On The Year In Review

(Epistemic Status: 2018 was honestly a pretty great year and I fully endorse it. It had its ups and downs, but I feel that reflection is very important.)

CW:  Blood, D/s, allusions to illegal activity, hypnosis, general irresponsibility.

It’s the end of the year again, which means it’s time for the lexical-doll year in review. This is kind of a meta post, a chance to kind of put together my thoughts on the year and maybe tell a few stories I wasn’t able to extract any sort of metacognitive value out of.

So first off, my 5 best posts this year – it was honestly a really hard choice, but I managed to narrow it down kind of by the intersection of how much discussion was sparked and by how fluid the flow felt when I wrote them.

  • On Playfulness – I’ll be honest, this actually got tough to right because I ironically wasn’t able to be playful about it when push came to shove. It’s such an important concept I wanted to make sure I got it right. Still, the final product captured EXACTLY the resonance I was looking for, so I’m happy I got there in the end.
  • On Hypnosis and Narrative – I mean, I made a few posts on hypnosis this year, but I think this is more or less the bridge you have to cross to go from being a mediocre hypnotist to a great hypnotist. I’m still working on being more fluid with narrative suggestion but I think I’ve really increased the resonance of my technique since introducing it.
  • On Social Graphs and Party Planes – Probably the most technical thing I’ve written. Kind of went down the social analysis rabbit hole and I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it besides social media being horrifying.
  • On the College Application Process – Oh god I’m still glad that’s over – this was a really atypical post but it was pretty widely resonant. It turns out among the kind of people who read this sort of thing, college applications are apparently just archetypally bad.
  • On Hypnosis and Programming – So, it turns out that programming is really easy for me, I just need to be in a frame where it seems really similar to hypnosis. I feel like this exploration of how close the topics are perhaps has made hypnosis a more accessible subject for the more programmer types in my life, at least the ones that aren’t catgirls.

 

I imagine there will be some debate on whether these were my best posts – I mean, I do tend to get high on my own supply (you have no idea how proud I was of On Dangerous Technology back in ’17.) Still, this is what I would want to show anyone new to my blog who wanted to see my better work.

So, next up, story time! Here are a few anecdotes from the year in review that largely don’t have life lessons but were hella fun to experience.

-It kind of goes without saying that MIT is weird, but you really can’t like capture it properly without actually attending. The first month was kind of wild, I still was in a state of disbelief about actually being there; once the shiny kind of wore off though…well. The classes weren’t as hard as expected but it is still freshman year. Granted, time management was always going to be easier on me than most given how I had previously been grinding school, work, and my own social life. Now it’s mostly just balancing the fact that I’m already being dragged pretty deep into campus life and the fact that I do still want to keep my friends outside of MIT. Still, I digress – MIT is weird. I knew in advance I was going to properly join the Mahjong club, probably see what I could do for parkour, find some theater and improv groups, you know, the usual for a colorful weird person. What I did not expect was to end up in the Ghost Hunting Club…by accident, because I happened to be wandering around the Stata Building around 0222. So apparently, club activities were taking place (which is weird because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to be there but you know how it goes, gotta authorize yourself sometimes) and I walked right into one of their friggen ghost traps, which was, like, this net made out of glowstick necklaces. In my defense, I was taking a turn on a corner like structure and it kind of came at me unexpectedly, despite the fact it was pretty bright. A few people come out, brandishing the least aesthetic Ghostbuster-like props at me that appeared to have some sort of modified vacuum on the end before realizing I was, in fact, not a ghost. After some…discussion, I decided to join because I mean I’m already the kind of person who likes lurking places at night looking for something interesting to do. So I guess there’s probably a life lesson there about be in places you don’t belong if you want to live a storified life, but I’m generally just still mortified about the glowstick necklace net.

-Another time, kind of late Spring, I was doing the parkour thing. I’ve gotten better at it after a lot of more intensive practice in the Back Bay area of Boston. I’d been waiting awhile for the weather to warm up because something you might not know about the Back Bay area is the buildings are fairly low and really densely packed. By which I mean, if you want to do urban exploration involving building hopping, this is the beginner mode place to do it. I finally worked up the courage (and admittedly was finally comfortable in the weather in lighter, less restrictive clothes) to get up on top of one of these buildings and do a real free run. I set my route, and just went – and it felt AMAZING. You have not lived until you have jumped a (reasonably small) gap between two buildings, 2 stories up in the air. So I’m running, when I notice something interesting – someone kind of sketchy is climbing a fire escape. I slow down and duck behind something to watch what they do – they’re trying to break in and look almost frustrated at their inability to deal with the emergency exit door. Well, I’m feeling fairly amazing and I’m also reasonably sure they can’t get to me up here, so I stand up and shout at them. You know, something like “HEY, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING” or whatever – I’m probably remembering it way cooler than it actually was. And wouldn’t you know it, the criminal looks almost sheepish. They call back “Um…I locked myself out of my house and was really hoping this back door would be open.” Like, this is clearly a lie, but I humor them. “Oh, that makes sense – don’t you have any roommates or family though?” Well, they’re getting a little flustered and are like “No…not really, I live alone!” At this point, I just laugh “You know, you aren’t really good at lying. How about, you get away from this nice person’s house and I won’t call 911.” They pause for a moment before giving me a look of outrage “What the fuck, this is my house. In fact, what the fuck are you doing on my roof?” It is at this point I realize that I am also in a legally precarious position and should perhaps take my leave. I notice them pulling out their phone as I dash off and try to find an exit strategy. In retrospect, they might have been being honest but hey, sometimes you don’t find out how things end (especially when you would prefer not being arrested.)

