How am I supposed to deal, emotionally, with the fact that my parents mutilated my genitals when I was a baby?
Reading this article makes me want to throw up.
Required Reading: Inequality the Biggest Issue of Our Time
I have been slightly emboldened, recently, by the combination of facts that Pope Francis’s political and humanitarian beliefs are strikingly similar to my own, and that his popularity is large enough to be palpable. Articles such as this (look at the kindness in that man’s face) bring me to the point of tears and fill me with hope for the future.
My deepest hope is for a world of justice and peace. One in which our social and political institutions are made to serve us, rather than the other way around. One in which class difference is eradicated. One in which we can all slow down, enjoy our lives, and live in the bounty which exists on earth.
The Bay Area is tremendously powerful. We hold the keys to the nation’s information. Collectively, we understand how humans communicate better than any group of humans that has ever lived. Yet…
We revel in our meritocracy, while we forget that we are no more the basis of our merits than a tree is its own seed. We revel in our material success, forgetting our responsibility to our mothers, our fathers, our brothers and sisters. Instead of spending our time tending to the world’s most pressing and blatant issue – that of combatting inequality wherever it rears its head – we waste our time building gadgets and toys for ourselves. Instead of working to help empower and heal the population of the world, to raise our fellow man and woman to a higher plane of material, spiritual, and intellectual existence, we find new ways to entertain, advertise to, market to, sell to, capitalize on. We find new ways to use. We find new ways to extract value from the weak and vulnerable.
I search and pray for a vision of how the Bay Area may renounce its collective immoral and unjust tendencies.
I see the use of information technology to create, for the first time in the history of the world, a completely transparent government. One which has no secrets, no room for corruption. A government which is a tool of the people. A government which does not incarcerate almost 1% of its population. A government which does not punish non-violent offenders beyond the point of reason. A government which is not beholden to the most despicable and low of corporate interests. A government which does not allow for discrimination by race, creed, or any other superficial trait – which helps each equally. A government which does not bleed its citizens of their wealth.
I see a population enabled to hold real, meaningful political discussion in which the sentiments of the people are distilled and displayed for all to see. Our minds are dominated by a media which doesn’t care what we think, who we are, how we suffer. Ours is a media which mollifies, placates, appeases. One which does little more than entertain. One which trains us to fear our sisters and brothers. Our political rhetoric is dominated by diversions, appeals to false dichotomies. As Pope Francis said:
How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?
We control the internet, and the internet is identically the means by which news is disseminated. Why do we continue to allow the pedaling of bullshit as truth, ignorance as reason? Why do we continue to allow the media to ignore inequality as the primary moral, social, and political problem of our time?
There was a point in silicon valley’s history at which it was beholden to old, entrenched, economic powers. We are now at a point in our evolution at which we can wrest our reins out of the hands of the oppressing class and use our collective intellectual, social, and material power to change the world in a truly positive direction.
The center of my hope for a new moral vision in the Bay lies in a belief that we have great and untapped potential for reflection and self-criticism. Let us be wary of recapitulating the moral mistakes of those who would strive to rise above their fellow human. Let us be gracious. Let us be humble. Let us serve.
Bless the name of Pope Francis, born Jorge Maria Bergoglio. May he live long and bring hope to the many lost Children of this world.
I want to write without fear or self-censorship. I used to pride myself on my ability to be open and clear in my communication. I was unafraid to say what I thought – to express my most intimate and treasured feelings out in the open. Now, I cache my feelings in oblique references and cryptic poetry. Let’s start with why. The reasons are numerous.
I separated from my wife, J, in June of 2012. I took a great deal of the guilt for this onto myself.
For one thing, I had willingly entered into marriage fewer than 3 years before. To desire a break means to break my vows. If I broke such vows, what do vows even mean? I broke a promise – one of the most sacred promises that humans make to one another, a promise that many have fought and died to be able to make. To think on this, even now, takes me to a place which is very dark and heavy. I must consider whether I have the strength to make vows – whether I have the resolve as a man, as a human, to weather the storm of unfortunate circumstance. For a long time after we were separated, whenever we spoke, J would ask why did you marry me? It is a question that I still have a great deal of difficulty answering.
