for so much. Your actions have meaning. You contribute. You know how rare that feeling of community and camaraderie is in peacetime?

It’s a commodity so precious we let ourselves be led by girl bosses and fast talking celebrity thought leader venture capitalists. We tolerate a lot of assholes and psychopaths so we can be in a community of people that make things. It’s the American dream and the most basic human need all rolled up into one.

That ought to give you a sense of the cultural power and vitality of startups. That’s loyalty on par with religion. That’s move history big dick energy. And I think some people hate it I find the hate inscrutable but I’m sure it’s probably legible to those who feel left outside.

So yes boom time early energy big money hanger on remoras are part of any thriving ecosystem. And as far as I can tell Bitcoin has the manna to go the distance. Because everyone wants a piece of the action.

Categories
Aesthetics Media

Day 456 and Timing

I always get a kick out of my writing days with good numbers. I celebrate every hundred posts. I notice the palindromes even if I don’t log them in posts. I revel in the repetitions. So naturally today’s numerical sequence tickles at my limbic emotional responses. My conscience mind says “oh patterns” and I feel capable and intelligent.

Noticing shit is nominally my job. I was obsessed with William Gibson’s Cayce Pollard in Pattern Recognition. The trend spotting cosmopolitan consultant with an allergy to brands inspired my foray into fashion. I wanted to be her so much that I once bought a Pilates reformer because she practiced it. I remain dedicated to the craft of knowing what is coming around the bend.

There was a time when I wanted to be the sort of person who capitalized on each and every shift in mood, zeitgeist or vibe. I’d be sure I could be queen of a given wave. But in truth I’ve come to think I’m better at spotting “the thing” early than being the person that manifests it’s adoption. I prefer to notice early, place my bets, and watch “it” unfold now.

Categories
Travel

Day 426 and Missing Glamor

I flew to Europe today. Or rather last night. I had a business class flight to Munich, which in a past life would have been the height of luxury. Instead I found myself in the morass of Covid protocol lounges, individually wrapped dinner services and hygiene theater.

Because I was flying out of Denver I ended up a little bit high, (you can’t take it with you) wandering terminals looking for a business class lounge. When I did find one, it was all food service cold cuts and broccoli cheddar soup. The lounge was packed to the gills and had a mask mandate but did that ridiculous hygiene theater where you didn’t mask when eating. So everyone was eating but occasionally someone would yell at you if it was to clear you were between sips or nibbles. Eventually I gave up on the United Lounge as I’m just not a cold cure kinds gal and satisfied my munchies with some McDonalds fries.

Once I made it onto my flight I learned that under no circumstances was I allowed to take off my mask for even a moment to apply face creams. I’d been planning to apply my nightly beauty regimen on the plane before dozing off but was told it simply wasn’t allowed. The woman next to me was deep into her second Chardonnay but god forbid I get my resveretrol topically from Claudelie. I eventually snuck off to the bathroom for my nightly ablutions.

I was however allowed to take off my mask for my Crab Salad and champagne. Which was the last possible indication that flying used to be a luxurious experience. After dinner I learned we were expected to sleep in our KN95 masks. And to think I’d hoped I’d be wearing a beauty mask. Eventually I found myself a comfortable position to lie down in during a fitted N95. But I didn’t take any chances. I took two ambien to sleep through whatever bit of Covid protocol wanted me next.

Categories
Internet Culture Preparedness

Day 423 and Hot Takes

I am a prolific shit poster. I am a haver of takes. I am a full fledged member of the discourse. But Jesus Christ I never thought I’d see the day where the galaxy brains are feeling good about having nuclear war takes. Literally the hottest of takes.

I am in a preparedness Discord with a number of very level headed people. There are people that I would trust to help me think through surviving a disaster. But none of us are foreign policy experts or plugged into the state department. Nevertheless we are speculating on the possibility that Ukraine’s invasion by Russia could take us there. But we are just speculating!

