Tag Archives: pocket pages

‘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.

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]

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]

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]

Cleave these completed poems! August 2021 notes

A bee’s under-milkweed respite from rare rainfall (we’re inches below normal this summer). 21 Aug.

† I could look in tree bark or other textures for quasi-letter shapes, words, sentences — yes, it’s interpretive, but kind of a cool random-writing/interpretive idea, not so different from Poetry Bingo [an activity in my creative writing class] or from that stone that was interpreted as having runes but it was decided they were glaciation marks — a human’s judgment. [4 Aug. 2021]

Blueberries in cereal milk. 2 Aug.

‡ Story, telling stories: One, a story describes distant actions. To tell a story on paper and to read a story someone else wrote, both writer and reader are distant from the experiences described in the story. Two, how one tells the story, constructs it from one’s perspective (but carefully, being fair to others there who may hear it). I’m more aware than ever … that a story is an argument from one that one’s experience and one’s reaction to it are justified — “I was justified in getting mad because” of the story I tell. [6 Aug.]

Resurrection lily up close. 10 Aug.

† “Have you heard the story about” X event, we say, or we say, “have you heard about” X event. It’s interesting that we refer to stories about events rather than events themselves. But, of course, if I’m not present at the event, I do know only the story (and not the event itself) and illustrative pics & videos. [10 Aug.]

“The bronze ink of underworld waterfalls” grabbed my attention when I found these last-used-years-ago transparencies in my classroom. I think my students and I had been writing a poem together here. 13 Aug.

† Arts reports in news programs give more attention to what’s already getting attention. [16 Aug.]

Ogle County life: crayfish on Weld Park soil. 15 Aug.

‡ My journal bits aren’t parables. But there is an implication of … of what, exactly? Of recording, writing? Of any moment being interesting? [18 Aug.]

Justice Cat recuperating at home after an illness. 7 Aug. 2021

† “Pull up your sock, Justice!” I keep telling my cat. His shaved band on his right front leg looks like he’s got a sock drooping down. [19 Aug.]

‡ Anything and everything people do for money is foolish (at some level) in the sense that it’s not authentically you. It’s a game of meeting others’ expectations. [20 Aug. 2021]

† Consistency in intellectual positions is a value, but there’s no need for consistency (it’s not a value or standard) in living a life! I can change my opinions, have contradicting or differing ideas on different days of my journals — and that’s OK! Maybe intellectual argument positions should be consistent, but a living person’s views don’t have to be! [20 Aug. ]

A prairie plant in my stepdad’s plantings. 20 Aug.

‡ There’s no need for me to get my writing into competition for publication, attention. I heard my local NPR station’s promos for people to send in poems to be read online or to send in back-to-school “perspectives” (90-second essays). But I have no need to submit my writings for comparison to others’ writings! My writings are my own! I feel no (or very little) need to compare my writings to others’, to compete with others’ — my writings are mine, are from my life — that’s all. No other standards matter! [20 Aug.]

† At lunch today, I read in article at LitHub the line: “One of the traits most commonly associated with people on the spectrum is an inability to lie” — and I laughed: That’s me! And I’ve suspected my spectrum-place. [25 Aug.]

‡ Writers must model other minds, to see if what we’re thinking and saying would be explicable to (and interesting to, and persuasive to?) other minds. [25 Aug.]

† Of course I didn’t have lots of girlfriends — I wasn’t typical! I was seeking deep connection. The existence of atypicals undermines the necessity of the normals’ norms — the normals’ choices, too, are arbitrary, and the atypicals reveal that (by contrast)! [26 Aug.]

A view of my summer morning commute — contrast to winter ones posted earlier. This is facing south on Church Road, south of Route 64. 26 Aug. 2021.

