Private-Public Diary 2021

This is what it says...just go with it.

FOR YEARS GOOGLE KEEP’s note-taking service has been my go-to for filing random words, of-the-moment ideas, quick reactions—any reminder (I think I’ll forget) I’d file into Keep.
After moving my writing over to Substack in January of 2021 I decided to start randomly publishing some of my notes, ideas, insights, in these diaries.
There’s something declarative about writing out a sketch of a notion, over time it can reconstruct into a realized article. Or prove later (when you revisit the scribbling) that it wasn’t such a hot idea.
The topics I’ll notate here cover pop culture, politics, writing, queer culture, astrology, Tarot, social media—with some wild cards thrown in from time to time.

May 6, 2021

▲ What in the fuck to do with this, from Alan Watts:

“What we have to discover is that there is no safety, that seeking is painful, that when we imagine we have “it”,  we don’t like it.

May 4, 2021

▲ Really? Jordan Peterson has a new book of rules out. When people buy books like this are they genuinely seeking guidance or are they only interested in having the dictates of their superego confirmed and condoned? I’m not interested in the content of the book—his list of rules—his or anyone else’s. But only in the condition of emptiness or rudderless-ness that is endemic to our culture. This seems to be the way it’s been from the beginning of time. Someone learns how to work a certain tool (or tweak a state of mind) and then turns that information/knack into a commodity. And fair enough, people have to eat and have shelter and clothing. And yet what would we do without these sorts of books and personalities? (The Bible?) These seem like juvenile questions that are, ultimately, without an answer. Answers to the questions would establish a new set of rules or commands.

May 1, 2021

▲ Appropriately, a Taurus season question from Bruce Benderson:

Why do satin skin and a face of classical proportions fill us with a sense of wonder, disbelief, desire or resentment? The visceral language of surface, which is beauty, touches us at the deepest levels of meaning.

April 25, 2021

▲ “Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.”
Thomas Merton

Word! Anything that allows me to feel off the hook from thinking I should know who or what I am, or what I’m supposed to be ‘about’.

April 24, 2021

▲ What are anniversaries for if not to recall the horror and put into contrast what’s missing from today’s news cycle?

And what a joy this would be to share someday with my grandchildren (if I ever had any); instead of telling them, “When I was your age I had to walk two miles through the snow to get to school.” To think we all lived through this Theater of the Absurd mindfuck—and survived—well, except for 567,000 of us. ✞ RIP ✞

April 23, 2021

▲ Suppose it’s my Scorpio Moon square Uranus, but I love the shock value of this headline: According to US Intelligence, the Future Will Be Chaos. Especially revealing is this bit, which coincides with the long ride of Pluto through Aquarius, which is arriving soon:

Technology will advance to science-fiction levels, the report predicts: “Over the next 20 years,” Patrick writes, “miraculous innovations in artificial intelligence, network computing, machine learning, virtual reality, robotics, nanotechnology, additive manufacturing, space technology, smart materials, biotechnology and other fields will transform human life”—even, potentially, posing risks to its survival.

So glad I’m the age I am now—and essentially ‘on my way out.’ My dentist told me recently while repairing a chipped tooth that, “Teeth were only ‘designed’ to last about 50 years tops” which is when nature programmed homo sapiens to expire. So essentially I’ve been cheating nature for decades now. Though my dentist appreciates the crime. 

