Sense Making

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Today I had a sense making breakthrough. I was discussing the film Disconnect, which I sometimes teach. I really don’t like the film, but it is so rich that I feel compelled to return to it.

I drew a network diagram of the film:

We have 3 or 4 storylines that connect with each other via one or two other people. The people within the network are not aware of the connections.

We also have devices that are connecting us with people and creating the conflicts within the storylines.

The crux of the issue, as I viewed it today, was that no one within the network was able to “see” let alone understand the connections they had. These were all obscured (occulted). Our world has always been interconnected – a systems world. But because of technology and organization our the systems are much larger and can have a much larger impact (because of the scale an the force of the vectors in the system). Before we may not have understood the network, or maybe we did, but regardless the impact was not as severe.

Today the impact is severe. There are all sorts of phenomena that seem to make no sense or that we cannot agree upon because the systems are obscured from climate change to fake news.

What is sense making? It’s not necessarily I dont know how to make sense of my life, or I dont know how to solve this problem or diagnose this problem, its about how do I create the conceptual scaffolding to understand these networks.

Technology and organization has created these expanded networks but we don’t have the tools (conceptual or otherwise) to make these connections and their vector magnitudes (the strength of the connection) visible.

To me there is an analogy between the Aristotle’s discovery of rhetoric and the discovery of something new to understand systems.

Imagine, ancient Athens, the agora. People are standing around arguing. Some people are winning arguments, some people are winning followers. Why? Why is one argument better than another? or more convincing than another? Along comes Aristotle he starts to diagram out the ways to make an argument, stylistic concerns and logical concerns (syllogisms/conditionals). Then you can MAKE SENSE of why a certain argument is more convincing or perhaps correct. Before it was obscured like our network, then it became transparent.

Stuckness and Nora Bateson

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“Systems do not get unstuck – they learn” – Nora Bateson

Stuck is not necessarily a bad thing. Stuck can be a moment of integration, of consolidation. But lets say we don’t want to remain stuck. I certainly don’t.

I heard this from the emerge podcast with Nora Bateson. I am writing this first thing in the morning.

It is in the middle of my morning coffee – I woke up unwanting and unable to do anything. I lay in bed for 30 minutes. Relishing in the warm comforters, the half sleep state, one of my son sleeping next to me (COVID anxiety). Its now dark when I get up and there is something timeless about the darkness. I have been getting up lately completely absorbed in lazyness. The I have coffee and I am Transcontextual!

No really I have coffee and I possessed by the spirit of coffee and feel I can do anything. Really my life purpose becomes the first thing I look at after I take that first step of coffee. I should stop being possessed by coffee but it feeeeeeels soooooo gooooooood .

So Nora Bateson and Systems.

Systems theory right – breakfast is not just a cup milk and cereal or eggs around a table.

a) It is all the people that have eaten breakfast, that have made the cups, it is all the breakfast rituals, it is all ways people eat breakfast together and alone… This is the relational aspect that Nora focuses on.

b) It is all the processes that have made the cereal, the milk, the cups, the plates.

Both of these are systems in themselves, or as Nora calls it contexts. Relations and Processes.

What the heck do we do with all of this? We change the world.

a) So systems poetics or transcontextual work (they are not the same) – can not exist apart from relationships… and I would say relationships with other humans (sorry not sorry for the anthropocentric bias) – there can be relationship between non human people… but who is perceiving these relationships? people. I am not sure if dogs perceive systems poetics or trans-contextual relationships. They do something else. As do aliens and 6 dimensional mice. Also i dont think dogs and aliens are going to change the world. Although maybe that is my anthropocentric bias and I will be proven wrong. We can change the world together. Mycelium is trans-contextual – it does not perceive trans-contextual. trans-contextual is immanent not transcendent or mediated.

b) How does change happen? Change needs a predicate. Also change in a systems way is interconnected with other changes (I am thinking of the Nordic Ideology).

c) This is overwhelming

Meditations of Night 1/7 or 1/8

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This is a drawing by Pamela Coleman Smith -the illustrator of the first modern tarot deck. I read a biography over the weekend and this image stayed with me. That and her fricking awesome signature! (And other things, among which is a new appreciation of her Tarot deck).

This is from a set of Jamaican folktales she wrote down and illustrated. She lived for part of her youth and life in Jamaica, and perhaps was of part Jamaican heritage (or other Caribbean or African heritage).

What speaks to me about this image? That you can hide from night in the rafters in the dark. That even though death is darkness, there are other darknesses that even death has trouble navigating.

