Volume 3: D4, C4

I am writing this not precisely after dawn—it is the eve of the summer solstice, and although I woke with the sun I also went back to sleep—but early enough that the clock has not yet marked seven. This mantel clock has handled a weekly winding for well over three generations; it originally belonged to Larry’s grandmother, and it still runs. Chimes, too, when they are allowed to sound; I will set them in place after Larry wakes, and we will have Westminster in Quincy. 

Now it is seven, if you are also keeping watch. I am about to pour my second cup of tea, Earl Grey from Harrogate with lavender from our garden. I gave up coffee after prices doubled; this disinvestment (not a divestment, as the algorithm that tracks my typing would incorrect) is yielding its own double return as both tonic and exposition. 

On that note—

Two days ago we learned that Yunchan Lim won the 16th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. We watched Lim play the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto on the livestream, in our conservatory; we watched him play his preliminary recital live, from the Van Cliburn Concert Hall in Fort Worth.

We watched all 30 competitors, in fact; Lim was the last to give his preliminary, succeeding twenty-nine 40-minute recitals over three thirteen-hour days; I wrote down, as he began to play, that he had “nervous, sweaty hands” and was “unmemorable.” 

Then I wrote—and this is important—“if we had heard him first it would have been the same.”

Then—and this is even more important—“end of Hough was lovely tho.”

Then—“overall lovely, got more so as he continued to play.”

The video of Lim’s preliminary proves that my initial assessment was not inaccurate; Lim spends nearly a minute adjusting the bench, wiping his hands on his pants, and glancing at the audience “like he is afraid of us and himself,” as I wrote at the time. His first notes are striking only in their accuracy; he is precise but not precisely present, and it is only at the recapitulation of Hough’s Fanfare Toccata that he begins to accept where he is, what he is doing, and—this may be the most important of all—to enjoy it. 

He starts to smile.

So do we. 

Thirteen days later, he’s no longer afraid of us or of himself—which takes him from nervous to nerve. After working his way through Liszt’s twelve Transcendental Etudes, Lim walks onto the stage to perform Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. He is confident in his commencement; he sits down, stretches his shoulders back, and nods at conductor Marin Alsop as if he already knows what’s going to happen. 

Which—and Larry and I would agree on this—means that Lim has already solved all of the problems ahead of him (including the preliminary problem of how to walk from the wings to the bench without sweat collecting in the centers of his hands) and is ready to use this knowledge—this technology—to create magic. 

He is one.

And so he won—and that’s where Larry and I differ, slightly, in how much we believe that matters. There were a handful of pianists who could have handled the prize (and its accompanying recording contract and concert tour), all of whom were integrated in similar ways, and so the question becomes why this one. There were at least two pianists who were deliberately disintegrated, their presentation taking precedence over the performance—and yet the audience was attracted to these sleights of hand, and so I asked Larry whether it might not have been better for one of these showpeople to show people who have not yet learned to listen what they can hear simply by watching.

“Does the Cliburn award the best musician,” I asked, “or does it award the person who could be the best at promoting music?”

“Why should these be two different things?” Larry asked.

This question is a little more important to me than it is to Larry, since I am currently the public-facing half of our partnership. I wrote, in “Down the Rabbit-Hole,” that Larry and I were going under Ground—a latent miscapitalization in an early Carroll MS, in case you were curious—to do our work, and here I am with the clock and the mantel and a position that has recently been reversed, in the sense that I began my MSS without a publisher and have since acquired (or been acquired by) one.

This flip has cleared our board, leaving us to pick up the pieces most essential to our progress—and, of course, puzzle out what to do next

We are very likely to learn something.

At the end of my previous memoranda, I invited you to make your next move; you have accepted both my invitation and this next volume, which makes it our turn again. It also makes an elegant solution to Carroll’s chess puzzle, since Larry and I can take the impossible-before-breakfast option of playing D4 and C4 in sequence;  a re-do on the board we are more familiar with, and the beginning of a middlegame on the board we have not yet mastered.

In which we begin our discussion of Finite Scheduling.

“I’m all yours.”


We were in our garden, Larry and me; you may join us there if you like (and I would venture that you already have, simply by reading the sentence you are still currently reading [and if the garden you imagine for us is not precisely the one in which we sat [[in Larry’s case]] or stood [[in mine]], no matter; you may place us in your own personal Eden, since we have already planted ours).

“So I wanted to ask, first, about the term finite scheduling,” I said. “It would seem like a redundancy. The obvious opposite is infinite scheduling, which doesn’t exist.”

“All right,” Larry said. “So you have to understand a little bit about the state of manufacturing and technology in the early 1980s. Computers were used by large companies to do planning. One of the primary examples of planning was called material requirements planning. It basically takes a bill of materials—you know what a bill of materials is?”

“A bill of materials is a list of all the materials you need to complete a project, divided by type.”

“Exactly,” Larry said. “So a component goes into an assembly, and that can be on multiple levels because a component can, in and of itself, be an assembly.”

“Right.” We are no strangers to loops, and very conscious of recursion.

“So material requirement planning was what was done in the 1980s, and it was mostly done by large companies that could afford the extremely expensive computer power,” Larry explained. “And basically what you would get was buckets. Large batches of things. If you want to create 1,000 dishwashers, you’ll need 1,000 of this, 2,000 of that, and so on.”

“People have always been doing things like this.”

“Well, yeah,” Larry said. “The problem is, it wasn’t a very exact science. It didn’t take into account lots of things. It dealt in buckets, not in individual orders. Imagine the difference between us anticipating, we’re probably going to need 5,000 of these things by the end of the month, as opposed to we actually have orders for 367 of these things.” 


“We’re talking about granularity, and granularity was not considered because in 1975, the cost of computing that granularity would have been astronomical. In 1980 it was still very expensive. In 1985, still kind of expensive. By 1990, damn cheap—because of Boyle’s Law.”

(He probably meant Moore’s Law, but neither of us realized it at the time.)

“The whole thing changes when we realize we don’t have to think in terms of these abstract bucket sizes. At some point in time, we’re going to want to think about each individual piece,” Larry continued. “What we had, at the time, was a system in which manufacturing processes were broken down into a bunch of sub-processes. You had material requirements planning, and then you had something that addressed the labor issue or something like that, but it wasn’t all in one. It wasn’t integrated into something that was basically acknowledging that, at some point in time, we’re going to be able to keep track of a fucking screw. This big.”

He did the thing that people do, with their fingers. 

“And we’re going to keep track of a process in which someone puts that screw in.”


“If you had tasked 1980s programmers with this, they wouldn’t have been able to do it,” Larry said. “But ten years later—”

A pause.


“So we’re talking about granularity and bandwidth and power.”

