Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2018-04-09T21:30:34Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com April 9. http://ranprieur.com/#f257cac5c78247033fee61d5066749e488afa72e 2018-04-09T21:30:34Z April 9. I've been putting off writing about this, but one month ago I finally had a good LSD trip. A few months earlier, when I tried it the first time, I stayed home and listened to music, and it was nice, but inferior in every way to strong cannabis edibles. The second time, on the same dose, I did two things differently. The first was to vape some weed to overlap the peak of the trip. Cannabis-acid synergy is controversial, because some people get bad trips from both, but for me, the cannabis put a glow on the acid's altered perception.

The second thing I did was to go outside. Immediately I noticed how beautiful the trees were, from the whole shapes to the tiny bifurcations of the leafless twigs. I saw that nature looks like Dr. Seuss -- or really, Dr. Seuss took the weird beauty of nature and made it obvious.

There was never any distortion of senses, but I interpreted things differently. Cars in the distance seemed like tiny cars in a model. It was a trillion years in the future, the whole universe was dead, and I was getting a precious look back in time to when it was alive. I was the protagonist of a fairy tale, with such plot armor that it seemed I could do dangerous things -- but I knew this was an illusion because other people have tested it.

I sat under a footbridge watching the rapids in a stream, and understood that streams are alive. I stopped to look closely at a cluster of shriveled cloudberries, and they were more beautiful than any human art. I passed through a developed area and saw the obvious crudeness of the human-made world compared to the world that made us. It reminded me of the Heraclitus quote: "The Aeon is a child at play with colored balls."

I once saw one of Monet's wheatstack paintings in a museum and wondered: how can a painting of a wheatstack be more moving than an actual wheatstack? Now I know the answer: because we don't know how to look. If we did, the actual wheatstack would always be better. A month later, that aesthetic sense has mostly stuck with me.

April 6. http://ranprieur.com/#73d823b123c25f92d1be20f2838348e243d9c9ab 2018-04-06T18:00:05Z April 6. Music for the weekend. There are different kinds of great songs. Some are delicate and complex, with challenging beauty that must be gradually decrypted. Other songs take simple melodies and simple words and pack them into a perfect bundle that makes you jump out of your chair on the first listen. This is a great example of the latter, from 2014: The Fat White Family - Touch The Leather. Leigh Ann and I have had it stuck in our heads all week. There's also an interesting live version.

April 4. http://ranprieur.com/#06c100b5152bce0a89d818b2e871d7b7229b0451 2018-04-04T16:40:05Z April 4. Since the subject seems to be in the air lately, I'm going to write about getting older, in the context of how we think about society and our place in it. The cliche is that young people are rebellious and old people join the establishment, but that's not quite how it works.

When you're young, you expect people older than you to have it all figured out. So when the world sucks, it makes sense to react with righteous anger. Now that I'm old, I look at the world and think, "Those poor kids, they don't know what they're doing."

Young people are impatient. They want to see Utopia in their own lifetime. Now I think it's going to take hundreds of years, maybe thousands, before being human is even half as much fun as being a squirrel. I used to want to slay dragons and now I want to plant seeds.

Young people have lots of energy and little tolerance for complexity, so they look for meaning in things that are mentally easy and physically hard. As we get older, we learn to make ourselves happy with less energy and more subtlety. For a young person, the difference between living well and living badly is entirely in what you do. For an old person, the difference is more in how you look at it.

One thing that was not obvious when I was younger: motivation is a really hard problem. If you live a conventional life, that problem is mostly solved for you by other people telling you what to do all day, and if you're lucky, it will be stuff you want to do anyway. To the extent that you're able to do your own thing, motivation becomes your own responsibility, and I see no sign that it gets easier. Doors are always closing and opening, both out in the world and inside you, and it's a permanent challenge to keep looking and moving.

April 2. http://ranprieur.com/#d7c6a2ddad75bd9f78438461a1b1a2f8717095c6 2018-04-02T14:20:33Z April 2. Some stray links from reddit. Here's a new thread of Mitch Hedberg lines. Other than the one at the top of this page, my favorite is "It's not the photographer's fault bigfoot is blurry."

A reader pointed me to the Maladaptive Daydreaming subreddit. What strikes me about these people is not that they're good at daydreaming, or that they spend a lot of time doing it, but that they feel like they don't control it. This is obvious, but it never occurred to me that you could apply that standard to drugs or video games or anything people do for fun: it's okay if you control it, but not if it controls you. But what is "you"? I'm getting a lot of mileage out of this definition: You are the moment-to-moment choice of where to put your attention.

From a couple weeks ago, a nice comment about meeting Mr. Rogers:

...at that age, a lot of "bad" behavior is really just a kid's imperfect way of expressing and processing big, new emotions. When Mr. Rogers knelt down to talk to me, it was the first time any adult had outright acknowledged my feelings, made me feel safe to express them, and made sure I knew that expressing them was okay.

Finally, a promising new subreddit, Explain Like Caveman. Right now the questions are mostly about caveman subjects, but I look forward to people trying to explain advanced science and philosophy. Here's my caveman explanation of how a particle accelerator works: "Smash rock, make rock small. Some rock too small for eye, too big for head."