This is too good. A directory. By a novelist. Structural collapse, eh? Damn inspiring. (By Dennis Cooper. Discovered by laurex.)
This page is also on dat.
philosopher.life, the 'wiki'/'avatar'/'life' of h0p3. serious rabbithole.
ramblinggit, bumped into him, lots of crossover with this blog.
whimsy.space v good zine by danielx.
neil c very famous but should be a world icon.
sammyclassicsonicfan the original teen rage adventure.
innovation.isotropic.org probly the best carl chudyk game.
and opinionated gamers for non-chudyk game analysis.
The text of my second private reply to h0p3’s ‘hyperconversations’—I am saving my own copy of this here after many days have passed.
(This letter was previously sent privately to h0p3, since I felt that I had bungled up a productive discussion. Now that I can see the overall waveform of our discussion, I think there are many things I’m learning about conversing through writing and reading—in fact, I really think my failures so far are more the failures of input rather than out!—and this immense dialogue is becoming a satisfying start to all the dialogues I would love to have with more of you out there!)
(Apologies in advance that I do so much talking here—I swear I’ll never write anything this long again. No one should feel compelled to read this. I will shut up and go back to silent, stoic reading for the rest of the weekend.)
So I am going to try to rewind and do as you say: to take a better shot at addressing your part of our ‘hyperconversation’. I am sending you this as a private letter so that you can censor it if you like. I feel like I am starting to border on a troll of some type ;) and feel like the nature of my blog would turn this into a type of ‘broadcast’ that can still receive ‘thumbs up’ and such sordid things. (Ed.: You can comment on this post, but ‘likes’ and ‘mentions’ are disabled to respect this sentiment!)
I hope I can preface these remarks—even if it seems like a bad idea, because it can perceived as changing the topic, taking time away from the ‘meat’. I will get to the topic(s)—but I wonder if some other items might be more pressing (might even be the ‘meat’) because it seems they might be preventing the main discussion from occurring fruitfully.
Ok, so stepping back—I’ve jumped headlong into a discussion with you. (And might I just add: this is a rare opportunity for me and I feel fortunate to have the chance to converse—for you to respect my communications enough that you will give them the thought you have. I have NEVER had the opportunity to correspond in a strictly written way with anyone ever before—to attempt to come to an understanding with them—hmm, well, maybe once, but not to this extent—and this whole time I am wondering if the medium has its limits. I guess this is where Socrates chimes in. Well, of course it does—but I am probably the largest of those limitations—and that feels good. Perhaps my ability to write will strain under the pressure, perhaps yours—and it requires even more of our abilities to read and internalize each other’s writings! For this reason, I would like the conversation to remain written and for us to find some kind of resolution this way.)
This correspondence has had about three major episodes from each of us. I saw this encounter as a foray into a ‘pen pal’ type thing—which is to say: ‘informal’, ‘inconsequential’ and ‘probably frivolous’. (I hope you will let me say all three of those things in good ways, very good ways. I also admire that you are reaching out through/with your autism to speak with me—I do worry about aggravating your own pain, of putting you under unreasonable expectations of my own and of not seeing the full picture of ‘you’—who you are past ‘h0p3’. But only if you need it—I would rather just see ‘h0p3’ for now—this creation is by design and I intend to take it in.) I don’t feel that I want to ‘wrestle’ —I want to ‘pen pal’. After all, this is a work of fiction. The contents of this letter are products of the reader’s imagination. This letter is for entertainment purposes only. Although the form of this letter is autobiographical, it is not. Although this letter may appear authentic, it is not. What appears to be ‘wrestling’ may actually be a new type of sophisticated ‘pal’ engagement maneuver.
Now, I am not an intellectual by any stretch—I have idea no who Kierkegaard is and I can’t keep Kant and Hume straight. I do read a lot—fiction by a wide margin. I do read Vygotsky and Piaget and, sometimes, Jung. Of all the philosophers, I am most fond of Socrates—and feel a brotherhood with you through him. But the writers that I spend my time on are fiction writers - Albert ‘Vigoleis’ Thelen is someone I speak to in my mind very often. To call out to him: ‘Vigoleis’ when I see his place in the world. Denton Welch and Robert Walser are like this for me. But even these closest—I cannot speak intellectually about them, only romantically.
