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It goes fast

It’s I think maybe six weeks or even longer now that I have stopped using my computer and the internet (apart from wifi radio on dedicated devices) on weekends. And I’m loving it, and it no longer feels weird and absent when my computer is not near to hand as it did at first.

I’m experiencing sort of a zen state towards Friday, knowing that I’ll go offline for 48 hours or so. So I am more careful about wrapping things up that need to be done online before then, or notifying anybody who might potentially care that I won’t be around on the weekend.

The five days I am online go by way faster it feels like. Because they are marked out as distinct experientially from the two days where I am off. I think I might use my time a little bit better, because tasks can’t just be done whenever, but within the frame of those five days – freeing me up to do other non-computer tasks the weekends.

I’m also finding now that when I’m “fasting” on the no-internet weekends, that by the time 48 hours is up, I’m almost like, that’s it? That was easy. I feel like I could do more. So sometimes I won’t go back online til Monday morning. Though, I found that this left me sometimes with too few available work sessions to get random things done or plan for what I need to do, so I’m generally back online Sunday night at this point.

I’ve also kept up the habit of keeping a small pocket-size notebook that I write down any ideas, tasks, or things I need to buy that come up while I’m offline. And now I keep it and use it as a sort of “central command” even when I am in an online-okay weekday. So that’s kinda cool too.

Anyway, unless I ever have some overriding need (like having to order dog food in a hurry, for example – which I did let myself go and quickly grab another bag on Amazon to have it shipped early in the coming week), I don’t really see myself going back to using the web on the weekends. What for? Why bother? Most everything I need is right in front of me. I guess that exact sentiment could apply to my whole life, and maybe there’s a world where I walk away from the internet altogether 24/7. But that day is not yet upon us. Til then, this big new blast of moderation and temperance is a welcome boon and breath of fresh air in my life.

Publisher Bio

Just saving this here for future use… (My about page gives a lot more background and links to follow if you’re curious)

Tim Boucher explores the convergence of artificial intelligence and human creativity in literature. Resulting from experimental collaborations with AI tools, his books blur the lines between human and machine, reality and fiction, and challenge conventional notions of authorship and narrative unity. Boucher’s professional background in content moderation, disinformation, and tech policy informs the deep critique of society’s over-reliance on technology that suffuses his books. He lives in Quebec, Canada on a small willow farm where he makes baskets and practices green woodworking.

Hedgespace

It doesn’t happen all the time for me, but occasionally I will have meditation sessions where especially stronger hypnogic/hypnopompic visions (though I’m not really “asleep” so those both feel like incorrect terms for it). Recently I had one that was especially vivid and persisted for “some amount of time” that was difficult to gauge in the moment without breaking the inward experience.

I seemed to drop into something that I would call Hedgespace, a sort of adjacent (but interpentrating with ours) parallel hyperdimension (??), where … let’s say the intelligence of woody-stemmed plants is able to express itself fully in any physical form or configuration it is equipped for, where it has perhaps its domain of power.

It was closed eye visuals of like stems of hedges, and especially willow which I’ve been handling and working with a lot, and felt very psychedelic in its interactivity, kaleidoscopic, and fractal nature. The stems and cuttings and branches and whatnot were like moving and re-arranging themselves in response to my inward interactions. It felt somehow like navigating the “latent space” of the natural AI of the plants.

Like I said, I have been going deep on trees, coppicing, getting into green woodworking. Projects starting to come in hot and heavy now that the snow is almost all melted. This first one I made on Sunday, a shave horse for shaping green (undried) wood with a draw knife. You push the pedals forward with your feet, and it clamps your wood in place, so you can cut and pull with the draw knife.

Legs are all cockamamie because I didn’t know how to really align or angle them correctly or consistently. I’ll learn that in subsequent tries though, as I’m excited to make more stuff using these techniques. It feels very magical af to be able to turn a tree that fell (the poplar for the bench), and others that I coppiced (the willow sticks), and to turn them into a physical piece of furniture you can sit on and do work on. I love it. Lots more coming down that road for me, I can already see.

And I planted over the past few days a batch of ~80 of so of my own willow cuttings, and another 50 of ones I bought in of diverse genetics from an Ontario farm seller.

I have probably another 100 or so kicking around that I’ll do another dense planting like this of. The set up consists of thick brown paper rolled out, overlapping, covered in tons of woodchips to about 3 inches. The first I didn’t cut the grass that was there and left it underneath, the second I did ad nicked it down hard to the ground. I made the mistake of putting these into water too soon and letting them break dormancy before the ground was unfrozen, so some of them started to leaf out already. But I think it’s fine, and it’s the best I can do with what I’ve got.

