Applied Sonata

World-Entry & World-Exit


In Shanghai, he tells me of a stratification, or rather a segmentation since it is not so emphatically temporal. I’ve mentioned it before – “… Below the temple is not the rivers and lakes but the general’s platform. Below the general’s platform is the row of soldiers extending to the rivers and lakes (江湖). Below the rivers and lakes are the people-slaves, blind-slaves, grass-slaves.”

But I am frustrated by his frequent outbursts of disdain, raising his voice about how thoughtless and automatic someone is, like livestock, and he says to me while they can hear, “But grass-slaves, what can we do about it? Maybe you have the patience for them, but I don’t. Of course I don’t want to be like this either. I know wrathfulness will diminish my lifespan too. I can’t continue this forever.”

He drives his wife to tears, and he is not blind to his material position. His wife tells our female colleague that for over a decade she has never known a husband’s love, but only a boss’s severity. She tells me that she has spoken against him before, but that she has grown tired, and stays only for the sake of their children.

Then I looked over all the assembly of beings and said in verse,

Don't you know the precariousness of your condition?
Are you so deluded by the ideal that you've become blind to the material?
Have you still not realized the emptiness of discernment 
on the level of aphorisms, such as saying of a value-production (a desiring)
induced by advertisement or gamification: "that is not real value"?
Therefore there is an evil in your affective aura, in your qi field, 
in your reality distortion field since you are fond of Steve Jobs -
Because do you not recognize the conflict manifest in your demands?
You insist that they are not idle but "have work in their eyes",
but call them pigs and vermin when their actions
do not comply exactly with what you would have done.
Do you not recognize that your "system thinking" 
is by no means the only imposition of a total segmentation 
onto variegated phenomena, prismatic and diverse?
Since you have not established an object sutra,
and especially since you are inconsistent even within yourself,
an inharmonious many, and cruelly tossed about
by worldly attachments and immediate demands,
Do you not see that you are inflicting all about you
exactly Bateson's "double bind", and its schizophrenic consequence?
If you instruct an infant to act thusly, but strike her 
whenever she moves to obey - isn't her condition clear?

And he replies, “But are they all infants? Who here is an infant?”, and one by one “Are you an infant? Are you an infant?”, and of course no one says that they are.


Ascending the highest peak of the Zhoushan Archipelago, on Peach Blossom Island, we come across a statue of Kshitigarbha. It’s a rainy day, and he prostrates three times on the wet stone. I say that I also like Kshitigarbha, and prostrate six times saying “ཨོཾ་ཀྵི་ཏ་ས་གརྦྷ་ཀྵིཾ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།” as taught by Mipham.

Then I mention Kshitigarbha’s vow – he finishes it for me before I ask, “not to attain nirvana before all the hells are emptied”, and I ask if he abides by such a vow himself. He says he abides by an even stricter version, that he will not attain nirvana before earth is emptied.

But he admires Elon Musk, and mentions regularly how mundane existence is like a cage that we must escape from. It has even become literal. He admires Musks’s ambitions to go to Mars. We in the Western internet know how childish it looks, but I thought it might be forgivable given China’s isolation. He mentions regularly how I mustn’t evaluate his condition’s or China’s from my global perspective, because I have seen the very heights of things and tend to look on a realm of demons like a complacent god.

His wife asks me with great emotion whether I agree that earth is like a prison. It becomes one of those terribly simple situations where like with the Wolf-Man, Freud would “brush up against the truth and pass it by”.

Then I looked over the many beings gathered and said in verse,

Do you know how ridiculous you look?
Are you blind and stupid, or do you lie to yourself
because you are helplessly entangled in samsara,
and thrown about by karmic eddies greater than your power?
I see manifestly that you are in a cage,
but for what simple totem's sake must you maintain
that its bars are the mundanity of Earth?
I have seen wonderful and compassionate bodhisattvas,
manifestations of Kṣitigarbha, and miraculously compassionate 
beings who take on his vows as their own.
But their own freedom is distinct and radiant,
vividly illuminating the hells through which they pass.
Meanwhile I only stay with you because I am lazy,
and because you do not impose a great burden upon me
as I wait to exit the world neatly.
You have repeatedly asked me to decide whether I should
choose to enter or exit the world, emphasizing that
world-entry is full of pain.
I answer clearly and repeatedly that I do not wish to enter it,
but you are not even free enough to resist trying your utmost
to pull me in regardless,
because you hope my material value 
will deliver your family from hell.

But he says that he has seen in prophecy that I will surely be world-entered for another 30 years at least, and again that the condition of China is too distinct from wherever else I’ve been, and that he doesn’t even like Zhuangzi, who writes of idling in untroubled ease.


I know I am entangled in samsara again. There’s a girl I fuck often enough that I miss her when we’re apart for a long time, and I think of her when I’m sad. It’s comforting when she holds and licks me gently, like a mother cat licking her newborn kittens after they’ve been touched by something foreign.

She told me she stayed not because she liked or trusted her employer, but because she liked and trusted me. So for her sake among other things I left that hell, and now she intends to follow me to Guangzhou or Beijing.

My relatives ask if I have a girlfriend, and I say that there is a girl in Shanghai who loves me and intends to come find me in a couple of weeks. I tell her so, and when she asks why I don’t say that I love her, I smile and joke around.

While we lived together I never expected to communicate with her very thoroughly and vividly, but since there was nobody else around, I would speak to her at length anyway about various intimate things, also because she liked to hear my voice.

I looked upon the beings assembled and said in verse,

About these great problems that would lead someone
to abandon a nice career in industrial materials
to attack them, to do something meaningful and profound,
1. incredibly high and rising divorce rates, a disillusionment with lasting love,
2. ineffective education and the suppression of children's innate talents,
3. lack good food in and out of the home,
I agree that they are worthy,
and it is a shame that we are so karmically doomed.
I like that our experience here is pure and simple,
because I have known many things that lead ambitious people
to develop totemic personalities around them -
psychedelics like LSD and MDMA and ayahuasca,
or jhana practice, or various methods of paying attention
to commonly unattended-to things, like sensation and emotion.
Even I agree that our defaults of relating to one another
are not ideal, and can be practically improved upon
within a small scope. If we so committed, there
are ways to stay in love forever,
more subtle but more effective
than a dogmatic insistence on various sutric items,
which point at a problem seen but not well-understood.
Of course the whole world should not be
as if on LSD or MDMA all the time,
maybe not even as if highly practiced
in various contemplative traditions.
But there are wonderful possibilities available
even if for just one person and their small surroundings,
whether it be a thorough compassion and vulnerability,
or miraculous openness to experience and
annihilation of the limits by which most people are safely constrained.
Even for example, how I think that peacefully
and blissfully dying a painless death
with the acceptance of my dearest loved ones
can be a goal actively and skillfully pursued,
only as hard as the casting away of many taboos which have
already been cast away by powerful movements.
But this one has been so much more difficult
than I anticipated when I was young. Because
though my mother agreed to not interfere with my death,
even to try to be there to gently comfort me,
the next time I decided I really wanted to after February.
And though she said she'd be however much more likely
to believe me after seeing and hearing me happy,
because I told her I'd certainly be well and happy upon
having something to do in China,
but unchanged in my fundamental attitudes on life and death,
still she is so frustratingly unready,
and takes every sign of my happiness as an excuse
to convince herself that I am only temporarily unwell,
or that I will soon find a reason to attach myself
to human experience for a long time,
even though I have been communicating with her
about such things even since I was about 15,
only all while saying it was something of the future,
so that she could put it off in her mind and not confront
it too directly, so as to be painful.
And it saddens me how much of a rift in our relationship
it creates, how differently I value my life vs. my mother,
so that I find it increasingly difficult to talk to her
even though I so valued our good relationship with each other
and wanted to exert myself to preserve it.
And it has has had a very damaging effect on my relations
with others too, because nobody living likes to be
near to things relating to death. And whenever I
love someone, my mother cannot relate to the situation
without a lot of distortion because she wants me to
keep on living,
and it also distorts my own relation to love.
I love you now and know that you don't
want me to die either. I know that you also
say that you hate hearing about such things.
But surely you know that I am not thoroughly
bound to life by you, and also
that you wouldn't want to be such an object
for me either.

She says she thinks I must have had a very unhappy childhood, and that I must have been hurt severely. Wanting to believe her, and because she is so gentle, I lean into her arms and cry.


Moving frequently from place to place, and involving myself in each rather than lingering on surfaces, the great rifts and valleys obstructing a dull homogeny, or a perfect flow of information, and making thermodynamic ultimates quite irrelevant to our daily experience, become exceedingly visible again.

Invited to China again, only because he was financially desperately and wanted me to “invest” in his company, filling the holes of 3 years of almost no business during the pandemic, and also because he knew his mode of operations was far too behind the times to offer him and his family any hope of material freedom within a lifetime, still I found something worthwhile to do.

I thought it might be valuable to assess and model human knowledge automatically by similar techniques as we’ve used in the development of various AI systems, especially while pure zero-shot inference from a generic large language model has not been powerful enough.

We can model a knowledge domain as a graph between nodes, and find the most root gaps in a user’s knowledge by processing artifacts they naturally produce in various ways. We can scan a student’s homework and quizzes and categorize each problem by knowledge node, then use Bayesian inference to determine the probability they grasp each node. We can monitor the activity of a user of some complicated software system to determine what features they don’t use, but which might be useful to them. We can embed what a user says during text conversations with an AI tutor into a latent space, then use techniques similar to sentiment analysis, or other geometric techniques, to evaluate the user’s style of thought, and to better contextualize LLM-driven tutoring sessions.

Well, but in China the whole internet is separate from the rest of the world. There is no analogue to Vercel or Netlify. There is no hosted Supabase or DuckDB, not even a DX-focused Postgres solution like Neon. Everywhere I go people just want me to teach their children English. Apparently I can make 1000 yuan an hour from that in private sessions. My relatives in various fields see various things of value I can do for them and want me to stay in China and “explore other opportunities.” Half the ugly things that spring up first in a tech boom and make enough profit for a few entrepreneurs’ lifetime financial freedom, then die, are still unknown and available here.

I looked over the myriad congregated masses and said in verse,

I'm here to look around.
Maybe I'll stay and maybe I won't.
It's clear that there are many opportunities here,
since there are many things I am used to and find valuable
that are not available here.
An aunt who used to work at Baidu says she
will take me around to talk to various CTOs
of companies that emerged from there.
It seems that something doesn't have to be completely
novel in the world to be valuable or marketable here,
since China has isolated itself in many regards.
In college, I started working for a tech company
after classes moved online during the pandemic,
and decided not to go back after in-person classes resumed
only because I was earning and learning more from
work than college.
It's not like I'm terribly ambitious;
I just don't think it would be worthwhile to finish college
or to find a job at an established company,
since I'd be undervalued for not having a degree.
There's a girl who loves me in Shanghai,
and she intends to come find me in a few weeks,
at least to play together for a while,
though she has no definite plans afterwards.
Her family doesn't want her to go somewhere too
far away, so we wouldn't have a future together
if I go back to the U.S.,
though I wouldn't necessary stay for her.
The things you mention are familiar to me,
but the field is very vast and probably
not interrelated along the lines you expect.
For example, those robots are not one
monolithic system, but a composite
of subsystems each for a specific function.
Large language models don't have an internal logic
pre-configured by or understandable by humans,
like traditional domain-specific programs.
No, they are not accessing a database,
and the basic mechanism is actually rather simple,
but their scaling behavior isn't well-understood.

And they say that really there are many opportunities in China and that it would be good for me to stay, and ask me various questions about anything that seems related to “tech”, indicating such a vast distance between them and the discourse I’m familiar with, and nod in feigned understanding as I reply.

Sonata Theme & Variations Theoretical

Breaching the Ephemeral

Intra Inter Media

We breach as a whale breaches. We simply say “it’s breaching”, leaving the object implicit. Of course it is the boundary of the water. Of course it is the boundary of the concrete. Only in our case there are not two sections partitioned by a surface. Or, we could imagine the surface at the very bottom. To move at all is to breach.

