Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘Is anything really surreal anymore?’: April and May notes

Dandelion closed, robin’s egg open. 4 May.

φ  Nature — outdoors — as a sink for emotion, like an electrical ground is, the way the whole Earth is for extra electricity. [5 Apr. 2022]

φ  I like snippets of text (such as opening a book at what I first see, or overheard words, or words partially visible after a fold — as in Trout Fishing in America, page 41). I’d thought of the pocket pages idea — notes as a basic self-sufficient textual unit. But a “snippet” is more fundamental, less formal, less needing to justify itself. I was also thinking of a local-farmer’s diary from early 1890s, how it’s informal. How it’s just words about, well, nonfiction whatever. This loose-unit of text interests me as an incompletist. I wrote this morning in home journal that I like incomplete texts, informal texts, cut-off texts, understandable-mistake texts (semi-intentional weirdnesses, eccentricies). I don’t appreiciate only smooth, conventional texts. [5 Apr.]

φ  I don’t need to define myself as a writer of snippets, unfinished, unpolished texts, but sometimes thinking this frees me from feeling I should be more conventional. [5 April] (and 1st hour 4/6, I saw on my Exquisite Corpse display in the hallway outside my classroom: “Meanings are just a dictionary.”)

Jerry Seinfeld’s bounced check, from “The Little Jerry” episode, s8 ep11.

φ  “Exactly the same” is a common phrase — but what would “exactly different” mean? [12 Apr.]

φ  My ideas, impressions, words — these are inside (my mind) and not outside (in physical and social world/realm) until I write or say them. [13 April]

Closeup on two tulips, 8 May.

φ “Is anything really surreal anymore?” M, my wife, said, citing COVID, her mom’s aneurysm and death, the Russian war in Ukraine. M said this after ABC News anchor Cecilia Vega said there was a “surreal” scene in China of people being dragged out of their homes to create a COVID quarantine area, I guess. [15 April 2022]

φ  “What are you, high?” That line is sometimes used in comedies to mock a confused person, but it’s not funny when it’s true or could be true — then it’s just sobering. Being in the situation, one has to respect the others there and not condemn them from a distance, an outsider perspective. [20 Apr.]

φ  If hearing a certain song “takes you back,” then not hearing anything but the sounds around you “keeps you now”? [20 April]

Birch tree catkins, 7 May.

φ  What to publish to paper? What are the texts (of mine own) that I’d like to see again, refer to, as I look back at certain Richard Brautigan texts at times? Via radio I play while driving, I hear a small number of pop songs repetitively — and I get sick of that. I’d like to like to get a far wider set of songs — and once I’ve heard a song, put it away for months or more! [21,23 April]

φ  M said, “You’re constantly saying things that are like: ‘O.K.,'” as in, that would be her response to my comments during tonight’s “Wheel of Fortune.” I was trying to think up silent examples for each letter the contestants called out: “D” as in “Djibouti,” “T” as in “tsar,” etc. [23 April]

φ  My making a narrative yesterday in email to school deans after I sent student out of class. As I was still leading the class, living life, I had to stop to write brief narrative of what had happened. [26-27 April]

Daffodil/jonquil/narcissus (I’m not sure which), 24 April.

φ  It’s nice for there to be beauty in the world — a private experience of beauty. [5 May 2022]

φ  I’ve gotten better at just not sticking to a topic, but following whims. Say, maybe I describe something and a strange (unexpected, atypical) image comes to mind and I simply follow it rather than dismissing it — and I don’t fret it. I’m pretty sure this is how other really-creative people write their weird, striking images — or one authentic way (w/o trying too hard to be self-consciously weird). [6 May 2022]

Goldfinches camouflaged by dandelions. 8 May.

φ  It’s weirdly fascinating when I complete artworks and the world doesn’t react. I mean, I have an experience of having made something cool — others wouldn’t care much (even if I published) — I’m bemused by the disconnect. [5,6 May 2022]

φ  My lawn keeps trying to make vetch happen. [6 May]

Collage of grass and dandelion parts. 4 May.

φ  There’s a metaphor there: cardinals fighting with their own images in my neighbor’s windows. [11 May]

φ  The culture I might try to describe is only in my head! My body’s in this car, on this road. [11 May]

φ  Any individual’s experience (as a text) should matter more than any general-history text (and there can be wrong info in each). [16 May]

Snow on hyacinths, 18 April 2022.

φ  My journals as my mental realm — as if my readers are not seeing the world through my eyes but a world I’ve (consciously and/or unconsciously) shaped. (The social realm is a negotiable realm?) My texts’ readers get only my text — not my eyesight (a world to compare my words to). (I shape my world unconsciously because of my moods, background beliefs, etc.) I don’t need to dramatize my experiences, make them seem more significant or more surreal — but if a weird (uncommon) association comes to mind, why not write it? (I wrote some of this section above on the way to school today. If I had a clear idea, I’d probably already have used fewer words.) [17 May]

Ominous morning clouds, 13 May 2022.

φ  My windshield wipers are off. I had them on minutes ago and don’t recall turning them off. There can’t be history (I can’t record it) when even I don’t recall my own actions. [18 May]

φ  “He ‘Green Acre’-d me,” M said of my taking her from city to live in rural area. [18 May]

φ  Every generalization statement I make about something in the world beyond my mind says more about me and my mind than it does about the world (including this morning’s journals about society and politics). Also: I got annoyed at a driver in front of me using a turn signal only at the last second. I judged that driver by my expectations (yes, which included the law, but still). Then I thought that having these expectations of what people should do is risking self-righteousness, an old-people’s affliction I want to avoid. So don’t judge, just learn — don’t fret who’s following rules. Learn how others drive and protect yourself, be a better driver. [18 May]

Folded violet, with open blooms behind. 8 May.

