Tag Archives: pocket pages

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

20210401_165441

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]

20210415_161843

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]

20210420_180006

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]

20210429_170024

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]

20210429_165848

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]

20210430_070105

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.

2021_01_04_mh (31)

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.]

20210115_153058

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.]

20210129_121641

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.]

2021_01_26_mh (12)

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.]

2021_01_26_mh (91)

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.]

20210129_160009

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.] 

20210111_163822

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.]

20210129_153830

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]

So much dross!

I don’t try to communicate through my drawings—so why should I try to communicate through my writings? [Fri. 18 Oct. 2019]

Maybe I don’t care which texts of mine I publish to the blog. The texts just offer readers an experience of hanging out with and listening to me. [18 Oct. 2019]

My journal texts: so much dross! Once I’m dead, no one will care—and that’s OK—it’s freeing. These texts aren’t set-and-dead [as texts seem once they’re published]. Openness: However I wrote that I feel today, I won’t necessarily feel that same way tomorrow. I can embrace being weird—I might as well! That way I don’t have to try to seem normal by justifying or defending my writings or myself. I can let go of trying to seem normal and instead just seem my weird self. [Sat. 19 Oct. 2019]

15 Nov. 2015

 

‘Don’t be so self-conscious as to write about it!’: April notes from pocket pages

“Paid actor endorsements for products. Individuals in the spot are fictitious.” Photo’d from TV 20 April.

Ω

What am I supposed to believe about/from a piece of fiction? [1 April 2019]

Ω

Most businesses are, or potentially are, so ephemeral. Even big companies need to keep making sufficient money consistently to survive. It’s remarkable that banks are willing to lend to these ephemeral entities. But banks lend to people, too, and surely people are ephemeral. A business must be tended more-or-less every day, like pets, to stay alive. [4 April]

Ω

In creating a text, writers are offering a reading experience to others. What would be the full range of reading experiences? [4 April]

Ω

Cat on chest, dog in hand. 2 April.

Ω

The moment of me looking at the textured black plastic of my open car door this morning, a glimpse that I had, a moment of being conscious and seeing some real object — and it’s not that I want so share this experience — or do I? Maybe I just want to record this conscious experience, this experience of an familiar object. [5 April.] Or: what is obvious here and now (at present) is merely an idea through writing. [6 April. ]

Ω

That disconnect of seeing and reading about local buildings in a book yesterday, and then I could go see the buildings today — I had some of this feeling about Monroeville, too. There’s an excitement in (or created by?) the reading? The dissonance in “here IS what I read, imagined.” [5 April]

Ω

Bored dog waiting for me to write outside the local library. 7 April.

6:25 p.m., at the same benches on the east side of my local library where dog and I were a couple-three (or four?) weeks ago. Here I am. I did moments ago remember a thought that came during this morning’s journals but which I don’t think I wrote: that reading, in its ability to pull attention (and thus, minds) away from the here-and-now is kinda magical — or at least it’s a kind of power that reading (or words, basically) has (have). Maybe this goes to the core of abstraction or thinking or imagining — that is, having a mind helps people learn from past experiences and prepare for future ones, and so thinking can be used to help us, but being too immersed in thinking (in mediated experiences) isn’t necessarily good. Thinking is a tool capable of being used or abused, or both. Well, it’s a lot milder than my last time sitting here while the dog wanted to keep going. And, well, I am at this spot again as I write. I’m at a place on the earth that’s not my dining room table (where most of my journals get written, even if I don’t state that fact every day). I suppose readers would have to take my word that I’m here. I could describe the bird song and traffic noise and the leaves rattling as they slide on pock-marked concrete. [7 April]

Ω

If there’s no overall theme (organizing idea) in a publication, then one’s attention is on the publication itself — a magazine or the Today show or my blog (who’s only organizing principle is me). [8 April]

