Note 1962

I blacked out again last night. Not sure why. Had more than enough sleep, was well-rested and felt fairly okay. Worrying, really.

This time, the blackout brought me to Hualien. I was sensible enough, apparently, to stop at a friend's place and hang out until a bit before morning-time. Against better judgement, now fully lucid, I booked a hotel for the night. Left my bike in the park, but there's no chance of it getting stolen. I'll come back for it tomorrow.

Been thinking of Hualien a lot lately. A nice place to escape to, really. Somewhere without a single bad memory attached to it—ripe to be ruined. Now that I'm here, I can't escape how fake it looks. Troubling. I prefer Keelung. Hsinchu's also nice, albeit that city's been ruined for me for years now.

Need to get more insight on the blackouts; getting rather sick of them. Will have to ask around. Probably stress-related. Too much stress. No use in worrying over that, though, that's always going to be a constant.

Sleep is increasingly hard to come by. Obvious reasons. Annoying due to previous effort to get myself to sleep for at least a few hours a day. No obvious effects on reality; many obvious effects on judgement and cognitive processing. Probably good in the long-term.

Shaking the perpetual feeling of quantifiably going insane is easier than it used to be—bit worrying. Used to make better decisions. Used to handle situations drastically better. Will chalk this up to situations increasing in difficulty with age rather than obvious conclusion.

Mania right now. Fairly sure of it. Not bipolar though. Fairly sure of that. Pondering for an hour on things I used to be able to do but lost the ability to at some point. Strangely pleased about decay in ability to deal with numbers. Depressed in gradual decline of complex multitasking ability. Bewildered with sudden lack of vocabulary.

Feel okay. Life feels as if about to escalate. Not worried. Slightly worried. Scratched skin off of jaw again. Sun is peaking in sky. Mild sunburn forming as I sit on hotel balcony. Weather is okay. Around ninety degrees. Not ideal.

Stuck between wanting every day to be similarly different as this is and wanting normalcy and routine. Despise normalcy and routine. Considering that ability to cope would allow me to adjust quickly. Feel stuck. It occurs to me that every day could be like this.

Pretended to meditate for a few minutes. Did nothing. Breathe in. Breath out. Think nothing. Think of everything. Laugh to self at pointlessness.

Have nothing left to type in this one. Short. Concise. Performative. Dull. Over.

How to Justify a Police Force to an Anarchist Society by Redefining Everything You Dislike as Violence

One of the chiefly recognised rights in anarchist and libertarian literature is the right to self-defence—in this essay, I look to teach you how to utilise this for your own personal gain and protection, lest you be taken advantage of.

Why I Like Worm

I'm not entirely sure if others experience reading in the same way I do; not to criticise them, and not to imply my way of experience is particularly better in any way—I'd argue the drawbacks are probably worse than anything I gain from it.

I can't easily find interest in novels; it takes a particularly good author (and story, for that matter) to be able to capture my attention. Not to say that the authors and novels I can't get into are bad, necessarily—they're just not writing what I'm looking for.

There's a reason Worm, for example—a novel I've been talking about non-stop this week during a reread of it—gets me completely obsessive over it. I pick the serial up, and I fade into it.

Concepts like the "mind's eye" and hallucinations have always seemed foreign to me; I've never been able to visualise (or hear, for that matter) anything that wasn't particularly real. Dreams fall into this category. I think I used to have them when I was younger—incredibly vivid, influenced from the few stories I was reading that could capture my interest at the time, or from fantasies I had written out in my head. Maybe from things that had scared me, on occasion. Waking up from violent whiplash in the real world wasn't uncommon at the time.

But my brain seemed to realise they weren't right, even then—I could only handle the physics within my waking visualisations, dreams and whatnot for a bit, an arm's length from the "camera" of them at the time. All in third-person, this meant they'd usually dissolve fairly quickly, with me falling through a surface, or a scene repeating, over and over again, until I was jolted out, left to my own thoughts.

They stopped coming whatsoever after a short while—I just didn't, anymore. No more dreams, and attempts at mind-visualisation left me solely with black smudges, barely perceptible, within my vision but above my focus, when I managed anything. I gave up on it quickly.

Then I read The Chronicles of Narnia.

Something about it was different, and I noticed almost instantly. I'd curl up on the couch, or sit in a chair and throw my legs over a table, if that was an option, and I'd be consumed by it. I could see it. No falling through surfaces, no impossible-to-fix errors in the visualisation—no infinite, headache-inducing loops.

