The Left Hand of Darkness – chapter 9

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I have to say since reading this book I see special days of the week everywhere and in my dreams. When I say special days I am harkening back to Chapter 4 – “The Nineteenth Day” and how it is called Odstreth (the 19th day of any month). I think of this as a non-fungible token… it is not quantity (a counting), but a quality (a symbolic meaning).

On to chapter 9 – Estraven the traitor. I am linking to Aya’s post. She talks about doubling and the divine. I love this part while listening to a podcast with Jorden Petersen ” Petersen speculates that the greatness of Dostoyevsky’s writing is at least in part due to his ability to access this divine.” For me the artistic process is connecting with source and removing the mind, removing strategy.

So I will tell you now my take away from this chapter. I am a hopeless romantic so I loved this story of love and passion in the middle of a snowy night with people of two rival countries followed by murder followed by an orphan raised that then makes peace between two waring countries. It is sort of a Romeo and juliet tale. Also the tale told in metropolis in a way or told in many of love stories. Of the healing of great rifts through the power of love.

What does it mean to be a traitor? Here Estraven the love child is a traitor because he makes peace with the enemy country. There is also a traitor estraven in the parent frame of this story and why is he a traitor. What does it mean to be a traitor. I think of the last temptation of christ by Nikos Kazantzakis and the idea that Judas’ treachory is necessary of there to be Jesus that his job is some how harder and involves more surrender than that of Jesus. The traitor the whistleblower the catalyst prometheus Uranus.

Transformation

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I have been optimizing for impact. For me that means measuring myself by the (positive) effect that I have rather than the tasks I complete or the hours I work. This sounds super click bate-y but it is really profound.

For years I could not tear myself away from a job as a coder, because what was I actually doing if not coding…. Now I feel like I frame the question, I create conditions for coding, I can reduce unnecessary work, I can make the work that we (I) do feel easier and yes… more impactful. There are many ways to have a ridged mindset. Like I need such and such a person to fill a job, or I need to run a project in such and such a way…. Do you ??? really??? Do you really even need to do that project in the first place… maybe you dont.

Anyway – if you have made it this far you now get the big event. I am going to launch a new experiment – the 30 min book group. If you want to why and what for – read about it here.

For you crypto curious I am considering combining this with a crypto currency experiment. (and yes the bookclub is free – I am not charging crypto or something)

No crypto knowledge is necessary but it may be a good opportunity to dip your feet in that pool – if I end up combining the two.

Much Love

Mer

The Left hand of Darkness -the chapter after the sex chapter

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I loved how Aya framed the last discussion around free will. That really had an impact on me. What is the relationship between sex and free will, desire and free will. Desire seems something beyond instinct. Anyway now onto the chapter after sex.

As I read this chapter I felt like I was walking up a large hill. The sun was on my back, sweat was streaming down my face mingling with dust and a putrid oder eminated from my sandles. And then I got to the top and there was a cool mountain lake that I jumped in – NAKED – and then jumped in a toboccan – yes it was there – and I slid down fast while snowflakes that tasted like candy cane flew into my mouth.

What did happen in this chapter? Well we met estravan again! (we also met his kemmer again). We also learn things obliquely … This is a queer book as in Sarah Ahmed.

Some woo today

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So a friend and I do a little astro study group together. Today we are meeting and discussing moon pahses.

According my chart – the moon was in its fourth quarter phase when I was born.

I am meditating on this – what happens in the fourth quarter.

I have often felt that I am not good at finishing things… do I poop out in the foruth quarter.

I remember when I ran track in high school (I was not good) – And at the fourth quarter we had to perhaps start pushing through – this is the time to really dig deep inside yourself to find the resources you did not know that you had and to finish.

Maybe if you had paced yourself the fourth quarter would feel like no big deal.

What is the fourth quarter of life? maybe it is like 65 or 70.

In my chart interestingly enough I have a 4 planets in the 4rd quarter of my chart.

I think it just mean that I am aging like a fine wine

The Left hand of Darkness – ch 7 – sex & Breaking the frame

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Chapter 7 is about SEX! On “Winter” the planet we are on – gender is not fixed. People become man or woman during a period of the month known as Kemmer and they dont know which they will be! It sort of reminds me of the book testo junkie. So this is fun – talking about the nature of gender. Apparently people on Winter (aka Karhide) always mate with someone of the opposite sex… which is a bit disappointing. But really what I find interesting is that this chapter breaks the frame. What do I mean?