So yes—I think you want to have a philosophical debate with me, but I am not equipped to do it. And I wonder if it is possible at all. I can’t read all those guys and read your wiki and read the things I want to read and pursue my current ambitions. I don’t think you want to have this discussion unless I am an equipped intellectual. We are both trying to sing and shatter a glass—but your voice is trained. So while I might still be the one to shatter the glass here and there, it’s a hell of a lot more painful having to hear my notes along the way. So this is my opening question: am I misrepresenting what this discussion is—and what do you want out of it? (In a way, I feel I can almost ‘steel’ this because of the statement: “There is a lack of fairness in the dialectic here; I’ve had way more practice thinking about the nitty-gritty, and I must be extremely cautious not to assume others can or will see what I do.”—I agree with this and I feel like I am only fleshing it out further above. And this: “I can’t see far enough to know if he can see what I’m saying (which is a fairly technical claim in moral philosophy).”—I don’t see it, I had no idea there was some central claim to ‘hyperconversations’—I thought it was a series of different claims with some riddles mixed in—which is, I think, where the central claim is nestled? “I am failing this man.”—Dude, I don’t rely on you—I have my own system of living—I’m not just an imbalanced pinball lost in your machine! :D)
And this: “Hedonic Kierkegaardian Aestheticism is here; it’s inaccurately factored into the eudaimonic calculation.” I’m not going to even try to parse this—if I tried, my reaction would be: I don’t feel like my aestheticism is hedonic at all, but quite virtuous! So I think your phrase is going to be misunderstood by me and I am just going to sound ridiculous. :D Perhaps this comment is not meant for me but for the audience, k0sh3k included. (Hey kid! If you exist! Hey! I /will/ you to exist for a single ‘Hey there!’)
Some classic Romanticism in here. Reminds me of that fighting phrase: “Brawl a boxer, box a brawler.” I’ve seen this shift many times against my arguments.
I do think we are paired as boxer vs brawler. That was what I trying to say when listing out some of our opposing polarities—you are codifying me in your statement above as well—no harm, just part of trying to understand someone. I don’t feel that you are degenerate and I don’t think you (yet) believe that I am either. I don’t sense that you are trying to assimilate everyone as boxers. But I do think that not being a boxer would forfeit my scrappy end of the ‘wrestle’ or ‘debate’ side and leave us to the ‘pen pal’ aspect strictly.
This is not a small aspect: while I have not been charitable with argumentation, I believe that I have been charitable with the effect you’ve had on my own work and charitable with the credit I give you for stirring up my inventive mind and stimulating me to materialize it. This will last beyond an argument.
For my part: I am not as interested in some of the topics we’re touching on: stuff like emotion/reason (I have spent almost no time thinking about my arguments there, I am going off half-cocked and I do appreciate/embrace your sayings), what ‘the good’ is (I am trying to figure out what the thrust of our discussion even is, man I can’t even begin to sort that out) and even T42T—I still think they are all very worthy topics, but I don’t think I’m your foil on those. I agree with you that I should be required to defend my ethics—but I also don’t have a list on hand like you do—and it’s changing too much for me to even know how to nail it down. I like the part which explores the texture of our online avatars, but even there—I think I need to sit in the presence of them longer before trying to mouth off about them.
I am going to try to make this quick and to the point—which isn’t “you can’t make me sad” but that “momentary sadness doesn’t register as much when there are more permanent sorrow in place” something like that.
But what’s so bad about this sorrow anyway? A woman crossed the street yesterday, waving to me, so I stood and waited for her. She said she knew someone—a name I recognized. She was pleasant and warm to talk to, so we talked. She said that her son had been murdered many years ago. If you just listened to her for five minutes, you would have thought she was insane. Very pleasant and insane. In a good way, a very good way. A whirlwind of details about trajectories and cover-ups. But if you listened for an hour, you could finally she her—and her sorrow. It wasn’t disgusting or repulsive—but familiar and natural. Just a sorrow—as plain as a pleasantness.