In this story, Annancy – the protagonist of most/all the stories in this collection is hiding in the rafters while death is calling for him to come down. Death and Night.

The ground is white, Annancy is white, the fence outside is white, the underside of the rafters are white, death is mostly white and the sky is dark. The sky outside the house that is. The rafters also are dark, the dome of the home, the dome of the domus.

Death is white. There is a light coming from open door, or perhaps it is the light of death that highlights the underside of the rafters. Where is the light coming from? Perhaps purely from the mind of the artist who in order for us to distinguish the scene must have a contrast (between light and dark). Death has a bag.

Really what happens in the darkness? We can hide. We become phenomenology – an arm a leg a rafter. We become disembodied. The logic of night is different. How is the arm connected to the leg? The rafter to the house? These connections are hidden. Occult!

Death in this image has a structure. Death is the logic of the night. In the darkness we see death. Night and Darkness go together. What sort of Night is the night of the full moon. Night is anywhere in the shadows it is not temporal. Night is the lacuna the space between notes, the space between points, the undefined space the unconnected space. In the night the material realm is disconnected, illogical, while the cretures of the night make sense in the night – the creatures of the night like death are fully revealed in the night.

Treasure Hunting and Mining

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My first ambition as a young girl was to be an archaeologist. I was very lucky to spend a lot of time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art among the mummies and the temple of Dendur. I abandoned that interest to something equally stimulating but perhaps more lucrative and flexible – computer science.

I am doing a deep dive into Egypt this week, as a way to connect with the things that I enjoyed as a child. Early archaeology was treasure hunting, plunder, it was not necessarily about reconstructing a vanished culture. Treasure hunting did logically connect with detective work.

The idea that I would go and find some buried treasure was never even a thought in my head. Although I now fnd that very exciting. I imagine what it would be like to be with Howard Carter when he first entered Tutankhamun’s tomb, and how exciting that must have been, or to have been someone from the middle ages and coming upon buried treasure. I imagine the search for treasure, analogous to the philosopher’s stone of the alchemist, as inspired many explorations and experiments.

People still treasure hunt. I suppose that is what antique road show is about. There are also treasure hunting forums online as I just discovered. However now I think about mining. Space X is not going to outer space to treasure hunt but to mine.

What is mining? Mining is perhaps as old as treasure hunting. There are 4000 year old flint mines. Mining involves work, it sounds unpleasant, harmful to the miners and the environment. Mining is extractive. Perhaps there is no such thing as treasure. Perhaps treasure hunting is really about circular economies. Perhaps treasure is trash and trash is treasure. Treasure is not extractive in the same way as mining. There is a publicly traded treasure hunting company – odyssey marine exploration. They first started looking for treasure on sunken ships. They have moved into mining. Perhaps Mining is more repeatable than hunting for treasure. The first being calculated risk, the second being more akin to playing the lotto. But really… is that really the case.

There are video games about mining and video games about treasure hunting.

Why am I talking about this? Mining / treasure hunting. Two sides of the same coin. To impulses to action. I think about Goonies, pirates of the caribbean, I think of adventure and intrigue. Mining makes me think of misery. Reading timeloops, there is the idea that when you remember a past prophecy you are creating meaning. Finding treasure works in a similar way. You are some how engaged in history or narrative.

Thats it – back to the egyptians.

The American Book of the Dead

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I have been having a bit of the dark night of the soul. I will tell you the things I have been on my mind:

I have been interacting with a lot of media about the dead. And inside myself I am coming to terms with an unsettledness and an anxiety about my personal history, my ancestry, my cultural heritage… and this anxiety comes from not looking at it. In America there is so much that is dead and it is not at rest. Racial injustice and violence, economic injustice and violence, gender/sexuality injustice and violence… and so forth. This is the dead that has not been honored. How do we honor the dead? Retributive Justice is a way of honoring the dead. That in order to maintain the equilibrium of the cosmos (from greek meaning order), some actions need to be done – i order to honor the dead. The action can be attention, or focus, or it can be punishment. Over the weekend I read Lament of the Dead, a discussion of Jung’s Red Book between James Hillman and Sonu Shamdasani.

Thinking about the penal system in the context of notion of honoring the dead makes us rethink who we should be punishing and what are the historical imbalances that are contributing to the overriding sense of injustice in our society and the industrial-prison complex. Our society is out of balance but the legal system will not fix it. In order to fix it we have to connect with the dead.