Ω

The library’s tree. 7 April

Ω

Where my attention settles as I drive. I look from place to place, I notice various things — yet I still attend to driving. This process of what I notice seems somewhat opaque to me.  [8, 21 April]

Ω

George R.R. Martin’s fans don’t care about him except for his writing of novels. I think I’d like to have readers who would care about me as a person, and not just as a supplier of story-product. [8, 21 April]

Ω

Spiders write poems at local video store. 7 April

Ω

A property — not land itself, but a piece of land as a property — is just an idea, and a deed is just an idea — but so too is history just an idea. These suit each other. History is made from ideas, not from land or other objects themselves. [9, 21 April]

Ω

I wrote a while (years) ago that I’d want to get a Ph.D. in now — not in the idea of now, just in now. But this has got to be metaphorical — Ph.D.s aren’t given for being. There’s nothing, really, to report — or is there? There’s no need to report from awareness. And there’s freedom from ideas in the present moment. (Like the Emerson quote about out not needing to bring rags into the new hour — but quoting Emerson does precisely what he says not to do, of course). [9 April]

Ω

I knew I was close to school but it was hard to know how close when fog blocks landmarks. 8 April

Ω

Writings are at best a way to instruct myself (or others) at other times to be mindful — or IS there a way to read mindfully? [9 April]

Ω

Perhaps it’s my decision to judge my own situation at a particular time as being as happy as a story? My cat’s partly on my lap, partly on the table. His head’s ahead of me. It can be that. I just eat my cashews and raisins and I pet cat’s head and choose to do nothing more. But don’t be so self-conscious as to write about it! The cat shares his consciousness (he yawns and snaps jaws shut, then does left-ear grooming) with me. And now he’s down. I was (and am again) reading on my phone a New Yorker piece about Nelson Algren — mere ideas. [10 April]

Ω

My arguments today with a student about the merits of To Kill a Mockingbird. I’d like to be seen not just as someone who has thought-out views or a strong point of view, but as someone who’s analytical method/approach can be followed. I don’t want to scare students off — I’d like (hope) they find something in my model worth following or trying themselves. Of course, I may never know if I’m a model for anyone else — I don’t know that I told my mentors that they were models to me. Maybe I did tell a couple of them — yet, what is it worth to tell them this? [10 April]

Ω

Inches of April snow. 15 April

Ω

What I write (even journals), others can probably read. If I can write it, others can read it. Even if I wrote in a code, it’d be decipherable. I mean, I’d really have to work hard to write in a way that wasn’t readable. (This in light of my mom’s point that diarists wouldn’t write if they didn’t want their words read.) [10 April]

Ω

My wife said that the reason why romance stories often have love in extreme circumstances (between two unlikely lovers, say) is to convey a sense to readers of how their own love-story seemed unusual and unlikely — though of course it can’t be all that unusual, since people in real life fall in love quite often. [10 April]

Ω

My wife said that when neighborhood kids gathered in our backyard one day last week, they all watched our dog turn away from them and poop. One kid said, “It’s really big!” about the dog’s butthole-dilation or the turd circumference or both. [11 April]

Ω

Nonfiction is creative, I told my writing students, in that the writer chooses what to write and how to write it. [11 April]

Ω

My work gets done just by me going to work everyday. I don’t gotta obsess over getting done. [11 April]

Ω

Half my face and a wall of deed books at the county recorder’s office. 17 April

Ω

Lot lines create properties AND places — a field or pasture isn’t a spot until there’s something to mark it. [11 April]

Ω

This afternoon I wondered if I had anything more I wanted to write before the calendar day was over — like meeting a paperwork deadline. But I don’t usually think that way — dates on each note are more like “New Message” signs than time capsules (though maybe they’re both). [11 April]

Ω

What’s the large number of times I’ve unbuttoned and unzipped my pants (to dress, to pee, etc.) — a few times a day for thousands of days! After calculating, I realize I’ve been alive almost 16,500 days! And if I unbutton 5 times a day, that’s over 82,000 unbuttonings. Of course, some of those days I wore shorts. [12 April]

