New stuff up on https://medium.com/@bigsley
Mostly going to write about personal things, there, or weird funny things. I’ll keep this open for theoretical/difficult posts.
This continues on the earlier post.
For society to “discover something about itself” means that some large portion of its population knows something true about it. E.g. society “discovered” its approximate population at some point. Right? Right now, “most people” know that the population of earth is ~7 billion. Maybe 20 years ago most people knew what the population was. Who knows? But if you go back far enough, very few people knew the population. This means that at some point, society “discovered” it.
So, it stands to reason that at some point, society is going to “discover” other things about itself. Look, I’m not even saying that the things that it’ll discover are right, but merely that at some point it’ll be true that the majority of people know something, and know that everyone else knows it, too. 
What if what it discovers is that something very bad is going to happen. This is the stuff of boring sci-fi – but it’s often the case that boring sci-fi turns into interesting reality.
 I’ve talked about this a lot – the idea of “common knowledge completeness” – often, it matters more what people think about what other people know than what they know, themselves. This is the idea behind bank runs and whatnot.
One night my eyelashes were falling out like crazy.
The first two I wasted.
The third one made
all the difference.
I’m writing this post because I was reading this article and the thought occurred to me that I have never been afraid of the apocalypse so much as acutely aware that it would happen someday.
We are living on the edge of calamity. The way we structure our lives, emotionally and psychologically, relies on the way we structure them, materially. Our dependencies are many. We are now living with a number of aged dependents far greater than we have at any other point in history. We mostly live in cities, which means that we are now more dependent on our transportation infrastructure than ever before. We are reliant on psychiatric medicines, antibiotics, GMOs, and all other manner of technology. But at the root of it all is oil. And oil will someday run out.
Oil may run out before we understand how to deal with the fact that it may run out. War might be coming. Not war as some sort of abstract possibility, and not necessarily war as we expect it. The war might take the form of genocide, of mass-extermination, of totalitarian control. The war may be us against our government.
The point I want to make is one about common knowledge. Right now the economy and the world is functioning because people do not believe what I said above. People don’t believe we’re running out of oil – or if they do, they think that it won’t cause war, famine, and strife on a world-wide scale. Once that belief is common, the world will stop functioning. Our infrastructure will shut down, crime will explode, and there will be war.
What happens once the belief that oil is running out becomes common? My claim is that it is at that point that calamity will occur, and that that point may be long before oil actually runs out. Once the common man/woman believes that the apocalypse is coming it has come. Nothing can control the world if no one believes it is controllable.
Thus, it behooves us (us being me + you all reading this blog) to predict the point at which people will believe en masse that peak oil is here. That is the inflection point of history. That is the point that we must act or escape.
I had these sources of inspiration – Rumi, some tumblrs, some buddhist texts, some sufist texts, some math, some poetry – which I wove together into a coherent vision of the everything. I felt like I was stumbling out of Plato’s cave; the shadows becoming clearer, I could see how they were flowing forth from the sun, tumbling one over another into the depths.
The feeling was one of unexpectedly and inexplicably finding familiarity in what should be the unfamiliar. I would read a poem and recognize it instantly, though I had never seen it before – or hear some new music and know it, deeply. But now nothing speaks, the world is quiet, all art is merely indifferent, unfamiliar pattern.
But now it is what what - now it has become a mess – and I’m not sure how or why this happened. I think it might be work, and stress, and the commute. I’m terribly worried and I miss the feeling very much.
It feels like a horrible loss.
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