No, the resemblance ain't a coincidence; true coincidences are exceedingly rare, you know. Honorable mentions for "venal," "vestigial," and "vessel."
Oblique jokes aside, hello again! Recently published:
- I'm hosting a picnic meetup in San Francisco on Saturday, April 17 (next weekend)
- Sam Wilson's latest volley of gnomic, Gnomic adventures
For the past ~six months I've been preoccupied with the theme "forest as initiation site, natural setting for the beginning stages of the hero's journey."
You're in the thick of it, in the thicket. No bird's-eye view, no mountain-top vistas. Only the trees, and your back pressed against one. Surrounded. Submerged. Surrounded.
My particular fixation has been plunging into the woods — braving the thorns despite the fate of unsuccessful suitors. (Thus echoing "Impossibility Space." Also my 2021 word is "branches" 🌳) Here's the first stanza of a poem:
Forest as site of first blood
where you stumble and are seized
Forest as obscured vision, the way
branches layer to block out anything
but immediate surroundings
the immediate moment
Another such ode, in full:
the deer dodges the hunter
who harvests to kill his hunger
for meat, for mastery, glory
the accolades due to a man victorious
he snatches the feast as it leaps
blood for the babies, nourished complete
the wind feels like an encroaching stranger
as it sneaks up behind your shoulder
owl cult elders scheming to extinguish you
should their altars come to any risk
bones blood breath and brain
the red-tailed hawk, she swoops again
for the rush of her form
for the crunch in her talons
of the brutal things
that pass here
Each of those poems was written for the artsy "happy mail" that I send to members every month, of late an apt venue for workshopping Wanderverse. Today I want to share an incomplete sample — since unique handmade artwork is typically included — spanning last winter till this spring. PDF links, none so huge that I personally wouldn't click while on mobile:
- Feral and freezing
- "the darkest deep-down, the deep darkest down" (heavily inspired by "Soul Juice")
- "Every wood has a witch in it. This one hides."
- Finding, losing, seeking
- After entering the forest, start moving through it
I would love to hear your thoughts on this theme of the forest as initiation site. Actually, tell me about initiation sites more broadly — is there a different one that especially resonates with you? Or is the rite what matters, and specific site is secondary or even negligible in importance? (I don't think so — form and function, or style and substance, are mutually inextricable.) Reply to this email, or tweet and send me a link, or better yet blog and send me a link. Blog and I'll be thrilled 🤗
Next, crème de la crème de la ecosystem! At least to the extent that I've been able to keep track 😉 I habitually save the links that catch my eye, but don't hesitate to suggest any I may have missed.
(Btw, the reading list is last again due to its comparatively excessive length.)
Geoff Shullenberger will teach a couple of classes soon, the first of which starts on Wednesday, two days from now:
- Michel Foucault's Theory of Biopolitics in the Covid Era, April 14 & 21, $60
- The Philosophy of René Girard: An 8-Week Course, starting mid-June, price TK — but you can download the syllabus and sign up to be notified when enrollment opens
To soothe your harried heart, Pamela Hobart offers Antiplanning: Last-Ditch Time Management for the Scattered. She has three little kids and runs a small business, so like, #goals.
- "you are the Main Character in your life" by Visakan Veerasamy, a wise friend who's been quite prolific on YouTube recently
- Creative journaling for beginners, and more creative journaling for beginners (purposes: self-expression, aesthetic experimentation, memory-keeping, introspection, stress relief — very gratifying hobby, helped me quit drinking!)
- Michael Curzi has this cool zany series called Philosophers on Twitch Playing Flight Simulator, on Twitch (duh lol) plus YouTube
One single podcast this time — Matt Parlmer and John Dulin "cover[ing] a ton of ground over more than three hours, from Jimmy Torre's Clausewitz-tier ideas about the 'noise floor' to modes of conflict other than full scale war."
Rob Kroese's Kickstarter for upcoming sci-fi trilogy Mammon recently hit $20k, but there's still time to pledge, thus securing your access to a saga of epic economic hijinks. Rob plans to commission some short stories set in the universe.
Enticing, entangling essays:
- "Why I Am Obsessed With the Forbidden Seuss" by PoliMath
- Gwern ponders, "The activity of manufactured collecting is puzzling; what explains the enormous resources spent on what is, by and large, neither lucrative, prestigious, nor entertaining?" As usual, many examples and angles explored.
- "How to Start a New Country" by Balaji Srinivasan
- "Death of a Client" by /u/ymeskhout — heartbreaking
- Still heartbreaking but less depressing: "My Son, the Organ Donor"
- From the ever-erudite pen of Razib Khan: "Entering Steppelandia: pop. 7.7 billion," "Ancient Humans Had A Lot Of Sex With Each Other" (if you only read one, make it this), and "How the Irish became white" (about that nation's deep ethnic ancestry, not the boring culture war spat implied by the title)
- "Digging and Sinking and Drifting: Allison Parrish's Machine Poetics" by Emily Alison Zhou
- "why astrology will become a dominant belief system" by mks
- "Instead of Your Life's Purpose" by existentialpervert69
- "Why shouldn't this card be frightening? Impermanence is terrifying." Uel Aramchek on the Tarot card Death; later on the Tower
- "The ghosts in the data" by Vicki Boykis
- "Sam Fussell: an interview with the author of Muscle" and "The Power and the Gory" — dual view into how extreme bodybuilding enthralls and distorts its most ardent practitioners
- "Why I'm switching to raised beds for my survival garden" by Josh Centers
- "How I earn a living selling my open source software" by nemiah
- "Interview with a 'lent Founder" by /u/axcho who founded Super Body Fuel
End of the list! Phew.
Since you stuck with me this far, maybe you'd enjoy the monthly member mailings for that I mentioned earlier? A few reader reactions:
More details 💖 here 💖 Kthxbyyyyeeeeeee ~