Tag Archives: random journal bits

At some point, my consciousness moments will end and I won’t be in the world anymore

I like being engaged in my work, and in my writing (as I have been for the last hour-plus) and I also like doing dog walks and just being calm and looking and thinking and I like sitting places too and just looking or even just breathing and thinking — or breathing and letting go of thoughts (meditation, basically). Yet I also know that my consciousness — while wonderful and cool and powerful — is also the product of (is made possible by, as the PBS-ers say) my body, and as many thoughts as I’ve had and as I’ve written (a subset, of course, of all that I’ve thought), these too will end at some point — I’ll die, of course — and that feels sad to consider. And on other hand, I just … keep on thinking, you know? I have a thought at (in) a moment, and then the moment passes and I have another thought, and, at some point, my consciousness moments will end and I won’t be in the world anymore — and I won’t be a driver-threat to squirrels [as I was the day before]. …

Yes, I don’t think a life needs to be famous to be well-lived — the famous die, too — and once you’re dead, you’re dead — it doesn’t matter what your public reputation was (or will be — you can’t libel the dead).

[From journal of Sat., 17 Sept. 2022, Journal 366, page 200]

I can’t just sit down and make something I’ll appreciate right away

My writings don’t usually seem all that good to me soon after I’ve made them. I didn’t like reading my McKuen erasures that much until the last year or so, and I can’t just sit down and make something I’ll appreciate right away — or at least that’s not likely (and the few times I’ve done that — as with the “Split My Thumb” poem, maybe — the poem turns out to be not all that interesting in the long term — it’s too straightforward).

I hear dog or dogs barking, maybe the condo dogs on their balconies barking at a passer-buy. A dude (an older dude) with a golden retrievo was walking past [a neighbor’s] house last night (well, what was that, maybe 6:45 p.m.?) and Sam and I were across the street because we almost never walk the sidewalk past [this neighbor’s], because of [their dog B.], his electric fence comes up to sidewalk, and he crossed over that invisible boundary, onto the sidewalk, to get to golden. No fight that I saw, though [neighbor-adults] were outside and yelled and B. seemed to leave the golden alone for the remainder of its pass-by.

[From journal of Mon., 5 Sept. 2022, J366, page 122]

Dip in, sample, leave

I like the idea that my texts [my journal bits, as this one here] aren’t things for anthologies, not typical to be anthologized (my writings would be more likely to be in one of those Best Non-Required Reading (or “non-essential”?) collections). But, yeah, yeah — my writings aren’t the kind of thing a reader would be likely to sit and absorb for pages and pages. But that’s OK! Dip in, sample, leave — come back later.

I hear loud, deep-pitched, distant roar — from the Dragway, I’d guess. I don’t know when there will next be rain — and rain would, I hope, quiet the Dragway a while. All the exhaust-pollution being spewed around this town — near the motocross zone and the nuclear plant, all three of those things within a couple miles of each other (literally, maybe just two miles separates them). …

[From journal of Sat., 10 Sept. 2022, journal volume 366, page 151]

The implication of expository and argumentative nonfiction is that the author is The Authority (the word’s right there!)

The implication of expository and argumentative nonfiction is that the author is The Authority (the word’s right there!) and those who would report or argue in different ways are, well, wrong. (This judgment is inherent in reporting (and not just arguments) at a deep level because what is a report (news, explication, interpretation, analysis, etc.) except a document making an implicit claim to be accurately prioritized and thorough) …

