December 29, 2008

GTD

While Mr. Parsons, whose incarceration is not related to his work for WaMu, oversaw a team screening mortgage applications, he was snorting methamphetamine daily, he said.
“In our world, it was tolerated,” said Sherri Zaback, who worked for Mr. Parsons and recalls seeing drug paraphernalia on his desk. “Everybody said, ‘He gets the job done.’ ”

December 19, 2008

The most hopeful thing



So why hope? Isn't it just a runaway train, out of control? I don't think so. I think the out-of-controlness is the most hopeful thing about it. After all, whose control is it out of? You and I never controlled it in the first place.
Terence Mckenna, in the clip above



chemical brothers + bernard sumner: out of control

Despite everything, something

Houellebecq, thinking about something
...this film strove to be a vigorous plea against friendship, and more generally against all non-sexual relationships. What in fact could two men talk about, beyond a certain age? What reason could two men find for being together, except, of course, in the case of a conflict of interests, or of some common project (overthrowing a government, building a motorway, writing a script for a cartoon, exterminating the Jews)? After a certain age (I am talking about men of a certain level of intelligence, not aged brutes) it's quite obvious that everything has been said and done. How could a project as intrinsically empty as two men spending some time together lead to anything other than boredom, annoyance and, at the end of the day, outright hostility. Whilst between a man and a woman there still remained, despite everything, something: a little bit of attraction, a little bit of hope, a little bit of a dream. [....]

Launching an attack on not only friendship, but all social relations as soon as they are unaccompanied by any physical contact, this film thus constituted - only the magazine Slut Zone had the perspicacity to notice this - an indirect eulogy to bisexuality, if not hermaphroditism. All in all, I was harking back to the Ancient Greeks. When you get old, you always hark back to the Ancient Greeks.
Michel Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island, p60
Colorful profile from 2006 here
Houellebecq's one of the few writers I've read as an adult who makes me feel like when I was a teenager and fell in love with certain books, that things I kept secret from even myself were being clearly expressed and I was not alone in the world. Of course, that doesn't make those things healthy or right, only true to myself, which isn't always grand if the self needs more work.

When I taught English we would have classes on jobs, and the language for describing them was always inadequate - not all engineers are the same, or accountants, or clerks. There are more specific ways of making a living and a life than you could list in a day, the things you actually get paid to do, not the job title. Yesterday I saw man who worked for a coffee store at a busy intersection, and his job was to stand by a sign telling people not to park their cars or scooters out front and make sure that no one did. He had a bright orange jacket and a device like a toy light saber to draw attention to his enforcement role. There are far more jobs I don't want than ones that I'd prefer, which ought to make me lucky.

If I'd lived before the economic and social developments that allow an individual to thrive in a vast array of niches - then I'd been either f***ed or brought into line long ago, probably both simultaneously. I'm not a natural top dog, but I can't stand being in second place. Instead, I opt out of the system as much as possible, although that's a weak escape, as I remain a primate. My affinity for shamanism is half on the visionary / daydream side and half on the idea of being a socially sanctioned outcast who retains some status within the group as a whole, both of it and outside it. Essentially left alone, but able to survive.

Anyway, my classes have almost ended, only a few hours per week at the local university, and these are unlikely to continue next year, as they interfere with other things. So for the first time in a long while I'll have no work based interaction with people, and the thought is a little dizzying. I work at home, and my wife has her atelier elsewhere, out all day. She'll come home and wonder if I've spoken to anyone since the morning. Or I'll tell her that I went to a certain restaurant for lunch, and her usual response will be a (fake?) incredulous alone?

The only people I like to talk to for any length of time if I'm not being compensated are women, and perhaps it's hard to widen your circle of female friends for lunch / dinner dates when you're married, although it's something that I'm going to have to try and do when I come back from my vacation.

My wife encourages me to see other women, but I have no idea how sincere she is.

Related posts:
Man in a monkey suit
Animal nature

December 15, 2008

UK trip


Will be in the UK from December 21 to January 10th, starting in Devon and ending in London. I haven't been there in three or four years, and I think maybe six not at Xmas, so looking forward to it. Will spend my time in the South West with my family and hiding from the cold / wrapped up warm and gawping at all the non-Asian sights, then in London bookstores / restaurants reeling at the prices. If anyone wants to meet up for a drink then they probably have my email and should use it.

December 11, 2008

Experiments in living


Richard Feynman uses chess to explain how the rules of nature are uncovered.