We breach as of a contract. We breathe by violating. Inhale ephemeral, exhale not-ephemeral. The surface ruptures and is restored after we go back under. But, maybe not so faithfully. It is not as easy as water, not as fluid, and we come back to the same rupture to breach again.

We breach as of a defense. We want to get to the other side. What’s there? We are only infracting. We must go back under. The violator is caught and punished. The whale does not float nor fly. …Still, we must breathe. We must be free. There is something we need on the other side. We breach.

Subtle and Secular

Tripartite body: corpus, animus, spiritus; nirmanakaya, sambkogakaya, dharmakaya. So, we have an axis of “ephemerality”, dense to subtle. Two surfaces and an intermediate. Maybe there are “surfaces” only because extremes are easier to grasp. A distant thing gestured at vaguely seems concrete. Clouds seem to have a “surface” from far away. But we breach––what’s there?

What is “subtle” or “energy” body? What is the “astral” plane? If these are the same, in that ancient magical and spiritual traditions talk about them similarly yet specifically, it may be more direct to answer: “Is ‘energy’ the same thing as concept or imagination?” Or, “Is contemporary secular meta-abstraction the same kind of thing as ancient magic and spiritualism?”

But first, “How weird are the limits of possible experience?” There is no relevant reality beyond what could ever be perceived (including indirectly), but what I have experienced already is not an ideal measure of what I could possibly experience ever.

As for experiences I’ve already had that many people would not believe: I have communicated with spirits which verified their separateness from my own imagination with minor miracles like telling me trivial details about the near future. I have had very specific prayers answered outside of what seems normal. I have met a sage whose presence was categorically unlike anyone else I’ve ever known; looking into his eyes for the first time transfixed and disoriented me kind of like a psychedelic onset but much faster. I have seen him demonstrate effective prophecy and “magical” herbal medicine from his family lineage. I have seen spiritual possession and performed an exorcism, or at least someone I knew reported hallucinatory experiences resembling what I understand about possession, and my exorcism worked to stop their rampage.

As for what I’ve heard and believe: My mom tells me my grandmother was supernaturally skilled at qigong but my grandfather made her stop because it began to seem scary, even demonic. She also tells a story of a dead relative’s face appearing clearly in a photo, and the photographer being asked to burn the photo. The root lama of the Vajrayana lineage my teacher belongs to remembers details of his past life and has clairvoyant dreams, and has been in the presence of many great sages with a presence similar to the sage I knew, and who also demonstrated miracles like clairvoyance and prophecy. My Vajrayana teacher also says that the rainbow body phenomenon happens literally.

So here is my lower bound for “How weird are the limits of possible experience?”, and to try at an upper bound, we return to the other questions. Reworded: “How mundane is the ‘energetic’, ‘subtle’, or ‘astral’? How much of it have I already experienced?”

A quasi-Socratic dialogue between an imperfect teacher and an impatient student:

Impatient: Is energy the same as concept or imagination?

Imperfect: No, because your ability to conceptualize or imagine is local and limited. It is not necessarily causal, nor necessarily has any influence outside of itself unless you act on it. Sometimes you are wrong or totally deluded, etc.

Impatient: Then, is energy of the “stuff” as concept or imagination? Or of the same category?

Imperfect: No, because the “stuff” of your concept or imagination is just for example, neural tissue, probably. As for category, of course it just depends on where you draw the categories.

Impatient: Then, is the relationship between “energy” and all of the physical realm the same as the relationship between my concept and imagination and my physical body?

Imperfect: No, because in many ways your physical body is not readily comparable to the physical stuff beyond it. Maybe as above, so below, but only to a certain extent.

Impatient: Then, is it worthwhile to practice astrology and magic and other supernatural methods to manipulate the physical realm via manipulation of the astral realm?

Imperfect: No, because I am not a powerful magician. If you have gotten to a point where you can get nothing further out of magical texts, nor know any teacher who can teach you any more beyond what you can figure out for yourself, then it’s pretty futile to try and keep squeezing. Besides, there are other easier, more effective ways of getting what you want in the physical realm.

Impatient: Then, is secular theory like statistics or physics categorically the same as magical theory like astrology or alchemy?

Imperfect: No, in all the obvious ways. Just read any statistics treatise vs. any alchemy treatise, and when you understand both the differences are very apparent.

Impatient: Then, is ancient “magical” theory worthless now that we have stuff like statistics and physics and computer science?

Imperfect: No, because contemporary theory is also very limited, especially in its scope. Also, it is quite severely swayed by fashions, which inevitably tend to be shorter than the cycles of fashion in “ancient magical” theory, because as a whole it is more oriented toward the present than toward the general.

Impatient: Then, is there any definite discernible distinction between the “subtle” or “magical” vs the more mundane or secular stuff that extends beyond the physical? Stuff like concept or theory or imagination, after all?

Imperfect: No.

Ablation and Abstraction

For the Latin tripartite body the etymology is quite obvious. For the Sanskrit, roughly, nirmanakaya is change-body, sambkogakaya is bliss-body, and dharmakaya is nature-body. Change as in metamorphosis; change as forms change, as material things are impermanent, as physical reality is always in a state of flux. Bliss as in pleasure, enjoyment; a certain sensation and state of mind, most evidently ecstatic when it is first discovered, maybe when constant conceptual thought has been cast away for the first time. “Dharma” is already a more common word; maybe it’s enough. Nature as in “the nature of things”; perhaps 道 (dao); law as in “law of nature”.

Why are there three bodies rather than two? Again, “what is the ‘subtle’ or ‘energetic’?” But now we approach an answer through ablation. What would it be like without each body?

But we are quickly stuck. The bodies are not separate from one another. There is an intertwining that makes separation impossible. Except intertwining implies a geometry. Is the ephemeral geometric? Sometimes obviously. Trivially, geometry itself is ephemeral and geometric. Then, as long as we have distance we have geometry, and as long as we have measure between pairs, we have distance. I have written before about certain geometric perspectives on a tripartite body. But this intertwining is not especially part of that; so perhaps we should merely say “inseparable.”

But then, why have three bodies? In fact, why have three bodies rather than one? If we cannot have the direct ablation, let us ablate our relationship to the idea, which is different from the idea itself. Let’s say we have only an idea of the corpus. Without the concept of animus or spiritus, we do not grasp pattern or dynamics. Everything is merely as it is perceived, in that moment. There is no memory, and no induction.

With the same technique we can ablate our understanding of animus or of spiritus to understand why there are three bodies instead of two. Again I want to emphasize that the relationship to the idea is not identical to the signified of the idea as a signifier. The signified thing cannot really be productively ablated even in the thought experiment, for at least two reasons:

1. It requires too much understanding of everything else––how would the dynamics of a physical system change if we ablated gravity? Well, we would have to understand all the forces other than gravity to say. On the other hand, it is much easier to answer “what would we think about the system if we did not understand gravity?”, because we have a better grasp of everything else we already know.

2. The nature of the signified is already often uncertain. Abstractions can be vague. Even if given an answer to “what if this is removed?”, we might not be able to agree if it is correct. This is why there was a big shift in fashion to philosophy of language, and why mystics often emphasized how the domain of mystic manipulation is merely the symbolic. If our power is from towers of abstraction, we do not touch the “real” directly.

So, what is it like to have concept of corpus and spiritus, but not animus; or corpus and animus, but not spiritus? Animus is often associated with mind. The tripartite division is also given as body, spirit, and soul. Perhaps the easiest split is animus as dynamics and spiritus as teleology. Without spiritus, there are physical things in motion, but no identities. There is memory and prediction of specific dynamics, but no “character”. Without animus, there are coherent characters, but no understanding of dynamics. I think this is why perception and control of the “subtle body”, referring to the animus, is often emphasized as a goal of meditative practice. To master the subtle body is to directly master behavior.

Immediate and Intermediate

There are deeper consequences. Why is the subtle body so difficult to master if it is more direct? Shouldn’t spiritus/dharmakaya be more abstruse in a secular world? Well, maybe the answer is quite obvious. Perhaps secularism isn’t so secular after all. It is still too easy to grasp to identities and reifications. Conscious thought, even when secular, is more often the manipulation of spiritus-bodies than animus-bodies. Part of the difficulty is that the animus-plane––the “astral” or “energy” plane cannot be directly talked about, for a rather simple reason: because to name is to reify as a spiritus.

But then the aim of “subtle body” meditations or practices is rather clear after all. It cannot be talked about, not because of some woo woo, but because that to be noticed and mastered is the dynamics, rather than the verbal idea of the dynamics. As long as it is in words or fixed concepts, it is wrong. And attainment is known by its fruit; new motions, new behaviors; perhaps, new correct predictions from new (nameable) angles; new animus.

And there are radical consequences in turning this understanding, developed in introspective meditation, out on the world again. As above so below type beat. What are the animus and spiritus of something non-human? At first glance this may actually be easier to answer––the animus is its behavior, and the spiritus its abstract identity. But remember how animus and spiritus each feel, and perhaps it becomes possible to empathize with non-humans. How much difference is there between your experience of uncontrollable desire (a mechanical behavior pattern), and an animal’s or machine’s, or any object in motion?

And then spiritus; does the perception and manipulation of it, and especially its great immediacy, make us unique? But the child who has not learned to abstract through assimilation and accommodation and such things is often an ideal symbol of mystic attainment. Becoming animal-like or child-like, becoming natural. Or in Deleuzian terms, becoming-schizo, refusing the Oedipal complex. Being aware of the flows and mechanical assemblages, of being part of them… Why do we hold it high?

Let me make a geometric image again. The intermediate is between each extreme, but it is beyond each extreme if you consider an approach from outside a surface, as if to breach it. In our case, perhaps a tube of three segments twisted into a horseshoe: both corpus and spiritus are immediate, but animus is intermediate, therefore beyond, and a little unnatural.

Subjective and Stochastic

Another confusion within the ephemeral came up in a recent conversation with some hedge fund people. Your concrete and total omniscience is opposed by subjectivity and stochasticity both, but these two are quite different.

The conversation was about evaluating financial models or signals, and deciding when a model can be trusted enough to be put into production, or an instrument based on it sold. I have seen similar confusions elsewhere though, most famously in the confusion between whether Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is about knowledge or about physical systems.

Again there is a conflation between our relationship to a concept vs to what the concept is supposed to signify. Subjectivity is about the impossibility of universal certainty due to differences in frames of reference. You cannot get a definite universal answer to a subjective question because you will get different answers if you change your frame of reference. Different people will have different answers, if you will, but e.g. someone asked twice might count as different people, if they have changed very much. Meanwhile, stochasticity is about the impossibility of universal certainty due to the generating function being non-deterministic, regardless of frame of reference. The same question asked (or measurement taken) in exactly the same context has a different answer each time.

But again we only have our relationship to context to manipulate. We only actually have our own frame of reference after all. We do not actually know every aspect of the context, so maybe we cannot tell if we are receiving different answers because the context has changed or not. Nonetheless we should relate differently to the subjective vs the stochastic, insofar as we can conceive of them.

For example, subjective but non-stochastic information is concretely knowable conditioned on a frame of reference. For the hedge fund’s models especially, it is entirely different to consider an indicator’s quality uncertain because it is subjective vs stochastic, and each warrants specific approaches. If it is subjective, then it is a just matter of knowing what customers want, or of knowing whose opinions matter, in the case of internal “customers”. If it is stochastic, then perhaps that stochasticity itself can be quantized, and reduced if that is important.

But complications clearly emerge from only having direct access to one subjective frame. Things are not so easy and there are rarely just “just”s. The matter of resolving stochasticity is inevitably a social matter, because even “stochasticity” or “subjectivity” are themselves concepts which we are relating to, as (tripartite) bodies in the world. To pursue concrete knowledge is an act. To be convinced of truth is a sensation. Maybe we do not agree on the conclusion until we agree on the premise, but there is is no root cause, and everything circles back on everything else.

Math and Metaphor

Circling back, evoking dependent origination. Evoking the “magical manifestation matrix”, or the Avatamsaka sutra. Mirrors in mirrors, fractal structure, dazzling and kaleidoscopic.