-They say that the best thing to do in Providence is to go to Boston. This is mostly, but not quite true. Having been at Brown a few months, Providence does have one advantage over Boston – the D/s scene is, while smaller, a little less constrained by local laws. So, I was at a local dungeon (as in, there actually is one there and no I’m not giving any more detail than that) for a play party on, appropriately, Halloween. The theme of the night was torture, and I had established myself as domme-leaning switchy, to great effect. My contribution, as it were, was going to be hypnosis to play with sensations that may not be able to be achieved safely otherwise. Cutting pain, electrocution, sensations of blood running, etc. This was going to be combined with full body paralysis and actual tools suggestive of the sensations being hypnotically implanted. Well, it turns out that you actually have to be careful with hypnosis, which I’m sure is a shock to everyone because I think I came very close to lightly traumatizing one of the subs at this part (I think we sorted it out with good aftercare, quick responsiveness to safe words, and generally people being on top of their game at this event, for which I thank them.) So the set up is, we have this sub on a rack, kinda stretched but not too dangerously so, and we’re doing a knifeplay scene. I have them hypnotically immobilized, and basically suggested to believe that they would be bleeding practically rivers of blood everywhere the (very dull) knife touched. Well, I did a little too good at my job, because the sub is screaming and sobbing, and it seems like a good time, but I notice something weird with their eye dilation and the breaths they’re taking. The screams are getting a bit weaker and the breathing is really shallow. Their pupils were almost pinpricks. They’re sweating a lot. It looks a lot like shock from blood loss, but, like, we hadn’t even broken the skin. I use an awakener and tell someone to get the sub unstrapped from the rack, but they’re still breathing pretty shallowly. They’re shaky, and kind of incoherently talking about the blood, look of horror on their face. It is at this point I realize how utterly stupid an idea this entire thing was and am in damage control mode. I cancel the trigger, I use another awakener, and I start using my hypno voice to suggest to them a very safe, very comforting place. Meanwhile, some of the other partiers are helping to stabilize the sub, give them water, etc. Their condition slowly improves as they start to relax again and get more hydrated and are able to lay more comfortably. I reassure them that there is no blood, and that they are perfectly fine. They start to settle, though they’re still at the point of tears and need a lot of reassurance. Their regular dom comes over and he does an amazing job reassuring this sub, likely preventing any deep psychological effects from the intensity of the scene. So, the life lesson there is maybe don’t simulate experiences that would be really traumatic through hypnosis – this experience also reaffirmed my commitment to not do memory modification with hypnosis.

Overall, this has been one wild year – I knew it was going to be a good one, the year where I thrive and really manage to hit my power curve, and I was right. I’m looking forward to what weird parts of mindspace, social space, and the corners of reality I’ll be able to explore in 2019!

Discussion: How was your 2018? Was it inspiring, depressing, kind of neutral – did it feel like two steps back, or a sprint forward? How do you relate to reviewing your year like this? Do you prefer to make resolutions, or take a step back to reflect?

Metanotes: This post is likely to be edited throughout the year to become truer. I will have a link to the original after the first edit, and a changelog. Keep your eyes peeled, you never know what future might unfold!

Changelog:

  • Added link to On the College Application Process

 

On Narrative Decoherence

(Epistemic Status: Problem without a clear solution, semi-endorsed, transitional step in character development maybe)

It’s a wonderful feeling, seeing the narrative underpinnings of the universe. Understanding the roles people adopt in relation to you, seeing what roles they expect you to have, and how you can accept, reject, or change those roles. With new people, you know how to activate archetypes in their brain and really manage impressions. Reality itself bends a little as you more strongly wield your narrative.

And then it seems to go away.

Something breaks, maybe your story has an unexpected twist, maybe you run into someone with a stronger narrative, maybe your archetype has tradeoffs you don’t like. Suddenly, the flow leaves you and there’s a sense of relief and loss. On the one hand, you no longer have to think about being a role, a labelled entity, a Thing. You can just be again, rather than always running a mask. But…reality is dull again, a thing you react to instead of acting on. You lose a certain spark and you’re running decision making through a war of subagents rather than an archetype. Things feel lacking because they don’t resonate as much. This lack, this sense of loss, is what I term narrative decoherence. It’s the feeling that you aren’t living in a story anymore – you’re an NPC again. You’re not as easily labelled and you don’t make as strong an impression, and you have more passive flexibility. You also don’t have as much slack for transgression, though. The barriers that were torn down by playing an archetype are back with a vengeance. Being narratively decoherent is less energy-intensive, but it makes reaching goals much more difficult.

