Paintings by František Kupka (left) and and Ferdinand Hodler (right).

"The only certification you need is poetic license" — Tiago Forte

I turned 28 this month. By now I must admit that I'm an adult, right? I find myself reflecting, at this less-than-momentous hour, girl u got so much shit going on. You may or may not recall...

  • I run comms at a crypto startup;
  • my artsy side hustle includes this monthly-ish newsletter (the one you're currently reading) and the print edition that I mail to paying members, plus various random creations, such as...
  • I'm working on an alt-pop album with Lex;
  • I want to ramp up social organizing in the Bay Area again, after a long burnout-driven hiatus;
  • I'm tryna get pregnant ASAP, and consequently...
  • my husband and I will move from our apartment into my late uncle's house this July.

Six whole bullet points, and I didn't even include "keep attending yoga class regularly" 😭 Anyone wanna timeshare my life? (No doubt my list sounds like nothing to some of you, but I am smol okay? Shush.) Actually I will cope by doing everything much more slowly and spastically than I wish I could. Perpetually lamenting my limited bandwidth T_T

Re: imminent move to Uncle Andrew's house — he is absent, but it still feels like his house — I jump to disclaim that my parents are part of the Bay Area's petty aristocracy of homeowners who bought their place decades ago, hence the Son(ya) Also Rises. Without this advantage I certainly wouldn't pay through the nose to stay in the Bay Area, I tell you hwut. My parents graciously refrain from charging the most aggressive rental rates. It might still be cheaper to live elsewhere, but I want my own kids to grow up with their grandparents right around the corner.

California is gorgeous, and I relish the density of "my people" in the San Francisco metropolis, but 1) those people keep leaving 'cause it's so damn expensive; 2) CA is a one-party state ruled by venal careerists. Admittedly the "venal careerists" part is true everywhere, but I prefer when different factions of said demographic counterbalance each other. Which is not to say there aren't factions among California Democrats — ugh, anyway. At least I am thoroughly spoiled by the weather here. Except for wildfire season...

California is a garden of Eden
A paradise to live in or see
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi

— "Do Re Mi" by Woody Guthrie

Regarding the artsy side hustle, I'm working on articulating my relationship with God (a tall order!) and wrapping up a narrative node in Wanderverse, my copyleft fairytale project. There is quite a bit to do for The Album, an exhilarating first-time challenge for me. Lex and I hope to release it in late summer or early fall. Maybe I'll throw a launch party!

If I zoom out, all my shit looks like prototyping, like cultural R&D for the internet age, which has still only just started. I am far from alone in this niche; among the other participants I am quite humble. Perhaps within a decade or two I'll say that I was a foot soldier enacting Balaji's Network State... Regardless, I hope to attain motherhood, then eventually progress to cronedom, within the embrace of a boisterous community of weird nerds, including rolling generations of our offspring. Inshallah.

Back in September 2020 I described my goal as "densify[ing] the ecosystem" — connecting people, and reaping whatever accolades such services can garner. Ya girl's got an ego... I am possessed of a preternatural impulse for expression and performance. I want to be known. Attention and admiration, these I craved before it ever occurred to me to justify my desires. A stranger's smiling gaze was intoxicating well before I began to speak.

My consciousness is ultimately not so different from a unicellar organism reacting to the nutrient gradients in its environment. This primal Awareness upon which each of us is a mask comprises an inalienable longing — before the recursive structures of sentience ever developed, before any self was equipped to perceive its own presence, individuals felt visceral swells of reward and pain, of affinity and aversion:

___ Single-celled organisms can sense and react. Much of what they do counts as behavior only in a very broad sense, but they can control how they move and what chemicals they make, in response to what they detect going on around them. In order for any organism to do this, one part of it must be receptive, able to see or smell or hear, and another part must be active, able to make something useful happen. The organism must also establish a connection of some sort, an arc, between these two parts.
___ One of the best-studied systems of this kind is seen in the familiar E. coli bacteria, which live in vast numbers inside and around us. E. coli has a sense of taste, or smell; it can detect welcome and unwelcome chemicals around it, and it can react by moving toward concentrations of some chemicals and away from others. The exterior of each E. coli cell has an array of sensors — collections of molecules bridging the cell’s outer membrane. That's the "input" part of the system. The "output" part is composed of flagella, the long filaments with which the cell swims. An E. coli bacterium has two main motions: it can run or tumble. When it runs, it moves in a straight line, and when it tumbles, as you might expect, it randomly changes direction. A cell continually switches between these two activities, but if it detects an increasing concentration of food, its tumbling is reduced.
___ A bacterium is so small that its sensors alone can give it no indication of the direction that a good or bad chemical is coming from. To overcome this problem, the bacterium uses time to help it deal with space. The cell is not interested in how much of a chemical is present at any given moment, but rather in whether that concentration is increasing or decreasing. After all, if the cell swam in a straight line simply because the concentration of a desirable chemical was high, it might travel away from chemical nirvana, not toward it, depending on the direction it's pointing. The bacterium solves this problem in an ingenious manner: as it senses its world, one mechanism registers what conditions are like right now, and another records how things were a few moments ago. The bacterium will swim in a straight line as long as the chemicals it senses seem better now than those it sensed a moment ago. If not, it's preferable to change course.

Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Life is made of desire.


The San Friend Disco brought to you by the Superfriends!

Wednesday, June 29 in San Francisco:

  • Picnic @ Dolores Park in the Mission, 5pm
  • Party at Noisebridge (the hackerspace), 272 Capp Street, 7pm

@VivaLaPanda_ says, "Come join me, @HimekoKatagiri, @meenowave and the homies for The Most Event Ever" — I'll be there too! Which probably makes me "the homies" 😛

Saturday, July 16: Tasshin will host an online metta retreat on a donation basis.

Somnia Tarot by artist Nicolas Bruno
Nicolas Bruno's Somnia Tarot is arresting. Found via Uel's newsletter.
I only bully you
When I'm in a giving mood
Like, I like you
But I like when you're uncomfortable too
So now I'm acting off-color
Like it's kind to be cruel
But you're the ultramarine
To my Yves Klein Blue (it's true)

"Superfan" by Chelsea Jade

Last but never least! Visakan on "How to be opportunistic":

Okay I lied, one two more things — both affiliate links to newsletter recommendation services, if you try 'em out it boosts my own newsletter:

Could be fun if you're looking to find new writers! Alright, signing off now, l8r.

— 🐇 Sonya