Ω

Reading Rochelle City Council minutes from 1874 for a research project I’m doing with some of my high school writing students, I thought about how detailed these are, how they don’t tell a great narrative but in their particularity of dollar amounts and votes and actions taken, they seem to make their time seem not all that distant — at least, as compared to how distant seem the 1870s settings described by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her Little House books. But then, she was writing about the 1870s decades later, and writing through her memory and nostalgia made those times seem distant. But the 1870s were modern for some people — and it was not really so different being then from being alive now. A person’s basic consciousness surely hasn’t changed that much. But there are several popular autobiographical fictions — including those of Nelle Harper Lee  and Jack Kerouac — that were written years or decades after the events described therein. I’m suggesting a distinction between writings done soon after the events occurred (like city council and other official records, but also journal-writings) and those stories written years later — that maybe there’s something about telling stories years later that makes them easier to tell, that the writer’s mind has a chance to shape the story just through remembering and retelling the events — and this years-later writing perhaps lays a sense of clarity of meaning over events that soon-after writing doesn’t have. However, these told-years-later stories take on a sense of the mythic, the better-than-real-life, while soon-after writing feels more authentic to how life is lived. I feel like it’s taken me years to stop trying to find that mythic-story sense in my daily-lived life. [16, 18, 21 April]

Ω

I’m not special to my journals. I’m necessential (necessary and essential), for without me, there’d be no journals getting written. But there’s a difference in being special to one’s family and seeming special to one’s fans. My family needs me for financial and emotional support in a way that my fans (should they exist) never will. In their need, my family and friends appreciate me, but don’t see my mind as quasi-magical (an attitude I may have adopted towards certain artists I’ve admired). My consciousness, my experience, aren’t special to others — except that others can read about these. People who don’t write their experiences remain unspecial because they remain unknown. [17 April]

Ω

As I grew up, I first became conscious, and then as I developed my consciousness (through experience, education, etc.), I became aware of others and of the world. I formed models of and opinions of others and of things in the world. In later years, my development seems to have been in becoming more conscious of my own consciousness, of my own ways of thinking. I think this is where I can still learn: questioning why and how I have the models and opinions that I have [17 April]

Ω

Forsythia blooms, 19 April.

‘Look at these things that are where they are’: January pocket pages

Snow drift as a moon rise. 20 Jan.

§

Everything lasts just a moment — specifically, here, I mean the laughs after a joke, the cry after a drama scene, the blown-mind after hearing a new idea. These all last only briefly. After that moment, I might remember that an artwork is good without feeling that first-moment reaction. 6 Jan. 2019.

§

“I’m bad at walking, buddy,” I told my dog, Sam, when I slipped on the hardwood floor near our blue couch and he, on the couch, looked up as startled. 6 Jan.

§

Lights around a city-owned treetrunk. 2 Jan.

§

If “I don’t care” means almost the same as “I don’t mind,” then “care” would be a synonym for “mind” — caring is akin to paying attention? (In the movie “Lady Bird,” a character says that paying attention is the same as loving something.) 7 Jan.

§

As of this January 2019, I have outlived Thoreau,who died at age 44. Fitzgerald was 44, also. I learned this weekend that I’ve also outlived Kierkegaard, who died at 42. George Gershwin didn’t make it to 40. Of course these people are each more accomplished than I am, but, in a petty way, I feel good about having outlived them. I have a chance to keep thinking, keep learning, and perhaps to become more wise, more thoughtful than any of these dudes were. I also realized recently that Heidegger was only about 38 when he published Being and Time. I was intimidated by that work when I was an undergrad, but now that I’m older than he was when he wrote it, I feel I might have enough wisdom to understand it — or to dismiss it as not all that important!  9 Jan and late Jan.