I don’t think narrative decoherence is necessarily bad – I think it’s a transition period between narratives if an archetype is getting too costly. You eventually rebuild and regain your spark with different aesthetics. The narrative decoherence period can feel pretty bad though if if happens in the middle of a project relying on narrativemancy. Even with that, I admit going from the benefits of archetypes to less coherent thought patterns feels like a step backwards.

I don’t know how to solve narrative decoherence but I suspect if it can be avoided it requires conscious value, preference, and boundary setting as well as exploration. Taking archetype power without knowing what you value most can cause decoherence as you run face first into consequences you weren’t fully willing to accept. Setting limits on how you are labelled is much more accessible in the decoherent state. This is why I suspect narrative decoherence is a transition state. When you first figure out narrative, it’s addicting and difficult to remember what was important to you before – the archetype takes over so thoroughly that it is driving you. Periods of narrative decoherence are lash back if you violate values too much while playing.

Overall, narrative coherence and narrative decoherence feel like parts of a natural cycle for a beginner narrativemancer. I suspect as one learns the ropes, it happens less and new challenges appear instead – that said, it’s also entirely plausible this cycle never stops and what you learn as you improve is how to save narrative decoherence for the end of a chapter.

 

Discussion – How do you feel when narratively coherent? How about when narratively decoherent? If you’ve already grown further in narrativemancy, what happens to this pattern?

On The Regulator

(Epistemic Status: HEY BITCHES I BET YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE DONE WITH ARCHETYPES. Slight dissociative risk, except this one is kinda meant to be anti dangerous.)

On the last post I made about archetypes, I thought I was down to five because I couldn’t figure out what The Analyst was for. I have since made several discoveries that have corrected this error. The first is the most mundane. I have Bipolar Disorder, Type II. It’s not terribly surprising, but I’ve basically been creating a lot of upper feedback loops, and didn’t think there could be any reason to go back down, so my tongue-in-cheek comments about how The Analyst is there to give me, “idk, anxiety or something” were an oversight of my dual nature. The second is that, things get weird when you get too up, and reality stops seeming really…real; right about that point is when something needs to intercede. The third is that, I have wonderful friends who are really looking out for me.

The Regulator is a specialized archetype that I don’t really aim outward. It is meant to be aimed inward, to break down the mental artifices I build up when they get too heavy. It’s the part of me that, when I start extrapolating competencies from a sample size of one asks “Really? And how, exactly, will that work?” It’s the part of me that stops a meaningfulness spiral by asking “But what, exactly, does this do?” It asks questions and brings me down when I’m starting to spiral away from reality, getting high on meaning, connection, and how amazing I am. I call the thing it does frame poison, because rather than completely breaking magical thinking frames such as “I’m a sparkly person!” it dissolves them step by step gently so I can rebuild the frame if it’s helpful in the future. The Regulator is basically why I haven’t had a psychotic break yet.

I realized the need for this archetype after a conversation where I distinctly changed because I got very excited about the discussion topic (postrationality). My speech became more pressured and circumstantial, my thoughts were more jumbled and loose, and my pupils were more dilated than usual. I was warned I might be at risk for going manic and should try to come down if I could and get sleep. I took this advice and thankfully did stay sane that week (though fairly anxious). During that process, I built The Regulator off of these grounding principles and the mental template I had for The Analyst.

Now, the weird trippy symbolic part is when I try to go to sleep while I’m really up. When there aren’t any stimuli to distract me. Before, I could feel like I was really close to unraveling and I’d kind of have a visualization of myself, coming to the fore of my mind very, very rapidly, like, flying up like a rocket towards my mental lens. That self would have wild eyes, disarrayed hair, and a crazy amount of energy. After I invented The Regulator, another actor would show up in this symbolic visualization, almost like a giant robot gatekeeper type thing, which would stop manic!me in her tracks.

Overall, this is another step in the balancing act of dangerous technology and trying to exploit what is, in the end, a mental illness. The Regulator is the thing that actually asks the real questions of how, rather than why and what. Previously this construct was overactive and inhibited action on my part but now it’s a much healthier part of my mindscape.

Discussion: Do you have your own personal Regulator? Do you have certain mindsets you would like to exploit more but might bring you to the edge of being less integrated in society?

On the Seelie and Unseelie Courts

(Epistemic status: Metaphorical bullshit. Seeing trees where there’s a forest. Narrative infiltration.)