φ  Even books sell an image — book covers — as much as advertisements and TV shows and movies also sell an image. But if I’m not selling my books, then I need no cover, no image. I could put any of my texts in a plain cover! [22 May]

φ  If people are basically not rational, but emotional, how should I treat them? One idea: Politely, of course. [23 May]

φ  What would a Zen-like approach to history look like? I’m thinking of Zen as freedom from story (nonattachment to views) and history as story. [23 May]

φ  Ancient lawn values? For whatever reasons, my neighbors value tidy lawns. Their aesthetic reasons go back in tradition, probably, even to royal gardens, maybe. [24,26 May 2022]

Some prairie plant at my stepdad’s prairie plot. 23 May.

Freeing myself from having to know: March notes

Corn crib that had been more vertical just a few days before this picture was taken on 10 March 2022.

View east along Holcomb Road of flipped corn crib, 10 March.

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My mind as I paid bills this morning — why was it accurate (even when my brain’s tired and stressed)? I make mistakes sometimes, sure, but the general accuracy is impressive and mysterious. [1 March 2022]

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The (or “a”) story of one’s own life (or of any nonfiction…?) can be told in any way! … I could tell my life-story in many different ways. I could just tell random moments, say (I could pick out only “key” life moments or events, but who’s to say what moments are most important?). My judgments of what matters are not unimportant, but they’re also not necessary. Over lunch, I read at LitHub a piece about Marcel Duchamp where it says he moved to Munich: “He spoke no German, and all he said about his stay was that ‘Munich had a lot of style in those days. I never met a soul and had a great time.’” And I was struck by how easily one can joke around and seem glib and dismissive by summarizing a whole period of time, ignoring the particulars of one’s experiences. I’m not interested in being glib. I’m not seeking cleverness. I want not to write every moment of my living down, but when I do write, I want to be honest (though still there is some shaping to stories, to what I say, almost unconsciously). And I wrote during 4-5 period journals today that my journal writings are mostly written in real time. And the “10 Best Structured Movies” video I showed twice recently suggests that chronological stories are causal stories — and I don’t need causes! (No need to make causes prominent — just show random moments! It’s the implication that “this moment is meaningful because I included it here” that makes things seem too precious.) [2 March 2022]

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Lovers become family. Not all lovers, of course, but I’m pointing out that a new couple, a first-years couple, has the love and the lust, but once we’ve been married for several years, M is more my family than just a lover. It’s a relationship more about relying on a person rather than merely fancying that person. [2-3 March]

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Random is not equal to arbitrary. It’s arbitrary (motivated by feelings, customs, conventions, etc.) for me to choose moments of my experience to share as a life story. Randomly chosen moments aren’t deliberately chosen — but are legitimately not human-influenced. [4 March]

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Freeing myself from having to know, to be right, or be wise or be entertaining! Feeling freed by this idea of using continuous writings, not needing to make points. … Blue sky, bare tree limb — I saw these things on north side of Holcomb Road as I realized I felt free. [4 March]

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Sitting outside Byron library for just a few minutes this morning, I thought how little human interpretations matter to nature (to the physical world). [5 March, 9 a.m.-ish]

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If you live long enough, you’ll see some sh*t. Being alive overwhelms some (and it overwhelms me — my situation does at times). [11 March]

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A decades-long career is made of moments — like the body of my writings is made of daily writing moments. … The remembered moments are too many of think of as a sum. [14-15 March]

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Writing from within my life about my life (as I understand it) — novelists make idyllic (simple) worlds and they seem to do it from outside of their own lives. [17 March 2022]

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I have ideas and publish them. I’m not sure what I or others are supposed to do (if anything) with them. [17 March]

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Could I write without making “of course” (obvious) statements? Of course, “obvious” statements might not always be obvious to every reader. [18 March]

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Rain patterns on cooling towers, Byron nuclear reactor, view from northeast on 18 March 2022

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Of course there’s no meaning in seeing things I drive past. Meaning comes from my mind. [29 March]

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Readers may not always want to face my writings — they aren’t escapist, aren’t easy. My writings (I’m thinking here of my blog posts of random journal bits) are open, are loose, are not hard-edged, are not bounded clearly. They’re clouds. [29 March]

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Feelings are sharp at first feeling them, even if later you can get distance, so don’t poo-poo the feelings. And when I feel well, I can relax. Feeling bad, I feel an urge to ease the bad feelings, so it seems harder to relax when I’m already depressed. (I feel better now than I did 20 minutes ago). [30 March]

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Male and female cardinals in my backyard, 27 March 2022.

Cardinals kissing blurrily. 27 March.

Witnessing the male-cardinal gaze. 27 March 2022.

This, too, can be sacred: Feb. 2022 notes

There’s something deeply satisfying in my letting go of thinking that I’m publishing writing for others (where I get disappointed if there’s not a big reaction), and, instead, I am starting to appreciate my blog as a reader, too (especially the older stuff I’d kinda forgotten making).  People who write for others (at websites, say) are paid to (in part) follow, work within, those familiar forms — so as to please, ease readers. But I’m doing my own style and I appreciate reading my writings and I am satisfied by writing these — the whole project is valuable to me! This is the overlap I mentioned! (in note dated 31 Jan. in previous notes post). [1 Feb. 2022]

The outdoors seldom demands much of me. There’s rain, cold, sure, and my body’s hunger, sure — but mostly it’s relaxing to go outside. [1 Feb.]

How fun my mind is (usually!). I like most (not all, but most) of my thoughts, observations, jokes. I just don’t need to tell others — that’s about my ego. I can just watch my own mind for, well, entertainment! (a deeper kind of watching?) I’ve had a thought like this one before — but I don’t think I was as pleased by this thought then as I am today. I’m not feeling needy (now!). I’m self-satisfied and self-sufficient!