‡ Residing in realm of “we don’t know” (vs. “we know”). Knowing ideas is not knowing the world. Characterizing is inadequate. I could spend more time not-knowing (meditating)? But, I’m giving up certainty. Sometimes I assert things but I also question — and by writing, I empty my mind to paper. A goal of being wise as knowing nothing (not being misled by flawed ideas)? Related points: my wait-and-see attitude toward [a family situation]? And the arrogance of selling “solutions,” as some companies sell themselves as doing. [27 Aug.]

† No branding is needed for my journals. There’s no need to stand out by a simple brand. Like a fingerprint, people’s journals have so many differences from each other. And showing off, showing one’s credentials, is not needed for intimacy. You like my voice or no. [27 Aug.]

‡ No one lives in historical time, the time-mood in which people look back  at the past. Even people 100s or 1000s of years ago live in present-to-them time, as we do now. [30 Aug.]

Cloudbreak over student parking lot, from my supervision post. 23 Aug.

† Poems unfinished — poems like my drawings left to viewers to interpret. Viewers can find a recognizable thing in one part (not a whole-image portrait). Creative readings of published poems — cleave these completed poems to make them more interesting for me to read. Read just the first halves of lines to free my mind from too-familiar patterns. Pushing back against obnoxious control of the author over their published poem — as if the writer’s mind could be better than randomness or better than silence. Let texts be as wild and unexpected as experiences! I could rewrite each new issue of American Poetry Review as it arrives! Why should I read text in the way the author wants me to? Why not read every other world or paragraph or …? (Yes, I’ve said “read creatively” before, but it seems more profound, more freeing, today!) Freeing the mind from having to “get” the single pattern of a text. The power of short sentences in my creative readings, in my McKuen erasures. [30 Aug.]

‡ I like creative reading because I’ve read too many stories. I’ve heard the same songs on radio, and the same kinds of songs, too often. So I mess with them. I may not always have the mental energy needed to play with texts (creative reading) but I am pretty sick of existing ideas — play isn’t too tiring. [31 Aug.]

† What happens to Matt (to me), I thought as I walked hallway to get to photocopier, might just not matter that much. What I think of it is the interesting-to-others (possibly) part. Whether Matt lives to 48 or 88, whether he publishes or not, gets cancer or not — these aren’t so interesting as events. So maybe I shouldn’t (and maybe I already don’t) write about experiences as all that interesting — except as parts of the world that passed through my mind. [31 Aug. 2021]

Sculptures of my consciousness: April 2021 notes


Prism in a spoon. 1 April 2021

¶ The present is a date that doesn’t already have a description associated with it, as historical moments do. [5 April 2021]

¶ Ideas for an intro to my journal bits on this blog: I’m tired of narrative, how it skips time, makes only some moments seem valuable, how it’s abstract and knowable only after the fact. Narrative can’t be lived. It has a place, a value, but I’m looking beyond it. How I live — text precedes topic. [9 April]

¶ Philosophy for sick people — what would that look like? Philosophy is kinda useless if it’s only for the well. Sure, philosophy can help us live while healthy, but also, why can’t it do more when we’re sick? My writings are valuable only to the living, the healthy —  the dead can’t do much with them. It’s funny how physical things like books can seem real — but the curtain’s up only a brief time. [14 April]


Farm field. Holcomb Road, west of Stillman road, I think. Ogle Co., Illinois. 15 April 2021

¶ Reading is internal — nothing is created. I can’t tell how well students read a text without having them do something else to show they’d read it. Reading itself leaves no external marks — duh — but it shows learning is internal. [14 April]

¶ I’d rather be open-minded than keep thinking dull, old (inadequate) things. … I want to embrace not-knowing, not telling myself that I know what to do. Sure, I mean, it’s been good to remind myself to help M [as she cares for her parents], not oppose her or critique what she’s doing, etc. But I don’t need to fall back on inadequate generalizations either. The thrill and giddiness of having a new (to me) philosophical insight or idea. [15 April]

