What have I learned from doing altMBA

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TLDR – I dont have to do the reading.

I am doing altMBA. I know a few people that have done it, one person who I love who loved it, one person I love who is mixed about it, one person I am mixed about it and I’m not sure how they feel about it – you get the picture. My experience of altmba is sort of like being in the Qdoba in the Dallas Fort Worth airport. I thought it would be more ALT but appears to be more MBA. I have a week left but just now I had an epiphany.

I do not have to do the readings!

I love reading, I love doing the work – I am like the anti tim ferriss. I am not trying to game anything – I am not optimizing anything – I am taking the long way – the way of junk dna. I take it all in because I like it like that. I don’t know how my digestion system works how my metabolic. I even sometimes eat at the Qdoba at the DFW airport and enjoy it.

Anyway I am writing this while in a book discussion for a book that I did not read and I’m like and yes I don’t have to do the reading.

Maybe you also don’t have to do the reading. I am talking about me because that is really the only experience I have – the experience of being me.

Its not that I am such a genius that I don’t have to do the reading – although who knows -maybe that is true too – but really it is because

a) I know more than I think I know

b) I can learn what I want or need to learn in other ways

c) its ok just to read the book review or the response – often this is enough for the spark in me

d) I can read what I want – I dont have to read like a stranded person in a desert looking for an oasis desperate for water.

People are just throwing water at me all the time. Maybe it is not clean, or tasty, or with high pH, but if I want a particular kind of water I can get it and responses to the prompt.

Anyway I dont have to do the reading – I’m liberated. Do you have to do the reading? Probably not?

What do you want to read? What reading do I want to do ?

Procedural Landsapes

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I am working on a poetry book, the poems are related in a fractal way, a self similar way. I have a book called An Interface for a fractal landscape. It is poetry about creating fake landscapes, procedural landscapes using fractal mathematics (I think). I am attracted to this sort of work – I have a certain fetish for code that is used in ways that code ought not be used. Poetry is language used in ways language ought not be used, or was not intended to be used. Poetry makes language more powerful. Code is powerful when it is run through a compiler. Code as poetry is less powerful, in the sense of performative, but can code as poetry be powerful in another way, can it be erotic? Can it be generative as a life force? Is code as poetry the true artificial intelligence, or artificial life.

I read Ulises Carrion‘s book on sonnets. It is the same sonnet by Dante Gabriel Rossetti written a number of times with slightly different perspectives, Germanic Sonnet, Musical Sonnet, Incomplete Sonnet. The world of the sonnet is expanded by parallel worlds, bubble worlds of the sonnet populated with permutations from the original sonnet. Carrion‘s original version apparently also had these drawings, which themselves appear procedural or algorithmic. My version of the text does not have this. Sonnet comes from the word song, stanza comes from the word room. These images of Carrion look like floor plants or midi diagrams.

I am looking at an interface for fractal landscape and I loved the images of fake geologies. What is fake granite? What is the molecular structure of fake granite? It is code. It is ascii. It is a hidden layer that a machine learning algorithm devices when ingesting images of granite. There is an insert of a black and white rock, and then ascii art waves or dots. Is this what the compiler sees? Is this what the computer agent sees? Does it matter? Does it only matter what the poet sees. I was thinking of Vija Clements who’s body of work includes both pictures or rocks and hyper realistic drawings of water and outerspace. This is a leaning in to the human visual perception of the eye, while “Fractal Landscape” leans into computer perception, what was left out of perception, what is reduced.

I think of Eros and Byung-Chul Han and a creative misreading. Here Eros is metaphysics, the cosmogenesis creating worlds. The models of Owen Barfield, the idols are not erotic they are not metaphysics they are the procedural generation -the fractal landscapes. I am writing a bunch of poems I originally said they were related in a fractal way, I then thought perhaps they were related in the aleatory way (chance, a throw of the dies mallarme style). But this is regressive. What is beyond fractal? I am looking ergodic noo

Artist Meredith at 16

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This is my self portrait I painted when I was 16 – the only thing I remembered about it was the background squares. I remember my art teacher, Mr Lower showing me a picture of Picasso’s Gertrude Stein.

I look at this picture and I dont recognize myself. It is not how Gertrude Stein felt about her portrait – she felt seen in her portrait. I look at this person -so young. Who is this 16 year old? The image is a mask or… perhaps it is an archetype. If an archetype what the archetype? Diana, Melissa, Athena, Lilith? Who who?