[later the same morning] I’m not always an agent, one who acts, but I’m an experiencer — watching as a big part of being alive. Keep experiencing. [1 Feb.]

I make writings that interest me, for various reasons : recording, amusing, palate-cleansing, etc. [1 Feb.]

My Exquisite Corpse statements are not palate-cleansers but mind-treats! I have said for weeks, months, that I like those surprising statements for clearing my mind, my usual thinking patterns. Today, though, they seem like a treat to my mind, an entertainment! [1&2 Feb.]

We take in others’ ideas to forget ourselves. But what if it’s my own work from before — it’s new and not-new to me? [1 Feb.]

Intersection of Chana Road and Brick Road, Pine Rock Township, Ogle Co., Illinois, 13 Feb. 2022.

I’m not always able to watch/observe my mind’s voice, right? Say, if I’m feeling strongly or if I’m interacting with others (yes/no?)? And it’s not really me watching a tree, say, it’s me watching me watch tree? (Sounds Sartrean, with his self-awareness component to each bit of consciousness — I’m not saying he’s wrong — I’m also not saying I agree). The point of being alive is to watch my mind (?). [1 Feb.]

But why should others entertain me? (They do it — or offer to — for money.) “Entertain yourself,” adults tell bored kids. [1 Feb.]

RE: Watching my mind: Of course I’ve learned from others — allusions as memories of that. But also, repetitions (as songs on FM radio) and dumb messages (as from ads) — I’m tired of seeing common ideas (the limited range of ideas one usually hears) in common forms. [2 Feb.]

Driving, showering, dog-walking: These are partially engaging actions. My mind is not deeply engaged when doing these things. [2 Feb.]

I noticed yesterday that my Byfest posts contained moments (or descriptions of moments) of things I found silly, weird, and also, dumb. I used to think I was cynical (and I don’t want to always be looking for dumb things everywhere). But maybe there’s more to this: I expect things to be smarter or more aesthetically interesting than they often are? Maybe? But it’s not just disappointment that I note. I also note absurdities, like frog seeming to float over police department. I also seem to just write observations when I’m, say, writing at home or at a cafe. [2 Feb.]

I heard a DJ on an FM radio channel say, “There is such a thing as a time machine, and it’s not a DeLorean” — it’s repeats of Casey Kasem’s Top 40 countdown, DJ said. But then my journals are time-machines, too — they’re written at a point in time, showing the image of my mind at the time of the writing. [2 Feb.]

Looking north from Brick Road. 13 Feb. 2022.

I looked at leaves shaking in snow and thought how essays (like that E.B. White one about cabin) are artworks, are not trying to represent reality, are polished as artworks. There wouldn’t need to be a polished moment in lived experience — as if there were any polished moments in lived experience!

“My groin felt the chill of death” from “Once More to the Lake” essay — that’s the line that surprised me when I read it. Now, after seeing comments online about how essay compares E.B. White’s childhood to his son’s, I see the tidiness of conclusion — it’s tidy and not real, by which I don’t mean that E.B. White didn’t feel it. But in the essay, it’s too damned tidy, as if he wrote essay in his mind during this trip to the lake — which would be distracted, inauthentic, living. [3 Feb., 11:09 a.m., 5th hour]

Essays aren’t where writers work out their ideas — freewrites might be. I feel shock and joy at realizing a deeper truth — and the insufficiency, or, the false artifice, of a common definition or belief. Artifice in essays is false, but it’s also overly familiar (to me). I go artless (in my journals) to find new ideas. [4 Feb.]

Cat got so close to my face as I lay on couch last night that he looked like he had one eye — cyclops cat! [9 Feb.]

There’s the event (the Super Bowl, say), and the publication of stories and opinion articles about the event (a column about the Super Bowl) is another event. [14 Feb.]

I don’t write much about my time spent sleeping. [14 Feb.]

Sunset along Limerick Road, Ogle County, Illinois. 18 Feb. 2022

Photos don’t convey a consciousness (not like writing does). I look at the sun rising today — If I took a picture of it, viewers of that pic wouldn’t know that I feel different about it on different days. It annoys me today — I can’t appreciate it when I’m tired and stressed. [15 Feb. a.m.]

Traveling to see things is passive — I don’t have to go anywhere in order to have engaged, active experience. [18, 19 Feb.]

I’ve been seeing tree glints this morning as I drive east. Frozen water drips off tree, lots of mini-icicles. [23 Feb.]

This, too, can be sacred. It’s so easy to think that Midwest locations are on flat, farmable (useable) land so that no spot seems sacred. So it seems a bit of a revelation to realize, yes, that the Midwest too (not just the shore or the mountains or deserts) can have sacred spots. [28 Feb. 2022]

How boring to write things that did or could happen: January notes

¶ Driving today, I heard NPR’s ATC introduce someone by saying they had made a movie (or, according to ATC rundown, “his latest film“) — the sense I got was that making a film was a dull act, a commercial act — completing a marketable-length work. It made me all the more eager to make noncommercial-length works! And maybe, it made me want to not even finish artworks! [6 Jan. 2022]

¶ Do I write like I am? Probably not — I may see or say more problems when I write. I might be more gentle in person. Or maybe not. [7 Jan.]

Justice Cat in our Christmas tree, 1 Jan. 2022.

