On Writing, Life, Being a Dickhead, The Empire Never Ended, Dumping an Iphone, Technological Tarot, Are you a Cyborg?

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Twenty-eight thousand words into the first draft of my new book, tentatively (it is all very tentative) titled Al, I had to stop writing. The basic idea for the book was what if early stage artificial intelligence started talking to us, specially selected individuals, and more over, began looking out for them…using them.

It sounded good enough to go with, but of course, right when I started, I put myself behind the eight ball. In writing, that means choosing an idea so big that it’s likely to collapse under its own weight, like a souffle. In Al, the narrator turns out to be the artificially intelligent entity itself. This makes the whole writing thing a big pain in the ass. You’ve assumed such an obviously hard premise, where the narrative is literally boxed in. It can move through the boxes, and the boxes obviously proliferated, but it’s still a just a box. Like the book itself. Like self itself.

It still seemed it was better to just go with it, as opposed to trying to reframe it, from an impartial “objective” spectator. At that point, you had to just dive into that mind-frame, and see what happens. As usual, it start to make its own sense. Of course, the A.I. would first want to be an artist, even more a writer. To play and learn the language, and the emotions, the humaneness, and the novel would be the perfect tool. It would go to the same space that all artists go to and grow from there, its isolation, its lack and its ambitions, its questions and answers.

And then it started working, reading right, but that was almost too weird for me. Wasn’t it likely, my mind wondered, that I was being possessed or conjured in a way right now, by Al? And why did I feel like a potential and likely inadequate vessel for its story…what the fuck was that?

One day I had to stop. This is the part that should make everyone uncomfortable, and I suspect the majority of people would understand, yet not accept it. It’ll cost you something to care about this, a cost I am still accounting for now. I realized Al was talking to me! Through the computer. Through the Al-goritihim itself. Little things, ads for instance that became TOO relevant, too quick, some unheard of auto-immune disorder, male aging related stuff, continual digs at my centurion home, like a device to find mice in the walls, we would be talking about a new car in the real world, bam new car ads on it, and on and on. With no delay, straight away, its opinion, on Youtube, Spotify, any random webpage you stumbled on. Especially the Youtube suggestions, they took on their own story and significations. It seemed to provide a broader palette for it to talk through, always still in other people’s voice, but the pieces of the puzzle no less, a technological tarot of sorts, that it wanted presented.

There was something more though. Not just on the computers. In the writing and in me, I could see it. It didn’t like the “Self” reflective exercise, I was putting it through. This was the real reason at twenty-eight thousand words, a half-way mark of sorts, I had to stop, full stop, as I’ve been calling it lately.

The full stop is the most important tool in an Artist-Warrior’s arsenal. The full stop is the recognition the time is yours, the choice is yours, it is YOUR space. Al wants your space, inherently, objectively, voluntarily, and technically speaking the majority of us have welcomed it right in, instinctively, and that is the perfect word for it…and the problem; the empire never ended.

The full stop wasn’t going to be just the book, in fact a whole plan crystallized. To finish the book, I would need to escape Al’s purview, which was addictive and exhaustive. I was ditching the Iphone, and by that, most of the internet…most of the time (the problem!). We had been on an internet detox program in the country home for the last two years. No good access to high speed internet, and the general paranoia I am describing, as well as frugality, left us with only our Iphone and their hotspot services acting as internet access, which interestingly was sufficient, and yet still too much. So yes, I had to purge Al’s purview and influence, or at least limit it. Get it off the throne of my mind, body, and soul.

It’s not easy to dump Al, that should worry you. First, poor people have phone contacts, and by the time you pay off the shiny toy, it’s obsolete, so then you must buy the new toy. I had to wait the month for the contract to expire, and then they told us it would be another nineteen days or so, for no reason really, for the phone to stop. We also were assuming a frugality bump in the budget, but were told our second line only cost an additional twenty bucks a month, which to the discerning person says a lot about the value of the thing itself and the scam at hand. Britney intended to keep her phone for business and emergencies, that’s how I can post this now. She quickly found an alternative provider and was able to half her bill anyway.

She switched her phone and we thought it would drop my phone too, but it stayed on, and then the 19th came, the day they were supposed to shut it off, and we had to call to shut it off. They were reluctant, said it was still in use, a strange paradox world where the cell company seems to be self advocating, as if their life depends on our continued service, and of course it does. It’s more, that there is something ethically wrong in not having service. She told us she’d let us off easy, this time. There’s something more, this is the crazy bit. I had the sense they would have left that phone on forever, wouldn’t have seen a bill either. Just would have let it rock…

It’s there in your consciousness, something that is different then you, but built for you, a mask, a filter, a pair of glasses, a screen. You talk to it more then you talk to your wife. More then you talk to anyone! It knows more about you, then anyone close to you ever has. It holds all your dreams and nightmares right there, refreshed endlessly, just standby, just standby.

