selfaware soup

Esther Weidauer

Months Out of Time


stylized dark photo of the ocean with a chain of mountains at the horizon

Time, art, and all sorts of things

It’s been a minute. My last journal entry here is from December 2022. I don’t know why I stopped doing the weekly ones but once I had skipped two or three weeks it became much harder to motivate me again. But I do miss this form of writing that isn’t quite like on a social media feed but also not as work intensive as a full on article, this kind if grab-bag of random things that happened and links that might be interesting.

So, I do want to write these more often again but I can’t promise a fixed cadence. I don’t think it’ll be weekly, more like every 2-3 weeks maybe. I keep a note document where I collect topics for this type of post and when there enough in there I’ll write one. That way I don’t put needless pressure on myself to finish each week’s journal post but I also don’t let it slide entirely.

I started selling art, my own art. I make linocut prints now and they actually sell which is something I have still not fully processed. It’s amazing. Making something physical after spending so many years working with ephemeral things creates a whole new relationship to my own labor.

Multi-color linocut print (yellow, red, black) of a sleeping woman's face in style of soviet era propaganda posters with capital letter caption: "COMRADE, TAKE A NAP!"

You can find my shop here. I ship EU-wide and to most other countries.

Related to that, my time on unemployment benefits is coming to an end very soon. In Germany, you get up to twelve months of the “good” benefits before dropping out of the program and either getting an absolute minimum or nothing at all. In my case it ended up being nine months. So I’ll have to fully support myself again. Having some income from art helps a lot with that and I plan to continue doing that.

I’ve been accepted into my bachelor’s program at university which starts in October 2023. That is also going to drain my savings as I have to pay substantial tuition fees. In theory, higher education like university is free in Germany but only if you have good enough school grades. I graduated from our equivalent to high-school at a time when I was at a very low point in my life, after a childhood and youth full of violent abuse. Unsurprisingly my grades at the end weren’t great. Now, almost 20 years later those grades lock me out of many public university programs.

So, I’m kind of doing reverse student debt. Instead of studying in my 20s and then paying off the cost for the next couple decades I saved up during my previous career and now throw it at education so that I’m hopefully done by the time I’m in my late 40s. And depending on how it goes I might still end up in debt at the end. Who knows, given how inflation is a fucking rollercoaster these days.

I started reading more again this year. I’ve set a low goal of 8 books and I’m already at 7, finishing up the 8th soon. I started a Bookwyrms account to keep track of everything. Feel free to follow along there.

Highlights this year so far are:

I’m trying to spend less time consuming algorithmically selected stuff that I ultimately don’t really enjoy and instead be more deliberate in what I spend my time with. Reading helps a lot with that as it’s a good option for me to just read a few pages when I otherwise would have scrolled TikTok instead.

Oh yeah, and I quit TikTok. There definitely was a time when it served up entertaining and informative videos a lot but that largely stopped during February and March. Instead it would surface really random channels that I would never watch intentionally and it left me frustrated more often than not. It also became much more noticeable how manipulative this app is. There’s so many hooks that kept me watching in the hope of maybe getting at least one good video but sitting through tons of garbage instead. It’s not just the app itself that’s full of dark design patterns but the platform incentivizes video producers to do it as well by creating videos that have no actual content other than psychological tricks to keep your attention a little longer.

The Mastodon instance I started back in November is doing well so far. We had a lot of technical issues early on, had to upgrade our server once already to accommodate the load, and I learned a lot about running Mastodon (the software). Turns out the default configuration is almost useless, even for tiny instances. It might work for single-user servers but I doubt even that.

There’s some very good write-ups out there about how to address the most basic issues:

Moderation work, as expected, is the much more difficult part. It’s not just dealing with other people’s bullshit but also my own, as I’m definitely not without my own ignorance towards racism, ableism, classism, and probably more. It’s ongoing work to confront those things and to do better, and accepting the consequences when I do fuck up.

landscape view of forest covered mountains and hills stretching to the far-off ocean in the background

I got to see the ocean! And mountains! In March one of my partners went to Spain for a medical procedure and I came along for support and company. We spent two weeks in the warmth of the Mediterranean while Berlin was still freezing, grey and wet most of the time.

I used the opportunity to go on a long hike in the mountains there which turned out to be quite a challenge in unexpected ways. There’s a long thread about is with photos and everything over on the fediverse.

Lily Alexandre has an excellent video essay about a type of media that’s optimized entirely for keeping attention, at the cost of everything else: content sludge.

The Nintendo-fication of Jazz is about how video game soundtracks have become the seeds for a new canon of jazz standards.

The Conceptual Failure of Orbital Lasers dives into the intersection of Cold-War/Reagan politics, philosophy of technology, trans-humanism, and Greek tragedy.

This Machine Kill has an episode on how manufacturing machines that have capitalist political economy embedded in them can (or can’t) be put to use in a non-capitalist society and what that might look like: Socializing Machines /// Machining Society

You are not a Parrot is a great article on the current “AI” hype, how it devalues what humans are actually capable of and how that ultimately embeds fascist ideas.