“And this is still well before the ability to have a scannable code on each box of screws, so you know exactly where each of your screws are?” I asked.

“I think bar codes were starting to come into existence about 1990,” Larry said.

I tried again. “Is it fair to say that this was the interim step between buckets and just in time?”

Just in time will work without a very sophisticated computer system,” Larry said. “Just in time—let me back up.”

“Sure,” I said. “I’m making leaps that aren’t ready to be leapt yet.”

“Not really,” Larry said. “You’re on to something. Just in time is really an attempt to make the system more responsive and agile. You know the flip side of just in time is just in case.”


Just in time really depends on a confidence in our orders,” Larry explained. “Just in case is speculative. We don’t want to be caught without something. Therefore we will pay extra to have it on hand, so we don’t miss that opportunity.”

“Which basically goes back to the bucket system. You have big buckets—”

“Buckets,” Larry confirmed, “and again, the key word in all of this is—”


Granularity. Because granularity and incrementalism are the same thing.”

“Oh,” I said, suddenly understanding. “Sure.

“In other words, if we have such an abundance of data that we can specifically describe any scenario and recalculate it at will, then we don’t have to rely on the bucket system anymore. We can say oh, I have orders for this, and I can instantly respond by recalculating the entire schedule in a finite way that takes advantage of all of my resources as if they were not infinite.”

Which brings us back to where we began—two lovers, in a garden, discussing technology.

“The problem with material requirements planning is that it was not aware of labor,” Larry said. “It just said yeah, we need to make this stuff.”

Then he answered my original question.

“Finite scheduling is the attempt to integrate labor in such a way that if you make a minute change, it will recalculate instantly and tell you the cost/benefit of that potential change.”

In which we take Measurements.

Today is Wednesday, July 13.

By Tuesday, December 12 (the date on which this volume becomes available to read [though not necessarily the date on which you are currently reading]), I want to have completed the following tasks:

Freelancing: File enough assignments to gross a minimum of $100,000, pretax. As of this writing, I still need to earn $47,949.83 (which breaks down to $9,590 per month [or $2,180 per week]). This goal is achievable, as you can tell by the amount of money I’ve already grossed ($52,050.17, if you don’t want to do the math) and the fact that this will be my fourth year of six-figure freelancing. 

Fiction writing: Launch Ode to Murder (the first Larkin Day mystery) on October 4, 2022. Submit a completed draft of Like, Subscribe, and Murder (the second Larkin Day mystery) on November 1, 2022. Begin drafting Shakespeare in the Park with Murder (the third Larkin Day mystery) with the intent to submit on April 1, 2023. This goal is also achievable, especially because I am under contract to achieve it. 

Piano: Continue to refine the techniques I am currently using to learn and memorize (which is to say learn) eight new measures of music per day, seven days a week. Maintain previously learned repertoire (Mozart Piano Sonata #12 in F Major, K332; Chopin Nocturne in E minor, Op. posth. 72, No. 1; Stravinsky Les Cinq Doigts) while learning Walter Saul’s Sonata #3 for Piano, Ravel’s La Valse (Garban four-hand arrangement [I’m playing prima, Larry’s playing seconda]), and Bach’s Ricercar a 6. There are currently 457 measures still to be learned, between these three masterworks; this means that I should, in theory, have these pieces mastered by Friday, September 9. This is probably not what will happen in practice. My goal is to figure out why.

Chess: Continue to refine the techniques I am currently using to learn and memorize (which is to say learn) one new chess opening per day, seven days a week. I am following the order recommended in the 2008 edition of Modern Chess Openings (otherwise known as MCO15), which means that if I successfully add 152 new openings to my repertoire between now and December 12, I will have learned all of the MCO-worthy opening lines associated with the King’s Gambit, Giuoco Piano, Evans Gambit, and the Two Knights’ Defense—and will be in the middle of studying the complicated Ruy Lopez. 

Symbolic Logic: Continue to follow Carroll’s text, both as a guide to logic and as a guide to the learning process (and, if you like, a guide to this text). It is extraordinary how much Carroll is able to logically anticipate, both in terms of deliberate practice and spaced repetition (one could propose that all deliberate practice involves spaced repetition [but I have yet to ascertain whether this proposed Conclusion is consequent from the proposed Premisses [[and, if so, whether it is complete]]]). Larry and I are currently re-reading Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger, III, and Mark A. McDaniel, and every time we finish a section we say “that’s in the Symbolic Logic book!” 

I have, by the way, just finished my morning logic practice. It has become the first thing I do, these days—and as noted above, the notes I am taking have as much to do with why as they have to do with y1. What does this practice attempt to perfect, and why does it only appear to work when I actually do the work? 

I should pause to define, in this case, what the work means. Carroll asks his students to complete a series of steps that the smarter students (as I will assume you are, since it would be inappropriate for me to make assumptions about my own intelligence) are very likely to skip over. If the text indicates that sugar-plums are sweet and some sweet things are liked by children, it does not take much effort to deduce that some sugar-plums are liked by children—and since you figured it out without having to do any figuring, you’ll be more likely to use less effort the next time you are presented with a pair of Premisses.

And yet—as you will discover if you follow Carroll precisely—this induction is inaccurate. The two statements, when set side by side, yield no logical conclusion. Sugar-plums may be sweet, and some sweet things may be liked by children, but there is no reason to believe that children will like any sugar-plums (especially the ones soaked in brandy). If you drew a different meaning without taking the time to draw the Trilateral Diagram, your ability to understand reality is, as the kids used to say, sketchy.

This is, of course, the problem—and it is why Carroll sets so many of these problems within his book, and why I am taking each one in turn. 

The other problem is the one Larry and I began discussing the other day in our garden—the idea that labor must be integrated. There is a clear benefit to my spending the earliest morning hours at logic, chess, yoga, and piano; there is also a cost. 

Perhaps four separate expenditures.

The first is time. You could have told me this without having to draw the Trilateral Diagram, and so I will not make you show your work. You can see me at it, if you were in our home at dawn, and that would be enough.

The second is materials. Larry and I each have a digital piano in our separate offices, but the “big piano”—which is how we refer to Larry’s concert grand—is a limited and non-fungible resource. When one of us is using the big piano, the other cannot (unless, of course, we are playing four-hand duets). This requires scheduling, in advance, to determine who will be at the piano at what time—and to ensure we both get the time we need.

The third is opportunity. You’ve probably heard of this one. When I am playing the piano, I am not freelancing. When I am practicing yoga, I am not cleaning the kitchen. When I am studying chess, I am not studying go. We will not go into the argument of whether one can take advantage of two opportunities simultaneously; you can describe your previous piano practice session as you scrub the kitchen floor, and you can plan your upcoming freelance work as you lower yourself into plow pose, but in both cases something is likely to get overlooked. A crumb, for example. An exhalation. When a piece of your mind is distracted, there is no peace of mind.