But––fractal structure. Must it be dazzling and kaleidoscopic? So many people fancy it. It is profound. It becomes a theme and object of obsession. But fractal is also “just” a mathematical concept. A generalization of dimensionality. Well, dimensionality is something people obsess over too. Concepts really cannot be separated from our human relation with them after all. Frequencies, oscillations, energy levels1As in, solutions to the Thomson problem, entropy… Even Pythagoras was a mystic.

But, with a rigorously-defined mathematical concept, there is a coherent sense of applying it correctly or incorrectly2Maybe more accurately, canonically or non-canonically. There is the beauty of abstraction and generality, but different from poetic generalization or analogy where for the most part anything goes as long as it works in the latter (the poetic) context. The application of a mathematical concept beyond the context of its original derivation is not really like metaphor. In metaphor, the original doesn’t really matter; it’s the metaphorical application itself that counts. As long as the analogy is understood, it is good.

Meanwhile, mathematical abstractions define the criteria of generalization within their originals. Or at least we expect that in the future, someone can do so in a way that we do not expect for poetic metaphor. We can generalize the concept of distance beyond the square root of the sum of squared distance on each axis as in Euclidean space, to elliptic or hyperbolic distance for instance, or even “spaces” with a less obviously intuitive spatial metaphor, like Hamming or Chebyshev distance.

As long as we can have pairwise measure, we can have distance, and we can have a geometry. But still the abstraction of “measure” is defined in a way that goes beyond its specific application in each instance. We do not expect a poet using verbal metaphor to define the rules of her use, and for each use of metaphor to simultaneously prescribe a new category of appropriate use. A poet can imitate a metaphor she has seen elsewhere, but this imitation of the instance is not the application of an abstraction specified by the predecessor.

And it is very different to use a concept mathematically vs metaphorically, even a concept by the same name. Again, the difference is in whether the context of interpretation is specified by the original or by the application. Fractals, frequencies, energy levels, entropy, etc. when applied metaphorically should not be expected to behave like their mathematical formulations beyond the scope of the metaphorical context, just as we would not stretch any other metaphor too far, and expect the metaphorical object to behave totally like the original.

I have tried to always be clear about when I am using a mathematical concept mathematically, and to make the necessary elaborations and definitions to be canonically formalizable if necessary. In fact, similar rules apply to the use of other canonical contexts established by the original rather than the application, and I have tried to be clear about these as well.

Extra Inter Media

Finally, I would like to say a few things about my current inter-mediate situation. I incorporated a company earlier this year, and was consulting for a hedge fund the past few months. Now I have decided not to do consultancy-like things at least for a little while, and might raise a small round to build a specific product, which I might write about soon.

I stopped writing for a long time because I had nothing to say, and then recently I wrote a few things again because of tumultuous love. I very much like being in love, and I at least like the beauty of turmoil in its aftermath, if not its sensation. I also wrote several more private letters, which I have said before are really my favorite among all the things I write. I might publish them eventually.

Cultivating “same taste” in a total and radical sense seems like it might be a little extreme, but my opinion here isn’t very solid, and I have begun a mentorship under a certain Vajrayana teacher. My decision here was surely related to the tumultuous love, but not completely. There’s not much more to say about this; it’s a lot like what I expected, which maybe is bad, but it’s early.

Also, I think my interests have again shifted away from most of my friends and followers. This means I expect even less people than before to understand what I write as wholes (even less, as one whole), and anybody who understands in wholes to understand less particulars. Sometimes I have grandiose delusional fantasies about being rediscovered many generations after death and having many scholars devoted to a thorough exegesis. It’s fun.

Maybe when I am older I will do something like Bach compiling his favorite compositions into the Mass in B minor. But, I might also start making more exoteric media. I subtitled this blog “eclectic esoterica, exoterically”, but it has not very exoteric after all. I think I’ll try making YouTube videos (haha I’m inter-media get it haha), maybe starting with explanations of my old discoveries like the correspondence between the Taijitu and the Kabbalist Tree of Life, or that dialetheistic fuzzy logic with -1 as the falsy value. If you know a lot about making videos and have recommendations for good resources, please let me know.

Fugue Impromptu Theoretical

Flight from Flowers

In dream, a verse of a cheesy song I came up with on the toilet developed into a fugal exposition. Wherever I cry, flowers bloom––1Too many girls have misunderstood this. I only mean that I like to make art when feeling intensely. Well, maybe a little more…

revising and completing the shit tier harmonizing lyrics is left as an exercise for the wakeful reader

Fugue is flight. Die Kunst der Fuge. Wouldn’t we all like to know? Flight from fear? Flight from pain? Flight––from itself! From a motif recurring with variation. Transposed, translated, dilated, reversed, permuted in every which way.

“How like life!” I exclaim with just enough irony to deflect the painful accusations of cliché I somehow fear. Fleeing… just fast enough, by a little variation.

A flight from self as if there was a self. A self-made self, made “self” by its recurrence (with variation). There it is, and there it is again, until it becomes something.

神秀 says:


惠能 says:


Shenxiu btfo! As if he was taking himself too seriously. As if he really wanted to be the sixth patriarch. An imagined self, made real enough by desire to feel the pain of not existing, or of being lost. “At all times we must strive to polish it; and must not let dust collect”––implying a teleology. And a teleology from desire is most wretched. To confound fate and fetish: “this must be destined because this is best.” As if blind to the subject who can only say “best” while wanting “what’s best.” The basis of delusion.

“Fundamentally there is not a single thing.” Perhaps we do not need to go so far. But at least then there is nowhere for dust to collect. Or, there is nothing to desire, and nothing to impose (on). Because the imposed image will fade. The yidam is only a symbol. Because to induce is to violate, but the inviolable cycles will overcome you yet. So induced joy is inauspicious.

引兑 (yin dui), ཡི་དམ (yidam), and induce. Like yada yada yada. Like the smallest letter, י‎ (yod). As featured in the Gospel of Saint Matthew––”For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Iota (ι), a variation on yod. I, a variation on iota. 引兑,未光;来兑,凶––but, you’re kind of 凶 sometimes too… (🥺)

No, no. This is the stuff that really matters. It’s history! Much sturdier than nonsense. It is about tracing to a consensual reality. Because practically it is easier to agree on “this happened; this (event) is related to that; this is worth imitating; this is not,” than on a construction of abstractions on abstractions ad infinitum, where even relation is quite arbitrary, not to speak of value, or intent. At least the past is a better symbol of the present than whatever else.

To the girl who would always spin whenever I held her hand and said, “spin!”: thank you for always spinning. And to the girl who stopped talking to me forever more after I said, “it’s very painful to talk to you”: thank you for that too. How very simple! It is a sweet and savory ironic tension when I say something very reasonable but do not believe myself. I think they called it “narrative irony” in school, as long as I am supposed to be narrating. Well, here I am narrating after all. So there is your irony, s’il vous plaît.

Narrating as if something were writhing to be released. Yet, with restraint, subduing as if wrestling an animal with ropes. As if it’s bad to feel too much, or too intensely. To feel too good, and leave others behind. Or to feel too bad, as if teaching a child about insincerity. That kind of display.

Or wrestling as if narration were barbed wire, or something more dangerous yet. Because to be unskillful is to kill. Flight by following; to follow and vary, but not to destroy. To develop a theme without diluting or overpowering it, while effortfully maintaining an itself, so that there is something to follow. That kind of fugal accompaniment.

To exercise restraint, reminding us of why such lengths are taken about how the natural state is actually just right there. So much metaphor, about mistaking the moon pointed at for the finger pointing. Or a rope in the garden for a snake.

Is it really so difficult to let everything be just as it is? As if it were ugly to be the wrong thing. To be unprepared. As if we were always skillfully skirting around and avoiding a fundamentally ugly world. What are we afraid to show children, as if to profane them? Is it ugly to explode? Well, probably in fugue it would be. Yes, to the spectators, and especially to the performer who is familiar with past iterations in study and practice. So, we are performing…

Trying to put in a moral again. Trying to iterate on a theme. Trying to breach the ephemeral. To capture. To mean, as if meaning were not itself already a very restrictive intent. To accidentally make beauty subservient to theory and art. Even while playing, to show that we are at play.

Because to interpret already carries an intent that is too easy to project empathetically. Absurdity need not intend to be absurd. Nor need pattern intend its pattern. But a fugue is a fugue, and not everything is a fugue. Not everything flees from itself. Because we say so? Because we agree? But that “because” is an intent again; a theme too strong to ignore. A motif we cannot flee from. A formal constraint too strong.

No, I have not been reading James Joyce. No, not Ezra Pound either. Not any of them. Anyway, the original verse I came up with on the toilet:

No more flight from pain,

Cuz wherever I cry, flowers bloom.
Oh the colors!

And wherever I lie, signs of doom.
Hopeless lovers...

But, of course it cannot be about love. At least it cannot be about love always. I flee.

Applied Fugue

Fetid Lovers

Star-crossed: No, my eyes are not prismatic enough. Time is very rigid even as it recurs. A liquid fills its container but goes no further. Somehow we are too separate.

Patient: A ray and a disarray. My eyes are not telescopic enough. Experience itself is unsubstantial. My body is not a liquid.

Star-crossed: Even so, we have the metaphor of the elements. Even you must understand, or were we really so dissimilar?

Patient: I understand, but I am not an alchemist, nor even a mystic. Even my poetry is selfish.

Star-crossed: However selfish, it is chaotic enough. It is turbulent like a desert storm.

Patient: The sands swirl about a binding obelisk, black and regal.

Star-crossed: The sands themselves obscure it, and wear it away.

Patient: No, but not its influence. It would still be “tilting at windmills” if the windmills were themselves illusory. What is an illusion without an expectation?

Star-crossed: I only expect persistency. Or, without illusion, I don’t.

Patient: It’s over, then?

Star-crossed: No, my eyes are not telescopic enough. Maybe it’s over, and maybe not.

Patient: A play and a display. My eyes are not prismatic enough. I am not really over it. I do experience myself especially.

Star-crossed: Even so, we have more options by recognizing the inversion. Even you must understand, or were we really so similar?

Patient: I don’t understand, but I am dissatisfied, even disillusioned. Even my thoughts flee from themselves.

Star-crossed: However you flee, you will get away unless you go in circles. You don’t need a compass if you remember where you’ve been.

Patient: I’m afraid I’ll end up somewhere without you, and miss you severely.

Star-crossed: You will flee from even that fear, and from that severity.

Patient: No, but not its influence. It would still be “never again” if again and again were similar recurrences. What is a recurrence without an epitome?

Star-crossed: I only epitomize myself. Or, without recurrence, I don’t.

Patient: It’s over, then?


To a Cat

The cat sits on me all day, purring loudly.








Applied Sonata Theoretical

Analyzing Superhuman Entities

Tripartite Body

In Hermetic philosophy and many other esoteric traditions a being’s body is divided in three: the corpus, the animus, and the spiritus. As the Hermetic alchemist Kremmerz writes:

Gods, daimons, and men: among them the same relationship exists as among the three states of perceptible matter: that which is heavy, that which is light, and that which is evanescent. The synthesis of nature presents the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gaseous.

This number three recurs in the kingdoms of visible nature. This number makes up the series in divine progression: man (the heavy body that imprisons an intelligence), daimon (the light body that comes near to intelligence), spirit (the evanescent body, which has not even an ideal form, and is symbolized by light).

Giuliano Kremmerz, The Hermetic Science of Transformation

We can understand this division most clearly in ourselves through introspection, but the same division applies equally to non-human beings. The corpus is static substance; the animus animates the corpus; the spiritus determines the nature of the animus. The axis along this hierarchy of determination is the orthogonal axis through the “planes” of being.

Historically, esoteric scholars have been concerned with beings like states or cultures. The anonymous author of Meditations on the Tarot, distinguishing spirits from egregores, writes:

However, it is the souls and spirits from above—forming, inspiring and directing communities of human beings—who nourish and vivify human souls: for example, Archangels (who are the spirits of nations); Principalities (Archai or “time spirits”); the spiritual entity which is behind Tibetan Buddhism; not to mention Christ, whose Flesh and Blood each day vivifies and unites the Church (Christ’s Mystical Body). Egregores are therefore nourished by men, whilst the latter are nourished by souls and spirits from above.