The Unseelie court, or Winter court is where I call my home. A porcelain avatar, with hair blown by a cold wind. Knives, displayed openly, brazenly, so obvious that they could never be used…until the lights go out. The Seelie court, Summer court, finds these vulgar. You do not talk about the game. You do not acknowledge the poisoned flower in daylight. This can lead to interesting conflicts.

There seem to be two types of social reality people (that’s a story, but it’s the one I am telling). The type that fixates on the dark, manipulative aspects, explicating all the darkness in humanity’s soul, rolling in the filth as if they like it. The type that fixates on the light, positive, conversational flow aspects, politely ignoring the fetid swamp they’re perpetuating. The Unseelie place their bets on brazenness, manipulation, and acceptance of the cesspool of human communication. They are blind to the concept of a genuinely nice person. The Seelie place their bets on niceness, community, and civilization. They are willfully blind to the concept that their passive moves have consequences. Neither court contains good people, just a bunch of good intentions and frail hopes.

When the Seelie and Unseelie meet, it is not something explicitly recognized, yet somehow there is a change in the social atmosphere. There is a struggle that is won before either enters the room. The two play by different rules and the stronger will suffocate or stab the weaker. No one else notices and yet the dynamic is clearly there. An off feeling, a sudden sensation of tongue tiedness, a change in conversational flow that cannot be reframed.

I am Unseelie. I display my daggers for all to see and use as they will. Beware, as I will do exactly as I say. I invite a meeting of my bare blades with your courtly graces; together we can make a new story in this old play.

Discussion: Do you feel as if you are Seelie or Unseelie? What are the advantages of your court loyalties? If you are outside the courts, do you think it worth the cost to join one?

On The Meaning Gap

(Epistemic status: Speculative, moreso than usual, sweeping statements about society, possibly readable as pro-religion. Also better writers have totally written about this.)

There is a sense these days, felt by my bubble and alluded to outside of it, that the world is wrong in some way. That we live in a uniquely crazy time. This probably isn’t true, humans are just generally bad at perspective. However, if I do accept the premise that we live in a uniquely crazy time, I would like to offer my own just-so story to explain why, complete with a lack of palatable solutions.

So, if you’ve been reading along, you should understand the basic concept of narrative and how the world runs on it, at least socially. To go a bit further, every individual is attempting to write their own story, especially in Western society. Our culture memes don’t really allow other outcomes to feel meaningful. It’s your story or nothing. The drawbacks and tradeoffs of individualism are well traversed insight porn. So, instead, I’m going to illustrate a different point.

Most individuals want their own story, and there is a shortage.

The concept of a shortage of stories is pretty hard to comprehend. We live in probably the highest output society to have ever existed on earth. Not only do more people write more things all the time, but more of these things spread across the entire world. This isn’t a shortage, it’s a glut. There’s one problem. Few of those stories are particularly compelling, and the ones that were are being attacked. A single word is to blame for this trend.

Analysis.

Greek for up + break. Break up, release, loosen. Unravel. Our current society, even civilization to a degree, is built on the concept of analysis. This has been an incredible advance in systems, governance, knowledge, and tools. There is, of course, a cost. When you break the stories, the narratives that drive monkey brain 1.0, we end up out of context. Everyone wants a story and there aren’t any believable ones left. There’s nothing to be sure of, no role to embody. There is only a gap that screams “YOU ARE FUNDAMENTALLY ON YOUR OWN.”

This is the meaning gap, filled by tradition, religion, narrative, whatever you want to call it. People with the mantle of destiny are no longer taught how to wield it. Support characters more rarely accept their role. There are no more higher powers and therefore no meaning…and it is making. Us. Crazy.

There is a concept that there is a hole “meant to be filled by religion”, that people turn to drugs, sex, rock and roll to fill. I think it’s a very specific framing of the meaning gap, the part of us that strives to find our place in a story, not just a system. I also think this framing is surprisingly compelling and has lead several interesting people to pick up religious frames. I can see a future in which I do the same, but I am trying to avoid that. I think there’s more to the meaning gap than submitting to a god or gods, than taking part in myth to cure the madness. I hope to find other people who see it and feel the same way.

Discussion: Do you feel the meaning gap in your life? How do you try to fill it? Do the roles in your life help, or do they feel hollow? Does meaning even matter; is it best to just excise the idea that you even need meaning, filling in the gap with cement?

On The Fae and Things That Are Not Metaphors

(Epistemic status: Potentially a memetic hazard. This is a narrative about actualizing as a member of society.)

There are stories, faerie tales we call them. I don’t mean Disney, I mean the real faerie tales. The ones with the Seelie, the Unseelie, where the outcome is uncertain, almost arbitrary. The ones where the viewpoint character breaks The Rules and maybe they get out of it…or maybe they don’t.

A faerie tale is a story about tradition. A story about people doing bizarre things to appease an indirectly named force. A story where people don’t acknowledge the bizarreness of what they’re doing, or even that they are doing anything. It’s just…done, and not doing it is Bad. Usually, what happens, is someone slips up. They don’t understand why the things are done and question them (they never get a straight answer). They forget one day to put out the offerings (how could one possibly forget, on some level it MUST have been intentional, to break a habit like that). Sometimes? They even actively try to find the indirectly named force behind the traditions. These are the least likely to survive.

