Fasting in the Woods

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My friend @technekai and I always go on crazy adventures.

She suggested we go on a “vision quest” in the New Jersey Pine Barrens this year. I did not read the fine print and ended up spending 108 hours in a 10-foot circle surrounded by shrubby oaks, blueberry bushes, and pitch pines with no food and 4 gallons of water.

I logged my experience in 70 journal pages and counting, but I find it challenging to articulate what I did and how I changed.

Here are some reflections:

I don’t want a frappuccino

Our first stop after the ques was a Starbucks in Ocean Township New Jersey.

I looked at the pictures of frappuccinos and thought how delicious it would be to have a crushedwith sugar and – and with caffegone I had done without sugar and caffeine for at least two weeks.

Suddenly I felt this not for me. The frappuccino is not for me. I was offered all these options that look so appealing, but I didn’t want any of them.

The world gives us many options and tries to sell us them. But these options are not for us. We don’t want them.

Seeing with my heart

I would sit in the morning and watch the birds as they drifted down from the top of the pitch pines like leaves on the wind.

In my nonduality practice, I observe without labeling. For example, I watch a bird but do not label it a bird, or watch a leaf without calling it a leaf. I want to label and analyze everything, so this practice is hard.

To shift out of an analytic mode, I look with my heart. I set my intention in my chest and feel out – not look out. To feel with the heart. It to feel it is not to think. What does it feel like to be with a lover, a child, or an old friend?

Listening to nature is relational not analytic.

Mirrors

“Mirror mirror on the wall who’s the fairest one of all.’ said the evil queen in the Snow White fairy tYou cannot escape yourself when

You cannot escape yourself when you are in a 10-foot circle in the woods. All of nature is a mirror and just like in the fairy tale, the mirror does not always show you what you expect.

I had a hand mirror that I used for my twice-a-day tick check. One day I looked in the mirror and found a tick on my upper thigh. I should not have needed a mirror to see the tick – it was in plain sight. But I could only see the tick in the mirror.

If we see with our eyes, tools help reorient us.

What does it mean?

I will not spend my life on a vision quest in the woods. I have a family, a job, an artistic practice, and a community. But I wonder, what is my relationship with nature and with technology? The dichotomy seems bright to me; maybe everything is natural, but not everything is nature.

Right now, I have more questions than answers, but I have an open space inside that I don’t feel compelled to fill with false desires.

Last Ani*mystic post

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This post closes the 2022 edition of the M&A book club. The final chapter of ani*mystic recounts Gordon’s ayahuasca retreat. This was my favorite chapter because I love travelogues, descriptions, case studies, and journeys.

I read this chapter a month ago – and took a photo of some pages that I wanted to remember – but I am too lazy to pull them up. Aya introduced me to a new word in her last post – orans. It means a lifting up of the hands – like the JudeLaw in The New Pope (great show).

https://www.moviezine.se/series/the-new-pope

I am into mudras:

https://discover.hubpages.com/entertainment/KATHAKALI-The-Great-Indian-Classical-Dance-Part-II

Mudra means seal. When I do yoga, or meditate, I use different seals to activate or draw energy into different parts of the body. I have been looking also at planetary seals lately – that block different planetary energies. One of my favorite movies is The 7th Seal, by Ingmar Bergman. Similar to station 11 it features a traveling theater troupe during an apocalypse. What are the 7 seals? In the Book of revelation there are 7 seals that guard an apocalyptic book. And guess what there are 7 traditional planetary bodies.

But seals are everywhere – even Jesus used mudras:

https://www.bibhudevmisra.com/2017/11/yoga-mudras-in-orthodox-christian-art.html

Back to Ani*mystic – last chapter. In The Dawn of Everything Graeber and Wengrew say that people traveled and exchanged things in the past not for economic value but for entertainment, travel moments, and as relics from vision quests.

Gordon went on a vision quest – and the quest had a structure that the community shared in and then he brought back some new understandings, some momentos, AND this book – Ani*mystic.

Questions

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I am reading Designing Regenerative Cultures by Daniel Wahl and chapter one is about questions.

I am all about Questions…. Asking a question is an art. It is the art of machine learning, of the oracle, of the tarot, of the dissertation. Asking questions opens the world – it is the art of Socrates.

Here is what TS Eliot has to say on the matter from the book:

“Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? […]
What life have you, if you have not life together?
There is no life that is not in community, […]
When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?”
What will you answer? “We all dwell together
to make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?
Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger.
Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.
T.S. Eliot (1934)”

Excerpt From: Daniel Wahl. “DESIGNING REGENERATIVE CULTURES.” Apple Books.

