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Sound and fury [20 Oct 2013|10:12pm]
        You want to check out the talk on
        microcontrollers? I hear the guy
        who invented TV-B-Gone is speaking.
              (off Julian's BLANK look)
        It's a remote, you walk into a bar,
        you can turn off all the TVs and...

Daniel reads Julian's contempt, WILTS a little.

        ... I guess it's kind of stupid.

        No, it sounds interesting. But...
        don't you find it tiring? Spending
        time with all these wankers?
Daniel grows still. He LOVES these wankers. Or did, until
just now. Julian pretending not to notice, leans in --

        Look at them. Useless idiots,
        cracking X-Boxes, building antannae
        out of Pringles cans, probably
        spending all their free time
        reading Neuromancer and playing
        Call of Cthulhu. What a waste.

Daniel BLANCHES. Julian's just described HIM.

        Capable generous men, men of
        purpose -- we need to seek nobler
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To chirr of many things [17 Sep 2013|12:38am]
"Would you rather wear a collar to a job interview in 2013, or a fursuit to Eurofurence in 2015?"

The answer is supposed to be, obviously, the latter.

My answer is the "wrong" answer.

But I love the question. What a wonderfully concise litmus test for the concerns that animate a person. I mean it without moral judgment: we are who we are; all animals are who they are, but some animals are more who they are than others.
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Who are you? [29 Jul 2013|10:14pm]
At dinner one night during the Blueprint trip to D.C. (I pause here to do a shot of bourbon remembering myself as an even more annoying 17ish-year-old, but also remembering the charming drunk social workers and wishing the people in the stairwell would burn alive; it was an interesting time), Mr. O said something of which I wouldn't grok the importance for several years. Some part of me got it; I still remember it.

He said I was the most liberal person on the staff.

I think I wasn't the only one who registered surprise at the remark. We were three-sigmas at an uppercrust Jezzie high school. There was exactly one "conservative" with anything like a formal connection to the paper; the rest of us were gay-marrying, immigrant-amnesty-granting, tax-and-spend lefties of one sort or another. I was still pretty solidly in my adolescent libertarian phase; hadn't even seen past capitalism yet! So I don't know what it was I said, exactly, that elicited that response.

It took me a decade to figure out how obviously right he was (a weird variation of obvious), so I guess it shouldn't surprise me that most people in my life still haven't, and that it continues to cause worlds of hurt every time I open my mouth and utter something authentic in language not carefully designed to be parsed by its particular audience.

I'm basically a Horta. (I love metaphor too much not to draw on recent experience.)

I am at a weird and isolating time, and probably a crossroads. But, you know, you get past 25 or so and those are all over.

It's an Animals and NIN and The Future kind of month.

— Cross-posted with FB because it's a crazy time.
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'Elves' [25 Jun 2013|11:29pm]
When someone tells me it's important to have "boundaries" in interpersonal relationships, I know what they mean. I know that they're right, in a sandboxed way. As with the interpersonal, so with the geopolitical: when someone says that controlling national borders is important, they're right. In both cases, if you accept the legitimacy of certain collections of customs — civilization in the former case, state sovereignty in the latter — then you must logically accept that any evil that must be done in support of them is a necessary evil. So even if you get that squicky feeling, as I do, when someone tells you that you have to shut out the person who needs more help than you feel prepared, or willing, to give, or repel the would-be immigrant who exceeds the quota or doesn't meet the criteria, you realize it obviously has to be that way for a civilized individual, or the state, respectively, to keep stability.

The squickiness is caused by the understanding many of us may have, but most repress, that civilization is a personality disorder and states are organized systems of which the only direct function is violence. In the village, we needed many fewer interpersonal boundaries. In the state of nature, there's no assumption of privilege of those lucky enough to be born or naturalized in the right nation-state.
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That's my story and I'm concave to it [09 Jun 2013|11:55pm]
From one of NNT's weird little tables, this one on page 214 of Antifragile:

Narrative knowledgeAntifragile: Optionality-driven tinkering, trial and error
Narrative is epistemologicalNarrative is instrumental
Trapped into a storyNo meaningful dependence on a story — the narrative can be just for motivation

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And one fine morning [02 Mar 2013|11:23am]
"He has the brilliance and stupidity of the patriarchal male, he can play the dominance games cleverly, but wouldn't be able to string together a sentence about why or whether they're worth playing."

