Lumenators: They’re Really Good

Lumenators are a piece of folk technology from the rationalist subculture. In short, it is 10+ lightbulbs on a string, to make your living space much brighter than it would otherwise be. The lights are generally cooler toned than your regular yellow bulbs, to emulate sunlight better.

I first made one in January 2019 (I have a pic in this old post), after a disastrous first term of third year, in which I’d failed half my courses and narrowly scraped by the other half due to a really intense bout of antidepressant-resistant SAD.

I’ve had them for 3 years now and my opinion is that literally everyone should own one.1

Listen, when I first made the lumenators, I lived with two guys who were completely functional human beings who weren’t depressed in the least. Idk how to convince you how non-depressed they were – they were doing sports, taking insane courses that required like 40 hours of labs a week, going to, volunteering at, and running major hackathons, putting effort into steadily improving at competitive video games and then road tripping out to tournaments… Living their best university lives, tbh.

These dudes thought that it was overkill that I was shelling out $400 for an assload of bright lightbulbs, command hooks, wiring, and other shit instead of just buying like, two more floor lamps from ikea. Which, fair enough tbh, if you haven’t been lumenated, you probably would think the same.

Two years later we graduated and went our separate ways, and then within like a month of moving into their new apartments they were constructing lumenators of their own because they had SEEN THE LIGHT and realized that standard lighting sucked fucking ass.

Lumenators are good mostly because for 4 accursed months out of the year, the sun sets at a ridiculously early time. When you have lumenators, that sucks a lot less. It genuinely helps, a lot, to have the space you’re in be really bright for an additional 3 hours a day, and make your “sunset” 8pm even though it’s been dark outside since 5.

It also is a great supplemental source of lighting on days where it’s raining or snowing or just heavily overcast. The days where it’s day but the light doesn’t make it into your windows anyways. When you have lumenators, those days become vastly more cheery. When I turn my lumenators on on those days, I get a jolt of happiness.

I actually turn my lumenators on every day. Even when it’s fully sunny outside, my lumenators still manage to brighten up my space appreciably, and I think that’s incredibly sexy of them.

Some miscellaneous tips for creating a lumenator setup for after you read the linked article, if you’re interested in building one:

  • It’s a lot better when you can hang them up a lot higher than eye level. I was living in a low-ceilinged basement apartment for a while, and the lumenators did not work super well in that space πŸ™
  • You can make them a lot nicer by buying some fake vines on Amazon and draping them around the wires and stuff
  • If you can get 25 or 30 bulbs, that’s great, but I think 15 is sufficient for a basic setup, and that’s what I started with. I have a setup of 10 bulbs in my bedroom that wake me up in the mornings by blasting my face with light, but I think it’s a little dim for everyday use.
  • If you’re dripping with cash, get hue bulbs or other programmable bulbs! It’s a lot more convenient to control them through your phone.

Anyways, in conclusion, lumenators are great and you should make one. Here’s some pics of mine:

  1. related: that post about shower chairs![↑]

Obligate Dramatic Irony

The thing about sci-fi is that there’s stuff we can’t write anymore, and not in the culture wars sense.

In the 50s, before we reached a local maximum on robotics, we had stories about smart houses and ambulatory robot assistants.

In the 60s and 70s when we had no clue what the conditions were like on other planets, we had stories about sirens on Titan and planets that were ripe for human colonization because the atmosphere on them are by default earth-like.

In the 80s and 90s, when we had no fucking idea what this internet thing would be capable of, we had stories about metaverses and uber-powerful hackers.

Of course we can still write stuff about, like, civilizations on Jupiter or whatever, but when we do, we must do so through a filter/layer/film of something that we can call “obligate dramatic irony”. We now know for certain that the other planets in our solar system are devoid of intelligent humanoid life, so it gets that much harder to suspend your disbelief (a thing that takes work), and so the threshold for how cool a premise needs to be to use the scenario gets elevated. 1

Sci-fi pushes at the frontiers of current science for inspiration, and I think this is rad! This lessens the work needed to suspend your disbelief, increases the wonder and delight because of a thrumming background sense of plausibility, and it’s not like our current understandings of science is not conducive to a wealth of new and fucking awesome premises in SF 2.

The flip-side is just that previous frontiers are now largely blocked, and unblocked only through a self-consciously retro aesthetic (or something more clever), if writing, and a layer of obligate dramatic irony, if reading.

Anyways, this is probably something that’s already been talked about by McLuhan or DFW or the assholes who talk about hauntology/disenchantment or whatever. Please email me the key phrase to google if you know.

  1. Jupiter Ascending is elevated and cool. stfu[↑]
  2. not to mention the movies!!![↑]

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