What I am thinking about right now:

what is my heart (versus a something that I am inspired by that I deceive myself into thinking it comes from my heart)

the/my ancestors

community (what is it, how it is formed) / education

intention vs expectation

what are my gifts

commitment

Time Loops!

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When something comes across my past three times I pay attention. Granted I even sometimes pay attention when something crosses my path once, but really three times.

The week of woo began with Psychic Literacy by Ingo Swann…. and just reached a denouement with Time Loops by Eric Wargo. I was recommended this book three times. The third time this week, and now I just read it. Although it is woo woo sounding, there is some fascinating science in there… What if the future is the hidden in quantum theory? What if our intuitions are future memories? Do great thinkers and artists have a greater impact on the past than the future?

This book blew my mind on many levels. I always think of de morgan’s law and that conditionals can be reduced to and/or/not. Is time really one way? What is behind organization and sense making. Meaning is what happens when the future and the past collide into a narrative. Why does meaning matter?

If there are time loops it seems like there is no free will. I was walking around the room thinking about this. What is effort if things are just going to happen? Then I looked at my guitar. This week I have been practicing in earnest Dove Son Quei Fieri Occhi?. It is an Italian Renaissance dance originally intended for the lute, but transcribed for classical guitar (my instrument).

This is a beautiful song, please listen. This morning during my hour of personal growth I queued up a bunch of different renditions of this song on Spotify. So many different ways to play this, not only just tempo, volume, and where you play the notes, but how you play the chords.

Say life is like a dance, like Alan Watts says. Life is a timeloop. How do you play that timeloop? How do you dance the dance, how do you play the notes? It feels so good to play the guitar, even if I know the notes written out ahead of time. Does the fact that I am following a score mean that I have no free will? The way I play the notes have a feeling to me, a physical feeling, an emotional feeling. A current note I play has the opportunity to act as a resolution, to give meaning to a past musical structure – this is really true with Bach. Maybe we cannot change the structure of time, the structure of future events, but we can change how it feels and how it sounds. Maybe if we all do this, we will be playing in harmony together.

Even if I have a few missteps I end up at the same place… the A major chord. It’s a happy chord.

Mental Health and Community

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I have written about this before. There is this tension between the transformation of the self and the transformation of society. If everyone was able to live in accordance with their highest self, then the problems of society would disappear. But how can people live in accordance with their highest self when society makes it structurally impossible to achieve this via scarcity of basic resources, oppression, injustice and so forth?

So on the one had we have the self and the psychological makeup of the self, and on the other hand we have society and community. I am reminded of classes that I had to take in college as part of the common core. Many of them had three names: wealth, power, and virtue/ self, culture, and society. There were a few with one name like POWER. But I cannot remember what are the dyads. What is the triad in self and society. To me culture is like the psychological structure of society. We would need a four fold, self, mind, society, culture …. or something. What I am interested in those is sort of ways that the self and the society interact and influence one another – perhaps that is culture.

Anyway, I read an article on the USV blog this week … not sure how I ended up there… and I sent it to my brother who is getting his phd in psychology. Last year we did a mental health game together. The article was about Mental Health 3.0. My take away.. 1.0 would be in person therapy or institutionalization. Something that is very hands on, non-repeatable/idiosyncratic, and unscalable. 2.0 would remote therapy, or group therapy or the unbundling of therapy (meditation apps for example), a market place model (people can find therapists and patients on the amazon of healthcare or something). Something that is scalable, accessible, repeatable, and commodifiable (perhaps zero marginal cost). 3.0 is personalized, adaptive, free, and changes with scale (network effects), a 3.0 company has phase transitions. 3.0 is the flywheel of the devops loop. I would say we need to think 4.0 now but let stay on 3.0 for a moment. I would say 3.0 is the cyborg or post-human.

So my brother said, what do you think this means. I said I dont think it means we are going to have AI therapists. Although perhaps AI is better than a 90% of therapists. This was actually an early computer program called Eliza. Putting that out there. There still needs to be some radical rethinking in the education of everyone including our healthcare professionals and including therapists.