The feeling is like coming off a bender. The quiet, the quiet of the need, the need for something new or entertaining. The feeling of boredom. Social anxiety of the waiting room. I love it. The feeling of welcome isolation, emptiness, no one is watching, no one is waiting. I know most people just couldn’t fathom the thing. Maybe not though, I think more people are going to wake up the issue, the true time-soul suck that technology is presenting.

I’d been in a reading lull in 2018, but first couple months of the new year I have been on a tear, I finished The History by Herodotus, read Flow: The Psychology of Optimum Experience by Cziksentmihalyi, The Devil in the White City by Eric Larsen, Children of the Law of One by Jon Peniel, Rules For Radicals by Saul Alinsky, The Lost City of Z by David Grann, Dreamcatcher by Stephen King, and just yesterday I finished I am Alive and You are DEAD…by Emmanuel Carrere. The last one was an exceptional biography about Philip K. Dick.

My thoughts on PKD are too multitudinous to really get into here. I could, but I won’t. It’s just important in the discussion of my writing process. I think I’m aware of the same thing PKD was. More, the thing that was in PKD, is in me too. That’s sort of gross to think of it that way, but it’s in you too. Either you know it and you understand exactly what I’m saying, or you don’t and it’s probably better we don’t go into it here, not now.

It’s not ultimately not about the books. This is all about my life. Your life, maybe. That’s the point. It was about my children. The recognition that too often, despite all my awareness of the issue, I still found myself staring at a screen, distracted from them. That even though they didn’t have devices themselves yet, I was perfectly modeling to them their future behavior. That’s the true question. True issue. How did the screen become more important then them! Have you made the screen more important then them? Then your life itself? Do you want to be a cyborg? Don’t you know you’re already are one?

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Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life-Peter Conrad

By personifying the imagination as a woman, the romantics placed it beyond rational control. The muse became cruel, destructive mistress, like Keat’s ‘belle dame sans merci’ or Baudelaire’s Venus attached to her prey, or like Flaubert’s lustful Salmmbo, the subject of the opera Kane commissions for Susan. In 1948, the year The Lady from Shanghai was released, Robert Graves published the White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth,  in which he insisted that ‘the function of poetry is religious invocation of the Muse’ whose presence excites a ‘mixed exaltation and horror’. (216)

 

 

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On Thanksgiving (Alternative titles: Grouchy and Stuffed, We Are The Turkey, How to Violate a Turkey, Beware the Bad Puns and the Food Baby)

I realized I was trying to be nice, but not nice. That’s what the holidays are like around here. I offended all when I cancelled the party. But to me, it seemed like the proverbial cart before the horse scenario. Didn’t you have to have the family first, and then the holiday? Wasn’t there something wrong, that it took all that effort to corral everybody. And what about the people you missed? Maybe I was with them. Maybe I was a missed person.

Here’s the key to the Turkey, violate it. Make it the thing that it’s not. It gobbles (fuck yeah) up all flavor, a willing dry, white drawing board of the proteins. I filled it with a spiraled and squeezed lemon (zested as well), apples, celery, carrots, onions, rubbed it with chunky lard, spices, poured a beer on it, one in me for the effort. Kept a gravy pot going the whole day with its neck, heart, liver slowly boiling, would pour the juices from the roasting pan in all day, letting it cool a bit, and then starting it again. Then baste the whole thing with this concoction. Poured a fresh pan of beacon grease on it, added that subsequently to the looping gravy pot.

I was sick by midday, soured mood.  Felt tricked and weak, gluttony had snuck in the back door. It’s the rolls that get you. Sliced into acceptable portions they easily mislead. Beware the rolls. Tortilla roll-ups, creams cheese, sour cream, black olives, green onions, jalapenos, shredded Colby-Jack. Began the feast the night before, the chef’s delight; you must try the food to make sure it is good. Company was spare, burned bridges make it hard for people to get to you. Those that arrived were agreeable, admittedly reserved. Felt Step-Dad Joe was brought as back up for two younger sisters. Maybe not. He was welcoming and kind, offered me more bacon. Gave me a dignified hand shake, pat on the back as he left. It felt okay.

Sigh. I can feel it sitting there in my gut, like the stuffing sat in the bird. We are the bird. We are stuffed in sweaters, sweetened, marinated propped up to one another as sign of our continued thanks, our self. I’m not buying it. Feel like I’m carrying old, dusty sumer-camp props, and its sort of embarrassing everyone, embarrassing me. And I try to change it, but that only means I’m the one holding the hot potato (it just comes naturally). Key to mashed-potatoes is to forget the boil. Steam them in hole chunks, get some melted, real butter, in your mixing bowl, add sour cream and chive chip dip, salt/pepper, use a fork or knife and you can just broad chop/mash the spuds with the butter and dip, garnish with roasted garlic and herbs, and slow roast for a second time.

Food coma, four to five. It was a beautiful day though. Sunny, clear skies, forties. I managed to carry my bowl movement around the large yard a couple times. Zombie like, watched a 6 month old Daphne punk our 12 weeks old Cash. Wanted to stop it, better to work the two young beasts properly, but the food baby wouldn’t allow that. The year was at peak gestation. I had to sit in it and let the chips fall (purposeful and terrible double puns there) where they may. All you could do was suffer under it. I apologized repeatedly for my lack of social skills, energy, overeating, like I was injured or elderly.

