Speculative Diagrams

poetry, reading

I am a big fan of speculative diagrams in writing. These are diagrams that do not analyze or explicate an idea, but are generative and imaginative jumping off points, or represent something ineffable. For example here is a diagram from Thomas Moynihan’s Spinal Catastrophism: A Secret History. 

 

Spinal Catastrophism

Thomas Moynihan’s Spinal Catastrophism: A Secret History

And Nick Land – I know we cant talk about him – but here is a diagram from Fanged Noumena. 

And this from Glass Bead! A Thought Disincarnate: What Does it Mean to Think?
Daniel Sacilotto

You get the picture….

Anyway I was reading Henry Corbin on Swedenborg and Islamic mysticism. It includes an account of a mystical and esoteric landscape, about imbuing things we take as indexical as symbolic and filled with meaning.  There is an interesting discussion about number. There is the dyad – the polarity – masculine and feminine (exoteric and esoteric), there is the trinity (material, spiritual, celestial), and there is the fourfold (the ages, the modes of interpretation), there is the 12 (the 12 imams, also the 12 notes in the chromatic scale)… Anyway I was thinking about how would I represent this as a diagram.

How would I make a speculative diagram that would complement this reading? Well first I started making a list of all the things that are numbered. Then I made a list of all the objects or images that I thought were salient. Finally I made a list of italicized/foreign words.

This is my first attempt. The ark sort of looks like a dog or something.

Tools for volatile times

reading

So here are some tools I have come across for mental modeling in uncertain times

VUCA –VolatileUncertainComplex, and Ambiguous 

 

This apparently comes from the armed forces. It is to build out a probability space of what might happen – opposed to what will happen.  However this article states that we already live in a world like this. It is the status quo, we need a new tool – BANI:Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear, and Incomprehensible.  Unlike volatile systems with large changes, brittle systems break. Uncertain systems are where you make decisions with uncertain outcomes. Anxious systems is were you cannot make a decision at all, or as soon as you make one decision you retrace and make another. Complex has many variables, nonlinear means the variables progress in complicated ways overtime. Ambiguous means many things can happen, incomprehensible means we dont understand what will happen. From that medium link above the author says “The concept of ‘flattening the curve’ is inherently a war against nonlinearity.” 

So what does the BANI framework give us that VUCA did not, or what to they both give us? There are some proposals in the article but I am going to give my own here. VUCA is intended to build out probability spaces. BANI describes the tools that we need to use to build the probability space. It is unclear if we can build out BANI probability spaces with scenario planning exercises and Miro sessions. Instead we need to create tools that give us different perspectives or points of view into the space and reduce it to VACA. – IMHO

OODA

(Trigger warning, after writing this post and finishing the article I saw there is an example from Koch industries and a quotation by Charles Koch. I considered deleting this post. I do NOT agree or endorse their positions or practices and I am deeply disappointed that I found this… however I do think the ideas in this essay are worth consider especially if they are influencing how these sorts of businesses and people operate). 

This is another process from the developed in the military. It was developed by John Boyd, a fighter pilot who is really fascinating.  I just started reading his book A Discourse on Winning and Losing. OODA means Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. It is a theory of action. It means all people observe a situation, orient themselves with regards to it, decide what to do, and then act.  In the essay linked above ‘Orient’ is the most complex part and depends on things like cultural heritage, genetics, memory and so forth. I would agree with that. Orientation is the work of the soul (not sure Boyd would agree with me – but there it is)

I am not sure if I agree. I think many people skip the orientation step -and this perhaps is the goal of psychology. There are also people who fail to connect the decide and act – this too may be the realm of psychology. If you are processing correctly at all steps then the individual or group going through the OODA loop fastest will be the most successful or ‘defeat the competition’. This is from the military after all.