For another thing, I was to blame for a great number of the problems that arose in our relationship. I had some difficulties controlling my substance (ab)use. I was not always open and communicative. I was occasionally drawn to other women – we had an open marriage, but we never actually negotiated the meaning of this.
For another, in many ways J was very good to me. I’m not going to paint a rosy picture of our marriage, because it was a very difficult and, in many ways, diminishing thing. But she was good. She was sensitive to my interests. She took care of me when I was sick or sad. She supported me in seeking a career which was fulfilling. She tried very hard to make me happy.
The guilt I feel with respect to our marriage and its end has led me to a fairly active form of self-censorship. I am currently dating someone, but it is difficult for me to write about publicly, for fear that it will cause J any anguish.
On the flip side, my current relationship with Z has made me feel somewhat claustrophobic, publicly. Even writing about it here causes me some anxiety. Even writing about the above causes me some anxiety.
There is a certain degree to which my writing is exploratory. What I write certainly reflects my truth, but it also reflects a striving to find the truth. I am with Zizek on this one. It is always better to try and state our truth, and fail, than to let it fall by the wayside.
But exploring my truth in the gaze of one who I love is a painful process. E.g. I’m worried about what I wrote above, about Jen. I worry about stating my positions too clearly. I might want to marry Z, one day. Knowing that I’ve broken my vows before, will she trust them? Writing this makes me feel extremely vulnerable.
Even outside of analysis of my marriage, I worry sometimes that what I write will offend Z. We have some very stark differences of opinion/worldview (e.g. I am against voting and she is very much for). What if I write it all out, and she reads it, and then she hates me. I think this is conceivable – e.g. if I wrote something sexist (in the anti-woman direction) or racist (in anything but the anti-white-people direction) it would be rough waters ahead. Ultimately I’m less afraid of this than explorations of my feelings, though.
I am sexually weird. I use substances. I have anarchist leanings. None of these are things that an employer particularly wants to be associated with their brand. Even in the case that the employer is really cool and down with many of these things, they might do the cost-benefit analysis and decide that it’s too much of a liability. Now that I’m friends with something like 25-30 of my coworkers on facebook, I no longer think of it as a safe space to post things I really care about.
I think that the main form that my self-censorship takes with respect to work is that I don’t share “crude” materials as much as I’d like to. I limit the number of articles I post calling for the overthrow of the U.S. government – I don’t post much about my personal drug use/exploration – I don’t talk about the weird kinky sexy stuff I’m into – I don’t post erotica – I don’t talk about porn or sex work – etc.
Not to mention that I can’t write about my job. I mean, I spend 40+ hours/week there, with those people, not to mention my commute. Most of my interactions happen with my coworkers. But I can’t say anything, can I? What’s even appropriate to say?
At least once in the course of writing the following I thought “I wonder if anyone at the NSA is going to read this.” I’m very very afraid of our government. I’m afraid of disappearing in the night. I’m afraid of dying of “natural causes.” I know I have no power, so they probably don’t care, but I have no idea how powerful they are/what they’re capable of.
I’m worried about writing too much about my family, for fear that they’ll read it and feel disrespected.
Sometimes I don’t want to write because I think no one will care what I have to say.
What do I want to Write About and Why
I want to write my truth. I want to write it because I believe I see things clearly and starkly. I want to write it for people who feel like me. I want to help, I want to help, I want to help. I don’t know how to connect with people very well all the time, and I don’t know how to help in material ways very well, so maybe I can help by sharing. Maybe someone will read something I write and feel less alone.
I want to write because I have all this shit in me and nowhere to put it. I’m so used to just getting it out there, feeling my emotions, doing my fucking thing, but with the long list of people who I’m afraid of offending/spooking/whatnot, I just don’t end up saying it. All my friends are busy + they don’t want to hear me kvetch.
I wanna just write a bunch of things which make me feel afraid to write. I don’t want to be afraid to write anything. I’m just me. I’m flawed and weird. These fears I carry are reflections of ways I don’t accept myself.
