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It’s the night before release day. I’m photoshopping the ace of pentacles from Jodorowsky’s Marseilles deck into a cursor for this website, which nobody will probably see. I’d much rather hear what other people think of the music now, than come up with more things to say. But as usual there is still so much to synthesize...for my own sake as much as anyone else.

What a zone it’s been! Really a confluence of zones...a foam of bubbles. And each of us somewhere in the middle. I’m reminded of something Bayo Akomolafe said once (as usual) - “May we meet in that precious middle.” Easier said than done, when each of us has a different vantage point!

From what I can see, my own middle tends to be a bit “middler” than most of the people around, on account of the wide variety of folks I choose to spend time with. Still, lately I’ve found myself wishing for solitude again...the kind that allowed for the easy creation of a mixtape and a drone album, and this website. I can do a lot with solitude, and at the moment I’m finding myself hopelessly entangled.

And as I worked out the visual elements of my upcoming album, I came back to this website and thought about the forces that have kept me away...a particular configuration that privileges the “real world” and draws a line between what’s in here and out there.

Out there, our devices are tools designed to make life easier. Or else a substitute for something better, when the real thing is unavailable. Or else a refuge, from a world outside our control.

I remember sometime during quarantine...I can’t remember who said this, but someone recommended lowering the brightness on your computer, so that the screen could sit in your field of view more evenly with everything else outside of it. I still think about that every once in a while, this simple act whose intention is to even out the hierarchy of stimuli.

More things become possible, as my gaze drifts from these bright letters onscreen, to all the multicolored fabrics in my closet, the sun coming in the window, and the half-unpacked suitcases on the floor. My cats’s all happening the same sequence of attention. I’m remembering now that the reason we said yes to so many recent friend hangs and gatherings arose partly from a renewed commitment to Donna Haraway’s call to “stay with the trouble,” particularly following quarantine. To identify with a certain kind of modern human experience, via personal participation. I can hear the chorus of voices telling me my personal life experience is already indicative of the modern experience, simply by existing. I get your point, oh faceless imaginary visitor. But this is the middle according to my own, incommunicable personal logic. Besides, another element of this is my desire to meet my own threshold of relating to others. And while it can be challenging (even exhausting), I do genuinely enjoy relating from one group to another, much as I like moving from one creative project to the next. I sometimes lose myself in the process, but I also find myself in the multitude.

It feels like I’m doing a research project - meeting my personal limits of safety and need to go out and gather bits of information. I can write freely in the 1st person here...this isn’t about objectivity. It’s about gathering a different kind of personal data, and drawing conclusions that are just better questions.

As we travel at volatile speeds in different directions, I think we need new bibles. Not the dogmatic kind, but the kind written in our own language. Not just the written word, but using the building blocks of our time - the routine, the UX, the infinite scroll. Not just the kind of thing you read on a placard, but the kind of thing you feel in your bones just by receiving it...whose very presence draws our attention to the present and our place in it.

>>> 2021 <<<


day 346. light rustling from the cats brings on my first waking moments. awareness spreads from a vague location in my body, until I notice my eyes have been wide open. sun salutation, afterwards I sit on the couch trying to recall in reverse the last week of faces/voices I’ve encountered. They come back out of order, but the experience reminds me to make more cards, and to remember my latest mantra: “who’s it for?”

coffee + a chocolate chip pumpkin muffin from SJ. work call with mom and dad, we disconnect before things get too personal, then pangs of guilt. I email my zoom aerobics instructor about payment options, read a Ta Nehisi Coates’s article Kanye for Sunday Book Club, before following a FKA Twigs’s IGTV workout video on my phone. at lunch I rewatch the birthday video SJ made from clips of my friends sharing their favorite memories of us. I process some beats on the Octatrack and make opaque plans to stream tomorrow afternoon. a check-in with the Virtual Care Lab discord reminds me I still need to catch up with some prompts there, one of which was Aden’s question from yesterday’s Lab Hour, “what would you like to know?” my response - “how do I know if I’m doing enough?” 


Rituals this week:

movement - FKA Twigs’s warmups on IGTV. Tai Chi, w/ Master Yang (on Prime)

lunch reading
* Feminist, Queer, Crip, Alison Kafer
* “I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye,” Ta-Nehisi Coates
* Entangled Life, Merlin Sheldrake (audiobook)

bedtime stories
* The Farthest Shore, Ursula Le Guin
* The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang

How’s year 2 been for you? Over here it’s felt like flipping between epiphanies and boredom, absorbing in small doses just how much of a marathon of stillness this is. Feels like I’m in an unevenly made Tarkovsky film, made to reckon with the philosophical implications of inherent human truths writ large (and very few special effects). I miss that buzz of activity that allowed me to wake up some days and think, “my, how the time has passed!” - the same buzz that made it easy for us to lose track of each other...but these are new times, and we’re all lost in them. It’s been hard to accept that change is not a destination. I keep telling myself this, and yet I still find myself on imaginary, self-made summits, waking up days, hours later to find the choice is once again mine to make. Stories can help me remember what I care about, but it’s been a year of bibliographies. I think I need a hike ⛰

How many collaborative ongoing spaces do I have the bandwidth for? Creating my own spaces is a way of maintaining my position of control over my own education. What am I not learning, by choosing not to be entangled?

Ongoingness is not a concept in itself - it modifies a concept. With what are we choosing to go on? Everyone has a different answer. An invitation to an ongoing experience is frightening because it means different things to different people...