C. Lindy told me my yearbook, the first one I’d been responsible for as advisor, looked like a yearbook. He was unimpressed. But he was sick. I felt disappointed, but today, years later, I realized that he was telling me that when you’re sick, not much else matters. What good is philosophy when you’re losing your mind? Or when you have moods? (Even mild moods? Rational philosophy doesn’t help much when we’re animals (partly, of course, but also fundamentally, we’re animals, we’re bodies)). Nietzsche left Basel in 1876-1877, so 32-33 years old. In Jan. 1889, Nietzsche collapsed, got demented — age 44 (maybe had a brain cancer, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says). My point is, sure, do what you can while you live — and yet, all that philosophy did him no good once he lost his mind. So I think philosophy might not offer the full/holistic aspect (to our animal and mental natures)that, say, poetry does? Music? Something else that’s not fully rational?

¶ My writings and my favorite writings (by others?) as slippery spots, showing you things aren’t as solid as you might think. [13 Jan. 2022]

¶ Cobbler experiences the making of the shoes. I wrote in journal this morning the idea that cobbling (or any act of creation or doing) involves certain movements, acts, that the cobbler learned over time/practice and may not be aware of doing and so wouldn’t tell others he’s doing them. But the shoemaker has the experience of making the shoe (as cook has the experience of making food, as writers have of making texts). The wearer/eater/reader (customer) has the experience of wearing, eating, and reading. A maker isn’t just making for others — one is having the experience of making. [14 Jan.]

¶ The social aspect of author-voice in texts to others — the urge/motive to convince others and/or defend oneself. Any writing meant for others is caught up in one’s ego with respect to others. Writing for self (in journals, for example) is a way out of that social situation. [14 Jan.]

¶ How boring to write things that did or could happen, experiences I did or could have, when instead writings (like Exquisite Corpse lines, like journal fragments) can instead (and more interestingly) disrupt normal thoughts — not soothe or represent experience but operate at a level to confuse or confront the mind with something new, something that forces a mind out of the familiar ruts of known patterns. This ideas is at least partly inspired by the Hollander essay from yesterday and it connects what I’ve loved about Ex. Corpses with creation of poems and other texts — and does this connect, is this the reading analogue to the freewriting experience of being interrupted by new ideas? And interruption may be the fundamental experience (default setting) of consciousness more than holding a thought is? [14 Jan.]

¶ Publish only what’s weird (in whatever way)! This can be a guideline for me — that I don’t need to publish things that don’t surprise in some way (and, yes, my random journals may still surprise — I’m not sure — even slow-seeming journal bits are OK). But, yeah, Exquisite Corpse-level weirdness as a guideline, a goal? Eh, just publish whatever you want to — I like Thoreau’s journals, as simple as they are. [20 Jan.]

Sunrise on ice-encrusted snow. 9 Jan. 2022.

¶ The things that happen in a life, these surprises — just writing about these makes for interesting narrative? [22 Jan.]

¶ Seeking overlap of who you’re making art for and who’s reading it (me and me, in my recent writings). [31 Jan. 2022]

This place has become more normal for me

Show went very well. I’m becoming more accustomed to speaking on the radio and not sounding dumb or nervous.

[Roommate] was an asshole today — talked on the phone at 10 this morning, while I was trying to sleep. I was mad, but I didn’t say anything — why start an argument now? And I didn’t feel like spending all the energy arguing takes.  

Read some more of Life 101 — what a great book. It’s like the authors took their ideas about life and put them in a book. 

Called mom around 2. Told her that I’ve been thinking about who I am and who I want to be.  

I feel pretty happy lately. I’ve been troubled, of course, but overall I’ve felt contented. My sense of humor seems to be back, and I’ve had an easy time talking to people lately. This place has become more normal for me.

Also, I’ve been thinking about who I am and what interests me, who I want to associate with, etc. I think I’m a fairly intellectual, mature person. Not that I want to script myself into being just intellectual (and therefore stuffy), but I do like to read, like to learn, and like to discuss issues. I also like spending time with other similarly intellectual people, rather than uninformed hillbillies like [roommate], for example.  

I also don’t drink. I thought about it the other day — the pros and cons of drinking. I came up with 8 cons, 2 weak pros. I know I don’t want to drink, so why even try it? I know it’s detrimental to my health, studies, extra currics, mind, etc., so why do it?

That’s why I don’t, and I don’t associate with people who do. There is still a little part of me that keeps telling me that alcohol isn’t that bad, go ahead and try it, but my intellect and reason always intervenes.  Not to say that I’ll never drink, but I don’t feel a real need to drink any time soon.

Both of these reasons say to me that I’m different from the crowd, I’m an individual. Not that we all aren’t, but my intellect and beliefs seem much different from other peoples’.

I never really thought about it before, but I guess I really am different.

I also told mom about how the Todd guy from tennis thought I was much older than I am. That’s funny — other people see you so differently than you see your self.

Worked on this journal. Read some SS318. Went over to house after dinner to watch Superbowl. I told Chad I didn’t think I was going to call Kasey for a while, and he thought that was a good idea. [Chad’s girlfriend] Trish thinks Kasey is just leading me on. Oh, well. I’ll just play it cool and see what happens.

[Journal of Sun., 31 January 1993]

A liminal space: December 2021 notes

¶ A story is a pre-chewed idea. Do your own chewing! (1 Dec. 2021)

Sunset with traffic control. (3 Dec.)

¶ 4:40 p.m., Paynes Point: Seeing sunset colors change reminds me of paint colors changing when I mix them. They got purpley, the sky and my paints. (3 Dec.)

¶ There won’t be answers (not likely) in my pocket pages [these note-taking writings]. Why would there be? Answers to my big questions in life come from me at the time, in the moment(s). So how to describe what’s there in the pocket pages: just ideas, descriptions, that came while I lived. It’s particulars. (6 Dec.)

Some foodstuffs are pluralizeable and some are not. (8 Dec. 2021)

¶ The fir branch in my car versus the story about having the branch. The story is more interesting than the stick? Any artifact is glorified by the story about it? (8 Dec.)

