The Gibbs Farm in New Zealand. Let’s go here.
Indolent. That”s the last word.
Offering up this word ends the pretense. Ends the effort. Ends the need for effort. Maybe the effort was never worth it because it always seemed like a double effort or an effort folded over, already too daunting to think about. I must make an effort in order to, then, consequently, make an effort. I must make an effort in order to acquire the credible veneer of one who seems to spend his time making an effort. Even the effort I afforded this paragraph, glibly relying as it does on the repeated use of a word, was folded over, was a cover-up, an attempt to indolently get through to the end without too much effort.
I take walks most days. It”s boring and meditative. I am a prisoner of the Other. I grapple with what the Other might want. Lacan 101. I offer up my thoughts. I gather up self-appraising notions. I craft aphoristic codas. I pretend I”m a wordsmith. I get the jump on time by making phrases. I stand there waiting for myself to catch up. It”s all very tiring and obsessive. So, on the walk today, I proposed to the Other to offer up a word that sums it all up, that accomplishes the perfect self-evaluation. Once I proposed this, the word came fairly quickly. Indolent. I am indolent. I have always been indolent. I, baring unforeseen interventions, will always be indolent. I further told the Other that once I offered the word, I would be free of a large number of its demands. I would be off the hook.uk inflatable hello kitty
And so I am. Yes, the Other will still pester me about other matters, but I now can be at peace over so many things connected with questions of energy and activity. I consider this a very Lichtenbergian achievement, by the way, one the brethren will accept without too much condemnation. I do question, however, whether or not I can still hold the office of “Aphorist.” I can only continue to hold it if all accept that I bear the title ironically. More ironically than when originally bestowed. I was, I must confess, quite invested in the appearance of “accomplishment” and of my possessing certain “powers” that went along with the title. I made a certain amount of effort to try and keep that all propped up. But the truth is, it”s work. And it”s the kind of expenditure that is akin to treading water while trying to wave and appearing to float effortlessly. I am a treader trying to pass as a floater. And for all I know people on the shore are discussing it among themselves: he looks so contorted trying to hide the fact he”s treading; does he really think we think he”s floating? Every floater knows floating doesn”t look like that. And so on.
I expect there to be some condemnation, of course. The full truth of the word indolent includes a certain amount of the ignoble. In other words, indolent is mobile casino not a characterization tinged with irony. It”s just true. And its despicable dimension is also true. I don”t celebrate it, but I don”t hide it. I am indolent. Don”t expect much.
And so I can conclude at a moment”s notice. I will not fret over the fact that what I have rendered here in no way sounds like the symphony of summation I unfolded during my walk. The word has freed me from that. And freed me from worrying about crafting pithy final sentences. I am now giving a last bit of effort to recalling any details from my walking meditation that I can include. I stop typing to do that now.
I resume. Why indolent and not lazy? A touch of vanity, I think. Also true to my nature. Indolent implies that I did as a youth show some earnest effort, that I earnestly worked at my vocabulary lists. But I don”t think I have ever included the word in my working vocabulary. It was kind of an accidental recall. Sure, I”ve read it in books. The fact that I would assure you of that is also part of my character. Indolent evokes for me a certain atmosphere, one in which the word lazy certainly has a place, but which also includes other paralyzing and paradoxical elements. And I offer that previous sentence rather than an autobiographical fantasia. Nothing to hide, just intimidated by the effort it would require to weave all that into this.
One other thing. Maybe two further things. I have been in trance-like states of absorption in which something like creative expression has taken place. Those moments seem, in retrospect, effortless, but they tend to be self-contained ends in themselves. No way to turn back and recapture, no way to exploit for future glory. So not part of the equation, I think. Also, I find certain distancing conventions impossible to undertake. It is very difficult to fictionalize, for instance, so that avenue is not really open to me. And maybe not really that interesting to me. Which, too, may be due to indolence. Taking upon myself the burden of others, of sharing their worlds–no energy for that. So no energy for making up lives and shouldering their cares. Abstractions have always been more amenable. Perhaps because I can pick them up and set them down without burdening myself too much. Abstractions lend themselves more easily to the trance-like improvisatory play I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. But still, it”s a laborious seizing of elements. Best to leave it to those who do it like breathing.
Anything further? Nope. That”s it.
“The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio.
Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”themed pirate ship jump house
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
I was on the train the other day sitting down in front of a man.
Obviously homeless. Obviously crazy. This man spoke out loud.
He spoke to an invisible person in the seat right next to him.
I noticed something quite odd about the rhythm of his speech pattern.