I wanted to show her something in the yard, so I motioned for her to cross the gutter—which is quite wide and was rushing with water—it’s more of a canal than a gutter. But her legs were short and she said, “Oh I don’t know.” I held out my hand and she made a move to try to cross. I realized that she was wearing flip-flops and trying to avoid some spiky weeds. I held out both hands—I probably shouldn’t have tried to persuade her—I don’t know, I began to pull her across and she kind of panicked and made a squeal! She stumbled over—she made it—and we laughed out of relief and I felt stubborn, but it was good to move abruptly from sorrow to laughter like that. Like we had come up for air. We are still in the ocean but we are in the air too.
And I wouldn’t like it if you held back some criticism. I should love to be rebuked! When you are in the freezing ocean, it is probably the best time to hear that you have made a grammatical mistake. What a helpful distraction that could be! And you may never forget to make it again.
And children, when they are rebuked—so often they simply drop their head down and say slowly, ‘Ohhh kay…’ For me, this embodies such an ideal—first, to acknowledge that criticism DOES sting, direct criticism truly can, possibly always does, it makes us drop our heads to hear—and, secondly, to simply ‘ack’ the criticism with no further commentary or defense. Perhaps to go without defense would be too submissive—on the other hand, can we endure any criticism as adults? Any?
I probably am doing my own sidestepping and defensiveness of criticism in this letter. I do know I am better to just drop my head and say slowly, ‘Ohhh kay…’
All of this context to say: I realize you aren’t making fun of me at all here, and I appreciate that very much.
Yes, but if we can find a way to truly make fun of each other—wouldn’t that be such a grand achievement?
The shadow over our eyes is a serious problem: I believe it costs us the ability to be cognitively and emotionally vulnerable (even to ourselves). We don’t really get to know each other when we are engaged in good opsec (that’s kind of the point). The public/private adversarial tension does seem contradictory, but I hope to find a middle way; surely there is a linear logical framework from which geometric social cooperation can arise (I must hope).
You can always doubt, and you can only ever improve your Bayesian odds. The inductive step in trust is a leap of faith in Humanity, in The Other, sir. Building trust and real relationships is exactly why I reveal myself to you and everyone else. I want people to see how I conduct myself and my relationships across the board.
With diamond balls, I really aim to be practically transparent in my practice of saying what I mean and meaning what I say directly because my integrity is at stake.
We are each cameras, in a sense. I think of this wiki as an external, reifying camera of my internal camera states. I do hope to wield both wisely. I do not think I morally own either of them all the way down except insofar as I am constituted by (exist as an extension or instantiation of) The Moral Law.
If I were to try to identify this central ‘claim’ you are making and to ‘steel’ it: You feel that true and real relationships demand radical transparency. More than that, you see it as a virtue—embodying bravery, integrity and honesty. You see it as a direct solution to prevailing mistrust and misunderstanding in the world. You model this behavior for others.
To you, h0p3, this has a blissful and fortuitous collaboration with modern surveillance. You aren’t saying, “What do I have to hide?” It seems that you are saying, “You can’t make me hide.” And I do not think you do not see it as the ‘correct’ choice—you seem to acknowledge that it is a trade-off—but that you are willing to pay the price. But you believe you have sorted it out: you do believe that the reward will always be greater than the price.
Am I in the ballpark? I don’t really know how to do this!
To this, I have no response. I can only hang my head and say slowly, “Ok Mister H…”
I felt no need to respond to that claim after the letter—I found it well-reasoned! I did wonder how much of it is grounded in the tech ideals of ‘open source’ and ‘gratis’/‘libre’—I’ve had other tech friends dabble in transparency (sharing bank account info publicly, cataloging life activity publicly.) I stand by what I said:
The remarkable thing about your wiki is that you have turned your camera on. In fact, your wiki is defiantly personal—I think it goes beyond a mere camera. Your history. Your conversations. Your letter to your parents. Your thoughts about people—about me. A person can turn on a camera and never say these things. You are on to something. I have no desire to talk you out of it.
I realize now that saying nothing is a failure. You need an ‘ack’. Even if it is a repetition.
I think there is something unanswered here, though: Do you have any adaptations to ‘Gentle ClearNet Doxxing’ after the events of the last month? I have wondered if you were going to write more about this—maybe I missed it. To stand by a rule too doggedly is to be—well—dogmatic. Or has the rule functioned properly? (On the other hand, I might also aspire to be dogmatic about FOSS - just for myself and not for anyone else.) Feel free to just link me to the correct answers that I cannot seem to locate.
