Tag Archives: 2020

Instead of ‘now vs. then,’ different ‘nows’ — this now vs. that now

I grant that I have this new publishing approach that I like. That doesn’t mean I should judge others for not having this idea. But after I blogged last night, I thought of a way to explain, a simple way to explain, what I like about blogging just bits of my journal — and not introducing them as journal bits (which is a newer thing — not putting “journal” in the post title, but only at the very end, where I cite it kinda as a Works Cited source). Instead of thinking about moments as “now vs. then” (where “then” could refer to future or past, expected or prior (in the sequence) moments) — instead of that, think of “different nows” — this now vs. that now. Since we live (are alive) only now, we can’t live through — experience — a “then” moment, not directly.  “Then” is an abstraction, verging on story, that arbitrary construct. …

And this “different nows” is subtle but it’s the key, I think, behind why (as to why) I like my publishing of bits — a paragraph or so, each idea as roughly paragraph-length.

I like my publishing of bits from journals because each bit was written at/during a “now” — and so, different writings in any (all) journals pages are just the product of different nows.  … Royko writing his columns at different times, those are writings written for others within a historical (political, cultural, societal) context, written for the moment. And they don’t have much shelf life past the moment. They are merely historical documents. But because I’m not writing to an audience — I’m writing journals to a readership of one (of me) — well, then, it’s ever-present. I think something and then I write it. My ideas are fresh from my mind, and meant to be read only by my mind, at nearly the same time as I think them. I’m not thinking about when my audience will read my column — today, next week, tomorrow, whatever, So since I’m not in time, I’m timeless. I’m not writing to or for any moment but the very present moment, the now, and so somehow the texts seem alive to the reading moment of years later.

Of course, my journal texts are also historical documents. If you look at the date, the text is what I wrote on that date. By extension, it’s what I thought about on that date, and I couldn’t have known then what would happen next. So I do cite date and journal and page at the bottom of my text-selection.

I haven’t gotten feedback from M or Mom or Doug or readers making comments. I’m going on my own interpretation and adjudication. But also, I don’t seem to require others’ feedback. I’m not making a carving that’s smoothed for the public. What I’m making has some sharp edges, and that’s OK. You can touch my sculpture (as an image-metaphor for my blogs of journal bits), but carefully, mindfully, attentively.

And I wondered just now if I were feeling I had to defend myself and my project — nope. Sure, I am publishing these, making these publicly available, but I’m not promoting them. I’m not saying people should come read these. I’m not Disneyland, creating something thrilling (pandering to those who like speeds, scares, through roller coasters, which is most people) and safe (no real risk in riding a roller coaster) — or, there is real risk — ride could break — but the roller coaster marketers want to downplay that, make people feel safe.

I feel I could talk more about my blogs of journal bits — how I’m both putting particular flavor, concerns, specificity into an ostensibly dull, monolithic adulthood experience — and I’m capturing some kind of subtle-but-interesting ideas, interesting not in the history of human experience (or of human written-about experience) but interesting in a subtle way. Maybe my written-in-the-now blog posts also draw readers’ attention to their own present (in that my blog posts are subtly weird, that I’m not participating with new entries in familiar forms, like the one-panel meme is a form, like the op-ed column is a familiar form).

[From journal of Sat., 18 April 2020, Journal 321, page 157-160]

I see a bright but indirect-sun lawn to the north

I see a bright but indirect-sun lawn to the north. I was reminded of seeing something in this particular light from when I was a kid, maybe on a garage-sale venture with mom—looking at others’ lawns while bored, maybe in the car.

So, pictures, art, made randomly and randomly chosen to show others might not be efficient but it can be surprising. “Fu*k dramatic tension. I like to watch kids pick daises” was title of one of my blog posts last night. Random editing requires audience to be patient but it can show them things they wouldn’t otherwise see or notice.