Also cut a bunch of wild dogwood I found near a lake, and was really wild to see how easily the low branches layer into the mud, root, and resprout like it’s nothing. So I coppiced a bunch, and then helped layer in some more, and then stuck in cuttings to see if I could shore up the little streambed that emerges there and slow its eventual erosion. I will take some of those cuttings from that batch and try to install the first of possibly several fascines to see if I can’t do some other erosion control facing the Big River as well. Hedgespace is in my blood now. There’s no going back.

Tree Time of Year

The weather this time of year is not very fun, neither very cold nor warm enough to enjoy it. And endless wind from the sea and mountain. But it’s still one of my favorite times of year, because of what the trees are doing. And this year especially: I am extremely keyed into trees.

One of the things I love most on this planet happens now, before budbreak on the trees here, before leafing out. When the trees have all put on their new hues, the bark of their new growth all red and gold and silvery green. Often set against the white but now mostly melting snow. Seeing it, being around it, touching it, somehow it feels like my sap rises too in response.

This year is different though somehow I sense, my eyes, my thinking are all tuned into the trees. What are they doing? What are they saying? What part should I play in it all? How can I make use of this bounty in a beautiful way, and help perpetuate it…

This feels much more important and interesting these days than arguing with stupid AIs about random bullshit that they don’t want me to do because something something corporate overlords. I’ve been supplemental tools I already have to get more seriously into green woodworking. I bought a froe for riving tree trunks over a certain diameter, and am going to build a froe brake to facilitate it. I have an old draw knife with a broken handle and a dull blade, but I bought a new one to prepare, and will build out a shave horse in the next couple of weeks, as time permits.

I’ve started to harvest and process small branches and pole wood from around the property, and bought a $150 electric chipper (against my better judgement, after wearing one out somewhat easily years ago). It’s a fun solo or family activity, imo. I’m using the wood chips as cover over a “groundcloth” replacement product I am deploying more broadly this year as I set up my small field to be a larger coppiced tree plantation. I just use this thick brown paper from the hardware store that I think is used for floor covering while working, or perhaps some kind of underlayment for floor sheathing. I really don’t know, but I’ve used it before as a ground cover, and it works just fine, and doesn’t degrade as little shreds of plastic over everything like all the plastic ones eventually do.

I’m making square patches in my semi-wild field that are for now about 8’x8′, covered with the brown paper over existing grass which I didn’t bother trying to mow or till. The ground is frozen solid over there still anyway to a depth of a few inches it seems. Then the wood chips go on top to about 3-4 inches, with logs to weight any exposed edges as backup.

I’ve planted random bits of willow cuttings in the past but always had highly mixed results and a lot of failures using the “sheer total utter neglect” (STUN) method popularized by Mark Shepard (spelling?). That doesn’t work well in all conditions for willow, so I’m trying to be more professional about my cultivation, so I can hopefully get a higher success rate and further plant material for later clones from.

I bought in genetics of five strains of willow from Ontario that already arrived, and which I accidentally broke dormancy of too soon, thinking the ground had already unfrozen when it has not. I also have about a million cuttings from my own willow trees that were more established, which have almost all been coppiced down to the ground or pollarded in another location. I have chestnuts coming, other rooted willows I think… a bunch of other stuff. Honestly, I can’t remember any more what I bought, and I buy for several hundred dollars of trees each year – many of which fail because of my ragged, faulty methods. But some work, and those are the ones I’m selecting for, along with some that I will try to be more careful with and baby for at least the first year while they get established.

I’ve got some willow drying out still in my garage to make more baskets. I guess that guy was right when he told me they will dry faster inside though, because I think freezing them prolongs substantially their life. I had tree branches I cut months ago during the winter (or even before), many of which as they unthawed out of the snow I realized were very much still alive and almost definitely viable stock to make new trees from.

I’m planning to make wattle hurdles this year, more seriously and more conforming to “real” methods of doing so. Dreaming about the years when my hazels will be well enough established to be a source of anything, but so far much too small. Also planning some split rail style fence stuff, though I’m not quite sure yet exactly what form that will land on. Like all of this, I’ll find it as I go, as we go along together, the trees and us.