Ok, that is the end of this letter. I ran across the “business card” page on your wiki while researching “transparency” and loved it.
‘Logic, [Nicholas] suggests, knowing, is like an n-sided polygon nested inside a circle. The more sides you add, the more complexities you introduce, the more the polygon approaches the circle which surrounds it. And yet, the farther away it gets as well. For the circle is but a single, seamless line, whereas your polygon seems to be breeding more and more lines, more and more angles, becoming less and less seamless.’ — Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler
“Do not let my honesty become your enemy.” vs. “What if the secret discovered was a good one?”
Let’s also bring this in:
At last I understood that the way over, or through this dilemma, the unease at writing about ‘petty personal problems’ was to recognize that nothing is personal, in the sense that it is uniquely one’s own. Writing about oneself, one is writing about others, since your problems, pains, pleasures, emotions—and your extraordinary and remarkable ideas—can’t be yours alone.
— Doris Lessing, from her Introduction to The Golden Notebook, 1971
(Okay, time to get everyone else up to speed: I sent h0p3 a private e-mail—to determine
if there was any way of privately communicating with him. I did this partly to satisfy
my curiousity: he seems to post every chat log, e-mail and letter he sends—except
to immediate family members that have grandfathered-in immunity—or perhaps he just defaults to
public mode unless a kind of formal agreement is established.)
(I also did this to simply converse privately. Since h0p3 has settled on a dogged insistence on Wikileaking his life, I am unsure how to have a personal relationship in public hypertext with this avatar. He says the avatar is competely, realistically human—it aspires to be—and I am finding out if it is. Am I starting from a place of distrust? Well, surely. But that’s minor. I am suspicious of BOTH of us. We want to believe these pixels are us—don’t we already know they aren’t?)
(Because, most importantly, there is you. Isn’t it awful to address you during a letter to my friend? I steal time spent on answers he wants. I talk about him as a third, which sounds condescending, simply because he is not us. And you could be anyone: an other, likely a reader, an agent.)
(Maybe it’s not about us at all. Maybe it’s about you. Ours is just a performance. And so there is no us, but just you.)
Let me start by responding to your brother:
He read the kickscondor letters in full (I didn’t realize he’d read it all, which is cool). He pointed to a shift in the tone of the writing. He said we were jerking each other off at first and then got to the meat’n’potatoes. He thinks I’ve been tested in the last section of the last letter. I think he’s right.
Heheh—it’s very true! I think there is a kind of jerking-ones-anothers-off process that has to happen before you’ll honestly read each other’s words, though. But there’s no doubt: I’m the one being tested here.
You have filled a wiki so deep that I can’t see the bottom—and it lands like a monolith; it looks like your beliefs, it is a flashing rainbow conduit. But I am still ripped pieces of paper that blow around in the wind and are lost in wild valleys. I think these things will stay this way.
Yes and HELLO to your brother! How can I send him a private e-mail? It’s very important that it be private. It is like when two of my friends meet and later I find them muttering unintelligibly by the bookcase. God—what are they saying?? What if even the Real U.S. Government and Amazon Alexa can’t seem to make it out??
I am going to publicly think about you, who you are, how you think, what you say, and what you do. Do you wish to be so open and honest? Do you really want to interact and be in contact with me? In this context, informed consent is your responsibility. Do not let my honesty become your enemy. You do not have to wrestle with me, but I hope you see I’m actually trying to radically cooperate with Humanity. How will you treat this naked madman in the desert?
(This bit is not from the letter I am replying to, but from Contact h0p3. I’m not sure I read the whole thing previously, but his rules of engagement are clearly spelled out. Please read this if you intend to strike up a conversation. I wonder if we could all use a page like this—somehow I can’t see myself doing this, as it feels in close proximity to a sign my neighbor has on her door: “DO NOT BRING DRUGS, ALCOHOL OR ANY ILLEGAL MATERIALS OR SUBSTANCES INTO THIS HOME!!” Such a note has the fragrance of a previous encounter all over it; there is a distinct banishment of the “you do you” from 2018—which may not actually exist.)