Here is a painting I did at 17 as well – do I still have the same eyes

Creative Surplus Surplus

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I am always impressed by people who have slides prepared for online classes or scripts for their podcasts. But I forget I am equally impressed by people who dont have slides prepared and no scripts. That my favorite things to listen to and watch are those without an agenda where there is some vital force, elan vital propelling the conversation forward.

I am against strategy.

I was bandying about subtitles for a poetry collection, fractal landscape came up, when I remembered the poetry book An Interface for Fractal Landscape. At first it was hard for me to get into it. My mind appreciates technical poetry that meditates on technology, but somehow it is not my taste. This is more my taste.

But I got into Fractal Landscape. I got into the analysis of different stones. I meditated on it. What are elemental patterns. What does a computer see when it sees an amethyst, when it generates an amethyst? (all you mindcraft people out there). What does the hidden layer of the neural net look like… does this question even matter.

I feel like my art is created by a body net. I dont understand it. If it comes from my mind it is garbage, if it comes from my body it is authentic – garbage or otherwise – sacred trash. What would the hidden layer look like? My veins, my muscles twitching, my hormones flooding… does it matter?

Picasso Gertrude Stein and Lady of Elche

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Today I learned something new….

You see this painting

This is Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude Stein. He had her do 90 sittings.

Her face is a mask why? African Masks were very influential at that time. There had just been an exhibition. But that is not the only reason. Picasso went to spain and saw this sculpture of Lady of Eliche. This is an interesting sculpture to me. It is gorgeous and intricate. It sort of reminds me of princess Leia’s hair. With this inspiration Picasso finished the portrait and we see it has a mask like quality similar to Lady of Eliche. Stein said this portrait is always her. What did Picasso do? He captured an archetype. It is not that he saw Stein’s mask, he saw Stein’s universal essence. What is the goddess that was the Lady of Eliche, who is the goddess that Stein represents?

What is the regenerative turn?

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I have been interested in something for a long time that sort of has a name – the regenerative turn.

The regenerative turn is a way to look at society from the POV of a cyclical process of regeneration rather the accelerationist or linearity or exploitation of capitalism.

What is involved in the regenerative turn? Let me take a stab at it…

At its heart it is about a sustainable structure of society. What is the value here… sustainability… but at a high level of flourishing for all participants people, animals, nature, all parts of the structure.

What is sustainability? Is it equilibrium… I dont think so, I think the structure of society can change, the goal is not to break the structure. I imagine a network with nodes, and the nodes shift and connections shift but the structure does not remain broken. Maybe the structure needs to break in order to restructure, but it does not remain broken – or how can you break a structure but maintain the the network as a whole.

In any case what are the elements of a regenerative society, how is this different from societies that have come before, from a capitalist or a socialist or a feudalist, is this new or is this the same as something before. If this is part of a historical process it cannot be the same a something that came before but it can be an echo.

Ok lets map out the elements of a regenerative society

Immediately this is hard for me and I think in terms of our own society, laws and markets and exchange.

But let me instead talk about the things we do

communicate, eat, learn, love, play, sleep

What are the building blocks of life – probably those things above… and then we have other things that support theses things like work, like farming, like soccer, like dancing, like birdwatching, like reading, like talking

What are regenerative ways to communicate, eat, learn, love, play, sleep – I also want something somatic like body exercise – I feel maybe I should look at Maslow’s hierarchy but lets keep it simple for now

What are the structures that encourage these activities in a regenerative way or what are those things that facilitate this in a regenerative way

eating – we have things like permaculture, local food, etc.

love – we have things perhaps like polyamory or communal living or when I think of love I think of creating things and art, and a regenerative art would be an art where there is regeneration between the audience and the performer / the artist .. there is a flow between these two and this movement creates a bond

Play – what is play and what is learning? learning is purposeful play is spontaneous what is regenerative learning what is regenerative play ?

There are certain things that need to be in place on an individual level in order to live a regenerative life. In order to live a capitalist life certain things had to happen, the abolition of family structures, ties to land, access to a commons. Now it seems natural that everyone lives in a capitalist way – exploiting one another.

What needs to happen for a regenerative society. A certain focus on the self, on getting the self in order, on the value of listening, on the value of flow, of qualitative exchange.

