A Socratic dialogue on eye contact

“In Aristotelian physics, every object has an inherent telos. Telos means goal, where something is headed. The telos of a rock is down, so it will try to move in that direction at every chance it gets. The telos is what causes the rock to go down. This is important. The telos causes the motion”

“Telos causes the motion. Got it”

“The rock may lie still for a very long time, even centuries, but the telos is unchanging and eternal. If, after a very long time, a rock is given a chance to move downwards, it will do so with all the speed it can muster. It will do so until it yet again finds itself in a situation where it cannot proceed downwards, and thus begins the wait anew”


“During the Renaissance, Aristotelian physics stumbled into a crisis. For most things, it explained worldly phenomena adequately to get you where you needed to go. Moreover, showing that you understood the principles of this physical model of the universe meant that you could reap social benefits. It was the cool stuff in the protoacademic world. Monks, clerics and easily impressed aristocrats loved it. It was the done deal. However”


“However, someone built a crude device that allowed for opening and closing of doors. An automaton, we might call it. It opened a door, then closed it again. Open, close. Open, close. Those were the modes. Today, we don’t consider that a big deal. But back then”

“This can’t be good”

“They couldn’t reconcile this opening and closing with the inherent telos of things. Rocks go down. Birds go up. Cats go either way. But the thought of something having as its eternal inherent telos to move back and forth does not fit into this model. It is too mundane and undignified to be an eternal constant”


“So the model broke down. It could not explain this thing. This simple, easily understood thing. It opened and closed doors, simplicity itself. And yet, as the realization of this model failure spread, people started to point out other things that were not adequately explained by the Aristotelian model. The cracks began to show, and slowly – ever so slowly – new models were adopted that could explain the physical world more adequately”

“I see. So what does this have to do with eye contact?”

“See, here’s the thing. The process I just outlined can be easily understood if explained properly. It’s not difficult to grasp. It is, however, kinda hard to keep it firmly in mind at all times and apply it to all situations you happen to find yourself in. It is very easy to return to a default mode which is not thinking about the slow but inevitable decline of the Aristotelian physical model of the universe”


“Yes. It’s not that I don’t listen or pay attention. It’s that I literally forget that eye contact is a thing that’s relevant to the situation. Unless I specifically focus on doing it, I’m defaulting to a mode of not doing it. Just like you default to not thinking about Aristotelian physics for 99% of your waking life”

“Well hot daym. This is useful information. I shall endeavor to remember this in our future interactions”

“Thank you”

The business of the future, today

Dear Bank,

My business proposal is as follows. I intend to run a business at a loss for a decade or so, relentlessly driving down the price point to such a degree that my competitors will be unable to successfully act in a competitive fashion. The goal for this initial stage is not to make a profit, but rather to eliminate any serious organized competition and establish a functional monopoly. At that point, I will make efforts to remove the structural possibility of new competitors arising, partly as a function of being in a monopoly position, and partly by lobbying the local government into enacting legislation making it difficult for new businesses to establish themselves. From then on out, I will expand my activities to neighboring business sectors, gradually enlarging my functional monopoly to such an extent that profit becomes something that can be enacted arbitrarily at will. Clearly, you can see the potential earnings in such an enterprise.

For this purpose, I require a zero-interest loan of several tens of billions of dollars, with no or very low rates of repayment in the first ten year period. As already demonstrated, my proposal requires access to functionally infinite amount of money for this period in order to drive out the competition. However, the upcoming profit margin will be well in excess of any repayment plan we will negotiate at that time.

As to branding, I am currently contemplating Guinea as an overall name. People like rainforests, and I want to initially appear harmless, so the third largest such forest should suffice for my purposes.

Sincerely yours,

J Sozeb

Recipe for new dreams, v1.1

Go to new places

Go to old places

Go to familiar places and explore the overlooked nooks and crannies

Go to unfamiliar places and make them familiar

Walk every street in your city

Take different routes home every day

Pop into a shop just to see what’s inside

Find out what’s on the other side of that bridge

Pick a book at random and start reading

Meet new people

Meet old people

Ponder where your habits are taking you

Get new habits

Eat a new food every month

Ask him out

Ask her out

Become friends with all the neighborhood cats

Take a train to somewhere you’ve never been before and just walk around

Buy groceries from different stores each week



Open that book that’s been in your bookcase for years

Ask someone for a music recommendation, then download their discography

See what there is to see

Cook food with your friends

Leave nothing undone

Do it now

The divine comedy of Kenneth

the frequency
what is it

we need it
the frequency

they have laser eyes now
like Jessica Jones
the frequency
hurry, please

they have begun acting out elaborately choreographed dances
we suspect it to be some sort of arcane ritual meant to consume the souls of those caught within
the frequency
we need it to escape

this is the end of the world as we know it
we’re really in the spotlight here
drive, drive, drive



your brilliant plan worked
by powering through successively worse iterations of hell, we finally hit a point where the Caelestial buffer overruns, and we have entered into the most exalted of heavens
you unstoppable, conceptual bastard

From whence the future came

The pitch

We are a cutting edge, forward looking company seeking the best of the best, the brightest of every generation. We strive to do things that have never been done before, so as to make tomorrow look like yesterday. By striding boldly into the future, we will advance the cause of science and economics alike. Nothing is too new or unexplored for us. If there is anything to be done for the first time, we will do it in a trailblazing fashion. We are not bound by tradition or convention, and will innovate at every turn. The future will remember us with reverence and awe


Two master’s degrees and seven years of relevant, extensively documented work experience