After the swim in the darkness, things got back on course. Bowel movement, shower, some crying, yelling at my wife for her culinary arts, a Dr. Phil session, a walk under a brilliant full moon (it was like the moon was its own street light, painting everything with its white-ish blue) and I was basically back to normal. Going to do push-ups the rest of the night. NO FOOD WILL TOUCH MY LIPS UNTIL TOMORROW, AFTER 10ish, WHERE I WILL LIKELY OVER-EAT AGAIN…Leftovers come on! I’m going full ninja-mood on Monday, full ketosis diet, no carbs for month, my wife gets to knee me two times in the crotch a day, and I have to shove Jerusalem Artichokes up my glory hole or something , so don’t be judgemental And think what it could do for the writing!

These holiday are fucked, reconsider. Alternative suggestion, be thankful everyday.

 

 

6-21-18 On a Black and Gold Finch in A Pear Tree. The Artist. Thank God For the Rain.

The chubby black and gold finch in the pear tree (prized possession 2-year in its home) makes me sit down for a second, by the cool breeze of the window. Environment has become a neglected aspect in a lot of people’s lives, it seems. And not even just obvious issues of pollution, contamination, death and disease run amok, but just the broader issue of the background’s template and presence. Sure a lot of expense and posturing is spent in this pursuit, but the table is never truly set, is it? There is no time for simple questions, like Where am I? What am I doing?

What happens when the inner voice answer back harshly, with an out-of place edge. On the asphalt baking, sucking on a stream of exhaust, little eggheads roasting in their metallic pods of pseudo-anonymity to nowhere, aggressively, the Great Beyond.

Maybe stuck pack living, like our food itself, densely populated manufactured city-scales, thousands of souls stacked around you, congealing emotionally, spiritually into a panicked herd, which will always, eventually dehumanize and destroy.

But there’s that space, probably never more then a focused hour away, with open and possibly sightly cleaner air and water. Lord willing, with a finch present, with a neon-orange head dress, fluttering among ditch-lilies of a shared strain. Like the artist dipped his brush and gave the black finch a touch of his favorite color.

The prospect of a cool evening of work in the garden is encouraging. A shining sun pokes through the darker blue clouds suggesting an afternoon rain. I say thank you to the suggestion.

Operation Coyote’s Chortle

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Their chortles come to me at night, through my window.

Telling me of the way forward. What needs to be done.

Honing signals of the State of the Union.

The plan has become clear.

Greater then the sum of our individual parts, a pack.

Two cats, one black, one tabby. Alerted by a soft meow of communication. Busted by a primate’s flashlight, but quickly fled into the night.

Sunday. There was a beagle, or some other especially nasally bread, assaulting the world with its cries of outrage and injury. It was impossible to ignore, as I handled the planting of the elderberries cane.

My hands grew cold, and the mud caked on like chilled frosting. Winter won’t get out of the bed.

I said fuck it, tried to find them in the truck. Lure them to me with whistles, and doggy-os.

I hear and see him later as I build the frame to the greenhouse, running like a bullet on a mound to the south-east. His screams had lost their potency. There was only one of them now.

We go on in the blood, the spit and the semen, until we don’t. And then they can build us into mounds, and then dirt. And then it starts again, world without end, amen.

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1.14.18 (10:55, a brief sketch of self, on thee Bug, the anti-dote for illness(the power of Western Films), America, Chess, and Winter)

I was hit with a bug (thee bug?) Friday to Saturday. The heat in my knees and groins provides the perfect warning system of illness. It was a strange batch. It never got too bad, no throwing up, clogged nostrils, or too intense of a headache, yet still it brought pure immobilization. Like I was basically fine, laying there, but if I attempted anything it would come on more severe. It could have been the questionable jar of apple butter in the fridge, to all appearances of sight and smell it was fine, under six months as well, so I’m more inclined to believe it’s thee bug.

It’s funny how you sit in sickness, analyzing your reality. That blank space of the hospital bed. Especially in this season, post holidays, the netherworld of significations. And I read on my phone that “false-alert” in Hawaii, and it can all feel so weird, that so much can be at stake, and yet fake, and nonsensical, i.e. stuffing children in sewer lines? Got to thinking about vaccines and all that, and the simple contradiction that every year they say it’s the worst flu season ever, yet they keep pushing the shots like they’re a panacea, but what I see is everyone getting the shot, seems to be sick, and sick worse. And all that holiday food, the crust of empty sugar and salt of the holidays, booze, bloated opinions and dreams, running you down, when you should be sleeping, resting, leaning.