M&A Bookclub: Space & Time & Knots

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I may write this like a Nietzsche book or Wittgenstein notebook – random fragments.

I was supposed to publish this last week I think or maybe two weeks ago. It is hard to keep time organized. Perhaps because I am reading ani*mystic or perhaps because I am moving – or perhaps it is florescent lighting which is definitely a mind control substance.

I was talking with Aya about what chapter I was on, and Aya told me that had missed a chapter. Boo Ka NA – this is Mandarin for NO! But maybe yes. I looked through my last posts and see that I blogged on chapter 2 twice and quite frankly I don’t care. Aya says glitches are ok -this is definitely a glitch. Some say that glitches are where spirit comes through – so this series of posts is about glitches.

I loved the end of the chapter: “Where animals really come from”.. It reminds me of the visionary experiences of Malidoma Some. And I can get behind animals coming from the invisible world – that certain forms take shape in water and wind and then are given bodies and blood. Dreaming creates animals – this is why bigfoot exists. Joking not joking.

Aya’s latest post made my heart stop because I love complexity theory. Complexity theory is about how there are different kinds of computational problems that can be solved in a certain amount of time. It is also about how different kinds of computational problems can be solved in a certain amount of space. Programmers like to say that we/you can do anything. Well, this is not true.

There is a structure to computation. Just like an oak cannot be an elm, P cannot be NP. AND the space I need to do both is different.

“Wednesday as a being beyond you and your limits. simultaneously now and eternal.”

In this chapter, Gordon talks about space and threads and knots and making. That space is constructed from everything that happened in it and everything that will happen. Aristotle’s politics begins in the home – the oikos. The home is a microcosm of the polity – the city state. The home is also the origin of economics – oikonomics. The science of homes. When I think about economics and ecology (the logic of homes) -I now thing about these knots and timelines – what are the patterns of the home like so many different types of complexity of computer algorithms.

As Tolstoy said every family is unique (or many every unhappy family – wink wink).

I once had a vision of a weave. The weave of the universe. I was the space between the warp and the weft. Nothing. Darkness. The Void. Was I dead? I was NOTHING. But I thought I am a mother, and my mother is someone so I am also someone. This is not to say that parenthood is the only way to verify existence, but for me I guess it is important. We are the (w)holes in the fabric.

Right Relations

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“i want to know what a number is to a sparrow, to a lizard, to a monkey” – so writes Aya in her latest blog post about Ani*mystc. She also includes a beautiful image of mud that cracks in threes.

This chapter to me was a story about what it feels like to live in relation with the spirits. I was going to say numenous, but to me that has a disembodied quality. Gordon in this chapter is in relation to embodied spirits that most people do not see, like the dragons of the nakshakras (the lunar mansions).

https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/news/hunga-tonga-hunga-haapai-erupts-again

What is it to look at a cloud and to see a dragon? An image is worth more than 1000 words because we can always look closer. Imagines have infinite depth, infinite associations, and infinite scales.

Gordon talks about the difference between true and real. This struck me as profound. It is the difference between epistemology and metaphysics OR logic and metaphysics. The true is something that is internally correct for its system. The real is something that works for us. Who cares if something is true if the system it is not correct for is not the ecosystem.

To everything there is a season. So says Ecclesiastes. A time of water dragons and a time of fire dragons. In my last post I wrote about number and cycles. But time is not just number, time is not clock time, time is a feeling. We could say time is an emotion, or a moment in the emotional wave.

I will highlight a few choice passages

Hard and Easy Angles

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Over the past two years I began to use the language hard and easy to refer to experiences and interactions.

This is language from astrology. A hard angle is something like a square or opposition and indicates struggle and growth. An easy angle is a trine or a sextile and indicates something that is easy and natural.

There are many astrological traditions, Hellenistic, Vedic, Egyptian, Renaissance, to name a few. Hellenistic astrology thinks about aspects in terms of vision: the planets see one another. What is it like to look at someone directly, to look at someone with the side-eye to look at someone next to you. There are 5 traditional “Ptolemaic” aspects that describe these: the square, the conjunct, the opposition, the sextile and the trine.

There is also a measurement aspect to angles. I first read about this in Dane Rudhyar – so perhaps this is a modern analysis, but I am not sure. I can take an astrological chart, a circle, and create arbitrary divisions and draw lines between them. If I divide the chart into 36 slices of 10 degrees and then draw angels between these I will come up with a different set of angles, I can do this with 5 slices of 72, and so forth.