Now I’m not a Bluecheck media personality on Twitter but I do know what it’s like to have an influential opinion. I’ve got a small platform and I try to use my voice responsibly. Or at least make clear when I’m shitposting. Because people will take you seriously. So you have to occasionally do a double take on your takes.

It doesn’t feel like most people are being particularly careful today. There are a few voices that have got things right in the past that are working though thought experiments. That’s valuable. But the bulk of folks are engaging in some terrible information hygiene. Opinions are being had. But also propaganda is being circulated and disinformation warfare is being waged. So far the West is being clearly won by the scrappy Ukrainian narrative. But who knows what will stick. So he careful out there. We are literally at war. Don’t rush to conclusions or to share shit that looks too good to be true. You don’t want to end up pushing an agenda that isn’t your own.

Categories
Aesthetics Emotional Work

Day 410 and My Own Valentine

I’m quite fond of Valentine’s Day. I like flowers and chocolates and cards. I like wearing bright pink. I like all the hyper feminine consumerism around the entire Hallmark holiday.

I’ve got my own rituals and routines for the day. I used to go to White Castle for their white tablecloth service with my friends. Yes that’s a real thing they do. It’s an absolute blast to get table service when the food is sliders. It’s a wholesome experience that somehow no one does ironically. They once let me take home all the balloons when I had the last reservation of the night.

But I am particularly enjoying Valentine’s Day this year because I’ve made a commitment to self love this year. I came into the day with a spirit of accepting myself in whatever condition I arrive in. It’s a glass half full approach in a time where it’s easy to look for downsides and depression.

I hope if you are considering committing to more love in your life that you start with yourself. That on Valentine’s Day you focus on giving yourself the love you’ve always wanted. Maybe it sounds as silly to you as having sliders with table service at White Castle. But I promise both experiences are far more than a critical ego will allow. Go ahead, open yourself up. To love and little hamburgers. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 401 and Clarity

Life is a pretty indecisive process. You go through with, at best, some genetic heuristics for truth and a couple half verified data sets. So when the feeling of clarity hits you it’s hard not to notice. The clarion call of seeing reality (which sounds like me mixing two sense based metaphors) is edifying.

When you know you know. Popular culture loves this phenomenon. You get it. Knowing is head to toes and taint to tip stuff. You just get what’s happening in your gut. Somewhere in the shared brain space of your conscious reality and the microbiology of your intestinal fauna there exists clarity.

Surely there is a reason we describe knowing as a process that isn’t strictly data driven. Sure we can have facts and methods and process. But somewhere along the line we can only know if our biology agrees. Your gut knows what I mean.

I had a bit of that feeling earlier today. I got some feedback from someone I like and trust. It wasn’t positive feedback. Me and mine had fucked up something in our approach. But then I had clarity. I knew what we needed to do to fix it. I saw the path that would lead to our success together. And I just knew it. In every part of me. And the best part is when I share it with my partner they will get it too. In their mind and body. That’s clarity.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 400 and Consumption

I’m excited to be hitting my first year two posting milestone today. Four hundred straight days of writing is the kind of habit that has got clear staying power. It’s funny that today I celebrate the power of creation when my topic for the day is consumption.

Pandemic living cut down a lot of consumption for me. Travel, dining out, cosmetics and fashion used to be huge parts of my life. Style played a prominent part in my career. I loved being a part of a creative profession. People made things. We worked on items that existed in the physical world meant to be appreciated in the here and now. But we also made things to be consumed. We created in service of consumption.

I love the intersection of art and commerce. It’s really where humanity tells on itself. Just raw unadulterated power dynamics on display. But also sometimes consumption means wanting to be seen and liked by someone else for sharing in-group affinities. I get it. I pride myself on knowing a bunch of ephemera so I can wow just about anyone at a cocktail party. Being included is a powerful safety drive and I think it’s nice to cultivate it for each other.

So I guess I’ve missed I missed some of that. Being at home I’ve done so little to engage with the current moment’s aesthetics except as they manifest inside internet culture. I’m up on all the zeitgeist in the chattering classes but I’m not hip to what’s being bought.