¶ My brain is biased toward big events, odd events, experiences associated with strong emotions, as I learned in Brain-Based Learning class. My brain seeks to glean and learn — update the sensibility, ability to respond. But the brain doesn’t track what my daily experience was, what contexts were — the journals are needed for that. [16 April]

¶ I had thought recently about the sense of possibility that made high school and college exciting for me (for anyone?). For most adults in our 40s, say, things settle into patterns — I like my life, I like knowing my niche — but it’s unknowing that makes earlier years feel different? [19 April]

¶ A literary sentence is one where you ask, how could this statement be true or meaningful? [20 April]

¶ Literary sentences as sculptures — useless but attention-drawing. … If I look at both Exquisite Corpse lines and journal bits as artworks — as sculptures — not trying to make a point, a claim about reality, but just existing to be considered, like a sculpture exists. Exquisite Corpse lines as philosophical possibilities — my journal bits as records of my consciousness — sculptures of my consciousness.  [21 April]


Pasta salad made for us. 20 April 2021

¶ Lately I’m seeing images (trees along tracks this morn) as too brief to be real. I saw yesterday an image of a few snowflakes falling — slowly, and they seemed each so distinct. It almost seemed surreal: snow flakes against white tree flowers in background (as I looked south out school windows). And the trees, along east side of railroad tracks north of Bethel Road, they looked almost like columns of a cathedral with sun coming through. And yet, these images — I didn’t feel like photographing them — I guess I’m thinking of images as mental (consciousness) phenomena — it’s a perspective-view. Images are human creations, not nature’s creations. Nature’s physical and biological processes create the snow, the sun, the trees, but it’s the consciousnesses that do the looking — from a particular spot (some spots have more captivating images than others) at particular time. And these images don’t — can’t  — last because consciousnesses change! And these images I’m talking about also include human-created images: ad-images of idealized people and idyllic settings, and even art’s images (paintings, photos) try to stay around but these are obviously not real, not live-in-able. I might want to live in an idyllic setting I see, but I know I can’t — living there would destroy the simplistic image! [21 April]


Bright oak leaves, dark maple leaves. Ogle Co., Illinois. 29 April 2021

¶ Multiple readings: why should we have the convention of reading a text only once? … Re-reading as one of many alternative ways to encounter a text. [21 April]

¶ 30 years (it’s nearly 30 years — OK, 29 — since I graduated high school) is like a year, or even like a day, only longer (a jokey way to explain duration). [22 April]


Young maple leaves and flowers, I guess? Ogle Co., Illinois. 29 April 2021.

¶ Enjoying a poem — it’s funny that it should be hard. I, basically, could just explain to my students what my finding-joy-in-poems mind finds. [26 April]

¶ All artists putter and do ablutions and none of that is why readers (or other art audience members) care about artists. Readers can’t know me socially when I write — I’m necessarily by myself, alone, in my own thoughts. [29 April]

¶ Walking dog tonight, I thought about getting back home. Then I stopped thinking that, and thought that I was OK, that I could slow down and just look at stuff. And I wonder if it’s easier to be calm now as an older person, now that I feel I have accomplished something with/in my life. [30 April]


Bleeding hearts projected onto vinyl siding. Ogle Co., Illinois. 30 April 2021

‘Oh, sorry. I thought you were someone else,’ she said. ‘I think that sometimes myself,’ I said.

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Frosty milkweed pods. 4 Jan. 2021.

§ Most public/ambitious people won’t be wise, so why read their books? [6 January 2021]

§ How I got over being clever and found, well, if not transcendence, at least something valuable, in being just myself, … recording my mind-voice. A far weirder (and a subfloor more foundational?) place than I could intentionally conceive. (I have been in recent minutes, reading about clevernesses in Confederacy of Dunces.) [6 Jan.]


Up-close trophies. 15 Jan. 2021.

§ When I have conflicts with others, I try to resolve them or avoid the person, end the conflict pragmatically. But conflicts with myself — or, let’s say, arguments with myself over what I should do — these conflicts endure (R. Hugo essay quotes someone saying that your important arguments are with yourself). [8 Jan.]