I could see the forests, the castles, the beach. Aslan. Peter, especially, but every character. I could feel it, almost. Incredibly intense, almost reality-conquering. I could convince myself I was warm, or freezing cold, or soaked, or that the wind was flowing across my face. I could see my own footprints in the snow, if I wanted; I could keep track of theirs without effort.

The world painted was magical, almost, and for all intents and purposes, I was there. The author had brought me to it, allowed me escape.

I was seven, I think.

I started spending hours on my library's online catalogue and book piracy sites, trying to find novels that could replicate the experience. My thoughts at school, at home, on field-trips and holidays, entirely filled by fantasy.

I was already an avid reader beforehand—I'd usually read a few hundred pages every couple of days, and my library visits would almost assuredly end in more books than I could carry by-hand being taken home in a bag that I'd struggle slightly to carry—but this? This changed the way I interacted with the world around me, entirely and absolutely.

Most of my hours from then on out were filled with either reading novels, talking about them, trying to gain more time to dedicate to reading them (primarily done by signalling academic prowess to the point where I'd be ignored when reading while a teacher was lecturing), researching them, obtaining them, thinking to myself about them, or sleeping.

I didn't have much to look forward to in comparison to the escapism. Nothing else was interesting, and my life at the time I especially disliked. Hated, even. I was bored, a fate almost worse than death.

Not a single thing challenged me, and the things I wanted were all either time-sensitive or, given the general lack of knowledge at the time, mostly impossible to pursue and come out ahead. But I could escape from that during my pursuit of fiction. I could challenge myself, I could experience fascinating things I'd never be able to without.

I only found maybe three novels that pulled me in at all in the (roughly) eight years that came after, none of even a fifth of the intensity that came from submerging myself within Narnia. I had mostly given up around year five or so.

Then something odd happened. I found a "web serial"—recommended to me by someone I'd very much like to have a conversation with at some point, if I was ever given the chance, but who's effectively disappeared, entirely out of my reach—with a fairly curious plot description. I had fairly strong doubts, initially, primarily because it was such a foreign concept—something about superpowers, but without pictures? Odd. It wasn't finished just yet. A year in, and published consistently, though.

I took to reading it. Any and all doubts I once had almost immediately faded. Here it was again. Here I was again. It came in spurts, and occasionally disappeared entirely at points, but it was here. More intense than ever when it hit, too. It only got better as I got farther in, barring two points within. Better than Narnia, a handful of the characters had minds that mirrored mine to some extent.

The obsession, again.

The next year or three of my life was consumed with a mix of Worm and finding my way out of my situation—I actually give the serial a lot of credit for helping me with that. It fixed something in my brain or something, I guess, because I could finally focus on things without feeling intensely bad for the first time in years. I could learn and pay attention, parse the input I was receiving; I could plot and scheme without getting intensely bored and distracted for the first time in just as long.

I recently began rereading it.

Once again, I am consumed. The boredom so present in everything I do is just a bit more bearable, a bit less intense now, maybe. Hesitant to make its presence known during daily life. Entirely gone when I'm reading. The pains I've been feeling throughout my body, not remotely noticeable when reading.

I feel fine—copacetic, even—for the first time in months.

San Francisco Deciweblog Pt. 1

Warning: this entry is negative. If you like San Francisco and feel offended by my categorisation of your city, wait until tomorrow's post, where I'll go over the positives.

Update: I couldn't figure out any positive things to say about San Francisco; sorry. Maybe eventually.

San Francisco's a really interesting city—it doesn't seem to change. The same things that were haunting it eleven years ago don't seem to have left—if anything, they seem to have gotten worse. The homeless problem is still insane, despite San Francisco being the secondmost dense city in the United States (it's nonsensical, really)—Alcatraz is just as depressingly present as it was when it was active; it's almost hard to think when you can see it from where you're standing.

None of the buildings are quite as tall as you'd expect for a city of its size—it's a lot closer to the Chicago of the late 1800s than to New York. Undeniably ugly, too, when compared to other cities—you'd be hard-pressed to find a corner that wasn't ad-filled. The atmosphere is almost oppressive in that way; regardless of what you do, you can't escape capitalism in San Francisco.