The story goes on, this one person, this FOOL (pause here, think a moment), gets Taken, or loses something precious, or something. They are Punished for their indiscretion. They are brought to the Court and see what’s happening firsthand…after a fashion. There are always glamours. There are new, different, more arcane rules to follow and even less guidance. The Fool is out of their depth. It goes a couple ways. They try to play the game, and they lose, and something worse than death happens to them. Even worse though? Sometimes they win. Sometimes they are Good Enough. Sometimes they get away, and they come back Changed, with a special power. The worst outcome, though? They’re The Best. They become part of the Court. The new rules become their rules. The Fool reverses.

The Fae are not a metaphor for many, many things. If you read the above story and understood the frame I was placing, you are likely already finding a path to the Court. If you didn’t, then the next paragraph might help…but I’m already infiltrating your narrative. It may be harder to go back.

Social reality is a construct about tradition. A construct that causes people to do bizarre things to appease Moloch. A construct where people don’t acknowledge the bizarreness of what they’re doing or even that they are doing anything. It’s just…done, and not doing it means you do not advance in social reality. However, people slip up. They don’t understand why the things are done and question them (they usually get an answer involving the words “collaboration” or “profit margins” or “human nature”). They forget one day to put out the offerings (how could one forget they are weak and have their place, a cog in the construct? On some level it MUST have been intentional). Sometimes? They even actively try to see what’s behind social reality. These are the least likely to survive.

The construct initially places high costs on this type of person, this FOOL (pause here, think a moment). They get fired, they lose their house, family, friends, they are Weird now. They are Punished for their indiscretion. They are banished from social reality and are allowed to see what’s happening from the outside…after a fashion. There are always masks. There are new, different, more arcane rules to follow and even less guidance. The Fool is out of their depth. It goes a couple ways. They try to play the game, and they lose. They stay banished from social reality. They go crazy, they end up on the street, the know what’s happening and cannot cope with it. Even worse though? Sometimes they win. Sometimes they are Good Enough to carve a new path into social reality, they get back in Changed, with a special power. Perception, the ability to conduct social interaction on a meta level above most people except the more powerful in the social reality game, a willingness to play for different prizes, something. The worst outcome though? They’re The Best. They become powerful outside the landscape of social reality, and draw other people into their Court. The new rules become their rules, and The Fool’s journey ends solipsisticly.

Not everything here is true, or the only way it can go. This is, however, the 101 of getting involved in higher level social games. Use this knowledge however you wish; it might be best to forget it.

No discussion this time.

 

 

 

 

On Good Girl, Or How Society Does Most Of The Work

(Epistemic Status:  Probably considered manipulative/terrible; How certain kinds of power work; pretty much water is wet.  Slightly incoherent, this is intentional.)

Begin

Good evening everyone, I’m happy to see you gathered here for Sunday devotions.  Dear readers, you’re all such good girls and boys, diligently reading what I have to say.  Do you hope to gain some wisdom tonight?  Perhaps a new dangerous technology?  A new social trick?  Perhaps you just want to know how weird I am going to be today.  Well, tonight I’m going to tell you all a little, teensy weensy secret.  It’s very, very important and I trust you’ll be so very careful with it.  I’m allowing you to know this because it’s vital to learning to be an individual…so it’ll all be ok.  Are you still with me?

Good girl.

So, society trains us to act pretty fucking submissively, overall.  I can’t say how universal this is since I’ve only really experienced American society but what I’ve heard (from the very society telling me submission is normal, of course) is that there’s not really a society exempt from turning its citizens into tools. 

Starting from school and parenting, the virtues are clear.  Cleanliness is next to godliness (because cleanliness is an accommodation for others and a waste of your time.  Because godliness is a community ethic of getting daddy dommed.)  Be still, be quiet, children should be seen and not heard (your value is aesthetic, for others, only Important People are allowed to talk.  Funny how you never seem to become an Important Person.)  My house, my rules (As if you’ll ever own a home.  Well, even if you do, is authority over a child, hammering your square pegs into round holes any better than submitting to societal desire?)  From childhood to adulthood, all we are taught is how to submit, never how to think, how to control, how to make decisions.

The issue is, we’re never taught this after becoming adults either.
Be still, be quiet (It’s disruptive to your coworkers if you don’t tap at your spreadsheets silently.  This chair is ergonomically designed to keep you healthy, please don’t wander into the spaces you’re Not Allowed.)  Don’t disobey or we’ll take away your job your money your car your home your life.  You aren’t allowed to be sick today, there’s no one to cover.

 
Oh, but eventually you move up, right?