Salt fractals. 29 Jan. 2021.

§ I don’t want to win the lottery (two of them are at $400 million now/lately). I don’t want to be hated or envied. Also, money just buys you others’ labor. [8 Jan.]

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Low-angle sunlight on snow. 26 Jan. 2021.

§ My organizing idea, my gimmick, as it were, is not that I’m funny or that I make new forms of writing — but that I write in real moments from within my real life. I don’t want to state generalizations (as Vonnegut does) as if I’m lecturing from some indistinct, authoritative (established by seriousness of tone ) perspective. I write from within lived moments. My publication approach came from within my method and my writings!  I just didn’t always see that. [13 Jan.]

§ My journal of yestermorn (I think it was) felt calm — and I thought, calmness should be (is) just as valid a tone of a literary piece, a text, as tension is. I don’t gotta be tense to use words (as a lot of texts do). [13 Jan.]

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A snow bowl of sunlight. 26 Jan. 2021.

§ Not all my deeds and thoughts get recorded. Some are forgotten and that’s OK. [14 Jan.]

§ I prefer to see each moment as whole in itself — what exists exists — rather than seeing it as lacking, wondering what’s next, as a story mindset would seem to imply. [14 Jan.]

§ There’s that light on — those lighted windows in garage door at old [recently moved out of] house in my neighborhood. I see it and I think an abstraction — not every time, but sometimes: that this is an example of how things really will just stay where someone left them. Only humans can act. 

And I think, too, at a meta-level, that this instance-to-abstraction leap is something a lot of writers, especially poets (like Frost, maybe) seem to do. As a younger writer, I wondered how they did that — how did they make that leap? Now I’d say it’s pretty easy, almost automatic, to my mind. It’s connecting a particular to an idea I’ve already thought. It’s not always a new insight, so it’s merely a pedagogical poem that does this. [14 Jan.]


Rural Ogle County, Illinois. Afternoon, looking south. 29 Jan. 2021

§ Of course my journals written in real life will be meta, will regard the acts of writing and thinking. It’s only within a performance that performer and audience pretend it’s not really a performance. [14 Jan.]

§ Try this exercise: Every sentence [in a text] has only four words. [21 Jan.] I tried that in a school journal on either 21 or 22 Jan. It’s a limitation under which to work. It did feel a little like writing a poem. [23 Jan.] Simple focusing on words, having a limitation — trying to write to iambic pentameter, for example — does put me (and students?) in poetic mindset. Of course, that’s not the whole of being creative. [29 Jan.]

§ I’ll be struck at times by a certain lyric or poem line or how a movie actor says/does something. Today it was in a song by Gotye (“The end, always the end” — this line got my attention). These things can seem fixed, even if they’re not all that meaningful. It’s there. My older poems seem more profound than newer ones — maybe this explains why. [22 Jan.] 


Some kind of sunset. 11 Jan. 2021.

§ I don’t know, on any given day, what texts I should be reading or should be writing — which would make me feel good, etc. I just don’t know that. My standard judgments aren’t the same each day. [25 Jan.]

§ As I waited post-vaccine, a woman walked past and said something like, “Hi, Mark!” Then, “Oh, sorry. I thought you were someone else,” she said. “I think that sometimes myself,” I said. [25 Jan.]

§ If you sit and look at any particular tree — it’s not that the tree is so interesting, your mind is! [29 Jan.] My creative method: Throw stuff on paper. Go look at it later. [29 Jan.] Something cool there is about writing the thought of a moment (as previous two notes were). [29 Jan.]


Crow pile at greenhouse. 29 Jan. 2021.

This day for me is as open and contingent as any day for anybody ever: Nov. and Dec. notes

My view from beneath the shrubs at school where I eat outside so as to not be maskless in my classroom during pandemic school. 4 Nov. 2020.