The above is how we must live with our own needs and natures. The workings are hidden, but we can perform experiments in living.

This is coming at the game from one one angle, but approaches radiate from each object. Another attempt is to simplify the problem and take things down iteratively - what sits behind this and what sits behind that.

In some ways, all computer games can be reduced to the classics: Pong, Spaceman, PacMan, Donkey Kong and so on. Hitting, shooting, dodging, jumping. The reason why the truly classic table games [go, chess, cards and so on] have not changed for a long time, is that ever flashier pieces would add little to the experience. In its day, Pong was as fun as GTA IV.

For example, why do we want money? To buy things, to feel secure, happy, powerful and so on. Whatever, keep asking why and work from there, and perhaps you'll get some more direct route to your goal

For example. I used to day dream about being a writer, but as much of the dream was the lifestyle as the act of sitting down and typing for a few hours each day - which anyone can get, any time. Just sit down and type, and you have that part down pat.

I've used the quote below before. It's one of my favorites, as if you switch the boy to girl then it's pretty much exactly how envisioned my future as a teenager:
As a child I wanted to be a writer because writers were rich and famous, they lounged around Singapore and Rangoon smoking opium in a yellow pongee silk suit. They sniffed cocaine in Mayfair and they penetrated forbidden swamps with a faithful native boy and lived in the native quarter of Tangier smoking hashish and languidly caressing a pet gazelle.
William S Burroughs
Was the writing really important? I think so. And the desire for simplicity and to get at root causes works only so far, so often, and it's probably best not to press the case beyond when it feels strained. We eat for nourishment, and in theory taking shots or pills to get the same results would achieve the same ends, but at the expense of everything we enjoy about the process. So the guiding principle isn't only simplicity, but whether it feels right at the time and works over the long term.

Some extreme examples. Drinking heavily and eating to excess feel right at the time but don't work over the long term. Taking pills and shots instead of real food works over the long term but feels wrong. This is not a static process, but one of self-experimentation, observation and change.

Howard Bloom reaching a peak in a classic clip, although if you watch the longer version you'll see he's nearly always like this.

video

December 10, 2008

This be the day

A more attractive man would have had another life
My life is as simple as I can make it. Work all day, cook, eat, wash up, telephone, hack writing, drink, television in the evenings. I almost never go out. I suppose everyone tries to ignore the passing of time—some people by doing a lot, being in California one year and Japan the next. Or there’s my way—making every day and every year exactly the same. Probably neither works.
Philip Larkin, here
The above is from a good site that pulls quotes on the daily routines of writers and artists.

December 08, 2008

Goodbye to all that


William Steig illustration for Listen, Little Man

I.
My wife says it's good to change your life every five years or so, it keeps the brain fresh. For the last 20 my own has tended to fall apart or fall together on such cycles, with each side not too clear until later, and even then the judgments remain preliminary.

Ten years ago I left London to hide out in China for a year-long vacation to break everything in an old life and take only the minimum for the new. Five years ago I was in a business that fell apart and, to over dramatize, lost everything. But that turned out to be a stroke of luck, as it enabled me to skip out of further commitment to a series of bad choices - professional, romantic, chemical - and to slowly rebuild things in a simpler, better fashion.

II.
I fell into teaching. I graduated in 1992 and my parents were living in Portugal and so I took a short course in Lisbon, but I never followed up. I went to London and did other work. I hated the little teaching I'd done, had no idea what to do, and was terrified of getting up and taking charge.

When I first came out here I still hated teaching, but I liked the lifestyle, the extended student / adolescence of all the fun things in a warm climate and cheap city.

Five or so years in I settled down and began to pay attention to what was happening in class, and I learned how to stand and do the job. It taught me a lot, but now I'm tired of standing up and being 'on'. I'm retreating into freelance proofreading and it's a giddy, good feeling to be stepping out of one job into nothing organized.

III.
I have no idea if the following true. Let's imagine that an animal's been inside a cage for a long time, when someone opens the door, does it run out or does it wait for the shock of the scene to compute. I know our cat will sit in it's little box for a long time after even short trips to the vet, but his intelligence is fairly limited, although brilliant as far as it goes.

You get the point. So then what? Ten years ago I quit one life in London and gave myself a year of not working in China and SE Asia, and as anticipated (and wanted) fell in with my animal spirits. The temptation was always to get fired up and look for low life adventures.