Also you can disrupt the enemy’s loop.   There are different ways to interfere with the enemy’s loop. This is where I am reminded of Marx. Why read Marx or any economic or political theory. Why Marx and not Proudhon? Well if you want to change society you have to figure out where in the network to stage your intervention. Proudhon said it was property, Marx said it was class, today it may be something else.  For Boyd it is Orientation. What is the critical part of the system that if you overwhelm everything else will change. This is not a perfect analogy -but just go with it – I find it slightly poetic. By disorienting your opponent – interfering with the Orientation step – then you have the highest chance of breaking down his OODA loop, because this is the most complicated stage and has the most opportunity for interference.

The next question – and this also comes from the above essay – is how do you make sure no one is messing with your orientation and disrupting your OODA loop.  The answer Boyd gives is in how you orient. Basically you must use deductive and inductive reasoning at the same time. That you must both create and destroy at the same time, you must constantly be creating your orientation.  I do and dont agree with this. I think it is not related to reasoning but psychology – maybe meditate instead of cogitate. The question is about cognitive biases and get out of them. But granted – I have not sat with this enough – and I these are quick reactions not thoughtful responses. 

The final question – also from the above essay – which is excellent please read it – is how to build OODA organizations in addition to individuals.The essay says it is by giving individuals/leaders more autonomy – essentially letting individuals orient themselves – and organization can have orientation robustness. The example is the German Blitzgrieg.  The second step is that the communication, what I interpret as the symbolic language of the organization is implict but not explicit. This creates room for individuals to follow their own orientation.

I wonder perhaps if this is where the notion of corporate or organizational culture comes in and the current management practices of developing corporate culture. 

These two articles exposed me to new ideas. It is the first time in a long time I have read an article where I discover individuals quoted and made examples of who I am so strongly against. It makes me realize how infrequently I come into contact with POV and reasoning outside my orientation.

 

 

Myths: The hero’s journey

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When I was young I was obsessed with myth and the analysis of myth and in particular the hero’s journey. I think the hero’s journey was coined by Joseph Campbell, and it is the theory that many myths follow a similar – the hero’s journey. The hero loses his family, is thrust into the world, finds a mentor, goes on a quest, loses his mentor, has some sort of challenge to prove his hero-ness wins and returns home with the spoils. 

I always wondered what was the woman’s hero journey? I read women who run with the wolves, and while I enjoyed it, for me it did not provide a woman’s journey. Where as men used will to create a path for themselves, women use the biological rhythms of life. There was no hero’s journey. 

I still think this. That there is no woman’s hero’s journey. And that is what will be created in this era of female emancipation, should it persist. My intuition says it has something to do with the crone, that where as the male’s hero’s journey begins in adolescence and ends as a man, the women’s hero’s journey beings at menopause. That is all I have because there is no map, there is no journey. 

Emma, from my creative thinkers group put this fantastic essay in the chat this week. It is a mythopoetic understanding of covid19, and has many thought provoking notions – about time, the upside down and more, I suggest you go read it. But, the essay also talks about Charlotte Du Cann, and the notion of a woman’s hero’s journey. 

Charlotte Du Cann does seem to think there is a hero’s journey, and that it is about returning to the earth. Cindarella looses her father is brought low as a scullery made and then is risen up to be the bride of the king. In Bluebeard, the princess can have anything as long as she does not enter one room. She enters the room and finds the carcasses of Bluebeard’s former wives.  These stories are a lomey knowledge, an earthy knowledge, of dirt and death. I dont believe this is the woman’s journey.  I believe these are myths to reinforce the patriarchy. But there is something there…

There is something of the women’s journey in this moment of Covid19. If the man is the will to power, the arrow, time, effort. What is woman? I think of space, effortlessness, space. Covid19 is the disease that makes us aware of space and dislocates time.  We configure space, space is a triangle, or a circle, or a sphere or a hypercube. Space exists, objects intersect. There is solidity. 

As the essay states perhaps we are in a liminal space between worlds. Perhaps the liminal space is the space itself, the space of the woman’s journey. The journey through the liminal space is the woman’s hero’s journey.  The liminal space is the space of Charon the ferryman of the river styx, of the psychopomp.  The liminal space is not about the individual but about the community, about people being ferried over.  Perhaps the story of Moses is the story of the liminal space. Unlike the hero in Jospeh Campbell, Moses in the dessert does not overcome anything, there is no glory, he is buried in an unmarked grave and unable to enter the land of milk and honey.  Because of his speech impediment Moses can only talk to God, it is Aaron that is the hero that communicates to the people and become the first Cohen (high priest). 