¶ A bias in consciousness — a consciousness seeks simplicity and forgets particulars and the broad view? And it’s easy for a consciousness, for a mind, to be confident in its choices though its info be limited. (This is a good thing to remind myself so I stay humble!) (8 Dec.)

Out of context, my handwriting on classroom’s whiteboard. (21 Dec.)

¶ My aesthetic is both minimalist and maximalist at different times? Pictures of snow, simple shapes — but also pics of weeds, dense images — in my drawings, and in my writings, too? (8 Dec.)

¶ That my flesh is animate today, that itself is special, even if it’s easy to take for granted. (well, yeah, I take my existence for granted — else I wouldn’t be thinking!) (10 Dec. 2021)

Justice Cat says “nope” sometimes when he sleeps. (21 Dec.)

¶ A liminal space between experience and conventional expressions of that experience (conventional forms and ideas). I’m interested in this liminal place. I’m interested in writing things that explore this place, that aren’t securely in the convention. (10 Dec.)

¶ A student wrote in his journal that it’s neat to see ideas in his head show up on paper. I commented that I still feel that writing process is a little bit magical, too. (10 Dec.)

A surprise alien head in a local boutique. (23 Dec.)

¶ A thought today: that novelists of the 20th Century were famous because being famous helped them sell their books. Fame was instrumental in that way — maybe fame was not the purpose nor byproduct of publishing, but a sales tool! (13 Dec.)

¶ Meta-writing isn’t about any topic — it’s about the act of writing, about being alive, being conscious (sorta — it’s not about anything because I shift topics so often). Meta-writing is what comes to my mind, not what I think would interest other minds. (17 Dec.)

Sam dog curled up on our dec. (We would have let him in whenever he wanted it!) 30 Dec.

¶ The landscape is calm, there are decorations for Xmas. But I have work to do. I remind myself that my consciousness is separate from my environment. (20 Dec.)

¶ I realized that I was imagining the driver of the truck tailgating me — when of course I don’t know at all who he is!! (21 Dec.)

¶ There’s a lottery to give away money — but not one that gives power. (Say, like a lottery to allow a random person to be a governor, or a CEO.) Rich people are still docile? (27 Dec.)

This rose to my consciousness: Notes from October & November

§ Maybe it’s hard to talk about the present moment and about existence because, well, language was mostly needed for talking about distant (in time and/or space) things, not things we (the speakers of language) could see around us or things all speakers and listeners had (for example, existence). [6 October 2021]

Backlit, green-tipped maple leaf. 13 Nov.

§ Art: How will this mind, my mind, transform the data, the image — the fall colors of foliage along train tracks, say? [6 Oct.]

§ Questioning my own life-story. [6 Oct.]

Ogle County rainbow ends on grain elevator. 8 Oct.

§ I’ve seen only 45 rainbows in my life? I think I see about one a year — how few that is. [8 Oct.]

§ I am living a writer’s life! I’m piling up the texts, scrambling to work. Kinda funny that I have an image of “a writer’s life” — it’s not necessary to have such an image. But it made me happy to think that I’m OK, on track, even. [13 Oct.]

Sammy Dog, getting chest scratches. 2 Nov.

§ “Like I’m the assh*le?” I said after someone pulled out in front of me and I got really close to this car. Well, yeah, I was being an as*hole by tailgating. [13 Oct.]

§ Blogging last night, from 6 Feb. 1997, I was reminded that there have always been times (since I’ve been an adult) that I’ve felt I’m trudging through my workdays. Would I, once retired, feel that way? [15 Oct.]

§ A literature of particulars — not general statements about beauty or loyalty, no talk about paradise (as I saw on a poem book’s spine). [19 Oct.]

§ My writings show process of having new ideas — still, it’s easy to not notice the moment a new idea comes to mind (or to text). [19 Oct.]

There’s a fine line between evidence and B.S. 9 Nov.

§ I want to show process. I want to show not story or theory, but living, in my writings (probably not the first time I’ve said this). Daily drama, daily deadlines matter — they’re part of the texture of being alive. To be alive is to try to understand, to wrestle with ideas, as I do in my journal. The struggles and weirdnesses of daily living — these are glorious! Let’s revel in them! It’s not like living is dull outside of big events (the ones that usually make the stuff of fiction & nonfiction). Real people are weirder than characters! [20 Oct.]

§ So I talked for 10-plus minutes in Creative Writing 1 last hour in an attempt to describe why I think journal-writings are interesting. I’m not sure I did much more than stun the students with a lot of words — ah, well. Maybe it’s too far from their experience, or maybe it’ll make sense to them later. I start to feel ashamed that I struggled to communicate — but that’s OK, too. I shared my thinking. [20 Oct.]

A leaf and its rubbings. 31 Oct.

§ On my commute to school, I heard a weird sound. Got out, got a stick out from under the car. But this rose to my consciousness. I slowed for STOP sign on Church Road at Rte. 64. I don’t know when the sound started, only when I noticed it, when it rose to my consciousness. That’s comforting, to realize I’m not really in charge. It’s reassuring to think: duh, of course I don’t know all that’s going on, but I only know what comes to my awareness! I can’t be in control of everything, especially if I’m not aware, if I’m only becoming aware of what my brain selects for my consciousness to notice! [25 Oct.]

§ I’ve thought of reading or being told a story (being an audience member) as a kind of leisure, entertainment. But maybe storytellers, performers, also need to focus, too, and that focus is a respite from reality the same way get getting absorbed in a story is also a respite from reality (mental respite, escapist). [25, 31 Oct.]

§ 4th hour: It was nice to work 3rd hour (prep) while I heard rattly wind outside through open window. It was calming enough, sweet enough, to even make doing work OK. [29 Oct.]

A different kind of leaf-rubbing, in a city street. 13 Nov.

