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12 March 2018


Back in engineering school, I was in class listening to the teacher (PhD in his own field) talking and making demonstrations about set theory ( He was deep inside, he was in the zone. Rare are the maths teachers who can talk and be alive during their classes, but this guy was one of them. On fire, captivating, hypnotizing, running from one side of the board to the other. In the audience, I felt burning, as if I had fever.

Using only logic and starting from scratch, the teacher managed to deconstruct and reconstruct mathematical sets and rebuild everything: the Fundamentals (addition, substraction, numbers, functions…). He was demonstrating and proving the mathematics as the common world knows and uses it. The underlying fabric of maths, objects we had been using for years, the basis of reality. I could understand everything. I was in the Matrix, deep down in the secrets of the universe with him.

But, the mindfuck was not enough. He started tweaking parameters of the original premises, because he could and had the total right to do it. And with these modifications and given defined sets, he managed to demonstrate that 2+2=5. There was no cheating.

2+2=5. Orwell’s 1984… This discovery was both amazing and traumatic. I’m still confused more than 10 years later.

I really enjoyed reading what everyone wrote above, especially what Mae wrote about being more of someone with slow relevations.
The manner by which relevations hit me is usually-
1. Some kind of inner awakening/feeling stirring
2. I am present when someone says/does something
3. After rumination, 1 & 2 collide and I reach that ‘A-ha’ moment.

Below I’ve inserted a bit of writing on a recent A-ha moment I had while I was in Surin, Thailand.


Trunks and tails are swaying, tick tock, tick tock, and a chorus of voices, with the strictness of a discipline master chiding recalcitrant students, are going ‘Ma, Ma, Ma!’ in canon, beckoning the herd to advance.

‘It’s the last time you’ll be seeing them,’ Aek, our guide, reminds. As we continue shuffling, the smell of elephant poop, the caress of prickly hairs and crinkly skin, the symphony of twisting and breaking of sugarcane, the warmth of the afternoon sun like a sheath cast over Krapho river flood my mind. I fall into a daze, realisation slowly dawning upon me. Time to say goodbye.

‘Pop gan Mai?’ I say, pensively, meaning ‘See you later’, in Thai.
‘Lagon’, Aek corrected, for ‘farewell’ or ‘goodbye’.
‘But he told me that’s rude, the guide from the other elephant sanctuary yesterday,’ I protest meekly.

Aek turns abruptly, his usual smiling face suddenly turning serious, his dark eyes flashing under furrowed brows.
‘All things come to an end. If you say pop gan mai and you don’t come back, you’re a liar. Do you want to be a liar or do you want to be rude?’
The words cut right through.

Later at night, tossing and turning on the thin mattress in my small, stuffy room, three months after starting my sabbatical, finally, the words come to me – Cognitive dissonance. There had long already been an undercurrent stewing, a tug of war between the heart and the mind – the desire to continue pursuing creation: writing and illustration, at all costs, even at the risk of breaking my promise to return to my job, battling against my pride and commitment to fulfilling promises, at any price. Leaving would make me a traitor, a liar, a cheat, and I didn’t want to compromise.

The turmoil inside was unbearable, so avoidance was my tactic. I put off the decision, hoping for external signs or divine intervention, to tell me if I should say goodbye.

Wow… Aek is deep. I do that a lot too. Hope something external will guide me in the right direction. I’ve found that for me, that’s just a cover and my true hope is that something external will validate me and give me license to make the unpopular decisions I’d struggle to explain to people to keep them on my side. Great piece.

Great piece indeed! Echoing Michael’s comment. Just sent you a mini-report, Wenlin. (Will be circling back to you Mike, as well. Meantime, see you on Monday again? I’m hoping Cameron and another guest in The Mirror in his town can do a concurrent one some Monday where they are…)

I wanted to share a little bit from Flatland, the book that I had mentioned in the email to you this week.

In Flatland, the Sphere lifts the main character, narrator of the story A. Square, into three dimensions. At which point A. Square says he is experiencing ‘omnividence.’ He tells it like this:

I: Then is omnivedence the attribute of others besides God?

Sphere: I do not know. But if a pickpocket or a cut-throat of our country can see everything that is in your country, surely there is no reason why the pickpocket or cutthroat should be accepted by you as God. This omnividence as you call it—it is not a common word in Spaceland—does I make you more just, more merciful, less selfish, more loving? Not in the least. Then how does it make you more divine?

I: More merciful, more loving! But these are the qualities of women! And we know that a circle is a higher Being than a Straight Line, insofar as knowledge and wisdom are more to be esteemed than mere affection.

Sphere: It is not for me to classify human faculties according to [can’t read my notes here], yet many of the best and wisest in Spaceland think more of the affections than of the understanding, more of your despised Straight Lines than of your belated Circles. But enough of this. Look yonder. Do you know that building? –Edwin Abbot, Flatland. Writer, scholar, educator, theologian. 1838-1926.

If anyone is curious we are talking more about space, and specifically Stephen Hawking, in a different page. Let me know if you want to join us… Me and HL so far, she is the physicist I had mentioned here and there to some of you because I was so overjoyed at learning about the multiverse in an actual *conversation* in stead of just reading books! Anyway! It’s an open invitation. 🙂

I’m sorry.. Flatland came out in 1884.
When people say classic, they really mean classic.

I’d like to come and read along in your other space. I need to fill up my brain so it can figure this stuff out in the background while I’m playing video games or whatever.