I’ll extend the hedgerow guide-fence along another boundary of the property this year as well. And will try to select from volunteer plants and other sources ready on hand to extend the linear hedge plantation as well. I’ve seen already not just big boost in wildlife density and diversity, but also beneficial results for reducing wind gusting (even to some degree in winter), and acting as snow fencing. Pretty incredible when you can see the landscape dynamics play out so strongly right in front of you like that. It’s a rewarding thing, and for fast growing trees at least, happens on a fast enough time scale that it’s much more visible than the slow growers.

Anyway, a million more things to say on this. Just wanted to capture a portrait of the thought and experience of it all in this moment.

Hours Addicted to a Service is not a Good Measure of ‘Success’

In October 2023, there were articles about Character AI’s claim that users spend a couple of hours a day on average using their service. (I’ve heard somewhere figures much higher than that for some users, but having a hard time finding any to support it currently)

Putting aside even the questions of AI here, of which there are many, it strikes me as a bit weird and maybe even gross that we’re still in an age where service providers measure “success” according to how many hours per day they can addict people. What will happen when the path reaches totality, and users are addicted 24/7 (if they are not already, that is)? Presumably they will find some other metrics for the reduction of the human spirit down into the gulleys of endless hungry algorithms.

But it deserves repeating: this is not an accomplishment. This is not good, healthy, or normal. This is not something to be proud of. Getting people to waste their time and their lives feeding data into your machines. I’d like to think our best minds can come up with better goals and things to do with the technologies ahead of us.

Quoting Cory Doctorow on Conspiracy Theories

Thought there were some good points in this piece, particularly:

It’s true that tech makes finding these conspiracy fantasies easier than ever, and it’s true that tech makes forming communities of conspiratorial belief easier, too. But the vulnerability to conspiratorialism that algorithms identify and target people based on isn’t a function of Big Data. It’s a function of corruption – of life in a world in which real conspiracies (to steal your wages, or let rich people escape the consequences of their crimes, or sacrifice your safety to protect large firms’ profits) are everywhere.

Quoting Tim Brinkhof on Indian Narrative Forms

This came up somehow in my RSS feed, though I couldn’t tell you from which source. Oh well. It’s about Campbell’s monomythic Hero’s Journey model as being not so universal after all. I don’t especially have a horse in that race, but I liked this part of the article most:

“Indian narrative forms are radically different from Western forms,” Seager writes. “Watch a Bollywood movie. One moment the film is a romance, then a thriller, then a musical, then a martial arts movie — confusing for a Western audience but totally natural for an Indian audience.” He defines these narrative forms as “eminently comfortable with complexity, non-linearity and the non-binary nature of being.” Where hero’s journeys deal in dualities, with the protagonist abandoning one worldview in favor of another, defeating the dragon or being defeated by it, Indian stories — shaped by Hinduism and Buddhism — do not typically present their conflicts in the framework of a choice.

The traditional starting point of common narrative forms (especially in Hindi) is a religious/spiritual ritual invocation that establishes an emotive and spiritual sensibility for what follows. The ensuing narrative is most often dendritic in nature, offering multiple diegeses (worldviews) exploring that original invocation, designed to accommodate many differing perspectives and worldviews. “Closure” is a re-invocation or adaptation of the opening invocation. And so the “end” is a new beginning.

This reminds me a lot of both the structure of The Lost Direction, and the AI lore books more broadly as being sort of like the outward branching dendritic structure from that central core which TLD represents.

How I use screens

(Inspired by Ben Werdmuller & Nathan Schneider)

This is something I’ve been thinking about and tinkering with a lot these past few months, so thought I’d use similar posts by Ben & Nathan linked above as a jumping off point to try and put it all together.

I’m still searching for the language around it, but I would characterize myself at this point as a human-first digital objector/protester. None of those terms really fit or describe it easily, nor does “neo-Luddite” feel adequate. So let’s put it in more concrete terms:

I have been for maybe 6-8 weeks blocking most images and videos on the web. It’s revolutionized my experience. The ones I allow have narrowly defined purposes and I seek them out intentionally, rather than allowing them to be auto-played to me.

I block ads. I block paywalls. While it was still possible for it to function, I used Nitter, along with other alternative front-ends for major platforms, stripped of tracking, etc. My only social media account is on ye “Old Reddit,” and a defunct Medium page I only log into now and then to complain from. I use an RSS reader called Fraidycat (which I wish were easy to run locally or on my own server or something – I haven’t looked into that lately).

I have not had a cell phone in over 13 years, though got an old flip phone for the car when I had a kid. I basically never use it but it’s there just in case, and sometimes I can receive sign up codes on it for things that require a phone number online.