Maybe it’s arrogant to seek new forms — but it also seems arrogant to adopt the authorial tone/voice/attitude when writing within the forms. And I also thought this morning that it’s forms that I have to teach — I’ve thought about this in Rhet & Comp for years, since Mom said she taught college kids who didn’t seem to have knowledge of the forms. It’s useful to get along (to succeed) in school and in business (and other institutions, other groups) if you’re aware of the common forms (and if you’re aware that there are such things as forms). Forms are a convenient way to communicate (how a science-journal paper has a different form — a form shared among practitioners in a discipline — from, say, a police report or a commemorative poem). But I thought about how I’m not directly teaching sonnet or sestina forms — well, the sonnet a little, in that I teach the iambic rhythm form — rhythm, rhyme, these too seem types of form — forms, familiar patterns, of language. The heroic meter: it exists, it is declared, and then poets try to show their ability to write to it — they show off. OK, it’s not just showing off to write in a meter, as a meter can aid memory retention (as would benefit, say, a singer of lyrics). But, well, partly what a writer of a form wants is to be seen as good, capable and clever at filling the form. What can a songwriter do, how much can be accomplished in, say, a 3 ½ minute pop song? And some artists claim to like or value limitations (Twyla T says that — something in her book on creativity says something like, to those whom the gods wish to humble they give enormous resources).

But — but. Openness — it doesn’t take resources to let go of the forms. I don’t have anything that I want to advocate to others — and I don’t usually seek to entertain others through my writing, though I do wish to inspire them. Sure, at my job, I’ll teach some forms — I’ll talk to students about rhythm & rhyme and I’ll say that these are the levers of the language machine and it’s good for writers to know what levers, what tools, they have available. If I don’t point students to some forms, some tools, then I’ve got a vague-as-sh*t class (and I have done that sometimes in my career, pointed students toward an ill-defined ideal, and it tends not to be a helpful/useful approach within the classroom form).

And I think how I’ve realized just in recent years that journals were the process (the quasi-form, because it’s defined more as a process than as a product) that suited me, and I’ve realized only in recent days a second quasi-form that suits and pleases (satisfies) me, a second art-ideal that’s mine, that fits me, that satisfies me, something I don’t feel too limited in, and something that isn’t imposed from outside (my erasure & random-word poems). I had to find these on my own, and that I’ve done, and it’s deeply gratifying — and it’s just satisfying when something clicks in its proper place. Finally, I find something that meets my needs (which needs too needed discovery and refining) and so of course it was only me who could find what suited me. And so I probably can’t teach this to kids — I can’t teach them, each of them, what suits and fits them. They’re 17, 18, too young to fully understand themselves, though I actually did (I can see in retrospect) have some urges, impulses — feelings more than clearly defined ideas — that I, even as a teenager, liked certain types of poems (such as Brautigan’s as an example, but I even wrote that poem that poetry is for things that don’t fit in prose — not exactly what I believe now, but also not wrong — hinting that I liked openness) and that I liked Vonnegut’s less-traditional stories and that I liked to journal, to record my life experiences (sh*t, going back at least to my vacation journals of 1986, aged 12! And I started journaling regularly in my first year of college! I have journaled because I liked doing it and because it seemed valuable. I did things and liked things before I ununderstood well why I did them and liked them — and that’s not bad advice for young artists, too. Do things, try things — see which feel right (even if they don’t feel easy, exactly, but they feel valuable to do) and which don’t (I didn’t want to stay a reporter).

So, yeah, I think my experience in becoming myself is cool as hell — I can share that with students. Basically, try lots of things but trust your gut as to which are yours and which aren’t.

[From journal of Sun., 28 Aug. 2022, Journal 366, pages 60-63]

The sign and two in-person warnings: Three random journal bits from a week in California

¶ The sign and two in-person warnings we got not to leave anything in the [rental] car, not even for a second, dude at exit-box said. He seemed sincere. I’d read (at TheAtlantic.com) that window-smashings were common in San Francisco. [From journal of Sun., 24 July 2022, page 43]

¶ Camo Shorts left a bit ago. I said he’s wearing the same clothes as yesterday but so am I.

No blue sky yet today.

Mark is the first person to ask me about my scribbling in a while. I had my book open to page 144 and had my hand on it — I was a little self-conscious that he might see what I’d written before. He fixed gas lines but got hurt and lost job and went to college to become teacher. He has 70 minutes at lunch and rides an electric bike home (which takes 16 minutes, he said).

