starbucks at 6am (part I)

am plugged in
charging
on the power mat.

she

giggles as she reads
a poem by Craig Raine
page 832.

now

she’s onto Rita Dove
page 862
Modern Poetry.

all

mond cappuchino does
is sit be sipped and chucked
the lid’s a total waste.

tahoe sky

the animate swallows of
tahoe wood meadows
drift pine top to pine top
on carnival wings

they squeak across blueness
announcing existence
and twirl through the breezes
quick moths of the day

dive, glide, and whistle
white breasted as penguins
then outstretch like aerocraft
slicing the sky

the pines thrust up heavenly
no death about them
lusty green needles
buttress every spare twig

men in the distance blast
something post-Beethoven
kick drum, guitar, bass
a car door slams shut

her atmosphere cherishes
all that it caresses
pines, larks, a poet,
the stones by the shore.

working distractedly

in the office, shirked my task
broke decorum, grabbed the flask
immoderate I scanned the hackneyed atlas
for an evanescent buzz.
pigeon holed, a techie mole
hunting for subterranean bugs

back at my house, I met a man
told of childhood effluvium
sewage leak his father fixed
but all years later still smelled piss
in every bucket's flumchuck
left to fume in dank garage.

McCain's brain tumor: fresh news gore
he'd dodged the firing squad at war
but now stood trial by combat with
his own neuronal stew:
the terracotta warrior shattered
to reach for mending glue.

manifest0z_1_dreamnet

Dreamnet started as a simple experiment in sleep science and firmly within the well understood realms of electro-encephalography (EEG), but quickly expanded into a concept that challenged our very conceptions of the nature of reality and the capabilities of the human mind.

For the uninitiated, EEG is a technology where you place a small electrical sensor, usually dipped in a sticky saline solution onto the head of an experimental subject. These sensors act as receivers for whatever electrical activity happens to be taking place at that spot, and they can also be placed on the eyes (EOG) and other parts of the body such as the wrists to pick up nerve and muscle action in those areas. A very common practice in sleep science is to connect these sensors to the head, or other body parts, and monitor the progression of sleep over the course of the night.

What has been determined through this study is that there are some very clearly measurable signals that correspond to different parts of the waking and sleep cycle. This has allowed sleep researchers to break down sleep into some categories you have probably heard of. In particular, REM sleep coincides with a lot of frenetic motion of the eyes which can be picked up on a EOG, as well as increased sexual arousal. Meanwhile, NREM is a deeper sleep with it’s own characteristic brain wave patterns. 

While there was for a long time a misconception that only REM sleep involves dreaming, EEG technology has allowed sleep researchers to wake people up in the middle of particular kinds of sleep, such as NREM and ask them if they were dreaming, which has confirmed that in some cases NREM can also be a time of dreaming. 

Beyond these two well known states there are also transitions between the two, as well as a unique sleep onset phase which has some characteristics of NREM but also unique characteristics. All of these can be parsed apart and typified by reading out the EEG data of a sleeping subject.

EEG does a decent job of showing how the brain and physiology act differently during various stages of sleep and dream, but what about the phenomenological experience of the sleeping person? As much data as we can gather, it doesn’t answer the question of “what does this type of sleep feel like?” and for that we turn to another discipline, one which is more esoteric. 

Oneironauts use the practice of lucid dreaming to create a phenomenological map of the dreaming mind. In a lucid dream, the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming, and hence, more likely to be able to recall and later record what each phase of sleep felt like, or how the transitions between them felt. An oneironaut can tell you what sleep onset feels like: a painting-like hallucination seemingly designed to trick your mind into thinking you are still awake. Then the stages of NREM sleep, devolving from having some visuals into a place where there is only darkness, the feeling of being whipped about by a terrifying wind, and cacophonies of otherworldly music.

It might be wondered if the level of awareness in the oneironauts observing and recording these experiences are truly indicative of what the sleep experience would be if they were not lucid. In fact, it has been analyzed and there’s a very specific different between brain activity in a lucid individual from a non-lucid one, which has to do with high levels of activation in the 40Hz range of the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex. 

Where things get interesting is when you take the woo-woo of oneironautics and lucid dreaming and mash it up with the technologies of EEG and other rapidly improving BCI tech. A great example of this was the first experiment in which it was confirmed that lucid dreaming is in fact a real phenomenon. This was performed by Stephen LaBerge, who has been the main research scientist working on lucid dreaming. In this study LaBerge instructed a subject to fall asleep, become lucid, and then, during REM sleep, to signal via a pre-determined eye motion - up-down-up-down-up-down, that they were aware from within the dream.

