blog

2018-06-25: Back

been a while. i didn’t have the energy nor the impulse to write anything here. or anything at all for that matter. been some really unproductive days. or weeks. still haven’t been paid by my employers and the students basically stopped going to class. perhaps i’m not well suited for the job anymore. certainly i feel i lost the enthusiasm for teaching what i teach. i want to transmit another kind of knowledge, some kind of knowledge i feel can actually make people’s lives better. so it goes.


i’ve been delving into an area i had never really explored: interactive fiction. i guess i’ve become an amateur expert on the topic, if i may say so. not that i’ve written anything worth it. i started a small story using squiffy. it’s about ai and you can find it here. the source code is on github and i published it with a CC0 license because that’s how i roll.


global society is in bad shape right now. people are worried we are in the verge of a major global crisis, and rightfully so. a humanitarian crisis, an economical crisis, a social crisis, you name it. it’s happening and a big change is necessary. a new world order is imminent.


if something looks grammatically wrong here, and i’m sure something does, it’s because i don’t really proof-read or spell-check these posts.


so it goes.

2018-05-15: sabinas iii

it once happened to me that i stopped reading for a moment to do something else. after a few minutes away from my reading device, i went back to it in a hurry, thinking it might lock the screen. which makes sense if i had been reading on my kindle… i wasn’t: my reading device was a book.

this paragraph reads like the introduction to the shittiest, most boring and pretentious ted talk, doesn’t it? good thing i don’t get to talk in front of lots of people. i’m not sure when was the last time i had to.
this is the part where i start thinking that i might not have anything worth saying in front of a crowd. and that part of my brain in charge of such ideas gets into a fight with another part of my brain that tries to tell me that everything will be all right. who wins is usually anyone’s guess. uncertainty. we’re all into it.

i’m falling asleep. today i leave sabinas for a while. i’m taking the 15:20 bus. i might be back next weekend but who knows. i wrote some good pages these days. the story that opens the book is looking good. i’d like to work on it with a writing group (hopefully: more on that soon).

i saw a (couple of) film(s)

i watched dawson city: frozen time by bill morrison. it is a beautiful film, a love letter to celuloid as gorgeous as one can expect from morrison. here’s the trailer.

Bill Morrison’s new film is a history in still and moving images charting the transformation of Tr’ochëk, a fishing camp at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, into the epicenter of the Yukon gold rush at the turn of the last century. It is also a history of the 35mm film prints that were shipped to Dawson between the 1910s and 1920s, then hidden away and forgotten for 50 years until they were unearthed in the initial stages of a construction project, images from which are a key element in Morrison’s cinematic mosaic. Like all of Morrison’s work, Dawson City is a haunting experience that takes place in suspended, nonlinear time.

it can be found online from a variety of sources all across the spectrum of legality.

i watched finding vivian maier and the secret rules of modern living: algorithms on the bus back to saltillo. the first one is about a once unknown photographer whose negatives were found in an auction and made some lucky guy rich. art capitalism at its best. the second is an overtly optimistic view on the role algorithms play in modern society. all of the examples presented depict algorithms as a bening force that makes life easier and better, a vision of algorithms i found a little too narrow. they are way more than that and many of them are not bening in any way.

a few words about piracy

talking about legality, i might want to paint a general idea of my stance in regards to copyright and intellectual property laws and practices. i am by no means an idealist. the defense of copyright and intellectual property seems to me like an idealistic enterprise, one based on certain assumptions about the way people behave that are just naive. people’s natural tendency is to share that which is replaceable or infinitely replenishable. the latter is a good way to describe digital materials. they just don’t exhaust or degrade or break. and if it can be copied it will be copied and there is nothing authors and publishers can do about it. it will happen. and it should happen, there’s nothing i am personally willing to do against it since it’s such a lost cause. fortunately. that’s what i think about piracy and sharing. one day i might write about it in greater depth.