He concludes the letter:
In part, I aim to be so public simply because I don’t trust people in private. I think very poorly of most human specimens (including many versions of myself), but I desperately hope we find a way to become good human beings. I hope to protect and enable the percentage of legitimate altruists who exist in humanity; they deserve every ounce of my effort. They are truly constituted by Reason.
I play with my cards face-up on the table. In a way, I hope it has a kind of ripple effect in spreading awareness of what it means to be ourselves […]
Ok, so this I get. It seems feasible that a public performance of the private could shake out some disasters. It’s possible that we need everyone to weigh in on this. And we already have the benefit of your pupil Sphygmus (a reader like you out there—us—who stepped out of the ‘real’ to join us here).
On the other hand, this now adds infinite perspectives to demonize these conversations, to shame them, to hate them. I’ve honestly never had a chance in my life for someone to hate one of my private conversations—except for the other person (and even that has happened far too frequently.)
I think if I were to develop a seed of my own personal code (to stand in contrast to yours,) it is that I believe in well-mannered pseudonymity. Bonhomminity.
Secrets get such a bad name. We always discover horrible secrets. Thousands of them, stretching all the way up to the Pope himself? Or a document circulating the CIA describing a series of golden showers…
What if the secret discovered was a good one? And what if it stayed secret? Like a good joke kept to one’s self. Or between my love and I. Never to be sold off in a book or blog—kept inside.
I don’t imagine much is lost on a public inside joke? This is probably what Dan Harmon has with all of his fans. They all get to be in on it. It is the token of the group now. It is a special key. Millions may have the special key.
(Following is not a h0p3 quote.)
Do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Not considered: your private joke is heard by angels in Heaven!! (Sigh, further surveillance systems…)
Actually I quote this because there is something to it—the reward of public recognition does seem to pollute the pure giving of a private communication.
And what’s more: you have no idea whether I talk of you. Whether you get zero conversation hits or thousands. What I have read of yours. How I react to it—what I really think of you. (Do I know what I really think of you? Do I know when I’ve conversed about you?) How would it be helpful for either of us to know these things? And, worse, to know them forever.
Picture two computers scanning each other ports. These two daemons find each other and swap drive contents, RAM, video card states. Then they blink: blue, blinking red or bright white. They understand each other!
But what does it matter? Perhaps they can part ways now—there is no more data to exchange.
I must ask: do you simply FO desire to encourage me, or do you SO desire to FO desire to encourage me? The difference matters. There is a tension in this letter I’ve not been able to peel apart.
Boy, I don’t know yet. I like to think it’s way down—like zed order enouragement.
I think this only happens out of motivations like idle curiosity, amusement and meandering conversation. Which is to say: the greatest, most noble pursuits I can imagine. Convincing you IS NOTHING compared to these treasures!!
I hope to find: not truth, not love, not happiness, not even meaning—but ‘fire’.
And I guess I do hope to have gratitude, which is greater than happiness. And I think a desire to have immense gratitude for the idle curiosity, amusement and meandering conversation—that would be FO for me. I don’t know where that puts us. I am very serious about this. (And I am not just saying ‘I am very serious about this’ as a joke—it’s all very serious!)
Building trust and real relationships is exactly why I reveal myself to you and everyone else. I want people to see how I conduct myself and my relationships across the board.
My dad talks this way—to him, a conversation is a sacrament. Sometimes I am with him on that.
But other times I want to be in the dark of night with friends, carefully putting a pie in the road, as an example, since it is very spiritual to do so. Or eating different leaves and needles and recording reviews of the taste.
To simply swing alongside someone on a swingset is miraculous. To use one of those air seesaw things—where you sit across from each other and swing back and forth—I did that with my nephew a few weeks ago and he was wearing a hat that had a LEGO texture on it. He could have attached to a hell of different bricks! The feeling of amusement and ‘fire’ was there.
Of course, my worry about “how it feels” is that emotions can betray us. It’s very easy to confabulate. It’s a realm where I aim for reason to reign as much as possible.
Ok so three primary facets where we graph as opposites:
The unreasonable. The supernatural. The stuff of imagery. Perhaps symbolism is
there, between us.
