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  • Writer's pictureTonic Dominant

entry 4 - let me sing for you in a nonlinear mode

This entry contains swear words, discussion of police brutality, and the results of my struggle to write in a different way. I will alternate between capitalizing and not capitalizing things. I jump around from idea to idea, sometimes with no preparation. Everything that's written is written on purpose, re-read, and edited. Unfortunately, it contains no music to listen to, and nothing resembling a nonlinear mode, whatever that might be (I'll do some vocal experiments for next time). It seems polite to warn you.

brain log

begun 18.1.2021 – 18:13

I'm giving this entry a very linear bent by beginning and ending with the time that I begin and end my notations. I want to go back and decapitalize those i's, but it's too late – and i also automatically pressed shift when i began this very sentence. it could be a far more ergonomic way to write. it would prevent me from using exclamation points or question marks, perhaps unnecessary punctuations for this log. what does it communicate to you about the philosophy of my dictionary that it suggested 'recapitalize' as an alternative to the red-squiggly-underlined 'decapitalize.'

I was blessed with a day off today for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. About one hour before writing this paragraph, I typed “record of high profile police shootings since Mike Brown,“ and read a Washington Post and BBC article presenting timelines and basic information about the deaths of 13 humans since 2014. I read an article about Trayvon Martin's death in 2012 later, and added him to the top of the list. I did a very white male thing and typed all of this information into a spreadsheet.

I wanted to see all of the information without needing to scroll the page at all, and I didn't find a chart like it easily, so I made one. I am certain the chart contains more than cold hard facts – its title is “Bastard Brutality“ – but I'm interested in far more than facts, I'm interested in the feelings that surround these events. Feelings are real! Feelings are worth considering and examining. So much rage and frustration surrounds the deaths of these 14 people, and that's only a tiny glimpse of the rage that could be articulated, because these deaths surely don't represent the full extent of abuses committed by police officers across the nation, and certainly not throughout our world.

Yesterday, 17.1.2021, I started reading “Emergent Strategy,“ by adrienne maree brown.¹ I've been listening to the podcast How to Survive the End of the World, which she cohosts with her sister, for about one year. The Brown sisters are brilliance incarnate – their words fill me with joy and power, they invigorate and inspire me to be a better human. If you are reading my humbly chaotic blog, you should read and listen to these amazing thinkers; you will be transformed. One of adrienne's principles of emergent strategy is:

"What you pay attention to grows." - (p. 42, Emergent Strategy, AK Press)

I want to be careful what I pay attention to when I examine these 14 stories. Stories of brutality. Stories of terrible mistakes. Stories of grief and loss. Stories of rage. I do believe in the nuance of how different individual humans behave when they wear the uniform of a police officer. Different cities and departments produce different types of officers. I've been arguing with my partner about the phrase All Cops Are Bastards (ACAB) recently, although I think we both agree that it's a valuable phrase (it all depends on what you value!). We argue over how and if we personally should use it. I have a knee-jerk reaction to it: I want my language to be as specific as possible, and I don't feel good about the totality of the phrase. I want to critique systems that encourage people to behave in certain ways, not the people themselves. But soundbites and rallying cries are really useful. Look at “make America great again,“ that shit sold oodles ($$$) of merchandise and secured votes. We can tear apart these short phrases, but they are always going to be useful and truthful to humans, as well.

People (rightly, in my opinion), joyfully tore apart MAGA for the untruth it is: when could you identify the time in the past when America was great? When the citizens of America accepted the institution of slavery? When citizens of many generations developed philosophies to morally justify the oppression of other humans? When citizens of America blew up a church and killed black children? When citizens dropped bombs on civilians all over the world?

oh wait that still happens....