I was going to write a post last night on Landauer and Spirit – reading. There was a conversation a group I participate in and many people discussed witnessness. There is an idea that most people only listen to 10% of what is said. That “successful” people listen to 15% (a 50% increase). Landauer does not have a lot of content but he has a lot of spirit. Nietzsche also also has a lot spirit but a lot of content, or we could call that MEANING. What is that? What is in the organization of worlds (words) that transmits meaning or spirit or both or neither? What is that magic? Landauer talks about the construction of spaces for community, the activities that people do in communities… The communal nature of man that people co-create one another by being transpersonal (I am thinking of simondon right now). What it is to be a hermit – with whom does the hermit or the monk co-create herself, with nature, with her spirit, with her imagination, with her inner life, this is the ultimate dialectic. But how do we cocreate in a world where everything is mediated by quantification – my signal to noise ratios and risk reward and pnl.. we lose spirit – we lose regeneration.

It’s hard to write these past fews days. There is so much happening in the world, pain, death, struggle. I just found out a cousin died this morning, I wonder why am I even writing this. I pull up the blank page and think, what a luxury and what a self indulgent. And perhaps (probably and most definitely) there is no meaning (whatever that means) to this, and this is just the wheels of my mind spinning, spitting, throwing up, the epiphenomenon. But perhaps there is also a better way to live.

John Cage and the sound world

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I had a discussion this week on whether or not contemporary art is really art. It started with wondering whether what Christo does, put up fabric gates in central park, constitutes art. Many people said no. The reason being is that it is all about shock value. It is also one dimensional. You don’t go back and get a different experience from a Christo gate every time you see it. I mean maybe you do, but really the effect is felt the first time, when you say wow someone put all these fabric gates in central park. This is different from the effect you feel in front of say the sistine chapel whenever you see it. Also there is a question about the notion of beauty. Are Christo’s gates beautiful, are they intended to be beautiful. I do think one of the quality of art is that it should be deemed beautiful by someone – how bourgeois another reason was that it is not, beautiful. What does it mean to be beautiful? I don’t know different people with different taste find different things beautiful.

Someone brought up John Cage 4’33 as an example of something that is not art – and that is just shock value. I agree but there are things that John Cage does that I would call art or even great art such as the music of changes or Etudes Australes these pieces depend on the musician playing them allows the musician to inject their own taste but within a very defined sound world.

Worlds

One of the things I have learned from my painting group is the concept of the ‘color world’ I think this was popularized by Hans Hoffman. Abstract art is about color, the primacy of color, a portrait does not have to be painted with skin tones but with blue. A “color world” is the creation of a world with its own color scheme that flows together to create a coherent world.

This color world comes out of phenomenology. I don’t really have something substantial to back this up, but a few inklings and my spleen point in this direction. Husserl, the father of phenomenology, which itself has about 10000 different definitions, had an idea of the lifeworld. First phenomenology as Husserl thought of it, was for the individual to engage with the world of sense perception. The world is the lifeworld – the world of consensus reality… but the world is not related to us as an object but as a verb something lived in by us (us all not me as an individual). So the lifeworld changes – it is dynamic.

Anyway the lifeworld is the world we experience, we create it by living it. A successful color world is one that we create by painting it. John Cage is creating a sound world. His compositions are sound worlds. His sound worlds are more variable than the color world of a painting which presents itself always the same. Cage’s sound worlds change depending on who plays the world. But if we imagine arts as involving different levels of collaboration and authorship with perhaps painting being the most personal and film being the least, and the types of worlds that these aesthetic modes allow the great artists are the ones that create new worlds. Is a great sound world a sound scape.- like Green House. But is this just like a beautiful landscape, is this flattening perspective, is this the Monet or the Cezanne flatteing of the picture plane? Is this a new world, a new color world, a new sound world?

I would say the creation of sound worlds is what Cage is doing. Sometimes it is successful or sometimes it is unsuccessful but he created what it meant to be in a sound world at all.

Some other thoughts on John Cage from various musicians.

Things I have been thinking about

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Covid, and Texas and cold, and water. But I am in the North with the starks

I have been thinking about the very woo woo practice of human design …. I am a splenic manifestor.

In the woo woo practice of human design I have an open head which means I think about things that dont matter.

I was going to talk about what I have been thinking about but then I realize it does not matter.