He spoke in short, choppy sentences, with word choices out of the norm.
There was quite a long pause between each line. He’d speak briefly, then silence.
Each spoken line seemed odd. Why that choice of words? Finally, I got it.
Each line said had exactly seventeen syllables. Yes, I counted.
I listened to him the whole train ride, and counted each line one by one.
Seventeen syllables. Pause. Pause. Then seventeen syllables. Pause. Pause.
I don’t know if it was purposeful, but for half an hour it went on.
This man spoke in haiku to an invisible friend. I was enthralled.
I share ’cause it seemed the kind of thing you guys would appreciate.
So fascinated was I that I decided to challenge myself.
Could I write this post exactly seventeen syllables at a time?
I don’t know if that man was conscious of his efforts or just crazy.
It doesn’t matter. Perhaps it was just one of those times to live art.
I wish I could say why, but this puts me in mind of Marc: http://pentametron.com/
Seems only natural to use this forum on creativity to talk about bullying. See, already I’m indulging in a free-floating snideness. And who am I put out with? The crusaders or the realists? Both, I guess. Those of you psychologically attuned will note that such ambivalence indicates I speak from experience. I have been bullied. I have also tried cosying up to a bullying culture in an desperate effort to win acceptance and so have joined in my share of targeting those I perceived as being even more deserving targets than I clearly was.
So I’ve got the anger and the guilt going. “Deserving…clearly…” Noted that, did you, you psychologically attuned folk? Was I really a deserving target? No, part of me insists. No one is a deserving target. I, therefore, wholeheartedly lend my righteous anger to the crusade. Stamp it out! And yet…
That still small voice: “You were probably pretty annoying. You’ve picked up on clues to that effect. Might have done you a little bit of good. Made you a bit more…circumspect? We can never really see ourselves accurately at that age, after all…” That little voice that suggests the wisdom of the group is kind of like the wisdom of the market. You take your lumps, right? Experience scratches a few tattoos on your skin. You learn to survive in a tough world. And yet…
Round and round it goes. So one wants to imagine a hypothetical situation that might offer some objective information, something outside the subjective loop of fear-loathing-and justification, something you can bring to the bullying debate free from the clouding of subjective division. Imagine someone with bullying baggage indulging in a perverse desire to follow up on characters from the past through online social networking. What happened to kids from the old school? From those dim elementary and middle-school years? It’s a plausible scenario. What might one find? What if one finds a subtle sense that most of those who were of a bullying nature–and even those who were of a less defined “onlooker” nature in that cultural milieu–had, as adults, signed on as supporters of the right-wing/ libertarian agenda? Can we conceive of such a result from such a thought experiment? Can we draw conclusions? I open it to the group.
My particular concern is with the question of progressive leadership. Is it possible for leadership to emerge from those not complicit in a bullying culture or, worse, who might have been victimized by it? In other words, what if the impulse to lead comes from a desire to help the progress of the species and not from a youthful ability to orchestrate and manipulate taunters that’s now directing itself into the wider world? Is such leadership even possible? How might what we discovered in our little thought experiment play into this? Could a leader with progressive vision get a pack of dogs to settle down enough to be vaccinated and maybe even learn a few commands? How are our enlightened discussions related to this? Do we speak to each other out of a belief in leadership? To return for a moment to my experiences, which I briefly noted in the opening paragraph, I can say that as a result of my encounters with bullying I see human barbarity as a puzzle to be solved or something to be overcome through large movement towards a new human future.
But I also know I have no taste for aligning with a diversity of others to achieve such progress. That, too, is a result of my experiences. My anger sparkles like fireflies in a jar. I’ll poke a few holes in the lid, but that’s it. Gonna keep things screwed shut and glowing on a shelf in my room.
- Be wary when it feels like a word association game.
- What is the form? Form is the wheel you don’t have to re-invent.
- If it’s truly new, it should be somewhat off-putting, something you would just as soon skip past or avoid, like a stranger who a year later is an intimate.
- Today’s intensity is tomorrow’s regret.
- Welcome intrusions.
I have no problem with these. I still feel cute as a button uttering them. Shirley Temple cute, if I’m being honest.
Three gnaws a bit, though. I want it to be more concise, more aphoristic, more…Lichtenbergian . Georg is the Master! I’m so happy the quote rotator is back up to speed, humming away. In these dark days of diminished production quotas, it’s a reason to visit the site everyday. I can fiddle with Three, maybe, in the spirit of Lichtenberg:
3. The truly new is that troubling stranger who in a year’s time could easily become an intimate if you gave in to your instincts, but who would more likely reject you outright for understandable reasons.