It's not all bad, of course, as I'm planning on expanding on in my post tomorrow. I'm not going to sing its praises—there really are too many posts doing that already, have been for decades now, and I'll be joining in on that later on.

It's really disappointing—people sell a very convincing tale of San Francisco being some quasi-utopia for resourceful nerds, but all it feels like is one huge, looming suburb with a half-dozen skyscrapers thrown in. It's too aggressively dull to be paradise. I have to wonder if there's something I'm not seeing—some pocket of hackers hiding out, writing revolutionary software in secret, some off-the-beaten-path startup scene that doesn't feel whitewashed and one percented, something outside of the corporate billboard and hiring funnel. If there's any of those, it's certainly well-hidden.

Of course, the rest of the Valley is different, as I'm fairly frequently told, but from what I can tell is drastically worse—it stops being a suburb-in-spirit and starts being...literally just suburb on top of suburb after you take out San Francisco. I can't understand why I know so many people who love this area. It's depressing to me. I could never live here.

I'd like to make perfectly clear that I don't hate San Francisco—really, I think it's fine, and some of its quirkier phenomena has been incredibly charming to me. But wow, it could use a facelift (and maybe open-heart surgery). This city is toxic, and I think I'll welcome Chicago like an old friend once it's time to leave. For now, though, I'll bask in the positives.

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On Magic

Everyone needs magic. Hours upon hours of our lives are spent staring at rectangular prisms—electronic or paper—just to try and capture the sensation of magic. We crave it. We chase it. It's the one thing all humans have in common.

It manifests in a few different ways. Some seek it out by looking for similar people. Others, through making or playing with interactive media in one form or another. You've probably even spent a decent amount of money at some point in your life on the most popular spin on the concept.

Religion's another way of chasing it—unsurprisingly enough, it's quite powerful. Most other ways of chasing fall downstream of it, which can be seen in a variety of most of the most influential and popular authors in the West, and outside of it, too. Granted, occasionally in other forms.

It's not hard to see why—life unaugmented is...not great. It only gets worse as we know more, even. Look into the eyes of your significant other. Run a hand through their hair. Think about how both you and they boil down to poorly smashed-together molecules at the end of the day. Your relationship, millions of impossibly tiny, unthinking little atoms, each of which individually incapable of love.

Depressing, isn't it? You can't make even that, the most sacred natural thing humans have, the slightest bit romantic or joy-inspiring without some form of magic involved in the calculation. Scientific advancement's a curse and unsustainable without it. With it, though, it can be the most powerful thing in the world, both politically and practically.

But religion is dying, and the never-ending march forward of science isn't entirely innocent (of course, arguably centuries of mismanagement by religious administration takes the largest amount of blame). While yes, in theory that's not a bad thing—getting rid of things we can't prove has served us well in the past (stigma against other races and sexualities comes to mind almost immediately), in practice, this seems to be proving incredibly dangerous.

So what are we going to replace it with?

I see two1 paths forward, neither of which are exclusive.

One way would be increasing media consumption by unprecedented extents—the beginning of this is already happening; it's almost impossible to be over two degrees of separation from a handful of people who spend disorienting amounts of time playing video games alone in their room.

That's ignoring social media, which in itself is effectively a MUD, and manages to siphon off a bit more of conventional MMORPGs' audiences every year—granted, often in pseudonymity rather than big business's desired eponymity (warning: Google Cache link).

The second way, and, in my opinion, the best way, will be the rise of a creation culture. This had already popped its head around a few times during the 2010s, with websites like Instructables, ArtStation and Glitch—each part of a different niche, but undeniably part of the same phenomenon. Creation of art and physical hobby projects doesn't exactly fill any evolutionary need; it's effectively a protest against utility—only something with a "soul" would do something so useless.

So we're left with tricking and distracting ourselves, and falling back to a sort of religion-of-self.

After the initial shock wears off, I can't see this as anything but a good thing in the long-term. Making magic more available can't be a bad thing.

In any case, we'll see soon enough.

  1. There's another one, but it doesn't seem to be surviving, and I don't particularly want to encourage it. 

    All links to news media on this post (barring one, which blocks the service almost as if to prove the point I was trying to make) have been replaced with their equivalents— is run by a non-profit, hosts no ads, has no distracting sign-up gimmicks, and allows you to get around paywalls. It also allows for group annotations, something I've seen people wanting for ages—if you haven't yet, I'd highly recommend checking it out.

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