The fourth, finally, is labor. Effort takes effort, and although you can teach yourself to increase the amount of effort you can put towards a specific task before you begin to tire—especially if you focus on just those efforts that yield results, which is what much of this volume will focus on—our labor must be balanced not just with what you might reflexively call rest, but also with reflection. A conscious processing. Through the looking glass, as it were, to discover what you find there

Here is what we have found, as we begin our third year of our Art Lab.

“You and I have created an environment in which everything is structured to allow us to do not only the work of the moment, but also to prepare for the work of the next moment,” Larry said, as we were taking our after-dinner walk around the neighborhood. He and I nearly always take this walk, in nearly all weathers. It is the second separation of our evening, by which I mean it is the second measurement we take before cutting one part of the day from another.

The first is the drink we share—bourbon or wine, most often—as we end the workday and begin our lab work. 

The second is the walk we share—about a mile, most often—as we end our lab work and begin the work of rest. The additive effort (because it takes both of us) to subtract additional effort. If Larry and I were in each other’s arms—which is what we do after we walk, most often—and he were to mention something about the software program he was working on or I were to mention something about the mystery novel I was writing, it would be restful. We would be consciously processing our previous work without having to generate anything new—which, by the way, is the only way to regenerate

If, on the other hand—and when two people cuddle in a bed together there is always one hand that is uncomfortably unoccupied—one or the other of us were to introduce a new topic, something that required us to do rather than something that allowed us to reflect on what had already been done, we would give up our opportunity to rest. We would be less productive the next day; less effective as writers and pianists and programmers and partners and, ultimately, people.

There is nothing quite so essential to integration—to magic, of any and all kinds—as equilibrium. Larry and I had known that, of course, before we reflected on it last night, but our knowledge was strengthened—as all knowledge is—through our aperiodic repetition. We can’t always remember which is continuous and which is continual, just as we can’t always remember to work when we work and rest when we rest, but we must remember this, continually if not continuously: 

When capacitance is at equilibrium, it yields not only energy but also potential. Charge. Positive consequence. “The most important thing we’ve done in the past two years,” Larry said, during our walk, “is create an environment that allows us to maintain equilibrium for longer and longer periods of time.” Without the capacity for equilibrium—both before and after all—our balance sheet will yield a deficit, which is the cause of all negative consequences. 

Or, as Larry reflected the last time we took this particular measurement: “The lack of lack is abundance. If lack equals negative one, then lack squared equals one.”

In which I (begin to) answer the (two) Question(s) that prompted this book.

We are now into August. It is a quarter past three—15:14, to be exact—and Larry is just beginning the third movement of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. I have memorized all three movements of Walter Saul’s Sonata #3 for Piano, as per the schedule I set at the beginning of the summer—although it is inaccurate for me to say I have learned the piece.

There was something else I had to learn first.

Two things, actually.

These two new technologies correspond (or co-respond) almost precisely to the two questions Larry and I asked at the beginning and the end of the first volume of this series. 

I should ask you, now, if you remember what they are.

The first question was the one I asked Larry. 

What does a person need to know before they can understand reality?

The second question was the one Larry asked me.

What does a person need to know before they can become an adult?

You might assume, at first glance, that these are the same question. I would suggest that you look again. A person can understand reality without becoming an adult. This could, in fact, be the definition of evil (or, in Looking-Glass World, the effect of living backwards [and it is worth noting that it is the childlike, manipulative White Queen who offers this interpretation [[immediately after cheating Alice out of jam]]).

A person cannot, however, become an adult without understanding reality. 

This is why I was not necessarily an adult when I began writing this book, even though I had very recently had my fortieth birthday—and the fact that I was one of those children who were always described as being forty years old from birth may have contributed to my inability to notice that I was not precisely the person I could have been [at least, not until my chronological age finally surpassed my kairological age [[which just happened to coincide with my decision to study Carrollean logic]]]).

What does it mean to become an adult? The Red Queen provides a partial answer:

Always speak the truth—think before you speak—and write it down afterwards.

But this takes us back to the question of reality—which, in Through the Looking-Glass, is continuously questioned. If one is, in fact, to think-speak-write, how does one determine said written facts?

Perhaps by looking at what other people have written—and then at what they read before they wrote.

(Nobody ever said reality wasn’t recursive [and if you take the recursion far enough, it will be written in cursive].)

This brings us to another double text that—coincidentally—is also conflated into a single narrative.

I cannot believe I am bringing Christ’s church into this, but one cannot have Carroll without Christ Church—and regardless of your personal beliefs (or his), I hope you’ll see the logic in the theology:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

We’ll start with the first one, since it’s theoretically harder to swallow. If you have an objection to loving God, substitute quality or arete or magic or the mathematical universe. They’re all metaphors for the unifying one, after all. The infinite increment, which can be treated as a sacrament—which is what this commandment originally meant, before the revisionists standardized it into its more sentimental version.

It’s worth noting that in the older of the two testaments, the commandment—also known as the Shema, or “the most important Jewish prayer”—makes the metaphor literal:

The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

I don’t know enough about Judaism—or, for that matter, Hebrew—to translate Deuteronomy 6:4 on my own. I barely know enough about Christianity to assess the two commandments presented in all four Gospels; I was a church organist for five years, but it has been fifteen years since I last involved myself in any kind of organized church.  

I do know—though not until this past year, when I started becoming an adult—that love is the first step towards learning.

Learning is the process of dividing the formless void into light and darkness.

Good is the result—and you can check your Bible if you don’t believe me.

This process takes all your heart, soul, and mind. That is, in part, the point—or, shall we say, the series of points

Larry will have more to say on this, later on.

Until then, we’ll look at the second of Christ’s propositions—and this one, though easier to take both on and off faith, is much harder to put into practice.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

If the first instruction is the sacrament, the second is the communion—as is appropriate, as it involves two hosts. The self and other, body and blood freely given to achieve, as you must have already guessed, transubstantiation

A conversion of perception.

The opportunity to change reality by discussing what it is and what to do next.

It is interesting that these exchanges often happen over a meal. Take. Eat.   

It is equally interesting that we rarely enter these interactions prepared to integrate ourselves with our neighbors—much less to love them. I write this of myself as much as anyone else, because it has taken me much more time than you realize for me to realize that taking and eating a meal with another person is in fact a holy event.

If you do not believe, substitute wholly

You must be wholly present—fully human, as the Christians might say—to love your neighbor as yourself.

Otherwise, you may see your neighbor as less than human.

