Wisdom comes irregularly: Notes from February 2021

2021_02_13_mh (160)

Snow shape. 13 Feb. 2021

‡ Learning from others’ examples, being around them — they teach unconsciously and I learn unconsciously? [2 Feb. 2021]

‡ Politicians, journalists, marketers use simple, conventional language in order to communicate as widely as possible for a purpose. Complex language in poetry is play? [2 Feb. 2021]

‡ Nobody gets paid to learn (unless you then are expected to turn around and do it). Learning must be entertainment! [3 Feb. 2021]


Tree shadow. 23 Feb. 2021

‡ A poem is a mechanism for conveying thoughts a reader has never had before. It’s a text that rewards slow-reading! And most messages aren’t new, but images are — images without themes or messages attached (like my “Split my Thumb” poem) Of course, there’s the danger of narrowly defining poetry. [4 Feb.]

‡ I expect to see certain things published to Internet on certain days — regular features. I expect to be entertained, but I don’t otherwise expect too much. I don’t expect wisdom from these repeaters. Wisdom comes irregularly. [10 Feb.]

‡ It’s easy enough to talk about tragedies happening to people who are merely ideas to you. And it’s easy to imagine places, to talk about vast, distant places, using names (and how easy it is to overlook the places between). [10 Feb.]

‡ The radio annoys. I mean, sure, sometimes I like it or I wouldn’t have it on at all. But sometimes it’s so repetitive — it reminds me that it’s only a small realm of sounds and abstractions, portable enough to dominate any space. I’d rather see and be in a particular place, without common sounds. [11 Feb.]

‡ Remind (sorta) myself at the sink today at 6:30 a.m.: I’m the one who’s deadline-pressed. I usually do think of clocktimes on school mornings. And this clock-awareness is why I can’t get outside myself to relax in mornings. [11 Feb.]


Village Commons Bookstore in Dekalb, Illinois, closed this spring after 51 years in business near Northern Illinois University, according to the store’s Facebook page. Shown here 18 Feb. 2021.

‡ How weird the world — well, more or less anyplace I might sit and look — might seem if I didn’t remember (if I let go of thoughts of) how the world works, how particular things work: the explanations I keep and remind myself why things look the way they do and work the way they do (the necessities of paying rent, for example). … If I sat and looked (staying away from media) long enough, the world might seem newly, wonderfully weird. [15 Feb. 2021]

‡ This is in part a reaction to my thought last night that I don’t need to be making things — that it’s OK to sit and stare. But the capitalist ethos is about making things to sell. It implies that a person doesn’t matter until you’ve produced something (so this undervalues disabled people, sick people). And we often even talk about films and shows and books to watch and read as if we need to be doing that (consumption as a form of productivity). But, of course, I’m still conscious, and my consciousness doesn’t always need to be focused on some productive task! Maybe now that I’ve got 340-plus journals and decades of pocket pages written, maybe I am less interested in being productive. I’m more ready, as an older man, to be less productive — to discount the value of more things accomplished. And I don’t need to dwell on things I’ve already created. [17 Feb.]

‡ The value of my writings to others: Can my mental activity help others with their mental activity (their understanding of things)? [17 Feb.]


Brick Road, east of Payne’s Point, Ogle Co., Illinois. 4 Feb. 2021

‡ Photos of snow don’t quite satisfy as an experience because snow is cold. It’s felt. Images of snow seen without feeling cold kinda don’t work, aren’t accurate. [18 Feb.]

‡ Capitalism is social — what can you make or do for others, to get their money (produce!)? It doesn’t seem to care what an individual wants to do — in capitalism, things matter only if they matter to other people (see my previous comment about how being productive, rather than just being comfortable or observing or just being, is a capitalist value.) [18 Feb.]


Headed west, Lindenwood Road, rural Ogle Co., Illinois. 18 Feb. 2021

‡ I don’t want my written legacy to be a few generalizations but a few particulars. I could boil down some “life lessons” to pass on to future generations — but, no, I want my legacy to be texts written on particular day, at particular place, because focusing on life not as generalities but as particulars has been one of my best learnings. I thought this after thinking about [a former student’s] essay for grad school — she wants it to work, to get her admitted, so she doesn’t mind getting advice — she probably doesn’t mind incorporating others’ suggestions. Whereas in my own writings, I’d likely keep my own errors and quirks. I wouldn’t much want others’ help, especially not their particular word choices (general feedback would be OK if I sought to publish. And then I thought: what I would leave to the world [above]). [24 Feb. 2021]

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