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Milady - The Next Burning Man?
On Network Spirituality, Kali Yuga Accelerationism, and transcending through ignorance into the light of truth.
Last week, Elon Musk posted a meme picture of a Milady NFT entitled “There is No Meme, I Love You” causing the floor price to surge by 90%. Reactions to this can be split into two camps regardless of whether they invested into Milady in the 1st place: Those who do not understand the memetic energy behind it and those who do.
Market savvy individuals will always be ready to invest at the right opportunity but there would be no difference to them between a gross looking ape-lion and an anime inspired fairy-like being that speaks to a deeper longing than whatever a coked out crypto millionaire would consider the good life.
This is where the 2nd camp which gave rise to Milady as a crypto phenomenon come in, but their ideals extend beyond just Miladys and into a counterculture invigorated as much by a search for this aforementioned good life as standing against the empty culture that opposes it.
While not being part of Milady myself, I had known the members of the much spicier preceding group “Kaliacc” or “Kali Accelerationism” some of whom went on to create and/or be involved with Milady, as they were frequent guests back when my livestream Break The Rules was starting.
While understanding that the two are not the same, I’d argue that the Kaliacc connection is key to understanding the countercultural puzzle at large.
But before staring into the abyss, it's important to understand the lure of Milady from some of its most active members.
The memetic merch entrepreneur Grift Shop breaks it down:
Network spirituality, post authorship approach to content copyrights, avant garde net art, cypherpunk ethos, welcoming & diverse community, appeals to women too.
Crypto evangelist DiamondEyesFox goes into further detail:
“What attracted me to Milady initially was the cute anime art, that it had a very different vibe online than the regular wagmi moonboy hypebeast crowd, whose NFTs were generally ugly and uninspired, their schizophrenic yet poetic form of posting on the timeline, which would at once, suggest the user be put on more than a few watchlists, and embody what can only be described as network angels, calling us to greater love and connectivity, while warning us against the dangers of things like nihilism, sloth and self-censorship.
Key to Miladys’ appeal was the openness of the community, that you didn't need to own a milady pfp to join, you could just right click save one and put it on, and provided that you respect miladys values, could find a place in a burgeoning community with a mutual respect that comes from that shared foundation, and that the community swarms to you instantly in the hundreds when you put it on whereas previously you may have had no community.
Milady is a homing beacon for love.”
Despite such warm sentiments, the initial impression to newcomers can understandably be one of caution and dismissal of the fringes, but those within the community have a different outlook, describing the high levels of creativity and talent within the Milady sphere.
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In addition to the art, vibes, and ethos, DiamondEyesFox mentions:
“the intellectual depth and literacy rates, Miladys regularly publish philosophy and social commentary on Substack and Mirror, it’s just an entirely different world.”
And the ferret owning hackerman known as “cool man 🜂” concurs:
“For one, I think milady has a higher than average (maybe the highest) population of the up-and-coming talent and vision online. engineers, aestheticians, schizo philosophers, ravers, vibe... the kind of person who can see out 5 or 10 years, 50 or 100, and finds themselves speaking ahead of the present rather than focusing on the discourse of the moment, or rehashing yesterday.
I think early on, perhaps due to previous art projects by the Remilia Corporation, milady really attracted a certain IYKYK, ahead of the curve type person. Lots of artists and technicians lead to the best home-brew spectacle.”
In a way it sounds like the very online equivalent of the Burning Man festival which earned its reputation as a desert mystery school for some of the most creative Silicon Valley minds since the late 80s.
Beyond both Burning Man and Milady having colorful raves, they share in the community driven goal of transcendence beyond the mundane, and in an interesting article from Stanford University, Professor of communication Fred Turner makes a comparison of Burner culture to the American Puritans who “were trying to become saints in an America that was a desert, an America watched over by the all-seeing eye of God.”
Despite the professor's conclusion that “The Puritan god has fled the scene” and “Now we just watch each other.”, the symbolism of transcendence is clearly seen from an overhead view of the desert Playa, which in the "as above so below" credo, resembles an eyeball, tantric Mandala, and a vision of the shining 3rd eye around which the halo of energy spins.
That the "man" burns at night is evocative of transcendence into finer spiritual matter through the process of “burning off” one’s karmic calories in a ritual purification.
But what does this purification have to do with Milady specifically? In order to understand the light, we must first dive into the shadows…
The controversy surrounding Milady and the wider 4chan very online culture has to do with a couple of things.
First, there were allegations of pro-anorexia grooming against one of the Milady founders named Charlotte Fang who was back then known as Miya and a part of the aforementioned Kaliacc group.