This attempt at standardizing presence is, perhaps, why so many societies have rules of etiquette regarding the eating process—and perhaps why, when these rules are disregarded, meals often become less pleasant. It is a wholly different experience, for example, if one person begins eating before other people are ready—or if one person dilly-dallies while others are ready to begin. If a conversation is dominated by a single individual; if it is left to a single individual; if it excludes one or more people at the table. If the food is prepared or presented carelessly—and this is not to say that the food needs to be extravagant, of course. I am not suggesting multiple courses, nor am I implying that loving your neighbor as yourself has anything to do with which fork you use. You can break bread with your hands if you want.

Communion is a give-and-take, after all.

Before that, it is an acknowledgement that what we are, when two or three are gathered, is what we make together.

Some people make this acknowledgement before they begin eating.

Larry and I say “to us.”

The word etiquette, by the way, originally meant a list of written instructions. At some point the list became small enough to fit on a single slip of paper—yes, that’s the ticket—and at a later point the text expanded to include all types of human behavior.

The two points I am currently expanding upon happen to occur, concurrently, in both faith and philosophy. We have already discussed the Christian version; Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, in his two-volume Code to Jewish Ethics, subtitles the first volume “You Shall Be Holy” (or wholly, if you would rather not bring G-d into it) and the second “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.”

Alfred Adler, a Jewish philosopher and psychologist, stated that the two aspects of daily living a person had to master before becoming an adult were “I have the ability” and “other people are my comrades.” The second is self-explanatory (neighbor-explanatory, really), although the first may require a bit of analysis—and yet you can understand them both, quite simply, through the words (and music) of Fred Rogers.

Which means that I am going to ask you to take five more minutes to think—and, since you have the ability, sing.

(Unfortunately, song lyrics are difficult to license; fortunately, you probably know the words to “It’s Such a Good Feeling” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” without me having to write them down.)

Rogers, like Carroll, was ordained—and, like Carroll, integrated. This is why both men were able to teach without preaching.

I am not there yet.

I am barely into adulthood.

But I am determined, every day, to reach the eighth square and—

Become a queen?


Then what?

Well, what does Alice do after she promotes?

She wakes up.


She gains consciousness.

In which we continue our discussion of Finite Scheduling.

“How did you become interested in finite scheduling?”

“Well, because I worked at a compressor company,” Larry said. “They were making a lot of custom-ordered compressors. A customer would call and say yeah, I need fifteen of these, they have this, this, and this on them, and I said wow, if you were doing bucketing on this, you would make way too much shit. Why don’t you make what is ordered?”

“So what was keeping people from just making what was ordered?”

“It just wasn’t done,” he said. “It really wasn’t done—and you have to realize I wasn’t the only person thinking about this. I was probably one of 300,000 people who had the same evaluation, and 290,000 of those had better funding.”

“But you set out on your own, and you said I’m going to solve this problem with a program.

“That’s it. I said I’m writing software for this thing, I’ve got this bill of materials that’s working out very well, but it doesn’t have enough granularity. How do you get that? With data. You need more data.”

“So did the company know you were doing this?”

“Yes. In fact, we worked together on a lot of the concepts. The ability to picture production and control, in a graphic sense, was actually developed right around 1990. It was rendered, in C, in the next five years—to the point that it was a demonstrable prototype. The problem is that by that time people with a million times as much money had also realized the potential—so I had no possibility.”

“But you learned—it seems like you learned two things. You learned processing. You learned programming. You probably learned a hundred things.”

“Processing and programming were the two big ones,” Larry said, “but I also learned about granularity and incrementalism.”

“You hadn’t learned that before?” I asked. “You must have!”

“I was always predisposed to the idea of the more data, the better,” Larry said. “When I talk about myself being a natural software developer, it’s because I see processes in terms of the data that can be extracted. I’m a natural simulator. That puts me into the group of engineers.”

“So why don’t you spreadsheet your entire life, then, the way I do?”

“Because a spreadsheet, to me, is worthless.”

“Okay, but—”

“I have better tools than that.”

“So how do you keep track of things?

“A spreadsheet doesn’t do nearly enough. I’m a database guy.”

“All right,” I said, “we’ll come back to the question of how I can turn my spreadsheets into databases later. All I really do with my spreadsheets is make a grid so I can tick things off as they get done.”

“Yes,” Larry said, “but they help you think of things as discrete, concrete, identifiable metrics. That’s how we codify.”


“I’ve been codifying much longer than I’ve been programming. I’ve always been a codifier—and I’ve always been an engineer in the sense that I abstract data. I analyze situations in terms of things that can be quantified. My urge to quantify, to measure this against that, is great.”

He turned, slightly, to the left. “When I look at our spinach, for example, I think how are they today compared to yesterday? That involves an assessment of their overall health based on a projection, but basically what I’m doing is extracting data. I’m quantifying.

“But you don’t take any pictures of the spinach,” I said. “You don’t write down what you see every morning.”

“No,” Larry said. “It’s all in my head.”

I still don’t know how he keeps it all in his head.

“All of my incremental notions about the piano are also based on subtle differences in the images that they present,” Larry continued. “That’s why it leads to mimicry—because mimicry is the asymptotic base of comparative analysis.”


 “If you compare you are basically mimicking, and if you compare successfully you are comparing to the asymptotic zero.”

Another pause—not for effect this time, but to ensure I discerned his meaning.

“The indiscernible,” Larry said. “Below the threshold of detectability.”

In which I put my answers into Practice.

It is the last day of summer. An hour after sunrise; I have done my morning study and brewed our morning tea and chopped up the fruits and vegetables Larry and I will eat over the course of the afternoon. I have written celery on the grocery list. I have squeezed half a lemon and a bit of honey into my Earl Grey.

I have thought, since August, of what to write next—which, of course, must follow what to do next. There has been a lot of doing, this past month, the results of which can (and will) be quantified:

Freelancing: Current earnings are $64,739.99 (pretax), leaving me $35,260.01 to earn before the end of the year. This is still achievable, but less likely—at $2,519 to earn per week instead of the previously calculated $2,180, I’ll have to pick up an additional assignment every two weeks or so. I have two potential clients that might help me fill this gap, but I may also decide to reallocate my time towards

Fiction writing: The second Larkin Day Mystery will be completed by the end of the month, revised by the end of October, and sent to Shortwave Publishing by November 1. I’ll have written 60,000 words in three months, and will be on target to begin the third Larkin Day Mystery in November. I’ve also been contracted to write a short story for Shortwave in October. The revenue and royalties from these projects could (and should) cover the gap between my actual freelance earnings and the hoped-for six figures, but I won’t realize these earnings until Q2 2023.

