wax banks

second-best since Cantor

Category: miniatures

‘Git gud’ and the hero-journey, because why not.

‘Getting good’ means having your reality tested, not just by you — putting others in a position to measure you and judge you. Your cosmos is no longer private. That’s horrifying as you’d expect, but necessary: it’s how we become people, real people. It’s the threshold to the imaginal realm, for one thing, the boundary between (1) parochial experience which naively favours the atomized ego and (2) experience that acknowledges, and supports the development of, the macromind. ‘Getting good’ — the gamer-asshole’s ‘git gud’ — is part of heroic development, in other words. The fact that gamers experience this in the lamest, most egotistical possible terms is just one of the bad things about that subculture.

This is why risk and failure are such important parts of adult development: to ‘self-actualize’ you have to strive to be good instead of less bad. ‘Good’ is a quality beyond, straining at category. Heroism is exceptional.


The strange slow curve against the mainline.

MULDER: I didn’t think anyone was really paying attention.

MAX FENIG: Somebody’s always paying attention, Mr Mulder. (X)

something true about it. being recognized at a distance. that feeling, open fields, featureless. you’re the feature, the blot: you the stain. inexplicable black shape against wheatfield offyellow.

you listening to the shortwave alone at night. you playing the guitar alone at night. you alone at night. you alone.

Electric Miles.

Facets: Keyboard-washed transition from acoustic quintet (Jarrett/Corea/Zawinul primary colours), guitar-driven rock toward Agharta/Pangaea mountain (Cosey!!), 80s return and diminuendo, lyrical and worn then out. Brew is the standard, Silent Way the secret, but On the Corner is the key: blackest music he ever made, i.e. the most futuristic. It’s all there. Every step lost on horn he gained as bandleader; few great 20C artists stewarded group creativity so well. Each post-1965 sessions box holds wonders, particularly proto-ambient Silent Way. Oh: hear Isle of Wight set immediately. Few 20C bands even come close.


Artist-avatar of self-purification and its cost — maybe the deepest jazz musician of all, surely the most singleminded: deranged, devoted. His final quintet w/Alice is that familiar paradox, the lesser ensemble attaining purer expression of an earlier idea. The Jones/Tyner/Garrison quartet is the heaviest band in recorded jazz, maximally intense while swinging deep, not yet out to pure transhuman ecstatic vibration. Trane was complete with them in dark molten blue but sought light not earth, found it in formless union. A Love Supreme is the American hymnal; Interstellar Space should be his last word, or ours.

Ong’s Hat isn’t a place, it’s a world.

Stating what should be obvious:

Ong’s Hat — not the ghost town in New Jersey but the fictional town-story overlaid on it by Joseph Matheny and later collaborators/followers — isn’t a place, though it’s certainly tied to one. Rather, it’s a way of experiencing a place: once again we’re recasting supposed discrete form and substance as modes of relation. Understanding story-system, meaning-system, ideological system, etc. as perceptual filters, you might be better able to imagine how they stack and interact, and how they seem to alter experiences deeply but not so predictably and not at all consistently.

Ong’s Hat doesn’t need to make sense, only to perturb sense — it’s ‘true’ in the way any filtering functioning is ‘true’: it does what it does to how you see. It un-senses you.

Seeing the transmedia project in this way we can avoid the twin traps of (1) reducing it to ‘just’ a game/story and (2) treating it like a set of fact-claims. ‘You determine your own level of involvement.’ As with so many conspiracy theories (not only explicitly, intentionally fictional ones), the fiction offers entry to a feedback loop between new/fictional thought, new/provisional belief, and new/exploratory action. All three arcs of the circle might be termed ‘generative’ — creative. Fiction, provision, exploration.

And of course bullshit.

Twitter was a distraction engine.

Twitter is (was) a distraction engine — its sole function, to steal attention. Bad at selling ads but bad at everything else too.

It’s good for the human species that Twitter is going away.

My prediction is that for a time, regular Twitter users will all just be better off — less ‘doomscrolling,’ less ‘killing time’ by starting at our phones. More Reddit, maybe, and (less likely) more Facebook. Surely more Instagram (which is practically the same thing).

Eventually a replacement will arise.

Mastodon is not a drop-in Twitter replacement — it is intentionally designed (e.g. by lacking quote-tweets) to prevent virality and to militate against shallow engagement, which are Twitter’s main features. Twitter is for distraction; Mastodon is for conversation. People aren’t used to that, which’ll get in the way of Mastodon uptake.

Good riddance to Twitter and its idiot owner.

Greatest line of dialogue ever.

‘My motherfucker’s so cool when he goes to bed sheep count him.

The important part of ‘organized religion’ is organization.

Without the structured intellectual engagement, community participation, and beneficial narrativization that come with organized religion, what use is it? It’s not the god parts that matter, not the metaphysics it’s the devotion — and the social dimension, which has been the x-factor all through human history. Something has to bind us together.

At the moment, nothing does except freighted things — nationalism, media spectacle. Moral panics and fads (inverse moral panics: moral frolics). As technology defeats geography, we lose the community elements of all our social forms. Religion’s power to cross geographic boundaries without eliding them is too important to dismiss. ‘New BeyoncĂ© album’ doesn’t actually do it, you know? Media fandom existed in the 19th century and all through the 20th, and look where it got us.

Pursue confidence, not comfort.

There’s this idea that once you feel good about your writing tools, you’ll be able to use them more effectively. This is precisely backwards, and stupid. Once you get some experience working with a tool, you recognize what it is and isn’t, what it can and can’t do — and you feel good about knowing what’s up. Bringing your perceptions in line with reality feels good, and creates a sense of confidence (which is what people who look for ‘comfort’ actually need, much of the time).

Seek confidence, not comfort; begin by learning about your world, e.g. tasks and tools. Nothing is as comforting as realism.

It’s nice to be pleased with a paragraph of your own writing.

If Sandover is ultimately an artistic failure — debatable but let’s humour the boring consensus for a moment — in what sense, by what standard, does it fail? What is Merrill supposed to be doing? Litcrit rules are dumb and dangerous but the time for circumspection is past: in Sandover, Merrill fails in an attempt to become transparent, to socialize his (and Jackson’s) vision. A long literary work ‘teaches you how to read it’ when its early movements provide the tools for accessing the more difficult later material: an API or access-language. Sandover‘s later movements, though beautiful, are a taxing read because they sacrifice clarity for purity.