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It Is What It Is – Save the date: July 4th, Independence Day, 2015

Three Flags – Jasper Johns

In the spirit of encouraging connectedness (I’ll refrain from scare quotes or anything else that might be misconstrued as irony for the duration of this entire post and hereby swear to utilize such symbols with the care and respect they deserve): I want to reach out to you all and thank you for the events leading to my exquisite death.

In addition, I would like to invite you and anyone else that you think might benefit from a sense of connectedness or disconnection this 4th of July, to join me in celebration, by participation or nonparticipation, in spirit or in meat-space! (1)


PS – I genuinely want to thank EVERYONE involved in the collaborative construction of this unfolding story. I will refrain from naming True Names but will instead, point toward a post-singular afterward. My mind reels at what feels like the possible breadth and depth of this and related stories, but I am conscious that I cannot necessarily trust in the veracity of intuition, such things I have learned, are (easily?) manipulated. (Literally as I type 4:30 PM PST, I cannot believe what I hear emanating from a Tube nearby, the voice of Ellen Degeneres mapping so perfectly onto elements of this story’s structure that I can hardly believe my ears!?! I might have finally lost my mind, but occasionally, and luckily, it seems that some people help me find it every now and then.) Happily, I recall a quote from a passage in one of the links above, “… when a problem seems hopelessly complicated, there always can be hope. But, when a problem is hopelessly simple, there can’t be any hope at all.” Not unlike the insinuated continuation in the successive frames of Johns’ flags above, we always face whatever is coming next, gladly, the frames within frames appear, to my eye, to be converging toward a limit rather than expanding beyond all hope (but this itself is a clear matter of choice once one recognizes that there is nothing to indicate that the implication is one of uniform convergence, rather than endless expansion, except perhaps that that latter interpretation results in hitting a wall).

PPS – To my eye, the willingness of Rucker to expose sources, notes and methodology is both generous and instructive. With genuine respect to the Afterward above (an essay with themes that I have only begun a cursory exploration of), I imagine that new ideas will only open up with deliberate, repetitive, disciplined attempts to understand its meaning. Of course this requires, at times, compliance, especially in order to organize collaboration, but it seems to also involve autonomy, private reflection and the understanding that there is a responsibility to think about the potential consequences and effects possibly caused by the transmission of your ideas before just mindlessly tossing them out into the world of discourse. Mindful of this, I think I’ll keep some of the varied continuations of this story to myself (as much is possible that is, the growth of an excessive beard (from my mere stubble), driven by an infatuation with privacy, has not yet motivated me to transform my insecurity into a formidable set of skills, ownership of air-gapped computers, etc.).

PPPS – The works “linked” from this message (e.g. True Names by Vernor Vinge and the Afterward by Marvin Minsky, while containing meaningful connections and context are NOT covered under the CC license below, this disclaimer extends to images of Jasper Johns’flag paintings“, and their cultural context as well.)


(1) W/r/t this invitation… Use it for whatever purpose you want. (It is even licensed! Creative Commons – Free Culture) Please add additional meaning to this message, delete meaning, involve additional parties, focus the recipients, take off that hot sweater, put someone on… freely forward or circulate this or derivative works around, or not, to friends enemies and neutral parties – anyone who feels like a reduction in isolation or an increase in it, a sense of friendship and kindness or lack thereof, a willingness to act crazy or a fear of it (neurotic or practical), an ability to forgive others or a steadfast inability to (that is to forgive or not forgive: for peoples’ own ways of experiencing or failing to experience, for acting crazy, or for remaining perfectly sane (in a world in which everyone is mad or in a sea of reason(s))), a desire to share or an inability to, from wanting to hide all the way the spectrum through vomiting *TMI* on the daily, those who take comfort in THE FACTOR, or perhaps CRASS, or those that prefer their unspun spinors spinned back unspun, the sprung, the fed-back and controlled, those who believe in rights, the rights of spring, writes of passage, … , those that participate intentionally, under duress or stress (hard or soft) in the vapid or idiotic, as well as perfectly rational actors that, if the world were composed entirely of them, would breath new life into that HF-beaten dead horse: the Efficient Market Hypothesis, any anybody or nobody, (ir)regardless of body type, for those who endlessly (and idiotically?) search for connection, for those who refrain, those who want to be down or grow up, get down or up-rock, absolutely anyone (irregardless [sic.] of age, race, sexual orientation, the ability or inability to manipulate media (excitable, social, …), LBGT, TGIF, #NSA, NRA, #CIA, CADAC, TRM, TFR, AA, NA, …) the anonymous or the folks that “let it all hang out”, gentlemen, scholars, miscreants, cretins, geniuses, the average, the below and the above, the big and the small, the sensitive and the insensitive, the ballers and shot callers, G.O.D., GOD and GAWD, stubbled freaks and bearded phreaks, users of both VI and EMACS, haters, players and playa-haters, gamers and the gamed, those that recognize and then some, and everyone who celebrates loofa day in their own special way. Perhaps some of us are working on the same things? Perhaps some of us are working through or around each other? In a completely un-corny way we should all be so lucky to explore such things to the best of our ability without the fear of being mistreated but, one might hope, always asking the best of ourselves, our friends, our detractors and all the others.