I browse and do most online activities in greyscale, which I toggle on and off as needed. I recently got an external e-ink monitor from Boox. It’s… okay so long as you temper your expectations and what you do with it. Took some getting used to and is a little pricey, but definitely easier on the eyes for just ordinary text-editing tasks. If I had to do it again, I’d probably go for the larger fixed table top one instead of the one I got, which bills itself as portable, but I find it bleeds the Macbook battery fast, which I don’t like, so I never use it without the Macbook being plugged in. Then I put that on my lap to type, folding the screen down unless I need to cross-reference something on it, and have the Boox up on the table as my primary viewscreen. I find this set-up to be excellent for blogging.

I stopped using my computer all together for ~48 hours on the weekend. It’s been about 4 weeks that I’ve done it, and I’m going to continue on for basically… ever? I think? Unless there’s some compelling need, but I’m just automatically re-arranging myself so that there is none. I’ve found the same thing happens with making room for meditation, which I do twice daily for 20 minutes. And that all these habits build on each other, and sort of synergize at some point to make dropping other random bad habits easier. Not saying I’m perfect, far from it, and it’s not about that. It’s about feeling better. About feeling less driven and controlled and constantly bombarded and invaded by digital signals of questionable origin driving human behavior toward unknown ends, and just reclaiming my life back. About severing that “always on” connection in the brain that makes every thought terminate in you having to pick up a device and use some tool to achieve x thing that is definitely something that can wait.

For that purpose, I’ve turned back to a small notebook as my alternative “device” to fill in the need to always be inputting/checking some little thing. I can just jot down my thoughts, needs, tasks, etc. there instead of opening up the computer, and getting mired in 10 billion other things, and agendas of others telling me what I should need or want or hate or feel mad about. Fuck all that. A book is a good enough screen most of the time. And once you re-orient yourself again to physical books (I read a shit ton on weekends now instead, or do little sketches on paper), you realize how the web is basically one giant jumble of really poorly organized and shittily edited books – or rather pages and paragraphs torn out of books, scrambled around and peed on. But I digress…

I got into wifi radio. Not “web radio” that you listen to on your browser or phone and are still chained to that object. But dedicated radio devices which turn wifi signals into streaming radio channels. I love it and it has made me quit using Spotify just about all together. I’m back to deeply listening, discovering, and loving all kinds of new music, and hearing sounds and voices from around the world, and hearing the music contextualized with real people not algorithms. It’s rekindled something I’d feared was lost, and is central to my re-orientation around reification of function, objects, embodiment. Technologies that Do One Thing. Technologies that can’t kick you off because you got them bad press. I allow myself to use my wifi radio on the weekend (I use it all the time) because I’m not able to and therefore not tempted to do other tasks or check in on anything while using it. Tangentially, I’m really curious about the possibilities of digital shortwave radio, because apparently you can transmit text and even video with it? DRM or Digital Radio Mondiale. Though I’m having trouble finding anyone selling receivers in North America. I’m a licensed amateur radio operator in Canada, but never use it because someone told me I’d need to put up a 16′ tower to get a signal out of the geographic bowl I live in. It has all got me wondering whether we couldn’t just have blogs that get transmitted onto digital shortwave?

I’m also working on in the background an adaptation of something called Mailbug, which is this amazing email-only appliance aimed at old people. My provisional project name for it would be “Chatbug” and instead of email only, it could plug into other services, like Slack, Signal, Beeper, etc. This thing called Beepy seems pretty close to what I’d be after, but I like the big old klunkiness of the actual Mailbug with a full-size keyboard for typing. I just don’t see why I should have to spend $15/mo to pay Mailbug for a dial-in number to check email…

Speaking of old and klunky and awesome, I have and love an old Alphasmart Neo2 stand-alone type-y dealy word processor. It’s so great, takes 2 AA batteries, and my kid is getting into it now too. If I could have that form factor exactly, even with the LCD screen, but have it have Chatbug “guts” that work on Wifi, I would be so happy. No web browser, maybe only super rudimentary, text-based, images handled how they work on Gemini (if at all). In short, I’d love to have a non-cell phone, non-tablet objectified device with a medium size keyboard to have “words with friends,” though even if I had that, I’d have to determine whether or not I allow that during my 48 hours off from computers per week.