If we think of 3.0 therapy as really web 2.0 user generated therapy then I think there are interesting things to be said about AA, Microsolidarity, Family Constellation Work, The Work, The Game of Gifts (just learned about that one today), there are a bunch. Here the group gets together and does exercises. What is the tech? Maybe the platform, maybe the AI suggests a particular modality based on your work and exercises you do between classes. Psychology is very territorial and not interested in syncretic solutions – so there is that

I am really influenced by Microsolidarity right now. I do feel that a transformative society can arise from a network of care. That when we learn how to care better than we can learn how to act more meaningfully. I am not sure, but lets start with caring. I also love this from the microsolidarity website: “I believe courage is developed when we _en_courage each other.” I also am interested in the way money and care are related. how can we turn emotional care or psychological safety into economic safety.

Also Emotional Anarchism – I like the sound of that.

Anyway my first experience with this sort of care was probably at the recurse center and the weekly feelings check in. I had never experienced it before and I only went once or twice but it is one of the most vivid and impactful memories of my time there.

Also I am watching Untangling the Worldknot of Consciousness #1 with Gregg Henriques – The Cognitive Science Show. I went down a little Gregg Henriques rabbit hole – and the tree of knowledge system. I would love to read this or go through the slides. It is thought provoking… but why is this space filled with scruffy white cis dudes – much love to them but still.

I feel like to solve the meaning crisis if there is a meaning crisis I want other voices.

This week in Meredith’s Browser

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I am loving the light phone. I started building the build your own phone – I forget what that is called -at the recurse center. I am not done yet. I should probably get to that. And I also like the website. There is this tension between minimalism and maximalism. I feel it, you may feel it- did the romans feel it? Who knows. We can probably see the jewish christian split as a tension between maximalism (judiasm and all the rules.. as someone raised jewish this is what it feels like), and then minimalism (christianity and love thy brother as thy self … although there are now a lot of rules in christianity it seems).

I also like the sustainability report of the company that makes the light phone. This is fascinating. As someone that works on a bunch of random projects using servers – I dont take into consideration the energy requirements of said projects only my personal time requirements. I like the related idea of a circular economy report – like … and am somewhat obsessed with ITP’s trash club.

I am listening to a bunch of new podcasts this week all around sense making. How many sense-making communities are there? Quite a bit as it turns out. All these communities and podcasts are run by cis white dudes – and I love them all – but I am actively seeking out other voices.

I’m listening to this about the Enneagram.

I am listening to this which does not have a spotify link:

https://newexplorations.net/

Big take away, we have lost our autonomy (or something) of our mind. This feels true. But we have not lost our bodies (yet -perhaps this will happen with VR or haptic suits or something). So this is perhaps why we have this somatic revolution now. Or perhaps we dont really have a somatic revolution – perhaps I am having a somatic revolution.

I am fascinated by mystical marriages and sexuality and someone in one of my discord chats posted this:

Reading through this I am finally rewarded with a reference to the Sabbatian heresy. For some reason I was fascinated by Sabbatai Zevi since I first heard about him in Hebrew school. At this point all I knew was that he thought he was the messiah and then it turned out he was not and converted to Islam. The story is more complicated and really fascinating in my opinion. One of my many project desires is to make a film about Sabbatai Zevi. But moving on…

Next I have an article on Blake from Aeon – What we can learn from William Blake’s Visionary Imagination

This is actually a great article when you get to the four fold imagination. There are three types of imagination: a single vision, generative vision, emotional vision (or sensitive/relational vision, or ethical vision), , the universal or eternal vision. The article speaks about this much more poetically than I do. BUT this article jailbreaks Blake’s world building for me… If Tolkien uses language to build his world if it is the linguistic turn, then Blake uses these forces as his world’s metaphysics. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

And this from the Aeon article:

I think Virginia Woolf was on to a similar realisation in A Room of One’s Own (1929), when she ponders the genius of William Shakespeare’s mind, how it is ‘resonant and porous’, ‘creative, incandescent and undivided’. That could happen because ‘All desire to protest, to preach, to proclaim an injury, to pay off a score, to make the world the witness of some hardship or grievance was fired out of him and consumed.’

This is sort of my goal. My current path is to completely act from myself from my own conscious desires that come from myself and not society or other people, and from acting completely in alignment with myself to act universally and transcendently.

But visionary creative work inspires me. I had a conversation over the weekend with someone and we discussed “wisdom games” … games that cultivate wisdom. Perhaps we can create a new category … visionary games. There is a relationship between wisdom and the visionary if wisdom is the combination of the effable and ineffable (visionary).

What would visionary games look like?

I have some other things, like this repo from github on animating vector illustrations. I did a deep dive into integrating js with SVG last week and it was rewarding and bloating on the browser.

Thats about it – I now have to take my kids for a COVID test because pandemics will pandemic