Well we begin the left hand of darkness with one a narrative frame, the reporting of an envoy on his mission. That frames the narrative. Then we have another frame, the escape of the traitor, whose name escapes me, at this moment, but that narrative is within the frame of the envoy, it is just a different perspective of the story.

In this chapter thought we go one level up – and speculate on how Karhie gender was created and we learn that a long time ago planets were seeded with humans as an experiment! MIND BLOWN. You see our frame has been blown open. By asking why these people are the way they are we learn something about the wider world within which they are situated and it is not just a spacial world (one of 1000s planets), but a temporal world (there is a history), and this made me think the meaning of the story and the envoy’s mission was different.

There are other interesting points in this chapter. The impact of this gender on the construction of buildings, social relations, self understanding, presentation, desire. Also speculation on why people would want to make humans in this way: maybe to eliminate war. There is also the question of how important is the individual biology in the face of the environment – in this case the ice of winter. I think about this too in relation to our looming climate crisis. We all wander about reading books by Ursula leguin and swiping left and right – but really in the end – a lot will be determined by whether or not our cities are submerged under water, our plains dry up and other things that at the moment seem out of our control.

The narrator of this section is new as well – a woman from Chiffewar. Where the heck is she from an what is Chiffewar.

Sacred Economics

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So I am re-reading Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics. I first read this book years ago after I read all the books in David Graeber’s Debt Bibliography, and then all the books in the subsequent books’ bibliographies. i dont know where this book was but it was in one of the bibliographies.

I reread chapter 2 – and this chapter is about manufactured scarcity and money. I was talking with someone who alerted me to the trajectory of the writing. Charles starts out talking about greed and then shifts and goes through a journey understanding greed until he finally decides ok greed is an innate part of being human it is a product of an environment of scarcity – and this environment of scarcity is caused by money.

This is only chapter 2, so the story is not unfolding. As I learned in this chapter, I cannot atomize these ideas the way we do with time, or money, that this is all flowing together as a journey of revelation.

Charles talks about the fact that all economics textbooks begin with a comment about scarcity – that economics is about scarcity. I would probably enlarge this to say that economics is about resource management. Economics comes from the greek word oikos- house – and the management of the household. And I have written about this before.

Charles talks about how many things are now scarce that were one abundant. Things like childcare, in the past kids could run up and down the street knock on neighbor’s doors and be feed, and so forth (perhaps this is a real past or an fantasy past). Today it is definitely a fantasy – childcare is a business and you pay someone to take care of your kids, unless you are lucky enough to have relatives that would like to help out for free.

Years ago I was hang out with some crypto friends when ethereum was having its ICO. I did not invest. I thought there was no way they were going to succeed. That it would be a waste of my time and resources.

I spoke with a friend yesterday who had invested, and he said he invested because he though it was a great idea and wanted to support it regardless of whether or not it succeeded. What a beautiful thought!

Today, if I can I support friends, and artists, and thinkers, and activists, that I believe in. It is a gift to me that I no longer first thing of whether or not they are going to achieve their goal, or whether or not I will get a return on my investment. It feel good to support another human being and their dream. And I think this is part of what charles is getting at when he talks about the gift.

Spleens

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I am working on a poetry collection. I describe it as splenic but not like Baudelaire’s spleen. That is the melancholic spleen, but splenic as in ancient and physical, poetry that comes from the body.

In Paris Spleen Baudelaire hsa 50 poems, and in my collection I have 42. Baudelaire is capturing the rhythms of life outside the traditional rhythms of poetry which is the meter. I am capturing the rhythms of the body, and the rhythms of the marrow, the history of the body, the history of our organs our dna the stories we have not released that haunt us and that give us strength.

Left Hand of Darkness – Chapter 6

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I must say I had writers block when sitting down to write this. I loved chapter 6 it was a book in a chapter a tale of escape, reversal of fortune, love rejected, and then little snippets, little clues, little breadcrumbs.

Aya wrote her summary first, and I was not going to read it until I read mine but we ARE in dialogue.

But before I dialogue let me summarize. Now we are leaving Karthide, this time with Estraven. Estraven adventures to a port city, he escapes, nearly doesn’t escape, finally escape lands in a new country as an “illegal alien”, becomes invisible and finally claiming a position in accordance his old position – and communicating the news about the Envoy. This is a fairy tale, maybe many fairy tales, the pauper and the prince comes to mind.