This is a friend, in one sentence, saying a substantial portion of what I want to communicate when I'm asked "what I do" or "what I want to do with my life" or "what I do for fun" or when people are talking approvingly about "success" or a "career."

Below decks, in the cubes, we get this. Most of us don't know how to talk about it, much less do anything great about it, but we get this, hard.
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The Simple Truth [16 Feb 2013|09:10pm]
"[I]t was the brutal way they took your lives and made them trite, over hundreds and hundreds of pages. How comfortably these people fit your lives into their own way of seeing the world. Even if the facts that the observers reported on and a senior official occasionally summarized were true — which was by no means always the case; they had to be tailored to fit the interests and expectations of the people giving the assignments — even then, not one of them matched how I felt.... [T]he tunnel vision of the informer unavoidably manipulates what it finds, and he soils it with his miserable language. Yes, I told Francesco, that was what I felt: soiled." — Christa Wolf, Harper's, March
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Fake it till you get it, get it till you make it [10 Feb 2013|10:40am]
There are three basic approaches we can take to the things that assault our authenticity:

1) Surrender
2) Contention
3) Cooptation (turn it into a game)

I preached this as a teenager, I had Steve #2 hammer it into my brain about a dozen different ways in my 20s, and finally, finally, I'm grokking it.
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Network this [06 Feb 2013|09:45pm]
"If children today are at greater risk for obesity than those of previous generations, it's not simply because they're less physically active as a result of being absorbed in TV or computers. It's primarily because under ordinary peacetime conditions there has never before been a generation so stressed and so starved of nurturing adult relationships." — Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
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In the name of the best within you [27 Jan 2013|11:54am]
Taleb again: "Older people are most beautiful when they have what is lacking in the young: poise, erudition, wisdom, phronesis, and this post-heroic absence of agitation."

This post-heroic absence of agitation. I've been looking since my early-mid-20s — from the just-post-Paul time onward — for such a wonderful formulation of it!

Too: NNT is down on modernity but likes civilization. I'm the opposite. There's probably a lot to grok from that.
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And know the place for the first time [22 Jan 2013|07:55pm]
"The characteristic feature of the loser is to bemoan, in general terms, mankind's flaws, biases, contradictions, and irrationality — without exploiting them for fun and profit." — Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes
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must have been the same thing (charlie brown went through) [16 Jan 2013|09:46pm]
Q: Hey, be who you are, or who you're becoming.
Q: Maybe best advice I was ever given: "Be true to yourself and change"
C: I think I'm becoming a lesbian.
C: or just prepping for seattle :P
C: it's the same thing, right?
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Happy Xmas (War Is Over?) [22 Dec 2012|09:16pm]
Unlike a virgin, kicking and screaming; this still works well.

January: "I was sent this link and can't bear to read more than a couple of grafs."

February: "'All this effort, all these risks taken and damages sustained, had achieved one thing for him, which was that he had killed exactly one of his numerous foes.'"

March: "'He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach — that it makes no sense.'"

April: "'Fifty percent of the population is below average in intelligence.'"

May: "The first week of May is always a Thing."

June: "'It isn't changing around from place to place that keeps you lively. It's getting time on your side. Working with it, not against it.'"

July: "Compromise or persevere?"

August: "'We are, at our heart, a nation of rugged individualists. Not in the absurd, capitalistic manner of an Ayn Rand protagonist or a blue-blooded intern at the American Enterprise Institute, but certainly in the manner of our philosophical forefathers — Emerson, Thoreau, Jefferson, Paine.'"

September: "The Lovemaps model of a split between saintly love and sinful lust is meant to explain the association of a behavior, interest, or identity with sex that is not associated with sex for most people. But it also beautifully models the contradictory and extreme ways I think and feel about selflessness and innocence, obligation and privilege."