Good to see you! Will send the recap. Thanks for all the thoughts on the various things. I’m interested in talking more about Artmaking vis-a-vis Moneymaking. Maybe we could do a themed Stammtisch next Monday, Artrepreneurship, based on your blog and some other things that my friend in Seattle who does the salons a lot and who did one on this topic, Creative Entrepreneur, I think it was, might have to add… Can ask him if you want to hear more or dream up something, it doesn’t have to be anytime super soon. I’m curious, though.

Wow. When you have an actual laptop computer and not an iPad, you can type so much more and so much faster. Cameron, are you reading? This IS something else. I feel like I’m on skates. Thanks, Akira, for buying me this thingy. I hope I don’t get addicted to the internet again…

Yeah, I couldn’t mess with the ipad life without the full laptop to back me up because a great keyboard is a must if you’re writing a lot. Of course if the ipad and keyboard are fancy enough I guess anything is possible. #ChromebooksThough

I’d love to do something live with Artrepreneuership. That article I cited was the first time I really thought about it as part of the zeitgeist. So yeah, I’d like to hear more.

Here’s a link to the article I wrote if anyone is interested:

New geometries and no solutions – I like the thought of this week!

Instead of a fast revolutionary conversion, I’m probably more of a believer of slower evolution… things leading in a particular direction for a while, drawing the lines of the new geometric shape, but it’s not till the full shape is drawn that you can say: ‘that’s it – I’m converted!’. That’s how I tend to be, in researching different things, learning more about a particular something, then there’s a whirl where things all come together for a new understanding. And this process could be years in the making.

I had a musical example in mind too when I came to write here. I’ve always liked baroque music but never really had the time to explore it more fully. Then had some kind of crisis last year that required consistently calming beautiful music to help me through – and I feel like that was the right time to really get into it and find the beauty and discover my own tastes more. And I found out that I really like clarinet and oboe, on top of my love for lute and classical guitar, and that there are sublime works out there that people have written hundreds of years ago. So now there’s a whole new world of musical pieces for me to get into, again waiting to be discovered… Did I need the crisis to push me there to find it? Probably.

In relation to books, I think that’s a great thing to ask someone – what is their Book of Me? I’ve already declared my inclinations to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, but there’s plenty of other stuff out there to discover. And I love following a thread, where you hear of one thing or recommendation, and it leads to something else, and then to something else, and somehow there’s a path that ends up being the one you were supposed to follow.

It’s amazing how much of the heavy lifting our brains do in the background. We tend to place a lot of emphasis on deliberate action and thought, but so much of our revelations will seem totally random or inspired from beyond to us. But the truth is we’ve been working on that every day and every night through dreams and sister knowledge. And if comic books and anime have taught me anything, there’s nothing like a crisis to help you get to the next level. Shout out to DC Comics and Dragonball Z

I have a lot of revelations, but my favorite is when I first started opening my sticky eyes on my way to become what the kids called “woke. ” Before this, I wasn’t one to ask difficult questions or have opinions about anything, and was more interested in being as likable as possible. I’d already had a similar “pre awakening” moment in 2004 when I learned there were tons of Black pirates of the Caribbean that the entire culture and educational spheres neglected to tell me about.

My friend Joe and I were on a long drive from Austin to Arlington, Texas to visit my friend Ed, who’d recently moved there to start his first Lawyer job. Arlington is not particularly interesting or cool and everyone over the age of 15 is almost expected to have a child already. I really didn’t want to go, but his incessant asking finally broke me as we had no plans for Memorial Day weekend that year.

Joe was one of my best friends growing up as a kid and we’d been able to reconnect during high school and keep the party going. Since I was 5, his entire existence revolved primarily around video games, and once Joe was old enough to make his own decisions about what to enjoy, he gravitated strongly to the electronic music of the late 90s and dragged us all with him. By 2007, the internet had progressed enough for him to download all kinds of wild DJ from all over the world and he came prepared with a stack of CDs for this trip.

I staved off his music as long as I could, but eventually he took the wheel and the radio, and put in one of his discs that had a DJ set from London. Rather than the expected beeps and boops of Trance and House music, this set began with something a little different: an 8 minute rap song about the afrocentric history of the world.

Back in 1996, west coast rapper Ras Kass wrote this song where he outlines everything about black history he’d been learning during his time at his fancy university as well as his additional independent studies of his own. In the song, Ras touches on everything from albanism to homosexual greek fraternities, to Constantine of Rome’s commissioning pictures of Jesus to look like his own family, and the true meaning of Saturnalia… er I mean Christmas (hint: it’s gay sex).

Despite its issues and 90’s era hip hop homophobia, I’d never heard anything like Nature of the Threat. It answered questions for me that I’d never even thought to ask. It was just like the Black pirates thing all over again just with everything else. I had to rewind it over and over again and even keep Joe’s CD. I had to play it for everyone, most notably best bud and history graduate Rob who also found himself entranced with the work. This was the beginning of what would be a massive shift in the way I saw the world and what I beleive today.

Here’s an article where I talk a bit more about the song and link to it and an interview with Ras Kass if you’re interested.

I’m looking forward to listening to this song! Again, another thread to follow and who knows where it’ll lead…

Michael- Really interesting thoughts!
I can relate to that feeling of surpressing inner opinions/feelings to keep to being easygoing and likeable, to tend to the preference of a group! In my teens especially that was a huge struggle for me, balancing expectations/hopes/likes of others and my true inner desires/likes/hopes… Gradually over time thankfully with adulthood ‘integrity’ from within is well-balanced with ‘identity’ that society/the other has constructed.

For years i struggled with the gap between who i was, who i wanted to be and who others wanted me to be, but like you said, i think at some point i ‘woke’, to this sense of ease and acceptance. It still fluctuates from time to time and is an ongoing process but I’m glad to say im in a much better place than before.

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