Just as you fear an emotion betraying you and guiding you into
delusion, I fear needing to act on perfectly rational orders that betray my
heart—that go against my experience of the world. (Sloppy sloppy work, Kicks!
Why am I rushing to codify someone? I think what’s happening is that I’m seeing
this dogmatism for transparency on his part and so I’m rushing to ascribe these other dogmatic
views—rasfarasfaaaaplagdaaaaahnono, no, so I don’t really care about this part
of the letter—in a way this serves to show that I was wrapped up much more deeply
in the visual part of this thing and rushing the text. As he has already said in
reply: “I worry you’ve not carefully represented my claims.” Yes! Can I rewind
slightly? I don’t think the head-to-headedness of this part of the correspondence
needs to be here—I have undermined connecting in favor of spiraling. Emotion (or
gamesmanship or something) has scattered the ripped pieces of paper. Oh to be
pure and kind as Sphygmus, help me, Sphygmus!)
Because of the events of my life, I am close to people who have been in unimaginably horrifying situations. It’s not that they’ve lost a child. It’s not that they’ve lost a spouse or that they’ve tried to kill themselves—it’s that they’ve lost their whole family. Everyone they held closest died. (Usually it’s a parent who lost their spouse and children—there are more people in this situation than you would think.)
Let rationality guide you through that catastrophe! (This is assinine.
I think I got worked up for some reason, not because of a disagreement with you
but because I got passionate and spiraled. I mean this is proof of the danger of
emotion—tempering it is a challenge for everyone.)
I will need to stop there. It starts to feel exploitative to talk in this way—to use their tragedy to make my point. But there are also stories that I want to talk about down the road, because they have happened in such quiet, without the notice of society—and maybe I see a reason to write them, because they have ‘fire’.
Swinging on a swingset is god damn vital! (Shut up. I don’t like that
this comes across as a heavy-handed point to be made. Be light-handed. Always let the
hand rise into the atmosphere.)
“To put it in reductionist and stereotypical terms, the ‘self-made’ webmaster who builds a self-contained website […] falls very much in line with the values of the American Dream.”
This entire essay is very insightful—and your whole blog has a whimsical and determined air that has me punching my ‘subscribe’ button several times to make sure it does the job.
One question I wonder: while I think the self-made entrepreneur has got to be synonymous with imperialist America—couldn’t the independent autodidact, operating apart from corporate interests, be a modern type of vanguard for the dispossessed? I feel like the Instagram influencer is more a direct descendant of The American Dream; the bespoke blog a piece of the underground press—particularly in 2018, when they have become ancient machinery.
As Chris quotes:
I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend jail time for it myself.
— Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky, 1942
Perhaps the difference is that the Indieweb has had an “every person for themselves” kind of ethic. There are those who DIY and there are those who GTFO. Whereas underground presses functioned collaboratively. And maybe M.B could be an underground press if it had an editor and it sought out its sources. It feels more like a Lions Club, some casual martinis and a snapshot of the dwindling sun.
I hope that’s no condemnation. I think the underground presses had their coffee houses, which gave you a place to bump into co-conspirators.
But it’s the editor thing that I keep bumping up against on this Web—that we do need more editors, more librarians, more collaboration. We haven’t quite figured out how to organize in structures that benefit, well, all of us. That means starting with the lowest tier. If the library can make a way for books to land in the hands of prisoners, refugees, the poor—then those books can make it anywhere.
And I think this spiritual cause exists in the Indieweb when I see notes like those on Brid.gy’s FAQ entry “How much does it cost?”
Nothing! We have great day jobs, and Bridgy is small, so thanks to App Engine, it doesn’t cost much to run. We don’t need donations, promise.
I feel to inspire readers that might fall across this post—those who can fashion things and who can throw themselves into rebuilding the Web (as if it were Dresden)—to take up this same spiritual cause. To make a generous piece of this crucial public engine. (I realize that this sounds terrifically technopiliac and loathsome, maybe even in a shameful ‘tech bro’ way, but this technology is here, right here, fucking everywhere else too it turns out—so let’s try to find our way, shall we?)
I do think the Indieweb has the glimmer of real answers. But it’s a massive undertaking. But that’s okay—real answers are too.