November: "'Indeed, every day I see my egoism more clearly in my plan to write some kind of history of the Journey to the East.'"

December: "'Must I remind you of the evening when you visited the servant Leo and wished to be recognized by him as a League brother, although this was impossible, for you had made yourself unrecognizable as a League brother?'"
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Too Bad For the Running Man [08 Dec 2012|12:06am]
"Must I remind you of the evening when you visited the servant Leo and wished to be recognized by him as a League brother, although this was impossible, for you had made yourself unrecognizable as a League brother? Must I remind you of the things which you yourself said to the servant Leo? ... About the dreadful, stupid, narrow, suicidal life which you have led for years? ...

"The defendant did not know until this hour, or could not really believe, that his apostasy and aberration were a test. For a long time he did not give in. He endured it for many years, knowing nothing about the League, remaining alone, and seeing everything in which he belived in ruins. Finally, he could no longer hide and contain himself. His suffering became too great, and you know that as soon as suffering becomes acute enough, one goes forward. Brother H. was led to depair in his test, and despair is the result of each earnest attempt to understand and vindicate human life. Despair is the result of each earnest attempt to go through life with virtue, justice and understanding and to fulfil their requirements. Children live on one side of despair, the awakened on the other side. Defendant H. is no longer a child and is not yet fully awakened. He is still in the midst of despair. He will overcome it and thereby go through his second novitiate. We welcome him anew into the League, the meaning of which he no longer claims to understand." — H.H.
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The lights upon the hill (Let your soul guide you along the way) [28 Nov 2012|12:03am]
A friend said to me the other night (fittingly, on Thanksgiving), not for the first time, that certain modes of life, certain roles, certain responsibilities one might accept, are not for everyone.

"It's not for everyone." It has resonated more this time than in the past. Sort of the contrapositive of Unapologetic Genius.

The way we're taught this from the moment we can communicate, if we're lucky, is: "It's okay to be you."

My quarter-life crisis was reconciling the logical and the intuitive. Mid-life is reconciling bliss-following with concerns about privilege. If timescales hold, things will make a comfortable amount of sense by somewhere between ages 35-40. I can only suppose I may get there the same way I got to this greener side of the quarter-life crisis: by keeping on keeping on.
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Because you kill me (you know you do, you kill me well) [15 Nov 2012|11:51pm]
What I meant was, cooptation works both ways, so let's take it to the assholes. I get that I don't get just how effective the organizing and marching and art are — seriously, I'm getting schooled — but let's not settle.

Look, I don't know. Maybe I bitch no matter what. We've totally won gay marriage (we're basically walking around the battlefield now finishing the enemy, and while we're gonna lose a lot more peeps and it's gonna be gruesome, the big picture is that we're exterminating his side and calling it a day), and I'm stuck on the history and the effects on marginal individuals rather than being all about the central victory. I mean I'm right, but still, you know?

I guess this, too, is largely about EULAizing the eschaton. I wanna do Jamie Dimon with a gold-plated corporate OWS cock with a big fuckin' asterisk on it. It's just that the asterisk fuckin' matters. Cooptation is the yin to revolution's yang. I want us to take advantage of that, and I want to go to sleep at night knowing we were smart enough to get that we could take advantage of that.

Still miles to go before I wake, and miles to go before I wake; now this is where I am.
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Go [11 Nov 2012|10:26pm]
"Indeed, every day I see my egoism more clearly in my plan to write some kind of history of the Journey to the East. At the beginning, it seemed to me that I was undertaking a laborious task in the name of a noble cause, but I see more and more that in the description of my journey I am only aiming at the same thing as Mr. Lukas with his war-book; namely, at saving my life by giving it meaning again." — H.H.
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Back 2 Good (What keeps mankind alive) [22 Sep 2012|08:09pm]
Sometimes I think I should have been (and so should yet be) a counselor. I've never really fooled myself I'd be good or happy outside the niche of helping privileged people with their first-world problems of metaphor and narrative. But as I think about it, even acknowledging that severe restriction, I'm not really into helping individuals, or even helping groups; I am moved profoundly by stories of individuals, and stories of communities to the extent that they are powerfully concentrated threads of stubstantial parts of the experiences of lots of individuals. I'm nothing special one-on-one with most people. In YGS, I felt I wanted to make a difference, but hid in administration, and not engagement with our clients, as much as I could. Which was smart: engaging with anyone who doesn't want Jungian acrobatics to enter the conversation is not my strength.

