Sin and Capital

art

I am in the midsts of the book Marx’s Inferno. It is dense af. But gives a fantastic overview of the milieu in which Marx operated and some important expansions of Marx’s thought (Lukas, Althusser, etc)

The premise of the book ostensibly is that the format of Das Capital mirrors that of The Inferno from Dante’s divine comedy. A secondary thesis is that Das Capital is a work of political theory and not social theory. But really, it is a wealth of information and I am learning a ton about the history of Marxism.

Sin originally means missing the mark. The inferno is all the ways that one can mis the mark and the consequences for that. Punishment in the inferno follow the logic of contrapasso. The punishment resembles the sin itself.

The book itself is a bizarre and idiosyncratic endeavor. But what it shows is the diffrent ways that the system of capitalism sins, or misses the mark. Some sins are ‘worse’ then others, they exist in a lower circle of hell. For example, there is the sin of akrasia – weakness of will. This is the desire that we all have within the capitalist system for more money – for example. But is this because of our personal agency or because of the structure of capitalism? How in control are we of our own will.

In the platonic dialogues, I remember reading about akrasia, weakness of will, as epistemological. That is it centered around knowledge. If only someone knew the right way to act, they would act thusly. If someone knows the correct way to act, why dont they act that way?

The last few years I thought Freud – ahh the unconscious. People have unconscious urges that make them act contrary to how they ought to act.

If you look at Nietzsche, then really the question is to act according to your will. The only akrasia is acting contrary to your will. There is no right and wrong, only will and the capacity to carry out one’s will.

But for Marx there is the struggle between the system and the individual. How much agency, or will, can an individual exercise within a system? Perhaps we act contrary to our will because we are embedded within a system that would prevent us from making proper decisions – from acting rationally. For surely if we acted rationally we would do “the right thing.” This is an epistemic approach – knowledge is about making decisions.

In Marx’s Inferno, the critique presented as Marx’s pov is that people are prevented from getting together with full knowledge of the supply chain and workings of capital and discussing and deciding for themselves what to do. It is not that their actions are hampered but their decision making process -via dialogue – is hampered.

The idea of focusing on thinking vs behavior is echoed in so many fields from psychology to business processes to interface design. I think of Thaler and Sunstein’s Nudge Theory and how to create behavioral systems that nudge people to act in a certain way while leaving a modicum of freedom to exercise choice. But perhaps the real goal should be to nudge people to make better decisions and to use dialogue, to self educate, etc rather than to restrict or guide action.

Back to akrasia… what kind of sin is this? What is the sin of acting within a structure, without full agency? It is a sin that exists in limbo not in hell. It is with the other sins of the weakness of will (akrasia).   

 

Back to my initial point. Within the system of capital there are multiple sins, with their own punishment and their own severity. The sin of limbo is akrasia, a sin of structure, or lack, or bad luck. The first sin of hell is the sin of exploitation, of surplus capital…  ie force and fraud.



Malleability of Time and Space

art

Peter Halley’s Paintings look like circuit diagrams at first and then migrate to graphs in theory of computation… or window air conditioning window units.

Reading notes on abstraction by Peter Halley – I have two take aways….

The first is that he makes great use of observation of daily life and then abstracts from that meditations or deeper realities about ‘art’. In this sense I imagine he is sort of like the precursor to the trend consultant or something. I have no interest in this sort of analysis of contemporary culture. I think contemporary culture is boring. I think that mass culture is boring. I am not terribly interested in why tiktok took off. I am sure it has to do with its interface and onboarding, and other things, but there is going to be another tiktok – tiktok’ that is similarly disruptive for similarly clever and unanticipated reasons.

And so it goes. Stuff is popular because of how it is designed, designed visually (semiotics), designed for use, designed to connect (social signalling/virtual signally), designed emotionally (so we feel good using it), designed somatically (so our bodies feel good using it). These are not the transcendental categories of cultural critique, but you add a few or take away a few and what do you really gain or lose? Not much.