From the people I have spoken to on stream including Milady co-founder Yojimbo King (video below) and threads I’ve read, I do not see these claims being legitimate, though the part of Kaliacc I interacted with on Break The Rules and their discord server did not bring me in touch with Miya.
It did, however, bring me in touch with a culture consisting of some of the edgiest views on the internet and this is where the second allegation of ties to extremist thought comes in.
While this is the part that Miya attributed to a culture of trolling, I cannot speak to how many members were edgy trolls VS legit extremists but if I had to take a guess, I’d say that even the majority of those who considered themselves to be extremists were trying to figure themselves out and reacting to the negative aspects of modernity by lashing out at what they believed were the reasons.
As someone who never hid being classically liberal and Jewish on his mother’s side from this community, I did not feel any sense of bullying or trolling. Nor did I go soft on disagreeing with their conclusions while at the same time understanding the aforementioned societal problems they often brought up instead of pearl clutching at their edgy statements.
All this made for an interesting experience where any racially motivated bigotry started to melt away and most conversations went towards the unifying direction of seeking higher knowledge (an example of which is in the video below).
Among the people I met was a chill Mexican dude with cats who loved grapes, an Egyptian student whose avatar was a “banana-duck” and a black lady from Washington D.C who went by “Hotep Sophia” and now goes by “Sophia Spiritualite”. I still keep in touch with them to this day.
Someone you’d think would be at the top of the SS hierarchy given his nickname of “Aryan Cowboy” told me that he does not harbor any discrimination against non-white groups and found the whole thing to be tiring. This was around the time he left the internet for good, before which was a fountain or esoteric lore about such figures as the Hindu tantric Goddess “Chhinnamasta” and transcendental states.
Even the notorious Sunny who founded Kaliacc was doing research on my matrilineal descent in order to claim that my mother’s ancestors were Ostrogoth royalty among the Judized Khazars by connecting Yiddish to Gothic language. In a way I think he tried to bridge the gap of what the “spirit of the times” was among his very active community and this Russian Jew coming in to candidly speak to everyone within this fiery bubble.
While I understand that the Milady community is NOT Kaliacc just like it is not 4chan, the darker ideas which intensified within Kaliacc exist in our collective shadow and grow hotter the more they are suppressed. Were Kaliacc or 4chan to have never existed, they would have manifested in a different form, but will always be there as a reaction to the other side of the political horseshoe.
I’d argue that this aspect is not a monster to be locked in the attic in an attempt to present a more respectable face, but in my opinion (and also fact) this is an invaluable aspect of understanding ourselves in order to confront the shadow and grow beyond its unconscious influence over us.
These controversies also serve a gate-keeping role to keep the other monster out… that of the banality of evil through censorship of dissenting opinions.
DiamondEyesFox accurately describes this veneer of controversy as:
“Normie repellent which ensures that people who merely read headlines and bring out the torches to silence or destroy anything they don’t personally agree with or understand before looking deeper than the surface level appearance of things stay far away. It also regularly brings down prices, which is great at increasing accessibility for new entrants, who generally have higher critical thinking abilities.”
The Inner and Outer War
Circling back to Elon Musk, it is no wonder as to why some people are worried that Twitter’s new CEO Linda Yaccarino's appeal to advertisers will drag the platform into a dark age of Ad-friendly lowest common denominator normiehood.
This can be seen as media franchises get woke, then criticize the fanbase which gave it life in the 1st place as incel misogynistic nerds while the new base follows it more as a passing fad so long as they’re exposed to enough adverts about it.
While this stagnant conformism I believe stands as an enemy to many of the people I’ve spoken to from the Milady and other countercultural communities, the more deceptive enemy is within.
As I always emphasize on Break The Rules, opposing what your rightfully perceive as a mostly clueless bubble has the chilling effect of isolating yourself in your own bubble as well, since as much as we may pity the masses for falling prey to bad influence, its not hard for an intentionally or unintentionally misinformed idea to creep into the in-group when there’s a lack of experience with it.
This can be said of the Burning Man community where there’s a tradition of psychedelic drug use that I believe perpetuates a closed loop of false unearned enlightenment. It can definitely be said of the Puritans, some of whom in their quest for sainthood committed many sins in persecuting innocent people for witchcraft.
As for the online dissidents today, identifying the correct problems gets mixed in with horrible solutions that at times includes racial discrimination and advocacy for a dictatorship as a cure-all.