IV.
I have a copy of The Pleasures of the Damned on the shelf behind me, a collection of Bukowski poems selected by his editor, John Martin. I got it as a gift, because like nearly every other guy I was a big Chinaski fan in my early to mid-20s. I could be at an awkward age [38], or in a comfortable place, but I don't feel too much sympathy for the old guy now. The outsider thing will never get old, but the alcohol is no longer so romantic.

After 30 everyone knows some alcoholics and the body is less forgiving, hurting it becomes less fun.

I still drink, but I avoid getting drunk and rarely get hangovers, and when I do I feel like shit for more than half the day, guzzling coffee and water, swallowing pills. So I've learned to stop drinking before the hangovers will come, which is just before the urge to put my hand up the shirt of a stranger seems like a really good idea that'll bring fun to everyone.

Digression. If you want to do bad things, don't drink first- it'll only cloud your judgment. When drunk everything seems like a good idea, but the aim now is to embrace the best bad ideas, not the worst. The best transgressions are commited more than half sober, if not fully. It depends on how much initiative you have.

Back to the thread. It's no wonder Bukowski was a grumpy old man. He woke up with hangovers and let himself get trapped in jobs that he hated, and perhaps only with the good luck of finding John Martin - who promised $100 a month for life back when that was a living - was he able to leave the post office and make things better, but even then, always with the hangovers, with the shitty feeling half of the day.

V.
This matters because I can now drink all day if I want to, and generally play the Bukowskian fool. There are many ways to get in trouble, and all of them are open to me.

It's been a full week now, and I'm wildly impressed that so far I've done nothing I regret.

December 04, 2008

The process, not the outcome



Art De Vany [71 and fitter than you] with a nice clip on fractal variation / power laws in work.

Related posts:
Stochastic jerks
Paleoconservatism

November 30, 2008

Old, wise

Reading parts of Reveries and taking Rousseau's feeling for plants at face value, getting that they're the old, wise ones. It's probably not what he meant, but why not think it for a while?

November 29, 2008

Over and gone

four stroke
Everything depends on opinion; ambition, luxury, greed, hark back to opinion. It is according to opinion that we suffer. A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is. I hold that we should do away with complaint about past sufferings and with all language like this: “None has ever been worse off than I. What sufferings, what evils have I endured! No one has thought that I shall recover. How often have my family bewailed me, and the physicians given me over! Men who are placed on the rack are not torn asunder with such agony!” However, even if all this is true, it is over and gone. What benefit is there in reviewing past sufferings, and in being unhappy, just because once you were unhappy? Besides, every one adds much to his own ills, and tells lies to himself. And that which was bitter to bear is pleasant to have borne; it is natural to rejoice at the ending of one’s ills.

November 25, 2008

The same life as Napoleon


Joe Rogan and friend watch people get extreme kicks

What counts is perhaps the feeling and the thought.

I'm not an extreme sports guy. I get my thrills elsewhere, with the point being that I still get them. I think I have a low threshold for the onset of certain sensations. I am easily amused.

There are many traps to fall into simply by doing what feels good and then doing it again, twice as much. Possibly this is starting from mistaken first principles. The goal is not the act itself, but the feeling and the thought.

Another angle. I live the same life as Napoleon or anyone else, different in only trivial aspects.

Related post: Hard, and then harder

November 24, 2008

Hands on misery

Mean squares 3.3

Seeing parents with children usually makes me feel sad. It looks like another deal that doesn't work as advertised, and both sides of it seem like a nightmare. People like me are not supposed to start a family.

November 21, 2008

Magical thinking vs. narrative fallacy

Mean Squares 3.1

If I was more inclined to shamanic thought I'd write about how this year it's often just been necessary to think something for it happen, but I know that isn't true.

Still, my last day at work was planned for December 19th, and then I was hoping that I'd get taken off the schedule and asked to leave early, since I'm tired of the show and also my thinking about getting more proofreading has lead to a stack of papers and files to go through. Then I find out that my last day will be November 30th, and the three weeks before my UK trip will be relative ease and swimming and things.

From then on out it's no boss and no outside schedule for as long as possible, and I've been training for the early starts and finishes and bursts of productivity that I want to have, getting the habits down so that little thought / opposition is involved. It appears to take a certain amount of submission to be free.
But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sysiphus [pdf version]
Meanwhile, I know a guy who's tormented by a desire to free of any yoke and servitude, and yet, or consequently, cannot work at any job long enough or hard enough to set in motion any plans that'd a) in the short-term, end his paycheck to paycheck existence, and b) in the longer-term, have enough f***-you $ to go home and rest after quitting his job again, instead of starting a panicky search for another one.

