When I wrote On the Year in Review last year, the intention was to have a tradition where I “reviewed” the next year as if it had already happened. Unfortunately, 2018 as a year feels like one that bears an actual review, rather than a relentlessly optimistic analysis of the stories that could have happened, the posts I could have written, and the world I hoped I would live in.
To start with the obvious, my best 5 posts this year were certainly not the ones I thought they would be. My social and psychological development went in a very different direction than I was expecting, and I’m honestly not sure if it was the direction I wanted to go. Regardless, I did write some good content:
On Why I Like Fairy Tales – I think this one still captures the fundamental fatalism I feel when I consider my life path. As it turns out, I did lose that particular gambit. I was not Special or Exempt. Now I’m trying something else – I’ve learned to do web development and hopefully I can find my place in the bizarre court that built the Bay Area. We shall see what lies beyond the precipice.
On Internal Monologue Modification – So this is a post I would have done well to remember in a lot of the hardest parts of this year. I didn’t question my internal monologue in ways that were at all conducive to thriving in rough circumstances. I left curiosity behind and sought power and cynicism – my internal monologues often revolved around how bad my circumstances were (in practice, they might have been stressful but they were far from bad). This post is a reminder to me of what I can do, and I am glad I have it to review.
On Social Harmony, Truth, and Building a Culture – I don’t necessarily fully agree with this anymore – but I do think something is lost when people are scared to tell the truth. I find myself returning to some facets of it as a more correct way to do things – largely, the parts about surrounding yourself with people who will pull you towards excellence is probably the most useful heuristic, but we have that one fairly deeply in the water supply. It can be useful to honestly assess who you’re surrounding yourself with though. The parts about how harmonizing processes slow down thought also seem true – I’m less sure what to do about this at this point.
On Save States – This, by far, is the pinnacle of my mindhacking exploration. Save states not only work, but they capture effects that should only be achievable given substances. There seem to be limitations on them based on what parameters you’re optimizing and what state you’re currently in – in some ways, they are susceptible to the same limitations as mood modification through musical resonance. Either way, I highly endorse getting a few scents and trying this one out.
On the Ouroboros of Bullshit – Obviously, I saved the best for last. The ouroboros of bullshit is still a problem structure I haven’t fully integrated. As I reread this I see how the ouroboros has eaten the original ideas I had about the ouroboros itself, and how I’ve continued to storify my experiences and rarely learn anything. I don’t know how to solve ouroboros problems, and as I caution the reader, solving is probably the wrong frame. Still…I think I’ve been slowly been getting better. I think a component of it is having a thing where reality is the bearer of the news whether something is working or not – computers do not care how impressive or interesting I am, they only care that I wrote the write algorithm in the right way to accomplish the task I am telling the computer to do. But, that’s just a guess, overall.
Next is the part where I would tell stories about how my year actually went – it feels a little crass to narrativize my life, after all I’ve been through this year. Still…this year had stories. Just in a brief review – I finished applying to several elite colleges, got rejected from all of them. I found and lost love, on multiple occasions. I quit my soul crushing job. I learned to program and got accepted to App Academy. I moved from Boston to the Bay Area. I broke my pacts with the fae and paid dearly for it. I met so many interesting people in a variety of contexts. I’ve started seriously thinking about the world, societal collapse, and the future we might face. I lost most of my powers. I’ve seen, heard, and experienced so much this year, it’s hard to pick the best stories. So, I’ll tell y’all what. I’ve given a basic overview of my life this past year – I want people to vote on the top 3 stories they want to actually read, either in the comments or through other communication channels – here’s a list of actual narratives I have on my list:
The Elite College Debacle
How I Stopped Committing Banal Acts of Evil as an Agent of the Bureaucracy
How I Went From Zero to Bootcamp (Acceptance) in Fifteen Days
The Road To The West (my 7 day car trip to California from Boston)
The Social Dynamics of the Bay (less a story, more an observation of the rationalist community)
How I Lost my Powers and Dimmed my Spark
Breaking the Pacts
What Happens When Our Broken Systems Fail (also not a story, so much as a topic I’ve talked about a lot lately)
Encounters With Wizards (there are several of these, some I can discuss more than others)
How I Became a Campaign Manager for Three Days
So where do I go from here? I don’t know – that’s the beauty and the horror of it. A couple weeks ago, I had my self concept pulled out from under me. There’s a much bigger world than the one I was allowing myself to live in. It’s scary, it’s exciting, but it’s so uncertain. I feel like I’ve found an expansive desert that holds so many secrets, but is so vast you are never guaranteed to find them. I’m returning to my role as a seeker, in hopes that I find those answers. I also hope to catalog my journey once again. Maybe I will find other fae to make deals with – or perhaps I will find kinder egregores on my journey. Maybe I’m just alone out here after all, and I’ll discover that. Regardless of anything, after I discard the metaphorical level…I’ll probably be writing about programming more. To the death of 2018, who I never liked anyway, and to the hope of 2019, who will hopefully be better.
Discussion Questions: Hey, I said I had a bunch of stories to tell – vote on your favorites and I’ll update this post!
What does your 2018 in review look like? What story did this year tell?