Cultural Posture

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I have been taking the workshop offered by ritual as justice after hearing Tada on a podcast. Today I was reviewing some of the videos and Tada kept mentioning the body and cultural trauma as well as colonial imperialism. I am going to try and write down some takeaways that I really find helpful and I apologize if I get these incorrect. These are not my ideas, but study, to parapharse Paulo Fieri , is a political act. So this is study and dialogue with the practices and ideas of the ritual as justice school.

One example I remember is the movement from the traditional robes of Asia allows energy to circulate from the Hara (belly) and the heart, and the brain. In the west however we have pants and a shirt and heart is prioritized where as the lower body is cut off. There is no grounding. The colonial project and the attire of pants and shirts spreads this embodied trauma.

The western loss of access to the Hara, to the lower part of the body is a form of trauma, it is an expression of trauma and in the western imperialist imposition of this attire to further traumatize the body of the oppressed. Tada refers to both the individual body (now in a suit perhaps), and the cultural body (the supply chain that makes the suit, the coffee and grain supply line that overcompensate for a body deprived of Hara).

We are learning all the different ways that imperialism might be overcome, through active resistance, through community and networks of care, through study, through witnessing, and through body practices (somatics).

DeFi

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I am participating in a DeFi workshop this week. I have been involved in crypto for a long time and I have a lot of crypto posts here. I am also collaborating with artist Mary Ellen Carroll on a quadratic voting project related to crypto. It is four sessions. There are a bunch of developments in DeFi that I have not been following and really do not want to have to poke around to curate myself. Also I like learning in small groups like this. The first workshop session was a bunch of review but it filled in a lot of blanks that I had forgotten or – gasp- never knew.

The two big ones are:

Nakamoto’s consensus:

This is the practice in bitcoin of defaulting to the longest blockchain. The idea is that most of the compute power went into the longest chain so we can trust it.

Unpacking the Nonce:

It means “the one” but in cryptography it means the “number used once”. When we are “solving problems” to verify a block in the blockchain. We are calculating the nonce. There is also there great book that was referenced in the class on a minimum viable blockchain.

Thats all I got for today. I am tired.

Foreground and Background

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I am going large scale. This is not that. This is like 24×18. Once crit I got was that this was a drawing and not a painting. The reason why was that the image sits on the background.

This is a fair criticism. And I have been thinking about it. How do I integrate the foreground and the background. How do I move the painting away from this realm of dichotomies and just work with the field. I am into fields, morphic fields, color fields, quantum fields… manifolds (are these fields).

Also I think of the idea of vibe or ambiance. What if instead of lines and points we focused on fields. Fields are what cause lines instead of lines that create shapes. As I was meditating on this I thought of cave paintings…

Then I thought of the dead. And I thought of Jung. and I thought of the knowing field in family constellations. And I thought perhaps these paintings are paintings of a field of one of these fields.

How DevOps is Like Painting

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This week I am doing a client presentation The presentation is about basic devops practices and why they are important, how the client is adopting them in certain areas and where there is room for improvement.

DevOps is something that I am actually very passionate about. In the early days of programming there was a distinction between the creating of the software (software developers) and the deployment of the software (the system admins). This created for software development a two culture system as well as a linear system.

In dev ops, deployment is part of software development process – there is no more sys admin. This is a small distinction but it has outsized ramifications. Often times small changes in a system can have the largest impact. I think of it akin to accupuncture or accupressure or various martial arts where you make small subtle movements but they have massive impacts on your ability to be effective.

Why is this the case?

Well we can talk about systems, and with systems everything is interconnected so instead of finding the biggest problem point we need to find the most salient or impactful point.

We can also talk about inner systems (like inner martial arts) or invisible systems. This is the idea that there are some processes that are not apparent until we begin to perturb the system then we realize they exist indirectly and we can learn to control or exert pressure on these systems.

We can also talk about

With DevOps we move from a linear mode of working to a cyclical way of working. Why is this? What is really happening? Well we move from a sort of fordist conveyor belt notion of manufacturing that centers on the belt, to a pipeline notion of manufacturing that focuses on the widget. Rather than have pieces on a conveyor belt that different workers apply functions to. Someone introduces a new widget (an artifact) into a system… the system is a gigantic statemachine that applies tests to the widget. Depending on the result of the tests the state of the widget changes – from dev to testing to security to deployment… Depending on the state, different tests are applied. If the widget fails a test then the developer creates a new widget (artifact) and it goes into the system.

What we are doing is changing the state of something that is immutable… the software artifact. It is cyclical in the because a state machine is an infinite loop. It never ends. A conveyor belt has a beginning and an end.

Immutability is core to dev ops, but really cloud native computing. With cloud native devops there is no longer the sense of editing. When I deploy something I deploy the software along with the infrastructure – I create everything all at once. If I redeploy I remove the old environment (and artifacts) and then redeploy the newly created infrastructure with artifacts. Nothing ever changes. We just create or destroy.