Speaking of lately also stopped mostly watching streaming shows in the evening. This has freed up a ton of time, which I have occupied with doing paintings, making nearly a dozen in a few short weeks, and absolutely rekindling some deep stuff for me. So now I spend 2-3 hours a night most nights doing that instead of piddling around on the internet for no real reason. Between that and cutting out weekends, it has radically downsized my online time while simultaneously giving me great new/old things to occupy myself with again, leaving me much happier in the short and long term. Also, in conjunction with blocking most images and videos on the web (I still consume a fair amount of Youtube btw, usually at 3x speed), I have taken up the habit of looking at art books, and not really having any preconceived ideas of what I am looking for, I just go through them and look and look and look and let them impact me. I choose them as inputs for my brain (and my kid’s brain who is looking on) instead of the constant stream of useless trash being fired out from every end of the internet.

Speaking of kids, were it up to me alone he would never touch a cell phone til he’s 18, but it’s not, so at least his usage of it is severely limited. As a replacement, I found a pathway to get YouTube videos onto SD cards, that I put into a small DVD player/card reader and that is working out great. This way I know what he’s watching, no ads or tracking, and I can propose new things for him to check out (animals, ecosystems, earth sciences). Even that though, I cap his usage, and same for watching YT on the tv. I’d prefer personally that he watches his shows on the TV with us because its a communal activity in a shared space, instead of him immobilized over a tablet on a couch in isolation, which I think is a terrible recipe for development and happiness of anyone at basically any age (myself included, I’m trying to show a better example to him too in what I do).

Anyway, there’s probably more but I think that’s a more or less thorough accounting for the most part. I realize I’m probably at a minority of a minority position here, but I think that’s exactly right and great. People have to find out what works for them, and the best way to do that is to have many examples and ideas to choose from to implement in one’s own life and practice.


Sidenote to Ben: Could you also please build a simple way for blogs to talk to one another? You seem like an ideal candidate for this. Trackbacks & pingbacks got drowned in spam back in the day, though were a good idea in theory. I’m not part of the Fediverse as such, but perhaps there’s a way there? I tried some WP plugins to get this sort of thing set up, but they didn’t work for me at the time. Thank you!

Dugin Interview on Tartarian Conspiracy Theory

I thought this video interview from 2022 between Aleksandr Dugin and Andreas Xirtus on Odyssee was intriguing as hell for probably all the wrong reasons. Here’s I guess the same thing on Youtube which is easier to embed here (the entire Odyssee site is cheesy and sad, but also informative):

I don’t know Xirtus from Adam, but in this video he poses a number of questions about the Tartaria conspiracy theory to Dugin, who I have personally long-suspected as being one of the originators of this supposed “mystery.” He comes off as a bit breathless in his questioning, and seems to be some kind of admirer of Dugin, lapping up whatever is on offer.

Dugin I think deftly sidesteps a number of times the simple confirmations of “yes, dude, they totally had free energy and all that schtuff” that Xirtus seems to be seeking in his line of inquiry, instead shifting again and again the focus to his own brand of neo-Eurasianism. At the same time he offers what I think amounts to a kind of Rosetta Stone for decoding many of the Pro-Russia narratives we see not only circulating as part and parcel of the Tartaria conspiracy theory (which I attempted to spoof and detourne in one of my early AI Lore books). If you’re curious about that sort of thing, I think this video is a must-watch for untangling parts of the giant mess we’re in today.

It’s debatable what the actual level of influence Dugin has with officials in the Russian government (and for what reason and by whom his daughter was killed in a car bomb explosion – possibly meant for him, or both of them together), and how much of it is a convenient confluence of different thinkers obsessed with power reacting to the same socio-political and cultural histories. In Dugin’s case, it turns into this weird justification that Russia is the rightful heir to the historical Tartaria (and by extension also the ahistorical one, I think is the intended subtext), and that it continues its struggle as the land-based glorious empire on behalf of the entire continent against the hegemonistic powers of the sea-based “Atlantis” which is a stand-in symbol for Atlanticism, and American/British/NATO military and commercial might.

If you’ve ever actually looked at the claims and complexity of the narratives around the Tartaria conspiracy stuff, or if you’ve followed broadly the paths of Russian disinformation over the past decade or so, you will readily recognize the stories being told in this video by Dugin. But, like me, you might be surprised to hear them told in such a straightforward open manner, instead of having them buried in the layers upon layers of swill that passes for “content” on much of the web today.

It’s a bit of a shame the coverage that the Tartaria stuff gets in the mainstream press, because I think they’re misunderestimatering the seriousness of things like it as carriers for harder-edged ideologies. The Daily Beast touches on it here, despite calling it “floridly wonky,” also correctly identifies it as “a quasi-fascistic longing for antiquity and rejection of anything modern as degenerate.”