The subject was able to complete this task, so while their brainwaves were characteristic of REM sleep in other ways, the REM pattern was interrupted by a very definitive up-down pattern that was decided on prior to the experiment. That experiment paved the way for Dreamnet by making one half of the equation possible: it was the first time that a human being communicated electronically from the dreaming universe out into the physical waking universe. 

The logical next step for the creators of Dreamnet was to close that loop - to build a technology that would allow a human in the physical world to communicate in to a dreaming person using stimuli such as flashes of light and light vibrations on the skin. With these in place it was now possible for a dreaming person to communicate into and out of the physical waking world.

What this facilitated was a major step forward that pushed the boundaries of how we think about reality. What makes dreams “fake” while waking reality is “real”? Waking reality is consistent, but perhaps more importantly, it is shared. We can agree on it, we can communcate across it. If waking reality were not shared, agreed upon, and communicable across, it would be nothing more than a very consistent dream. 

Dreams have their own mystique. Rather than being tethered to the relative scarcity of the physical universe, they unlock a world of creative potential and abundance. The creators of Dreamnet sought to combine the best aspects of waking reality and dreaming together in one, not by taking the simulation route that has been heavily worked upon by the virtual reality industry, but by bringing the stability and communicability of the physical world, using electronics, into the creative infinity of dream life. 

To experience Dreamnet, two subjects prime themselves for lucid dreaming. Currently, this requires both sleepiness and the addition of either an electronic aid, such as a TCMS targeting the DLPFC, or a supplement such as galantamine which causes lucid dreaming a high percent of the time in subjects. These subjects are then instructed that their communication “output” is to be an eye signal such as the one in LaBerge’s experiment: up-down, up-down. And their input is to feel for a buzz or watch for a flash of light. They know who they are planning “meet up with” while in dream, and once they are in lucid REM, they signal to connect to that person. Their partner in turn receives the buzz or light flash, and can say “hello” back. 

It is a simplistic type of communication, akin to early telegraphs, but it brings a connectedness into the creative space of a dream that would have previously been either unthinkable or thought to merely be an illusion. Dreamnet is used to connect dreaming people together electronically and over the internet.

As BCI and lucid dream induction technologies improve, it’s conceivable that some day in the future you might be standing in a dream literally next to a friend experiencing it together in a more immersive relief than what can ever be provided by waking virtual reality technologies. The immersive capabilities are miles ahead because it’s facilitated by a natural technology that our minds have always had the capacity for.

Shot and Chaser

A human sits by a wall. A human sees the ground, and a wall. These two are at a right angle from one another. One goes up. It might as well go up to infinite heaven. One goes across. It might as well extend out horizontalizing to inifinite earthness. The ground does do that. The ground - infinity through roundness. Groundness.

A human perceives something. What they perceive is tinier than the room they are in - they can’t perceive the wall. Can’t perceive the ground, for it’s true groundness. The human perceives only a tiny - infinitely tiny - rendition of these things. It is a view so personal as to be insignificant. How many human perspectives on the wall would it take to embody the wall? One? One million? The number is infinity, and the scope of human perception is infinitely small. It is nothing. 

A human perceives something. What they perceive is groundier than the ground they sit on. The human perception is a factor of every moment of existence in every corner of the universe past and future. The human perspective is a lighthouse on a promontory - scanning a dizzying horizon. The closer a human looks at a wall, the more wall there is to perceive, the harder they focus on the grounds recession into horizon, the more particulate oomph unfurls itself. There is no limit to human perception - one moment of perception by one human is infinitely large - as to encompass the entirety of the universe. As to pack the universe into a crevice in a brick wall. A human in Maine, listening hard enough, can hear cathedral bells from Rome. The fuzzy tendrils of human perception can never be said to terminate at any fixed point. 


Are humans “doin’ too much?” Is the modern world a crisis of sufficiency? Is it good enough? Big enough? Skinny enough? Is it up and to the right? Is it staring back along a desert skyline with lazy eyes, cigarette hanging off a loose grin? Does it flick the butt into the sand, stomp, and smear it with a brown leather boot? Does it have a critically acclaimed sequel? 

Humans are pissing. Pissing on graves. Pissing into the flowerbeds. Pissing into the wind, feeling the splatter, hoisting up their sweatpants.

Humans are moaning, making, marvelling, mooning each other. Humans are sitting at slightly uncomfortable chairs because the other place doesn’t have as good of coffee. Humans are asking about the wifi password. They are leaving because there’s no wifi. Babies are spluttering out of the womb and asking about the wifi password.

A group of extremist billionaire closet Republicans from a mansion overlooking Silicon Valley coordinated with the Chinese government to receive a sample of Mao Zedong’s DNA. That DNA is sitting inside of a biotech labratory in Santa Clara waiting to change the course of human history. But so did a dead house fly in one of the corners behind the fridge. 

