Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2017-04-10T22:00:02Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com April 10. http://ranprieur.com/#4357ca9ed9caf8eaac6856c0ef8b9a78f6b1911c 2017-04-10T22:00:02Z April 10. I've been thinking about my relation with my audience. Content creators who need to make money are always thinking, "What do people want, and how can I give it to them?" That's just not the way I think. I mean, I can go into that mode, but my default narrative, in both writing and life, is "What can I get away with?" How much can I be honest and transparent, how much can I feel good and have fun, how much can I relax and let things slide, before I get smacked down?

My writing starts and ends with what I like to read myself, but in between, feedback from other readers is powerful. Sometimes I'm given new ideas, sometimes I see that I was wrong and change my thinking, and sometimes I pull back from writing about certain ideas or even whole subjects.

Back in the 90's I was totally into "conspiracy theory", but the emotional tone of the community changed, from marveling at strangeness, to compulsive paranoia, and finally to a religion of despair, in which your imagined enemies are so powerful that whatever happens is exactly what they planned.

Over the last year I've sensed more toxicity when I go online. Maybe I just got better at noticing it, but that's why I'm trying to quit writing about what's wrong with the world. My working theory is, thinking about what's wrong with the world is linked to a general attitude, a subconscious habit of constantly scanning for wrongness, and it's like a dark universe that I'm trying to escape.

Why do I even make my writing public? Because I feel like a castaway on an alien planet, or a prisoner tapping messages on pipes. What exactly am I trying to accomplish? I don't know, and increasingly I don't feel qualified to know. The best things in life seem to happen through serendipity rather than goal-setting.

April 7. http://ranprieur.com/#6c7d2507ec8d4be1944ed5e2749616f520ebc554 2017-04-07T19:30:17Z April 7. For the weekend, music. My favorite album of 2017, so far, is America's Velvet Glory by The Molochs. The singer reminds me of Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes, and the songs remind me of Camper Van Beethoven or the Kinks. Their most interesting song is Charlie's Lips.

Most of the reviews are like "This is good but sounds like old stuff," which leads me to this theory: music has entered a post-novelty stage. I mean, eventually we'll get a revolution so alien that it makes rock and jazz sound the same, but for now, there are no more good new ideas. Critics need to adapt by not considering novelty at all, and just looking at quality -- which of course is much harder to pin down than novelty, so we're also in an age of greater subjectivity.

Also, sports. The one sport I'm really into right now is women's soccer, and Rose Lavelle has dazzled in her first few caps with the US national team. Highlights from last night's game: Rose Lavelle vs Russia. Jump to 2:42 for an astonishing back heel pass.

April 5. http://ranprieur.com/#13a4bfd9747b58d48141af7108805f9ebaff823d 2017-04-05T17:10:56Z April 5. Free Roaming is a fascinating essay by a guy who loves to wander around open world video games after all the quests have been completed:

This part of the game -- the illicit, post-story part -- is better than anything that might have preceded it in the name of story. In a world empty of fate, gone slack without a narrative, my character, alone and aimless, has a life for the first time.

The weird thing is, most open world games allow you to wander around without doing any quests at all, or just enough to level up so you don't get killed. Why does he have to exhaust every scrap of content before he feels "free at last"? This has something to do with the world outside games -- I don't want to call it "real" -- where we do stuff to "get stuff done", but like waiting for a river to flow past, we never get to the end of it.

What the author is seeking is not the freedom to wander, but a higher-order quest, where the reward for getting stuff done is not the character's satisfaction that Skyrim is free of monsters, but the player's satisfaction, impossible in his own world, that he has come to the end of getting stuff done.

Now I see two angles. One is practical, that we're always being told to do stuff we'd rather not do. The solution is to work toward a post-scarcity utopia, like the pre-scarcity utopia in Jean Liedloff's The Continuum Concept, where the right to say no is so powerful that it's forbidden to even ask someone to do something.

The other angle is philosophical, and I don't see any solution. In games, the meaning of life is a set of clearly defined tasks, and if you're not doing those things, you're in a space that is clearly defined as having no meaning. In our own world, we can never be sure.

April 3. http://ranprieur.com/#8abe5113dd64ffb68322ac71fdb3c8c101a53bad 2017-04-03T15:50:55Z April 3. Another angle on Friday's subject: For me, the world inside my head is pillows, and the world outside my head is knives. Or, the inner world is rainbows and the outer world is shit (mainly human society). We all want a tangible, persistent outer world rainbow, but that's not how it works.

Beauty in the outer world is subtle and obscure. The divine manifests every day as a weed in the cracks, crushed by people who imagine the divine coming with trumpets in the sky. The most beautiful sound I've ever heard was a cacophonous flock of tiny birds in dead winter.

It's hard to even talk about this in English. How would someone say it who had experienced the unity of inside and outside? Something like: Inner light and outer light are two halves that come together with suspension of the self. And Utopia is not a perfectly luminous outer world, but a world that fits.

I wonder how many people can't even find any inner light, and what happened to them that snuffed it. And I wonder if this is related to drug preference: alcohol turns inner shit into rainbows, cannabis turns outer shit into rainbows, and some drugs do both. My favorite line about drugs is from the Tao Te Ching, 52.3: "Use the bright light but return to the dim light."