Ongoingness is what I carry with myself from one project to another, one missed connection to another. It is not necessarily the project itself (unless the goal of the project is to find ones’ way to a relationship with ongoingness). Ongoingness is not the destination, it’s the path, the way.

And what marks this path? What are the characteristics of the projects that form these connecting dots? If the goal is entanglement and deep collaboration, if the goal is friendship, then the projects have to be small (small is all). Friendships will outlast projects. If there are more projects later, there can be further invitations to “go on.” But this model allows someone to consent to going on, while also giving them an opportunity to move at their pace.

Ongoingness queers the human experience of time. I was friends with Andrew as a freshman in college, and we had about 8 years of time apart before becoming closer than ever before in LA. Ongoingness is bigger than my everyday desire to feel connected. It seems faith plays a part, even.

I want to admit that as tech-savvy as I may be,
I am not always 100% there.
It is still easy to get only a fraction of me thru text, IG, FB, etc.
I get very focused on things, and then just kind of do this general,
schedule-meets-life, improv-type deal
and then days later will be like

o shit
oooooo shit

who knows how many friendships are already subtly tarnished by this past (or repeated) unacknowledged transgression?

Communing with digital devices is an act of channeling one’s physical self toward a broadcasted form of attention. It takes its toll on our physical forms - an energy transfer. What do we receive in return? What constitutes nutrients in the binary soil? Where do our roots extend, what nourishment do they exchange in the mycelial network?

This week I was reminded of the pain of others around me - their frustration, and anger - and I feel the tug to join in aggressive action. But I’m also reluctant to give up the path I’ve already been on, looking for connection in other ways. In places of privilege, how can I show up in ways that others need - while also honoring my own ongoing personal journey?

It’s been hard to focus. There is urgency in the air that seems to call for decisive action. I’m reminded of an article I read last month, whose words have been haunting me ever since: “These are ways in which, as things start to slip down that death road, other things start going too. Relationships unravel, mutualities falter, dependence becomes a peril rather than a blessing, and whole worlds of knowledge and practice diminish.” (Deborah Bird Rose)

It seems to me that there is a very real need to preserve rituals celebrating love and compassion, sharing dreams - which I understand can read externally as inaction. The world continues to orient itself as a tug of war, a world where if you’re not pulling your weight you’re dead weight. My present situation gives me the freedom to choose how I look at the problem. For others that is a luxury they cannot afford, or have been denied altogether. 

Finding myself refreshingly disconnected from some of the forces that used to influence my decisions - words like branding, marketability, success. I feel less like I’m competing. It’s not that those feelings disappeared altogether; maybe more-so that my real needs are higher on the list than usual. The fears too, of sustainability, have not vanished, but taken on different shapes. Whether people can care about me enough to support my work - that problem has just become more digitized than it was before quarantine.

I do feel different though. I feel like in searching online for connection, I’m taking on responsibility for relationships I originally assumed could be sustained without my attention. 

I’ve been comparing artists to superheroes a lot in my mind, over the past week. Which feels silly, but conceptually I feel like the only difference is that superhuman feats are meant to look good on paper. The best part about those stories though, was the stories of people navigating responsibility and the eccentricity of their experience. Understanding what made them want to help people in the first place. There’s certainly part of my comparison that also has to do with wanting to feel special, and recognized.

Everyone deserves to feel that way.

I’ve been feeling more valuable, more important than I did before quarantine. Feels nice to be comparing myself less to other people than usual.

I think the biggest determinant of my satisfaction in a day is connected to my awareness of the passage of time. Whether I’m doing something enjoyable or not, losing track of time is a disappointing feeling.

other things than screens

What is the least I can do, and still be full?
What fills me?
What if I wait, what fills me then?
What is a “full day?”

- Gwendolyn Brooks, “Prisoners”
- Dori Midnight, “Wash Your Hands”

What’s the least I can do?

Steps for staying curious:
- no more routines. Instead, opportunities to ask yourself, “do I wanna do this?”
- it’s not enough to think about it and decide not to. You have to do the task enough to be focused on it and answer honestly.
- maybe one day I try, I’m like “nope.” Then I can do other shit.
- don’t use time, except as a reminder to take a break and check back in. “Do I still wanna do this?”

As long as there are socially agreed-upon beginnings, why not find personal ways to use them as such?
- 1st Monday of the month: write out a plan
- every monday: check in with the monthly plan
- every hour: check in with the current activity.
Checking in is not a productivity hack. It is a practice of cultivating an honest relationship with the self.

Caught myself trying to find solutions again.

Solutions are great once you’d identified a problem - and they can be very distracting otherwise. Even if a problem is identified, the solution may be inadequate if other concerns lie outside of the identified problem - which is very much the case we are in.

Creativity is helping these days, I think because creativity is a problem-solving mechanism in which I have control. My song will not save the planet - that much is clear. But it does answer a number of recurring questions. Questions like “What do I like?” “What do my friends like?” “What am I thinking?” It also helps because it is a vehicle for staying in the present without being overwhelmed by the present.

Made this page. I found that conch shell thumbnail on Chairish. Jesus, that name. Anyhow, pretty impressed they were using a .png with a transparent background. Like, do they go into photoshop and neatly crop out every product they have?
I wonder how many YouTubes are just autoplaying idly without watchers. I wonder how much revenue is being generated from royalties, just passively slipping from one bank account to another, without a care.