Nevertheless, although God, Christ, the Holy Virgin, the spiritual hierarchies, the saints, the Church (or the Mystical Body of Christ) are real entities, there still exists also a phantom or egregore of the Church, which is its “double”, just as every man, every nation, every religion, etc., have their “doubles”.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VI: The Lover

The tripartite body of a superhuman being is not a purely conceptual existence, “nourished by men”, but constitutes a free and noumenally independent existence.

[T]he Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. All these beings—including man (the Ischim)—have an existence that is either real or illusionary. If they have a real existence, if they are not a mirage, they are independent entities endowed not only with a phenomenal independence but also a noumenal independence. Now, noumenal independence is what we understand by freedom.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter IV: The Emperor

Beings with real existences exist across all planes of being. They are not subject to any human’s will, but are superhuman and free, and human-like in their spiritual structure. They have the same capacity to act, to will, to affect, and are subjects as much as they are objects. These beings are the spirits of states, organizations, languages, cultures, and other systems.

The corpus of an organization of people is not even merely the union of its constituents’ corpora, because physical beings do not have strict boundaries. The corpus associated with an animus is better thought of as a domain over which the animus has influence. A human body has a strong center of subjectivity where the nerves run, but exists in the world and is not separate from it. It uses tools and cognizes via external artifacts. Even its immediate substance is constantly renewed. Similarly, the interaction of individuals does not merely join their domains of influence in the world, but creates a new context of interaction with its its own physical scope.

With the advent of systems theory and cybernetics, we have an understanding powerful enough to quickly create new media in which other systems can be represented. There have long been systems like law and theory which duplicate and co-affect a system outside of themselves. Now we have the computer (which is only abstract), and its worldly extensions in beings like a program or a computational blockchain.

Each representation-capable medium contains extensional bodies of other spirits represented in it, or emerging from the interaction of these spirits, so that within each plane of being there may be diverse realms governed by these media. Each medium is also itself a free being with a noumenal body across each plane of being.

Information as a Fluid

From another perspective which diminishes separateness, subjects and objects are only structured regions in a rarefied field of pure information. In this sense, information is a substance so abstract as to be meaningless; yet it can be measured and analyzed, and retains some aspect of its mathematical sense as the capacity to resolve an uncertainty. It is more general than flows like matter, energy, value, and libido; yet flows of each of these quantities are necessarily also flows of information. In this sense information is the most general fluidic quantity, an ur-fluid.

The Dao Jing of the Dao De Jing, as explained to me by the lineage master of the Wind Fire Thunder (风火雷; feng huo lei) sect in a WeChat message, is about clearly perceiving the front and back of natural changes, the patterns of subject-change (self-changing) and object-change (being-changed) (道德经的上经为道,指要参透自然变化的正与反;自变和被变的规律,道本。).

This association between front/back and subject/object provides a ready analogy in the context of information flows. A subject is a region of positive divergence; an object is a region of negative divergence. The subject acts on the world outside it, transmitting information outwards; the object is acted upon by the world outside it, receiving information inwards.

The distinction between esoterica and exoterica, or between the sacred and the mundane, are also matters of viscosity or of external barriers to information flow. Information cannot flow easily past a physical barrier, a geographical boundary like a mountain or ocean, or a political boundary like of a city or nation. Now the internet has made such flows much easier than before, and the more powerful boundaries now exist in a separate realm. Information does not flow easily between languages, and concealment in twilight language still has a substantial effect.

From the fluidic perspective, the distinction between the planes of existence is a distinction of dimension. The corpus exists in a static field. The animus adds the dimension of time. The spiritus adds a dimension beyond time. But there are many dimensions beyond time, hence the continuity of the planes.

Metaverse and AR

With metaverse and AR technologies, the relations between bodies across planes of existence is immediately relevant. A simulated body directly replaces a physical body for a time, and they exist on the same plane insofar as they are experienced in the same way. On a simple level of analysis, the bodies compete because a spirit might only need one body on each plane. An inferior body can be thrown away, or naturally disappears as it is no longer maintained.

The relationship between AR and traditional experience therefore parallels the relationship between blockchain computation and traditional computation. They have the capacity to hold a body of the same spirit on the same plane. The new body may coexist with the old body temporarily or indefinitely; the same spirit can have multiple bodies in the same plane at an equilibrium, and different media have different degrees of exclusivity with each other.

The technology of the metaverse can be grouped together with the boat, the plane, the phone, the internet. These are technologies that have accelerated the flow of information, or equivalently, that have made it easier for spirits to travel between realms.

Distance within a medium may be bypassed via a body in a different medium. Such “astral travel” is canonical to many magical traditions, wherein a spirit ascends to a higher plane of existence to travel at supernatural speeds on a lower one. One’s body in the metaverse intersects more realms than an internet chat service, and can be associated with a grander spirit.

Another aspect of astral magic is to become a foreign body, like of an animal or god, and to incorporate what one learns from the experience into one’s life as a human. This kind of spiritual metamorphosis also becomes quite literally enabled by AR technologies and other applications of brain computer interfaces, where the activity from a user’s brain, and thereby their conscious experience, can be mapped directly to an augmented super-human body, or even a non-human body.

In such an environment, where lower bodies on the plane of the corpus and animus become so readily malleable, there are inevitable political and social consequences. Many esoteric traditions, which are protected enough by various mechanisms of sacredness to be able to say some very cruel things, speak of a hierarchy of spirits, which in reality are all human spirits. In Buddhism there are the gods, men, demons, and hungry ghosts, who each perceive reality differently and have different desiring-machines. The Wind Fire Thunder lineage master is more explicit: “Yang is above the temple; yin is the rivers, lakes, and seas. Below the temple is not the rivers and lakes but the general’s platform. Below the general’s platform is the row of soldiers extending to the rivers and lakes. Below the rivers and lakes are the people-slaves, blind-slaves, grass-slaves” (阳为庙堂之上,阴为江湖四海。庙堂之下不是江湖而是将台,将台之下是兵道直通江湖,江湖之下为名奴,盲奴,草奴。).

Perhaps these social observations currently only have an esoteric significance, applying only to a realm beyond what everybody can easily see. But if the strata of lower realms are transformed to be like the domain of the astral, the values and dynamics of astral realms will likewise apply to them. Kremmerz explains the astral thus:

In Greek grammar the word aster means “star.” In hieratic Greek, astron is made up of the negative prefix a- and stereon, the state of being fixed or solid, and thus means without fixity, wandering, and therefore astral light in its secret sense is the light that is not fixed, which is wandering, ethereal, evanescent.*

Giuliano Kremmerz, The Hermetic Science of Transformation

In this context, the mechanism of deterritorializing technologies like the internet or the blockchain or the metaverse in transforming a plane of being becomes very explicit.

DAOs and Blockchain(s)

Where are the bodies of a DAO? It is a program on a blockchain. It is a collection of people. A participant in a DAO interacts with the DAO contract through the blockchain it exists on; that blockchain has its own bodies across various planes and realms, in computers, in theories, in dreams.

Some people say that DAOs will replace VC firms and maybe even corporations. Does a DAO refer specifically to the blockchain body of an organization? Or is any organization with a blockchain body a DAO? If it is the former, it will certainly not replace VC firms and corporations, which do not even exist in the same realm. Otherwise, the claim is that every corporate spirit will develop a blockchain body, which seems more reasonable.

But the latter claim acknowledges that corporate spirits also have other bodies in different planes and realms. Will DAOs eventually be captured in law? Wyoming already defines the legal rights of DAOs by analogy with existing LLC definitions. The relations between people in an organization are also matters of interaction between anima and between spirits. Will on-chain contracts and the anima governing them replace the anima emergent from systems of human relations? If not, we must acknowledge that a program’s rules shape but do not wholly define the animus of a DAO.

Some people say that the point is not for programmatic systems to replace human decision-making, but for on-chain programs to define incentive structures that encourage better human behavior within human systems. Then what are the advantages of an on-chain system over a traditional legal one? There are interfaces between an on-chain system and parts of the off-chain world it must represent, just as there are interfaces between a legal system and the off-legal world it must represent. One submits a transaction to a node, or pulls data from an oracle; one represents oneself in court, or calls for witnesses. Even if the blockchain is more transparent and decentralized than the bureaucratic legal system, it does not constitute the whole body of a spirit even on a single plane of existence (e.g. human bodies and computing machines exist in the same plane); opacity and even centralization have lots of room to unexpectedly emerge.

Perhaps the advantages of DAOs inherit from the advantages of the blockchain in general. It is easier to interact with a smart contract than with a bureaucracy, so a blockchain corpus is preferred to a bureaucratic one. But what about the blockchain spiritus? We may deploy the bodies of existing spirits onto the blockchain, but what kinds of spirits and more tangible bodies might crypto technology uniquely generate?

Patterns of behavior repeated across time in different media are also spirits. Finance, economics, and governance are all spirits. Will the current corpora of finance and governance be largely obsoleted by crypto? Even with the infrastructure available today, we still have cash transactions and in-person rituals in governance. Perhaps the immaturity and imperfection (e.g. centralization, lack of robustness) of available infrastructure contribute to this, and crypto at least partially “solves this”. But existing corpora struggle for their own survival and often win; how much more powerful is crypto than the existing dominant infrastructure, compared to how much more powerful that infrastructure was than what came before it?

Decentralization has long been an ideal theme. Even the use yang (用九) of the I Ching hexagram Heaven (乾; qian) says, “to see a crowd of dragons without a head; auspicious” (见群龙无首吉). Foucault asks if we are in a Deleuzian century; Deleuze and Guattari begin and conclude their Thousand Plaeaus with the rhizome opposed to arborescent structure.

But even if crypto is a deterritorializing technology, does it reach the level of establishing a new plane of consistency? Then it mustn’t impose a homogenous surface over the smooth space otherwise represented. Deleuze and Guattari write, applying equally to a blockchain ecosystem as to the “legal model”:

This does not mean, however, that the legal model knows nothing of forces, the play of forces. That it does is evident in the homogeneous space corresponding to the compars. Homogeneous space is in no way a smooth space; on the contrary, it is the form of striated space. The space of pillars. It is striated by the fall of bodies, the verticals of gravity, the distribution of matter into parallel layers, the lamellar and laminar movement of flows. These parallel verticals have formed an independent dimension capable of spreading everywhere, of formalizing all the other dimensions, of striating all of space in all of its directions, so as to render it homogeneous.


Is a programmatic system even theoretically capable of establishing a plane of consistency? Crypto claims to be representative of an ideal it could not wholly encapsulate. In this way it becomes a bound spirit in service of a higher spirit. Even as it contributes to the process of decentralization, or of deterritorialization and the establishment of lines of flight to a new plane of consistency, or of the establishment of a crowd of dragons without a head, it is in no way the whole body of the process, nor identical in spirit.


This post has been a little out of character for me, and it’s mostly because I work at a crypto company now. I am no longer writing developmentally, but toward application in the world. Incidentally, toward what is symbolized by the 利 and 贞 of 元亨利贞, or by the waw and he of tetragrammaton.

In the Chariot arcana from Mediations on the Tarot:

What my intention is here is to refute the false accusations concerning occultism, on the one hand, and on the other hand to show up the real danger that occultism presents—so that one is put on guard against it. But what should one do against this danger, in order to guard one’s moral well-being?

The ancient saying “ora et labora” (“work and pray”) constitutes the only answer that I have been able to find. Worship and work constitute the only curative as well as prophylactic remedy that I know against megalomaniacal illusions. It is necessary to worship what is above us and it is necessary to participate in human effort in the domain of objective facts in order to be able to hold in check the illusions concerning what one is and what one is capable of.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VII: The Chariot

Indeed, the domain of esoteric theory is no other than the domain of real life. There is no “other” power outside of common power, nor other value outside of common value, nor other truth outside of common truth.

It is the same conduct which must be applied by the Christian Hermeticist in that which concerns knowledge and science—natural, historical, philological, philosophical, theological, symbolical and traditional. It amounts to learning the art of learning.