A number of the non-ptolemaic aspects seem to arise from this sort of division. Some people even think trines are not actually about planets seeing one another, but about dividing the wheel in to thirds (120 degree angles). (My opinion is that it is about something else – elemental relationships but lets not talk about that now) .

So this is interesting right – in one case we have how planets see one another, and in another case we have an analysis of the world holding the planets (we could also say this is an analysis of a model – so perhaps substituting the map for the geography.

Does number have meaning? Does “2” have a meaning apart from our linguistic use of “2”. If it does than the measurement method takes on more weight because the meaning of the number of division then relates to what angles arise from this division.

But why did I start this blog post in the first place?

What does it mean to see someone, what does it mean to be seen, what does it mean to be oriented in space? Our struggles and triumphs can sometimes we considered in these terms. A discussion of angles, regardless of whether or not you believe in astrology, is a language for parsing visibility and orientation.

Historically astrologers controlled, and still control, the angles people can use – but what does this really mean about society – about mobility and visibility. It means rigidity and restriction.

I say be aquarian – make your own frickin angles.

M&A 3: INSIDE OUSIDE AND TIME IN ANI*MYSTC

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Pithy market wisdom of the week this week: “A stopped clock is right twice a day.” To which my friend Sunita says – except for Cosmic Alarm clock – it is right all the time. Here is her podcast – I was on it – and it’s fantastic.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-3-the-dark-side-of-the-dark/id1616255222?i=1000560064881

This does relate to chapter 3 of Ani*mystic because chapter 3 is about space and time.

First let’s talk about space:

As I am reading Aya’s post from last week. Aya wrote about how we think highly of ourselves but sometimes act shit. I mean I do… and I come up with all kinds of reasons about how it really is not shit – but gold. This is a space distinction – an inside versus outside distinction.

I want to talk briefly about Gordon’s discussion on page 88 about Equivocation. “Equivocation, to equivocate… does not have ‘truth’ as its opposite, but the univocal, the one voice. This is important in modern discussions about nonphilosophy (Laurelle), my own practice/concept of nonleadership, and moving away from polar world of binaries to a world of multiplicities.

I also think this concept is foundational to areas such as data visualization and representation. These are not true/false but equivoational/univocal.

Bodies in space are in relation to one another.When I talk about an inside and an outside to myself I am talking about myself in relationship to myself. To merge the inside with the outside is a univocal experience. But is that what we want in all cases? Is univocal the same as authentic (I would argue no -but lets move on)

TIME:

Now we are going to talk about time. Gordon describes time, and astronomical time, and egyptian time in particular, as a synching up. Time is NOT a demarkation or a measurement – it is a check list. This is why time is so important in astrological magic because it is about synching up with the true time.

This is where the NUMBER comes in. Number exists, not as with plato as a ratio – the relationship between two sides of a triange. This is spacial remember. Number exists as the duration of a cycle. This is the reality of number. Our numbers have meaning when they describe the duration of a cycle.

Where do protocols come from? What is truth? Does truth exist if we are talking the realm of univocal and equivocal?

These are the wrong questions – the right questions is What is the meaning of these things? And what do these things do? What habitat do they create – and what world do they make for us when we acknowledge them.

M&A week 3: Ani*mystic angels

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I was reading Aya’s post from last week and I was struck by two things.

“I can play with the energetic imprint something has.”

“When we direct our full attention on a flower, a child, a project idea, a lover, an illness–we might learn quite a bit about how to proceed.”

The protocol at the end for creating ritual.

I will weave this in as I meditate on chapter 3: technology as habitat.

One of the thought-forms I enjoy thinking with is the dichotomy between technique and technology. Ritual is technique – ie how we use technology. In chapter 3, an example of technique is the protocols for calling the angels. Also it is the list of rules at the end of Aya’s post, it is also the method of directing our attention. We can call attention in general a technology.

Is the protocol the technology or the technique? Good question – it feels fluid. The skrying bowl is technology though.

But really the question in this chapter is what’s an angel, what’s a UFO, what’s loch ness? These are all related to our experience and perception of these things. In Chapter 1 Gordon talked about how machines worked to disenchant the world. Machines as habitat enchant the world. Machines become aliens when we use them for our environment.

What is a habitat and how is that different from general technology usage?

Gordon does not really talk about this in this chapter, but this is what I think about. What is the difference between the enchanting of technology and the disenchantment of technology?