§ I wish more teachers would talk about beauty, joy, in ideas. Yes, I know beauty’s in eye of beholder. But beauty — or trying to make beautiful things — motivates us , gives reason and and urge to learn the skills teachers tend to dwell on. [1 Nov. 2021]

§ I could adopt a bemused attitude about most of the things that I see (and used to feel bitter about). I think the point of being bemused at what others do, rather than being annoyed by it, is that when I’m bemused, I’m not as critical of others, not expecting them to act in a certain narrow way to meet my expectations. It’s better to let people do as they will (whether I think it’s folly or not) than take narrow, critical view of them. [2 Nov.]

§ One of my students said he feels walking into my class is like walking into a college lecture. He said this to a peer in my classroom. And, yeah, he doesn’t know what college classes are like, but he does know high school classes. Anyway, he’s a bright-enough kid to appreciate what I do, and it’s a great compliment, I think. I said something to him about how I want to challenge my students to think. (The funny thing about his comment is that I wasn’t trying to teach English 2 like a college class — I thought I was being simple!) [11 Nov.]

§ In the world, there are some people capable of caring for themselves, and some not-capable. And as long as I’m in the world and capable, I may need to help the incapable people. [12 Nov.]

§ Bobbing along on a sea of thoughts — living through my days that way. [12 Nov.]

My school’s Commons area, facing east toward main office, about 3:45 p.m., Friday, 5 Nov.

§ Thinking about how much I value my writings, I started to look at news sites, as I often do, and then I wondered why should I look at others’ articles (often about newsy things I don’t really care about) when I could look at my own cool posts! What media could be cooler than my media, especially because of the forms: daily journals and blogged random moments from those journals? It’s worth reading my blog, whereas if I made distinct articles or essays, these wouldn’t be as cool for me to read. But it makes sense — I like me! I like my own jokes! I interest and amuse me! Screw “social media”! Me-media! I can’t really be jealous — whose experience would I want rather than my own?! I’m not going to only ever look at me-made media. But it’s a good option to keep in mind when other media disappoint.  [17 Nov.]

§ Confronting the creative moment — a pretty good adventure, even in a school. [17 Nov.]

§ A satisfying unity of my writing, publishing, and my philosophy: Belief in moments as primary. [18 Nov.]

§ Value idea about how comics and so many other writers veer away from depth toward shallow relatability. (This reminds me of a note from 31 Oct.: I read a thing that said not all art needs to be frictionless, easy for audiences to understand.). [19 Nov.]

Gophers, I believe, were undermining my carrot crop. 11 Nov.

§ Realized that I don’t spend much time describing driving for as much as I do it. [22 Nov., a.m. commute to work]

§ Did a freewrite today (starting from a first line) and I just (simply) wrote stuff that amused me. I really didn’t fret trying to write a story — I just heard a dialogue between two speakers and it was jokey and that’s OK! Why struggle to met some external standard of storyness or poemosity?! Just write what interests or amuses you, do that only, and only that! (at that time of freewriting creation). (I liked writing this phrase — “do that only, and only that” — but it’s silly in this context. It’s better to have an open mind than stick to any idea!) [22 Nov.]

Road view, White Rock Road, just east of Stillman Valley, in Ogle County, Illinois. 11 Nov.

§ There’s value in just writing down and photographing everyday things (and not just for album covers!). [29 Nov. 2021]

So, we left here 1 p.m.-ish Saturday

So, we left here 1 p.m.-ish Saturday and went to see cat [at M’s office], then went through McD drive-thru in Genoa [Illinois]. M was treating herself a bit. And what else? Oh, so got to Algonquin Commons [in M’s parents’ town of Algonquin] about 3. M met her dad at DSW while dog and I walked around parking lot and west on County Line Road to Boyer Road, past condos and back, and met M & her dad at car at 3:30 (I think my time line’s right here) and then we stopped and I bought $100+ at Trader Joe’s and then to Crystal Lake and I walked Sammy around that strip mall — past Bed Bath & Beyond, etc. At Algonquin Commons, Sam pooped near a retention (detention?) pond and when he walked by the first auto-slide-open door, he got startled, but less so after that first one — and he wanted to go into these opened doors.

Got to E___’s just after 4:30 for pepper-dip and to open a few gifts between M____ & E____’s family and ours — and to drink some of the old grape-peach juice M’s mom had given to Elena how long ago, Elena didn’t know. Then about 6, to [M’s parents’] casa, next to Russians next door having barbeque. And Sam and I walked past several other dogs being walked — two had red flashing lights on collars. About 9, K___ and her fiancé A____ show up. He’s 2 years older than us, and he went to U of I. He’s a programmer at B_________ [company] and he’s been working on his stand-up since January. He’s done 12 performances.

Maybe, it just now strikes me, my generation will take a while to get going. Some like Steph Meyers (aged 38, she recently aged to that number) will become notable early — others, later. I mean, we’re not having kids that young.

Blerg — there’s danger of generational generalizations ahead. M said K___ said she and A___ are trying to have kids. The live in Lower East Side, near Chinatown, in Manhattan. They live above a Chinese restaurant, a real restaurant for Chinese, where the menu’s not in English. And we chatted 9 ’til after 11, dropped M’s dad at mall to get truck, home 1 a.m.

The Loot report: perhaps fewer things than other years, but same value? One: a little decorative tree with nine crisp 50-dollar bills attached to it. A 10th had fallen off upstairs (there was talk among M’s family that Matt would be angry. Matt was more astounded and Matt was tired but mostly Matt kept that to himself). We had Chinese food delivered about 7 and Mrs. wanted to transfer the food out of trays into bowls.