This may also explain my identification with the individual over the group with respect to the metaphor "society." I, probably like some others for whom the experience of the individual is primary, am concerned with the story playing out in the life of an affected individual — the "rights" or "needs" of the collective be damned — and not with the less charming story told by satisfactory statistics, even though those statistics are pointers to a lot of other stories. You deal with this real person, here, now — call it the ethic of "the patient right in front of you" — and the knock-on effects later, if at all.

* * *

Since 2006, I haven't had it in me anymore to save the world.

Since ca. 1994, I haven't had it in me not to save the world.

There was a sweet spot there from 1994ish to 2006, and I only really had my wits about me to do much of anything about it from ca. 1998-2001.

You run what you brung, like the man said. I'm doing my best to do enough, but not too much (indirection!) finding "it" again so I can bring it again and be it again.
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Five vs. Eleven [03 Sep 2012|09:16pm]
The Lovemaps model of a split between saintly love and sinful lust is meant to explain the association of a behavior, interest, or identity with sex that is not associated with sex for most people. But it also beautifully models the contradictory and extreme ways I think and feel about selflessness and innocence, obligation and privilege.

On one hand, there's just being a nice, happy, innocent, carefree person. Not a care in the world. No agenda. I fetishize that type of an identity to an extent — literally so in the context of AB/DL. On the other hand, there's being a selfless, virtuous person wholly concerned with saving the world, which some deep part of me deems a moral imperative. When I think about it, the stereotyped, archetypal ways I view each of these — and the fact that I value both even though they're mutually exclusive — looks a lot like having divorced reasonable pursuit of happiness from reasonable concern for doing the right thing as a member of one's communities (local, fandom, planet). Essentially, having divorced fifth from eleventh house affairs.

I don't believe paraphilias strongly identified with can generally be undone, and this split runs about as deep under my Scorpionic waters as anything does. This might be a job for the Code.
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'I can smell the green grass through the gasoline' [29 Aug 2012|11:08pm]
"And when you wanna be alive you're gonna wanna see the sun still shining where they ripped out part of your life"
— LC
The owner-baristas of my usual morning coffee haunt know well their clientele, the downtown ProxCard-sporting bigwigs-and-drones set: they have each day's horoscopes and Dilbert strip on display. The former are, of course, pulp fluff, but in such a way that they're a great place in which to find, though infrequently, unexpected inspiration or clarity (cf. jerkcity). The Scorp 'scope for today ended, "Listen for miracles. Don't force the issue, though."

"Story of my life!" I called to the latte ladies as I left. It's a balance.

* * *

I got it in my head at some point that participating in civilization — working within its institutions rather than constructively opposing them to build better, humane structures in their place — was not a good thing for me to do. Maybe not for others, either, but at any rate not authentically what I ought to do. The idea probably had solidified before my early twenties, but I wouldn't articulate it in terms of civilization until my thirties.

I don't think that's wrong. But I'm playing it against the idea that one ought not destroy what he can't create.

I could not create civilization.

This might usefully be modeled as the imperative for every atomic change one makes in the world to be for the better. I don't know. I put it in a triangle with Steve #2's recommendation that my life's work should be to "play and have fun" — to follow my bliss — so contrary to the way I've thought since I was 11 or 12 or 13. I know what my bliss was until that time, but then other imperatives presented themselves in such a way that bliss became tangled up in guilt, and I still haven't worked that out.

It is always the time when we make the most mistakes.

It is always the time of tossing and turning.

It is always just before the dawn.
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