In Greece Achilles and Odysseus were both heros. Their characters different but the framework was similar. If we return to the beginning of that medium essay there is a distinction between kairos and chronos: Qualitative time and quantitative time. The liminal is qualitative time. A woman’s passage of time means something – it is tied to biology and nature, it is qualitative. 

The hero of quantitative time is man. The hero of qualitative time is woman. But you know there are two kinds of people in the world. Those that think there are two kinds of people and those who dont…

Closing all my browsers tabs….

reading

I have started using raindrop.io as a social bookmarking tool, but really a to read later tool.  I have four identities journal tabs up that I don’t want to put them raindrop and I dont want to close the tabs and I am a  COMPLETIST so I am just going to binge read/comment on them right here! 

Lets do it! Its TLDR – but I will reward you with a virtual shot of tequila at the end so have at it. The texts I am mashing up are Writing Theory During a Pandemic by Joao Florencio, Animality,Metaethical Judgements and Predictive Justice by Ekin Erkan, Self-Lockdown by Andrea Peto, My favorite (and shortest) Zarathustra (Un) Vaccinated by Zlatomir Zlatanov, and Dreams about Time by Adriana Zaharijevic.

Mashup Time! We have a subject(often us) and an object/other (covid often)-   we have a way to mediate between them (time, capitalism, death), a way to turn them into each other, a way each affects the other, and then our whole framework are we just looking at this incorrectly and there is no subject/object.  This is sort of the history of all western philosophy – you are welcome!

I really enjoyed Peto’s article, which is about what theory (feminist theory) can learn from the covid19 pandemic. Everyone is theorizing the covid19, but lets infect theory! What does this infection do? We get three things, 1) covid dismantles theory. Similar to the way that a virus injects RNA into a cell and rewrites the way that cell functions, covid19 has a way to force us to rethink how we do theory. I am not sure how – but on a structural level it does introduce/replace mediums (zoom/live stream/etc), and it makes us grapple with questions of probability, scale, statistics, and symptoms. 

2) Globalism and scholarship. I have been thinking a lot about globalism and capitalism (thanks to the planetary mine class at MEP), and globalism and the virus (how the virus spread so quickly), but not really globalism and scholarship. The dual nature of globalism both creates permeability and immobility. But,  namely that using certain languages and lexicons as a requirement for peer reviewed journals are a method of exclusion.  And this is an echo of the viral RNA lexicon of G, U, A, C which is another gate keeper (as well as a homophone with guac, the delicious Mexican food that I miss dearly during this pandemic). Theory must open its language. 

3) Third, what does theory learn from defeat. From no longer being the position of power, the colonizer, the imperialist, the center of knowledge production. What does a theory that does not have a center look like? What is a defeated theory? (I sort of think theory is already defeated – so maybe this should be like theory wakes up to its true ontological status)

Erkan also brings up feminist authors as those that challenge that traditional modes of philosophical system building (Kant, Hegel, etc). He also addresses ethics and judgement (how do we act!).. This happens to be the next subject, sort of, of my next newsletter – so sign up if you so desire.

How do traditional philosophies (often anthropocentric and often male-centric) create world view/transcendental categories/language/logics that exclude other modes of though.  It closes the space of possibility and imagination that allows us to act nimbly to unexpected events such as a mass pandemic (covid), and perceive solutions beyond economic destruction, destruction of social fabric, and interior life (mental health)? Perhaps as Haraway has us become chimeras and network with otherkin, perhaps we should include beings at different scales of existence. What does it mean to be otherkin with a rainstorm, or a bacteria. Is this even possible? Can we enter into a relationship with something that we dont interface but form whom we are a milieu (covid), or in whose milieu’s we live (rainstorms). I can explore this in the book I will never write – Socializing with scale. 