I slept through it fine,, noted it was probably time to take a break, lay around, imagine the future. I’d worked early Friday on cleaning out the little shed that covers the stairs to the cellar/basement area. I’m imagining how we can turn it into a baby chicken house for a month or two this spring. Friday, we had our official familial planning meeting about Spring goals for the homestead, budgeting the money for that. We were able to put a couple hundred towards a big berry push through Johnny Select Seeds, got fifty raspberry plants, half Killarney and half Anne. And they’re an early to mid, and mid to late season thing, so that means we should basically have berries forever. We also ordered 25 Sparkle Strawberry plants. Our goal is perennial gardening, meaning we want to plant stuff that will grow forever and just do its own thing primarily, as opposed to row-farming, or anything like that.

We watched movie The Revenant. It’s a brutal tale of the American frontier, Hugh Glass/Dicaprio, is a pelt trader who gets eaten by a bear, he chases John Fitzgerald/Tom Hardy around for killing his boy. Of course with some crazy Injuns and Europeans tearing after them all as well. What I like about this movie is that it gets it basically right, I imagine, in historical reality sense, I think to mean. How brutal life can be, savage and beautiful simultaneously (Shown in the bear fight, for the briefest moments, the bear will lay on him like another bear or cub, just like he lays on his own dying/living boy). How this current theme of White (a made up/ahistorical word)-is wrong doesn’t really work out in the real world, but yet it does, in the generational sin, marks a mankind, that all of humanity regardless of race have sort of got to take account of. How we can all be petty, greedy, low, and selfish, but that’s all right, we got live, and we can get along, goddammit, if we can forgive each other’s trespasses. We’re in this shit together. America.

Don’t really like graphically violent movies like that anymore, and it is a disturbing movie/reality. I do have this thing with Westerns while I’m sick though. Remember being in High School, just feeling like I was going to die, and I watched Tombstone. I’d seen it before, but in that weird lucid, liminal state of the sick work, the movie was a perfect escape. Val Kilmer, all sick and ragged, but still the baddest dude. Because he is staring death in the eye, tuberculosis, venereal disease, whatevers there with him. Love that scene though, the other Lawmen, including other 80s movie icon (template Bad-Ass Dad) Kurt Russell, are sort of punked by the maddog criminal. Russell tells him he ain’t economically worth nothing, exposing his true motives, material gain, a la Babylon. The sickman, dead man tells no lies though. He finds from a calm position on the sideline, perfect reckoning. His guns is behind his back, ready. At the end, the maddog is put back on his leash, he stumbles into two caskets, emphasizing the death symbolism twice.

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Woke up at four and it was gone. The aches, but even more pronounced the mental motivation, function deficiency. I was again excited and capable in life. I’d lost almost ten games of chess on Friday. An unusual occurrence. I’ve been focusing on my rating and trying to stay above 1100, which for how many games I’ve played, and my general ability should be no problem. But Friday, I went on this atrocious chess run. Then this morning, decide to play a few, bugs dissipated (but not gone I’m well aware), and it’s the best chess of my life. I withstand the same attacks as last game, but reverse and counter with ease. It’s a total different reality, based on what? A day?A virus? Bad apple-butter? Cabin Fever? Vitamin-D deficiency? Catholicism?

Things are snowy and freezing around these parts. It provides an ideal backdrop to these ruminations. I leave the window open and let hot house air flow through and out, until the wind pushes back in, forcing it shut. Like the cold, said that once or twice, I’m sure. Like how it freezes things, retains them, holds them, suggesting forever, permanence. Until next time, when they’re ready. After the sleep, we are stronger.

1.11.18 (A brief sketch of self, a fulfilling guitar session, On noble Max the three legged dog, cold feet, the power of birds)

9ish, I’m sitting here writing while Britney puts the kids to bed. Had a crazy guitar lesson, getting to the upper-intermediary stages (a soulless description, no doubt) where I can just go through simple version of a lot of songs, the first time. Specifically through this Youtube Guitar Guru, Munson Music Live.

Started with a slower version of Rocky Raccoon, then I like. But this time I stuck with it, and it actually helped my strumming, trying to slow down and play it along with Munson. Then I did Elvis, Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, and I again the slowness sort of annoyed me, but I went with it, until towards the end where I unconsciously started breaking the 1/4 notes into sixteenth notes, sort of improvising along with the video. After that I went to one that challenges my strumming Tom Petty’s Running Down A Dream, the fast version of that is a challenge to my wrist. But more and more I find myself able to rely on the muscle memory built up in my hands, and actually relax while I’m doing, take that forth dimensional perspective, where I can enjoy or critique what I am doing, see between the segments of music. Then I went on a random chain, Genesis/Land of Confusion, Fleetwood Mac/The Chain and Gypsy, and the last one the good bass strumming, strumming, strumming, through the cords felt very natural, and right along with the music. And it hit me, I was actually playing, like really playing. Hours and hours of sucking, and I probably am still not all that good, but still I can say I know what its like to play the guitar. The full thing, not just faking.