Related post: The same guy in Misdirected anger

November 19, 2008

Create your own world

Mean Squares 1.0

Douglas Rushkoff gives a talk at the Institute of General Semantics, Don't Change Your Self, Change the World, basically a riff on this line from an earlier post:
All the people that created traditions, that created countries, and created rules. All them fuckers are dead. Why don't you create your own world while you got the chance?
Bill Hicks, dressed as Elvis, here.

November 17, 2008

Big fat lie

...if researchers seek to study something less costly and more controllable, they end up studying experimental situations so oversimplified that their results may have nothing to do with reality. This then leads to a research literature so vast that it's possible to find at least some published research to support virtually any theory.
Gary Taubes What if it's all been a big fat lie? [2002 NY Times article on low carb beating low fat]
Good interview on the writing, publishing and aftermath of the article
I like the fact that the primal / paleo lifestyle is based on asserting affinity with our early ancestors. Back to the first hominids and back to the first life of all. We are family - the genetic potential of a long series of lucky individuals playing out against the blades of the environment.

Related link: What's the difference between Primal and Paleo? at Mark's Daily Apple

November 13, 2008

The smartest man in the world


1/3
I am closer to absolute truth than any man has been before me

I'm not a tall man, not even up to average, just 165cm in socks. I'm one of those oblivious little men, like a small dog that doesn't understand it's appears ridiculous snapping at heels and trotting fast to keep up, and it's much the same with my limited intelligence and application.

I live in Asia, so often I'll meet a man shorter than me and I'll flash, primate style, he's barely human. A lot less often I'll meet someone who is obviously much dumber than I am, and I'll be amazed at how their mind works / doesn't work, and this is exactly how people who are smarter feel when they meet me.

Now, the next person who is smarter than me is no genius, and nor is the next person smarter than them. The person after the next person after the person after the person after the next person after the person after that, well they might be something special, but Chris Langan is still likely to view them as a mental midget. Mr Langan is billed as the smartest man in the world, with the hook being that he's held a series of blue collar jobs and has no widely recognized achievements commensurate with his high IQ [around 200]. The videos embedded here are the Errol Morris profile, and as usual, he does well. There's a creeping sense of horror as the movie runs on, and whatever it sets out to do I think it does, but I don't want to give away the ending.


2/3
What makes you think I want to be in these environments?



3/3
2+2=4

November 08, 2008

Why I am so chaste, revisited

December 19th is my last day at work, then a three week vacation in England, then back and working alone in my own time. Down from 3+ hrs a day paid top dog / social exchange with young women to zero, with prediction #1 being that I should see a rapid descent into pathetic lechery, and possibly something of a less glossy coat.

The brain sits enclosed in silence and darkness, but the last thing it'll flash with as I'm hit by a vehicle will be a woman I can't believe.


Prediction #2 is that I make some effort to fill the social gap, although unsure in what form, and possibly I'll find there's no gap to be filled.

I've found my niche, and while a dung beetle has one too, there's no arguing with such things. If it works the only thing to do is embed, but still ready to shift when the time comes and things begin to fall, not apart, but into another place.

Meanwhile, our cat recovers from an illness and continues to grow old gracefully.


Related posts:
Why I am so chaste
Monkey in a man suit top dog = glossy coat

The Onion:
I finally figured out how to impress high school girls

November 06, 2008

The Book of Disquiet, text 30

Mean Squares 3.4

Yesterday they told me that the assistant in the tobacconist's had committed suicide, I couldn't believe it. Poor lad, so he had existed too!
[...]
No, other people don't exist... It is for me alone that the setting sun holds out its heavy wings of harsh, misty colors. It is for me alone, even though I cannot see its waters flowing, that the wide river glitters beneath the sunset. It is for me alone that this open square was built looking out over the river and its turning tide. Was it today that the tobacconist's assistant was buried in a common grave? Today's sunset is not for him. But, even as I'm thinking that, quite against my will I suddenly understand that it's not for me either.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.