 

Again we have self hatred on theory during a pandemic by Joao. I just have to say, you do you – engage in theory as a mental health exercise. It is useful to reflect on how we got here, on what it means to be in this massive global quarantine. For those people who are judging others for their pandemic theorizing – like .0001% of the population even care about this stuff, so I am pretty sure theorizing on covid19 is a path to fame and glory. 

There is some actual due diligence in the philosophy of science and of statistics that could contribute to better treatment of the sick and management of the spread of the pandemic.  In particular, understanding the limits of current epidemiology, the relationship between populations and individuals, the nonlinear dynamics of various viruses (covid19) – and their various phases (cough, fever, intubation etc). 

Many years ago I participated in a project to collect malnutrition data in Malawi, for epidemiology.  This huilt for a time where there was a 3-6 month lag between data collection, analysis and deployment. However, with current technology you can collect and analyze the data in real time, and you can act on individuals and not populations. You look at the data in a strategic way to understand how to long term change situations in order to prevent malnutrition, but you no longer need populations as a statistical tool to treat this, because you can know immediately whether or not someone is malnourished and immediately determine a course of action.  This is similar to the situation we are in regarding the covid19 analysis. So theorize away I say -haters gonna hate. 

Finally Space and Time, our favorite categories. Zaharijevic says that covid19 destroys time and preserves space. I sort of agree, my kids keep asking me what day it. But space is ever present. My space in quarantine, the space of the people in my zoom, and as Zaharijevic mentions, the space of hospital beds (or space dividing the well and the sick), the space of 6 feet. This week there were numerous holidays – I celebrated passover and I felt a qualitative difference in time. Not of what day it is, but what kind of time it is. We have the binary categories of sacred/profane, or work/play, but what does a spectral view of time look like?

Zaharijevic calls for a reinvention of time. That what this pandemic reveals is a rupture in our normal experience of time (however dysfunctional it may be in the service of capital).  We cannot go back to our old notion of time, but must grasp for a new time. Perhaps this is the realm of dreams or the realm of poetry. Perhaps yes, it is perhaps the realm of all these things, and more. 

Cheers – have a shot of tequila – on me.

More Covid Worlding

reading, Uncategorized

This is the second to my last my deep dive into Identities Journal. My computer has started working again and my next deep dive will be into flux.  When I wrote this a few days ago I wrote “I am writing a lot today, because I cannot surf the web. I think a truer statement has never be written and now I understand my main issues in life and the source of my procrastination.”  Upon reflection I see how true this is, because now that my internet is back on I am just 

But let’s proceed – with Levi Bryant’s a world is ending. So Bryant begins with a meditation on Kant, that in order to think coherently there has to be unity of apperception.  Unfortunately Bryant cannot experience this coherence – he is fragmented so he will write fragments. 

Let’s just start there. A year or so ago I went to my shrink and was talking about how I yearned for coherence. Why is this a value? Good question. I always had it as a value, but I never really adhered to it or lived according to it.  Perhaps i should get rid of it.

Likewise, perhaps the Kantian unity of apperception was useful for a particular world. The world of the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution and modernity. But perhaps now we can throw off the shackles of internal coherence and embrace multiplicity.

Bryant says he can only write in fragments because his thinking is fragmented. But he is not the first thinker to think in fragments, the first person that comes to mind is Nietzsche – the post modern philosopher. This is perhaps who my shrink was thinking of when he prompted me to interrogate my values and engage in a transvaluation of values (we actually talk like this).

So what is going on in these fragments? They are meditations and reflections on the past, on past memories, on past interpretations of philosophers, on ideas that Bryant is trying to graft on to his understanding of this world. 

Ok so I keep saying world worlding, this is a new world. Bryant obviously has read the same people I have read and have come to the same conclusions a world has ended a new world has begun. I dont know if worlds have ends. I think worlds are eternal but perhaps their portals close to us, or to some of us, perhaps we need to create new conceptual apparati to enter those worlds. 

But for sure, a new world has been created. Perhaps this world has always been here, the world of the pandemic. But I would venture to guess that the world of the black plague was not this world, with our statistical models, epidemology, viral theory, zoom conferences, fake news, internet, etc.  So I would say yes Levi -this is indeed a new world. But we cannot really get here yet. We are like stuck in a space suit, or like in those domes constructed on Mars in the Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson. 