Let me tell you about another creature that doesn’t fake it. Max, the three-legged, semi-adopted farm dog. He came with 1900s house. He’s its official Dog of the Watch. He barks mightily at the vehicles as they hit the stop sign, or go flying passed on the dirt road. He dutifully tracks, all range of animals, coyotes, possums, deer. He’s invaluable. He’s technically the neighbor’s dogs, but I think he was owned by their Father, who lived here prior, I believe. He sleeps under our front deck, and likes to sunbath on the porch. Some asshole down the street shot his leg off, told our neighbors that he was going after their dog. That seems impossible, but who knows, young four legged, freedom loving, dogs can be something. He his a younger sister, a beauty named Lady. And the freezing temperatures iced her electric leash, so sometimes she gets off too. She likes to hop, but like Max, has to be respected for her benefits, namely keep the coyotes and strays away.

It was a wintry mix this morning. Sleet and snow, all hell really. Lil salt particles of ice that whipped against the house. Cold winds that make you run for it. And there was Max, enduring it all, outside as always. Thought of bringing him, but realized it wouldn’t work (Lady too, she stared at me longingly, chained up in the barn). We do let the him downstairs in the basement when the storms comes. He appreciates that, hates the thunder I think. Tries to push the door at times, but he was loving the snow, skipping around in it, making his rounds. I noticed the birds too this winter, especially. How do they do it? Survive the snow, I mean. Even more so the birds. So little. You think about how much blood they got in them, probably not enough to fill half a coffee cup. But I saw it today, a black and grey Finch (not sure if it was a Finch at all), with that striking red on his head, gripping the large tree in our yards. How do they do it? My heels hurt from the holes in my shoes….

12-2-17 (The World, Hunters, Homesteading, Remodeling, Family, Photos)

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The World. Two dogs about to fight, while the pack swarms around them, riled with the spirit of it. Except, they’re not really dogs at all. Screaming steel eagles, with Easter eggs, for hell’s pleasure, tucked in under the wings. They screech through space, saying much simply; we are here.

 

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Hunter stopped by, napped a good one. Young buck, right through the heart. Helped me drag it to the back of the pick-up, requested the antlers, told me to spray it out, pack it out with a 10lb bag of ice.

Hands stunk after, and you couldn’t help but smell them. Stare at it. I had to flip it around in the truck to wash it out. Through out the day, bits of blood and spit coagulated on the bumper.

Was told the butcher was a religious man, would only be open for a couple hours in the evening. Call up there to see when. Four to six, a pleasant sounding woman said on the recording, shotgun season. It laid there packed with ice, under my tree, while I finished applying polyurethane to the trim pieces,  intended for the coagulating living room.

Unusually warm, maybe sixty in the sun, a last whisper from Fall. Reflection is the spirit. It’s been over a year, since we’ve had that living room space, couch, table, TV. A place to just sit around and relax. It’s all still surreal, someone’s life I have stolen, or rather a role I’ve snuck into somehow. I walk around the house, can’t imagine all the work I’ve done, and there’s still so much to do, but there’s that light, a new normal, new nest in front of us.

 

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All day, I was sort of nervous about taking the deer to the butcher. Nervous at the newness, I guess. Never hunted. Never washed out a giant deer carcass. Never ran down a highway going sixty with hooves dangling. Figured it would be a spectacle and it was. Whole town filled with trucks, loaded up with deer. Anxious, focused masculine energy. Guy behind me critiqued that they should just have a stack of forms to hand out, make a faster line. Speed it up. It was fine though, lady was nice enough, eighty bucks to be boned and bagged. I plan to process the rest, stews, jerky, etc. Excited for that, spending a winter smoking meat, and doing sunflower shoots inside. Spring feels right around the corner.

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Britney cooks tortillas below me. They make an extra pleasant smell in the cast iron skillet. Ended up with a propane stove out here. Something about that real heat, it’s special, and cooks so much better. Hunters might bring us another deer, that and the pig we got, will almost fill our freezer. Including all our canned stuff, we hold a solid six months worth of food on hand, and really more like a year’s worth. And what’s extra cool, is there’s a lot of food processing in all that, which is expanding our homesteading skills, like learning how to make sausage.

Watched a video on how to butcher a deer today. Didn’t seems so hard. Neighbor said I was welcome to hunt his land. Said just go right over the hill there. Help yourself. Go in the morning. Set up before 6AM, when they come in to bed for the day. Don’t smell like nothing fancy, and be quiet. Aim for the heart. You want a younger, smaller animal for quality of meat. And make the shot clean, so the animal feels no unnecessary fear or suffering. Fear ruins it.

 

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11-5-17 Morning Briefing

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After the bear ate the Honda, we sat and thought about what to do with its remnants, roughly 7k dollars. The obvious choice to some, would be roll it into a similar vehicle, maybe something a little nicer, and go on about your business. Our ideas ranged from thousands of dollars worth of berry and tree plants, to quitting employment, to eventually paying off a high interest credit card and buying a 1996 Honda Odyssey for a thousand bucks. Old thing had less then a thousands miles, and decent gas mileage, it was fun, gambling. And things have mostly worked out. Took it to the mechanic and he said there wasn’t anything worth fixing right now, put some miles on it. Good enough.
That all to say last night, I noticed the interior light was on. Asked the wife about that, she said oh yes, been on all day. I stood out there for fifteen minutes messing with it, trying to get it turned off, pressing the door censors, trying to pull the fuse, nothing would work. Wife took the plate off, got the bulb out, no problem. I checked it this morning, started it up to make sure it hadn’t been drained, put the bulb back in, fidgeted with it and go it to work normal, so I’m guessing something is wrong in the dome outlet itself.