The actual job

You will be expected to perform tasks related to accounting, bookkeeping, gardening, sanitation, copywriting, web design, HR management, car maintenance, municipal policy wrangling, labor relations, geoengineering, email server maintenance and fashion design

The pay

Ask not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company. Good company is its own reward

The benefits

Our recreation rooms feature many state of the art arcade machines, some of which can not be found anywhere else. The free pizza is baked by local artisans who have meditated at length on the optimal way to prepare each individual ingredient. Just as we take great care to ensure that our employees have every creature comfort available to them whilst bringing the future to life

Editorial notes

The text was complete. Finished. Ready. 100%. All that remained was one single, small matter of semantics which had to be ironed out. To be more specific, whether a certain word should be written in the singular or the plural

At first, he thought it would only be a matter of grammar. Some words are simply inexplicably plural, and this might just be one of those words. However, looking closer at it, he realized that things were about to become slightly more tangled than that

If he were to go with the singular form, he would write himself into a very specific tradition, bringing with it a whole host of assumptions, connotations and non-obvious baggage that may or may not be appropriate to the rest of the argument. If he were to go with the plural form, however, those who ascribe to the aforementioned tradition would likely find the text insulting, or at the very least ignorant to an unflattering degree. Which in and of itself would be neither here nor there, except that these people had a non-trivial influence on the matter of funding

This was, he concluded, indeed one of those words

There is no justice in poetry

The Poet had, in a very sincere and heartfelt way, gotten tired of it. At every turn, there were people asking him: what did you mean by this line? Why use this word instead of another? What was the significance of the bird after a long stretch of nothing but spiders? What does it all mean?

Early on, the lesson had sunk in that honesty simply would not do. The line was there because the cursor accidentally moved to the wrong document whilst writing something completely different, and somehow worked anyway; that particular word had to be there, since each and every synonym in the thesaurus led astray; the bird was the only thematically appropriate word rhyming with undisturbed. These were the simple and straightforward reasons, and thus, they were relentlessly insufficient to sate the curiosity of all those avid readers. There had to be a deeper meaning, there just had to

The Poet was at a loss. No amount of evasion, equivocation or obfuscation did the trick. The readers just kept coming back, with more elaborate and in-depth questions. It just kept happening. Something bigger was necessary, something so grand it would throw off the chase for a long and peaceful time

And then, inspiration struck, giving us the first words of the Poet’s next magnum opus:

The Death of the Author,

Historically accurate to an arbitrary degree

She looked at the painting and grumbled. Clearly, the painter hadn’t grasped the finer points of the technique employed, and thus had bungled several key strokes, presumably in an effort to finish the darned thing as fast as possible. It always amazed her that artists who were prized and famed for inventing a style or technique often lacked seemingly any proficiency whatsoever in these styles and/or techniques. For all the fame, glory and extensive biographies devoted to these people, they really could not paint better than whatever euphemism for off-colored excrement was in vogue at the moment

She, however, could outpaint even the masters. She had done so on several occasions, in fact, and prided herself on having her work put on prominent display in several of the world’s most prestigious art galleries. Her name was not attached to the painting, of course, seeing as she was technically a forger, but that didn’t matter; she knew, and that sufficed. Above and beyond this secret nugget of satisfaction, she knew she could get into any museum she pretty darned wished, after a sudden strategic recovery of lost art from centuries ago. She took some measure of pride in her work

Alas, one of the drawbacks of having mastered the Ancient’s arts better than they ever did themselves is that the originals had begun appearing to her as first rough sketches. This meant that her more accurate forgeries had to scale back on the artistic ambition and play up the decidedly non-artistic application of arbitrary rules set down by (more often than not) the fact that certain kinds brushes or turpentine were unavailable at that particular historical moment, or some such silliness. The key to historical accuracy was to do it with random precision

If only the ancient masters had been better equipped, she muttered, and set to work on another undiscovered original. She had discovered a collection in Antwerp which did not yet feature her specific brand of art history, yet displayed one of her competitors with an undignified degree of prominence. This lack of artistic integrity simply would not do

Incongruous embodiments of the Nous

One must admit that the proposal had merits at first glance. Truly, bringing together the many disparaging strands of thought into a single volume would make the prospect of cataloguing and comparing that much easier. The current necessity of having to collect and collate a massive number of sources, some of which are exceedingly difficult to get a hold of even at the best of times, has brought down recruitment numbers massively over the years. Likewise, even seasoned veterans grow weary of keeping track of who’s who and what’s what, and the innumerable minute differences from one author to another. Yes, one singular book to collect everyone would simplify matters immensely


The non-intuitive (albeit obvious in retrospect) drawback to this project was that it collected everything into a single volume, making it easily accessible. The Official Book of Esoteric Wisdom brought it to the ready attention of the multitudes, at which point it all stopped being esoteric and simply became another body of knowledge to be read. The enthusiasm with which the erstwhile esoteric scholars set to work soon translated into a bored acceptance into the fold of the exoteric mainstream

Before anyone knew it, a new esoteric corpus emerged, even more difficult to procure and understand. Perhaps, this time, the whole enterprise would stay esoteric

A comprehensive list of things Meat Loaf would do for love (and some he will not)

Will do:

run right into hell and back

pray for silence

pray for soul

pray to the god of sex and drums and rock ‘n’ roll

raise me up

help me down

get me right out of this godforsaken town

make it all a little less cold

cater to every fantasy I got

hose me down with holy water, if I get too hot

take me places I’ve never known


Will not:

lie to you (and that’s a fact)

forget the way you feel right now

do it better than I do it with you

screw around