I wonder exactly how many managers there are compared to line workers?  How often have you seen that delightful old lady, still greeting at Walmart.  How often have baristas spent 10 years mixing the same drinks different ways.  How often do you hear the same sweet secretarial voice answering your doctor’s phone?

 
Well, work is work, you have to sacrifice to function in society, and at least we’re in an individualist culture where you’re given fungible items to pursue your you.

I’m sorry, all lines are currently busy.  Please wait on the line and a representative will answer your call shortly.  

“I’d like to speak to my doctor?”  “Are you returning their call?”  “No, they’re my doctor though.”  “Let me pull you up here and see what we can do.  What would you like to speak with them about?”  “That’s none of your business.”  “Oh, ok, I’ll send a message and they’ll call you back. *click*”  Maybe in a couple days.

 You didn’t follow the rules of the system, therefore you must be punished.  I’m allowed to punish you for having the temerity to try to defy the system.  But I’m not allowed to do that all the time.  I’m not allowed to skip the line myself.  

End

The truth is, society is a castle.  The guard is each of us, hired to keep each other out of the status garden.  Even as you ascend the ranks in your organization, in your community, in your society, you only are getting a slightly more special key, a little closer to the garden.  The people truly at the top don’t follow the same paths that are listed in the castle brochure.  They sneak, bluff, charm, and sometimes outright fight their way in.  Society trains us to be submissive, so they approach every situation with dominance.  They know the right words to make us just a little nervous, to make us bend the rules just this one.  They’re not aggressive about it (unless they should be), that smells weak and just causes the ranks to close.  They’re charming, a clawed hand hidden under a silk glove.  However, all is not lost.  This power is something that can be wielded by those who don’t yet have status; the cost of a mistake is much higher though, because status comes with the ability to insulate oneself from a social failure.  Without that, the social risk of being dominant in a society of submissives is higher and possibly not worthwhile (or so we’re to believe.)  

The truth is, everyone runs on scripts.  If you want something unusual from a bureaucracy, be prepared with a script; tell the functionary the steps, they’ll be happy to just have something to follow for The Weird Thing.  If you want something romantically, know your role and know your script.  If what you want doesn’t have a usual script (queer relationships, certain D/s dynamics) write one that cues the other person’s script builder.  If you aren’t happy with your life following the paths laid out, make a decision to write your own script (startup founders understand this.) 

The truth is, most people around you do not want to change their script.  Society Punishes that, so they eventually learn helplessness.  That’s why you can’t do weird things without letting other people know what they’re supposed to in response to them.  However, something magical happens when you do let people know what their steps are.  They start doing them, as if the music never changed.

The truth is, the hard part of changing things is understanding what you want to change and getting other people to listen long enough to figure out their script; when someone notices they’ve run out of script, they’ll either reject or accept what’s going on.  The default is reject.  Accepting is easier when more script is provided.  If it takes too long for them to get on your script, then you’ve failed to change anything. 

The truth is, society does most of the work, but it doesn’t tell you how to do the rest.  I’m telling you how to do the rest; I can’t tell you how to achieve your specific goals by hijacking the scripts of those around you.  If you’re serious, this should be the connection you need.  If you’re not, well, you should be more comfortable following someone else’s lead anyway.  Good girl.

(This is the tl;dr) Overall, there are a lot of points in here expressed several different ways.  The first is that society instills submission in us.  This isn’t a bad thing, it greases the wheels of civilization.  The second is that someone is using those strings on us to keep society running.  The elite, the rich on the top level, your boss, your parents, and others on the more local level.  The third is that you can access the strings of the people around you if you know what you’re after.  The fourth is that those strings are scripts.  The fifth is that scripts can be hijacked if you tell people what they’re doing for you.  The sixth is that after script breaking, you have to write the new script fast.  The seventh is that using this for the sake of using it is stupid because it relies on knowing what you want; if you’re just fucking around stop fucking ruining things and be still, be quiet.

Discussion:  Do you know the scripts you run to get through life?  Have you ever had someone high status write your script for you to get what they wanted?  Have you ever written someone’s script to get something you wanted?  Are you a good girl/boy~?

On Dangerous Technology

(Epistemic status:  Generally how I feel about the stupid shit I try in terms of mind hacking)

In Stellaris, a space strategy game by Paradox, the tech tree is kinda variable based on a card system that deals semi random technologies every time you research a technology, based on tier, prerequisites, and weighting of the card.  The important part is that there are sometimes technologies, highlighted in reddish orange, that are considered “Dangerous Technologies.”  These technologies are dangerous for two reasons.  The first is they can anger other civilizations if you pursue them and even make powerful enemies.  The second is that they can provoke end game crises.  This is a useful metaphor for a recent trend I’ve noticed in myself and others: various high effect mindhacks that don’t strictly track with truth.