If I were to take a stab at it from reading this chapter, I would say that it involves play. And then I will bring back that quote from Aya: “I can play with the energetic imprint something has.” It is about being open to the many experiences that arise from technology.

There is a quote in this chapter that I cannot find that describes how the bottom of a boat becomes encrusted with sea habitat. This is technology as habitat. The sea and its denizens play with the boat. They integrate the boat. They experience the boat in a way that integrates in their environment.

The protocol to angel contact, although portrayed as rigous in chapter 3 – has game logic! Games are play! How do you create the game? Maybe it is through these magic words, these magic circles.

Where do we come from? We are technology turned habitat. Technology becoming alien become home. The dialectic is that.

This post is a bit disjoined but chapter 3 was long with many ideas. All these disjointed thoughts are different ways to approach technology as habitat. They are facets of a diamond, they are becoming part of my habitat.

Ani.mystic 2 Enlivening (M&A Bookclub)

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“Thinking as activity”

I am cherry-picking this piece from chapter 2 which I read a week ago and only vaguely remember.

As I recall this chapter is about how ritual works and where ritual comesfrom.

It tells the story of a man returning to his ancestral home and wanting to enliven it. He fasts, he meditates, he sits and watches and the land “tells” him what to do.

I was binge-listening to We can do hard things – by Glennon Doyle and Abby Abby Wambach on a plane back from London. This was followed by binge listening to Glitch Bottle – just saying. Glennon talked about removing the distance between thinking and doing. I love this.

What is thinking anyway! A distraction IMHO.

What is ritual? What is a ceremony? I have asked these questions and people have given me answers. Today it feels like a ceremony commemorates something and a ritual enacts something.

What are markers? I imagine my life as map. There are sign posts and flags. There is a key, there are directions. There are hills and glades. I put down important points on the map to remind myself and to ground myself – these are the ceremonies.

When I go and walk a portion of the map in a new way, as a different person, to elevate it, to sanctify it to merge its vibrations with my ancestors, with the moss creatures, with the neutrinos – I do a ritual.

I have a grandmother’s altar in my closet. I go there to commune with the grandmothers. I vibe with them, they vibe with me. This is a ritual. Sometimes we write python code together.

Ursula Le Guin and Machine Learning

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Today I read a paper on self-attention transformers in neural networks:

http://nlp.seas.harvard.edu/annotated-transformer/

nlp.seas.harvard.edu

Forget Norvig & Russel; read Ursula Le Guin to learn about Machine Learning.

Here’s why

#machinelearning #ursulaleguin #scifi

🧵👇

In Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness, Foretellers tell the future. But the future they tell depends on the question that is asked.

Machine learning is all about the question you ask the model.

The question is the, why?

Traditional computational problems, mostly analytic problems, are all about the HOW.

They are about breaking something down into constituent steps and doing those steps quickly.

A self-attention #transformer parallelizes steps that used to run sequentially.

There is a small impact on quality but an enormous gain on speed.

Self-attention is a HOW innovation, not a machine learning innovation.

It optimizes the steps of an algorithm.

BUT just like we cannot separate form from content, we cannot separate solution from speed

Self-attention works well with language problems, like translation.

It does not sacrifice quality.

In self-attention applied to linguistic problems, we keep track of the position — like the position of a letter in a word.

The position is mapped to a sinusoidal curve.

PE(pos,2i)​=sin(pos/100002i/dmodel​)

(see tweet 1 for the reference)

Mapping from a position in a word to a curve is profound. I want to pause for a moment. Mapping is a symbolic gesture that allows us to extract more meaning.

We move from a lower-dimensional space to a high-dimensional space: a letter’s position to a point on a curve in space and time.

When I confront a problem or a block, I move to a higher-dimensional space.

I become aware of my current context and move into an overview of that context.

When I return to the space of the problem, my location and perspective have changed.

Owen Barfield wrote in saving the appearances not to mistake the model for reality. And Gregory Bateson, among others, wrote not to confuse the map with the geography.

But what is the geography in machine learning?

There is no geography in machine learning. We are mapping an imaginary world.

Some imaginary worlds are more useful than others.

When the foretellers in Le Guin tell the future, they also move into a higher dimensional space — an alternate reality.

The question frames the space of this alternate reality.

For true machine learning innovation, we need to look at the quality and speed of answers and the quality of the questions.

I’m doing #solidity this month, but maybe next month, I’ll do #machinelearning.

Read this post and more on my Typeshare Social Blog