So, I had this distinction to make between what Brautigan did and what I do—that I’m not trying too hard to give meaning-(or mood)-packets like R. Brautigan seemed to be doing in his poems. Some artists who work more fully from (or within) an imagined world than I do. They need to pick things to go in their frame. I’m thinking here especially of painters as compared to photographers, who see the world they find and select bits from that. A painter can be like Dali throwing sh!t together, or like a Renaissance painter, throwing symbols together.

The celebrity impressionists (like Chloe Fineman on SNL) pick out, or tend to pick out, a few things the person does—mannerisms, phrases—and Mathew McConaughey’s “alright, alright, alright,” he’s promoted that, or used that phrase himself. Maybe it’s better for an actor to have a catchphrase than to not have one, even if the actor gets a bit stereotyped, a bit boxed into the narrow definition of that actor that’s known to the public.

Dang, I thought I had maybe a deeper point to make about my blog posts vs. R.B.’s.

[From journal of Tues., 26 May 2020, Journal 325, page 26-7]

All we experience are particular moments, of course

Weds., 24 June 2020, page 167

I’ve drawn for a while. It could be 9:30 or after by now. I should probably make lines darker here so I can read them more easily later. Ah, well.

So, walked dog west on Water and back on Breckenridge (I thought what I’d read last week, about the Colorado town changing its spelling to “en” instead of “in,” once its namesake became a Confederate traitor).

And so, D__ was here and we decided we’d replace whole deck.

I blogged six pieces yesterday—I’m up to 47 for the month, that 2/day average for the month so far. …

We walked past—well, she passed us on west E__, then met us on Water near Blaine.

I mowed and showered last evening and was in bed, ready for bed (except for last walk of dog and last scoop of cat-crap) but stayed up watching Youtube videos—comedy bits, mostly—’til late, about midnight.

It’s the pathetic fallacy to say that weather predicts or matches someone’s feelings, and it’s a cliché to have “a dark and stormy night” in a spooky story. But the particular day’s atmospheric conditions do affect our choices and actions at particular moments (and all we experience are particular moments, of course).

[From journal of Weds., 24 June 2020, Journal 326, page 167-8]

I was waiting, partly/mostly, to want to do something

Even this paper can’t quite convey what it was, what my experience was, as I lay there in library—I was waiting, partly/mostly, to want to do something, to feel I wanted to do something—even to feel what I want to eat (I had a vague idea of that but it wasn’t grasped—something like maybe Brussels sprouts and sushi—a sushi made of B-sprouts? I wasn’t sure—and I don’t really know what dish that would be, or where to get it).

But I’m here, I’m alive. That’s good. This is where I’d return if I were rich and famous and went off to do rich and famous things—I’d return to a place where people don’t care about my mythic origin story or my public image. Let’s say I was friends with Norman Mailer’s grandson or granddaughter. I’m not sure why he came to mind, but I’d also been thinking how dude had many wives and probably affairs and he was probably a scoundrel (what’s the Charlie Harper term—a “rascal”?). Hell, he even stabbed his wife! But he got away with all this bad behavior, or, he seemed to get away with it in court of public opinion (which isn’t a court at all—it’s just whether certain producers and publishers and talk-show bookers think people in the general audience would want to see a person and would want to pay for an actor’s movie or an author’s book).

But of course those close to the person know the person behind the B.S. persona, and the family members did get hurt by their famous person’s f**king other people and ignoring his kids.  (C__ made some connection between E. Hemingway and some H-way descendant who’s on Fox News. I was thinking of how little care H-way gave his kids while he was off fishing or reporting from war zones or whatever).

(M’s playing something, I assume, as I hear clapping and chanting, audio from what sounds like a political speech, maybe Sanders’ last night. But why haven’t we gotten beyond the rally and the protest in our political-acting?)

So if I were friends with a grandson/daughter of Mailer’s, that’d be fun to know, and then we wouldn’t talk about it much, though, of course, it’s the kind of thing I might use to introduce that friend to my other friends. It’s a thing by which we’d know him/her, which is a label, a tag, but also meaningless. But perhaps so much of what we do and say socially is meaningless?

[From journal of Sun., 23 Feb. 2020, Journal 318, pages 70-2]

And here I find myself once again

And here I find myself once again.