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Spazzin out spazzin out we spazzin out we spazzin out…


F&^k the Honeymoon Phase

oxytocin (source)

Things come in cycles. Love being one of them (for us mere mortals who still (?) believe in the biochemical process of love, that is the vescicles of appropriate neurotransmitters fusing with the cell wall of the neuron and spilling their contents en mass across the synapse and other hormonal such stuff taking place). In the vernacular there is the idea of “the honeymoon phase”, that is, the early “phase” of love wherein the participants have only eyes for each other, are blinded to each others problematic or “negative” traits and are blissfully and unproblematically in love, until the other shoe drops, usually in the form of the recognition that each of them are human with faults and emotional problems and pasts and boundary issues, etc.

Now, I myself have never been an advocate of the honeymoon “phase.” First of all, unlike many actually phasic cycles in a relationship, it is not cyclic. It is an anomoly that comes only once, if ever, at the beginning of a relationship in the form of infatuation. As I’ve never been a fan of infatuation, how can I be a fan of one of its many manifestations. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been a victum of all sorts of infatuation: record collector, art admirer, literary Hoover (as in to purchase and suck up books), idea collector, metaphor whore, etc., all with varying degrees of sub-dilettante sucess. But this is an albatross around my neck not a virtue. Always chasing after the next great idea or collectable thing, perfect song, book or pair of glasses. True love is reading a book over and over until the pages fall off, especially a book with depth. It is skipping over the honeymoon “phase” as fast as you can or achieving a somber, neutral view of the world that allows one to get past infatuation completely and dive right into a deeper relationship with a person or object where immediately you and the other begin to work on each others strengths and weaknesses, building new structures where you can, butressing weak points or circumventing them with new constructions, finding novel objects that are the products of elements from the direct product of both where it just wouldn’t be possible to build without objects from the pair.

This is not “honeymoon style romance” this is dirty work, like, waders on, I know your shit you know mine and we’re both fine with it and lets party sort of work. I don’t know how often this happens in human relationships, anecdotally I would guess next to never, but I don’t get around much. In groups, special groups, where people tend to know, at least in certain domains, deep stores of other’s affairs, whether in their knowledge of physical chemistry or their relationship to drinking alcohol, it seems to happen more often.

Take the sciences for example. Lineage is important. People know who each other’s mentors are/were, who they have published with, what problems they have worked on, how many citations they have accumulated, they have read their work (stories?) themselves and can attest to the quality first hand, evaluate their depth with respect to the field.

Similarly, in a sort of strange, and at first glance, non-resonant, parallel, in some recovery communities, their is a “sponsorship” lineage, that some take quite seriously, people tell their stories from the podium and to their sponsors, and others can gauge the depth of their relationship with substance abuse and recovery, their are informal networks within networks that serve to filter out (and in) those that look like they are prospects to be taken seriously (at least that is my understanding). Like any goup with dynamics there are various jobs and personalities and one can guess at an anthropology of such things. (Interestingly, in this second example, it might be in the interest of the new participant to develop a “honeymoon” relationship and allow the group to do some heavy lifting for them and not ask too many questions about the mechanics until later, allowing for the “miracle” to take place, and enthusiasm to bubble.)

In any case, at some point, one has to get down to brass tacks, lift up the hood, be it in a job, an academic disclipline, a community centered on recovery, or a romantic relationship with their lover and get to know all the grime and grit and the parts that makes them work, if not, how best can they be a good participant in the relationship/community/company/academic community? I think many are afraid of this level of commitment in many of the domains above or perhaps it simply seems like too much to ask, too much work, too much. But we do see it in some well run companies with great HR departments, in some intentional communities with well defined process and good decision making protocol and in many academic disiplines (e.g. in physics and mathematics with online preprint servers (and those that study them) like arxiv and newsletters and people who put a lot of thought into how to best shape the community over time and make sure that say, mathematics remains healthy and full of talented new mathematicians (you can see evidence of this in say, the Notices of the AMS).

