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Tag: poetry

This website was archived on July 20, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.
Exolymph creator Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

Nootropics, Outrage, and Neuroticism

Two things:

1) I published an essay called “Practical Nootropics; Political Brainhacking” on my personal website. I posted it there instead of sending it to you, dear readers, because the post was sponsored and I didn’t realize until after arranging everything that Exolymph would be a more appropriate venue. (My very first sponsored post! Are you proud of me, or shaking your fist because I’m a sellout?)

If you’re interested in applied transhumanism, the essay is up your alley. Don’t worry, it’s not a long ad disguised as a blog post — I thank the sponsor at the top and bottom, that’s all.

2) I was a little bit manic from too much caffeine last night so I wrote a long tweetstorm about the pervasive bad faith that poisons so much of online discourse. It ties together the prisoner’s dilemma, hyper-scaleable media distribution (AKA cheap virality), and the incentives of tribalism.

And now, a prose poem about the interminability of sentience. Because why not, I can be angsty and avant-garde too. Tumblr-era Sonya would be so proud.

Glass Cacophony

Artwork via (by?) the Twitter bot @youtubeartifact.

Artwork via (by?) the Twitter bot @youtubeartifact.

“The algorithm has been kind, has granted me a strong body and a violent disposition.” — @ctrlcreep

You have been yourself the entire time that you’ve been alive. Layer on layer on layer, like stacked panes of glass. Each scribbled all over with black marker.

The stack becomes murkier as it rises, when viewed from the top. It’s the same stack all the way up and down.

Despite the persistence of yourself, the entire-time-ness of it, you struggle to define your own substance. Observers list the ways of knowing what you are. You must not despise yourself. It is unseemly.

You are bothered by wanting an identity, by wanting to reduce yourself. The nebulousness is an itch. The need for a coherent mind is an itch. Counting breaths is fall asleep is an itch.

Each moment more you-ness accretes. Black marker skids on the glass; fills up the clear space. Pile on a fresh one. The ink dries gummy. It peels instead of smearing.

The very best feeling, you think, is to realize that you’ve driven home on autopilot. You didn’t need to be present. A respite from the consciousness of consciousness of consciousness that fills the mind, that is the mind, that spills into your hands and none of the onlookers can help you hold it.

Still you are yourself and still the complexity assaults you.

Respirator, Pre- and Post-Digital

Be kind and not angry.
She is surprised by your tolerance.
The seal suctions your face.
And simultaneously you suck in your breath.

At that point you find
that she has sucked in all the breath.
You are bereft without oxygen.
All the breath.
There is no more
in the capsule that you occupy.

Then all of her lungs expand.
How has she gathered so many lungs?
You feel panic filling you.
There is no respite for the tester rat.
Is this it?
Is this the end, so cliché?

All the true things are cliché.
All the women worth touching, and
all the anecdotes worth recounting.
You are
bereft without oxygen
and she lends to you
no respite.
She cannot.

The short-circuit report goes straight to corporate.
Doesn’t it always?
You find that
this is the way.

Header photo by Zach Welty.

Alan Turing & Incongruities

Here’s a snippet of Linda Bierd’s poem “Evolution”, which is about Alan Turing:

“He was halfway between the War’s last enigmas
and the cyanide apple — two bites —
that would kill him. Halfway along the taut wires
that hummed between crime
and pardon, indecency and privacy. How do solutions,
chemical, personal, stable, unstable,
harden into shapes? And how do shapes break?”

Alan Turing’s story is pretty well-known, so I won’t rehash it in detail. He was the father of modern computer science, by all accounts a brilliant and extraordinary man. Tragically, Turing was broken by the state that he helped save from Hitler’s ambition. He committed suicide a couple of weeks before his forty-second birthday.

Turing’s desk. Image via techboy_t.

Turing’s desk. Image via techboy_t.

What do we owe to our heroes? The ones who don’t die prematurely often end up disappointing us. For example, many people were introduced to the practice of rationality by Richard Dawkins, who seems to have lost his shit. (He thinks that Ahmed Mohamed, the Muslim kid who brought a clock to school and was accused of having a bomb, is some kind of scam artist. Don’t focus on whether that’s plausible — Dawkins’ obsession is bizarre regardless.)

Rachel Nabors, an animation expert and all-around wise lady, cautioned community-builders:

“Even the people we respect the most are flawed and can perpetuate flawed thinking, from data to ethics. When I reflected on my own life choices, what I want to be and do in the web community, I realized that I was setting myself up to be a gatekeeper, a person others go through to get to something, and that I, too, am flawed.”

We live in a world of dictators and persecution. And yet there are leaders like Nabors, who are careful not to exploit their power, even among peers in a niche professional subculture (web animators). One reality contains many sub-realities, and we must wander between them.

The Bleeding Edge

This is the first missive. The first dispatch from my cold tile cave (okay, it’s just a gaming room). The cat scrambles past my feet — she is a wholly primal being, but I am halfway immersed in a networked future of distributed synapses, part of a large brain with many autonomous nodes. Yes, that’s a euphemism for Twitter.

Exolymph is an exploration of the dystopia we live in today and the one we’re building for next week. Consider it grimdark optimism.

“I have a strong personal faith in the promises of money and technology to improve my mortal existence as a meat-sack” — Nicole Cliffe endorsing Thinx period panties in The Toast

I feel it, Nicole. Meat-sack solidarity. Also, this comment by JoanLR from a thread on queer biohacking:

[…] many identities that people relate to being queer have to do with feeling out of place in your body, or with having unusual feelings about how your body interacts with other bodies.
At least in the frame of reference of trans folk, there’s also a lot of us who sort of start body-modification stemming from changing ourselves for gendered reasons? […] Additionally, there’s the whole angle of how biohacking — especially the grinder style of DIY unofficial biohacking — gives people physical diversity and changes what different individuals can do, which I feel heavily relates to the concepts of personal autonomy and the idea of being abnormal in a “fuck you” sort of way, which loops back to being queer.

New possibilities for self-definition, opened up with a scalpel. Consider the poem “Cosmopolite” by Georgia Douglas Johnson, via the Poem-a-Day newsletter:

Not wholly this or that,
But wrought
Of alien bloods am I,
A product of the interplay
Of traveled hearts.
Estranged, yet not estranged, I stand
All comprehending;
From my estate
I view earth’s frail dilemma;
Scion of fused strength am I,
All understanding,
Nor this nor that
Contains me.

I’ll be seeing you soon.

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