November 04, 2008

More than impulse and caprice

Burst 1.0
We think of intelligence as a deliberate, conscious activity guided by the laws of logic. Yet much of our mental life is unconscious, based on processes alien to logic: gut feelings, or intuitions. In his lecture Dr Gigerenzer argues that intuition is more than impulse and caprice; it has its own rationale. This can be described by fast and frugal heuristics, which exploit evolved abilities in our brain. Heuristics ignore information and try to focus on the few important reasons. He shows that biased minds that intuitively rely of heuristics can make better inferences about the world than information-greedy statistical algorithms. More information, more time, even more thinking, are not always better, and less can be more.
Full talk by Dr Gigerenzer at the London School of Economics here.
A good talk, if only [but not only] for explaining how outfielders run and catch the ball.

November 02, 2008

The Book of Disquiet, text 191

It isn't true that life is painful, or that it's painful to think about life. What is true is that our pain is only as serious and important as we pretend it to be. If we lived naturally, it would pass as quickly as it came, it would fade as quickly as it bloomed. Everything is nothing, and our pain is no exception.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.
A while ago I was in a restaurant having lunch, and nearby was a table with four American girls in their early twenties, really lively and fun, and there was nothing about them I didn't like. And I realized that it had been a long time since I'd been sitting at table like that, and I couldn't remember the last time I'd had a long or lively conversation in English with anyone who wasn't a student. But I think that'll change in the new year, because I can feel the current system underlying things starting to give way, and it feels good to be easing into another, as yet unknown, way of being / critical state.

I don't believe in magical thinking, but rather in attention and forgetfulness, things unfolding and then more comes along. There's a certain level of idiocy that comes with this, but I've plenty of down time to dwell on random things. Like the idea that we're closely related to ragworms.


What works at the moment is health, frugality, attention and forgetfulness.

October 27, 2008

Anonymity


There's something good about being the secret hero of the story, an unknown agent for your own cause in the world.

Like almost everyone I live in anonymity, one of the supposedly dull masses that everyone - the masses - scorns to a certain degree. And that's cool, it's like how most things seem plain until you look at them with your perception cleansed. Certain people are dull not only because they and we lack imagination, but also because few people see what's actually there.

Guardian sex survey



Details here.



Joe Rogan on Hugh Hefner

October 26, 2008

The Book of Disquiet, text 151

We are all accustomed to think of ourselves as essentially mental realities and of others as merely physical realities; because of the way others respond to us, we do vaguely think of ourselves as physical beings; we vaguely think of other people as mental beings, but only when we find ourselves in love or conflict with another do we really take in the fact that others have a soul just as we do.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.
"You're strange. I've seen a lot of types - hundreds, maybe - but none like you. Do you know what I think?"

"You think I'm insane," Jason said.

"Yes." Kathy nodded. "Clinically, legally, whatever. You're psychotic; you have a split personality. Mr No One and Mr Everyone. How have you survived up until now?"

He said nothing. It could not be explained.
Philip K. Dick, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, part one

October 25, 2008

The rules of the game

david bowie mugshot
Within the known rules of the game the individual is free to pursue his personal ends and desires, certain that the powers of government will not be used deliberately to frustrate his efforts.
F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, Chapter Six
I was looking for free language mp3s and ended up at audiouniv where there was nothing that really got my eye except The Four-Hour Week, which I remember hearing about when it came out, and then again at Casey Serin's page, and so I thought why not? Stick it on the mp3 player and ride the bicycle around town, expose myself to the self-help / get rich madness.

So I started listening to the book. The guy starts out with the mission statement that you don't have to be rich to live like the rich - you too can have time to pursue your bliss. But then how? Simple...you become rich. At that point the essential sleaziness begins to flow.

There are far more failed than successful entrepreneurs and artists, which is all cool if you're in it for the passion, but it kind of sucks to fail and fail again, even to fail better, if the process itself is no fun, just fixated on the goal of $ rather than the task in hand. It's now when we have to live, not in the past or future. The means become the end.

So I'm a lazy man, I want to relax without a large income, without the necessity of worldly success. A flexible schedule at a job you enjoy, with low / no stress. Spend less than you earn, exercise, eat right, have fun, pay less attention to what others do.

No matter how rich are and how much property you own, you end up with a private quarters where you get things done. Essentially an office with a bathroom, perhaps a kitchen, living room, library and so on either attached or part of the whole. You can live in a mansion or own a skyscraper, but in the end you'll essentially build a small apartment and do everything in that.

And never forget that Elvis had it all - looks, talent, fame, acclaim and wealth - and he died busted on a toilet just after 40.
"All the people that created traditions, that created countries, and created rules.All them fuckers are dead. Why don't you create your own world while you got the chance?"
Bill Hicks says this dressed as Elvis, here.