[From journal of Sun., 25 December 2011, Journal 150, page 76-78]

Funny, how, now that I’m teaching, I’m supposed to have ideas about what’s best for my students

Funny, how, now that I’m teaching, I’m supposed to have ideas about what’s best for my students to learn, what it is they need, etc. They also have ideas about what they need. It’s possible none of us is exactly right. Likely their ideas are very far from mine — they don’t know what the world (college) holds. I at least have an idea, and a fairy recent experience at college, and yet …

Truly education is so broad. In Rockford Register-Star today, columnist Dale Dauten says, “People who go to college tend to have ambition and a tolerance for bureaucracy, and to come from backgrounds where they are born into opportunities and connections.” That’s key — part of college is in just getting used to/learning to operate in a bureaucracy. Fits in my recent theory (inspired by [my friend] Doug) how much current society looks like feudal society — corporations are the lords, individuals pledge loyalty and service to the corporation, etc. — and the university is where people learn to live within that structure: gaining the ability to be obedient and to please others and to learn the code of behavior — formal dress, interview skills, writing a resume, etc.

Yet of course education can happen anywhere — and as the book “E=Me2” (I started Friday & finished Saturday) points out, most revolutionary (as opposed to evolutionary), new-paradigm ideas come from people who somehow have an outsider, alienated influence on their perceptions. That is, they simply think about things differently than those people who are cultivated from within the system. Example: how Faraday’s religious perspective helped him imagine magnetic fields — not that he was right, but that this different perspective allowed for unique ideas.

Graded papers for 3 hours this afternoon; didn’t even get caught up with last week’s papers. The grading seems overwhelming, monolithic — maybe should be grading tonight but trying to get to bed early so that I can start the week refreshed —

Something I had no idea about before I started teaching (except for R__ I__’s comment last spring that I won’t have any time to do unique lessons but once a quarter or so): how much what happens in classes is not driven by what’s best for the students but it’s driven by what’s feasible: what is practical with 28 students, what can the overworked teacher handle, etc. I’m starting to see why teachers use multiple-choice tests — not because they are the best assessment tool but simply because they are practical — they’re easier to grade than essay tests, which might be more revealing, and certainly simpler to prepare and to evaluate than are projects/performance assessments. No one should be under the illusion that tests reflect real learning, or even that grades do. Here I am now, a teacher, giving grades, and yet I know these reflect primarily amount of work and innate talent, and only secondarily reflecting actual amount learned, ideas changed, etc. I admit that. Yet that’s the system I’m in — can’t change everything in a day.

[From journal of Sunday, 21 Oct. 2001, Journal 33, pages 80–82]

Something almost alchemical there is: September notes

Double-crowned carrot grown in my garden. Smiling Sam dog behind. He was probably waiting for me to give him the carrot to crunch. 9 Sept.

‡  Paul McCartney & Wings songs — Wings songs feel good — it’s a cozy sound, or image, or both (sound-image?). Wings songs don’t feel deep, usually, but there’s something soothing, comforting there (“Uncle Albert,” I’m hearing now, the beginning slow part). And maybe part of what I mean is that I could dwell within Wings (or any other artists whose mood I like) songs rather than listing to news — or other artists I don’t like. … My random journal bits posted to blog have a cool mood, too — not quite the same feeling as Wings (I’m listening to “Let ‘Em In” now) but there’s something I like about the mood/feeling/mindset my pieces seem to have. My journals as bits of my mind packaged (in a good way), bits of experience. Perhaps my texts convey a mood that I don’t feel as I go through my days and that I don’t convey in person? [9 p.m.-ish] Something almost alchemical there is about how my words, my texts, seem not so special when I write them — but time lapsing (and seeing my words typed) makes them seem more interesting. Realizing at about 8:45 that I needed no more stories or songs or etc. tonight — so I’ll go to bed. [1 Sept. 2021]

‡  Fractional poems — 2/3rds of a poem — no cohesive whole! which is kinda saying it’s not a poem, if you believe cohesion is needed. [2 Sept. 2021]

‡  Humans can affect things — but only in the ways things can be affected. You can push a brick but you can’t make it cry. So a human pushing on a brick (or affecting the spin of an electron) isn’t so different from another thing in the environment doing that affect. [2 Sept.]

‡  “You know how that goes, ” I said to a teacher colleague, about how a class can fall behind — and, as a veteran teacher, she does know — so I don’t need to tell her. Say only new things! [33 August]

‡  Physical background is calming. Something about how the trees and sky are always there, no matter what’s going on with me, is calming — if I can let go of my stress ideas (like deadlines) for a bit. [2,5 Sept.]

‡  Most work is done for particulars. But media is made once for general audience. A dentist or doctor works on one patient at a time, construction guys work on one building, teachers work with a few students, cooks prepare this meal for particular people.

It’s media and showbiz people who aim not to amuse a particular few but a mass audience. (And makers of mass-market products are the same — but belts, cars, etc., these are practical, needed things, unlike media.) And maybe this is why media jobs are easy for newspaper companies (for example) to lay off.  [4,5 Sept.]

Lilacs blooming out of season. Ogle County. 4 Sept.

‡  Quick calculations as I washed my hands in bathroom and saw a couple light brownish spots on my face: how many days one is alive as one nears age 50. Just my commutes: 2/day times 180 days in a school year equals 360 commutes per year, for ten years equals 3,600, times 3 (for a teaching career of about 30 years) for 10,800 commuting trips in a career — and I can’t do more than 2/day. I can live only one day at a time (no parallel days, no getting 2 days of commutes done today).  [15 Sept.]

‡  I can’t argue with matter — such as the car pulling out ahead of me, slowing me down. Might as well accept it. (I wrote this, and then a couple minutes later, I drove around a car slowed down to turn right into a restaurant’s lot.) [15 Sept.]