§

Sharply drifted snow. 20 Jan. 2019

§

We don’t get to make many choices about our families. We don’t get to choose our parents or any other ancestors. We get to choose our romantic partner, and we choose to have kids (but we don’t get to choose the kids’ personalities or other qualities). And the choices we do make, we often make at a fairly young age, and then live with the consequences the rest of our lives. 9 Jan.

§

An aspect of being in a location near-but-not-within a town — for example, being a couple miles outside of a small prairie town — is that distance, seeing that distance one is away from the landmark, is part of the experience of being at that location. When you’re in the town already, or when you’re in a forest, or other vision-limited place, you don’t experience distance. Also, when I’m looking at a town from a distance, it might as well be a landscape painting — it’s not real from a distance. Work happens up close. 10 Jan. & 16 Jan.

§

The process of memorizing a poem — all these quasi-thoughts, demi-thoughts. On my my way home from work today, I memorized Shakespeare’s “When in the chronicle” sonnet, and in the act of memorizing, I noticed many things: there are maybe many views, concepts, of the poem helping me get it into my head, such as a four-line structure (from “when…” to “then…”); how “praise” is in there three times; the dismissive tone of “wasted time, … ladies dead and lovely knights; the contrast of “our time … you prefiguring.” Basically, memorizing is a way to get a close reading of a text, but also, it seems my memorized version might subtly include some of these structural pattern realizations/insights listed above. 11 Jan.

§

As a real middle-ager, nearing age 45, maybe I should challenge myself to do things beyond my routine — read philosophy, memorize poems. My routine may not be satisfying enough. 11 Jan.

§

Snow drift topography. 20 Jan.

§

“God, use common sense,” said a high school student to another outside after school. She said “God” more as an interjection, but I thought of it, amusingly, as direct address. 14 Jan.

§

I’m tired of meaning things, asserting things through public writings. Don’t preach — let cool ideas seep through your blog posts of journal texts, off-handedly. I don’t have anything that I need to say to a general audience. Also, I don’t have to have a certain tone — just be interesting, no? Switching topics is OK! I do look forward to the regularly published columns of a few particular writers, who tend to be interesting on varied topics. 15 Jan., 17 Jan.

§

Ice melting off my car’s windshield. 22 Jan.

§

Because I have lived in small Midwestern towns where there are few myths/characterizing stories about the places (as opposed to, say, the idea about NYC that it’s exciting, or that San Francisco is artistic — simplistic stories, yes), I wasn’t distracted by these stories — I paid attention to what was here. 15 Jan.

§

My career as an example of not setting goals, not being ambitious (which word has a negative history). I don’t need to portray myself as a hero or as a model. I live for me — to see how my life turns out! 16 Jan.

§

I think that people who might like reading blog posts of my journal texts would be readers who might appreciate not knowing what I might say. Publishing my journals is a self-centered act, but it’s also being honest, open, maybe vulnerable — not seeking that authority that journalists and most nonfiction writers seek by trying to seem normal and reasonable in their narrative voices.  16-17 Jan.

§

View of sun on a snowy day in downtown Rockford, Illinois. Church Street at Mulberry. 25 Jan.

§

My lyrics to “Feels So Good”: “Feels So Good — IT feels GOOD, IT feels GOOD, you know it FEELS, FEELS, FEELS, so GOOD…” 17 Jan.

§

I feel that I finally have the confidence to (publicly) be my own kind of writer, and I feel I could be satisfied being my own kind of writer. It makes sense that I wouldn’t be sure of the public value of any of my atypical, idiosyncratic writings. But I am choosing to be idiosyncratic in my publishing of my journal texts, and I’m not trying to fit into mainstream publishing. 17 Jan.

§

Ronald Reagan’s 6th grade classroom, Northwest Territory Historic Center, Dixon, Illinois. 25 Jan.

§

Hallway poetry, overheard before 5th hour: “My locker,/when I open it,/is gonna smell like crap,” said a sophomore (I think) girl to another girl. 17 Jan.

§

What portion of all my thoughts are written down? Most of the new insights, yes, but not the daily, getting-around thoughts. 18 Jan.