Painting is similarly immutable. I was in a crit session, and someone brought two versions of a painting. This is impossible, said the crit leader (or she said something like that). Paintings can only have one state. This is different than say a novel or the written word, or something with versions. And while I can have different versions of code artifacts, with immutable infrastructure I only have one deployed version. Redeploying the a new version creates a new state of affairs in a way that is similar to painting, or overpainting, on a painting – AND different from editing a poem, story, essay, or book.

Proust and the Underworld – the first 4 pages

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I have been wanting to reread Swann’s Way for a while. This is perhaps a strange desire during a pandemic, but time feels different, and Remembrance of Things Past is about the experience of time. I picked up the newish Lydia Davis translation and off I went this evening sitting by the fire with my kids reading aloud Swann’s Way. I told the kids if I read 4 or 5 pages to them a day, we will be done in 3 months.

I have two sons 7 and 8, and my 7 year old asked if this was a tutorial on how to fall asleep – touche!

Yes and no. Why so much time about falling asleep? What is it about sleep? It is the liminal, the threshold. Proust describes the journey into sleep as metempsychosis / transmigration of the soul. This is referenced in Joyce’s Ulysses and DFW Infinite Jest Madam Psychosis, I was wondering what other novels reference metempsychosis and guess what – there is a web page for that.

Proust is our psychopomp (escorting souls to the underworld). Going into dreams, into memories, into fantasies are forms of transmigration of the soul.

Whenever there is a journey to the underworld, there is always a map. You cross a river, or you go up a mountain. The underworld has a geography, a landscape. As such your body has an orientation to it. However, your body in the underworld is not the same as your body in the physical world and the landscape of the underworld is of a different materia than the landscape of the mundane world. Also Proust gets sexy on page 2… did not register this the first time I read it. I wonder if this was scandalous or a literary risk at the time.

There is a discussion of while in dream space of the immobility of things, the ability to locate limbs, the position one falls asleep in, the ability to tell time while sleeping, or while drifting off to sleep.

And then I remembered I wrote something about night recently!

The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal. A panther, a black panther. Also called a Puma. The Runa Puma that all the wanna be shamans talk about these days with metaphysical anthropology and misapplied theories that make the academics unhappy, but creates food for the mystics. 

“Life changes fast” was unintentionally plagiarized by Joan Didion from Ferris Bueller’s day off. “I’m pretty much fucked” is something I say at least once a week even without being stranded on Mars and if… if I say this sentence with my children I must stutter and apologize and come up with a different word.  “Blocked, I mean blocked.”  Blocked is not a synonym for fucked, more of an antonym for fucked. In fact, I am not sure why “I’m pretty much fucked” is considered negative because of the history of sexual violence. It should now be reclaimed in our new sex positive society of our own creation. 

But the night did breath through the apartment like a dark animal. It was hiding in pockets. Night was not a blanket that covered the bed and the night table and the overused microwave and the underused cast-iron skillet. Night existed first in the damp spaces like the steam pipe in the bathroom bubbling with condensation. 

 You can’t see a dark animal but you can hear his breath. Night is a man – tonight. His name is B and I can feel his finger trace lightly trace the curve of my waist up to my shoulder . So obviously night loves me – tonight – while I sleep. Half asleep really. 

What others gifts does night give? There is a dead fish in the mouth of this puma. Definitely dead.  The eyes already turn to glass and the blue gray scaly skin is broken and I can see the red blood and an oozing of something unappetizing. 

It’s too late for me to prepare this fish. It’s not much of a gift either. S and his friends prepared a fish dinner feast once with a fish like this and they all contracted Hepatitis C.  I am not quite sure how that works causally. I do believe in the germ theory of disease and I also believe in terroir. 

The Panther puma night drops the fish by my pillow. And breathes deep into my face. He licks my face with a scratchy tongue, that is also dark night. I reach my hand out to stroke fine thick dense bristles and her back arches. 

Night is now a woman. Why am surprised? No man has ever hunted for me. 

 And of course women are better hunters.   The night puma panther brings over a very sexy white negligee…neglected and drops it by my pillow near the dead fish now laying in a half moon. B breaths deeply next to me, night does not bother him. 

I slip on the white smooth crepe de chine negligee, now a short and tank pair. Strong and heavy, and slightly damp and the enormous black puma panther walks towards the door silently with her big black light paws padding for me to follow.

Things that look like network diagrams

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I was reading Da Vinci’s notebooks and I came a cross a number of things that look like network diagrams or circuit diagrams. What are these things? They are cross sections of building facades, floor plans, flows for aqueducts, sketches for river systems.

This is a painting I did recently. What is it? It is abstract. It’s nothing but color. It does resemble a circuit diagram or perhaps tubes, but what was I doing while I was painting this? I was thinking about lines, shapes, colors, relations. It represents something inside me, the symbols of my unconscious and perhaps something about this collective moment in history. I was struck by how similar this design is to the drawings of cross sections and aqueducts.