If you watch the video of Dugin above, those sentiments are going to ring out crystal clear. They are not, as the Daily Beast seems to suppose, some weird accident. Some accidental fault of stupid conspiracy people too gullible for their own good. They are, in my opinion, part of an orchestrated campaign which has spawned its own organic imitation and continuation. In other words, it’s a spectrum. And here in this video, we have a rare look at the purer form of the memeplex’s narrative roots.

One interesting point Dugin raises toward the end actually seems to converge with anothe trope from the media lately, that I think Cory Doctorow and Kim Stanley Robinson have been advocating for sci fi writers etc to create more optimistic visions of the future. I forget Dugin’s exact wording, but in this video he suggests that Western sci fi visions of the future always depict dystopias, and always (perhaps we can correct that to often) advocate for a return to Traditionalism. Which of course the re-emergent Imperial Russia is the rightful steward of on behalf of not only Eurasia, but the world. /s

At the same time, it’s difficult to discern whether this video depicts a world-class propagandist going at it in the moment (where he says coyly there are “some things he disagrees with” re: Putin’s actions), or whether it’s just an attention-hungry old nobody getting to play the part of the professor to young gullible-malleable minds is hard to split apart with any kind of clarity. Signs point to “yes.”

Digital Protestantism

Found this article somehow from the Guardian in 2022, about people ditching their Spotify accounts in favor of discovering and playing music using other methods and technologies like — gasp — CD players. The people in the article echo sentiments I’ve felt myself about the ever-increasing digitization of all things, and especially streaming media. That because of something about how Spotify works (and I’ve tried almost every other major service, and they’re all basically the same technologically, imo), it makes you end up hating music, even music you supposedly “like.” They quote one person:

“Taking the extra step to load it on to my phone, or the extra step to flip over the tape, or put the CD on in the car, it feels like something that I’m doing, rather than something I’m receiving,” they continue. “And that sense of agency makes me a more dedicated and involved listener than the kind of passive listening-without-listening that streaming was making me do.”

There’s a lot to like and a lot that I agree with in this article, about agency, and cultivating the human relationships that lead to the discovery of new music. I’ve gotten there mostly via a huge wifi radio kick I’ve been on since the New Year, after trying out and sending back the newest Sonos. I almost never listen to Spotify now, and haven’t been this invested in my listening choices in eons, it seems like.

I have I guess been collecting stories like this one from the Guardian unofficially for a while now. Like that one that I think was in the NYT about how teens at some high school were forming clubs where they didn’t use cell phones or only used old flip phones or something… That and some other things in this vein have made me wonder, what is this movement historically speaking?

I’ve seen the label ‘Neo-Luddite’ thrown around a fair amount, but for most people the actual historical roots of the Luddite movement are a hazy blur if known at all. And I wonder if it doesn’t in fact go deeper than merely this critique of economic misuse of automation against the craft worker. I wonder if it doesn’t cut right down to the bone – the human soul.

I recently came across a term I hadn’t seen before, a proto-Protestant movement starting in the 14th century in England, Lollardy. I won’t go into what their actual substantial beliefs were too much here, except insofar as they touch on the wider Protestant notion of the priesthood of all believers. Quoting from the Lollardy wiki page linked above:

Believing in a universal priesthood, the Lollards challenged the Church’s authority to invest or to deny the divine authority to make a man a priest. Denying any special status to the priesthood, Lollards thought confession to a priest was unnecessary since according to them priests did not have the ability to forgive sins.

This might be something of a reach to try to equate use of streaming services with, I don’t know, access to the sacred via music. But if music isn’t sacred at some level, then probably nothing is. Putting even aside the question of the “sacred” and what the hell that even is supposed to mean (a question I don’t care all that much about), I think this goes back to the point above about agency. About the ability to decide, to think, to feel, to act for yourself. To not be a mere passive recipient. To get up, to change the channel. To turn the damn thing off. To yell at the TV. To protest.

I don’t know then if “digital protestantism” is really quite an apt label for that which I’m seeking a purer expression of, but welded onto perhaps certain elements of Neo-Luddite, maybe we are starting to get some of the rudiments in place for carving out a larger space to play in productively – if only in our imaginations, and perhaps there only still for a time, as the fingers of digital control try to reach ever inward. We need not let them though. We have the ability to protest and to resist, so long as we exercise it.

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