Please Remain Calm

Snow in the ‘banks this morning… accompanied of course by the dulcet tones of emergency sirens racing off to the various scenes of roadway mishap.

If today were yesterday I would have said something along the lines of “I rarely go to church because I want to” and then quoted a line from the song which shares the title of this post…”It’s hard to tell the difference of a prophet from a crackpot, I wouldn’t blame you if you’d rather stay in bed.” But then I would have to note that this in no way would be meant to reflect on any person or persons in particular… I just had that song running through my head for a good part of the morning.

Enough about that, just had to make the odd comment to sort of state a point; which is, when I write these things they are often little more than stream of consciousness solidified… Sort of… that is if the digital world is solid…which it would not really seem to be… except maybe in the sense that as I type, the words are displayed on a screen, which is solid… but then once I post the words to the “blogosphere” (still a stupid word…) what state do they exist in? Experiential? In that they only truly exist when being read (and thus experienced) by a reader… begging the question, if a word is posted on the interwebs, but is never read does it actually exist? Is “experiential” a state of being?

Pardon the odd questions. I will unabashedly blame a friend’s new blog about science, which you should go read. Recently he asked… well more posited really as I do not believe he was looking for an answer, the following question:  “how many meters long is the song of the morning birds?”. He was using this as an example of a question that is poorly formed in that it is nonsensical and not worthy (necessarily) of an answer. But, BUT, what if one were to respond with a seemingly nonsensical answer… such as, “Well, it would depend on the type of bird doing the singing in that all birds sing different songs and if one were to record and transcribe the birdsong in question, one could identify the meter (metre) and thus “measure” the length of the song…”  However, that would just be silly.


This from “Garfield – Garfield”, a phenomenon that I was recently introduced to and would highly suggest you check out.

Anyways, what I was trying to relay in writing this is that, as I said, when I write, I write what I am feeling/thinking at the moment. I have a difficult time crafting these posts, that is I do not write them “ahead of time”, but rather in real time. I write them as they come to me. I have never really been much of a creative writer, as in I do not do well just spinning yarns, or for that matter writing about given subjects. I write about my experiences, my memories, my emotions, questions that I have, thoughts that I think… and these things are fleeting. And you know what? the writing has this interesting side-effect of both “solidifying” and releasing those thoughts, feelings, questions, etc.

What I am trying to say is that these posts, while reflecting a certain state of being…in a sense, are in many ways also a certain therapy for me. Ultimately I just enjoy the writing, and writing as I do sometimes expose some of my more fragile and distorted sides. Not to worry, I am not going mad… any more than usual anyway.

A Litany of Woe

Sometimes, life is more complicated than others. Likewise, some people have different tolerances for (or ways of managing reaction to) life’s little quirks. Most of the time life confuses and/or confounds me. Of course I am not talking about physiological life, although most of that too is beyond my grasp. I never could get the hang of biology… No, of course I am talking about the experience of going through the world as a semi-intelligent, self-conscious (self-aware?), being with a purported sense of free will. Some people that we might call “scientists” (quotes because as I am learning from that blog that I mentioned above, that particular moniker can mean something along the lines of “one who questions”…or something), look at life and try to figure it out. Some accept it as it is, comfortable in their belief in something that allows them to not concern themselves with such questioning… or something. I often find myself somewhere in between… or something. I do not feel a strong burning desire to understand what makes life (the world) work the way it does but rather I tend to spend more time trying to understand my relationship and reactions to it. I am just trying to make my way through life (the world) and sometimes that can be really complicated. Sometimes it can suck, and when I am feeling particularly put upon, by my experiences (I am not suggesting that life – or the world – is out to get me) I get a little manic. Sometimes that comes out as depression, sometimes confusion. Sometimes I am a bit bi-polar, in that I get caught up in the swing. Often times, those experiences – or state of being – allow me to write, which makes me feel better…. Hence the blog posts and the sometimes “Litany of woe”.

