Reading through old posts is a great way of not starting a new one. And a great way of not starting anything new, for that matter.
Hello, I have returned. From a very short hiatus (of slightly more than a week) that has felt like a year. Thankfully, I can actually deploy my wonderful sense of humor here, since, oh, you guessed it, my last post was in 2017. I’m time traveling, I’m space jumping, I’m… stuck.
I find it hard to start, is what I’m trying to say. But naturally finding it hard to figure out a way to start my post about my shortcomings in the starting-department. I should have started (at least more thoroughly than I have) on my thesis project by now. I keep reading and thinking, but I’m not really doing much else but that. Plus half the things I’m reading have absolutely no relation to the thing I should be working on.
I should be applying myself to the intense fight for recognition in society, churning out a thesis paper that will have insights into how the current state is; have ideas on how communal projects can help give citizens a feeling of being recognized as people (when the state (i.e. the state’s elected politicians) talk about the citizens (or, more precisely: certain groups of citizens) in a less-than-ideal way (read: downright hateful)).
Also: this thesis period is supposed to teach me how to reach out to people and organizations, so I will one day be able to get a job. Yeah… “dream big.”
So far I’m in the business of waiting for the moment to strike; that spur of imagination, the muse that comes at night and waters my thoughts so they’ll grow to beautiful flowers in the morning, ready for me to pluck and put on paper.
I have of course known for years now that that doesn’t happen. But one is a romantic. And a fool.
Late disclaimer: this post is of course merely meant for myself as a way to try to sort my thoughts, empty my head as they say. If you’re not interested in following my path to self-destruction, you are welcome to jump ship anytime you’d like.
The winter season is strong these days. I hear New York has been rendered dysfunctional in its masses of snow. Not quite as bad in Denmark. Just cold. Cold, cold, cold. The kind of cold that makes your forehead look bad. My skin dries out so quickly in the winter. Add to that the fact that I’m yet to fully accept that my skin is not so all-enduring as it was when I was seven years old. I ought to give my face a deep cleanse at least four to five days a week. I ought to apply ointment to see me through the winter without my skin cracking up like sand in a drought. Heck, I even have ointment. I’ve purchased it. I possess ointment. I just elect not to use it. Or, not elect. It’s not a super conscious choice (though, really, have many of my actions are super conscious?).
Routines. I think I might be afraid of committing myself to such super self-care because I’d need to make it a routine, and that means that I’d have to start a routine. And we’ve already scratched the surface on that whole starting-thing.
Is it a fear of changes? Honestly, at this point, I don’t know. I’m looking for my identity left and right, top and bottom. I’m soul-searching, but pretty sure I sold my soul a long time ago. Last I heard, it was in Tangier, wondering how even Africa managed to be cold in January.
I like it when things start for me. When someone else starts a project and I can tag along. That’s probably part of the reason why I’m realizing that being a book editor is my likeliest occupation. As a book editor I get to tag along and help finish a project that someone else has started. I get to be part of the creative process, I get to feel that the final product is, in a way, mine. All that plus it removes the element of starting.
Oh, you’d say, but you’d still have to start your work! Yes, but for me it’s much easier to start working on something that needs comments and improvements than to start working on a blank page, a clean slate. It’s infinitely much easier for me to finish something that is half-done, than get half-done with something that has yet to come into existence.
Back to the thesis: now, if I could only get someone to do all the networking stuff for my thesis project, and write like… the first 20 pages? That’d be neat. I have no problem churning out the rest from there. I just need a start, a little jump, a kick.
Being the owner of this blog, and having just read through some old posts, it is of course not lost on me, that I have used this place as a starting engine for projects and papers. Getting my thoughts fixed, removing all the dirt that occupies my mind on a daily basis. Deleting the last twenty-million youtube videos currently playing in my memory (that’s an exaggeration, of course. I’m much more of a vimeo kinda guy). It dawned on me today that I spend ridiculous amounts of time reading small news items that have nothing to do with my own life. Watching videos that I know beforehand will not benefit me in any way. Looking through apps that won’t ever bring me any life-altering information, which I otherwise seem to expect from them, considering the amount of time I use on them. I’m not saying I’m going to go offline, but I will have to cut down dramatically. For my own good. I need to learn to only use apps when I’m using them. Not to just look through them for some instant kick, some responsible-free information.
Axel Honneth is my main man for my thesis project. The one on recognition. I can’t wait to get deeper into his theories. To understand it all better. To feel like I apply myself.
Through the days my head is not filled with philosophy. And that’s both reassuring and scary to me. Reassuring because it means I’m not crazy. I have not developed into some guy who can only talk about the things he works with. But scary because it also means that I’m not doing enough yet. Or maybe I’m not sufficiently interested these days. My mind is constantly thinking of all the other things I’m reading.
It has been such a great winter of new books for me. Started in December with Michael Chabon’s newest novel, Moonglow. As always with Chabon, he has become my hero during the reading of his book. His style is one of my favorite things in the world. He gets the pages flowing for me, like I don’t even have to turn them myself. The words just fall so naturally, one after the other, and yet surprising, yet so extremely funny in the middle of the intense, dramatic story he’s telling. Chabon gives me such a good laugh, while stealing my tears and filling my mind with bubbling thoughts on anything from human kindness to astrophysics to the size of cats.
