the last days of WUMBO

The ancient scripture speaks of a magical belt with extraordinary shrinking powers. 

The belt, when set to M, miniaturizes its target. 

When it falls into the wrong hands, the knowledge of how to reverse the shrinking is lost (setting the belt to “Wumbo”). 

And vice-versa. 


For many years now humanity has kept the belt on Wumbo.

Ever increasing, expanding, growing.


But the Days of Wumbo are numbered

Never has its end been so nigh

a herniated society

Human beings are blessed with ambition, the desire to take on increasingly heavier challenges. This Babelian hubris was centerfold  during the days of Wumbo


We wanted to connect everyone on Earth.


Like the father straining as he lifts an overpacked box, society’s fascia has weakened. As we speak, a million hernias puncture the exhausted tissue.


Can you not see that we are in pain? Do you not ache with us?


But we will recover

We will recover

is this an ad?

The age of Wumbo was funded by advertising. 

A thousand towers arose, promising eternal connection amongst mankind. Of these, only a few remain.


It was free, for all of us. Free forever. 

Note how “free” means both 0$ and liberty.

Under the softest of duresses, we endured ads in exchange for a product. 


During the hey-days of the last age, attention was plentiful, teeming, abundant, copious, ample, profuse, lavish, beautiful, overflowing.


Attention Attention Attention

Attention Attention Attention

Attention Attention Attention


Attention: the act or state of applying the mind to something

Attention: observation or notion

Attention: an act of civility or courtesy especially in courtship

Attention: a position assumed by a soldier with heels together, body erect, arms at the sides, and eyes to the front


We are now entering the first attention recession.

The value of a view has decreased.

The value of a like is close to nothing.

What’s a follower worth anyway?

We are now entering the first attention recession.

big on pedestal

Artists used to place sculptures on floors.
Sculpture and viewer (us) shared a level.
A common plane of existence.

You know?

Down to earth, so to speak. 

When everything is big, nothing is big


But the rays are firing. Out of  the smoke appear disproportion, incommensurability: the reemergence of difference in size. 


Crucial for the artist to reinstate the order. 


When things are small, we place it higher, on pedestals.

Because we no longer share a plane of existence with art.

No no no!


We are too small.


“I've been big and small

And big and small

And big and small again

And still nobody wants me

Still nobody wants me”

- Mitski, Nobody

a eulogy for scale

British anthropologist Robin Dunbar spoke of an average maximum number of relationships individuals could maintain.That number, 148 (usually rounded to 150) became known as Dunbar’s number. 


The premise was based on his observation of non-human primates. He drew a correlation between the number of social group members a primate can track and the volume of their neocortex.  He then extrapolated the finding to humans. The number was subsequently proven by a survey of “tribes and villages”. In any given town, a single individual could keep up with a maximum of 150 people on a how-do-you-do basis. Dunbar wrote this in the 1990s, when social interactions were mostly mediated by in-person interactions or phone conversations.


Technology and social networks have made it obvious that the human mind is pliable and adapts to new informational and social paradigms. In fact, the limiting factor is not human social capacity, or “social battery” as modern introverts like to call it. Rather, it is technology which dictates our capacity for sociality. Enter Dagsen’s number. Dagsen’s number is a fluctuating maximum based on the predominant mode of communication in use. For instance, when the Groupchat™ was started at FEST, the use of iMessage limited the amount of participants to 24 and caused a frequent fracturing and forking of the chat to accommodate new members. An interesting requirement of the Groupchat was that all members location-share, another small scale trust-building obligation which would be impossible on a large network. Subsquently, a new groupchat emerged on Whatsapp, where the new maximum is 512. 


Counter-intuitively, the transition from Dunbar to Dagsen sounds the knell for mega-social-media. According to Pew Research, the average Facebook user has 338 friends, which is double of Dunbar’s threshold. The average Facebook user is at 3.57 degrees of separation from any other, an astoundingly low number. Think about it, from any other user. Nonetheless, the nature of the relationship we build on legacy social networks is still subpar. Facebook users say they only consider 28% of their friends to be genuine or close friends. By driving adoption of their platforms and encouraging users to follow one another, legacy networks have reduced the quality of the relations we build or request rather. Newer features such as close friends and circles, each launched less than 5 years ago,speak to the need to return to smaller networks.


Dagsen’s number now represents the optimal number of members in a micro-social network determined by the virtual augmentation of neocortex by technology.

Sure, people want to be connected, but they want to be connected with the right people.
Sure they want to find friends, but what they really want is friends with whom they share affinities, practice or aesthetics. Homophily matters!

In hindsight, we can now that follower count is meaningless if engagement is low.

It is not so much about having lots of followers, but about having ones who care.

In the age of the attention economy, the quality of the attention matters more than its quantity.

hormones of yonder

Scientism is passé. Done.


Man control Nature?
We’ve tried and failed.

Hormonal birth control pills are falling out of favor.
The end of the COVID era coinciding with the passing of Ray Peat is a cultural eclipse.
We are entering the age of hormonal wellness.


Eating raw carrot salad to detox excess estrogen.
Taking DHEA (the ”youth hormone”).

Supplementing with progesterone diluted in vitamin E to stimulate the ovaries and adrenals, and activate the thyroid.


Beautiful women are becoming “certified holistic health coaches” and churning out unfounded hormonal balancing hacks on TikTok.


We’ve run the well of scientific wellness dry.

Millennial women are still stuck suffering somewhere on the spectrum ranging between a diagnosed eating disorder to an “unhealthy relationship with food.” Like Tantalus, they try to grab the candied apple but hear their mother’s voice everytime.


The only space the wellness movement hasn’t fully inhabited yet is endocrine health.

And it’s coming for it.

an app for emily

I made an app for my sister, Emily. 

It is a digital ledger that catalogs the names of the stars overhead so that she can always remember. 


Forget the superapp. The only holy addressable market is a loved one. 


Idiosyncratic, custom, tailor-made. Tomorrow’s software is made for you and only you.


We want seams. As new software becomes increasingly personalized, we will learn to love software of yesteryears. The smell of a vintage DAW running on an old computer from 2012. The crackle, the warmth. The ineffable experience, the irreplicable aura. There is truly nothing like Windows XP.


At the dusk of Wumbo, we finally find all the things we lost. 

final words: reading 2023

Let us make you a promise. It's a promise of counter-political politics or the “resistance to theory.” It's a promise of the sublime, or how to gaze upon “a text,” for example the year 2023, as if this world meant nothing. Because we promise, it will. 


What is to come? People think about it a lot this time of year and make predictions. 


Let us promise rather than predict. We promise that reading will matter. And we aren’t just talking about books. 


In 2023, social and historical reality are thoroughly ideological. We promise that many closely-held realities will be revealed as “matter[s] of false language believed in as true.” 


In 2023, read everything. Reading 2023 means that the matters of “a text” will not simply offer themselves as meaningful.

Finally, we promise that the meaning of 2023 will not be in the proliferation of what it signifies. Instead, the meaning will not be in what it signifies, and that’s what will be sublime about it.