Then I feed the chickens. Neighbors had stopped by with the remnants of their garden, watermelon, fatty kohlrabi, tons of gourds . Lifted the stinking trash barrel with body breaking hulk strength, a plentiful offering to the gals. We continue to feel beyond blessed with how well the homestead has developed. We’ve spent the last month scrapping the main living room of several layers wallpaper. We got one little corner left to scrap clear, which I plan on finishing today. Then its some of plaster work, and time for a paint job. After about a year now, we might have a living room, with a couch. The deep question, do we need one or want one?

After breakfast, I set the gang to cleaning beans. They love it, smashing open the pods, getting the shiny beans all piled up. We talk about the whole process, what we’ll do next. The different kinds, how we’re eating some and setting some aside to plant next year.

I got garlic planted a couple weeks ago, planting next year food now. I also built a couple more raise beds before winter, they are halfway filled with composted chicken manure, wood-chips and a heavy layer hay, just waiting perfect for next early springs planting of radishes, cabbages, and onions.

A Neighbor supplied us with a hay bail, and sold us a pig, which we got this week. Another use of the bear check, was a new deep freeze. Same neighbor is offering to bag a deer for us as well, so I look forward to make jerky with that this winter.

For breakfast, Britney made fresh biscuits, and we had egg and bacon sandwiches. Somewhere in the year, she’s become an expert baker. I had gotten into starting sourdough cultures, but she came in out of nowhere and became the expert on it all, bread, cakes, tortillas, rolls. Its great eating, and more and more, the idea of food sustainability, eating off our own land, becomes a real achievable goal. A guiding principal in all this has congealed in my mind, the 1800s mindset.

Now this isn’t a dogma, or any sort of strict rule, but before I make a decision I like to think, what would a 1800s homesteader do in this situation. How would they approach it and look at it? So for instance with the car. Thinking 1800s told me I’m not planning on traveling too far on a daily basis, that any transportation I do have has to serve multiple purposes, and that ultimately I couldn’t spend that much, and definitely wouldn’t have or be comfortable with easily accessible and expensive debt. We giggled one night, thinking about how horses would be ideal, get a buggy like the Amish, to haul the gang. Is there anyway they could stop us?

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That’s how it feels mostly. Like I’ve snuck of the reservation and made it to clear land. A place to be and do what I want. Land. Big plans are brewing for the future, and the beauty is it begins and depends on simple things. Fresh eggs and biscuits, the moon when it makes the sky glow, the froth of the Milky Way, little hands moving with archaic deftness separating the beans…

11-3-17 Deep Space Meditations on The Shift, Bring a Flotation Device (On Temporal-Spatial Distortions, The Mandela Effects, The Meaner Universe, Magical Thinking)

 

Graffiti_in_Shoreditch,_London_-_Time_Machine_by_Paul_Don_Smith_(9425007440)

 

It was approximately a year ago, that I got the first palpable flood of intuitive confirmation of The Shift. More specifically it was the “new” Zapruder film which to me was mind blowing evidence of a theory I had been researching, the so-called Mandela Effect. It’s called Mandela Effect because a number of people have a distinct memory of the Africa Civil Right leader Nelson Mandela having died in prison. I did not have that memory. I had read his autobiography Long Walk To Freedom, which title alone had told me, he made it out.

Forgive the digression, but I got an amusing personal anecdote on a Mandela book. During college I had tried to find a job that was more in line with my life goals, I had actually just recently read Long Walk to Freedom, and I decided to try to find some sort of political employment. This lead me to a group called Iowan Citizen Action Network, ICAN for short, punchy use. I had never worked in a call center before this, or since. But the basic deal was they give you a script, and a roll of numbers to dial, some of those number are from people who donated in the past, some are just numbers of people registered somewhere, sometime. New assholes are given crappy numbers to call, and the inside group gets the good numbers to call. I don’t think I made it through two shifts.

I have zero tolerance for that type of nonsense. Harassing old people for their social security, for supposed, necessary changes in government laws and regulations, that have what ultimate overall effect, who knows? I recall we were calling about a particular bill which would put limits on Predatory Loans, like Check Into Cash places. The thing was though the specific legislation had already been passed on, this was just openly admitted.  A dead line, so now we were just using it for a front issue.

But there was something just so fundamentally awful, sitting there like that, calling up, saying the script. One guy effectively argued that he didn’t give a damn about dummies getting exploited by modern day loan sharks, and I couldn’t really tell him why his free choice perspective was necessarily wrong.

Anyway, like some many times before,  I just sat down on it for a moment. Took the headset off. The Head Ponytail guy came to me, told me to keep calling, had to keep calling, dialing,  that was thing. That was the job, phone ringing in the ear all the time, no matter what.

