Hello and good morning, everyone. It’s Thursday again—a week before Thanksgiving in the US—and thus it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts. Given the upcoming holiday, I probably won’t be putting out a blog post next week, but it’s possible that I will. That will be a decision for the Robert of Thursday, November 26, 2020, and I’m not him yet.
It’s been a somewhat tumultuous week, locally at least, for me. Business has been slow, and there’s been a relatively high degree of absenteeism at work. I think both facts are largely due to the current chaos in the social and political climate. Much of the chaos ought to be unnecessary, but many things in the world are not as they “ought” to be, whatever you think that “ought” entails.
At least one person in my office has come down with Covid-19, confirmed by testing and highly specific symptoms, though thankfully it was/is a mild case. Also, my housemate appears to have come down with it. He’s got some flu-like symptoms and whatnot, but again, it doesn’t seem to be a severe case. I, on the other hand, despite the fact that I am a wistful admirer—and even occasionally a stalker—of my own mortality, feel pretty much fine, or at least as well as usual. My comparative health may be due in part to the fact that I am the only person in my office who consistently wears a mask*, and as a trained physician, I tend to wash my hands frequently and thoroughly. I am, in addition, both voluntarily and involuntarily, a dab hand at social distancing.
Nonetheless, I did get myself tested yesterday morning, and I’ll have the results within a few days. Then I’ll know whether I feel basically fine because I am one of the low-to-no symptom people with the virus, or whether it’s because I don’t have it (yet). Whatever my attitude toward my own health and well-being, knowledge is generally preferable to ignorance. Ignorance can only be bliss if there are no potential threats in one’s environment that knowledge could allow one to prepare against (whatever might be the nature of such threats or of that which is being threatened). And, of course, without knowledge, one cannot know whether there are such threats…though a good starting assumption seems to be that, yes, there are. There always are.
Existence wends a narrow path through phase space, with the infinitely high walls of reality on either side. If you don’t do your best to steer your course in parallel with reality’s general direction, sooner or later you will collide with it. And when you collide with reality, reality always wins. That’s one of the ways you know that it’s reality; it doesn’t change to suit your convenience, your preference, or your beliefs.
Anyway, things in the world right now, both locally and globally, are certainly apt for a writer of horror fiction**. Given that, it should be no surprise that The Vagabond is going well, and the editing process is achieving at least some of its goal, which is to improve the quality of the written work. I’m still enjoying the story, and I feel more and more again that it really is my book, which at first it almost didn’t seem to be, since I had first written it so long ago.
It’s amusing to be editing a story in which the characters have to worry about missing phone calls because they’re away from their apartments, and in which they need to seek out pay phones or campus phones to call each other. It’s likewise amusing to have characters learn of dire events in their world by reading a daily newspaper, since their TV is only inconsistently operational, and they don’t have cable.
Were such things really here as we do speak about? Yes, it seems they were. Reading my own story brings many memories rather vividly back to my mind. Maybe it will do so for you if and when you get a chance to read it. I hope so. It feels a bit odd to think of the late-eighties/early-nineties as simpler times (they were quite chaotic for me, frankly), but as a matter of the creation and processing of information in human society, they certainly were. The rate at which “stuff” happens has increased roughly in accord with Moore’s Law, though much of that stuff is effectively noise. I suspect the overall signal-to-noise ratio in society has diminished significantly over time, but whether the signal has gone down enough no longer to be growing exponentially***, or even linearly, is a question about which I don’t have a strong sense of the right answer.
And with that flagrant declaration of my own ignorance, I’ll draw this meandering blog post to a close, which probably won’t disappoint you. I hope you all do your best to stay well, both physically and mentally. Keep reading, of course, and try to keep your spirits up.
*Because, after all, the masks do more to protect others from oneself than oneself from others, and whatever my own willingness to embrace a potentially life-threatening disease, I do not have the right to enforce that upon others. This is a point that frustrates, disgusts, and angers me at those around me a lot of the time. I have deep contempt for their irrational selfishness and willingness to endanger others needlessly, which they disguise as a declaration of freedom or some other political or philosophical ideal—at least to themselves—but which in fact appears to be simply the expression of laziness…and of intellectual and moral cowardice.
**Not that it’s the only thing I write, but I do tend to turn and return to it a lot.
***Even if it’s slower than Moore’s Law, it could still be growing exponentially, just with a longer doubling time. Or it could be growing linearly, or staying constant, or decreasing linearly, or even falling off exponentially, though the latter seems unlikely.