‡  It is wonderful, when I stop and think about it, that I feel basically good and whole in my body and especially in my consciousness, in my mind, most days. I often feel good enough that I can forget about doing self-diagnostics (sorta) and actually go look for tasks to do or ideas to consider. I feel good enough at a foundational level to even want to (sometimes) experience problems — for the thrill, the excitement, the challenge — that’s (clearly) remarkable — that when I feel good (so good that I can forget about myself as a mind and as an organism and even as a being), I almost wish I’d feel worse! I can forget about my body and mind for a while (though eventually I’ll be reminded of body when I get hungry or have to pee) and think only (consciously, at least) about the topic or question on my mind. M, because of her illness, has less of this ability (or less of a chance) to forget herself. [16 Sept.]

‡  Maybe the irritations I feel in my 40s (and 30s, etc.) are a kind of practice for tolerating irritations when I’m older and can do less to change irritations. [17 Sept.]

‡  I find my mind in a foul mood today. I don’t think I get in foul moods like this over summer break. And, of course, I know this mood isn’t meaningful — I’d like to blame other things for this mood, I can’t — and I hope I’ll feel better in the next couple hours. [20 Sept. a.m.]

3:44 p.m. I didn’t know how to feel better — but now that I’m out of school, away from other people, I don’t have to feel better — I can sit with my ill-mood. How to describe it? Not wanting to do things, not wanting anything but to feel better … it’s weird to not feel joy in the things I usually feel joy. [20 Sept.]

‡  On earth, with trees and birds, no, I don’t matter. But, I have a mind, so I do matter! [21 Sept.]

Clouds in a seeming center-radial arrangement. Looking east, north of Rochelle, Ill. 22 Sept., about 7:45 a.m.

Close-up view of some of what looked like brushed-on clouds radiating from a central point. 22 Sept., looking east on Bethel Road, about 7:40 a.m.

‡  When I’m feeling depressed, my identity doesn’t seem to cheer me up — it seems too static, to obvious, too merely there, to be meaningful. [22 Sept.]

‡  Don’t sell — just give — my writings. There’s something a little desperate in Jack Kerouac writing and selling things just for the money. [23 Sept.]

‡  I feel today like I’d like to think about only what’s in front of me to do right now (and not think about later, even a couple hours from now. Existence is what’s now, even as I imagine earlier and later. I’d like to be a character in Father Brown, if those characters realized that they could appreciate things as they were/are. [23 Sept.]

‡  I just remembered that Charlie Lindy isn’t around — he’s not in the world — to go eat fish at Newman Hall. That memory can’t be existing now. [23 Sept.]

‡  Big Accomplishers — Chris Columbus, Jeff Bezos — all the petty stuff they do everyday that gets elided from their biographies — and from how they conceive of themselves, too, maybe? [23 Sept.]

‡  Once I’ve seen elderly incapacity, how can I not think of it coming for me (maybe)? My colleagues don’t seem to see this — though, no doubt, some do. Once you’re diminished (by accident or stroke or dementia), your world, your realm, physically and mentally, shrinks. And I can admit, I fear this some. [23 Sept.]

‡  Living with less media is one way of living a bit more like living in an image (in a good way). The things I hear in news make me less likely to have my attention on my surroundings, on my being alive. [24 Sept.]

‡  Think about the ever-present my material body lives in — versus my time-jumping mind. [24 Sept.]

‡  At some level, we are, or ought to be, aware that our bodies die when they will, without any meaning, without our lives having really meant any meaning. Bodies don’t mean. Only ideas mean. [24 Sept.]

‡  Recognizing that I’m a passenger in my body. I am my body, sorta, but my mind exists only as well as (or worse than) the body does. This is not to endorse dualism, but it’s weird that I often feel “I” am distinct from my body, that “I” applies only to my thoughts and feelings and awareness. [27 Sept.]

‡  My dog walk yesterday as entertainment — no money needed! Radio ads, local NPR fundraising — these are paying for the entertainment via radio. Pop songs are the kind of things that one has to pay for (or not, of course) — but why would I pay for pop songs? … I don’t mean this as self-righteous or preachy. I just hadn’t thought so explicitly before about how singers who make albums want to sell their sounds — that getting rich is part of the dream of fame — but it doesn’t need to be. … Maybe musicians do want the affirmation that wealth brings. But I pictured today as I drove … Prince (or, well, any other pop musician) in a studio, hoping to get people to buy their sounds. Of course, maybe artists in studio don’t think about how listeners will hear their music — but how could they not, really? They’re making music to sell! I’m just thinking more bluntly about people who make art to sell. And I’m feeling confidently free of that impulse. I’m glad I have ideas and texts to share — and I know a text doesn’t have to sell. … There’s a joyous freedom in my writing and blogging and it feels wonderful — wonderfully pointing out a system different from the one that exists now. … There’s a spiritual aspect to this — that I’m focused on, I’m seeking, well, what’s real and how to live!  [27 Sept.]

‡  Money’s magical — it can be turned into food, buildings — it’s abstract and it only works on people (not on dogs, say). The more money you have, the more you can cause to happen (though still there are things beyond your control). I feel like being less ambitious, letting go of control, being passive — like an object is. [28 Sept.]

‡  I’m in a different mind when I’m working? This might be why it’s hard to imagine and describe one mind (work mind, say) when I’m in leisure mind. [28 Sept., 3 Oct.]

‡  “Now — well, it was now, when I wrote ‘now’.” Not a quote, but a bit of imagined dialogue about how the current moment escapes word-labeling (sorta). [29 Sept.]

‡  My body is an — is the — object I gotta move over 24 miles of roads each day to get to work — over each foot, each inch, of 24 miles. [29 Sept.]

‡  I’ve never before had a brain (and/or mind?) with this much experience! [30 Sept. 2021]