Regardless if the eye of God is watching us as the Puritans believed, everyone is watching each other within these communities so one’s belief is solidified if there’s nobody who can stand up with a counter.
Russia’s war against Ukraine is a great example of the dissident community bubbles being in dire need of a refresher which I was honored to provide during the last BTR Stream with Curtis Yarvin and Atlantic Council Fellow Vladislav Davidson.
Vlad gave a different impression of the Azov Battalion than the one which is the mainstay of many within the dissident in-group, primarily because the Biden administration supports Ukraine, while the same time, openly admitted his incredible dislike of Hunter Biden, so we are not in the realm of mass appeal pundits following a script.
The three of us are scheduled for a follow-up stream as there was so much we did not get to, and it makes me very happy to have planted a seed that can enlighten both sides into wherever they happen to have a gap in knowledge instead of just preaching to their respective choirs.
To sum it up, there is a war on two fronts for those who are within the counterculture. The outer front against censorship minded masses and their so called influencers, as well as the inner front where reaction towards the outside has great potential to foster a high degree of collective ignorance.
If keeping this balance is hard, well that’s the point of any alchemical marriage which seeks to escape the closed loops that reinforces bad habits. Same with politics, same with anything.
With such marriages comes a growth of self awareness and the way to truly overcome the Kali Yuga which ultimately speaks to what I believe is the true reason for Kaliacc and Milady.
Anime Anima, Network Spirituality, and the Age of Truth
The term “Kaliacc” means “Kali Accelerationism”. Beyond whatever horrible ideologies have encircled it and the drama that took place between its members, what it ultimately means is accelerating the regression into the Age of Kali.
This is the “Age of Darkness” or the “Age of Vice and Misery” through which we can ultimately emerge back into what is considered the “Golden Age” within the great cycle of the Advaita Vedanta (or Hinduism) known as the “Satya Yuga” or “Age of Truth”.
Within this perennial philosophy, we are seen as transient individualized aspects of the ultimate reality which is Brahman or God. And if we are indeed going through some sort of spiritual dark age, it would make sense that the way out is to understand ourselves including our worst inner aspects, many of which are clearly on display within free speech holdouts.
The Kaliacc community was such an online holdout that was described as the “virtual steppe” by its members, seeing themselves as passing-through nomads gathering at a group campfire to exchange stories. This was Kaliacc at its best when any of the edgy extremist ideology was cast aside in favor of a mutual sense of humanity.
Today, 4chan is still going strong as well as the various twitter spheres including that of Milady, and as I mentioned at the start of this piece, there is an emphasis in all of these communities on the cute anime-inspired imagery.
One anime in particular stands out as resonating with these very online audiences is the 1998 series “Serial Experiments Lain” where a girl named Lain Iwakura (who looks not too dissimilar from a Milady herself) becomes deeply entangled with the Wired, a global communication network resembling the internet.
As she delves deeper into the Wired and away from the real world, the experience can be thought of as one of “Network Spirituality” wherein her connections through the aid of technology become more profound than those experienced in what many of the anime’s fans see as an ever more alienating outside environment.
As pretenses heighten in the real world for fear of cancellation, it is no wonder that more people will find more authenticity within these networks.
It is also understandable that especially (though not exclusively) for young men, the cute and warm expressions in the Milady characters evoke a sense of belonging that they see the real world as having denied them.
It is the Jungian “anima” or the unconscious feminine aspect of the male that these Miladys partly represent, and even the term “M’Lady” is a semi-ironic expression of courtesy as would be expected of an olden-times gentleman.
To me, it shows that despite the irony of such a term being associated with fat neckbeard fedora wearing gamers instead of an aristocratic gentleman, there’s an unironic sentiment buried underneath this which speaks of a desire to cultivate one’s own sense of aristocratic refinement and become worthy of your anima in the real world through an inner transformation.
And as we go through this process of self improvement, perhaps the guys can fully integrate their anima and the girls integrate their animus (unconscious masculine) so we can get to the next level of “know thyself”.
But before I get too much into the clouds, I’d like to end this piece with a quote from a Milady and human Greek statue in one named Thad:
“It was on the tip of everyone's tongue, Milady just gave it a name. It cannot be pinned down, pigeonholed, typologized, or defined. Your wordcel attempt to gather opinions on it will prove insufficient. You are chasing a ghost, a fleeting muse. You're nailing jello to the substack wall. Milady wears many faces, I am one.
This isn't art, these are memes. These aren't assets, this is culture. This isn't community, this is network spirituality. A girl I know died at the Milady Rave. It stopped her heart. Milady is crystallized internet culture.”