Now, it is the Arcana which stimulate us and at the same time guide us in the art of learning. In this sense, the Major Arcana of the Tarot are a complete, entire, invaluable school of meditation, study, and spiritual effort—a masterly school in the art of learning.

Dear Unknown Friend, Christian Hermeticism therefore has no pretension to rival either religion or official science. He who is searching here for the “true religion”, the “true philosophy”, or the “true science” is looking in the wrong direction. Christian Hermeticists are not masters, but servants. They do not have the pretension (that is, in any case, somewhat puerile) of elevating themselves above the holy faith of the faithful, or above the fruits of the admirable efforts of workers in science, or above the creations of artistic genius. Hermeticists are not guarding the secret of future discoveries in the sciences. They do not know, for example, just as everyone at present is ignorant of it, the effective remedy against cancer.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter I: The Magician

But esotericists and fans of esoterica have often looked for a unification of esoteric theory and mainstream science or academic discourse. Kremmerz writes:

The concept of the universe as a unity leads in magic to the principle of unity of force and unity of matter that some superior intellects have already glimpsed, in their studies, outside of the teaching of magic. In this case, magic, which no progress of vulgar science will ever be able to find fault with, identifies many modes of existence of the one force of the one matter that begins with the metal and, from liquid to gas, passes to infinitesimal attenuations.*

*This is the basis of alchemy, which its few researchers believe to be rudimentary chemistry, whereas it is, in fact, the philosophy of chemistry.

and later

Modern history will begin when a new type of chemistry analyzes the elements of the soul that make up the individual person and causes them to unfold, and this will mark the end of a long period of darkness in which man has not known himself.

Giuliano Kremmerz, The Hermetic Science of Transformation

Clearly today’s sociology is not such a chemistry. Psychoanalysis, being the product of a particular place and time, also lacks the universal scope of a “chemistry”. Deleuze and Guattari, perhaps having lost faith in “science”, say of their schizoanalysis:

Nowhere do we claim for our concepts the title of a science. We are no more familiar with scientificity than we are with ideology; all we know are assemblages. And the only assemblages are machinic assemblages of desire and collective assemblages of enunciation.


Indeed they say later of chemistry and science in general:

Universal attraction became the law of all laws, in that it set the rule for the biunivocal correspondence between two bodies; and each time science discovered a new field, it sought to formalize it in the same mode as the field of gravity. Even chemistry became a royal science only by virtue of a whole theoretical elaboration of the notion of weight. Euclidean space is founded on the famous parallel postulate, but the parallels in question are in the first place gravitational parallels, and correspond to the forces exerted by gravity on all the elements of a body presumed to fill that space. It is the point of application of the resultant of all of these parallel forces that remains invariable when their common direction is changed or the body is rotated (the center of gravity). In short, it seems that the force of gravity lies at the basis of a laminar, striated, homogeneous, and centered space; it forms the foundation for those multiplicities termed metric, or arborescent, whose dimensions are independent of the situation and are expressed with the aid of units and points (movements from one point to another). It was not some metaphysical concern, but an effectively scientific one, that frequently led scientists in the nineteenth century to ask if all forces were not reducible to gravity, or rather to the form of attraction that gives gravity a universal value (a constant relation for all variables) and biunivocal scope (two bodies at a time, and no more). It is the form of interiority of all science.


So what of the project that Kremmerz articulates? It is a homogenizing project, of “one force” and “one matter”. It articulates a homogenizing force that accompanies many realm-establishing technological advances, wherein the realm-establishment inevitably overcodes whatever it captures as if to establish itself as a perpetual monopoly on its plane.

Does crypto provide the basis for a chemistry of the “elements of the soul”? Indeed we may explicitly define agents in a program, and observe their interaction much like we algorithmically analyze the interaction of chemical molecules based on their abstract models. AR also provides a chemical methodology for experimenting with the soul, wherein we are able to attempt to combine an existing soul with something foreign to it, to see what reactions are possible and not, and to determine what elements of the soul are active or inert.

But in such a project are we merely following ancient striations that have captured our modes of thought, and that tyrannically govern the production of legitimacy? I think it still remains to be seen who is stronger and truer between the tree and the rhizome; perhaps it is an eternal and transcendent conflict.

Even by participating in a discourse we are engaging with spirits larger than ourselves, advancing one epistemic project or another, diverting flows of information. Will we speak of things in terms of spirits and bodies, or in Deleuzian words and methods, or in the context of another canon coding the same domain, or something new altogether?

Even without an established canon, by framing the discourse within any context accustomed to superhuman entities, we recognize their presence by whatever names they may be known. Thereby these questions about the interaction and evolution of projects, theories, epistemologies also become subject to analysis.

Applied Impromptu

Pretending at Utopia, Tilting at Windmills

An Entrance into Reverie

In formless times I greatest feel the Need
To fit some Self to artificial Form.

A cast for freely floating seed allows
For better fruit than barren fields might bear.

But weary after Images of Growth,
Resolv’d to Pattern vaster than my Pow’r

I look to yonder City and behold,
A wretched cry, in wretched Waves repeats.

The lower sayeth (marvel she hath voice)
That Woe is daily piled on and on;

A stern rebuke, and voiced in fiercer tone
Than by his might the High is apt to hear.

Yet knowing we are We, and far from Good,
We grasp and grasp at better worlds of Mist.

Pretending at Utopia, we tilt
At Windmills form’d by ancient idol gods.

Forget Oneself as Human

Forget oneself as Human by one’s Speech;
Machine can speak in too alike a Voice.

Forget oneself as Human by one’s Works;
What works will Chaos not in Time erase?

Forget oneself as Human by one’s Place;
But look Above, Below and see the Same.

Forget oneself as Human by one’s Name;
A rose by any other name still With’rs.1This line is in perfect iambic pentameter and you can’t change my mind.

Transcendental Deconstruction

title note2I’ve read neither Kant nor Derrida but I have read Nick Land on Kant and the SEP page on Derrida. I’ve also watched part of several Derrida lectures on Youtube… Actually I did read “Monolingualism of the Other”

The Parts of Man combine to form the whole
Though nowhere may we find a Rigid break.

The Alchemist therefore delights to Break
To see what gods from Broken goods are born.3Yes this is a 傷物語 reference, aside from being a reference to radical constructivism a la Von Glasersfeld, Piaget, et al., and to evolutionary biology/psychology.

From Dust, and too from Learning comes the Man4both in biological and evolutionary time
Which nought may Solve but magic Alkahest.5a reference to the allure and strength of humanist essentialism, even mind-body dualism

But magic’s realm is Spirit and is Mind
Where Dissolution is no mighty Feat.

A golem’s crafted not from Flesh and Blood
But stone enchanted by a sim’lar Soul.

And marvel there’s no Special part of Man
That great Enchantments could not likely match.

Disparate Subjectivities

I saw a trillion Eyes in every way,
A trillion Mouths to voice their Wills and Plans

Which cross’d and tangled through a space too dense
For even Three’s wants fully to be met.6a reference mostly to 3 in Pythagorean mysticism and to the three body problem

The Good some Measured seemed so far away
From all their pain and Animal delight.

And many strove to care an empty care
Which maybe hid the terrible Sublime.

The trillion Eyes and Mouths were God as One,
Still good as Two; but Three I hid my face.7As Two, they might be yin and yang, or emptiness and form, or even good and evil. I do not know what they are as three; if I did I doubt I can speak of them.

On Building

Words can but Point a little bit beyond
The furthest yonder Limit of one’s Gaze.

And as the lower fickly turns her head,
He Points at various Separate trifling Things.

So if some impetus from God to build
Too sorely Overwhelms one’s fragile heart,

Start close, near what is Perfect, and expand
That what is built might not collapse Again.

Utopia is not a Leap away,
But several Steps, though some may seem as leaps.

Parallel Presentation

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.8Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, KJV

it’s bad on purpose I promise it’s called “初心”

The law of Heaven is Dao
The law of Earth is Heaven
The law of Man is Earth
The law of Dao is Nature9自然 translates colloquially to “nature”, but could be literally translated as “self-apparent”

Applied Theme & Variations

My Odd Love Story

When I was 13 or so (judging by the timestamp on the file), never yet having experienced being in love, but perhaps moved by a lite kind of passion for someone (more likely in the abstract than in the particular), wanting to want to fall in love, as I often do, I began to write but never finished this little piece titled “My? (Odd) Love Story”, from which here is the chorale section and a bit before.

If this represents my reverie-fantasy of love’s experience from the time, I listen now and think, damn I was so wrong lmao. Perhaps if I were to finish it today, I would add some variations like this.

Not that I would finish it today. In a mood when all fragments sound better than their completions, in which completeness is hideous by its perfect imperfection. And of course, it’s likely that the appearance of wrongness or not of my representations of love in song are only by my own experience, knowing I have loved or not loved, and associating my work of each time with the rest of what I know I know or knew. I listen again and think the first one was much better. Not that I would stay up long nights today writing love songs, and of course I glance and see that this is less romantic, and less like love.

And it is at a time when everything is worse, and when there is nothing to do, that I feel in the mood to tell my? (odd) love stories.


A portrait of myself in the company of one other. A portrait of myself alone. A portrait in which I show way too much. Realities contrasting against a good story, against me in the forum, or pseudo-alone.

Of course, placing myself as author and protagonist, I am ever the hero, virtuous but often oppressed, except when I am learning from my mistakes. So of course my stories are untrue and misleading, and the other heart in me says, really I am a terrible person, and many stories have no happy ending—but it has no voice because the written story means something, and here I am writing.

In fact, I hate my love letters, because I write them only in pain. I write them to mean something when there is no meaning, and (blind) love rushes in to fill the void. They start off like this:

As a pattern: illegible, addressed to no one, often in third person, but different from other writing in their purpose. I call them love letters, but how hideously, I think! I write them not to express love, but to love—I do love then, with all the pleasure and pain, hindered maybe by ugly unnaturalness. This one captures the kind of feeling particularly well:

In the loneliness of night, wanting, prompted, (to want) to fall in love,

Ah, how terribly familiar, and what a visceral terror too.
The pattern of my love is poor and cruel. Cruelly repeating, the hunger to feel acted on as hunger for another, therefore falsely, for she is not Feeling, and I do not feel for her.

Oh but I do, if only through the power of stories I tell myself (and even others, though I hesitate at this for knowing they are untrue, and for fear of harm.)

Not harm to I of course, but to Her. For I am in Love, after all!
I would not win her by a lie, for I am desperately in love. Oh fragile heart, that I have deceived. Now I may no longer [sense?] thee.

Does it beat in Love or terror? Even this familiarity is no hint.
“I love you”, I lie and lie before God, who in His infinite cruelty, makes all good things true.

in case you can’t read my handwriting. sometimes I can’t either

Afterward, I have adapted and addressed and delivered musings like these to someone in particular. I don’t have images of these because I have delivered them (and it is not right to ask the recipients for pictures, I tentatively believe).

In contrast, I insist I had not fallen in love in my symphony-writing days, but here is a goodbye letter from the time, which I look at now and think, at least it began to capture a sense of wanting to want to fall in (real) love, which perhaps I did not know at that time, or else that I have (intentionally or unintentionally) forgotten.

As I look at it now, I cringe and cringe and think how wrong! how ugly! (but in a different way than I have used these words before) “enjoy the rest of your life without me”?? We still talk.

It was better then, in middle school; she shed a few tears upon reading it, and kept the letter, as much as that means. So I have this image; and perhaps adjacent things are better this way, charming untouched and only corrupted by all this putrid addition. I think perhaps I have made a terrible mistake, and I go on exposing my rotting hearts to the internet, plucking pure memories from a good place and painting them terrible colors, as is consistent with the plot that will develop—

And I think it is largely because that letter was to someone in particular. My other love letters are not. I think I have never fallen in love. So I pour out my heart, and my other love letters here are to you as much as to anyone else, which makes the texture—different.

Yes, this too is a love letter. Writing to feel something, and to remember. Again just to replace anguish (more precisely, anguishing boredom) by (something like) “love”, if only for a little while.

Variation 4: Unrequited

I have never read a romance novel in my life, unless you count something like Justine (which I would not), so this will not be of the correct flavor. It is not right to talk about love. I commit a grave sin and turn sweet things sour.

