Biographical Fragments

These days, I'm writing about consciousness studies and political economy for Vox as a staff writer with Future Perfect, holding conversations (podcast), & doing policy research + building web platforms to make that research accessible (LEP).

I have a degree in economics & philosophy from Elon University, then spent a year living in Asia, enrapt to the whole meditating dharma-bum thing. That was an incredible experience, but pretty quickly, the whole thing began to feel too self-centered. In terms of public life, I'm more interested in the patterns, potentialities, and evolutionary trajectories of consciousness in general, rather than mine in particular, and the question of how socioeconomic institutions constrain or expand cognitive agency.

If we're serious about democratizing the possibility to explore the absolutely confounding terrain of potential conscious experience, or more generally, the agency to set the trajectory of one's own life, we should look at the economic realities that determine what kinds of lives are possible, or available to everyone. Or at least, see to it that our economic constructs don't actively reduce that agency.

So, naturally, I got a job at a restaurant. I wound up managing a fine-dining restaurant in Kingston, NY, to fund my writing & early podcast. Now, with the podcast blooming into a bigger project, my recently co-founded LEP going public, and the world being in the general state of accelerating weirdness that it is, I have no idea what comes next, but I'm excited to bear witness.
How big is the gap between the kind of society we're presently capable of building, & the one we wake up to each morning? What's keeping us from realizing a greater chunk of that potential?

How can we develop more holistic, phenomenologically-oriented conceptions of what progress is, & how to pursue it?

What are the highest leverage economic policies that can intervene in the system so as to maximize & democratize agency?

How can we raise hedonic baselines?

What can altered states of consciousness teach us about our ordinary states of consciousness? What sorts of syntheses between the two might we explore as our ability to quickly & intentionally alter our own states of consciousness ratchets up in the 21st century?

What stands between me & welcoming my own death?

What are we yet to discover about matter; how spooky do the workings of the space-time fabric get?

Have other life-forms existed, & built civilizations elsewhere in the cosmos? What did their civilizational trajectories look like? Did they develop social media?

Hormeze: "What a strange time it is to be a dead star reanimated by chance and patience." 

Anne Waldman: "We're here to disappear, therefore let's be as vivid & generous as we can."

The universe unfolds across timescales that render human civilization an insignificant blip, let alone a single human lifetime. Our lives are tiny gnats on the great body of the cosmos.

Objectively, we probably don't matter. Subjectively, we're the only things that matter. Reconciling these is tricky business.

Add onto this the existence of black holes (which assure us we do not understand how matter or space-time really work, or what they're capable of); the unknown status of the size of the universe (is it infinite? Or some sort of donut/taurus that curves in on itself?); the possibility that this is all just a simulation, and artificial intelligence already exists (it's us); all of this, and I'm supposed to brush my teeth, do the laundry, and get haircuts, as if nothing outlandish is going on?

If I take these things seriously, how might they come to bear on how I make sense of things, or live my life?

Yes, there's the usual revelation: we should kindle a sense of wonder over our impossibly confounding situation, & imbue all that we do, all that we are, with it. We should soak our lives with this delightful, if dizzying, sense of awe. We should build civilizational institutions that hold wonder sacred, rather than bureaucracies that extinguish it. We should never forget all that we do not know.

We should also explore. The physical landscape, yes. How far into space can we peer? Travel? And the interior landscape, too. What new states of consciousness might we taste?

Maybe there are new rituals to imagine, ones that keep us in conversation with the night sky. Or others that keep us in conversation with the seemingly bottomless interior landscape. Maybe we can imagine these sorts of things anew, for our times?
Appearances Elsewhere
Consciousness Credits
Some humans who've shaped me:

‍Annie Dillard  ✦  André Gorz  ✦  Emerson  ✦  William James  ✦  Alan Watts ✦ E.F. Schumacher ✦  Emerson  ✦  William James  ✦  Thomas Metzinger ✦  Mary Oliver  ✦  Kerouac & Ginsberg ...
Site Credits
As web design evolves, so do the ways we can represent ourselves online. This website is an ongoing experiment in digital selfhood, drawing inspiration from friends & strangers alike. A few sources of inspiration:

Aaron Z. Lewis   ✦  Laura Sinisterra  ✦  Szymon Kaliski  ✦  Nick Cammarata  ✦  Julian Lehr  ✦  Maggie Appleton    Toby Shorin    Maria Popova
If you know if any particularly cool personal sites, shoot me the link!