Instead I will tell you what I feel…

I feel community. Why and what for? I have been searching for community. I have been a community slut. I feel like I could write a book about the bazillion communities I have participated with over covid. I feel community and the earth and my body… I feel local… I feel like I want to take people on canoe tours but it is really cold. I feel sorrow. I feel the soil. I feel all different bodies and that the soil is a body and then I read this

“We also want people to understand all the cultural and philosophical aspects of soils. Soils can mean home, safety, familiarity. In times of war, soils can keep the memories of those tumultuous, horrific experiences. Soils hold a lot of things symbolically.”

“On the whole, there is so much you can learn if you approach soils from an artistic or cultural perspective, or even a religious or spiritual perspective. The specifics of your understandings are going to be different, but your general understanding and ability to work with them would be the same.”

What is art? I am painting. I am painting what my body knows. This is what my body feels.

A Response to Frampton’s “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance”

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I married an architect. He became a graphic designer. Architecture migrated beyond the creation of physical buildings to the creation of systems in general. And in my working life I have seen the term architecture applied to buildings, to software, to interfaces, to experiences, to smells and beyond. What would have in the past been an engineer, the mechanisms of delivery of an architecture, are now removed in favor of the architect who creates the plan.

I think about systems. Above is a painting (42″x78″) I made that include some of these systemic systems in my unconscious. Professionally, I analyze software systems and hardware system and processes. In the past when I would think of factory systems, I would think of the components of a system and how they interact. For example, I would think of a conveyor belt and the different widgets on the belt and the different things that happen to the widget on the belt.

When an architect designs a building, a cathedral for example, he also creates a belt, a movement pipeline, the movement of the congregation through the aisles, the priests, the smell of the incense, the movement of air, the movement of light from the stained glass window, the movement of spirit – whatever that may be. But really, when I think of architecture I think of the creation of an atmosphere and the impact of the atmosphere on the psyche and on the creation of an affect, perhaps a religious affect we could say. Here is an idea that in designing the flow of the space we create the atmosphere of the space, and that these two things are not different exercises but two sides of the same coin, the negative of the photograph and the developed photography.

The essay by begins with a discussion of architecture. And while I read this I hear echos of Le Corbusier and the commodification of architecture. How this comes from the enlightenment is via the notion that there are laws for everything. There are laws of gravity, of morality, we can legislate everything even buildings. There is an optimal law for buildings. How we interpret this can be different. A law can be something veridical – true or false, or it can be dynamic based on variables, like F=MA, or it can be addressed hermeneutically or interpretively like the talmud or the US legal system.

This is contrasts regional diversity that by its very nature cannot claim to be a “universal” law. There is this tension then of integrating the universal with the regional or the populist or something else. This in the essay appears to express itself idiosyncratically, from the personality of the artist. And this is probably the problem with art. It is the quirkification of art rather than the groundedness of art. The groundedness of art is the application of the particular, of what is particularly regional to the universal.

Towards the middle of the essay there is a meditation on the architecture of the gallery and its effect on the artwork. When I recently reread Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” I alighted on this line: “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.” Our attention creates the reality we experience, just as the climate of the western united states creates the Douglas Fir. And so I was treated to this paragraph:

“Until recently, the received precepts of modern curatorial practice
favored the exclusive use of artificial light in all art galleries. It has perhaps
been insufficiently recognized how this encapsulation tends to reduce the
artwork to a commodity, since such an environment must conspire to render
the work placeless. This is because the local light spectrum is never
permitted to play across its surface: here, then, we see how the loss of aura,
attributed by Walter Benjamin to the processes of mechanical reproduction,
also arises from a relatively static application of universal technology.”

A commodity exists within an environment of commodification. The commodity, in particular, exists within the environment of the capitalist system. Perhaps objects with auras cannot exist in this system. If something has an aura it has a place, it is grounded, it interacts with it’s environment. Perhaps something created according to a universal law cannot have an aura, perhaps auras are enhanced by the particularity of a thing. I can maybe talk about the Heidegger reference that we need to talk about BEING. As I wrote this I thought of two things, the being of Hegel that there are Being and beings and the morphology of Goethe, that something exists as a capacity and can satisfy that capacity in many different ways – like the capacity for a finger can exist in many different lengths/thicknesses/hair density/melanin etc.

