Art and Night 4/8

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I have been painting a lot lately. It started when I was trying to find something to do with my kids. After a while I just did it for myself and my kids join in when they feel like it. Here is a painting I did last week. 18×14 acrylic on newsprint.

It’s abstract.

Proust said: ““Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists, worlds more different one from the other than those which revolve in infinite space, worlds which, centuries after the extinction of the fire from which their light first emanated, whether it is called Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us still each one its special radiance.”

When I am creating are my goal is to align with my highest self and to express that.

Anyway I am writing about a painting of night: Starlit night by Georgia O’Keeffe:

Georgia O'Keeffe, 1917

Night is the substance and light is the space. There are different nights, nights with stars and nights without. These stars have no constellations but they have shapes. They are equally in relation but individually different. They are cut out of night, tears in the fabric of night. Night is first and can paint over the stars.

The Weight

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There is this weird thing that happens when everyone is treated as a commodity. We forget that people are different. People have different desires, strengths, roles, experiences etc. There is reason why someone with 1 year of programming experience is probably not going to make as good a lead engineer as some one with more experience. In integral studies this is related to a notion of levels, which smacks of hierarchy. And there is the danger of thinking this way that leads to atrocities like fascism and dictatorships. However I think this is an important concept to think about and one of the most useful ways to think about this comes from family contellations.

Family constellations is a alternative therapy method that looks at the underlying dynamics in a system to heal it. It also honors ancestors… It is a bit woo. Hanzi actually calls out Family Constellations in this Jim Rutt podcast and places it with UFOs and conspiracy theories… But I think there is something interesting going on here.

In any case, in Family Constellations, there is this notion of weight. Certain people have more weight than others. This does not make them better – it is just a fact. And it is important to honor this weight. If a system does not honor this weight the system is off kilter. An example of this is that your grandfather has more weight than your child. Now your grandfather may be an a**hole. But he has been on the earth longer and has accumulated more weight. Your child may be the buddha reincarnated but your child has less weight.

In some systems we are deciding things based on weight when maybe we should use other decision metrics and this is because we are not honoring the value of weight. Once we make this public we can focus easier on how we need to make decisions in general.

Night 3/7 or 8 Collectors and my unfinished documentary

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Today I was going to talk about a figure of the shadows: The thief, the prostitute, the nightwatch man. All noirs take place at night -unless it is the film chinatown. Who are the people that are creatures of the night? What are the archetypes? someone said a collector. I really do not necessarily think a collector is a creature of the night. Unless it is a spider collecting pray like the Shelob the demon spider in LOTR. Or perhaps rats, rats collect things in the dark, probably at night. Kids collect baseball cards on the school bus, back when kids went to school and took school buses, and probably baseball cards are not NFTs on the blockchain. It sounds like a COVID vector to me.

But as some of you may or may not know, I was in the middle of making a documentary on Collectors during my first midlife crisis with Paul. That midlife crisis was much less fun than my current midlife crisis. And the take away from that is, don’t rush your midlife crisis – it wont taste so good and you may need to put it back in the barrel to age it.

But the documentary on collectors… we have like 100 hours of footage, we (me and Paul V) were collecting collectors. Were we creatures of the night? Perhaps. We did stay in many grungy motels which I do associate with night.

What about collecting is night related? Perhaps there is no logic? Collecting is not Apollonic, nor is it Dionysian (I mean the way I collect s dionysian, but I am special like that). No Collecting is Plutonic -related to pluto or hades – the god of the dead. The god collecting the dead he also collected other things like gems perhaps. Plutos means wealth. Here is a great resource on pluto and other mythology.

Collecting is illogical, but also the collector becomes less rational or becomes beholden to the reason of the collection. To complete the collection for example is an organizing principle of collecting. The collector is musty wearing strange devices to help him better understand his collection. The collector becomes his instruments phenomenologically. What is a collector without his instruments??? A collector’s body is the collection. It is distributed like a bee hive or ant colony. The body of the collection of the body of the collector. It is amorphous like the night and to an outsider the uninitiated undifferentiated from the night.

The somatic turn

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I was talking with someone yesterday about Integral theory and I said something about “the somatic turn.” I thought I had just been very clever and made up a new philosophical movementI thought I came up with this phrase and was very excited. And then I went on google and realized I was wrong. Ah well. What is the somatic turn. It what is going on know with Integral (Ken Wilbur, Tom Murray, Gebser), the NLP people, all the feldenkrais/rolphing/body work people, gender theory, queer theory, embodiment orientation etc…

it is the move towards meaning that comes from the body. The language turn in philosophy was turning all philosophical problems into problems of language. The ontological turn – all problems in philosophy are problems of being, the speculative turn – all problems of philosophy are problems of correlationism/anthropocentrism.