Shirley Temple is now disgustingly cute. I think my more compact version is actually longer, but it feels more precise and even has a touch of storytelling verve, which is not usually my forte. So it’s a keeper. Bon bons at play…
But I’m also content to chuck all of them. I don’t really believe in them as working guidelines. I don’t really believe myself these days when I claim I create. I have been revisiting the circumstances that first put me on a supposed creative path, and the truth is, I really cannot speak of those circumstances in any other way than as an encounter with an impasse. At a certain point in my development, I met with something I couldn’t understand or encompass or circumnavigate. The instruments I normally employed to get at things were useless.
Always an exciting moment, of course. And, in my case, I think, traumatic. Every encounter with an impasse is something of a trauma, I might assert. The moment of defeat makes an impression and sets the stage for a lifetime of re-visiting, of rehearsing the fatal encounter. Exciting, traumatic, and, ultimately, therefore, essential. Because, as I said before, you are not equipped. You lack savoir faire. There is no help. You become a moment of possible extinction. Such a threat, a loss, a lack, touches on the essential, on you, on life. You can’t find a ring to grasp. You plunge.
Here’s a version of the Bear Hunt Song as thoughtfully preserved by a helpful Boy Scout troop. The song is basically a guide to using prepositions in one’s various encounters with the world. It is the prepositions that function as the working codes, the symbolic formulas, that afford you the chance to move on Reality, to engage it, to establish meaning and possibility. Reality as a set of known possibilities is, in fact, mapped out in the song. But here’s the interesting thing: at the heart of the song is an encounter with an impasse. And that moment, really, is the essence of the song. The key moment, the thrill, is when prepositions aren’t worth a damn. And that is why it is fun to perform the song. Repeatedly. The Bear.
To put it briefly, my particular preoccupation with “creativity” and all that it promises and withholds is due to meeting a Bear. My continued engagement is a rehearsal charted by a particular practice, a particular way symbolic reality works and then unravels. I flee and re-approach.
I was lost in a Baroque tangle and baffled by words. That was the Bear. At the time there were no friendlier words to begin to characterize the predicament or the effect. I then began to collect related objects that seemed to want to adhere to the initial mysterious mute monstrosity. The “creative” path took its place as a possible connection to that mute kernel, along with others. All within a family drama, of course, and surrounded by various figures of interest. And so I orchestrated more and more elaborate meetings with the thing in the cave.
What to do? What will this new clarity tell me about how to proceed? I’ll keep you posted.
All in all, I feel my rules are pretty much the same, and actually, I think that I am following these rules more now than I was when I wrote them. But for the sake of the assignment I will expand and reflect on each.
1) It’s okay not to finish something. Process is more important than product. If you’ve learned all and stretched yourself as much as you can, finishing for finishing sake is not necessary.
I still live by this one, and I think that this one makes me more Lichtenbergian than anything. While I do believe that process is more important than product, this can often get me into the trap of never finishing things. I LIKE writing this screenplay. I LIKE making this animated short. If it’s ever finished, then I won’t get to work on it anymore. Futzing with it forever is a much more inviting idea. “Ah,” I tell myself, “But when this thing is done, I get to start work on a new thing, and have fun working on that.” Reasonable, but then from another part of my brain, “Yes, but you KNOW working on this is fun. What if working on the next thing isn’t.? Or the next thing? What if I never work on anything that is as fun as working on this thing?” And so it goes.
2) Have something to write/draw with or on with you at all times.
Yes. I do this. I have a very specific breed of notebook that I like having with me in particular. I like them so much, in fact that I have bought out Target’s entire supply three times, so I have a stockpile of them in my closet just in case Target decides not to carry them anymore.
3) Let everything inspire you.
With the aid of hindsight, I find that I am really good at copping out on Lichtenbergian questions sometimes. Of course on this one. I suppose a better way of saying this one would be: Look for inspiration outside of your tried and true sources, and don’t have hard and fast rules about how something is inspiring to you. I have tried to make from an interesting magazine article I read one time, a screenplay, a short story, and an animated short. Now it is the inspiration for a one-man show, which is the perfect way to tell this story. You’re idea for a graphic novel might make a better short film. Or your poem might make a better song. Who knows.
4) It’s never either as good as you think it will be or as bad as you think it’s turned out.
Okay. Except when it is.
5) Have fun.
I hate how simple this one is, but it’s true. the idea of the tortured artist is preposterous to me. If it isn’t fun to work on or be a part of, don’t fucking do it.
That wasn’t too painful. But I agree that a series of rules for kickstarting might be in order.