My most recent stroke of Love has been the worst, for it was from the beginning explicitly a performance. We were good friends, as much as I usually become with the people around me anyway, sometimes flirting trivially and holding hands and saying things to each other in the early mornings of drunkenness and various such things, meaning nothing in particular. Until in a moment of boredom, my terrible pattern of false love.

During winter break, a long car ride, texting each other all morning, I write her this poem, ruining me by throwing us into a fiction. I become pretentious and fake, living as nothing but a performance to myself, initially beautiful in my own eyes, just to feel something. I ask if I may write her love letters, explicitly, just for fun, making clear I did not really love her in that way, and she saying the same. So I began.

I asked if she would like the texture of my script to be “a refined and elegant copperplate”, “sweet and heartwarming, an unpracticed schoolchild’s”, a few more choices I cannot remember (with photo samples), or other? She chose sweet and heartwarming, and I told myself this joke (I have this one because I drafted it digitally):

My Dearest,

Might you accept this briefly drafted prose
From me, your lover, humbly and in vain
To slightly ease your boredom in repose
On nights devoid of pleasure and of pain.

A tale of role-play and reality
Of pretense, of perception, and of lies
Of subtly bonded truth and irony
Of bold confessions sung in vain reprise.

But foremost, ’tis a tale of purest love—
The richness, fun and tragedy thereof.

I recently told you a story about a former beloved lover, to whose hardened heart I would confess my love in various futile forms. Each time he would say, smiling with a slight chuckle full of meaning, “No, I know you’re lying to me. I know you’re just playing with my emotions.” You warned me then that the fault was in myself, upon which I long reflected.

What is in that “I know you’re lying”? What is in that “just”? I thought at first that my fault was in being overly deceptive, in being known as unable to be simple, that in the simplicity of my expression my lover would always perceive extra layers of irony which were not.

But to “know you’re lying” suggests a stark duality between truth and untruth. And in the “just” of “just playing…”, there is profound simplicity! Surely my lover could not be perceiving more layers of irony than I intended, but less. The fault was not in a compounding ad absurdio, but in subtlety unseen.

In truth, my lover would always play along with my flirtations, and our time together was very rich and meaningful. But a favourite pet phrase of his was “I don’t believe you.” Perhaps if I could go back, I would tell him really there was nothing to believe.

To establish a firm barrier between pretense and presence, and to give too much credit to thoughts and words. The interpretation of being as narrative and as drama. All barriers to purity.

Today when I say “I love you,” those words are empty, but they are strong because they are backed by a rich web of context. Therefore I can say “I love you” to anyone and they will know for themselves what I mean, in a way too complex for words to expound adequately. That is the hope, at least.

In practice, words are woven among the webs of not only interpersonal contexts, but vast cultural and historical contexts, with many unknowns. The meaning-making game is a difficult one. In poetical realms like love, we assimilate and accommodate, and do not reach a consensus.

And so in that “I love you,” there is so much that I do not mean, and there is so much that I mean that goes unheard. I am lying. I am just playing with your emotions. There is too much and too little.

I’ve spent my days roleplaying and shitposting in the most remote domains of the internet and the real world. Practice makes perfect. In love, I exercise my veteran hand.

The webs of meaning evolve and devolve. We live in a society, and we are society. We are roleplayers and degenerates, in the most literal sense.

So in any case, and however imperfectly, “I love you.”

Sweetly and Heartwarmingly,

im blushing

I folded it into a heart by these instructions, and I think I would have really driven over from Alabama to Mississippi to deliver it to her door, as an inside joke, if I’d had car insurance (I didn’t). How utterly autistic! The opposite of sweet and heartwarming at any level of analysis a little beyond object-level (but not too far). It was funny and delightful to me; I was sincerely engaged.

But obviously, I was wrong to play with people like words, and I hurt her, and myself also. Now I found (or rather, remembered, realized in immediate experience) that in telling a story so vividly and so long, and especially in performing it, I came to believe in it in every way. My love became real, even real to her. To simplify: love against God’s will is a terrible thing.

One night, in a moment of fatigue, the Other in me, after a little vulnerable conversation, spewed forth putridly to save itself from death.

Then I am consumed by the Mask. In a climactic turn, all good things end, and there is no more beauty in my love. Everything shows in vivid hideous splendor as fiction and reality merge but do not blend. A wreck.

Until we do not know nor really care what we are saying.

And finally, mercifully, she kills me.

Around this time I went to Justin Murphy’s Based Mansion event and got on Twitter, where I was rewarded for being bad and wrong, just because I spoke Truth. Now I regret it sometimes, especially when I look forward into an Abyss that sometimes resembles a hall of mirrors, disorienting me and asking me where I am, where I am going, where I have come from.

It takes a while to be reborn. Having become the story, my love-loss is as real as any other, and I feel empty for a while. Then I repeat my mistakes in the company of others, having learned some things but not everything.

Here is a letter from a series of apologies I subsequently wrote to her, to me, and to you. But even in these I am bad and wrong, and at times I even crave to be punished, but no one has the right words to wound me, when I am in another fiction, or too close to God (in Bataille’s sense more than any Christian’s) or else in whatever way too closely resemble or evoke something Beyond.

To whom will hear,

For even in such a brief time, being quite without you has rendered me so much the more sensitive to what you had been against my hardened heart, so here is a vain apology for my sin, and for at least what transgressions against you of which I am now made aware. But may the glory of natural law humble me further yet!

I must really stop living as a performance for myself. It is becoming terribly lame. Therefore please excuse my poetic license as I calibrate to something better, for I have lost something important in the rain. I have lost myself in the underworld, quagmire of irony and deceit.

Verily I am drowning in irony, and I am not sure where to step. Natural law is just, and bad things do not happen to good people; therefore when I suffer I know that I am wrong. I Wotan have piled the logs around Valhalla; Siegfried is dead, and Brunhilde rides into the pyre.

You were right and we were wrong. The “life as art” thing isn’t working very well. I’ve lost sincerity and gained actual autism. For my life is now more an inscrutable play than meaningful membership in society. I have theory of mind, but ignore what it tells me in favor of some aesthetic standard quite ill-tied to social utility, or to anything else—trauma’s scars or something. Fucking hell.

More wretched than the fool is the fool who boasts of enlightenment, and more wretched yet is he who so boasts, and is believed. I made vain pretense to wield the Holy Lance, and evil so readily claimed it to wound my own side. As Beast with lamb’s tongue I spoke poison, and when you, kind Parsifal, spoke against me, I pronounced you dead and wounded you. “Pure fool, enlightened by compassion,” your reward is in heaven, mine in hell.

The “Well” hexagram of the I-Ching consists of water above—danger, and wind below—penetrating. “…The rope does not reach all the way. The bucket breaks. Misfortune” The adept Liu I-Ming comments, “If one insists on trying to teach people before one has attained the Tao oneself, this is called lacking the basis. Development without the basis lacks inward mastery; arbitrarily used, it creates confusion, and without having helped anyone else one first loses oneself. This is like trying to get water from a well, but the rope does not reach all the way…”

Therefore it is well that you have severed the short rope, and that you ride into the pyre in grief. The Rhine now overflows its banks to quench the fires of Götterdämmerung. In the unused well, the golden elixir begins to crystallize.

Thus I leave you with the encouragement which John of Patmos in the Holy Spirit delivered to the Church in Ephesus.

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

im blushing

Of course, I did not refer here to any love related to me. I cannot resist a joke still, and I suffer (but then, this is the best time to joke, thereby to laugh). In another love letter in limbo between life and death, I tell the story in fuller detail. Again I tell the story.

With (Im)perfect Sincerity,

All these words are mere play, and we are feeble characters in it. The script of “I am…” meshes too closely with what to say and to do and to be.

So in my unsensible “not,” I may have forsaken my place in the theatre of your experience. But see and hear and feel what I am to you, and behold that it is real.

I’m deeply in love with you in many modes; really you believe less than you ought. But indeed I am afraid to act, for indecision from many fronts. Foremost is my Fall from Heaven—I’ll describe that shortly. Then are your various words against me; direct and indirect readings confound a straight path.

Fall From Heaven

In a simple view, “magic” is just a way to mature faster than normal, and a precise language to describe subtle aspects of the process of maturation, which is ill discussed in mundane tongue. In the beginning of the school-year, I LARPed as a witch-doctor in an effort to heal.

The healer-supplicant role is not equal. To be healed by something equal is annoying—to be called neurotic, to be disdained, to be misunderstood. But privately, the neurotic very much wants to heal, though she will go great lengths not to admit this. Yet she will approach the healer when the narrative is palatable. Therefore I took the healer role, and many approached me.

I know things and have done things; psychoanalysis, magic, human experience. I actually can heal, when the patient actually trusts me as healer (the importance of this trust-relation is emphasized in all traditions). But the magical (and psychotherapeutic) work is very harmful when not carried through to completion; and I had no time nor effort to complete my work. Indeed I never expected to attract so much in the form of healer, and foolishly began an effort, which I since have all but abandoned.

And in ceasing to LARP as a witch-doctor (not for dishonesty, but for that role takes a great deal of commitment, and I have other commitments), the trust essential to healing was largely dissipated. I threw myself from Heaven, but could hardly return though I wanted. I became an equal—and again, the equal cannot well heal, but only trouble.

I’ve considered that maybe I’m wrong and “you” (somewhat plural) are right. But my interactions with certain people—my anthropology professor, his graduate student that he introduced me to, the visiting scholar from Brazil, []’s mom, []’s brother, several people I met in China including my boss and his Taoist master, many people from the conference I’m attending…—persuade me that this isn’t so. I’ve often been advised to drop out of university for example, or at least to “not bother”; don’t try to gain from you guys what I can’t, actively surround myself with more inspiring people, rather than your “everyone else” (as in “maybe everyone else is right”)—yet somehow I am hesitant; for youth? for love?

Situated here, I want deep and meaningful friendship even, no, especially from the people around me. But I can’t form such friendships with someone neurotic—for that neurosis becomes a veil to what I really want to engage with so that I always am somehow first trying to heal the neurosis (and it is somewhat doomed to be ineffectual, for I want the friendship to be equal, and so often I prematurely take the equal form).

There are also the problems of interest and knowledge—1. not every non-neurotic is my best friend; 2. I’ve spent so much time amongst mystics and philosophers and such, and outcasts and pretentious intellectuals. Neurosis (but not just neurosis) prevents one from certain ways of thinking, but even when one is able to think in some way, it is another thing to have already thought through some particular thing. I am so used to engaging with people who have already heard of and thought through such and such things, and who work from these things to others. And especially since I’m not so sure how long I’ll spend with you guys, how do I dedicate my time? Talking about things I’ve long since already thought through, many times, to the point that they bear no new fruit? Or making do with just a very tentative connection, more thinking and talking to myself than really engaging in conversation? 

And again, I am limited in my form. Do I take the healer-role or no? Do I posture above or alongside or below? Do I go near or far? For how long? Thence my indecision.

And so again, I really do love you, but truly don’t know what to do. Therefore may this letter at least offer a clearer perspective; as always, take it how you will—of course I can ask nothing else, however desperately.

With Love,


P.S: Re “you’re dumb”: Sure, but you severely underestimate me. Both just how little AND how much you mean to me.

Of course all this is just one perspective, and therefore wrong like all the rest.

im blushing

And to conclude, a Requiem introitus I wrote around the same time as “My? (Odd) Love Story”. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine:
et lux perpetua luceat eis. Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem.

I never wrote the Kyrie, or I would have that here instead. Not that the MIDI rendering has voiced lyrics.

Kyrie, eleison. Christe, eleison. Kyrie, eleison.


Next, the boy I mentioned in the first letter of this variation, the girl from China (my boss’s wife’s sister), and scattered experiences from temporary environments like summer camps and the psychiatric ward. More feelings, more thoughts through thin vessels of terrible love stories. But maybe I won’t write these if the mood passes (or it will take a very long time). Yet maybe I will.

—to be (possibly) continued.