in order to be faithful to the purpose of this log, i need to express more of my current thoughts. if i only express some thoughts, and i edit others beyond recognition, this log will not be as accurate as it could be. i'll get to that explanation later.² the thought lurking behind the series of 'when's' i just put in your view is that i don't think you should feel guilty about any of that. and i do mean you, personally, whoever you are that is reading these words right now. at this point, it's highly likely that i know you personally, as this public log is young. naive, even. but all things must grow in their own time. not that anything owns time. it's understandable to feel positive emotions when chanting the phrase make america great again. if that phrase gives you joy, you might be upset that i didn't capitalize the 'a' in america just now. i'm doing that on purpose. notice that i did capitalize it in the previous paragraph. i'd like to promise you that if you read this entire log, you will understand, but that's an impossible promise. what if you are an alien, in a dead-end job doomed to comb through the still-preserved logs of now-extinct humans, and you have no context whatsoever from which you could understand my desires, preferences, or experiences.

If I think the education system is kinda messed up – that it encourages teachers to push their students to learn in a particular way that maybe isn't good for every student, that it prioritizes affluent ($$$) students over students whose families have less money – am I part of the problem if I sign up to be a teacher in that imperfect system? What if I didn't set out to be a teacher at all, but they offered me a salary and I thought, “well I need the money and there's insurance....“ and now I'm in this system that I'm not crazy about but feel powerless to change from the inside?

Make teaching great again! When was teaching great? When we learned more Shakespeare? But who actually got to learn that shit? Not everybody! That makes me fucking mad to think about, actually (thinking about education might be a good way to access my rage!). The fucking injustice of how we teach people about themselves. The education system, at its best, unlocks students' minds, revealing their innate ability to teach themselves and live in harmony with everything around them. At its worst, it poisons students' minds, shrouding their perception with limits of their own abilities, and encouraging their fears to grow.

What you pay attention to grows. Remember, that's not my line. That's adrienne maree brown. i'm so happy i can type her name without it being underlined by a red-squiggly.

i'm no exception. i am definitely privileged, but i was maligned in my own unique ways by the systems of education all around me. i don't know this for sure. i don't have documentation of 'truths' i've been taught that i no longer believe to be true. maybe i do, though – i should comb through my old schoolwork at my parent's house. i'm starting to backspace in order to decapitalize the letter 'i.' behavioral change does seem to require intervention – for me. the point is, i'm not a genius. i'm not smarter than anyone. i think in particular ways particular to me and me environment. i can learn new behaviors. you can learn new behaviors.

Capitalization wants me to keep on track. Capitalism wants me to have a purpose – a goal. What are you working towards? What's next? Dueling notational philosophies: Capitalization wants me to direct your attention more assertively. decapitalization wants to stay out of the way, and let you see what you see.

Some basics:

  • All of the humans who were killed by police officers in these 14 events were black.

  • All of these citizens of America were humans.

  • Some humans pulled the triggers on guns and ended the consciousness of other humans.

  • Some of the humans who killed other humans were 'punished.' Some were not.

  • Currency exchanged hands between some police departments, local governments, and families of those humans who were killed. Not all.

  • Both punishments and payments were human-imposed consequences of these 14 events.

That's my attempt to catalogue racial injustice in an 'unbiased' way. Can a human be unbiased? If you accept my definitions of killed, police officers, black, citizens, America, humans, guns, consciousness, punished, currency, governments, families, payments, and consequences, then I think that bullet list (the irony of those words is not lost) is pretty dang unbiased.

But why should any human attempt to be unbiased? Again, why should I feel compelled to remove the feeling from my descriptions? What is accuracy good for? I said that I was interested in far more than facts!

does this blog have a purpose. yes. i'll explain it now:

the purpose

why i write words

and put them where you can see them

i searched for the etymology of the word 'blog,' and it took me all the way to wood. i love wood.⁳³ i tell my partner that i'm a tree, sometimes. i love the color green, and brown. i put on green and brown clothing and i feel safe and grounded. this is not a linear list, merely associations that are in some way based on my reading of an entry on etymonline:



web log

practice log

medical log

captain's log




what you are reading is what i intend to be a 'brain log.' i intend to record and dissect my thoughts as accurately as i can. and what that means is this log will be full of inaccuracies, depending on what you think is really happening in my brain. depending on how skilled i become at reflecting my thoughts.