The next are regarding the observations themselves which are worth thinking about.
Capital is static – but there is change. How is that?
I’ll take a stab because of the M-C-M circuit. The point of capital is that it flows through the economy. At every node i the circuit, when a state transition happens from M-C or C-M slippage is possible. That is the slack in the system that enables no only change of capital but cultural change and social change (as rare as it may be).

I think now of the blockchain, with capital on the blockchain there is no slippage. Capital on the block chain removes the M-C-M network, money as a microservice of capital and installs the capital monolith. There are no nodes in the system and no slippage. Not only is it the end of history but the end of culture and the end of society.

Some other thoughts. Real and hyperreal.. I too had these thoughts as a young child. Like what comes after the Museum of Modern Art. Well it turns out the Museum of Contemporary Art, or the New Museum. But then, you know what happens, you have museums named after various people and you have museums for different sub cultures. This is the breaking up of the cultural monolith. What comes after the hyperreality of postmodernism are the realities of the multiverse.

There are some other points about why New is important. Really I am not into the New… I think we are so interested in the New because were are no place -we are ungrounded,We are  prospectors trying to find gold at a 100 different sites. We are always looking in a NWE site because we have not struck gold yet. Art is constantly looking for something new because we are not actually talking about art — and none of this is art. 

Glamour vs power AND erotics vs everything. I really should not put these all together but what the heck I’m tired and I have other stuff to do. People want glamour they don’t want power. Folks -that is what POWER wants you to BELIEVE.  This is this whole essay a psyop. Erotics – erotic is love that does something – it makes you sweat. It is desire – but you feel it in your body. Is erotics historical? Well yea – anything can be desired. Does this mean that if the wrong thing is eroticized it is a fetish, well only if you have a Freudian fetish.  What is right and wrong any way – you look into the abyss and well i hope you know what happens. Otherwise you can google it. 

Why do people like to talk about erotics. What did Susan Sontag say – we need an erotics of interpretation … oh no I remember now… its an erotics of art. I guess that is how ‘erotic’ got into this essay by Peter Halley. We need an erotics of all things – but let’s talk about erotics of art. Maybe what we need is a somatics of art. Art we feel with the body. Do people mean somatics when they talk about erotics? Well let’s assume people actually mean erotics.  Erotics is like desire + somatics. It is a second order effect even though eros was the primordial god in Hesiod’s Works & Days.  Maybe eros gives birth to desire and somatics. Maybe the problem is that desire and the body has split and what we need is art to heal the fission.

Anyway the denouement comes at the end – it is that the history of art is the history of abstraction. That we lose specificity that food becomes ambiance (that is a quote), and space is replaced by amenities (another quote).  What really is this about? Because although there is abstraction it is differentiated. Dinner at Jean George is different than dinner at Mc Donalds although you cant sit down at either place now that we have Covid19.  Is it about surface – like curtain walls? I hope not -that is really f*in banal. What is it? I don’t think it is an impoverishment. But I think we have not fully realized what abstraction can do – to give it the same level of power as representational art.  There is something in abstraction about the system- about individual agents or daimons (or damons -my monad-nomad-damon movement).  The dining experience as the interaction of 1000 different damons, pleasure is this way too. The Mondrian painting exists with a conceptual and physical framework as well as a curtatorial and architectural (the gallery). And these can be multiplied …. these agents. I dont know this is just a stab. The agent theory of art. 

Why should you read this random ass stream of consciousness? You have already read this, so maybe this comes a bit late. But as a friend in my writing group asked about another piece of writing: What is the tldr in this? Well you have to read it. This is the journey it needs to happen in order to understand something. You need to go into the field and dig a bunch of holes not just look at the map. And even if you don’t find gold you do something to yourself -maybe you sweat or build muscles or get a callous.  Go take a nice bath with epsom salts now and soak those callous hands.  That is what I am going to do – and then record another episode of ovid in the bathtub.

 





eroticsm of the body vs

Monitoring and Observability

tech

I am talking at a meetup in a few weeks. My topic, Overcoming Metric Fatigue with Artificial Intelligence.  The meetup is about Software Observability and Continuous Updates. Now that I am preparing my talk I am taking a deep dive into Observability and Continuous Updates… What does that mean beyond buzz words.