You see, mind hacking and trying weird things is relatively similar to researching Dangerous Technologies.  The typical example of a dangerous technology that I bring up is “sparkliness”.  It’s basically a weird blend of hypomania and introspection that can be directed outward, combined with an understanding of narrative and social reality.  It feels like something people independently realize if they have the right neurotype and it starts to feel like a real thing in thingspace when other people start validating these intuitions.  The drawback is obvious; hypomania that gets fed and pushed tends to become mania.  Mania is generally considered a rather broken state because of that whole unfortunate detachment from reality thing.  Sparkliness, or at least my conception of it, is therefore a dangerous technology.

There are other dangerous technologies out there in terms of mind hacking.  The category is generally defined by high variance interventions.  Dabbling in meditation is unlikely to be a dangerous technology but it’s recently become clear that the more you follow that rabbit hole, the more destabilizing it can become.  I’m sure people have read thinkpieces on how western meditation practices basically take the practice without respect for the tradition and then westerners are left lost and confused because they don’t have anyone to guide them through the rougher experiences meditation can lead to.  Nootropics are also a bit of a dangerous technology, some more than others; I mean, I doubt anyone is going to start highlighting caffeine in orangish-red.

The power of belief is also an up and coming dangerous technology.  We know the placebo effect exists and you can do really cool things with it.  You also can end up thinking you’re bulletproof when really you’re just working well together with the rest of your village because your risk assessment is skewed.  My basic understanding of conviction charisma also falls into the category, i.e. the infamous reality warping field of startup founders.  Belief is a powerful drug, but it’s one you inflict on yourself to inflict on others.

I will note that there are mindhacks that aren’t dangerous technologies.  Things like double cruxing, developing normal charisma through social practice, calibration games, various techniques for overcoming bias, these are unlikely to make you insane.  The notable thing is how these are largely in the rationalist canon, whereas dangerous technology seems to fall more into postrationalist territory.

Overall, dangerous technology is incredibly appealing in terms of really fast living and creating An Outcome, whether it’s good or bad, without having to do a lot of work (well, depending on your definition of “a lot of work”).  It just may, you know, literally break your mind; it also tends to be unreliable/unprovable enough that using it too much tends to make enemies of the more grounded people around you, especially those that have learned to properly fear and respect dangerous technology.  It’s a risk reward analysis where the data is opaque; if you aren’t already engaging in dangerous technology research, I would heavily advise against it.  If you’re already there…be sure to take a few moments and stop from time to time.  

Discussion:  Do you use any dangerous technologies in your life?  How would one approach a risk/benefit analysis when the risk is literally going insane or worse?  Are nondangerous technologies proven and powerful enough to be worth the work without trying to take dangerous shortcuts?

On The Demon Queen

(Epistemic status:  Part of the Archetypal Filter series, actual pragmatic thing I am doing with my life, probably the only post in this series that will interest anyone, slight dissociative risk herein, possibly NSFW I filter sexual dominance this way; manipulation cw, amorality cw, glamourizing being a shitty person cw)

The highest risk archetype that I have is, predictably, The Demon Queen.  It started becoming a comfortable archetype when it was pointed out to me that I can, on occasion, exhibit Dark Triad traits (Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy).  So there are three things about this:  One, those traits are actually useful in some instances.  Two:  It feels good to indulge those traits.  And three, those traits are a great way to really do cool things in the short term and then be really confused why your long run involves a lot of burned bridges.  This is not a nice archetype, it is not a good archetype.  The utility function of this archetype is quite simple.

To win.

The Demon Queen is an archetype meant to be deployed as social offense.  It is not really meant for friendly interaction except for those that want to be treated with this level of selfish disregard.  It is a high dominance archetype, focused on maximizing the aforementioned Dark Triad traits.  Machiavellianism makes winning feel like winning because it’s intricate, planned, manipulative; it feels like being the player at a chess board, with other people as pieces.

Narcissism mostly means that self interest is the core principle which tends to weight other people’s concerns as less relevant.  Turns out this expands the space you can work in quite a bit.  Lastly, psychopathy means not having to be concerned about collateral damage or feeling guilty.  These aren’t traits that are sustainable interaction wise but they can give a short term boost in one off situations where I’m in zero sum social conflict. 

The other fun thing about The Demon Queen is that I am extremely sadomasochistic in that state.  Suffering is just good.  It’s good to personally experience, it’s good to inflict on others, it’s good to just see others suffering it.  This actually is a huge drawback to the social advantages but very helpful in the bedroom, so to speak.  It can be kept in check but sometimes it’s nice to know how a move executed by The Demon Queen has ruined someone’s day.  The suffering aspect also helps with pain management considerably.  If I am in pain and it won’t go away, I can usually specifically notice it and just…focus on it, upcycle on it by filtering it through The Demon Queen.  I legitimately recommend doing this for anyone able to do any reframing whatsoever to deal with pain, because even without a Demon Queen, you can often find really fascinating aspects of pain space.