Stopped by mom and B__’s. Helped with a couple minor computer things,  showed off my local history website. (Dog just went out onto the deck.) … I came up via Limerick (named supposedly after Irish immigrants from there, I read in (I think) the 1976 Bicentennial history) and Marrill. Got car gas. M had texted there was a pizza order. I got home and M said dog had been nervous again about deck pops. He and I walked just around the block ‘cuz it was a little late, but we could’ve walked [a longer path], but it was cold (16° F or so), and I just didn’t feel like it. And now I’m here and I’m sleepy. I mean, I got to bed about 9 and slept well but I’ve been tired for several days now. It’ll take a few days.

Dog paw-clawed at deck door glass.

And what else? Oh, colors on previous page were chosen without looking.

Mom commented that I know a lot about local history—which would be a way of saying that I’m talking too much.

[From journal of Fri., 21 Feb. 2020, 5:50 a.m., Journal 318, page 41-2]

Idea of a horizontal biography

In general, I’m probably a lot happier most days than I was in my 20s. I didn’t know where I belonged, in what job. I had money troubles and M had bad-health years—I don’t miss my 20s, to be honest. (I read some poet’s ode to his 20s last night in Pinsky book.) And I wonder how I’ll see my physics-teaching ambition—perhaps I was merely misguided, but I don’t think so. Perhaps I threw a lot of manic sort of energy at my physics teaching partly because I did want there to be a better approach than merely “Here’s a demo, here’s the theory and equation, now solve for velocity.” I recall those years as a bit of thrashing around. On other hand, that’s a years-later view.

I wonder what’s really in journals from those years (just before the daily journaling began) I mean, holy sh!t, I had a lot going on—being a new teacher,

(there I hear a truck. I’ve assumed it’s C___, but I heard on local news recently that Chrysler assembly was going offline for a couple weeks, I thought)

getting new preps each of first three years, doing yearbook, etc. But I did survive, you know—thank goodness. And anyway, that is the past—I’m here now—I’m here-now. I’m alive right now. I’m here now.

I’m getting dull there. It is odd how hard it can be to come up with sentences about now—why should that be? It’s easy enough to  describe objects that are sitting (verb choice?) that are—existing? Hell, they’re doing nothing at all. Objects don’t get verbs (until someone uses them or they get electrical motive-vation, capacity to move.)

It’s 6:11. I do want to get to my breakfast earlier. So, 6:15. Not reading this morning helped me be on time. I was gonna get to school and grade a little but also there could be slick roads this morning, Channel 17’s Joey Marino said.

I do like idea of a horizontal biography—the width each day, the breadth of my world and my thinking and my doing each day—rather than the linear-and-time-compressing, time-skipping history/biographical story. That’s not what it’s like to be alive!

[From journal of Weds., 15 Jan. 2020, Journal 316, page 44-6]

I assume I was taking in some of his breathed air

A red compact SUV drove toward dog and me, window open—other side of road but I think I smelled cig smoke after it passed by and I assume I was taking in some of his breathed air. And so, yeah, I don’t know—it’s possible the dude breathed out coronavirus particles. Or maybe I—though I never got nearer than 40 feet—breathed in some particles from two dudes walking in the park, or bicycle dude who rode past us and said hi as we went north on G___. And I was aware of wind direction, feeling safer when I was upwind—but I felt the wind coming from west or SW when I was in park, from south when I got back to J___ and was headed north, and from the E-SE when we got back to E__. Weird.

And I worried about getting virus and I thought, maybe what we worry about is what we take seriously. If I’m worried, what I’m worried about must seem like a real possibility—thus, real. I’ve said before that what is real to me is what I take seriously. And I worry more now about virus-catching than I do about losing my job—though M fretted about it a little last night. What if the state of Illinois goes bankrupt or cuts back so hard that I’d lose my job, M wondered/worried aloud. And I said, well, we’re all in this together—the whole society, the whole economy, works only because it’s people bonded together, acting together.

[From journal of Sat. 11 April 2020, Journal 321, pages 76-7]