Iggy Pop, Manchester [U.K], October 1977, Bowie on keyboards and backing vocals

Related posts:
Deception, trickery, vanity, falsehood
The myth of 1,000 true fans

Bill Hicks on his worst gig ever [LSD, guns, knives]

October 23, 2008

A quiet night


rem: nightswimming, from later with jools holland

In the process of releasing myself from any schedule imposed from outside, so trying to tighten up my own discipline. Finding I already have lots of free time, albeit each day capped with classes, and am due 25 hrs more at the end of the year. It's an odd feeling, and trying to work out how I'll fill them in productive / non-destructive ways, when all I'm really good at is riding my bicycle, napping and cooking.

Which is cool, except I really ought to improve my Chinese and start learning Japanese so I can talk more with my wife, although it's surprising how much can be done with so little.

October 19, 2008

Crash / burn / repeat

Casey Serin, foreground, with Christ Hippie, his volunteer assistant

Casey Serin's back. He's the 20-something guy who bought a bunch of houses with no $ down and had it all collapse last year, with the fun part being that he blogged about it and remained dementedly optimistic and faithful to his gurus and dreams of massive and almost immediate success.

One total collapse, divorce and disappearance later and he's back. He's living in a hotel, with two more weeks' money, and a 'business plan' that's focused on selling 19 pages a notes for an e-book about his experiences for $50 a copy. He's started doing a call-in show that becomes a podcast on completion, with the call-in parts better than the preamble [and show 2 better than show 1, the only two up so far]. The new site and MP3s are likely to disappear fairly soon, but for the while they offer some grim entertainment of why it pays to face reality.

Wikipedia

October 18, 2008

Shulgins / Horizons

A Boston-area housewife considers a Buddha statue in 1963 after taking LSD. NY Times

Another good talk from Ann and Sasha Shulgin, this time at the recent [Sept. 2008] Horizons Perspectives on Psychedelics set of talks. Subjects covered include: Bohemian Grove [Sasha's been a member for 50 yrs], the rapid spread of new substances, a definition of true hallucinations and how to stay healthy in such a life, but as ever with the Shulgins the take away is what a good relationship they have with each other, their selves, and the wider community.

Related sites: Horizons and all the talks from the event, and The Psychedelic Salon has a large and growing archive [158 shows to date] of MP3 discussions and talks with all the usual suspects.

Doing what is loathsome

The conclusion I can draw from all these reflections is that I have never been truly suited for civil society where everything is annoyance, obligation, and duty and that my independent natural temperament always made me incapable of the subjection necessary to anyone who wants to live among men. As long as I act freely, I am good and do only good. But as soon as I feel the yoke either of necessity or of men, I become rebellious, or rather, recalcitrant; then I am ineffectual. When it is necessary to what is opposite to my will, I do not do it at all, no matter what; I do not even do what accords with my will, because I am weak. I abstain from acting, for all of my weakness is with regard to action, all of my strength is negative, and all of my sins are of omission, rarely of commission. I have never believed that man's freedom consisted in doing what he wants, but rather in never doing what he does not want to do; and that is the freedom I have always laid claim to, often preserved, and most often scandalized my contemporaries about. Because, as for them - busy, restless, ambitious, detesting freedom in others and not wanting any for themselves, provided that they sometimes do what accords with their will, or rather, that they dominate the will of others - they torment themselves their whole life long by doing what is loathsome to them; they omit nothing servile in order to command.
From the Sixth Walk in Rousseau's The Reveries of a Solitary Walker, p83
Handed in my notice today, although will work up until December 19th, when I leave for my UK vacation. After that, no bosses for as long as possible.

Related posts marked Wilhelm Reich

October 17, 2008

The Book of Disquiet, text 155


I have no faith in anything, no hope in anything, no charity for anything. I feel nothing but aversion and disgust fro the sincere adherents of every kind of sincerity and for the mystics of every kind of mysticism or rather for the sincerities of all sincere people and for the mysticism of all mystics. I feel an almost physical nausea when those mysticisms turn evangelical, when they try to convince another intelligence or another will to find the truth or change the world.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet

October 16, 2008

Roads to freedom


When I was a kid I was never around books, but when I was about 16 I met a girl who taught me how to read and rewarded me with sex, and in her circle I played the role of uncultured guy who had culture, the monkey in a man suit.