Software Observability

So first off we are talking about software, not hardware, so we are talking about log statements (and logs), exceptions, stack traces, and events. 

But what is observability? Once we have observability we have the related concept of monitoring and instrumentation. Let’s split this up. 

Instrumentation is for business intelligence. The goal here is to understand how people use the system and how to extract additional information from this usage in order to either improve the software, create new products, or add new processes to the pipeline (like altering a sales pipeline).  This perhaps is a problem to be solved in the datawhare house or OLAP system, statistical methods, and visual displays. We want to capture as much information as possible and then run analysis on it.  

Monitoring is for understanding the health of a system.   Here the goal is to capture the most salient information in order for a human to act on it.  We imagine a one to one correlation between an alert in monitoring and something like pager duty alert.  Rather than logging an exception, monitoring is about looking for events and certain ranges and thresholds (like 10 events a minute, or an event with a certain value).  We can engage in whitebox monitoring – an alert triggered by monitoring the internals of a system, or blackbox monitoring -an alert triggered by monitoring the external interfaces of a system (such as user interaction or systems integrations).

How to determine what to monitor can be refined by instrumentation.

Observability 

Observability is related to understanding how a system is behaving internally.  

To reiterate, monitoring is about looking for threshold events and immediately actionable alerts, instrumentation is about logging information to help decisions (about product, pipelines, and monitoring), and observability is about understanding how the internal pieces of a system work together (or rather don’t work together as excepted). 

The idea is that if an event is triggered via our monitoring software, then we can use tools in the observability camp to track down, understand what is happening and fix it. Observability is the ability is to tie back a piece of data in instrumentation or monitoring to the software code itself.

Observability, is also about context. It is about examining the state of a system as it compared to its recent (or ancient) history. Where as monitoring is about an event or a thing, observability is about ranges. When observing a system, I want to see how the software is working within its historical context. When an alert is triggered via monitoring, we also want to observe what is happening within context (either in real time or in log files) in order to understand what is happening and to apply an appropriate fix later. 

Metrics and Monitoring

Where do metrics come in? Metrics are the things that we are building our alerts around.  What we are monitoring are metrics. Any time I see a systems diagram where ever I see I line I see an opportunity for a metric. These lines can increase more and more as we dive into the internals of a system. There is a great old blog post by etsy about measurement. It talks about how to measure everything. This is metric fatigue. 

For instrumentation we want to measure everything, for monitoring we only want to measure the most salient things, for observability we want to monitor things that a human brain can realistically comprehend. 

This is the subject of my talk – how we can separate out the different types of metrics. This is a notion of worlding or worldview, we can also call it phase transition or granularity. Just like we can examine a mountain by looking at it’s ranges, it’s individual rocks, or the atoms that make up the rocks, we can also look at instrumentation, observability, and monitoring as different world views of our systems.

There are all different ways of setting up observability in a system  – like in this detailed but probably out of date document from twitter.  Also all different ways to integrate as in this medium post.

My talk is about adding AI into the mix.  How to use AI to determine which metrics to observe. Once you do this tho, you need to add additional metrics and observation to gain intuition into how the AI algorithm is making its decisions. Its turtles all the way down.

Maybe next I’ll write about continuous updates. 

 

 

 

 

 

Process

consciousness

I am really not the best at process (or processing) – that was a joke – hahah.
Anyway.

Happy Sunday! I was talking with my writing group and they said that I should keep a record of my newsletter process so here it is sort of … the beginning.


Ancient History
Well I had a newsletter once before -it was about crypto. I started it maybe 6 years ago. I had a vague notion that through this newsletter I could connect with other people in crypto and become a crypto expert. And while, I did become a crypto expert, I did not have the sort of legitimacy one gets from having 1.5mm instagram followers like kim kardashian. No fancy conference invitations for me, I had to apply like everyone else…

Recent History
So last year I was at the recurse center. One of the things I wanted to explore was something called ‘conscious computation’ – the application of computational models to ideas of consciousness, and the application of consciousness to computation.
I really did not get very far on this concept. I was very impressed by the work of Vilem Flusser and the relationship between medium and conceptual frameworks. I wondered what would our dreams be like to dream in code or non-linear systems instead of images.