§

A celebrity — having celebrity-level fame — is a business opportunity for the celebrity person as well as for others. Media fame is about and for making money, not artistic quality. More to my point, if I’m not trying to sell (my writings, say), I don’t need to be a celebrity (nor try to become one). 18, 22 Jan.

§

(During my morning commute, after crossing railroad tracks) Look at these things that are where they are — road signs, tree limbs, crossing-gate posts. They’re not imagined, remembered, or dreamed.  18 Jan.

§

Detail of 2nd floor of a building in downtown Rockford, Illinois, on Main Street, I think. 25 Jan.

‘How to Survive a Life’: Pocket pages of October so far.

Maple tree-sky. 4 Oct.

I’d rather inspire my students than instruct them. What teachers who focus on instructing miss is the joy — the glee! — and the mystery and the new and the undefined and the sense that I don’t know everything but that there’s a big world out there to experience. Perhaps it takes some courage to teach without certainty. 3 Oct. 2018

The wise voice is not one that takes easy positions (advocacies). I’m wiser when I question my assertions. 4 Oct.

Maple leaf up-close, near Jarrett Prairie Center, Byron, Ill. 4 Oct. 2018.

Maybe I used to think I could learn something about writing and publishing from reading writers’ biographies. Now I think all the magic is in the writing process, not in writers’ lives’ details. 10 Oct.

I didn’t really need to know the condition of Richard Brautigan’s corpse, as it’s described in the opening pages of Jubilee Hitchhiker, which pages I read in recent days. (A review of that book called the opening “the needlessly lurid.”) It was enough for me to know just that it was a suicide — it’s not meaningful to know more. The problem with biographies — I just don’t need to know all the details of a writer’s life. But giving the details of his death makes that seem important, and I’m not sure it was. 10 Oct.

Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan — two writers whose work inspired me — didn’t have careers besides being writers, and they seem to have had money problems at some points. I’m not a career writer, but I don’t have money problems like they did. In other words, both JK and RB wrote stories and poems about sweetness and spiritual quests, but in real life, they had practical problems. Perhaps I’m being more honest in showing my whole life — they were making texts as products. JK’s road trips — those were vacations for him, not his ongoing way of life. 11 Oct.

My writings generally seem to be about getting by. They could go by the title, “How to Survive a Life.” I know that’s dramatic-sounding, but this is the big question, it seems to me: how to live — how to survive, and also, how to live well (when you have a choice!) 11 Oct.

Corn plants along Weld Park Road, Ogle County, Ill. 4 Oct. 2018

The analogy in Postman’s Teaching as a Subversive Activity of teachers to doctors ignores (if my memory serves) the fact that doctors seek to get patients restored to a default of health — but (as I’ve read somewhere) teachers see students by default as inadequate, as not knowing enough. There’s a difference here in motivation — patients want to get better, get back to feeling good — but students don’t necessarily want to live up to some teacher’s idea of what they should do or be. 12 Oct.

Sammy dog’s nose almost never breaks the plane of the open window when he sniffs. 4 Oct.

I’m thinking I need to respect all the work of all the people over the years — the meatpackers, the farmers, the construction workers — how seldom I’ve considered all the hours and efforts of labor that have gone into maintaining human life. 12 Oct.

Which of my writings might reveal a work-mindset — the nature of being at work. Work may be a relatively undiscovered part of human experience for writers. 12 Oct.

Last sweet peppers of the season. 11 Oct. 2018

I keep crossing two-lane roads successfully, it seems. I look both ways and when I think I don’t see any cars coming, I cross. I seem to see traffic competently — I have so far, anyway! 12 Oct.

 

Release from a partial view: Notes and photos 18 Feb. to 30 March

 

View southwest from Holcomb Road, east of White Rock Road, 7 March.

