Oct 20, 2021Liked by Jamie Ryan

Very interesting read, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

One idea that crossed my mind while reading is the role that authenticity plays with regard to status and illegibility. It seems that the power offered by typing someone and making them legible is at its greatest when that person is "pretending" to be that type, or taking inauthentic actions so as to try and be someone they are not. You do not "gain any power" over the man who is actually, authentically into spirituality when you type him into the framework shared above (though the existence of that framework may affect how people think of him at first glance); nor does the high school photographer who actually, authentically enjoys taking pictures of fences feel much embarrassment when typed as above. However, both the man who is into spirituality as a path to sex and the high school photographer who takes pictures of fences to be "cool" have much to lose by being typed / becoming legible. Legibility seems to matter most when people are playing pretend, as seeing through the act means you also know they are a person who pretends (following the types of others), rather than choosing their own unique path.

It seems being authentic may offer a potential path out of this "ecosystem in which people are ever on the run from their peers"; the associations in the background lose much of their power if your type is simply you, rather than an act. That being said, the line between being "you" and "pretending" can be a blurry one, due to the heavy influence of environment and culture on who we become. Being "you" is not always straightforward, and even with self-reflection it can be hard to parse out ("am I into spirituality just for the sex?" can be a hard question to answer unbiasedly).

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I really like how you have boiled down culture to some general principles. They were not immediately obvious to me - but after pondering them your three laws make a lot of sense, and are quite useful for thinking about how culture evolves.

Were there any blog posts / books / other forms of media that strongly influenced this work? I'd like some more background to read on this series.

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Jan 11, 2023Liked by Jamie Ryan

This is some great analysis! Just wanted to drop in a thought that the legibility/illegibility distinction strikes me as sort of analogous to coherence/decoherence in quantum mechanics, whereby entanglement in a system implies simultaneously shaping and being shaped by the system (coherence) until something outside of the system interferes and decoheres the system. The attempt by individuals to become illegible by the group would seem to rely on active entanglement in other groups. Given the mention of 'Mechanics' here, 'entanglement' in your Mind Games post, and 'non-locality' in your Acceleration post, you might be onto some of the quantum mind/social science ideas that folks like Alexander Wendt has been advocating for..

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