Aya fan girls Le Guin, and this chapter is fan girl worthy. She says “Estraven-skeptic to an Estraven believer. the subtle changes in language, cadence, and diction separate us from the narrative voice of Genly Ai.” This chapter is about language. It is language that we are becoming accustom to thorough its use in the book, kemmer and foretelling and schiftgregor (which I mispelled and am too lazy to reference). Are we, the aliens, becoming locals.

Aya references the banter and the storytelling. This is the way we pass on news, truths, teach new truths.

For me I wonder, why did LeGuin bring in Estaven’s old lover? A foreteller no less! I wonder what are the somatic practices or esoteric practices of this world? I wonder what is up with these bodies that change from male to female, that can repel stun blasts, and so forth. I wonder how did LeGuin create a bunch of words and trick me that it represented a world with answers to these questions? And that I should care about it !

Plants and Humans

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I have been meditating with plants, not like ayahuasa or san pedro, but like mugwort and tulsi.

I sit with the plants. I listen I breath … what do they have to tell me what do I… How can we just be together?

There is this common discussion among plant people, that I may have posted before, but I will post now. How did we come to discover all the uses of various plants, from things like willow bark to wine making.

How was it, for example, that people learned willow bark was good for a headache (aspirin)?

Did ancient peoples apply the scientific method? This seems sort of impossible with the amount of knowledge we have and the time necessary to proceed by trial and error (not to mention human casulties).

So there must have been some other way. One thing people talk about is that the plants communicated to the humans directly. Now this could be interpreted as very woo woo. But we can also imagine it as someone who is highly sensitive, just like when you are cooking and you smell your bouillabaisse and it does not smell quite right, or it smells right, or you know to add a pinch of this or that.

Just just accompany me on this epistemological bracketing – that we learn things directly from plants – if we can slow down enough if we can focus enough if we can still ourselves enough we can perceive differently.

Spoiler Alert – I have not been given any secret knowledge from the plants – however it has influenced my poetry and painting on a subconscious level – and even my fiction writing – and who knows what else – maybe my technical consulting work. These poems inspired by the plants are beautiful, one I think is appearing in a forth coming anthology, and another I have been performing in a series of VR salons. Truly they should be compiled into a book called plant pornography – maybe Isabella Rossellini and I could go on tour together with her Green Porno series. My plant poetry is – em – a bit erotic. When I used to first meditate with a new plant I would often take a bath with it. I have a very extensive bathing practice, and this is one of my core competencies. along with change management and value stream mapping. One particular plant, I felt, did not want to take a bath with me – (shocking) – to which someone said – you have to get to know the plant before you take a bath with them. Umm ok – I now take my plants to dinner first.

But I digress, I was walking along meditating on plants and how plants are different even in different locations even if they are the same species (we could say perhaps they have the same plant spirit, or in some Platonic metaphysics they participate in the same form of a certain plan)… they have different things to communicate. Plants do individuate even if it is less, even if Jung says they don’t – not all roses are the same.

I thought how sad it is that there are not enough people to communicate with all the different plants. And then I thought, ahh, this is what humans are supposed… to do communicate with their local plants -this is one of the purposes of being human. This does sound a bit insane, but what a beautiful thought, and how delicious and meaningful, and how more rich this makes the meaning of the person “human.” We are here to talk to the plants – maybe take a bath with them too.

Deep Thoughts on NFTs

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I was talking to my friend Stephen today about Autoglyphs. Autoglyphs are a series of NFTs where the code for the image for the NFT is generated by the smart contract itself. Here is the smart contract. There are english instructions that explain how to draw different symbols.

This was inspired by Sol Lewitt, and to me that is the first thing that comes to mind when looking at this work.

We can then render these instructions however we want. On the Autoglyphs website there is an example of these being rendered by a plotter on paper. There are also examples of these being rendered as ascii art. Each autoglyph has a different set of symbols that it uses to draw. – this is very clever. For example the symbol for this autoglyph is

I am interested in the rendering engine. It would be cool if blockchain had a rendering layer. In the web this was separated into the browser/application layer. We could generate a image in the smart contract – or the binary for an image.

It would be cool if the smart contract could represent itself. This separation between form and content is so 18century.

Anyway – I do think this is cool – to store generate art in this way. I am thinking about this in many different ways. More to come