Da Vinci wrote in his notebooks that when you have trouble creating a composition for a group of people or a battle scene look at a stone wall. The stains, the color, and so forth will call in you a certain composition and from this you can be inspired. In abstract art it is the opposite. We are creating the stone wall from which other people will derive inspiration. The stone wall happens from chance not from intention. Each line in a painting is a result of a decision. What goes into that decision, maybe it is very algorithmic like Sol Lewitt, maybe it is based on something random like throwing yarrow sticks and the i ching (like John Cage’s compositions). However this is all visual representation of decision making.

Each decision has an impact, just like decisions in the real world. There is no undo, there is no erase. The only way forward in painting is through. This reminds me of the law of karma, every action will have a reaction. Every paint stroke painted on the canvas (or in this case newsprint) will leave a mark.

I am part of a bunch of sense making groups. I am not sure why. I sort of can make sense of the world, but I am metaphysically curious. In the words of Robert Anton Wilson I enjoy exploring different reality tunnels. The crises in sense making is really stemming from a crises in decision making or not knowing how to make a decision. There are so many ways to make a decision when you think about it. I just discussed two. But we can vote, we can make a logical proof, we can do a simulation, so many different things. Painting is the art form of decision making. It is about where should I put the paint, and once I put the paint down, does it work and where should I put the next piece of paint.

Fast Fashion and Accelerate Metrics

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I am working on a project on how space exploration would lead to new fashion, and how fashion is important to culture, and what the relationship of fashion to culture is etc. And by project I mean 3 slide decks.

So let’s start. Think of all the ways fashion intersects with exploration. The diving bell and steam punk, the actual company “banana republic” -however triggering the very name may be for us today, North face and REI, vinyl, mylar (ok so maybe no one really wears mylar). Pantyhose going from status symbol to mass commodity to no one wearing them because we are all wearing sweatpants or pjs. Maybe we need clothing to explore inner space, sleep and meditation.

So this is a rough beginning that exploring extreme conditions necessitates a change in apparel which then filters into the wider culture. Maybe we dress aspirationally, so that we can pretend we are adventurers. Maybe it is just really pleasant to have a light weight but very warm jacket, and maybe we like how we look, the social group that our sartorial decisions identify us with. So this is what fashion does. Is it a need or a want? When I think about presentation I want my outsides to match my insides, to be coherent, to be “in alignment”, to be “in integrity”.

In this sense fashion is important, and in this sense perhaps fashion is a way to further understand who I am. By the act of dressing, an act of creation, I explore new possibilities of who I am and align with how I feel. Or I look the way I feel, or I look the way I am.

Let’s talk for a moment now, about how we get these new clothing. I recently got a ring. I call it my ring of power. It is powerful. It has a black tourmaline stone. Where did this stone come from? I hope someone cut it from the side of a cliff but perhaps it came from a mine, mined in a very unequal and unethical way. I hope not. But I don’t know. I know the man who made the ring. I imagine him, smelting and carving and fashioning the ring, and procuring the stone in an ethical way. There is a snake on the ring, and intricate engravings. I imagine this taking some time. It is a construction of his mind. It is not a mass produced ring. Although who knows, maybe he got it from YiWu.

So let’s talk about how clothing is constructed. People dont really buy clothing in the same way that I bought this ring. Almost all clothing is mass produced and so people generally wear the same things. This is because it is fastest to make the same thing over and over again. We live in the age of optimization. I first considered this 20 years ago when read The postmodern condition by Lyotard. That in addition to the categories of the good, the beautiful, and the true, we we have a new category … THE FAST! In fashion, there is fast fashion, that is something that moves quickly from the catwalk to the retail store. When you search for fast fashion on the internet, one of the first links asks… Is fast fashion ethical. When we optimize what do we lose, what are those thing that we are stripping away? Perhaps ethics, social relations, the ability of the body to replicate it self… since this is not easy to capture in a price, and the way to measure these things are not standardized, non-linear, and unpredictable.

In my work in devops this is the area that I focus on – THE FAST. The fast only applies to systems (ie to processes). The fast imagines time as something malleable. Is THE FAST always at odds with THE GOOD. I dont think so. When I automate the creation of infrastructure, so it takes less time to spin up an environment, so that we can move FASTER (mean time to deployment, mean time to recovery, etc), my actions do not have an ethical component. In this regards, the FAST is a natural outcome of ordering. I am ordering actions in the best way, and as a result all these wonderful things happen, all these metrics are optimized. The FAST is a result of THE GOOD. So perhaps we are mistaken to think there are these separate categories after all.

I wonder if it is not like Plato said, that everything flows from THE GOOD, the sun that creates the source of light for both the forms and the shadows on the cave. When are are doing things correctly there is TRUTH, BEAUTY, and SPEED.

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.