At the start of 2020 I started working with a group of creatives and we started keeping one another accountable to our creative projects. I hoped to maybe create a body of work or writing around this concept of conscious computation. I have a vague idea of who I wanted to connect with in order for this idea to have impact within the wider culture.

Covid19 came to the USA in early January. I was actually in Bothell on a project when someone was first diagnosed with covid in the USA (in Bothell I think). I started to lose interest in this project. In the past when I would often become despondent when embarking on projects and begin to think ‘who cares?’ Who cares about this? This lead to further feelings that I was self-indulgent and doing something with little utility.

In the past 18 months or so I have radically reframed this. I no longer ask this question. I ask am I interested? And that alone is enough. Since what is better than to spend one’s time doing what one is interested in. But even my conscious complexity project no longer interested myself… I had to start again.

I started thinking about what I was really interested in and it was, as it has always been since I was a young girl, the connection between different things, areas of thought, and mediums of expression. I was interested in learning about different systems, I was interested in creating in a variety of mediums, I was interested in the scaffolding the tools, structure, and milieu of all these things.

Prompted by Nitzan, I started calling my self a systems poet.This is a term that is evocative although meaningless in a way -since I am the only (or perhaps the first) systems poet.

Back to the newsletter. Why did I want to do a newsletter now? I no longer had a project – like conscious computation, but a method and a process… I wanted to look at the boundary lands between systems. The goal was no longer to become an expert – because there is no field to become an expert in, instead my goal now with the newsletter was to connect with people who would be interested in these explorations as well.

My first newsletter was all over the place, I went really deep really fast on a myriad of concepts. I still was clinging to consciousness and computation. I knew I wanted to bring in visual references and links that might provide some inspiration and sarendipity but that was it. The feedback on this first, aborted, newsletter was that it was complex and difficult to understand (perfect for a blog post).

I regrouped and a few weeks later, I wrote my first newsletter. I was very happy with it. I accomplished a high degree of precision and fidelity that I had been struggling my whole life to achieve. I felt I was on the threshold of a new higher quality of work. Sadly my call to action link was broken and because I am using the generally excellent square space mailing app, but otherwise I was happy. 

Now to write the next newsletter. This was not so easy. I would sit down to write some ideas for a few moments, and come back and feel the inspiration and momentum totally gone.  I would post something to this blog, or to twitter or slack and thing ahh the newsletter, but then I had no motivation to write it.  

One of the things I am also in the midst of doing, is learning to listen to myself and be in alignment with myself. This is a whole body process. So I would think, well if I dont feel like writing now, should I just honor that. My whole life has followed a few philosophical points – I have used a numbers game mentality, I have attempted to use force of will, and I thought better done than perfect. 

But in the past year this has totally changed for my. Rather than trying everything under the sun, I wanted to listen to myself and only do those things that I truly wanted to do. My litmus test was how I wanted to spent my time, not what would be ‘successful.’ Then I challenged the force of will. How can I feel like ideas, thoughts, feelings, creations, come from me, rather than from some sort of way to anticipate or meet another person (can we say co-dependance), or to push something through without focusing on how it feels.  Finally I am challenging the better done than perfect, and all the attendant ideology like MVP (minimum viable product). I have a desire to do things exquisitely. I have lived my life in broad strokes, and I now I am interested in the details (I still cannot spell however).

With this orientation, I was really mindful of how I was writing the newsletter, in addition to writing the newsletter. The second newsletter had trouble being birthed. 

I had a conversation with one of my writing partners, Thomas, that he recorded on zoom. He had a conversation methodology and it was amazing. It was one of the most generative and energizing experiences I had in a while. I might not be able to write a newsletter, but I can have good conversations. So I started doing that (please sign up for a 1:1 conversation 🙂 

There is no goal beyond this other than the sheer pleasure of it. I can see it becoming a collection of interviews or even an audio project or documentary. But for now, it just brings me pleasure. 