Piano: I’ll be playing Walter Saul’s Sonata #3 for Piano for Walter next week. If I continue to practice the way I’ve been doing (which is to say, like an adult), it’ll be ready.

Chess: I’m still studying Modern Chess Openings and am about to begin the Evans Gambit. I’ve also started memorizing the chess games featured in Neil MacDonald’s Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking. This has proved even more useful than memorizing openings, although I’m going to continue to alternate moves until I’ve made my way through both books.

Symbolic Logic: I’ve worked my way through the MP Problem in Symbolic Logic, Book 2. (Larry has temporarily paused his logic study [he is trying to solve a problem with a program] so I’ve been telling him what I learn [and he’s been telling me how much of it he already knows from programming]) My answer to the MP Problem was similar to Louisa Dodgson’s—I understood that t was superfluous, but I still returned kv1w0 and presumed it meant kvw. It does not (as you may already know [whether or not you know it from programming]) and we will return to it in the next volume, “None of the Monitors are Asleep.”

In this volume we will work backwards, explicating my practice by asking why my logic study was, at first, going so much better than my chess or piano study. Was it because I was studying it first, before attacking the D4s and C4s of the dual boards? Was I only able to handle a limited amount of learning per day, and was I using up this measure before I had the chance to put my hands on eight unlearned measures of music?

Of course not. Learning is unlimited, as far as anyone has been able to uncover—and the problem I was failing to solve was not in my hands but in my head.

More specifically, in my schedule.

If you go back to the section on measurements, you’ll notice that both my chess and piano studies were based on metrics. One opening per day. Eight measures per day. An incremental accumulation that cumulated in detriment, as the detritus of everything I did not immediately comprehend began to compound—and confound.

My logic study was based simply on understanding

This was, of course, because Carroll defined the terms of his proposition:

Don’t begin any fresh Chapter, or Section, until you are certain that you thoroughly understand the whole book up to that point, and that you have worked, correctly, most if not all of the examples which have been set. So long as you are conscious that all the land you have passed through is absolutely conquered, and that you are leaving no unsolved difficulties behind you, which will be sure to turn up again later on, your triumphal progress will be easy and delightful. Otherwise, you will find your state of puzzlement get worse and worse as you proceed, till you give up the whole thing in utter disgust.

It would have been foolish, in this case, to set a metric; to move one space forward every day, pawns and hands working without understanding in the direction of the clock.

It was magic to work contrariwise.

It was also, as Tweedledum and Tweedledee would put it, logic.

When Carroll began his second volume of Symbolic Logic—a book that he was unable to finish before his time ran out (and yes, we will come [anticlockwise] back to that), he noted (in a letter to his sister Louisa) that his MS was precisely in line with the practice outlined in the preceding section:

I am beginning to think that, if the books I am still hoping to write are to be done at all, they must be done now, and that I am meant thus to utilise the splendid health I have had, unbroken, for the last year and a half, and the working powers that are fully as great as, if not greater, than I have ever had. I brought with me here (this letter was written from Eastbourne) the MS., such as it is (very fragmentary and unarranged) for the book about religious difficulties, and I meant, when I came here, to devote myself to that, but I have changed my plan. It seems to me that that subject is one that hundreds of living men could do, if they would only try, much better than I could, whereas there is no living man who could (or at any rate who would take the trouble to) arrange and finish and publish the second part of the “Logic.” Also, I have the Logic book in my head; it will only need three or four months to write out, and I have not got the other book in my head, and it might take years to think out. So I have decided to get Part ii. finished first, and I am working at it day and night. I have taken to early rising, and sometimes sit down to my work before seven, and have one and a half hours at it before breakfast. The book will be a great novelty, and will help, I fully believe, to make the study of Logic far easier than it now is. And it will, I also believe, be a help to religious thought by giving clearness of conception and of expression, which may enable many people to face, and conquer, many religious difficulties for themselves. So I do really regard it as work for God.

These religious difficulties, in case you were curious, had less to do with faith than they did with truth. Charles Dodgson, both in his role as Reverend and in his role as Carroll, was determined that nobody should draw any conclusions from the Bible that did not logically follow from the text. This belief progenerated from the senior Reverend Charles Dodgson, though the son took his inheritance a bit further than his father may have intended. Dodg-the-son and Dodg-the-father left a series of epistles in which they agreed, for example, that transubstantiation was unsubstantiated by anything Christ said or did, and that the incorrect practice did (as it always does) more harm than good. They disagreed, however, on the amount of ritual required to create the appropriate frame of mind for a true Communion. The elder Dodgson argued, much as I did in the previous chapter, that a specific etiquette was necessary. Kneel, rise. Take, eat. The younger Dodgson argued that one could generate Communion anywhere, with any words. 

On a boat, for example, as Larry and I have done—or, now that summer is once again ended, in a room with a piano. In a room with a chessboard. In our garden, with our neighbors, around an open fire. In the volume that you are currently reading. In a series of novels about a woman named Larkin Day that I will write and you will read and we will solve together.

After Dodgson was no longer obligated to the Church of England for his income (his work as Carroll providing more than enough for himself and his family) he continued his devotion to the layperson. Logic became a way to examine not only whether the Church correctly represented the Bible, but whether the Bible correctly represented God. In the last years of his life, Dodgson wrote that he was no longer interested in speculating (his choice of word preceding mine [as you might remember from the previous volume]) on any difficulties of organized religion that did not affect day-to-day behavior, and proposed six axioms (which, since axioms cannot be proven, must be taken on faith) that could resolve the remaining (non-speculative) difficulties, first as principles and second as credo:

(1) Human conduct is capable of being right, and of being wrong.

(2) I possess Free-Will, and am able to choose between right and wrong.

(3) I have in some cases chosen wrong.

(4) I am responsible for choosing wrong.

(5) I am responsible to a person.

(6) This person is perfectly good.

This idea of responsibility to the good returns again and again in Dodgson’s later letters; he clarifies, in a separate document, “I call that perfectly good Being ‘God.’”

Take of that what you will.

I will take our theology no further, and we will return to practicing instead of preaching.

There are six axes along which you can practice (chess, logic, writing, piano), each of which can be conveniently mapped onto a Carrollian Trilateral Diagram:

Clock-focused vs. not clock-focused: Are you practicing with one eye on the clock?

Incremental vs. not incremental: Are you tracking your progress within a series of discrete, quantifiable improvements?

Ego-driven vs. not ego-driven: Are you practicing with the intent to impress others?

