Saturday, March 31, 2012

the new hard

It is odd how everything seems more daunting now that I don't have the vast amounts of time I had when I was younger. I should clarify that this is not regret. My youth is not some golden age to be pined for (I don't believe there has ever been a golden age or Eden that we fell from. If there is an Eden, it is in our future rather than our past). Instead it is a time with different problems, none involving a lack of time.
I often hear that age brings a sadness for what no longer happens, despair at the discrepancy between the state of the now to how one lived in the past. This is not my concern. I am smarter, healthier, richer, more in love, and better off than I have ever been. As I said the past sucks. :)

I guess mine is an embarrassment of riches. More is possible now then ever before. The challenge is commitment and focus. Everything is possible, but you can't do everything. You have to choose. And that is the dilemma that occupy my thoughts.

And the clock is ticking. I need to get something going. I don't want to have actual regrets because i was too scared make it happen.

I need to move pass process.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trying to be clever

It has not been a conducive week to be creative, with a stressful week finally over that ended with a long car ride. Honestly what had a greater impact was the book I have been struggling with. It is 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. The best way to describe it is numbing. The book is over nine hundred pages and it's challenge is not from vocabulary or complexity in sentenced structure. 1Q84 is rather an endurance test. It is like a long run, stretched out tensions, a stream of mundane with flashes of excitement. The only drive is to see the finish, a finish that you already have a sense of what it will look like.

This is the second book of murkami I have read and I find the style quite enjoyable. Very dreamlike wrapped in a thoughtful view of the mundane. I could see why some would be unhappy with the mundane passages, that drag the story in some people's view. I feel this is a misreading of what murkami is doing. The dream like passages requires a grounding in a reality or the piece falls apart or drift into a mush of nonsense (odd that I feel that nonsense must have a structure, I guess I have difficulty with messes).

This is a roundabout way to say that this book is a wearying challenge of a read, particularly during a work week. The question I'm playing with is a question of cleverness. Plodding, and 1Q84 is essentially a slow burn plodding book (which might be an element of Japanese culture, as their manga, video games, and books are all slow builds rather than a quick punch that American books seem to have) through leaves me wondering whether the pay off is going to match the investment. I don't doubt it's beautiful writing the books contains (despite a weak ear for conversation), I wonder whether the book is clever or not. I don't think plot is the key indicator of cleverness, but perhaps the easiest to notice.

I am unsure if there is a design to it, a clever pattern of beauty or cultural reference, that I am struggling to figure out or if it is a simple detective story with bad dialogue. With a sigh, I have concluded that I need to finish the book before I can come close to answering it.

Not the best book companion during a long week. :)

Later S

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Silver linings

Standing in the park watch my daughter and niece screaming in joy as they climb a ladder and slide. A moment of child Zen bliss. I need to remember these moments.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A fine line between courage and creepiness

I have taken up a swimming again. It is still early days, so the muscles are still sore as my body is still adjusting to the public pool's chorine levels. It is times like this that I miss the long summer of swimming in Georgian bay. It was cold, but always fresh. Still, it is one of my preferred forms of exercise and I should be in solid swimming form by the summer. Perhaps I will consider the triathlon that M is often talking about.

The subject line refers to one of the funny characters at the pool. I don't know his name (actually I believe few of the male lane swimmers know each other's name), but he's been there every time I swam this year. He is a short, fit man with short hair hidden by the swimming cap. Judging from his accent he is French, but I am uncertain if he is from Quebec or France proper. He is a very good swimmer, alternating between full out swimming in the fast lane, to doing hard swimming exercises in the medium lane (such as crossing his legs around a swim board and powering forward with only his arms).

What is amusing about him is that he has no social fear, possessing a bold courage to strike up a conversation with anyone. Unfortunately it is a bravo without tack. Watching him interact with men in the change room, and women at the pool, you see the trapped look cross the faces of the handsome lads and beautiful ladies who struggle to end the conversation. I wonder if he knows, or cares that they don't really want to engage, the interaction being based on the politeness of others. Perhaps he likes beauty and wants to be close to it. Or many he doesn't realize he's old.

Regardless, I leave the pool every time thinking that the man is a walking short story waiting to happen.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Circulation Madness

Dear Henry,

In lighter news than the crisis of my soul, I have just come off a crazy request marathon with the Toronto library hold system. If you have any doubt that this is the golden age of the book, just use the Internet and the library for a week and you will discover that we live in wonderful, chaotic times. Within seconds of finishing an article, one can reserve the writer's book, the four books mentioned in their article as well as three general books on the subject. Plus, you can get the movie that inspired the pithy headline of the article. The downside is that they all are over 300 pages and there is no way to consume before the deadline.Time is not available for rent as of yet (although Justin advises against this idea).

The funny thing is that I have been doing this for years and I never seem to learn my lesson. The bought books almost seem to give of an aura of disdain as these transient volumes pass through our home. I'm also convinced that it slows my actual reading.

Still, they are wonderful books.



Thursday, March 8, 2012

Theatre of the Mind

Dear Henry,

I don't know if this is an experience many people have, but it is something I encounter all the time and want to write it down in the hopes of figuring out some way around it. The "it" is my tendency to exhaust my interest/thought process on a subject or run the matter in my head rather than actually putting anything to paper or engage a live person with my thoughts. One always has a high opinion of one's cleverness, I believe David Brin captured this sentiment by saying "ask any crowd and they will nod in unison that the masses are manipulated by propaganda, then ask them whether they see through the propaganda themselves, and everyone will nod". Self-blindness being always a fun topic to discuss.

The consequence of this playing the ideas out in mind until boredom or the next shiny thing come along is that I a) don't get much writing/projects done and b) my arguments/profound thoughts sound really flat when they are used in actual conversation. "it sounded much better in my head" is a sad thought that has plagued many a subway ride home.

It does sort of play into a couple of 21st century themes: Isolation, solipsism, the primacy of the brain, passive consumption instead of active engagement. Although I guess it isn't really that new as stream of conscious has been kicked around by novelist for the past 100 years. That thought is not particularly comforting.

This blog post is taking a long time to finish. It really isn't writing itself. Perhaps if I was a neuroscientist I would have a little to say a out how the mind works and how the chemical make up of my brain creates my tendency to be a dreamer rather than a man of action. As interesting as that might be, I am certain the solution would involve a pharmaceutical cocktail that I would not be the least bit inclined to take.

Depending of The theological background, I could have a spiritual comment. That it is either God's gift or test of my mettle. What follows (other than prayer) is unclear to me. I am familiar enough with scripture that it isn't really interested with this problem, and when it is it views dreaming as a distraction from greater things.

So where does this leave me? I feel I have come full circle, a lot of thought with no action. I am left with no resolution. I do have some consolidation at having written this entry. I think I will need to return to this next month.

Till next time,