Weekly Round-Up and What's Next [Trenchant Edges]

Stepping back and trying to see the big picture

Welcome back everyone to the Trenchant Edges.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 1 second. Contains 1204 words

I’m your host, Stephen Fisher and I’ll be chickensitting for some friends for the next two weeks, so I took Saturday off to get comfy. (Let me know if you want pictures)

So I was banned from Facebook for making fun of fact-checkers having to disprove a “Ligma” Variant of covid, as in “Ligma balls” as in “lick my balls.”

30 more days to prevent me from spreading more anti-vax propaganda.

But I’ve got fresh eggs going for me, which is nice.

This week, I think, is going to be pretty self-reflective. As we work out how this newsletter should play out.

A change of scenery is a good way to change habits and rigid thinking so I’m trying to look at this newsletter from other points of view.

Among those, it’s pretty clear from the open rates continuing to fall that this is too much content for people to keep up with on a daily basis. But let’s put a pin in that.

Round-Up:

This week was largely about Conspircism and its more legitimate alternatives.

First, we had Politics, Parapolitics, and Conspiracies Then Practical Conspiracies, which brought us to the Qanon Trilogy, Qanon Apocalyptic Chic, Qanon Hurt Itself in its Confusion, and Q and the Plan.

Don’t want to spend too much time on this.

The Future of Trenchant Edges

When it hit May first and I realized the year anniversary of starting (and two months later) abandoning this newsletter, I kind of panicked. I just decided to write something every day and not really worry about the bigger picture.

Well, it’s 3 months and about 85,000 words later. And at some point, we kinda have to look at the bigger picture.

In the past, I’ve made big changes to this newsletter pretty haphazardly. Don’t want to repeat that so we’ll probably be continuing with this general format until September.

I’ve had a couple of good conversations with readers about various things they’ve liked and disliked about this newsletter and I’d like to have more.

There’s also the business side of this newsletter, which I’ve been extremely fortunate with. The original plan was weekly public posts, and then two more process-related posts on Sunday.

Not sure I want to go back to that.

A few things are clear right now:

  • While I need to write every day, posting what I write every day is probably too much content to execute well or for people to reasonably consume on a daily basis.

  • Too much topic hyperfocus. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of Terence Mckenna.

  • I need a publication schedule that works for most readers, is set at a pace I can keep up and provides some incentive to subscribe without being dickish about it.

It’s not even just about getting paid for my time, it’s that the more research I do the more paywalls I run into so I kinda need to actually start subscribing to newspapers and the like. Pressreader.com gets me a few thousand magazines and a bunch of smaller newspapers but not the times or post.

Who, for their many flaws, do often have good hard journalism I’d like to read.

At some point spending so much time trying to get around paywalls just gets self-defeating.

If I lived in a different location I could just go to a library, but that’s not really an option as my closest library is about a mile walk uphill and the last time I made that walk I had to spend the next two weeks in bed.

With all the yearly subscriptions I’ve had, I thought it was really important to try and catch up to what my wordcount would be if I’d produced steadily over a year.

Well, we’ve had 13 complete months since I started and July was the only full month I published according to the original schedule. And I published 16,000 words that month. Which comes out to 208,000 words.

By contrast, since last June, we’ve published 120,000* words. Pretty good, with how 3/4ths are since May.

*some are quotes, but I’m not going through 100 posts to get a perfectly accurate wordcount.

Does anyone care about this missing 88,000 words? I kind of assume not.

I figure y’all would rather more polished, sharper writing than pure vomit-mess. Let me know. I think I’ve been messing with myself pointlessly.

The other question is…. What do y’all want me to write about?

Topics:

Discussions we’ve already started:

  • Terence McKenna’s Timewave

  • Marshall McLuhan’s ideas about media

  • UFOs and Critical Thinking

  • Oh shit Conspiracies

Here was the original list:

Psychedelics

  • The Brotherhood of Eternal Love (late 60s California religion and drug cartel).

  • Operation Julie (UK acid ring).

  • William Leonard Pickard, Todd Skinner, Krystal Cole/Neurosoup, and Brandon Green and the whole boatload of fuckery that was the largest drug lab in a former nuclear missile silo in US history.

  • The Original Kleptonian Neo-American Church. America’s best religion, created by a solipsist alcoholic anti-semite to grift whiskey money from psychedelic uers in the 1960s and stunningly influential for a joke because they’re responsible for the legal president that one’s legal religious freedom does not create a loophole for drugs laws. One month, if I can line up the interviews with its successor orgs. Did I mention they were dedicated to the physical destruction of the planet Saturn? Art Kleps, the aforementioned founder, once excommunicated Tim Leary for being a Charlatan and a hack.

  • Can you tell which of these I’m most interested in?

Deep Culture

  • How the Media invented, sold, and condemned the Hippie.

  • The history of Futurism. How trying to rigorously imagine new futures, a practice that started in the 1960s, helped create the world today.

Parapolitics

  • A history of Cointelpro.

  • MK-Ultra.

  • Dunking on Jan Irvin.

Spirituality/The Occult

  • The Perennial New Age: how the post-60s American spiritual milieu wasn’t ever actually all that new, with much of it being rehashes of late 19th and early 20th century new thought.

  • How to spot a spiritual grifter: Wanna just dunk on active cult leaders for a month? This could be a full time job for an army of journalists. They’re easy to spot.

  • The Branded Buddha: How corporations ate eastern spirituality and remade it in their own image.

I’m pretty flexible on the topic so long as I can figure out a hook to make it interesting.

Suggestions welcome.

I figure moving more into parapolitics might be fun, one of the best-received posts I’ve had was when I picked apart that US ODNI UFO report. I can do that shit forever.

And there’s no shortage of fascinating government paperwork.

Coming Attractions

This week is going to mostly be a mix of me linking to older newsletters so new readers have a chance to catch up on some of the really important stuff and discussing where to go from here.

One of our themes in this newsletter is metacognition, so we’re going to apply some to the newsletter itself.

To borrow a line from Marshall McLuhan:

There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.

It might not be true, but it’s worth assuming anyway. After all, we don’t know what is or isn’t inevitable. And assuming there’s nothing you can do is a good way to self-fulfill your own prophecy.

Thanks for reading and sticking with me to the end. We’ll see you tomorrow.

(And let me know if you want to see pictures of the chickens)

-SF