a few words about this blog

this blog is by no means written in stone even if in a way it is. what i mean by that is that i might update old entries without warning (to whom? who’s gonna read my blog, anywas?) and error proof others; still everything is in github, so old versions will always be publicly available, or at least as long as gh exists.
i want to implement rss later and tags. i might do it at some point in the next few weeks. jekyll is interesting, fun and easy to learn. i made some improvements to the layouts so every page uses the same layout with some differences based on the type variable. If type: blog is present in the front matter of the post, the h1 will be printed with the date value included at the begining. let’s see, for example, the front matter for this post:

layout: default
type: blog
title: sabinas iii
year: 2018-05-15
location: sabinas
language: en
tags: family films projects sabinas writing

in addition to that, there is another conditional in default.html (the layout file) that changes the <title> tag acordingly so the browser tabs display the date when the user is reading a single post.
(i’m not sure how to post liquid in jekyll within code blocks, the engine just parses it instead of rendering as part of the block. help, anyone.)
the entries themselves work more like in-progress texts until the point where i push them to the repository1. and, as i implied before, even after that they are still open to editing and fine-tuning, so to speak. it would be a sin to keep something fixed and definitive in github. that’s not what github is for, quite the opposite. i think that should be true for both code and text––not that code and text are mutually exclusive categories, of course2.
i’m no developer. in fact, i consider myself a pretty mediocre coder. but hey, i’m having fun.

from the road

i’m writing this aboard a del norte bus. i am at the central in monclova, waiting for passengers and for the cleaning guy to sweep the aisle. some gringo mormon missionary just got on the bus. the other missionaries are saying goodbye from the andén. they seem happy. enthusiastic. most of all, they seem sincere. i’m not sure if that’s happy or sad. i just stopped knowing al ong time ago.
how much does sublime text cost? definitely worth paying for it just for the time it takes to launch, about 1/10th of the time it takes atom. atom has more and more interesting add-ons but really, it’s slow as hell. anyways, most of the time i write in sublime text but every once in a while i’ll write on emacs. i don’t really understand emacs beyond the things i use it for: writing markdown and running tidalcycles.3
the bus is moving and nobody got on it to sell us coca colas or something and i’m desperately need something to drink. it’s gonna be a long monclova-saltillo. the next coke i drink is going to be glorious, though.
(yeah: i just received a sandwich, some cheetos and a coke as part of the trip (didn’t remember this bus was a “diamante”). the sandwich is made of sadness and sorrow and the cheetos are cheetos… but i’ve got a fucking coke, baby, yeah!)
i’m eating some carne seca from roncesvalles. this stuff is really good so i decide this post is finished. i have no internet so it will appear on my site eventually.

  1. e.g.: the “a few words about this blog” section was started before the “from the road” section of the text, but the part starting with ‘the entries themselves…’ was written after the “from the road” section. i’m not sure that’s important at all other than to illustrate the somewhat chaotic order in which i approach the writing of these posts. 

  2. now, i know this section and these footnotes are a little too “meta”. i confess my sins but don’t repent: i love talking about processes. but (and that’s the reason for all of this) i know most people don’t enjoy talking about processes. most of the time, i think, interesting processes (i.e. processes that can be find interesting not only by colleagues but by that ambiguos entity called most everyone, trademark pending) are not something they usually find in their lives or know how to identificate. whatever the reason, this footnote is getting longer and way more boring than it should. 

  3. these are the steps i take to run tidal: use tmux to divide the terminal screen into two panes. i will then run sclang in one of the panes, usually the left one. there i’ll quickly setup the output and launch SuperDirt. on the other pane i’ll launch emacs, open my boot.tidal, launch haskell and tidal, and execute boot.tidal. at this point i can create a new file or open and existing one and start making sounds. 