What I learned then was that the right words and ideas could get you laid a lot. Soon afterward I learned the wrong words and ideas could have exactly the opposite effect, although I stayed faithful to the words and ideas rather than sex, and that was maybe a mistake.

My point is that when I first got into books and was devouring three or four a week [no TV, little homework] a big impression was made by Sartre. Roads to Freedom was intoxicating, reading it starved and dreaming of being a cafe haunting waster / boho / sophisticate, machine-gunning Nazis from the roof a church. Cool stuff, and still some things to aspire to, but the dominant subtext was always the face of the author:

un visage seulement qu'une mère pourrait aimer

At 16 it staggered me that he'd managed to think himself into a supposedly higher state of being, despite looking like that.


There are basically two ways to be free: to be rich or frugal. I lacked the ambition, drive and talent to ever go for the first, but I got the latter down pat as soon as I got my first paycheck. I've always lived within my means, and so that whole field of worry has never given me a moment's concern.

I'm going to hand in my notice tomorrow and stop working on December 20th. The last few months have been proof of concept of having no schedule and just working from home or elsewhere, finally getting the hang of self-discipline a third of a lifetime too late.

The idea is to live off proofreading, with maybe a few entertaining classes picked up to get me out of the house, ideally privates with people who are preparing for tests and focused on that. But am wary of seeking new chains, happy to play the cafe haunting waster / boho for a while.


Related post: The secret of happiness is this...

October 11, 2008

People are a part of nature



Kurosawa's Dreams - Village of the Water Mills, Part 1

Drunk early in a BBQ restaurant, and the old realization that even if anything isn't possible, at least any feeling and thought is, which is good enough. Plus, the key to drinking early - and at any time - is to know when to stop, and for me that's always when I start to think that maybe it might be a good idea, perhaps, to put my hand up the skirt or down the top of a stranger. Once that thought is entertained, I always move on to water.


Part 2

October 10, 2008

The Book of Disquiet, text 172

Living mentally on what is not and cannot be, we are, in the end, unable even to ponder what might really be.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.

The Book of Disquiet, text 170

I found myself in the world one day, I don't know when, and until then, from birth I presume, I had lived without feeling. If I asked where I was, everyone deceived me, everyone contradicted everyone else. If I asked them to tell me what to do, everyone lied and told me something different. If I became lost and stopped along the road, everyone was shocked that I didn't just continue on to wherever the road led (though no one knew where that was), or simply did not retrace my steps - I, who did not even know whence I came, having only woken up at the crossroads. I realized that I was on a stage and did not know the words that everyone else picked up instantly even though they did not know them either. I saw that though I was dressed as a page they had given me no queen to wait on and blamed me for that. I saw that I had in my hands a message to deliver and when I told them my paper was blank, they laughed at me. I still don't know if they laughed because all such pieces of paper are blank or because all messages are only hypothetical.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.

October 09, 2008

Health and frugality


The simpler I can make things the better, and I think when I get truly old and my brain starts to melt it'll be a long time before anyone notices.

I was wondering if I should be worried at all about economic collapse, but can't seem to work up any concern. All I do is try and stay healthy [exercise / diet / rest / no stress] and live within my means. That's all I can do, and the rest is up to chance, the collapse of one critical state into another.

Tom the Dancing Bug [click pic for full story]

October 07, 2008

A continuous network of critical states

In a self-organized critical state, the fall of a single grain of sand on to the network may trigger a large-scale rearrangement of the [pile of] sand; but after this rearrangement has occurred there will still be a complex network of critical states, it will just be arranged in a different pattern.
John Gribbin, Deep Simplicity, p163
I think I'll quit my job in December and go full-time freelance and see if I can't ride without a boss until the end of my days [currently aiming for 90+, without a Singularity] .

My only problem with relying on proofreading is the same as its basic appeal - that I can set my own hours. At the moment I keep evening classes as training wheels to ensure that I a) get dressed, leave the house and talk to people I'm not married to / buying things from at least once a day, and b) don't start drinking before 10pm. I took the wheels off in 1997 for one year in China and the results were fun, but somewhat alarming.

Still, I was someone else then.

October 04, 2008

The part of your brain that makes you funny

Is there enough comedy in porn?

Seth Rogen: You know, I like it when porn stays as far away from comedy as humanly possible. I went to the AVN Awards maybe five years ago, and one thing I learned is that porn stars are not funny. They're good at a lot of stuff that I'm not good at, but telling jokes isn't one of them. The part of your brain that makes you funny dies the second you bang nine women a day for 10 years straight.