Each of these mirrored pairs can help or hinder—and it’s important to note (pun intended) that there are times when each technique must come into play (pun intended again). If you are working towards a deadline, for example—whether you have a meeting in 30 minutes or a recital in 30 days—the clock must join you at the board. Deadlines also require you to shift, at a certain point, from the work of continuous improvement to the work of continuous replication. Ego-driven practice can be considered an eliminand, as playing in service of the self eliminates the possibility of playing in service of the work—but you can see, once you begin diagramming the possibilities, how ego affects both time and progress.

You can also see how practicing, at its core, could be defined as the art of compressing infinite increments into a finite schedule.

Larry, who once worked for a compressor company, is now working on a piece of software that could help you achieve this goal.

Until then, you may use everything I’ve currently been using—diagrams, spreadsheets, and a single unifying binary:

Am I leaving an unsolved problem behind me, or am I not?

We previously called this state one condition.

Before that, as you might remember from the second volume of the zine, it was called win condition.

Before that, as you might remember from the first volume, it was called love.

The first step towards learning.

In which we make a Series of Points—and Check Our Work.

We are now into October. All of the garden that can be transplanted has come indoors; we go outdoors in the afternoons, still—and I will continue my daily walk in boots and gloves and coat and hat and rain-soaked slicker (and [if necessary [[in February]]] crampons)—but the sun sets and the frost settles, and so we must fall into equilibrium.

Prices have continued to rise, and I am becoming even more careful of my consumption. Fortunately, it is much less difficult than I anticipated to use a little bit less of everything, from soap to nuts. The kind of hunger that seeks purchase disappears when the mind is full—which, in fact, is one definition of mindfulness

There will be another definition of mindfulness at the end of this volume.

Larry has also promised a point of his own. A series of points, as you may recollect. Each point represents a problem that must be solved during practice. Each point left unsolved presents a problem during performance.

“You can think of them as nodes,” Larry said. “Or as pages in a flip book. A series of discrete events that combine into an integrated whole.”

When you practice clockwise, you often ask yourself which nodes are likely to be unnoticeable. The switch from zero to one takes time, after all—and when you’re working towards speed, it’s easy to leave holes in your integration. 

When you practice anticlockwise, every switch gets flipped—no matter how much time it takes. This is how Carroll wrote—both in his introduction to Symbolic Logic V. 1 and in his unfinished Symbolic Logic V. 2

This is how I am writing to you now.

This is how I have begun to practice, every morning.

We watched the Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition last night. Part of it, anyway. Enough for us to know that what we were doing in our own Art Lab was better than what was being done in Van Cliburn’s name.

“Why did they make this whole thing look so amateurish?” Larry asked. We had been expecting to see the same production quality, as it were, that we had seen when we traveled to Fort Worth for the Cliburn Preliminaries in June—or later, when we curled up in our conservatory and watched the livestream of Yunchan Lim’s final performance. The Van Cliburn International Competition was presented as if it mattered. The Amateur was presented as if it did not.

“I suppose they want to separate this competition from the Cliburn brand,” I said. 

“But there’s no reason to do that,” Larry said. “They could have given these musicians the same lighting, the same sound engineering, the same videography—they could have put them on the same YouTube channel! Why aren’t they on the official Cliburn YouTube channel?”

“Because the Cliburn doesn’t want you to watch these amateur musicians,” I said. “The Cliburn wants you to watch Yunchan Lim.”

You do not need me to explain why an organization like the Cliburn might want to direct its audience towards its most recent (and youngest) Gold Medalist. You do need me to ask why an audience might be discouraged from thinking that amateur musicians should be treated like professional musicians—because the answer, once you think about it for five minutes, is extremely discouraging.

If an amateur is given the same lighting, the same sound engineering, and the same videography as a Gold Medalist (even if the amateur does not play as precisely as the Gold Medalist [and these amateurs did not]), then both the audience and the performers have the opportunity to become more discerning. They may not take that opportunity—it requires more than five minutes of thought, after all—but it is now a possibility.

The person who can accurately calculate the differences between two pianists, without having their insight prearranged by an outside organization, is a person who may also develop the ability to discern the differences between two arguments. Two products. Two parties—and here is where it becomes easier, for nearly all of us, to attend (to) the party and let someone else hand us a package. The former requires presence of mind; the latter is presented as a gift.

The person who can accurately calculate the differences between two pianists is also a person who may develop the ability to discern the differences in their own practice; the notes hit or missed, the nodes known and unknown. This is the point at which one can accurately call themselves an amateur. The one who loves, working continuously towards the love of one. The fool becoming the magician. The pawn gaining consciousness.

There is one more step between zero and one (as there are [always] infinite steps between zero and one) that we have not yet discussed. 

It is a different way of measuring time, if you’d like to think of it that way. 

It’s also a way of thinking.

In chess—and I have not written much about chess (yet), but that digression will come (later)—you can evaluate potential tactics by the amount of board time each might take. This refers to the number of moves it might require for you to reach your objective. In Through the Looking-Glass, for example, it takes eleven moves for Alice to capture the Red Queen and win the game. 

At the piano, it could take eleven passes for you to memorize a particular passage—but what if you wanted to name that tune in three, as it were? What would you have to do, if you had infinite clock time but only three increments of board time, to ensure that the measures entered your memory?

This is also how I have begun to practice, every morning. I have dispensed with my spreadsheet and paused my previous repertoire, choosing to start anew with a series of pieces I have never before studied.

Robert Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes—a gift, from Larry, for my fortieth birthday—which, as symphonic étudiants may already know, begins with the annotation “Les notes de la mélodie sont de la Composition d’un Amateur.”

I  have set myself the Carrollian goal of not making any new moves until the previous moves are thoroughly mastered. 

I have also set myself Larry’s goal of subdividing the music into a series of discrete, sequential nodes, and creating a program that allows each node to be scheduled, addressed, and integrated.

I have set myself my own goal of playing the Symphonic Etudes—my first true masterwork, in the sense that this is the first piece I’ve ever studied that is regularly performed by Van Cliburn competition finalists—as only I can play them.

This does not mean that I am developing some kind of original interpretation (god forbid). It means that I must develop myself as the origin of the interpretation. 

I am responsible for every choice, right or wrong.

The piece itself is perfectly good—and if I love the good with all my heart, soul, and mind, I’ll be able to play it for our neighbors. 

I mean this literally, in the sense that Larry and I have begun hosting monthly music gatherings in our home. I also mean this figuratively.

All performances—all true performances, anyway—must be done for love of one’s neighbor. Most people reverse this; they perform so that their neighbors might love them. This is another lie we teach our children, to convince them to do something they are not yet prepared to do. The audience won’t notice your mistakes, we say. You did a good job practicing! Accept the applause

The dissonance that arises when young people assess a gesture that does not necessarily reflect the reality they created resolves itself in one of two ways. Either they stop working, believing (incorrectly) that they do not have what it takes to become a magician; or they stop working, believing (incorrectly) that they have what it takes to misdirect.