this process has a possibly insurmountable challenge: my thoughts occur faster than i can record them. faster than i can accurately record them, anyways. and are words an accurate way to record my thoughts. what about when i hear and think in melodies. what about sensations in my body that the words ache, tingle, and hunger don't fully capture. is capture actually the goal. i wish to liberate my thoughts.

to make a brain log public as its being recorded is, perhaps, careless. but surely you can't believe, after reading all this way, that i have no care for what i leave here on the page. ha, of course you could believe that. you don't know me. do i know me.

i don't believe i'm doing anything unique by calling my blog a brain log. i'm not special. i'm not a scholar. other humans pay me money to create music and teach other humans about music. i like words. you should read this if you wanna see a brain log that i think is more engaging than my own (for me). here's a quote: "being a post nationalist is feeling constantly aware that our species precedes our nation, and if our nation is not worthy of the miraculous, then it will be succeeded by those of us who choose to align with life oriented structures instead of institutions stagnant in their power struggles." - adrienne maree brown (bold emphasis mine)

i wish that thought was mine. there is a greed inside my thoughts that desires things, and wants to claim them. why should i desire someone else's thought to have come from my own mind? how possessive. adrienne maree brown uses question marks, why shouldn't i? why do my thoughts make comparisons to other people and their behavior so easily, so naturally (effortlessly). what i'm really trying to say is that i love that thought.

this explanation leads to the next explanation: why am i ignoring conventions of capitalization and punctuation like question marks? bell hooks (if you followed the nonlinear trail i left for you, you may already understand what i am about to explain) deliberately writes her proper noun of a pen name in lower case letters. adrienne maree brown does the same. they are not alone in this convention – or perhaps this defiance of convention – an attempt to affect our perception of what's important based on how words look on the page (screen).

I'm interested in more than facts, I'm interested in more than rules. I think of everything in terms of philosophy, whether it's explicit or not. We fabricate systems of belief about the world and our surroundings and then act according to those beliefs. I did some online shopping earlier tonight and copy and pasted these statements of philosophy from corporations. Businesses that would like to profit from my purchases. They know that I have philosophies about the world, and they want to align with those beliefs so that I will buy specifically from them. Whether or not I can trust their statements is often difficult to ascertain. Because so much of a corporation's records are not public, it seems impossible to ensure that their every behavior is actually consistent with their philosophy. And of course, that's something that concerns my actions, too. I want my behaviors to be consistent with my philosophy, but I know I fail in this attempted consistency. Is consistency itself an imagined concept, an unattainable state of being made imaginable by my greed for perfection and ownership? Enough, let's talk about shopping.

I was looking for "sustainable matches." That's what I searched for, among other things, below.

Corporate philosophy:

“To safeguard sustainability and retain our Swedish factories for at least another 150 years, we must take responsibility for our impact on the environment and the local communities where we do business. It also involves taking responsibility to protect the health and safety of our employees and our consumers, as well as taking economic responsibility towards our stakeholders.“

Actions that are a result of that philosophy:

“We are proud that more than 90 percent of our matches and matchboxes are made from renewable materials.“

Is that legit? You decide. I didn't buy matches from them.

Algorithmic philosophy:

“Show the searcher what they want to find.“

Actions that are a result of that philosophy:

That search result made me lol. I never did find matches that explicitly stated they were made in Colorado from Colorado aspen trees.