Year of Detachment

In the beginning of 2016 I left behind a city that I loved so that I could love the city where I lived.

It worked. I enjoyed my life in San Francisco more when I didn’t have to compare it to my beloved college town, Providence, where I had been spending a week of every month for the past two years. This success wetted my hunger for further life improvement through detachment, a pursuit that found a predictable next stop in the pages of Mari Kondo’s super-best-seller.

My mom had embraced her own brand of minimalist housekeeping long before it became a pop culture phenomenon. When I moved back to the Bay Area, she wasted no time in showing up at my house in a car loaded full of everything from crayon drawings I did when I was five to high school math trophies. I now had, in one place, the totality of my earthly possessions, and they were disturbingly voluminous.

The process of decluttering with Konmari method is something a lot of people make fun of, but I believe it to be an extremely useful solution to the problem of too much stuff. The method can really be described in these simple steps:

  1. Start by grouping your things together by category. For example if you see a lonely roll of tape, put it with the other rolls of tape.
  2. Go through your things, one category at a time. For each item, ask yourself “does this spark joy?” and if the answer is a definitive "yes", keep it. Otherwise, gently place it in a “no" pile.
  3. Take the stuff in the discard piles and donate or trash it. When you realize how good this feels, you’ll probably want to go back and take a harder look at step 2, until you are only left with the things that really enrich your life. 

Getting rid of stuff clears the mental junk we accumulate as a result of the potential future tasks, projects, or pain of eventually discarding that we associate with those objects. It is also a physical enactment of embracing detachment that is likely to leave you looking for additional ways to simplify your life.

Initially I thought what this meant for me was to detach from my home life in San Francisco and journey out into Asia with a backpack. I thought that if I disconnected from my home, my connections, and my life patterns I would find a deeper fulfillment in my ability to stay entertained as a wanderer and digital nomad. 

I danced 'til dawn in a downpour on Kao San Road. I meditated half-lotus in the mountains of Chiang Mai.

On a dark night a cat-sized gecko made his odd honk and I was posed a dream of deep humility. A goddess took me by the hand. She swirled me conscious around vistas of my future family. When I woke up I saw that I was yet again attached. I was attached to the boyish conception that happiness lives at the bottom of a Singapore sling, or on the dazzle of a skyscraped foggy horizon. I was deluded to think that happiness lives at the extremes.

I saw that every ounce of life I squeezed from my adventure, I would need pour back out to come home. The pendulum was swinging and my pursuit of happiness at the fringes was a zero sum game. 

On a trip originally intended to be months long, I came home after three weeks. I sat under a tree in Olema and meditated. Under that tree, I wrote down a list of eight things I truly want to fill my life with:

  1. observing nature
  2. exercise I enjoy
  3. dreaming
  4. writing
  5. reading
  6. using technology to make things
  7. expressing love for my romantic partner
  8. spending time with friends and family

Some things I had previously assumed were essential did not make the list at all. Drinking and Cannabis for example. So I stopped doing them, and it was fine. This was clarifying, and pleasantly surprising. What I had thought was scarcity turned out to be abundance.

***

I feel ready. I reach for my phone and let her know I'm back in town. She replies that it would make her happy to see me. We meet up on Octavia and I see the smile that my head has been dreaming glitter out in front of me.

She's one hell of an everything and I can't wait to introduce her to all the nothing I've been making.

words in a window

the farthest thing from fucking up
was sliding down and upping chuck

here we have linquent mootzart
strimming frimma tree
strimming earthly tewrds the nibble
stroaning for a glee

here we have the lumpent sue
a qualid wally muff
who dons all day upon the loof
and hardly lifts a tuft

normbus nation that we stride
in flimmrin’ brandicoot
the cash all spent in sacred stride
from sea to polished boot
irk
and furbished circumstance
furby, furking urp
please just
leave me
do your dance. I’m stuck. 

told me: evan
this is nonsense
told me: stuff is runk
tried to say this 
niftiness is blankness
playing bunk. 

Sure, we have our caveats
or divets, our divides
we once divert in sinfulness
sip sugared cyanide
yeah, the longfelt loneliness
we whimper deep we cry
hold it all within our souls
the thickness of our hide.

NORFT! 
the crump fucked dibblington
the ever branging-scoot
the little tykes on three wheelers
the pigeons blarping poop
the dweebs, the dicks, the dumbellinas
swigging sweet champagne
the wispy witted narrow nose kids
asking for more pain.
the stroller pushing lulemoms
kids, don’t know their luck
this we offer to you for
three seam encrusted bucks.