Is this related to phenomenology. If we can all agree on a definition of phenomenology – still no. Phenomenology has to do with a structure of experience. When I think of phenomenology I think of Hal from 2001 and space odyssey. The reduction of something to a body part that senses. The somatic turn is first person, how something feels, the orientation towards something. Thats all I got tonight – I just wrote a computer program to help one of my kids practice arithmetic so – #momwinning.

Treasure Continued

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Today I continued my deep dive into Ancient Egypt. I read that the last king of the 11th Dynasty, Mentuhotep IV’s principal accomplishment of his reign was to bring back a block of stone from an expedition for his royal sarcophagus. (ie his coffin)

Mentuhotep IV - EcuRed
via ecured.cu

This struck me. The result of the reign was some luxury product from a foreign land. Some rare and precious thing that was then sculpted into a funerary object. It made me think both of trade and of funerals. We normally associate the first humans (the first hominids) with reverence for the dead (funerary objects). What if in 2001 space Odyssey the monolith resulted in the first Ochre death shroud, or even the attempt to trade with the rival group. Is technology and war technology at that the foundation of humanity?

We could call funerary objects, like Ushabtis – little dolls that will be your servants in the afterlife – or even pyramids as tech. People do. But is this tech?

I am thinking about of the relationship between the symbolic world and the material world.

For example I meditate (right now I ‘m doing Trataka) in the morning and this has an effect on my ability to act calmly during stressful situations. Now some people may say that meditation is actually physical. I am changing my breathing and perhaps my neurochemistry by focusing. But what about something like I wake up and I have a dream about getting into a fight with my mother and then I am sort of irritated at my mother for something that has happened in the symbolic realm of my unconscious. This now has a material impact.

It is the relationship between prayer and ritual and acting in the world. It is the freudian notion that what happens in fantasy is as impactful as what has happened in real life. Now we may find out that there really is no distinction between the symbolic realm and the material realm. That the symbolic realm creates physiological changes that really makes it another type of material realm.

But for now lets say there is a difference -for arguments sake.

The funerary objects operate in the symbolic realm. As technology they are symbolic technology.

A waterwheel operates in the material realm. Or even yoga operates in the material realm on our posture and breathing and perhaps the construction of our ability to create a symbolic realm. As a technology this is material technology.

What is technology – etymologically – the logic of craft. Craft is how you make something, or the notion that you are involved in something where someone can become an expert.

Are all realms of life subject to the possibility of mastery (of becoming an expert)?

The becoming of an expert is aided in technology, an expert is perhaps even an expert at using a technology., That could perhaps be the definition of being an expert.

Night 2/7 or 8

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So Meditating on night again….

This is the shape of the mountain by Etal Adnan, who also wrote a collection of poetry / meditations called… NIGHT.

I probably have already written about it.

Some favorite pieces:

Standing trees sleep in this forest that created the night when the moon was looking elsewhere. Gone the sailboats, the sea, in this obscurity that’s keeping no promise

Night is a subtle rain, wetting body and soul.

The night was clear, and the depth of the mountain’s slopes awesome: rivers were growling down into the valleys. The moon was there, oh yes, speaking her language. My neck was hurting following her journey. On a cliff made of translucent marble, voices had stopped. Then the season showed a pervasive fear within Being’s texture.

I’m asking you to see me lie on the traces that your body has left on the bed, but the heat belongs to you within our souls.

At 20 I was living at the door of reality, but I did not enter. There was no one to enter with, either. By the time I decided to go in, rivers had flowed, trees had grown, the seasons had aged. Soon later, I have had the chance to die, and I let it go; reality had no more reason to be. Like a ship, you can shipwreck against the night.

So many things to say about night. But night is the ineffable so we really cannot say anything about it. Instead we must write poetry or play music, or dance, or do all those things that are the activities of the night.

If I wrote an O’Reilly book what would it be?

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A co-worker is writing an O’Reilly book on k8. Today I was interviewing someone and he asked me if I was would write a book what book would I write about. I did have an idea for a book this summer – I think it was about gitops or something. But today I thought for a moment and I started waxing poetically on GPUs. I have been into GPUs for a long time. Mainly because of shaders…

There are parts of development I like but they have already been covered … who needs another book on docker. But I was thinking it would be interesting to write a book on different machine types for different software solutions. Combine hardware with software. For what software recipe would select a c4 instance vs an m4 (in the aws world, but there are similar variants in the google world) how do we optimize software for hardware now that we have access to so many different types of cpus. We can look at various metrics when we run a particular program on different cpus and what sorts of tweaks we can make to change this performance.

This would be a fascinating book.

It would be a lot of work to write.

Does this book already exist?

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.