It is for this reason why I think a tempered enthusiasm going in, a skeptical, I hope this turns out to be interesting but I’m not going to put all my chips on it sort of approach”, seems best. From that vantage point one can begin to develop an infectious attitude only if the relationship demands it, as you get to the innards and you see what makes everything go, if the mechanisms behind it all still drive you to ask more and wanto to learn and build more, then chances are, whatever it is, it’s a keeper. That my friend, sounds like love to me.

Indiscrete Thoughts


I should be reading Gian-Carlo Rota’s book on Geometric probability, which I found through a strange and circuitous chain of events and discussions including a pun on Buffons needle (buffoons noodle). And I will… But after I get some work done today, I aim to read a few pages of indescretion from book that the title of this post was stolen from.

In Rota’s lexicon, I had “working myths” a few years ago, a so-called “ultimate reality” to stand unquestioning upon, then crises hit, uncertainty came pouring in and working myths dissapated into belief (that I, apparently like others, although I didn’t realize it at the time, fancying myself not the type, defended)… these beliefs begat “wilting myths”, a few of which are still going to seed this very autumn, but most are now dead, DEAD! I can’t wait to read this book. (Note: not only did Rota write the book on Geometric probability, but he was an expert functional analyist turned combinitorialist at MIT who also taught philosophy in phenomenological tradition! amidst a sea of analytic philosophers that threatened to quit if he was allowed to give students course credit for his packed class (they didn’t quit and Rota kept on teaching to a full house). The first page alone established a framwork and vocabulary for anyone who has experienced an attuation in their relationship with “ultimate reality” and the rest of the book looks equally interesting and unhinged.
(AMS review – Krantz)

April/May are the nicest months… don’t nap

Some art from folks that have been seen in the virtual pages of Effluvia and from those that have not…

Alexis Ross | RVCA from RVCA on Vimeo.



ross-jux (from the recent issue)

I managed to get my hands on a copy of the Juxtapoz issue and Ross says something rather inspiring about some of the folks he hangs out with,”I suppose what they all have in common would be completely solid pedigrees, each putting in a good amount of work to be who they are, having real life reputations that exist with or without social media.”

Now those are fine words to say about your crew, but it got me thinking about pedigree “in the small” and pedigree “in the large.” That is lineage, pedigree or, as biologists would have it, the coelescent, and pedigree a la Ross, that is, social or cultural pedigree. Now I have to admit I don’t really understand either, although I do have a little model I have programmed where I can at least visualize a toy version of the former, that is, genetic lineage:

The above is an individual, and all of its (the individuals are hermaphroditic in the model and can recombine with others or “self”) ancestors diffusing as their genomes collect mutations and are shuffled via recombination.

In any case, the Juxtapoz piece, specifically Ross’ words regarding his crew, got me thinking about the relationship between lineage at the genetic level and pedigree on the social level (which seems to be tied to reputation in some sense). For any population there are individuals that grapple with genetic conditions that create anomolous behavior (especially when environmental stress or other (internal?) stressors are high) does this mean that given a set of cultural norms, some genetic pedigrees are not capable of delivering the goods vis a vis cultural pedigree? Well, not so fast, there is another concept that Ross brings up, that of “putting in work.” One puts in work to build a reputation. That is, the social pedigree is defined in the context of the individual putting forth effort. So the questions get pushed back to the domain of effort: Is the effort what is most important? The results? What of the well intentioned loser who tries his/her/its best and just comes up short no matter how hard (s)he/it tries? Here, I’m not so sure. In genome land, all the “good intentions” of a truly deleterious mutation won’t save the organism from being selected out of the population. But cultures are different things than genomes, they prize effort and reward good intentions, sometimes in curious ways.

So I guess, at least insofar as this totally cursory “analysis” goes, the questions here just get mixed up and pushed around rather then answered, which leaves us with another of my favorite themes from the Ross article: humor as a useful coping mechanism. I recently failed to heed this useful strategy, one that I have been given in the flesh by many bright folks, and consequently might have missed out on some major potential events in my tree of possible lives. The lesson isn’t totally divorced from those individuals carrying those genomes that resulted in phenotypes that displayed anomolous behavior above either, when you think about it, as the lesson itself is behavioral at heart. The edict/lesson is, when life doesn’t offer you answers to your “deep existential crises” or even just to your simple-minded musings in pop-genetics meets pop-culture, consider a “blown out pair of crime fighters” hovering over a Spandau Ballet song title in crisp curlicued script and remind yourself to “laugh when you feel like dying.”

When the world doesn’t make sense and everything seems like it’s coming apart, try and find something, if only yourself, to laugh at. Hell, you know yourself the best, you should be able to have a field day laughing at all your internal (and external) hiccups and life-flatulences.