My 2022 Reincarnation Plan


This year I began my first full-time job at an AI startup hedge fund, gained a ridiculous amount of programming experience and knowledge, shouldered lots of trust and responsibilities, and delivered value^tm. I put in so much time and effort to make this happen: stressing about progress, late nights hacking away, and waking up on weekends to quash bugs.

These were the goals I held dearest while in high school. To achieve mastery in something, be valued by peers, and to contribute to something.

But in my free-time I want to try on different lives like I try on clothes. I want to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, and reality to every dream.

I want to get good at

I don’t think the world needs more monodisciplinary artists, but I hope that while I’m creating I’ll get a sense of intersections that I want to explore that capitalism hasn’t created a rat race out of yet. Maybe this will be HCI research, or procedural music visualization tools, but more likely it’ll be something I can’t even conceive of yet.

This year I want to create more things, with the intended audience being myself, while still publishing everything. I want the authenticity, vulnerability, and experimentation that comes with not having to worry about an audience, while also being comfortable enough with myself to post publicly.

I like the idea of letting my work speak for itself first. Often it’s easy to talk about how I’ve started to learn something and how I find it really interesting after one week of effort, and then having gotten my hit of dopamine from external validation I stop working on that thing.

I want 2022 to be the year of creating art, and doing before talking.

Breaking news: Teenager realizes he doesn’t have the whole world figured out

One issue I’ve had to grapple with while thinking about switching from tech to art is choosing what I want to do, instead of what I feel I should.

During my high school years I was learning all about and building AI projects. In the background there was a constant stream of thoughts from Paul Graham, Sam Altman, and Naval Ravikant being hurled at me saying that all I needed to be fulfilled was to work at, and eventually found a SaaS startup.

A core belief I held was that startups were one of the few things that create “impact and value” for the world, and the only thing that felt within reach for me.

Then the mimesis started to fall apart

I met high-status founders (i.e. Thiel and YC) who were building uninspired companies while raising millions of dollars.

Twitter and SF were overrun by crypto-evangelists who painted vague utopias of hyper-capitalism, and my entire social group got caught up in the hype and money.

I stopped believing in the status-systems of yore, that raising VC funding is the pinnacle of achievement, and that the Twitter tech philosopher-kings had all the answers.

I was left with a gnawing feeling that the world-view I had held for the past five years was flawed in some deep way that I still can’t quite pinpoint.

When ask myself “what’s next?”, art is what comes to mind.

But when I think about spending a year of my life creating art, I reflexively feel like I should crawl back to my computer and go back to creating value^tm – this will fade with time as I find more artists I admire.

Here’s some of the people in my new pantheon

Some things that changed about me this year.

I value close friendships a lot more.

I learned how to be very honest with myself w/r/t my emotions.

Beyond rent and food, money matters very little to me. I knew this intellectually for a while, but viscerally experienced this while living with millionaires and working full-time.

Impact, at least in the abstract sense which can be measured by the market, doesn’t motivate me much. Becoming a better and more skilled person, and creating wonderful things does motivate me.

Time for the obligatory 2022 goals section

I want to create more art.

Specifically, I want to get good at

Success for me would be if I publish three things, each in a different category that I think is good (e.g. proc gen terrain), and three things in different categories I’m proud of (e.g. rendering engine + article).

I’m alright if I don’t get around to exploring all of these things, I care much more about reaching some level of proficiency and output that I’m happy with in a few of these things.

Measuring both effort and output seems like a good idea, so setting aside 10 hours a week to spend on any of the above areas is a goal.

Another way I’ll measure this is if I feel at home amongst the artists and HCI devs people in Devine Lu Linvega’s webring – I’ll add myself at the end of the year, but feeling “at home” is what matters most.

I also want to write more. Some arbitrary numbers that sound good in my head are ≥ 1 blog post a month, and ≥ 1 journal entries / brain dumps a week.