Towards the end of the essay we bring back in the body, perhaps a phenomenological experience of architecture. What does it feel like to look at a painting in a gallery, a mosaic in the Duomo of Siena, or a painting in Lascaux? There is a discussion of the techtonic vs the scenographic. That the construction of the thing has more impact than the surface design, the scaffolding of the interior building more than the curtain wall – Goethe would approve. There is a notion of mythmaking in current art. That the great artists are the ones that create complete mythologies or universes and I am reminded of this in the reference to Visconti using real parquet floors in “The Damned.” How do the actors react or act differently according to the set. A set that is scenographic rather than techtonic will interact with actor in a different ways. Perhaps only the techtonic way will create an aura. Acting becomes not a facade but an experience an exchange between the actor and the set and the system of filmmaking that produces the aura of the film.

This all sounds beautiful romantic and particularly brooklyn all things that I love. However I also love Chandigarh – so how to reconcile these things – the Being and the beings. The Now the Then and the Tree that exists now and here – this is a reference to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Frampton says, “The tactile opposes itself to the scenographic and the drawing of veils over the surface of reality.” But this notion that there is a reality, is such an enlightenment notion! Lets examine the veils and the auras that each veil produces.

I could end here but I am going to provide an epigraph.

A friend has recently been diagnosed me as being quirky. I do not experience myself as quirky but I definitely experience myself as regional or niche. As a child when I was sent to summer camp I was diagnosed as “odd” which is perhaps different from being quirky – in that it is more singular – it is the third thing – the singular thing – the point of the spear – the source. This is perhaps why I named my son Eero, not arrow the pointy thing as he tells his classmates.

I do not follow the universal laws- I do not watch popular tv shows or listen to popular music. It is not that I am intentionally doing this, but that my attention does not go there – I do not recognize these universal laws of popularity. However what I do recognize is the ecological niche, in the exploration of a particular habitat. Is this quirky, Is this idiosyncratic? I would say this is regional. And just like the taste for stinky tofu is perhaps regional to parts of Taiwan, the the taste of blue cheese is regional to the taste of parts of France, my taste is likewise regional, arising from the regions of the imaginal rather than the regions of my ego (my idiosyncrasy).

Networks Vs Communities:

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I read Dumbing Us Down yesterday. I pretty much already held the opinions expressed int his book. That the purpose of school is to commodify the individual, remove our quirks, make us easier to control, and so forth. My adult life has been an attempt to rediscover the child I was before schooling happened to me (and summer camp and other bad ideas). And really, the commodification did not work that great, I’m still pretty frickin weird. But not weird enough! Schooling did do its job, and there are many things about myself that I don’t reveal. because school made me feel like large parts of myself had to be discarded or hidden.

Like I am not going to reveal the list of 42 groups I was involved with in 2020. But that 42! It is a magic number.

One of the most interesting, to me, parts of the book involved a discussion of networks vs communities. Remember folks this was written in 1992. No social networks, no network graphs, no linked in. But here we have it networks vs communities. The TLDR is that networks bring a reduced portion of the individual to a group where as in communities you bring the whole person AND in a network you get the most out of the network at the beginning, in a community you continue to receive value over time.

I wonder of those 42 groups which are networks and which are communities. A friend was trying to start a community. He kept saying, the community, the community, but there really was no community – a community does not come into being because you collect a bunch of people together and decide that – voila – here is a community.

Do you have to like the people in the community? Nope. I think that communities exist because there are networks of people within the community. People are connected to one another. In cults perhaps people are only connected to the leader.

Anyway community. How do we do community in an online world? This is very hard -maybe impossible – because online strips away so much about what it means to be a human. If I pay to be in a community am I still in a community – or is this verging in cult territory. Some of the 42 groups are patreon groups, most of them I am there for the leader, some of them I am there for the people. What if we had a patreon where you vetted both the creater and the community.

Communities can include or exclude. Thats sad, but necessary. Richard Bartlett and the microsolidarity folks talk about this. I mean if you are for everyone, then you are a for no one. I think it’s ok to have a community be exclusive. But what I don’t like is a community to be conformist.

Is this a rant? Yes. I want to be part of a community of people in person. I want to do community things like cook and dance and teach and play music, and hear music, and make art, and look at art, and learn and read and make a big fire (that is my core competency) and watch a dance performance. I don’t need to be part of 42 communities to do this – maybe just one. Like maybe I am actually a community monogamist. Maybe I want too many things that cannot possibly be in one community. Like cultural somatics, tai chi, kundalini yoga, and soccer. But I would love to go deep in one community. To really learn the many facets of my community members to learn this mode of commitment and love.