Consonance is created—and perhaps this is the only way in which consonance can be created, musically or otherwise—when you bring people together and give them the opportunity to both work towards a shared goal and share their work

I will not share much more about our monthly music gatherings (since they are meant for our own evaluative purposes and not yours) except to note that when two or three are gathered in the name of loving the one, it naturally follows that one loves the other. This is what the psychologists and theologists (and technologists [and epistemologists]) mean when they speak of loving someone as they are, not as you might wish them to be. We come together, on Sundays, as musicians and family and friends. We play the notes and the nodes that we have learned. We discuss what is to be learned next. We pour tea and share cookies—take, eat—and return next month with both incremental and finite progress.

One step closer to the infinite.

One move closer to the endgame.

A brief digression on chess:

I have not written specifically about chess, yet—my metaphors on D and C4 have found their forte on the other board—but as I continue to study the game, I can only conclude that chess, at its best, is a duet. A pair of minds in counterpoint, following lines that were established long before Bach, strategy and tactic revolving in sequence and resolving in cadence, solve and solve and solve again, re-do, amen.

I don’t believe I am the first person to have written this down—though I may be the first person to have written this down in these exact words. This is also a metaphor for chess. It could be a metaphor for any series of events that are taken to a logical conclusion in a previously undiscovered way—which, in turn, is a metaphor for problem-solving.

I have recently begun my first correspondence chess games. Postal, of course, on postcards; a move, a note, a drawing of the current position. 

Most correspondence chess games end in draws, which is exactly as it should be. The official rules allow players to consult any and all existing texts prior to mailing their next move, giving them the opportunity to evaluate previous moves before making any decisions. Players are not allowed to use engines that have already been fed every potential move and can therefore practically calculate the next one; we must eat the moves ourselves—as many as we have time for, before our time runs out—and digest them, thoroughly. 

This, by the way, is also Carrollian (and I should warn you that the Carroll parallels are about to end, as Alice and I both proceed to the end of our boards [the last volume of this series will address the last problems in Symbolic Logic, Vol. 2, and after that I will begin writing about what Larry and I have already begun reading [[and programming]], in both English and [[as the Red Queen would advise]] French]). Since I will not digress beyond what can be digested in a single sitting, I will simply suggest that you set aside time to read Carroll’s “Feeding the Mind” on your own—with additional time, as Carroll suggests, to reflect on what is written therein—and if you would like Carroll’s thoughts on correspondence as a digestive to my digression, read “Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter-Writing.”

In which we conclude our discussion of Finite Scheduling.

“Do you know what I thought while I was out walking?” I asked. “After I walked for a bit and then came in and tended to the bread and then went out for the second half of my walk.”

I ask Larry this question—do you know what I was thinking—nearly every day. He nearly always lets me answer it.

“I was thinking about how my first time through that new bread recipe was essentially like sight-reading a piece of music. I got a lot of it, because I’d made bread before, but when you sight-read there’s always some amount you get correct and some amount you miss, probably because when you sight-read your goal is to get to the end and put a rope around it and then come back and incrementally improve.”

“The metaphor that I constantly go to,” Larry said, “is the Christmas toy that needs some assembly—but it doesn’t get all of the assembly because you’ve figured out how to play with it before it’s completely put together.”

“Is that good or bad?”

“It’s bad,” Larry explained. “Our instinct is—golly, and the instinct isn’t bad in-and-of-itself—but the instinct is that when we get something, we want to use it. That’s a very powerful instinct. That instinct may be as powerful for our species as it is for that spinach to try to find some light and some nutrients. We want to play with shit.”

“Of course we do!”

“If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be shit,” Larry continued (proving that he is not the only person in our household who can take a word and turn its meaning). “Our desire to play with stuff is part of what makes us different—but our desire to play with stuff before it’s ready, I mean, that’s what we need to avoid. Take it easy. Assemble it before you play with it. You’ll be more satisfied with the results.”

“And we’ve talked about this before,” I said. “Should you not sight-read a new piece of music? Should you sit down and say these are two measures, and I will play these two measures up to the standard I set, and then I will play the next two measures?”

“We could create an entire philosophical discussion—and I’m tempted to—over whether playing through a piece before you learn it is actually helpful.”

“We’ve had this discussion!”

“I know,” Larry said, “and I can still see both sides of it. I mean, it’s almost like it’s a ceremonial thing. Let’s go through the whole piece. It does kind of give you the ability to put down some stakes, which could be useful.”

He thought about this; I waited for him to assemble his thoughts. “If you’re really experienced—and this goes back to Kahneman’s intuition thing—if you’re really experienced and you go through it once, you’re going to do a much better job of laying down these stakes. That understanding might actually give you a leg up in terms of understanding some of the smaller details. So playing through a new piece is not a waste of time, as long as you don’t just do it over and over again.”

“Because the whole point is to put the rope around it and then start improving.”

“Right,” Larry said. “And I can’t come up with any reason not to do that.”

“I don’t know,” I said. 

“It adds context,” Larry said.

“Right,” I said, “and the bread example is easier because you bake the bread and then you look at it and say all right, these parts came out the way I wanted and these parts didn’t, and then you go back and study the recipe a little more carefully, but then you say all right, why didn’t I study it this carefully the first time, you know?”

“It’s possible that part of our core evolutionary thinking requires us to have a broad idea of what we are trying to accomplish before we try to accomplish it,” Larry said. “It’s possible that you can’t just go into the hard work right off the bat; that you have to give yourself an idea of what the home run could be. You have to know what you’re working towards, maybe.”

“And you do have to eat,” I said. “And you have to—I mean, if you and I waited to play La Valse together until we had every bit perfect, we’d never be playing it.”

“Right,” Larry said. “But this is the part that’s hard to codify.”

“Well, that just means nobody’s codified it yet,” I said. 

“Because they don’t have enough data,” Larry said. “You know that part of my list
—and in this case he is referring to the mental list of items that he hopes to incorporate into the piano pedagogy program he’s currently writing—“includes capturing the data from hundreds or even thousands of people who are going through the process. We’ll be able to say these results prove these techniques are the most expedient. I’m a long way from being able to reveal that, but I also know that it’s possible.”


“If you analyze the two-hour practices of 100,000 people, there’s going to be something there,” Larry said, “especially if you can assess their processes in a very realistic way. You can look at their progress and compare it to their practice, and you can say this process revealed these results, and this process didn’t.”

“Didn’t Ericsson and Pool say the difference between the really extraordinary violinists and the better-than-average ones was that the extraordinary violinists spent more time fixing errors and the other ones just played through?”