2018-05-13: sabinas ii

i’m kind of sad that i’m leaving sabinas tomorrow. but i’m also enthusiastic about some things that happened and things i learned these days and nights. i’ve organized my projects and i’m going back to saltillo with clearer a purpose when it comes to the things i want to work on the rest of the year. most of them involve my hometown in one way or another1, as i think i’ve already said: a short stories collection, a series of writing workshops, a book about regional music and a collaboration about baseball are all situated here. i want them all to happen but i have to organize myself if want them to.

i didn’t want to turn this post into the self-conscious post that abound on the internet by talking about how much i want to write more. i’ll just do it, then.

yesterday i drank some clamato but i haven’t worked on tidal music in over a month. well, i haven’t done that much music in the last few weeks. i’m too focused on writing right now.
what is that sound i hear when i try to sleep? there is a way for past to come and try to grab you with the cheapest lure: nostalgia. and i’m a sucker for nostalgia. so, yeah, good part of my motivation comes from that feeling. that said, most of my artistic work comes from nostalgia: why deny the places i come from?

  1. a year ago i was living in sabinas. i lived at my childhood home with nona; watched twin peaks, better call saul, the leftovers; listened to pond, radiohead, rachmaninoff, tame impala, bach, richard skelton, the war on drugs, the chromatics, jimi tenor; played torment: tides of numenera, brogue, tales of maj’eyal, the beginner’s guide; made new friends, had fun; wrote a lot and learned tidalcycles; i bought mason jars and drank iced tea (a lot of iced tea [nothing fancy: zuko. powder. it was nice, though, and it is the flavor i immediately relate with me watching twin peaks and nona sleeping by my side.]). i tried to break free from chains that exist mostly in my head. 

2018-05-12: sabinas

i’m in sabinas right now. i’m on what at my abue’s home is called “the last room”. here there used to be an old bed, belonging to either my father or my uncle (this was their room), a bookcase and a washing machine. since more than a year ago it’s also where my abue’s hospital bed is installed, next to the old bed where i’m writing this. she’s been trying to sleep but something in her mouth disconforts her and she hasn’t been able to get good sleep. she is fine and today we are taking her to la casona to celebrate día de las madres, mother’s day, which in méxico was celebrated last thursday.

been working on express 57, my book on pakistán records. sometimes i feel insecure, being my first serious literary project. at least the first one enterily mine. anyway, i’m working on a timeline and a list of key persons. most of the texts are somewhere between outlined and finished. i’ve got artwork from the albums mentioned in the story and even some music.
rereading some of the texts i feel confident of their quality. i might post some samples here one day. they are in spanish.

talking about samples, i started working again with renoise. what a beautiful piece of software. there are many things i just took for granted when using ableton live exclusively that just can’t be done in renoise. and viceversa, which is why i’m so interested in renoise. the sample manipulation tools in renoise are amazing, specially when it comes to really mangling and destroying your samples… which is something i’d like to do more.

i made some adjustements to the blog, just to have less files in the website.

things i’ve been enjoying

2018-05-10: al norte de la muralla

tomorrow i’ll travel to the north, all along the carretera federal 57, a scar on coahuila’s face that connects piedras negras, a city across the río bravo (or río grande) from eagle pass, tx, with cdmx. i think about the impression those huge valleys had on the people exploring them thousands of years ago, even before the arrival of the spanish: their dreams, ambitions, dismay and agony. there’s a natural wall dividing coahuila horizontally: la muralla. the south was long ago conquered territories of saltillo, parras and torreón. the north is recently conquered territory. these two parts of coahuila are so different they could be thousands of miles apart. most cities from the northern part of coahuila are just over a hundred years old. compared to saltillo’s more than four hundred years of history that’s fairly new. that is, in fact, mexico’s frontier, the place where mexico stops being mexico and slowly, kind of painfully, starts it’s transformation into usa. the border, the frontier, la frontera, is not a line: it’s a gradient.