Applied Impromptu

A Dear Diary Moment

A dear diary moment
Now in the honesty that alcohol induces, feeling like I have to write. A story I tell myself in the absence of tears, to fill and justify that absence. “Constantly without to see the essence”, and what a disappointment. Inert white phlegm in place of the golden elixir—never yellowed nor reddened; just past melancholy, and feeling too much of nothing at all.

I hate myself in the presence of my college dormmates, but that me is too established for change. And now I’ll be leaving. In the first days, having assumed too much, my narrative of “enlightenment” and “understanding” and whatnot—LARPing as the cringiest witch-doctor, whom many believed for too long a while. Dragging, dragging, dragging them somewhere they don’t want to go.

Now in my sadness, opening to them in the most harmful way, seppuku opening my putrid intestines. “I think it’s sad because we have no ephemeral connection. I’ve always felt so spiritually distant. We’ve only been friends and stuff because we’re physically close, living together and all. So that’s why it’s especially sad, with nothing tying us together anymore once we are far apart. So you all are really permanently gone.”

And then, asked, in a final gesture? So what are you interested in? And my response, “Well, that’s the thing. It’s nothing specific, nothing topical. Not what but just the way I’m interested in things. I actually hate talking.”

“I enjoy wandering. I like doing stuff with people. I like happy people.” In a final gesture, explaining “It’s just, for example, wandering aimlessly along the highways in Shanghai, sleeping on the ground. Going blind to some conference with ‘radical counterintellectuals’, these are the kinds of things that are meaningful to me, that make my life fulfilling, while you guys are just trying to get through college and get a job or whatever. I feel like I’m dragging y’all somewhere you don’t want to be. It hurts.”

And then the same conversation shift as ever, back to the mundane, to the specifics of video games and anime. And they know now how I never mean anything I say, for it all feeling so base and pointless to me. For disdain and derision and all other pretentious things. Awkwardly, once upon a time joking, how I hate myself when I’m around them. Farming that for internet clout, blogging now.

Woe for narrative consistency. The feeling that nothing happened, making for the especially painful close. Talking and saying nothing. Feigned interests with excessive theory, just because I like people, the shell of people, disregarding whatever is inside. So I drank hoping to cry for them, feeling terribly sad indeed.

And now I feel better, but I didn’t cry. Woe for narrative consistency, for I don’t really feel “better” in a perfect way. I’m just detached from them. I don’t miss them as much as I want to, and I tell myself I’m just lying to myself, and convince myself by the tension in my chest. Though no tears come still though I’m as drunk as I’ll be.

And I told them this though I wanted to tell them how much I liked and loved them. And I hate this self all the more. A me now solidified in memories, a narrative I cannot right toward the perfection. Lead real not alchemical, cannot be transmuted to gold.

Nothing left, a hole in my past. No ephemeral connection. I wrote love letters to one just to feel something, memed myself into real love by that self-narrative reinforcement that lingers even now, and I really am sad, I say. But the tears don’t come, and these words try to fill the void I meant to fill by tears.

 A melancholy moment before I go off to sleep and the day cycles again as always, and I leave again the past that never was, and still makes no perfect sense however I plea and plea.

Applied Theme & Variations

The Daoist “Mafia”

Pt. 2: Cutting Through Cutting Through Spiritual Colonialism—A Response to Vinay Gupta

Beginning at the End: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning (of the End…)

I’ll start my response at the end of the original, to emphasize convergence. For conclusions are often expressed at the end, and we (as the correct always tend to) have come to the same conclusion. I have no one to hook with warnings of doom—here is our convergence: the end is seamless collaboration among everyone and everything.

“I have become a *remarkably* grumpy old man”, writes Gupta, and I suppose it is a similar sentiment that has led me away from writing recently, toward plans to acquire capital. But the words of a seasoned disillusioned capitalist prod me at least back to this conversation. For conversation is at least collaboration; the action feels fruitful enough that I can perform it without infinite procrastination.

Since many of my thoughts around this came from my experiences with the Daoist underground in China, since the topics fit readily in the same conversation, and since I have (temporarily) become so averse to writing, this post is also my promised continuation to my first post on The Daoist Mafia. Let me just say a few things grossly then, to start us off.

The end state is obvious. We’re trying to eliminate suffering. We’re trying to remove all bad. He without food tries to get food. Having gotten food, he finds that he is distressed by having no house, and he devotes his time and effort towards getting that house. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is largely correct. But the final stage “self-actualization” is a bit complicated.

Gupta writes: “As soon as the immediate fear of homelessness recedes, for most people, a huge raft of existential questions immediately surface.” And yes, as Gupta suggests, these may be suppressed by the new needs generated by parenthood. There are other possibilities—my connection to the Daoist underground in China, AZ, had the idea (and founded a startup based on this idea), that Maslow’s hierarchy connects to Peter Senge’s five disciplines. I tweeted about it here.

Here are Senge’s five disciplines:

  1. Personal mastery
  2. Mental models
  3. Building shared vision
  4. Team learning
  5. Systems thinking

It is clear that the need for needs is itself a need. For it is need that drives continued existence, in a tautological sense. Without need there is but oblivion, which is a sure possibility, but not here. Toward oblivion, there is nothing to write about or to do. In a sense, I (we?) have already won; but what are we doing? Something, hence driven by need. This stuff about a seamless and ubiquitous system, #GameB, various constructions at utopia avoiding the faults of previous constructions; even via negativa—all just because we’re here.

It’s okay, but I think it’s important not to pretend otherwise, as if oblivion or whatever were some universal terrible “wrong”, as if there were some positively existent universal principle driving us on. We start in the middle. Our needs are indeed ours, even if we do not choose them. And we need them in a real way; but they are ours. Therefore “cutting through” is all. I cannot establish anything, only cut through. Therefore I say I teach the production of alkahest. The elimination of suffering fits into this project. By removing all that is wrong, what remains, whatever it is, is the only ultimate.

The building of systems is one way to frame it all. It works for now, and I find no obvious flaws. Perhaps someday they will emerge, and I will cast this away. What remains, remains. I will still have my needs, or whatever I will call them then. Or I will be gone. The same with larger units, with society, with the totality of things. The relation between being (in time; i.e. the being of processes) and telos is not property inheritance or hypo/hypernymy, supervenience, or whatever category theory analytic philosophy shmilosophy, but identity (or equivalently, comprehensive absolute necessary and sufficient codependence).

How does this all fit together?

In China, the family is a core unit of organization. Nowhere can unconditional, un-cruel collaboration be found like within the family. Therefore the cohesive (remember, seamless collaboration) system AZ is trying to build in China takes families as its units. He says there is no hope outside the family. There are biological bases, and social factors too. I debated long nights with AZ over this; obviously the cohesion of the family unit is not so firm in the U.S.—I can say little of other places; and China is not immune to the trend.

The stuff is all highly contextual but there are things to be done. What to do depends on where you are. AZ builds systems of families in China. Gupta builds systems of moral visionaries in the West. There is always this outwards expansion; a sort of drive toward ubiquity, perhaps—at least something far beyond this lifetime. Vision. There is also always somewhere to start. There are needs that are difficult to destroy. There are forces that keep us existing.

The “somewhere to start” is important in the face of imminent cruelty and destruction. Here you are in a cruel world. It’s what Buckminster Fuller expresses in the metaphor of the trim tab. It’s also the universal human sentiment of the hero myth, or the more heroic Bildungsromans, or the archetypal shonen anime motif.

The cruel angel’s thesis
will soon take flight through the window,
with surging, hot pathos,
if you betray your memories.
Embracing this sky [universe] and shining,
young boy, become the legend!

Tidbits on Now Now

I must now spend a while to contextualize because I have a lot to say. Much is lost in saying a lot without context. The more is lost, the more to say and the less context. So all this is skippable is you really get it, and why I’m contextualizing, and you think it’s skippable.

All this talk is just a particular set of mental models—hence my current aversion to writing, somewhat, but I am only balancing; alas, I’m 18. I increasingly finding that I absolutely must write to a particular target audience, because nobody really gets it all and shares my language, in a way that I can just say whatever I want on all my own frontiers, and be mutually collaboratively advanced against them with the right people. Maybe I just haven’t yet met the right people.

I feel a tense burden of already having won. In the ultimate sense, I obviously don’t know what to do. The feeling of not knowing what to do is greatly exacerbated by the feeling of already knowing everything—i.e., there is nothing to learn.

Increasing knowledge leads to increasing optionality. To fully understand is to not be burdened by any arbitrary conceptual bounds, even that inherent in a name or language-system. But still here I am in space and time, left to make choices. Still I am constrained by capital; I have knowledge (therefore potential optionality) far beyond my actual optionality subject to material constraints.

I was privileged to the “huge raft of existential questions” early on, not by a trust fund, but by loving and competent parents who were frugal, happy, and not indebted. I answered them all by the absolute negation, which led to no small portion of conflict against my loving parents, converted from Communist Secularism to Fundamentalist Baptism, sanely in pursuit of need—to fill that emptiness.

So here I am in an awkward position, with nothing but alkahest. I have not sufficiently established virtue, have not sufficiently cultivated yang, have not traveled the left-hand nor the right-hand path, have not seen the face of God. I have no positive being to name; I chose “oblitero omnis obscurantis” as an aspiration name to see how it felt, but it does not feel absolute either. Nor is it via negativa, because nobody’s actually wrong. I used to consider myself a shravaka, but even this I am not, knowing beyond teaching that even all the teachers are absolutely wrong.

But here I am still. “ZMZM” I named my website, for 众妙之门—what follows 玄之又玄: mystery in again mystery; darkness in again darkness; a vortex, spiraling profoundly, sublimely, infinitely in the true interplay of emptiness and form, “同出而易名” (of the same source, but with different names). I feel it so profoundly; and increasingly, I don’t even want to share it with others. It’s not “good”, just ultimate. Good comes from the cultivation of good; emptiness comes from the reduction to emptiness.

“众妙之门” is presented as something really good. Wow, the gateway to all marvels. The door to many wonders. But who opts to fall into Wonderland? Alice does so in a dream, following the boredom of “sitting by her sister on the riverbank, and of having nothing to do.” That is the profound emptiness many strive to fill, “burning with curiosity” and “start[ing] to her feet” at the first thing “she had never before seen.” Perhaps this offers an explanation for the delirium induced by Ayahuasca or whatever other substance, maybe even profound meditation, letting us glimpse (in the case of meditation, at will) the White Rabbit to follow in times of boredom and need. I may extend too far, but note that dopamine is released upon novelty (i.e. errors in prediction), not upon reward.

I find in myself in such an odd position indeed. I don’t expect anyone in the world can relate to me as a person (or at least, that in my lifetime I will never meet such a person), and this is good for some things. I will not attract a small cult following to sustain myself off by producing transient bullshit. I will not easily deceive myself that I am saving the world. It’s good for decentralization, for immersing myself among all types, who hate each other, marking them wrong, and who may hate me. I suppose it lets me more readily obliterate all obstructions, maybe.

What is Capitalism?

Yeah, the system as it is sucks. The classic blame it on capitalism move is especially powerful for the disillusioned capitalist. But of course the problem is never with any specific instantiation of a form, but with form itself. Or, “why are we cruel?” The end of capitalism would not be the end of cruelty, nor its legitimization.

I think the answer to “why are we cruel?” is in disparate moments of perception, tense against each other, not seamlessly integrated in collaboration. Just fundamental game theory stuff, probably. Where opportunities for arbitrage exist, there will be those who take them. Flawed systems leave many opportunities for arbitrage.

Nobody is fundamentally motivated, explicitly, to harm another. But everybody is motivated to benefit the self. And so the problem lies in tension between the self and the other, where harm to the other can be benefit to the self, even very great benefit.

“Why isn’t everything already perfect?” is an increasingly deep question the more I consider it, and I have no definite answer. There are many smaller answers though; many are related to abstraction—the desire and possibility of control over that which is not and will never be directly accessible to the agent of control. Scalability issues across space and time; the very non-linear interactions of abstractions with each other, with us, with the world. The infinite complexity resulting from the fact that representational media are themselves objects in the world, capable of being represented, recursively, ad infinitum.