§ My daily-living journals are a detective story — a story of me trying to figure out what’s going on around me.  I’m taking stock every day: “Here’s what I know, here’s what I wonder.” [4 Nov. 2020]

§ Once I’m dead, I’ll probably care about as much about writing and my writings as I do when I’m asleep now, which isn’t much. [5 Nov. 2020]

§ “I got couscous so you can stay alive,” said a mom to three kids elementary-school age, two girls and a boy, at a Woodman’s grocery store. One of the girls had made a comment how they each were carrying two things — I saw no cart or basket with them. [7 Nov.]

§ My job helps me get food. There’s no food in a bare field. I thought this while eating my store-bought food outside school yesterday and imagining I was out walking in a harvested field at north horizon. But there’s no food there. What saves me from hunger is my ability to partake in the system: I have credentials, job, money to shop for food others made. [9 Nov.]

§ Politics flattens people into partisans. There’s power in groups, and yet, I don’t want to think partisan. I don’t want to be limited. I don’t want to have to think about politics at all — let leaders make decisions. [19, 23 Nov.]

Gasoline refueling. 7 Dec. 2020

§ Even if you’re critical or cynical, your body exists. Being critical or cynical, those are just ideas. It can be unpleasant to be around (in the company of ) someone whose ideas I don’t like. There’s a sense in which people embody their ideas (values, attitudes, etc.). People will act out their values and will defend their ideas, with force sometimes. But, once you’ve died, your ideas are no longer part of your body; one’s death draws attention (mine at least today) to the body. The ideas seem to fall away, become these things unrelated to one’s existence — my point being that my attitudes and ideas (especially those that are general criticisms) aren’t all that important to me while I live, either. [30 Nov.]

Sunrise, Ogle County, Illinois. 15 Dec. 2020.

§ As I waited and looked at passing train cars (containers) at Flagg Center last night, I thought how I was merely looking. I wasn’t doing anything else more significant than that. As I looked at train, I thought, one day, if I go senile, I won’t appreciate sitting and watching a train pass. But now, at age 46, I can choose to do that. I’m not senile — I’m young enough to choose to look at a passing train. And I thought, somehow, that Kerouac died at about the age I am now, but he wrote his novels about times he had, things he did, when younger. And if I write now about my ideas and experiences now, my peers won’t care — but following generations might once they get to be my age. Kerouac wrote of his youthful exploits to show other young people things they could do — I do the same (not intentionally, but de facto) for older people? [30 Nov., 1 Dec.]

§ I don’t think of today as “1 December.” It’s just morning of a fall/winter day. [1 Dec.]

§ I’ve had dreams like this — I’m at school, working, but nobody’s here. I’m doing well for sitting in my room by myself for 8 hours a day, I said when asked by a passing human in the hallway how I was doing. Of course I’m thinking existential thoughts in this teaching-remotely era. My job is to do work for people and with people but the people are no longer here. There are Reals behind the screen, who do the assignments, yes, but I end up spending hours by myself.  [1 Dec. 2020, second day of fully remote/online teaching, 2 p.m.] 

§ I misspelled “example” as “exmaple” — a former maple? [3 Dec.] 

§ While walking dog this morning, I thought that this will be a typical day. Then I thought, no, it’s a particular day — today — and the day is open. And my mind can be open to it. (The danger of being older is feeling you know enough.) [7 Dec.]

§ Most literary texts intend [are intended by their creators] to engage readers as texts — I’m not as interested in doing that in my texts. Rather than presenting a whole, alternative world or worldview through my texts, I’d prefer to point out (I think) the limits of words and of abstraction, too. My texts will point away from themselves or their adequacy as texts. The texts I write, the ideas I have, seem less about conveying a wholeness and more about pointing away from language and abstraction and pointing toward the physical world of raw experience (or experience of consciousness in the physical world). I can’t say that every one of my texts in fact does this way point — but this is my general perception of my work and my inclination. I’m not interested in polishing my texts. I don’t need to create a complete theory or self-contained abstract world. I prefer to write spontaneously from within (or “out of”) my life. I don’t want to write from a pose of years later. And I am not interested in crafting and polishing my prose for a performance to readers. This is where I seem to be — these seem to be my (to this point) truest, profoundest wishes. [7 Dec.]