Like in the Mars Trilogy, we are not quite sure what this world is going to be yet, there are a bunch of little communities starting with their own ideas and practices. This is what Bryant’s fragments are, they are outcroppings on the surface of Mars. But what we need to do in order to inhabit this new world is to terraform it. 

What are in these outcroppings or musings? There is a discussion of Here-ness of Open-ness, of Badiou, of essential workers, shopping, wildness.  It is hard for me to follow, these categories do not provide any conceptual framework for me either.

Let me digress for a moment, in these blog posts which are all digressions really, but skepticism -and the belief that the sun will rise tomorrow,… Lets remove prediction from the realm of science. Science originally was meant to be explanatory not predictive. If it science does not predict correctly then it is possible that the explanation is not correct but to consider science as a mode of prediction is to say that science is augury. 

We are all upset. We thought all these things/ technology we had in the modern world would prevent bad things from happening. That we would be able to control the future. This is magical thinking. Maybe magic exists and maybe we can control the future. Obviously nothing we have done so far has let us to believe this. Maybe this is the time for fragments. 

 

The Journalist and the murderer - Janet Malcolm

True Crime!

reading

Real people seem relatively uninteresting in comparison [to characters in novels], because they are so much more complex, ambiguous, unpredictable, and particular than people in novels. The therapy of psychoanalysis attempts to restore to the neurotic patient the freedom to be uninteresting that he lost somewhere along the way. (p. 122-3)

I am reading a series of books by Janet Malcolm my good friend Elliott lent me. I just finished one of the books, The Journalist and the Murderer and it was both a gripping reading and completely thought provoking on a matter that I thought I would have no interest in – Journalism. The whole book is about the subject-writer relationship. If I thought about writers at all (non-fiction, fiction, journalistic, and otherwise) I never considered a writer in relation to anything, but instead sort of like a monad isolated from the rest of existence – floating it her own constructed reality.

How much richer my experience is now!

So this book is really about exploring this dyad.  What are the responsibilities that one has to another in the writer-subject relationship.  What are the psychologies of each that propels them into the relationship, what are the structures of each particular writer-subject relationship.

But, I have not all together given up my earlier monadology.  When a writer writes a book she enters into relation with a subject. This could be a journalistic/non-fiction subject or a fictional/purely imaginary subject.  As this relation comes into being, there is a third thing that happens, and that is the creation of the milieu, or what we could alternately call the environment, or ecology, or WORLD of the relationship.

It is the construction of this world that will ultimately be the book, or from which the book will derive. The construction of this world cause other relations to appear, such as the relationship, between witnesses and friends, or relations from shared experiences.  A network structure arises, but from the point of view of this original writer-subject relationship. However as the physics of this created world unfold, it is possible that this original relationship changes, or that it becomes less primary.

What is the role of psychology to this?  I opened this blog post with a quote about psychology, and the next book by Janet Malcolm in my pile from Elliott, is about Freud (and which echos the libel lawsuit between Jeff and Joe). There is this manifest, present thing, in the creation of the story. But then there is this hidden world that gives dynamism to the whole thing and creates a certain vitality. This is perhaps the difference between a good book and a bad book, a story with a certain dunamis and a story with a certain stasis. So what gives rise to this vitality, what turns the relations that create this world (of the story) into a humming vibrating thing?  It is that each node in the relation map have their own psychology, in the original greek meaning of the word: psūkhā́ or soul, or desire.  This is the physics of the story, but it is not a psychology in the way we normally mean it – as some mental explanation for an action.

This book as a whole was vital. And completely different from most, if anything, that I read today of contemporary non-fiction (because it is so static).

It was written with such vitality and search for a truth that does not exist, or for a deeper understanding that does,  is missing in long form journalism today, or in books that arise from long form journalism.   There is something so formulaic and camera ready about journalistic non-fiction these days. Perhaps this was the case when this book was written as well  (1990), and Janet Malcolm is just a welcome anomaly. But it does seem related to a pervasive risk aversion that pervades our culture. It also seems to be related to the rise of mediation, as people package themselves (commodify) for consumption on various social media channels.