More corporate philosophy:

“When you do good from your heart, magic happens, and that goodness comes right back.“

I bought matches from the company that wrote that. I'm not sure I buy the philosophy though, and this brings me to my final train of thought for this entry. I will let my other self, my attempt to be egoless, articulate this thought.

recently i heard another human say that whiteness is numbness. this is a paraphrase. i'm fairly certain this phrase came from one of the brown sisters on how to survive the end of the world, the brilliant podcast mentioned earlier in this entry. it may have come from one of their guests, or even some other podcast or source. i have consumed many episodes of their brilliant podcast recently, and so in order to definitively figure this out, i would need to comb through many hours of episodes in order to locate the phrase. this i could do, and will do, but i also want to document, today, the current location of this phrase in my memory. if i accurately record my thoughts, should that accuracy not include the inaccuracy of my memory.

whiteness is numbness. i'm not sure if this phrase gave voice to something already felt, or if it created a new feeling, but i do feel numb. numbness is the only way i can understand my calm reaction to the deaths of 14 black humans at the hands of 'law enforcement.' numbness is the only way i can understand how death becomes less felt when it is associated with numbers. but i also feel this 'numbness is the only way' structure to be contrived, fabricated, falling into some previously defined pattern that doesn't quite describe what i'm feeling.

i think i consume so many episodes of their podcast because it makes me feel alive. less numb. i think i search for feeling in alcohol and drugs and television and currency. i have meditative practices devoted to helping me discard these searches. i don't believe joy and feeling and release lie in the direction of more consumption. and yet i behave in a way that doesn't always reflect those 'beliefs.'

feelings and thoughts are often described as separate phenomena, but they both happen in the brain. right? don't take that as a fact, that's just a thought that i wrote down... without thinking? that can't be possible. to express a thought without thinking. to do without doing. effortless effort; the tao....

this brain log now has several purposes:

  1. accurately record my thoughts (the word 'accurately' to be defined)

  2. record results of my attempts to alter my behavior to more consistently align with my philosophies

  3. record my reactions to stimuli on a scale from numbness to feeling

  4. present the log in such a way that some other humans will be encouraged to experiment with their own thoughts and behaviors

more next week.

brain log

ended 22.1.2021 - 21:54

Bonus Thoughts:

1: Everywhere I have looked, adrienne maree brown appears uncapitalized. This is a familiar convention if you've read another incredible writer/philosopher/human being named bell hooks. here's a clue to why bell hooks does this: my dictionary also placed a red-squiggly-underline beneath 'adrienne,' and suggested 'Adrienne.' why is the capitalization part of the 'correctness' of the language. there's a biography of bell hooks on the Berea College website that includes this sentence: "Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, she has chosen the lower case pen name bell hooks, based on the names of her mother and grandmother, to emphasize the importance of the substance of her writing as opposed to who she is."

This strikes me as very cool. Capitalization does imply importance, does it not? Proper nouns should be capitalized.... why, exactly? I did some digging (though I don't hold great confidence in my googling skills) and found disappointing results – mostly articles trying to educate people about 'capitalization rules' – until I found this gem:

"And what effect does this English pattern have on us psychologically? In the sense that "I" is more important than "you, them" etc.?" - Anthea Fallen-Bailey, full post here. I don't know who this person is, I was just delighted to find another human writing with the same wonder and the same concern.

bell hooks is perhaps trying to diminish the importance of the self by literally diminishing 'I' (I deliberated whether or not to write that as a capital letter; tough choices). i'm so into this type of mental experiment. how i notate affects how i think. (back)

2: the explanation of the purpose of this log. what am i logging. (back)

3: Sorry again, Gus, that is not a dick joke. (back)

"record of observations, readings, etc.," originally "record of a ship's progress," 1842, sailor's shortening of log-book (1670s), the daily record of a ship's speed, progress, etc., which is from log (n.1) "piece of wood." The book so called because it recorded the speed measurements made by means of a weighted chip of a tree log on the end of a reeled log line (typically 150 to 200 fathoms). The log lay dead in the water, and sailors counted the time it took the line to play out. The line was marked by different numbers of knots, or colored rags, tied at regular intervals; hence the nautical measurement sense of knot (n.). Similar uses of the cognate word are continental Germanic and Scandinavian (such as German Log). General sense "any record of facts entered in order" is by 1913. - from (back)

5: see what i did there. (back)

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