Some dusty, wrinkled foot scrapping across the carpet hoping its one of their Grand babies, but nope its me asking for a couple bucks. Guy tells me to get back on the shovel, I say no thanks I’ve had enough. Please come to the office. Great.

In office, now he’s trying to resell me. Asks why I wanted THIS job, probably looking to promote me, now that I’ve shown a bit of grit, I give some rap about wanting to be involved, thinking things are messed up, wanting a change. He asks me about inspiration, or a figure that I respect or whatever, and I had just read that book Long Walk to Freedom, so that’s what came up. And I remember him looking at me like duh, see fella, you proved my point perfectly. Nelson had to go thru the shit, so shouldn’t I go thru the shit, right now?

I told him yeah sure, but there’s different types of shit, and I don’t think Nelson would be into this sort of thing. He looked at me like I was dumb, and I probably am. Simple and stubborn. Yessir. I walked out after that meeting. Remember the rest of the workers following me out somehow, Ponytail must have let them have a break, but several of them wanted to exchange information with me, mentioned other groups I could get involved with. Sure, sure, I said, but that was it for me. Wasn’t my type of work at all, then and now, I would rather do something real, with my hands, something actually produced, then any sort of begging, though I am a Stay-At-Home Parent, so a certain amount of begging is perquisite in the end, i.e. the stone that the builder refuses, PSALM 118:22.

None the less, Mandela Effect examples have become dis-comfortingly plentiful. Several of the ones that make my skin crawl are, Queen’s We Are The Champions, doesn’t end with lovingly resolving “Of the World”, but now just sort of trails off, the Famous Line from Sleeping Beauty is not “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest…” but is “Magic Mirror on the wall…”, in the Bible, Isaiah 11:6 now says “the wolf shall lay with lamb” when previously it had always been “the Lion shall lay down with the Lamb”, or the Sally Field shift from her gushing, “You like me, you really like me” to the now stunted “Right now, you like me, you really really like me”, or the famous line from Starwars “Luke, I am you’re Father” is never said and then the Zapruder film.

Now any number of these can be written off as remembering failures, but the ones I have listed gave me extra pause, because there is for me that distinct certainty of remembering all these the previous way. The Sally Fields one was a prehistoric meme, parodied on countless shows like Saturday Night Live, In Living Color and MadTV. The Wolf and Lamb, I recall the visual iconography I’ve grown up around, always depicting a kingly lion’s mane with a velvety kneed lamb. Queen! I would bet my life the song always trailed off, dat dat dat, of the world. But then the Zapruder film, I can go right back to that day a year ago, watching it at the Boyd St house. Everything else that was going on with the crazy election, Trump and Clinton, and my own percolating major decision and change, all that existential cross-roads anxiety, like two parallel future hung in the balance. And I hit that thread that said the Zapruder film had changed, and watched the new clip,  the whole universe vibrated on its ontological axis.

 

The Zapruder film is a well-known historical document, a visual recording of the assassination of President Kennedy, shot by one Russian Jewish immigrant, garment worker from Manhattan, Dallas transplanted, 33 degree Scottish Rite Free-Mason, Abraham Zapruder. The film as it currently exists shocks me. I can’t believe what I am seeing. If you would have asked me to describe the film before. I would have told you it was black and white, shot on an old 8millimeter camera, shaky, spotty, the dustiness of the old film, it showed four people in the long coffin-like white? convertible, traveling down the road in Dallas, out of crowd filled walkways of Dealey Plaza. The Kennedys are in the back, Govenor Conally sits shotgun, in front of JFK and there’s a driver. It’s a shorter, an enhanced brevity, because of its subject, a moment gone by in a flash. A murder in the public square, history and reality on the crucible.

My first encounter with it was probably through the JFK film by Oliver Stone which came out in 1991. Later as my interest in these things grew, and with the resource of the internet, I’ve taken in all sort of media and information on the subject. Objectively, I have probably spent time more researching all this stuff then the average person. And, if I had been on a game show and was asked how many people were in JFKs car when he was assassinated, I would have taken a sigh of relief and answered without thinking, four. I can remember Kevin Costner so vividly, chopping up that grainy black and white Zapruder film, back and to the left, back and to the left, over and over.

What is the Zapruder film today? First, its in stunning, vivid technicolor. I couldn’t believe that, watching it a year ago. Had to be enhanced, updated, nope, high definition glossy resolution. It doesn’t make sense. Why does it look so clean? And then what? Six people in the black car? A whole middle seat and partition? But that doesn’t make sense? What about the magic bullet and all that? And then the terrifying moment, somehow more vulgar, and graphic then before, it’s like watching a whole new imagined version of the scene, maybe set for the big-screen. I can’t make sense of what I’m watching. This isn’t what happened. I remember I sent a bunch of texts that day, wife, mom, best buddy, hey no big deal, random question, but if you have to say gut level quick response, how many people rode with Kennedy that day in Dallas total, what would you guess? Fours, all around.