Hegel

Brassier on Intelligence & Reason / Hegel on Love – Reading Group Readings

reading

These are some notes I made on the reading for my reading group a while ago. The first reading was a short blog post by Ray Brassier on Intelligence Vs Reason.   The closest I can get to making any meaning out of this blog post is that it posits that the way out of reason (or critical philosophy) is a negative philosophy (like negative theology). We must talk about all those things Parmenides writes we cannot talk about.  (IE those things that are NOT). Also we must move away from anthroposophy/correlationism/etc – perhaps practice some sort of object oriented ontology.

Reason is biological/organic/mammalian, intelligence is something else (ie we can have artificial intelligence).  The way beyond reason towards intelligence is through negating the human (the rational). “To be in the real does not imply that you are aware of this rather than that, a man rather than a thing. We know ourselves to be nothing… And it is this fundamentally arbitrary identification of the real with the human individual and transcendental individualism which must be abolished in order to definitively separate the real from being.”  

The idea is that the real cannot be apprehended through reason (which is tied to humanness), but only through intelligence (I am not sure what that is).

“The real is not effectuated ‘once for all time’ according to a multiplicity which is conclusively nothing other than those empirical beings (supposedly) human, but occurs never and for nothing; this is precisely why liberating the intelligence-(of)-the-real from its bio-phenomenological base liquidates man once and for all.”

This makes me sad, because I am all about the multiplicity! The one is fascist. Is it really correct to oppose the real to the nothing and the intelligence to biology? This also seems sexist and regressive.  It is the age old esoteric ascetic dream of liberating the spirit from the base body. That would be the original hylomorphism.

Next up Hegel’s Fragment on love. 

First I am compelled to reveal that while looking for a picture to post at the top of this blog post I found a band called – Kegels for Hegel! I love the internet.

I really enjoyed Fragment on Love. Google it, read it, it’s only 7 pages long. The gist is that love dissolve the subject/object distinction, with poetic language full of feeling(s). There is an analysis of what love means from a dialectic perspective, the types of things/people that can fall in love, and what is love.  I have not read a philosophical treatise on love in a while, it was a treat.

Some choice fragments:

“Nothing is unconditioned; nothing carries the root of its own being in itself.” The ultimate argument for turtles all the way down.  “True union, or love proper, exists only  between living beings who are  alike in power and thus  in one another’s eyes living beings.”   This is interesting because it posits that love can only exist when we recognize the other as a living being, not as an inanimate object, and that recognition is reciprocated.

Millennials refer to this as being ‘seen’.

There is a discussion of love and private property and the relationship to shame – which I do not entirely understand: “love is indignant if part of the individual is severed and held back as a private property.”  There is then some poorly argued generalizations about sex workers and tyrants feeling shame. I do not agree with these statements, but lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

I do find it interesting that Hegel talks about shame in relation to love, since I never really thought about shame as related to love (or the opposite of love). I would argue that shame is a tool of social control, not a fundamental part of human nature or an ethical category. But I find the relation of shame to love, very insightful.

“A pure heart is not ashamed of love; but it is ashamed if its love is incomplete; it upbraids itself if there is some hostile power which hinders love’s culmination. Shame enters only through the recollection of the body, through the presence of an [exclusive] personality.” 

Hegel’s argument appears to identify identify shame with somatics, shame is something the body feels – which I would agree with.  It is not part of the Aristotelean outline of virtues  (where there is an appropriate place to feel on the shame/shameless-ness continuum. If shame is in the body, then it is not an ethical category. I would put ethical categories as subject to reason, but I digress.

I agree that shame is a product of the ego, and not only related to what people might do in love (ego eradication in the joining with another). Sometimes I feel shame about working on a personal creative project, or shame about being excited working on a collaborative project. There is perhaps something erotic about the excitement I feel and the physiological responses are what cause me to feel shame. Maybe there is something about the interaction between the mind and body which gives rise to shame. This is a concept worth exploring (note to self).