The Demon Queen is very, very sensitive to a concept I call “power on the table.”  Even in zero state, I sort of have a feel for hierarchy; who listens to who, who has the most status in a room, etc.  I think most people do.  The Demon Queen has this up to 11.  I can see almost visually exchanges of power, and see when “power is on the table” in a conversation I’m having.  The Demon Queen is very, very happy when there is power on the table, because it will take it.  After all, if someone is leaving power on the table for whatever reason, that’s like consenting to letting the Demon Queen do whatever it likes, right?  If someone is showing that weakness, it’s an invite to react with strength and to take what’s on the table so it’s no longer their responsibility.  It is, in fact, a sign I’m slipping into this archetype if I start talking about “power on the table.”  If you notice that, please feel free to ask if I am filtering that way.

The Demon Queen generally assumes she is operating from a position of strength and uses presence and social manipulation to make sure that is generally true.  Using The Demon Queen from a position of weakness would generally be unwise; people generally will not put up with her shit if they think they can punish it.  I suppose if one were trying to counter The Demon Queen socially, it would be displaying more strength/social carry than she can bring to bear.  

In D/s, the Demon Queen basically gets off on suffering.  Like, once you consent to be dominated by the Demon Queen, she basically wants you to cry and literally suffer.  Sometimes it’s good pain, sometimes it’s bad, she doesn’t really care.  I will always, always respect a safe word, even in this state.  I also am not entirely The Demon Queen, so I usually zero state afterward to provide aftercare.  The Demon Queen is very intense, dominance wise, but she’s not unsafe because it’s not my default mode.  I need to work with this more in real life play rather than online play; being bound by reality and having to watch out for the health of the other person may make things more difficult but more satisfying.

The Demon Queen is addicting because social dominance is generally rewarded if executed well.  It can easily be too much and lose a lot of face but if applied elegantly, it generally commands respect.  In addition, feeling like you are powerful is fairly rewarding.  In instances I have indulged the Demon Queen and gained a lot of control over someone, it’s been almost euphoric.  It’s just also a little morally hazardous.

If it’s not obvious, The Demon Queen is an archetype that needs to be controlled to be effective.  I am still working on that control mechanism, but it likely will involve subtly weaving the utility function of The Doll or The Professional into the general operating parameters of The Demon Queen, in the sense that if those utility functions are violated, then The Demon Queen is forced to turn off and I go into zero state and hope like hell I can fix whatever I broke or whatever I was about to break.  I may perhaps need more controls in the future (I also intend to ask the question “Will I not want to tell people about what I did when this is over” when I’m engaging The Demon Queen as another control.)

Overall, I like The Demon Queen, a lot.  PUA’s would probably call it “state,” the feeling I have when I’m filtering the world through that archetype.  Unfortunately, it turns out, social anxiety is just a hyperactive expression of an important concept of social risk, and The Demon Queen often ignores social risk to an unhealthy degree.  It’s overcorrecting in the opposite direction. 

Discussion:  Does The Demon Queen resonate with anyone?  In what ways?  Does it feel different to you to be socially cooperative and successful versus social adversarial and successful?  Do you think The Demon Queen is too dangerous to actively use?  Why or why not?

On Updating the Archetypal System

(Epistemic status:  Idea modification, errata, turns out active interventions get refined sometimes)

Note:  This is a bonus post, there will be another post today.

The Archetype System has been my focus for the past couple weeks.  It is one of most exciting social/narrative breakthroughs and has almost infinite discussion potential (until people get sick of it, of course).  It also is kind of rounding a lot of concepts, and it turns out the map isn’t actually the territory.  There have been progressions and updates to my initial post.  This post is intended to go over them.

First, I reject The Analyst as one of my archetypes.  I can define every other archetype simply as Name, Utility Function, Traits Favored.  Boom, that’s an archetype.  I cannot do that with The Analyst.  I try to look into the utility function, and it’s like “idk, anxiety?”.  The traits favored are also relatively flat and unexciting.  It doesn’t feel like a real description of a thing I use.

Second, this unfortunately breaks a lot of the dualities and deeper meanings I got from the archetype, and brings me down to 5.  I still feel like 6 archetypes is the “proper” number, but I haven’t figured out my sixth.  The concept of The Performer seems promising but I need to develop it a bit more before I accept it into my categorization system.

Third, the opposite of the zero state might well be something I’m tentatively calling the infinity state (as opposed to Seven which was dumb as fuck).  I feel like it captures the concept of a state of metaflow, where I have flow I can apply to anything by actively optimizing my traits in the moment, creating short term archetypes to handle any situation.  This also feels like the state I’m in when I do create a new archetype.  It just overall feels fast and vast.

Fourth, I think combination states are possible.  I will elaborate on these in a future post, but essentially, I have accidentally used two filters at once when a situation called for it, and experienced more than double efficacy.  This might be a harder thing to force, but I think it might be something I can consciously control in the future.

Overall, any system I come up with is always a work in progress and it’s important to know when I can let go of ideas.  Feel free to ask anything you’d like to know about the archetype system or how I’ve developed it or how my intuitions around it work, I will happily answer.