October 02, 2008

In the native quarter


As a child I wanted to be a writer because writers were rich and famous, they lounged around Singapore and Rangoon smoking opium in a yellow pongee silk suit. They sniffed cocaine in Mayfair and they penetrated forbidden swamps with a faithful native boy and lived in the native quarter of Tangier smoking hashish and languidly caressing a pet gazelle.
William S Burroughs
I know three people who've tried to kill themselves, none of them where successful. Only one of them tried when I was in the same house [alcohol and pills], although another was my roommate at the time, and she called me after swallowing her pills [with alcohol]. Two of those people were /are professional writers, in that they made (and continue to make) 100% of their income from what they do at the keyboard. I know a fourth person who's thinking about killing himself, and he's also a professional writer.

September 29, 2008

The Book of Disquiet, text 152

Picasso's last drawing, a self portrait the day before he died at 91, which looks a lot like me at 38
In order to understand, I destroyed myself.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.

Cool adolescent quote, but to what end? Disquiet is full of great things, and passages that don't work today will another time, but I'm curious how much Pessoa had a good life, on his own terms, and if not, why not. I know almost nothing about him. Still, it's the book of disquiet, so naturally it's full of disquieting passages, with other feelings written down or not and kept elsewhere or forgotten. But he is often moping, when Lisbon is a very fun city, with possibilities for any kind of diversion.

There is a short Chinese work that acts as a counterpoint to all this, Ah, is this not happiness?, that I can't seem to find complete online. I could add it here, although I don't remember it as being all that great. Disquiet is so much easier to write about than happiness.

September 28, 2008

The Book of Disquiet, text 150

No problem is soluble. None of us unties the Gordian knot; we either give up or cut it. We brusquely resolve with our feelings problems of the intellect and do so because we are tired of thinking, because we are too timid to draw conclusions, because of an absurd need for support, or because of our gregarious impulse to rejoin others and rejoin life. Since we can never know all the factors involved in an issue, we can never resolve it. To reach the truth we lack both the necessary facts and the intellectual processes that could exhaust all possible interpretations of those facts.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.
I'm sure the passage above is about personal problems, but I came to it thinking about chaos in general, and the importance of long practice and then a lack of awareness when engaged in the task at hand. Being prepared and then letting things happen
...the only system that can replicate the behavior of the Universe in every detail is - the Universe itself. Even if...the Universe is entirely deterministic and the whole future is contained within its present state, there is no way at all to predict or know the future, except by watching the universe evolve. Whether or not we have free will, the Universe behaves as if we have free will, which is really all that matters. The Universe is ignorant it's own future, and is its own fastest simulator.
John Gribbin, Deep Simplicity, p69

A commitment to diversity

Researchers report genetic evidence bolstering the socially contentious idea that polygyny—the mating practice where some males dominate reproduction by fathering children with several women—was the norm for sexual behavior throughout human history and prehistory. Because polygyny means other men father few or no children, the study, published today in PLoS Genetics, also shows that, on average, women bequeath more genes to their offspring than men do.
Scientific American, [but more at the PLoS link]

All posts labeled sex

September 27, 2008

The Book of Disquiet, text 139

Inside the chicken coup, from whence he will go to be killed, the cock sings hymns to freedom because they gave him two perches all to himself.
More from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet.

A turkey is fed for a 1,000 days—every day confirms to its statistical department that the human race cares about its welfare "with increased statistical significance". On the 1001st day, the turkey has a surprise.

Related posts: Wilhem Reich's Listen, Little Man

September 26, 2008

A fair exchange


Suckling pig from Mid-Autumn Festival barbecue

I finish work at 9pm on Friday night on the other side of town, although that's only a 15 minute scooter ride from home. The joys of high density living. It means I get out of the east district and finish the week in the bright night lights of an area filled with bars, restaurants, pachinko halls and sex work places.

Today I left work feeling good and with enough $ in my wallet to own the night. I went to a barbecue restaurant and sat inside at a corner table and ordered draft beer in frozen mugs and ate only meat. I didn't want to see anyone. I'd found Pessoa again, lost in the shuffle of the books being read / to read heap on a low shelf behind this desk.

Reading in such places is great, I feel like a king. All the distractions are good ones - just the girls in skimpy clothes promoting beer, office ladies after work, and people who bring me food and drink if I ask them. Bending their will, and for what? For the paper I have in my pocket. It's a fair exchange if they're happy to make it.