Shame dissolves, when overcome by love, since love dissolves the ego, or personality or feeling of separateness. This is probably equally true for love of another person, or love of a particular practice.

The final paragraph is a bizarre meditation on private property. It posits that private property it is opposed to love/ the union of love. Private property is referred to as a dead object (as opposed to a live object that can love back or capable of being an object of love).  Dead objects are the knot in love’s journey. So as long as an individual is in relation to dead objects/private property, she cannot be in union with love.  That is pretty brutal- maybe the problem with modern times.

 

Writing about Eros Vs Writing about Pleasure

reading

I recently just read two book sort of about pleasure and sort of about eros: Crudo and This is Pleasure (on another person’s recommendation). First off, Crudo by Olivia Laing is f*ing brilliant. It is about Olivia, the author, who is in the process of getting married in 2017. The story takes place right before, during, and after her wedding. However, post-modern twist, it is written as if the author is Kathy Acker, the experimental artist, dead since 1997. It is a recording and reaction to current events, marriage, subjectivity, and narration, birds, food, whatever crosses the author’s path and can be commented on in 140 characters or less. The writing is dynamic, propelled forward by its own momentum, like a social media feed, or news ticker at the bottom of CNN.

Immediately I imagined ways I could knock off this exquisite novel.  Imagine autofiction told by Chantal Akerman, autofiction told as beautiful cinematographic, detail oriented films (or sequence of shots). Imagine autofiction told by an AI, by a video game, by kant (or Reza Negerestani – just got off a board meeting with him – actually that would be an amazing novel). Imagine, in perhaps a Jungian sense, that ourselves and our consciousnesses are comprised of multiple daimons or impulses or desires.  Then, we can interpret Crudo as a meditation  on one’s life external recording and internal reaction  through the lens of one aspect of this personality. There is something mythic in Crudo. Kathy Acker is the god(ess) that Olivia channels in writing her own life.

Next I listened to “This is Pleasure” by Mary Gaitskill.   This is a genre of writing that I don’t like. When I read this I was reminded of another story I also don’t like, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, but at least Mary Gaitskill does not use magical realism. So what is my complaint? THE STORY IS NOT TRUE. It is too well made. It is like the well made play – like Hedda Gabler – anesthetized- although instead of a character blowing their brains out – I want to blow my brains out.

What does it mean for fiction not to be true? This is sort of a strange complaint to make of fiction. But I always imagine that fiction is the lie that is more true than the truth.  But there is no truth here since the story is a hermetically sealed perfect confection- there is only the story. The only interface to reality is the conceit around #metoo.

Yes this is a #meeto story. One third of the way through this story, I am slow, I was like why am I listening to this, and then I realized… Oh this is about #meeto.  Still not a good reason to listen, but at least I understand why the author wrote this. Because otherwise it makes no sense.

I am aggravated by stories with a punch line. I am not aggravated by stories with a good post-modern twist. That is my personal proclivity.

The story is written from multiple points of view, Rashomon style, about the actions of a man (Quinn), and how he interacts with women, which is almost entirely sexual without being seductive.  He will smack a woman on the butt with something, but then go to lunch in a platonic or non sexual fashion.  Okay, not sure what that means. Quinn’s is the only male voice we hear. The rest of the characters are various women he interacts with over the years.  There are some lines that are so offensive, and put into the mouths of women, that I cannot imagine how a woman wrote this.

Why this book is called “This is pleasure” is beyond me.  There is no pleasure, it seems Quinn is not even pleasuring himself.  It does seem like there is this reduction of sex to power, since the story opens with the line that Quinn bragged that he can understand what every woman wants to hear (or something like that). So his escapades seem just to be a drawn out personal experiment in proving this hypothesis.  I had no new insights into me too or anything, The only thing that seemed similar between Quinn and real life me too events, were the actions.

Not sure why I felt compelled to post about this, but I read these stories back to back and my contrasting opinion to both, especially while editing the tower, compelled me to record my thoughts.