“Again, we get into this whole thing about what is meant by deliberate. We have a very broad idea of what constitutes deliberate practice. What if we had a very specific one? What if we said okay, what Person A did was this deliberate, and what Person B did was only this deliberate. Deliberate is a scale—from zero to 100, or from 0 to 1,000,000, take your pick—and that makes it absolutely quantifiable. We just haven’t quantified it yet.”

“Well, you can’t quantify thoughts,” I said. “You can only quantify results.”

“You can quantify—hmmm, and the only way you can do it is to get back to granularity,” Larry said. “In the pursuit of the learning of a passage, there are going to be probably a finite number of things that have to be addressed because they are counter to our natural tendencies. You could say in this passage of 16 measures, there are 42 things. That’s the beginning of quantifying, right?”


“And you actually say, I suppose, that an approach that efficiently addresses these 42 issues, one at a time, can be measured against another approach that does it in a different way, with a different efficiency. You can measure it!”

“There are other things—there have to be—I mean, let me use the food example and the Hanon example. Culturally, we put butter on bread because of some kind of chemical triglyceride reaction that makes our body happier—and healthier, even. We play Hanon—and I think I’m better at playing the Mozart since I started playing Hanon—which means do we have to quantify the pianists who play Hanon first get better results than the pianists who play the Lang Lang warmup book first?”

“We may,” Larry said. “We may get enough data to determine the best warm-up exercises. You know how I believe in cross-training. You are what you eat, and you play what you practice. This is pharmaceutical—potentially. We’re way, way far away from that.”

Which meant it was time for us to close out our conversation and begin the part of the evening where we get close to each other.

“One more question, then,” I said. “Does the finite in finite scheduling refer just to the materials and labor, or does it also refer to the time?”

“The finite refers to the fact that we are actually going to schedule everything,” Larry said. 

“Oh!” I said. “I get it!”

“The problem of doing it in batches, with disparate approaches to materials and labor, was that we couldn’t put a finite schedule on it. Because we didn’t know! When you consider everything together in an integrated way, it becomes finite because you can actually measure everything.”

Then he smiled at me.

“The finite is actually the result of the integration.”

In Which Dreamed It?

It is November fourteenth. I have been forty-one years old for ten consecutive days. I have been the kind of adult I want to be for so long that I’m already telling Larry that I’m going to figure out an even better way of being an adult, probably this year, and then we’ll look back at what I didn’t know before I knew how to be the person I am about to become and be astonished at how we didn’t know it.

We talk about that, often—how he and I both wish we’d known then what we know now, even though the learning process that led us towards now (and may lead, again, towards something new) is so fascinating that it would be asinine to have missed it. To have swallowed the knowledge without tasting it, as it were. There must always be an apple, or bread and wine, or a madeleine, before one is allowed to see. To change. To remember.

We also talk about how delightful it is to know the people we have become. We weren’t expecting that; we liked each other as we were, even with so much of ourselves unlearned, and had figured out how to step around the holes left by our various disintegrations. 

We talked, most recently, about the email I sent my parents. 

November 23, 2022

The system works.

It’s no longer about me playing too quickly or too heavily or too theatrically or too sloppily or anything like that.

It’s learned nodes vs. unlearned nodes, the latter of which can be easily identified (and addressed until learned) since they aren’t hidden under sloppiness or speed or general fakery.

Anyway that’s what you’d see at today’s music gathering, if you were there. 

“Why did it take me until I was forty-one to learn this?” I asked Larry. The answer, of course, is because I spent the the first half of my life trying to avoid this kind of learning. I did not want to give the music my entire heart, soul, and mind—which is to say, my full attention—because then I would know precisely how much of it was still imprecise. Instead I allowed myself to practice in a confusion of diffusion and effusion—which is to say, once more with feeling—because it allowed me to maintain a fantasy about both my abilities and my responsibilities. 

Now I have allowed reflection to resolve into reality.

We began, as the Red Queen does, by taking measurements. 

We will end, as Alice does, by capturing them. 

Freelance writing: Current earnings total $77,755.57 (pretax); projected 2022 earnings total $92,536.96. After three consecutive years of six-figure freelancing, I am likely to fall shy of my goal. You can blame the economy, if you want (freelance rates are, in general, lower than they were last year), but much of this can be attributed to my decision to reallocate a portion of my time towards mystery novels and philosophy volumes. 

Fiction writing: Like, Subscribe, and Murder (the second Larkin Day mystery) is scheduled to publish on January 17, 2023. I’m scheduled to begin drafting Shakespeare in the Park with Murder (the third Larkin Day mystery) on December 1, 2022, with the goal of delivering 60,000 words by the following April. In the interim I will be writing another short story for Shortwave, and am aiming to generate 3,000 short-story words in three days. 

Piano: I learned eight new measures of Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes this morning—which is to say that every successive node was successfully replicable. I already know that some of the nodes will not retain replicability overnight, and will need to be relearned tomorrow morning. I also know which nodes are unlikely to retain, which suggests that they might not actually have been learned. This is the next problem I’ll need to solve, and I’m pretty sure it will be a successive iteration of the previous problem—which is to say that if there is any element of guessing still present within a node, even if the node successfully replicates at present, the guessing needs to be identified, analyzed, and resolved.

Chess: I am playing six correspondence games simultaneously, turning pattern recognition into cognition (and, since there is room on each postcard, patter). I have stopped studying MCO 15 in order and have shifted specifically to the openings being played (Sicilian, of course, and what may resolve into the Queen’s Gambit Accepted). I’d like to think that transitioning from memorization to application was the best move, but there are a lot of moves still to be mailed.

Symbolic Logic: We are, as suggested in the digression, very nearly finished with our study of Carrollian logic. The final installment of this project will cover the sequence of problems in Symbolic Logic, Volume 2—and then Larry and I will branch from a classical language into a romance and/or object-oriented one.

In other words, we have begun reading Proust.

I’m translating it from the French.

Larry is translating it into Python.

This means we must address, at last, the recursion at the end of Through the Looking-Glass. Larry stays awake into the night surrounded by computers, turning process into program. I wake up a few hours after he has fallen asleep and surround myself with books, pens, paper, turning process into narrative. 

Our work checks each other—Larry using a procedural language to generate an external method of understanding reality as I use an analogous language to explicate an internal one—but we are mates, and have been since we met, and I am part of his dream and he of mine.

We will conclude the story in Volume 4: None of the Monitors Are Asleep.

You are reading WHAT IT IS and WHAT TO DO NEXT by Nicole Dieker.

You may continue reading:

Volume 1: Down the Rabbit-Hole

Volume 2: Is It What It Is?

Volume 3: D4, C4

Volume 4: None of the Monitors Are Asleep