I started working on some personal coding projects and I realized that what I now loved to program with another person. I love to code and have a ton of knowledge, both technical and just process or what I call body knowledge or pattern matching.  I decided that going forward I would try and write with a partner as much as possible. 

A year or so ago, a friend put me in touch with a professional coach for software developers. I took a sample session, but did not proceed further, at the moment I did not have the need. The idea and tips she gave me though I still remember. And imagine that I would improve dramatically if I worked with her. And maybe I will now. The idea that programming, like everything else, can benefit from having a coach, was mind blowing. After these revelations I started doing 1:1 code coaching sessions. I do plan on charging for this one day, or doing work study (like we code on one of my personal projects), but for now, while I am figuring it out, they are totally free. Please try it out!

While not writing my newsletter, I was doing these other things that were more process oriented and directed at what I enjoyed doing. However I still wanted to put out the newsletter. I had (and still have) in my mind a list of 5-10 people who I imagine reading my newsletter, perhaps passing it to other people, of a feedback loop within the newsletter (which is why I have a Q/A at the end), and even a feedback loop among people who I interact with (who read the newsletter, who dialogue with me, who code with me etc). 

Today I scheduled my second newsletter. It comes almost a month after the first. I sat down this morning and wrote it like the first one, in one burst in google doc. I did then go back and edit it in the afternoon after comments from my writing group. I have the same good feeling I had with the last newsletter.  My goal is to hopefully turn this method into a rhythm. On sunday morning write, and sunday afternoon revise. 

I have goals for the newsletter, as I stated before. I want to connect with other people who are interested in these thoughts. I want those people to connect with me. I want them to connect with one another. It would be nice if these thoughts create actions either works or deeds. But internal changes are enough. If enough people undergo enough internal changes then the world will change. 

I don’t have a dogma or an agenda that I want to promote, I just want fellow travelers on my journey.

 

Meditations on Technology

consciousness

Before I begin – If you have other ideas of what constitutes a tool or technology please comment or schedule a dialogue with me.

Now to begin proper…  I have recently taking to call myself a systems poet. Most other people don’t know that I am talking about, but I know what I am talking about. Randomly the other day I described myself as a tool maker. What does that mean???

What are tools and what are the relationship between tools and technology?

I have written about this before, but I want to refine this…

So there are a few different ideas about tools and technologies

1a. Tools are an extension of the body, like a telescope is an extension of the eye

1b. Tools generate power which extends the body but something like a water wheel.

2a. Technologies are guard rails – I think of this in terms of the philosophy of nudging – and example is the fordist assembly line

2b. Technologies are practices to refine something  Here I think about things like kundalini is tech or yoga is tech. It is a way to focus or refine energy, but it is using your body as a tool. Someone once asked me what are you/me a tool for? 

I recently read Saving the Appearances by Owen Barfield. One of his ideas is that mathematical models like E =MC^2 grew out of making empirical observations. People making observations were just saving the appearances, just recording what they saw, they were not deducing anything. The phenomena  was primary, the data secondary.

This became flipped around when we started taking the data as primary. That is how we started creating models and then studying our models. You could even say science is now about studying models and using more data to figure out if it is correct or incorrect.

The models according to Barfield are the Idols, this is a form of idol worship. I am making no judgements, just observations. One of the great things about the 20th century is that our models became predictive and models started to drive our technologies instead of experiment driving technology. 

Since Napolean and the introduction of Logistics read Delanda’s War in the Age of Intelligent Machines we also have the idea of optimization.  Technology is no not just about models or equations, but about measurement and instrumentation (how well are we doing something, how accurate is a reading), and also about simulation.

We can think of Jungian active imagination as a technology, we can think about talk therapy as technology, we can think of games as technology.  As Marx says technology works on us as we work on technology, so technology is a part of conditioning. 

So to recap technology as extension, as refinement, and as prediction.

As I am thinking about developing technology and tools, more and more I am thinking in this cyborgian way, how do I want to be conditioned … today … right now. How do I want to be…

People say we are moving from an age of doing into an age of being… how do we think about technology as ontology instead of epistemology.