Nick Land draws a parallel between capitalism, natural evolution, and general self-improving artificial intelligence. The pattern of competitive self-reproductive self-maximization, which subsumes everything else that is not within it. Such a pattern is real, and I think it makes sense to call “capitalism” this pattern for the kind of value captured by money.

Money as it exists today is just one representation of something though. It’s a very unique representational medium, with various sub-media. Its patterns of communication and use and such are very different from other familiar media. There are fundamentally structurally different alternatives and varieties; we see historically in barter, in the idea of credit, now in possibilities in blockchain technologies. But there is something centrally common to these, the represented thing, I’ll call it “material value.”

Material value is not going anywhere. Its competitive self-maximization is not going anywhere. In that sense, capitalism is not going anywhere; but we may indeed work toward better representations.

It’s extremely difficult to get rid of all opportunities for cruel arbitrage though. People are foolish and prone to being deceived and exploited (i.e. easily harmed for the benefit of another, punishment-free). And where there are people to be exploited, there will be those to exploit them. Susceptibility to deception is greatly exacerbated by massive scale, where the scope of relevance extends far beyond one’s immediate capabilities of perception, hence understanding.

So the solution would have to lie in education of the masses, even in the enlightenment of all sentient beings. There is no small-scale solution for the large-scale (indeed global) problem of cruelty.

What is Spirit?

I’ll paint in very gross strokes; there’s a reason all the great spiritual traditions stop very early when discussing specifics before saying that no more can be expressed in text, and deferring to the necessity of such things as actual experience and a teacher.

I think Land misses a very important dimension in his thesis on the convergence of various divergent self-maximizing factors, or maybe it’s captured in artificial intelligence—I’m not entirely sure. That is the dimension of spirit, and its infinite self-propagation is expressed in the motif “enlightenment of all sentient beings.”

The pattern Land notices is the ultimate expression of the spiritual motif of the unity of yin and yang. Yang in yin, yin in yang, Thanatos and Eros as one and the same. Fundamentally, it is a fractally ubiquitous pattern to all things, but Land points it out at a grand scale.

Spirit is related to optionality, which is not the same as degrees of freedom. Optionality implies volition. Volition implies that the particular path taken in a situation with many degrees of freedom is somehow better than the others. It is not the same as random chaotic motion in a large phase space.

I will just say that increasing degrees of freedom becomes increasingly better with increasing spiritual development/attainment. And the ultimate state tends towards simultaneous increasing spiritual development and increasing degrees of freedom. But this is not all of what is encompassed in the word “spirit.” Part of my point is that the act of naming itself carries constraint—for there are only certain things and not other things which we will call by such a name and speak of in such a way—which spiritual development (at least of a certain sort—my sort, that I speak of here) escapes, as a fundamental aspect. This is key to the great difficulty in describing the spiritual.

The category is really a terrible category. All sorts of unrelated, vaguely interacting or non-interacting things have all been bundled under the category of spirit. Part of the problem is exactly the colonialism to which Gupta speaks. Various spiritual traditions are not inter-compatible under a monolithic colonial system; their unity is in emptiness rather than form. I write much more on this in other places; my perspective is largely consistent with Ri-mèd, as far as I know.

Words are for pointing. It is hard to point at emptiness because there is literally nothing to point at; so most of the words only point at ways to experience emptiness. There is more potential in art, which does not only point at the past, but aims to create experience directly.

Otherwise, note that spirit derives from the Latin “spirare”: to breathe. Some themes—cyclical, fluid, ephemeral, usually unnoticed but possible to voluntarily control, necessary to be here.

Space and Other Others

Just a few scattered thoughts here; no thesis. But a perspective I think may be valuable. I’m too young for space to feel real. It’s this cheesy symbol thing, lumped in with the rest of late 19 somethings Ronald Reagan grainy radio pixelated television propaganda whatever. I’m also not in the tech world enough to know what people are doing with real capital today, with regards to space. It would probably feel too distant anyway. Being 18, I literally don’t know how to conceive more than 18 years into the future (really more like 4 years, since I think around age 14 was when I started being maturely conscious of the relevant things); if I tried I’d probably be terribly wrong. But I’ll say some things about symbols, about hope, about my feelings, then other people’s feelings.

I had a big gabber/super hardcore techno phase when I was around 16. Around the same time, I was also taking a class in Women’s and Gender Studies, and deeply felt the feminist discourse. I did not connect these two until recently, exposed to cyberfeminist music, a la Arca or Bjork.

My favorite gabber album then was Alice in Voodooland. I did not consider why, and would have been quite unable to explain. But now I can put some things into words.

The distorted, overdriven kick drum feels like the tingling of the skin, numb from tears. And it sounds better harder, more distorted, just as I continued to cry, helpless in the face of oppression (me mostly for my youth, I think; the feminists obviously for their womanhood, and other intersectional factors—blackness, poverty… but I can not do justice to that whole discourse here). To be marginalized is not a symbol; it has felt effects in the world, among these—futility, struggle, helplessness, often hopelessness.

There is in overpowering distortion the will to power and to death. Our absurd heroine Alice again, and a similar aesthetic in “voodoo.” Power in powerlessness. The urge to destroy and to overcome. Beauty in distortion. Hope in flirting with destruction, with the feminine Abyss. To gently, vigorously overpower; light in the darkness; yin swallowing yang. Feelings lost in tears, lost in words; the quivering passionate anger, hope in hopelessness. Eros and Thanatos felt viscerally as the same, in the numbness of nothing left (to lose, to say); therefore ever more of all that—compression, overdrive, distortion, gain, senseless power and chaotic change. More feelings only the music can convey.

Now look at the music of another marginalized other—at Afro-futurism, the music of Sun Ra, or P-Funk. There are more examples than this movement, of the drive toward the outside, the other, clearly expressed in the music of the helpless, hopeful marginalized. It is the desire to escape, and identification with the “alien.” The hope appears clearly symbolic in Sun Ra’s movie. He does not know what he is talking about with regards to space. Do we? Do those billionaires?

Draw what connections you will.

After the End of Law

Maybe someone messed up somewhere. I’m not sure how it happened, but here I am fairly confident I’m as omniscient as practically attainable, along the axes that omniscience usually refers to. Yet I have not spent enough time cultivating anything that I necessarily must defend; yet somehow I’m here anyway.

So this body is especially vulnerable to suicide. There are many moments I’d not hesitate to painlessly die if the option were materially available—but even that is a difficult thing. For whatever reason, I’m still here. In the psychiatric ward, I was in a particularly hopeful and happy phase, perhaps from the novelty and various other very valuable things gained in the experience and interactions; so the staff asked me incredulously why I was there to begin with, and when I told the truth, nobody understood me, though there was a sense that they really really wanted to “help,” whatever that means.

Gandhi’s “fundamental problems” are lies, of course, so far as they are established in form. They are artful, are were effectively suited to their purpose; but they, as all lies, are fragile. I only need to demonstrate by one negative example—which as I often use, is my own person. I cannot live ultimately by them. They have no self-inherent sway.

Again, an immediately apparent problem is that I have not actually cultivated positive virtue. This is important and good for illustrative purposes. Lies, however noble, and however well-designed toward correct antifragile ends, are themselves fragile in the form they are constructed in. Reincarnation, God, and other such positive stabilizing ideas to live by—they are difficult to convince anyone of now, now that easier (i.e. more likely to be taken) negative alternatives are available and accessible.

Optionality again—and this is why more degrees of freedom is not always better without spiritual development. The absolute negation always leads to more degrees of freedom, and indeed the ultimate view is always to be expressed by the absolute negation. So we get the increasing possibility of bad decisions—but who is to call them bad, or much more importantly, to punish them? The problem is of scope, of our terrible capacity for conceiving futures, even our own. It is hard to make real and immediate that which is distant in space. Harder yet that which is distant in time. And the consequences are in the future—worse, perhaps beyond this lifetime. I have no children. Reincarnation is not real of itself, nor afterlives in Heaven and Hell (or at least, these negations are easily and convincingly demonstrable). There is nothing in the future I must love, outside this lifetime.

Padmasambhava said that sutra would last for a few hundred years, tantra for a few thousand, and Dzogchen forever. The former two would need to be periodically replaced by those who realized the last. But his time estimates, being given as constants, betray that his extrapolation was linear—and as with pretty much all linear extrapolations, I think they were wrong. Increasing interconnectivity of things and rates of interaction make the expected and actual lifespans of sutra and tantra much shorter, with negative second derivative. Indeed Dzogchen is still eternal, but it comes with no structural guarantees, and may well be, for example, in the extinction of humans. As a human, I would be expected at least to hope not—but I’m not sure if I really feel this hope.

Gandhi gave a great sutra, enough to fulfill its transient purpose and then some. But it is nothing universal. And Gandhi is more dead than God—at least by the Lindy principle, I’d expect the latter to last much longer still.

Many sages have prophesied an age after the end of law. Sad-dharma-vipralopa. Notice that law is “dharma”—this is not the end of any particular worldly system of law, say the “capitalism” that allows cruelty to legally abound. It is the end of any positively established pattern-system, form-system, to govern the operation of the world.

I commend and respect Gandhi for his noble and effective fulfillment of his need of need, and his recruitment of others to the same. I commend Gupta for the same—perhaps his system of meanings (i.e. needs and possible actions) will be appropriate for many others, to satisfy their need for need and to serve as means to their continued existence harmonious with the world. I commend AZ for the same.

But of course, none of these are ultimate. More directly, none of these are for me. On a more practical note, I also doubt that sharing one’s positive vision for the future, even convincing many others of the same, is a very effective thing toward actualizing said vision, and even less toward actualizing the empty, absolutely negative intersection of all good and harmonious visions. I expect Gupta knows this well, and I commend him especially also for his actions outside words.

Upon which, hypocritically, I share my own writings on my vision for the future. Here and here. We write them for a reason.

Wei Wu Wei

So we come to the ever-important question of what to do. This is to be answered from several perspectives.

For one, heroes are nice to have. My current philosopher-heroes are Gilles Deleuze, Buckminster Fuller, Ju Mipham, Nassim Taleb.

For another, it is nice to have possibilities and hopes for the mid-term, within my range of felt anticipation. The Daoist lineage I’m connected to is considering coming to the U.S. to do the Gelug or Haier thing, of gaining “American” reputation for subsequent better native leverage. Also more immediately for better positioning in the global tension and conflict that will follow in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. (Just see that there are conspiracies in China that the virus was manufactured in the U.S., in the U.S. that it was manufactured in China; I make no further comment.) So I may become involved with that.

For me, I have given myself an immediate positive in “oblitero omnis obscurantis,” again the felt union of yin and yang. To make ultimate yin my ultimate yang, for it is the most powerfully suitable to that role, in the absence of any more intermediate cultivated other.

These are all very immediate things. There is no ultimate positive, especially one inaccessible and far-off. I think that far-off positive is inherent in and crucial to the idea of (futile) “effort”, and here I will also say a bit more on 为无为.

无, 無, wu, mu—is the absolute negation. In Hebrew, ע (ayin). Note that the letter o is derived from ע.

为, 爲, wei—often translated action. It also has functions like the words “as” or “rendered to.”

So we have doing by non-doing. Or effortless action. Or rendering to 0 as action. Nothing as action. As it is not as it is. As nonaction. Being as rendering to 0. Being as 0. As not as. All the wordplay I introduce with my translation works with the original—I’m not sure how meaningful it is, if at all, to non-Chinese-speakers though. There’s much that English can’t convey and also much that it adds—I find myself often having to introduce the problematic “being.”

So my drive toward the Abyss is described in 为无为. As is effortless expertise in any particular skill. It’s always a push against something; the idea is in removing something, not in positively being a particular way. It is also similar to “این نیز بگذرد” (this too shall pass).

It all shall pass. Whatever cruelties now. Whatever merits. Whatever constraints. Whatever hopes or grievances. Everything fragile, which is everything in form. Whatever positive visions for the future. Whatever efforts. Anything but Dzogchen, and even that when named; anything I can say.

Apart from this, I have no hope for the future. Therefore all this is but a “cutting through.” To what? Some may be dismayed to find, to absolutely nothing.