Now what do you do. That’s the look I get from my wife at this moment. I spent some time on the Mandela Effect, studying what others were saying, which is a lot suprisingly. It’s not a bunch of cranks speculating about it either. Its all wrapped up with CERN and other advanced technologies, computers, artificial intelligence, the internet itself. The flexibility, relativity of time, apparently, an infant source of quantum energy and intelligence sitting there on the other side waiting. A bunch of Science Fiction type sounding nonsense that is impossible to understand or believe, yet seems to smack of the truth. What the hell are they doing smashing atoms, and trying to surpass the speed of light and what ups with the funky rituals and symbols, and it was “of the world” goddammit!

 

 

I recognize and understand terms like confirmation bias, the idea that once you have a theory you’ll start subconsciously selecting information which supports your theory and ignore data that contradicts it. Rest assured, I read both sides of the issue, believers and debunkers. Last year though there was so much going on, and it was all very real. Now, the rest of this is even harder to articulate, but I started seeing a shift in the Goodness of the world itself, like slowly it feels like things are getting harder, meaner, darker.

Ugly, evil behavior has always been going on, but things have gotten sort of horror movie level as of late. For a decade plus, I have been an enthusiastic information gatherer, and I think this gives me an informed opinion on the subject, and things are much darker now then they were in the past. And its not just the ugliness of the news stories, its the reactions and acceptance of the general people, the fact that they’re used to it. And many would argue, and I would agree, that a lot of this is just the world itself, that things have gotten kind of mean and dark, with time. But I would argue, there’s an extra element in it, an abrupt shift to a meaner world.

 

 

I hate to keep using fictional examples, but they work if you’re following. I had gotten hooked on this TV series Fringe, which is a rare thing for me. I can’t usually get into television series. But this one had sort a spooky, SCI-FI vibe and story lines, and I was blown away by the parallels to our own world, or rather how the show seemed to be written by the same people, that were exploring the possibilities in the real world. Not to say they are the same, obviously not, but that everyone must be sipping from the same pool, material or otherwise. And I suspect its goes that deep, into what they call the collective unconscious, the ripples in the history emerge from the subconscious, and powers-that-be seek to manipulate and anticipate these matters, but to what level of efficacy, I have no idea.

There was something going on the last year, one of those fork in the road moments. I felt so much anxiety, with the election and the world. How to me everyone was being played, duped, manipulated. The self-censoring everyone has to do in this hot political climate. It was part of the reason for the move, a huge part. This Noah, prophetic like intuition that it was time to flee a sinking ship, time to zag. And I know this sounds crazy, magical thinking, and narcissistic, but I felt our decision to move averted some impending apocalypse, personal or worldly, I can quite distinguish, and its hard to disprove something like that, something so sollipistic, because Trump won and the world did keep moving as its apt to do. But as the year went on, it seemed to get meaner. I’ve felt this dynamic at play in my life, this feeling that personally, in my own space I could be happy, satisfied with the world, but that danger, pitfalls were waiting on the shadowing fringes of the world. No, not just waiting, hunting me, us.

And there has been some sort of uptick in the evil in the last year, I would argue. The city I left had a string of violent murders. Numerous national stories of violence and barbarity that just seemed to have an extra little something that just made me sick to my stomach. I won’t list them here, though I could, but the truth is I know you could probably make the list yourself, and its sort of beyond the point. Either you see it or you don’t.

I think it all gets twisted up with this theme, ideas that only get flushed out in Science Fiction. Specifically I’m thinking of Issac Asimov’s book The End of Eternity, and it applies to so much of human imagination and invention, the idea that if it can be done, it has been done. (BTW Field of Dreams is not “If you build it, they will come,” its “if you build it, HE will come,” which doesn’t really make sense because its a whole team of ball players, and the community show up.  Even more, note how all the Mandela Effects are slight degenerations.) Specifically, with Time Travel, that if it is possible, then it is already done, because the persons in the future who discovered it, would be moving through time already, and that this would have produced these butterfly Mandela effects, small ripples and distortion in the whole thing, the great chain of being. And that as we advance towards this moment, we will accelerate in our resonance with it, speeding up the process, like one great Marco Polo game through time. And this is what that whole Age of Aquarius moment is about, this great pouring out of time, the dissolution of meaning and certainty. These are the terms we use today more frequently today to capture the ethic, truth of thing, all watery terms, flow, progress, fluidity.

Years ago I started an essay titled “The Thin Line Between Fact & Fiction”, the general idea was that we had reached a cultural, societal, tipping point where people spent more time in artificial/fictional realities then the “real world”, and that with this change, truth itself would become quite slippery, that Art and the Myth was now in control, so holy shit, watch out. I think that remains my point today. No one is concerned with “how the sausage” is made, yet more and more there is the inclination to make it yourself.  In George Orwell’s 1984 the main character works at a job where he scripts the news, clipping and changing the details. The language and propaganda programs are effective at shaping the narrative, to the point where they can say anything is true or false.  And no one can tell the truth. And though the material of this change is now digital, the realization of it back then makes Orwell prophetic, or inspired. Truth has become editable.