April 20, 2021

▲ Came across a word in a film review today that I fell in love with: vulpine. Had to look it up and then of course the etymology because that’s the best part of looking up a word. That then reminded me of one of the strangest phases of my ‘writing life’. I was in my late 20s and my roommate had purchased one of Apple’s first laptops and I borrowed it and then never wanted to give it back to him. The ease that it brought to writing changed everything, especially the cut and pasting prospect. If I had to name one event that made me commit to writing is was Bobby Goldstein’s laptop. I can’t write in a linear fashion. I wrote the end of the book I’m writing now first and then all of the other chapters are spread across different files—with chunks and notes and amendments floating around on Google Keep’s cloud. This is the hallmark of a Venus/Gemini square Mars/Pisces arrangement. This is why all of those ‘how to’ writing books never inspired me. Reading them conjured migraines. I would have made a great Dadaist. Anyway, looking up ‘vulpine’ reminded me of when I realized, again, in my 20s, that if I were to write I’d have to have a vocabulary that I could cull from at will. And so I spent about a year reading and doing all of the exercises in those ‘how to build a vocabulary’ books. Something I’d never do now, but then when you’re younger so much is done from instinct. (Funnily, over time, my writing had to shed all of the baggage related to the vocabulary-building phase). After mastering some words the next thing I realized was the difference between simply writing and doing writing that a reader would read. This latter realization is what’s missing in a lot of the writing I read online. The self-publish ease of the internet has created way-too-long features. I’ll start a piece, say, on The Atlantic and then a quarter way in I’ll stop, scroll down to the bottom of to see how long it is, balk and then click out of the site. Before bed last night I realized that the majority of Americans (a recent poll I saw somewhere) only read two or three books a year. Who are these heathens?

April 19, 2021

▲ Was writing the same to my friend Jessica this AM. “I’m finding it excruciating to listen to people (public figures, etc.) give their opinions and wax this way or that about ANYTHING. This is doubly problematic when you are supposed to be a person yourself who is offering the same (as a writer writing about this or that). I’m living a koan.

▲ And right when I think I’ve calmed on how loathsome Facebook is, Cory Doctorow publishes this: I’m convinced that Facebook is a version of torture porn cinema.

April 18, 2021

▲ Struggling with the desire to write an article about the ‘queer’ astrology subset (is that the right word?). The idea seems risky (the writing of an article) because one wrong word or point could set off a cancel spiral. After astrology’s online renaissance in 2012, with Millenials and Gen Z-rs, I’ve watched all sorts of divisions and categories arise, each one politically skewed but with a core impetus reminiscent of Chris Maisnao’s idea that “the problems of our time will be solved by our collective capacity to change the world, not self-therapy.” This is where the generation gap lies between old generation astrologers and the new crew who involve political activism into their ‘readings’ or ‘horoscopes’ an idea I consider off-putting. The more astrology is kept free of personal agendas the more relevance it has to people who may or may not think in the same way the astrologer does.

April 10, 2021

▲ This split an atom in half somewhere around my third eye and I want to incorporate it into my new book The Mindfuck.

Late capitalism is like your love life: it looks a lot less bleak through an Instagram filter. The slow collapse of the social contract is the backdrop for a modern mania for clean eating, healthy living, personal productivity, and “radical self-love”—the insistence that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, we can achieve a meaningful existence by maintaining a positive outlook, following our bliss, and doing a few hamstring stretches as the planet burns. The more frightening the economic outlook and the more floodwaters rise, the more the public conversation is turning toward individual fulfillment as if in a desperate attempt to make us feel like we still have some control over our lives. —Laurie Penny

April 7, 2021

▲ From Copernicus:

“In the center of all rests the Sun. For who would place this lamp of a very beautiful temple in another or better place than this from which it can illuminate everything at the same time.”

April 3, 2021

▲ Still working on compiling notes and research on the third part of the Pluto return in the US’s chart essay—that I started late last summer. I want to highlight the idea that collective debt can be a form of power. Somewhere I read that oil tycoon John Paul Getty said: “If you owe the bank $100 the bank owns you. But if you owe the bank $100 million, you own the bank.” Collective debt will become the most effective form of activism in the future (like now), that this hasn’t happened yet is highly suspect. This also fits Pluto’s entry into Aquarius. More.

April 1, 2021

▲ An astro close read on one of my favorite film directors Douglas Sirk. Open with this epigram from Sirk:

“This is the dialectic—there is a very short distance between high art and trash, and trash that contains an element of craziness is by this very quality nearer to art”