Maybe this is what happens when you haven’t been on Instagram since Trump got elected. I’ve got no idea where to shop anymore. My instincts remain but the specifics of the moment were a blank. So you want to know what I bought? Hand to fucking God I bought some of Kim Kardashian’s loungewear. Because why not go right into the Kierkegaardian soul sickness. If I’m starting my fresh might as well go right to the common denominator.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 393 and Red Pilled

Maybe three years ago William Gibson was promoting his new book. It was the last event I attended in a pre-pandemic world so it stands out to me. He gave an interview where he mentioned reading a novel by Hari Kunzru called “Red Pilled” and that he found the plot as a plausible near future.

I immediately bought a copy as I’m heavily influenced by the prescient near future work of @GreatDismal. The book was about a member of the blue check media class slowly going stark raving mad because of an elaborate right wing alt-reich troll farming operation. It was uncomfortably clear on the kind of elaborate cultural war tactics that goes into pilling normies. Dank memes and slowly you are accepting the aesthetics and touchstones of former Reich minutiae or Nordic runes or pick your mythical volk white mythology. Memes are dangerous gateway ideology kids.

I didn’t really think anything of it at the time. Then I lived through the pandemic becoming an elaborate death cult ritual with totemic significance for both warring sides. I realized we are in the middle of a massive meme war for the soul of internet culture and most of us don’t know we are victims yet.

Walk down one wrong hobby hole on Reddit and suddenly you have become friends with folks with more than passing fascinations with authoritarian culture. Honestly it’s freaky as shit and I’m absolutely socially friendly with people who don’t think I’m a fully autonomous sovereign individual. And yes I mean both socialist Soviet apologist Tankies and TradCath beach fascists.

The latest example of mass hyper object cultural murmurations might be the Bored Ape Yacht Club. And not in the way you think! It was brought to my attention by Venkatesh Rao and he clicked together some signs I’d registered but not processed. It’s entirely possible someone pulled a QAnon semiotic culture jacking with everyone’s favorite NFT project and made it so we all consumed a bunch of Nazis culture.

Which sounds like a deranged conspiracy theory by woke activists but might actually be true. Someone did quite a bit of homework on the BAYC aesthetic history and it’s connection to racist reactionary political traditions, but it’s inherently unreliable as the story is being told by another elaborate culture artist. Who the fuck knows? Are there even sides to this kind of culture war? Can I be a conscientious objector?

If even a fraction of the wild associative leaps are premeditated it would be a kind of aesthetic scandal on par with the country electing a reality show host. A couple nRX message-board fascists cosplaying as Zombie Nazis grift 4 billion dollars in market place from venture capitalists and gullible celebrities. What a collective failure to repudiate literal Nazis! Lol. Maybe this means our unconscious might think some of this is right? Oh god maybe we did read a human biodiversity essay that made a convincing point. We seem to be a lot closer to black pilled. Fuck. Is this psychological warfare?

Honestly I hate this fantasy so much I hope it ends up being the largest milkshake ducking in history. Except at the end a whole bunch of us end up simping for the technical value of a bunch of Hitler memes. Fuck I’d die if this is how we all got pilled on antique fascist aesthetics. I’d love it even more if Peter Thiel were involved so the left wing conspiracy types could build their own QAnon metaverse. Already we’ve been warned about meme magic and the spiritual traditionalism that is animating a global new right. And I’ve got to be honest some of the threads going around have some elaborate research and narrative work. It’s propaganda level and designed to be compelling and confusing.

BAYC is of the most intricate hidden trolling campaigns in history created by very intelligent 4chan-related trolls who have hidden lots of nazi and alt-right innuendoes across the collection I’ve gathered enough proof to confirm it.

I honestly have no idea who is playing who in this saga. I’m think @vgr is probably right that even the terminally online struggle to make sensible or legible this level of signaling. So we brush it off. But it’s going to be an inception vector. So be careful when you react to an event. You might be primed to respond to their propaganda and not even know it.