I had thought that I could say how I’ve had a better conversation with him than with others I’ve talked to during recent days (I did say — he said something about how you can’t be outside in winter in [the Midwest] — he was born in Cali., around here, I guess. I said I walk dog in winter, though only briefly when it was 30 below.) [From journal of Fri., 29 July 2022, page 150]

¶ Walking and driving roads around here, I’ve noticed that there [always] seems to be one car in the way — coming, appearing around curves, shrubs, etc. I know this is a subjective complaint but it is a subjective complaint, something I’ve thought a few times lately. 7:27 (a.m.) phone time, outside of Peet’s again, Aptos, southwest of [the intersection of] Soquel and State Park Roads. I wrote the words above [before the “7:27”] as I walked across the Rancho Del Mar (strip mall name, I think) parking lot and now I’m at my same table as yesterday. I could be at my northside table — nobody else is there — but I’m here. The garbage in the shopping cart is here again this morning — there’s a roll of brown paper towels in the upper box of the cart, near handles, and though I don’t see it now from 15 feet away, I thought I saw yesterday the empty packaging for that roll of towels was also still in the cart. There’s the drone of a mower-sized engine (a piston-ringed roarer, as Gene Logsdon (I knew his name would come to mind) called small gas engines (internal combustion engines)). Engine sound comes from an engine on what looks like a tank of water — a dude seems to be watering the shrubbery at side of parking lot. K & D Landscaping, Inc., his truck says. “Design. Install. Maintain” — which maintenance includes watering, I guess. I wonder how big, how much capacity, is in the opaque plastic tank — a couple hundred gallons? [From Journal of Fri., 29 July 2022, page 137, and parts of 138 & 139]

Rereading some wisdom tonight

Rereading some wisdom tonight — Sermon on the Mount, and Conclusion to Walden.

“Judge not lest ye be judged” (or “… that you be not judged”). That’s almost all you need right there.

But it also reminds me, in thinking about humility.

Matt 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, …” — reminds me that I do need to seek, that’s up to me, and to have the faith that by seeking (by going through the process), I will find.

And the humility — God providing for me — 6:25 through 34 — “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” — and Chapter 19 about not laying up treasures on Earth. See, at once that says to me don’t fret the job, just leave it.

Yet part of me says I don’t know — I am humble enough to not presume to know — what and how God is providing for me. Maybe this teaching job is where God wants me to be for now. Who am I to presume I know what’s best for myself, and that I should take such rash moves as quitting my job? Yet, Jesus does say to seek, and Thoreau talks about dreams undreamt in common hours.

M: Jesus is saying, don’t fret about the material world, and the spiritual world is always perfect.

Stories on the news — murders, crime, no longer seem to me to be stories at all. Maybe the public, the average hearer of news, does identify with the extreme tragedies — do they empathize with victims or recoil (to boo and hiss, perhaps?) at the attacker?

p. 347 Thoreau: “If you are restricted in your range by poverty, if you cannot buy books and newspapers, for instance, you are but confined to the most significant and vital experiences.”

and p. 344: “I fear chiefly lest my expression may not be extra-vagrant enough, may not wander far enough beyond the narrow limits of my daily experiences, so as to be adequate to the truth of which I have been convinced.”

[from journal of Tues., 10 May 2005, Journal 50, page 35–37]

Adults have hobbies

Adults have hobbies — fixing old cars, blogging, knitting, reading — things we do for fun, pleasure rather than profit, but is this the same as play? Or is imaginative play the realm of children — them trying on scenarios for when they’re adults, like puppies and kittens play-fighting with each other? Dog doesn’t play so much — though he does roll in grass, and he does play, gets frustrated if I don’t play with him, playing chase (though that was a quick session this morn. He went out and has stayed out.).

I read a Calvin & Hobbes recently where Cal’s dad said adults don’t play, they exercise, measure it, get serious, make it a chore. I don’t want a FitBit to count my steps for that very reason. I don’t need another number in my life to live up to.

And since nobody’s telling me how many assignments to give and to grade, well, then, I’m the only one who needs to be satisfied by how much I do. In other words, adjust your feelings — your shoulds and your guilt at not living up to your shoulds. You’re the measurer of your own teaching performance! (sure there are evaluations, but those are snapshots.)

[From journal of Sun., 23 April 2017, Journal 250, page 42-3]