§ Political scientists and journalists who look to explain societal and voters’ tendencies — I’m not that interested in that level of and focus of rhetoric. NPR and other national news organizations’ stories are so often at the policy level, talking about wide-spread problems. Individuals’ problems seldom matter. [9, 14,15 Dec.]

§ Advice to myself: Practice not criticizing others publicly, but doing it privately, and only to learn from criticisms. Ignore, don’t make fun of, even, others. I’m seeing lately that I’d rather ignore foolishness than oppose it and suggest my own approaches. [10 Dec.]

§ How you react in a given moment on your own — an obvious point, yet worth saying: For all the formal learning we do, a person is acting as seems best in each moment in each present. [10 Dec.]

§ The hawk taking off from power pole and flying above my car, while I also saw cows in pasture to my left an abundance of a world for me to see on this sunny, frosty morning commute. [10 Dec.]

§ Longer texts pull us in. Shorter texts push us to do our own thinking. They’re more like prompts than stories — and they’re cool for that reason. They’re like koans for meditating on. And there’s no reason to read many at once — don’t keep reading — go off and think! [10 Dec.]

§ Short texts can be part of the physical world (and of my experience of physical world) more than long texts can be. You can read entire short texts while walking or driving by (example: my bulletin board in hallway of Exquisite Corpse text-excerpts). [10 Dec.]

§ Christmas IS media? Even the shepherds had to be told (by angels) of the significance of what was going on. Christmas songs, stories — but more broadly, Christmas is a human event (of course) — food, presents — it’s things we do special for each other [14 Dec.]

Harvested cornfield, Ogle County, Illinois, afternoon of 15 Dec. 2020.

§ Yesterday as a day full of moments — momentary experiences. There’s no experience of yesterday (as a unit) — and any store of yesterday is arbitrary. I’ve said before that each thought marks a moment, feels like (creates the feeling of ) the passage of time. Maybe each thought is also its own experience. A report of my day’s experience would be a report of each thought? Though I’m not even aware of every thought, especially when I’m engaged in working. [16 Dec.]

§ There is no perfect story in real experience, no idyllic endings. But no cynicism about that — why should there be tidy endings? We don’t need to be cynical about that. [17 Dec.]

§ Of course others have done similar things before — but you’re doing them now. I saw a cow near a fenceline eating dry (tan) grass this morning, and I thought that a lot of what that cow does, and what I do, has been done by other cows, other people (respectively). But the cow is eating this particular grass this particular day for its particular body’s nourishment. This moment, this act, has historic significance. But even if not for historic significance, there’s now significance. [17 Dec.]

§ This day for me is as open and contingent as any day for anybody ever. My dad’s death day was as open for him as my day today is. [22 Dec.]

§ To sit in a house alone now without media isn’t so different from sitting in a house alone 50, 100, or more years ago. The fashions change, but not the consciousness? [22 Dec.]

§ Each day has tasks and moods. Today’s won’t seem significant by tomorrow — which will have its own. This is living — each day’s journal has (describes) each day’s struggle? Why read those later — to be reminded of this? [23 Dec.]

A farmstead where I lived almost 40 years ago. Track Road, Ashton, Illinois. Photo taken 23 Dec. 2020.

§ Old farms were set up so old farmers could have the conscious experience they wanted. They liked feeding cows, or whatever they did there. What a person’s willing to spend (invest) in buying a store or house or certain equipment to have an experience — I’m not willing to pay for a store, but for notebooks, yes. (And we who live now don’t need to feel guilty if we decline to take on the maintenance burden of earlier generations). [23 Dec. 2020]