I have that quote written on a post-it-note above my desk. It comes from an article written by a friend and co-worker of mine. He coined it to describe the journals of a particular arctic explorer wherein was chronicled the crossing of the Brooks Range mountains in northern Alaska. I loved it when I first read it as it not only perfectly describes the often typical cadence one finds when reading such journals, but it has such a great descriptive presence. I keep it at my desk to remind me that sometimes life is more complicated than not… that it is all one can do sometimes to express exasperation at the hill that never seems to end, the endless hordes of mosquitoes, the spring that never seems to come…etc.  And yet, when you finally get to the top of that hill… whatever sort of hill it may have been, you can look around, take in the view, and know that those particular woes are beneath you. There may be more ahead, but now that those have been acknowledged and attended to, you can move on. And if there happens to be fresh snow and you just happen to have a sled, well then…



2 thoughts on “Please Remain Calm

  1. So many thoughts, in no particular order:

    (1) I am amused that two people can have such different approaches to navel-gazing/catharsis blogging, or whatever you and I are doing with our respective blogs. Yours, as you say, is real-time, stream-of-consciousness, whereas mine (again as you say) is very much the crafted, planned-out-ahead-of-time sort. I have maybe another 10-15 blog posts waiting the wings, though some much more mature and ready to roll out after a bit more polishing than others. And yet, I enjoy reading your stream of consciousness, maybe in part because I don’t necessarily let myself do it enough. The nice thing is that it’s not really vicarious when you ride someone else’s stream-of-consciousness, because yours wasn’t going anywhere more particular than theirs, nor by a route more predetermined, so “theirs” might as well have been “yours.”

    (2) Not that you’re necessarily aiming for world renown as a blogger, but there are certainly world-renowned authors who are regarded as highly accomplished stream-of-consciousness authors, Proust being the poster child (although I probably wouldn’t hang that poster on my wall).

    (3) Circa Summer ’01, or maybe sometime within a year of that in either direction, I was huge into Taoism … not a well- or conventionally-trained Taoism, but the crazy sort that you would get when you combine the Tao of Pooh with Martin Heidegger’s take on Taoism (which is exactly the sort of Taoism I was immersed in). Heidegger had a lot to say against science as he saw it, which was an enterprise in the service of technology, both of them intent on imposing a rigid, crystalline order on life, the universe, and everything (okay, that part is Adams), in both thought and material reality. But, imperial though the sci/tech enterprise might be, Heidegger also argued (or maybe just asserted) that these ambitions and strategies would always prove inadequate. He wasn’t just taking issue with the technological subordination of the world (although I think that’s the part that drove so much of the urgency in his writing on Taoism) but also with its intellectual subordination. He had this notion, which I still very much ascribe to, that scientists can go on believing what they will about how the world works until they are blue in the face (although I’m not sure how holding a belief would make one blue in the face), because the world is just going to keep on doing what it does anyway, beliefs be damned. He also had this notion that, in doing what it does, the world would frequently evade or defy any tidy scientific understanding and technological enthrallment (which I also believe), sometimes to tragic effect (which I also believe, and it is worth noting that Heidegger was writing in the early 20th century, when world war was an important expression of technology, and big industry was visibly and shamelessly exploitative of its human resources; not that that has necessarily changed everywhere). A more successful way to go about life, he suggested, or at least one that deals honestly with the way the world really works, is to simply to acknowledge its order-defying tendencies (which I do) and to give up on the enterprise of trying to wrestle it into submission (which I won’t). He also believed that poetry, if done right, is a far better way of understanding the true nature of the world than science; one embraces, the other confronts. I think he also dabbled in poetry, though I never read any of it, so who knows if he accomplished through it what he thought he could.

    (4) A little more on the questioning front:

    • Funny thing, right around that time I too was into Taoism, also fueled by the Tao of Pooh (and the Te of Piglet) although not so much by Heidegger. I rather went towards translations of the original texts and then somehow got tangled up in a martial arts/zen thing for awhile. I am not sure that I really ever left any of that behind, but rather stuck it in my “toolbox” as it were… now I just strive to abide in my ignorance when the sitting and pondering schtick does not pan out.

      How is it that we have never discovered/discussed this particular convergence in our mutual experience?

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