News media start from a position of generalizing (three instances of something make a trend, and then a trend-story can be written, I once heard a reporter say). Particular instances — what one person’s going through — don’t matter. But my writings are always just my ideas, my/Matt’s/one person’s ideas, words, and texts. That’s their limited position, and that’s their power — the power of one person’s words is linked to the reputation of that one personThis is what’s implied by the advice to “consider the source.” (27 Feb.)

Woodman’s, Rockford, 4 March.

“Guys, he’s old, give him a break,” said a student in my creative writing class when I introduced essayist David Sedaris by saying he was famous as an author, which means he isn’t as famous as pop singer Candi B. My students corrected that to “Cardi B.,” and laughed at me, before my student defended me with the statement above. (28 Feb.)

View inside a corn-crib building at Heritage Farm, Byron Forest Preserve. 15 March

There seems an impulse in the society/culture to distinguish oneself. I’ve felt that way at times. But as a teacher, I’m a little like a monk, living that monkish life of service, of no advancement, but of fulfilled (whole) moments. Perhaps our moments seem full because we aren’t reaching to ambition, to some next thing. If I’m doing the monk-like work of just being here with students, then I don’t need to brag how much I’ve accomplished or how I distinguish myself from others. This need to reach for more and make myself stand out is perhaps a capitalist-culture value. (5 March)

The monk-model of my job goes along with what I’ve said in recent weeks about being more interested in the continuous than the unusual (and thus, avoiding news) and not needing to accomplish (not do, but be). Somehow humility mixes in here, too, because we teachers don’t do anything special, accomplishments-wise. We’re not, for example, making new knowledge, like college profs do. There’s no competition, no winning or losing — it’s Carse’s infinite game! (6 March)

Big ol’ stack a’ sugar. County Market, Byron, 18 Feb.

School buses look about the same now as they did when I was starting to ride them almost 40 years ago. Computers have changed, but other things haven’t. (7 March)

View west from the Stillman Bank drive-thru, Stillman Valley, Ill., 28 Feb.

“Where are the air-jellyfish?” my wife asked, going on to ask why there aren’t more animals just living by floating around in the air, as there are floating in the oceans. My guess is that water contains more dissolved resource-chemicals than air does, but I don’t really know. (7 March)

It’s nice that my dog doesn’t complain about my footsteps being louder than his when we’re in the woods. (9 March)

Why should an attitude of certainty seem to help an advocate win an argument? Is this a flaw in the arguments process? (14 March)

All the things I do to get ready for school — all the things I do that a dead man couldn’t. (14 March)

Church Road, approaching Holcomb Road, White Rock Township, 7 March.

It’s a sunny spring afternoon and my grandpa’s gone. The world’s still here, even though he’s not. (14 March)

Detail of east wall of house of barbed-wire inventor Joe Glidden, DeKalb, Ill., 15 March.

Perhaps there’s a fine line between being skeptical of others and being self-righteous. (16 March)

View of Joe Glidden house, east-wall and addition, 15 March.

Meditating may not take my mind to a truer view — but I’m briefly released from a partial (my usual and limited) view. (21 March)

The problem of audience — we can try to appeal to those who aren’t similar to us (though there’s a risk of stereotyping and pandering to people we don’t know well), but that attempt may be futile. (21 March)

A view into a cooler, Potbelly Sandwiches, DeKalb, Ill., 15 March.

“What is real” isn’t an idea — it might be the idea, the only idea — the idea that is at the center of any moment of consciousness. (23 March)

Ambiguity — going beyond simple statements — is poetic? (23 March)

When we learn something in the formal setting of school (or workplace, etc.), we expect to learn technical things (things that won’t necessarily be intuitive) and we know we’ll have to use this info in certain ways (memorize it for a test, use new equipment properly, etc.). We have that formal-learning context — as distinct from the personal, experiential learning we do informally and, perhaps, unintentionally in the rest of our lives. (25 March)

The view down a corrugation in the metal sheathing of a storage building. A gap between the corrugation and the trim below allows light in. 15 March.