After a search for one last piece to post this month, I’m just not satisfied.
According to Evernote, where I keep my working drafts, I have 83 blog posts in progress.
Some of those are just a few lines or phrases, and will probably never go anywhere.
Other drafts are long and fraught. I just read one for the first time in about six weeks, and realized why I was struggling so much with it: there are three distinct ideas trying to establish themselves in the piece, and by the end, it’s at best a weary draw. All three lay gasping in a heap, not even caring who won anymore. I need to treat my ideas with more respect.
In place of a properly-edited, mostly-polished blog post, I’ve decided to share a peek into my process: lines, quotes and images from works in progress.
I’ve intentionally left a few pieces out. There need to be some surprises.
Is there a sense of coherence across all these different fragments? I’m not sure.
What follows are simply clumps of loose and stray thread that may or may not be woven into something larger:
If you’re taking all the trouble to go somewhere else, maybe it’s worth pretending that the internet hasn’t gotten there first.
One of the ship’s officers, during a safety briefing:
“The bad news is that we do not have Internet aboard. The good news is that our records show that 100% of our passengers have survived this condition.”
To those still expecting you to be a caterpillar, your wings are merely distracting appendages.
If all systems of transmission corrupt, the question becomes: how usefully or beautifully do they corrupt?
At a pivotal point in the middle of one draft, I found this:
[see notes not yet typed from Jan 4, in wet blue notebook]
From abundant potential, we must narrow our attention to a single, fixed goal. The decision of what to do in any given moment lasts much longer than that moment. It creates its own minor legacy.
The entirety of Anne Carson’s biographical note on the back flap of “If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho”:
Anne Carson lives in Canada.
“…the Truth must dazzle gradually…”
Offline, the shrunken world: Our social reach retracts to physical proximity. Just when I think I’ve truly escaped it all, there’s a song playing in the bar that is also on the iPhone in my pocket.
Ushuaia — as a city tenuously clinging to the edge of the world? It doesn’t exist.
Whenever I travel, I’m reminded of the distinction between where our body is, and where our mind is. How often are they co-located?
Other than the annual stumble through an old standard for my grandmother at Thanksgiving, who politely pretended not to notice the rapid decline of my keyboard skills, I didn’t play any traditional repertoire for more than ten years. I had completely burned myself out, to the point that I didn’t even want to pick through pieces I enjoyed listening to, or had once enjoyed playing.
Even when I was still too young to drive a car, my parents were broad-minded enough to let me put a bumpersticker on their car: “Skateboarding is Not a Crime”.
It wasn’t just theoretical: The only time I’ve ever been in the back of a police car was when I was 12 or 13, and was chased down for…well, I don’t know what, and the officer didn’t seem to know, either, but that didn’t stop him from throwing me in the caged part of the car (my skateboard in the trunk) and taking me to the station for a good old-fashioned injection of small-town fear.
It is an error to assume the inarticulate have no story to tell, or that the middling sketcher has no inspiring vision to share. Maybe they just haven’t found a medium yet in which they are or can become fluent, and in the meantime, they are a musician without an instrument, an actor without a stage, or a sculptor with only paintbrushes.
When you crash in public, keep going, and frame it with an improvisational flourish so it seems like it was part of a larger plan. Carry on, and finish strongly.
Momentary dissonances must be considered in a larger context.
Loud is easy. It’s much harder to play softly but powerfully.
A strong wind hitting a bare mast won’t get you anywhere.
By standing silently at the trimming of one twig, we give our assent to the loss of an entire branch of human knowledge.
We have a notion of Paris or Kyoto or the Baltic Sea, and we use those words to communicate that notion with others. And then we go there, and, on arrival, discover that we were completely wrong, even about some of the broad strokes. We can’t reconcile the ideas we had in our mind with our present experience without completely rebuilding our definition of those particular words and letters.
And then we wonder: what have we been talking about all those years when the topic was Kyoto? What did the other person have in mind during that conversation? And did we effectively communicate anything at all?
I just felt like ending this one with a bit of red — a color our winters don’t provide in abundance.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.