i want to test the code rendering in my blog, so i’ll leave this p5.js thing here

let b = 137.5;
let c = 10;
let n = 0;

function setup() {
    createCanvas(windowWidth, windowHeight);
    angleMode(DEGREES);
    background(0);
}

function draw() {
    let a = n * b;
    let r = c * sqrt(n);
    let x = r * cos(a) + width / 2;
    let y = r * sin(a) + height / 2;
    noStroke();
    fill((tan(n) * 128), (sin(n) * 128), (atan(n) * 128));
    ellipse(x, y, 20);
    b += 0.005;
    n++;
}

and this tidalcycles thing here

cps (145/60/4)

hush

t1 clutch
$ stack [
sometimes (jux (iter 4)) $ sometimes (stut 4 0.25 0.5) $ rarely (|-| crush (irand 4)) $ sometimes (jux rev) $ s "emu(5,16)"
# legato (scale 0.25 1.5 $ slow 4 tri) # speed (scale 1 1.5 $ slow 3 sine) # crush 7 # cutoff 4500 # gain 1.5,
rarely (# legato 1) $ s "superhat(7,16)" # legato 0.25 # gain 1.25,
s "supersnare(0,4,2)" # cutoff 4500 # speed 3 # gain 1.35
]

d1 silence

t2 clutch
$ sometimes (# speed 2)
$ sometimes (# speed 0.5)
$ sometimes (jux (# speed 4))
$ sometimes (jux rev)
$ every 4 (jux (gap 2))
$ rarely (jux (stut 4 0.25 0.25))
$ s "[glitch:5(<5 7>,16,<3 4 2>)], glitch:0(3,16,2)"
# speed (scale 0.5 2 $ rand)
# crush (scale 3 8 $ sine)
# cutoff (scale 2500 5500 $ slow 7 sine)
# pan rand
# orbit 1
# rvb' 0.1 0.1

d2 silence

t3 clutch
$ chop 4 $ slow 8 $ jux rev $ stut 3 0.5 1.25 $ striate 2 $ s "print(0,16)"
# n (irand 16)
# cutoff (scale 500 2500 $ slow 8 sine)

d3 silence

d3 $
slow 4 $ jux rev $ n "[<[g3(3,8)] a2> d2(5,8), c4(7,16)]"
# s "[supersaw, supersquare]" # legato 1 # slow 6 (legato (scale 5 10 $ slow 10 sine)) # slow 8 (crush (scale 2 5 $ sine)) # slow 4 (lpf' (scale 5 150 $ slow 7 sine) 0) # gain 0.75

d3 silence

d4
$ jux rev
$ n "~ ~ ~ ~ e2 ~ ~ [g3 d4]"
# s "<supersquare supersaw>"
# legato "~ [1 0.35]"
# vowel "~ [<e o> <i a> <i u e>]"
# crush (scale 3 8 $ rand)
# cutoff (scale 2550 5502 $ slow 5 sine)
# gain 1
# orbit 1
# room 0.05
# delay 0.25
# delaytime "1/3"
# delayfeedback 0.5

d4 silence

d5 $ stack [
slow 2 $ striate 2 $ sometimes (jux (|+| n (irand (5*8)))) $ stut 4 0.5 1.05 $ n "{<5 0> 5 <5 ~> <~ 2 5> <5 0 ~ 3> <5 ~> <~ 2 3> <5 3> <~ 1> <5 0 ~> <5 ~>   <3 ~ 4 1 ~>}%8" # s "arpy" # legato 1 # slow 2 (cutoff (scale 50 500 sine)),
striate 2 $ n "5 2 0 1" # s "numbers" # vowel "i o e" # cutoff 1
]

d5 silence

and this processing thing here

import processing.pdf.*;

int scale = 8;

// patternstudy02
// by @jarxg

void setup() {
  beginRecord(PDF, "patternstudy02.pdf");
  size(640, 640);
  background(0);
  for (int j = 0; j <= height; j+= 8) {
    for (int i = 0; i <= width; i+= 8) {
      stroke(255);
      strokeWeight(i/128);
      line(j, i, i, j);
    }
  }
  for (int j = 0; j <= height; j += 16) {
    for (int i = 0; i <= width; i += 16) {
      stroke(0);
      strokeWeight(j/64);
      line(i, j, i, j);
    }
  }
  for (int j = 0; j <= height; j += 32) {
    for (int i = 0; i <= width; i+= 32) {
      stroke(0);
      strokeWeight(i/32);
      line(i, j, i, j);
    }
  }
  endRecord();
}

void draw() {
}

it seems to be working fine.


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