The State of Things
I love Z. So much that I can’t believe it’s true or possible. It makes me crazy. She’s sick right now and it’s making me mad with worry. When things are good they’re so good, when things are bad they’re so bad. We’re different, but fit together well. We fight, but it always ends OK. She’s wonderful and alive and connected and intelligent and exciting. She shows me things and teaches me things, every day. She knows how to love and be loved.
I am angry that my grandparents won’t die, already. I’m sad that they’re dying. I’m sad that my mother is stressed about them dying. I’m angry at my aunts and uncles for not supporting my mother by taking care of my dying grandparents. I feel guilty about not living closer to home/not seeing them more. I feel guilty about not calling my grandmother when she was in the hospital. When I think about it it feels like I’m looking in the mirror and there’s a demon and I look away.
Work is fulfilling and interesting and challenging, every day. I love going to the office because I get to interact with such a fantastically intelligent, sweet group of people. But, I think they have blind spots. And, I think the culture is somewhat toxic. And the commute sucks. I’m afraid that it’s turning me into a boring person. I’m afraid I don’t have enough time to be myself, to explore my shit. Everyone there works too much.
I miss Jen, sometimes. I don’t miss being married to her, I just miss her. I miss her sense of humor. I miss eating breakfast, together. She was such a big part of my life, and there’s still a hole where she was. It’s going to take a long time.
I worry about money. I worry about being addicted to substances. I worry about my health. I worry about getting fat. I worry Z will stop loving me. I worry that my friends will leave me. I worry about G.S. I worry about dying alone. I worry about living the last years of my life alone.
I worry about never finding my place in the world.
Everything’s a goddamned mess! HAHAHAHAHAHA
black hole black
the Philippines is drowning
can’t do anything can’t
what’s worth doing what’s
anything what’s anything
can’t help feeling we’re just ants on a ball of rock
can’t help feeling we’re just atoms
weigh a billion tons
arms lead head lead
My dear friend, how i miss you-
I held your hand
As tears poured down our faces.
I held your hand
As we melted together.
Now i can’t remember the occasion-
Only hands held and tears and melting.
My dear friend, how I only wanted to hold hands with you, and nothing more.
But, sitting across from you on that cold morning, we could only talk about politics and religion,
Our souls like two scared sparrows, weaving spirals around our ribs.
When did we become capable of conditional love?
you want to feel that they like you
you care what they think about you
and you’re smart enough to know that they know you do
drifting in and out of easy
fingers stroking your cheek
you remember an easy childhood
everything tender and expressible
your fragility perched like an easy finch in the smallest particle of your heart
now it’s not so
just reflections of memory
attempting to claw back
but you’ve peeled away and you
know that they know that you think about what they think of you
and you know that they know that you know that
and it doesn’t end you’re caught in a delirious howling
I hallucinate the silence of your skin is a call to speak
My hands drift up and in and out and down
Callouses pulling on rough patches, stray hairs
I dream of romance in flesh
Because soul is too dull, now
I want there to exist a solution to the problem of group
creation/maintainance, online. Specifically, a system which allows users
to form groups in whatever way they desire.
For instance, suppose you wanted to create a group online which accepted
new members through the following process:
- In order to become a new member, you must submit a maximum 500-word
written account of why you would like to be included in the group.
- The current members of the group are allowed to vote on whether or not
the new member will be allowed. Either a 70% quorum must be reached in
10 days for the vote to be considered valid. 66% of responding group
members must agree on acceptance for the new member to be accepted.
How would you create such a group? What’s more, how could you integrate
such a solution seemlessly into a system like reddit, or quora, where
you might want to interact with a limited number of people?
How do you build walls in the internet?
There are obviously some requirements for such a system to function:
1. The identity of group members must be unique (one person must not be
allowed to have multiple accounts)
2. Group members must have a means of identifying themselves which is
protected. E.g. each member might have a cryptographic key which is a
hash of some group secret key and their own personal key.