I vividly remember the day I bought my first Chabon book. I was in my local bookstore, looking through the section of contemporary English-language fiction, letting my eyes follow the spines of books I’d already read, and books I was yet to read. My eyes always linger at On The Road whenever I’m in a bookstore. I always take it out, check the price and put it back in again. It’s a routine ever since I gave away my own well-read copy (after I bought the Original Scroll version of it for my own shelf), and realized that I should probably get a new copy, though only if the price is right, which it is yet to be. As I glanced over the books, my eyes stopped on a fat, yellow spine. I could do nothing but reach for it and pull it out. I had half-noticed a woman, looking very teacher-ish, standing to my right, and before I even got to take a proper look at the book, she said to me, have you read Michael Chabon before? He’s quite difficult, very demanding reading! She was no doubt doubting my age: a young boy looking even younger, I must have seemed nothing more than a kid to her, standing there at twenty years of age. I smiled at her, shook my head “no”. I had never read Chabon before. In fact, I had only heard his name mentioned once, on the radio, at a chance event coming upon a program discussing books whilst driving with my mom. In Denmark there’s not a whole lot of radio programs that discuss books, especially not while the sun is still up. But looking at that wide spine, recognizing that name from the radio, Chabon, I knew I had to have it. It was a funky color. I had a vinyl on the front. Telegraph Avenue would become my introduction to Michael Chabon, whether this lady beside me thought it appropriate or not. I looked down at the book, flipped it over a few times, mesmerized, then said without looking at her, I like difficulty.
To this day I still believe she was in the store to buy the book herself, and was trying to talk me out of buying the last copy right in front of her nose. But I could be wrong.
After Moonglow I needed something quick for the in-between-days in the week of Christmas-New Years. I had been gifted John Green’s new book Turtles All The Way Down at Christmas, and knowing Green’s books to be fast delights, I picked it up. It was nice, quick, philosophical (dangerously so, letting me feel like I was doing philosophy reading this book, pushing back my start on the thesis project), and funny as always. It did lack some of the charm of his earlier books, though. It’s a well-meaning book, and it deals with illness/quirkiness in a better way than his other books do. But there’s something lacking. Some… magic touch that isn’t really there. I find it hard to put into words what it is, and I find it equally difficult to develop a stable attitude to it. I’m not quite sure what I think of it. It’s good, but not great.
Lastly I’ve just spent the best part of a week reading The Long Way To a Small, Angry Planet. Color me amazed! Gosh, I loved every page of this space opera. Becky Chambers has really done something quite outstanding with this little, spacious adventure! I tried to will myself to only read it in the evening before going to bed, but in the end I had to spend most of my time with the book, either in my hands, reading, or in my thoughts as I took a walk, tried to read something else, made breakfast, anything. This book has put itself deep into my heart, and it’s only because I’m finally nearing a deadline for a thesis contract that I haven’t already started on the follow-up, A Closed and Common Orbit, currently sitting on my shelf like a good boy, waiting for me to tell it to come out to play! Not as dense as Chabon, and not the same smoothness of every line that Chabon shows, Chambers still managed to put a truly well-crafted story together. I was smitten by the universe (pun intended), and believing one hundred percent in the multi-species network, and I love how she makes humans the newcomer in the intra-galactic society. While being a tremendously funny story, she manages to make some philosophical and political remarks that are hidden enough to not color the book, but obvious enough that readers will catch on to it and put down the book at moments to think about current life on Earth compared to the life presented in The Long Way..
The last assignment I did (my last assignment ever, before turning loose this thesis beast) was an exploration of sci-fi (literature and movies) as forms of social critique. In my assignment I focused on Fahrenheit 451 and Blade Runner (Final Cut), analysing them separately and comparing the ways they provide social commentary. Sci-fi has been the main road for me the past few years. I still read a lot of other stuff as well, but to me sci-fi has something extremely special, and I think it’s this way of being able to comment on current society without really commenting on current society. In that regard it’s the most daring genre in my eyes. The great writers of it are able to take advantage of the opportunities that arise when you put your society into a new age or a new place, where you can develop settings that at first glance seem bewildering and far out, but gradually shows itself to be extremely close to our own society, opening our eyes for the problematic features of our own systems. That’s a reason why sci-fi is currently my favorite genre. That and space, of course. Space is the place.
…okay, so, I’ve gone beyond 2,000 words with this post. And I’ve successfully used up all my evening on it, rendering it impossible for me to start working on my thesis contract now. Promise to myself: I’ll get up early tomorrow to work on it there before having a meeting concerning it later in the day.
Luckily it’s still just early enough for me to steal a few moments listening to my newest obsession. The Blue Nile. Apparently an old Scottish band, who I’ve only just heard of. Been all kinds of lost in their music the last two days. That perfect vibe on the edge of the 80s and 90s where thoughts were meant to linger, words were allowed to be drawn out, the music was permitted to emit feelings while the singer takes a break. Very alike Talk Talk of that period, unafraid of letting the songs surpass the six-minute mark. Oh, this is my chance to come full circle with my very first post on this blog: Sigur Rós was probably the band that ruined me from a young age, getting me to expect bands to take time on songs, give me as a listener time to really feel the song, to fall in love with it. So few bands do this, at least few bands who at the same time make this wonderful kind of pop music that is truly at the heart of The Blue Nile and Talk Talk and The Cure and My Bloody Valentine and all those great bands, even to some degree Sigur Rós.
I had sort of run aground lately, finding it hard to find new music of this caliber when these guys suddenly pop up in a review for a remaster of their 1989 album Hats that, for all I can gather, must have been re-released around 2013. Such a weird thing, seeing a review for that now. But I’m nonetheless grateful to have found them. They’ve eased my transition from reading about space to try to write a down-to-earth thesis.
Working night and day
I try to get ahead
Working night and day
Don’t make no sense
Walk me into town
The ferry will be there
To carry us away into the air
(The Blue Nile: “Over the Hillside”) Okay, maybe this is too ethereal to really put me back down to earth. But I’m not complaining. After all, I’m at my best when my feet are swept off the ground.