- Imagine if reddit integrated this system. It might be able to solve
the problem where having too many random new members dillutes the
material. You could invite a core group of friends, then only allow
members into the group which has access to the usual reddit interface.
- The example of a rule set which I gave above would be useful for a
social media site, but imagine a system in which you want to give
rights to an admin to allow new members into the system, e.g. in
creating new accounts in business software. They might write out rules
– In order to become a new member, a member of a special class of
members (admins) must approve the new member.
- One big question is how to give a language for defining the “system of
rules” which allows new members to be added, old members to be deleted,
etc. A specification for such a groups system might be written in an actual
DSL, such is the generality required.
- Another big question is how to bootstrap the process. E.g. how to add
initial members, though I suppose this could just be included in the
- Obviously the set of rules should be visible by everyone – e.g. there
should be no back doors allowed.
- Canonical group modifications are: add member, delete member, delete
group, validate membership
- How does group membership checking work? Probably some crypto shit
like the server sends you a key which you hash with your private key
(which it also has) and then checks the hash…
– some of this may be able to be handled by having users’ membership
keys on a secure server and give them access to these keys through a
password (otherwise they can keep their keys on their own computer)
API (first pass):
-> id: integer
-> success: boolean
-> challenge: string
-> success: boolean
someone says something’s bad yeah yeah
i say “well, if it’s bad, then where did it come from? did it come from bad?”
someone says it came from bad yeah yeah
“Well, where did that bad come from? Was it bad all the way back?”
and so we realize there was good in it, too
and there’s no bad
duality’s an illusion
and it helps us relax
but where does this relaxation take place?
metaphysics has an effect too,
maybe your MP professor hits your brain in a certain way
gets into your psychological fuck-spot
spills some seed / makes some babies
metaphysical babies, what/where are they?
I am tired tired tired
yes, it’s powerful
yes, computers blah
but come ON can’t we just live in the world for a while
without “this is cup, this is human”
just with “this is”
why is this so hard?
layer upon layer upon layer
a million layers of abstraction towering into emptiness
I want to stop seeing “cup” and “table” and “computer”
I want to just see
But seeing “cup” is a seeing of a thing
in my mind
ugh, these knots!
who can untie them?
is there anyway to undo this conundrum
because your metaphysics still is a thing you’re seeing, still is an object in the world, still is a thing to interact with
so musn’t it follow its own rules?
but how can it contain itself, if nothing can?
so it must be a ghost, a delusion, a figment
all philosophy is golden lies
the philosopher’s stone is a reflection of this:
you cannot turn lead into gold
you cannot turn idle thought into beautiful thought
do, be, live, love
I was talking to my friend Nagle about why I talk so damn much and he actually had a pretty good model to describe it, which I’m going to paraphrase here.
Every time we have a pressing question which society doesn’t have a ready-made answer for, it feels like we’re internally pressurized. E.g. I might have a question like “why is such a small percentage of the population freaking out about global warming?” There’s no really obvious and clear way to answer this question, so I have to find the answer somehow. Having a question like this makes my head feel like it’s ready to blow.
So it seems like a big part of the reason I’m in some state of perpetual existential crisis/weirdness is that I have so many pressing, difficult questions about reality and people floating around in my head. I’m not saying that other people aren’t interested in reality – it just seems like thought-reality itself seems to carry more emotional significance for me in short-term, directly-observable ways, than it does for other people.
Sometimes I can get upset for days about a question like “why is there anything, at all?” But then I ask someone else this question and they couldn’t give a shit.
I think that part of the reason that my thoughts are so emotionally vivid for me is some sort of mild pseudo-synesthesia. My linguistic thoughts cause perpetual and vivid avalanches of visual and audial phenomena – when I think about global warming I see visions of cities burning, hear screaming voices, etc. This means that thoughts I have necessarily carry a lot of weight.
Fuck, this sounds really arrogant. See! Even the question of “is this the right type of post to write? will people be offended by this?” carries huge weight for me. This is the stuff that analysis paralysis is made of. It’s a wonder I’m functional at all.
Cuz you know, at the end of the day, fuck it.