Hello and good morning. It’s Thursday again, the first Thursday of an already rather tumultuous 2021, and thus—“Sound drums and trumpets! Farewell sour annoy!”—it’s time for my weekly blog post. We thus continue the regular pattern from yesteryear. Hopefully, some other patterns will be less persistent.
At the beginning of last year, I posted (on Facebook, I think) that I hoped that 2020 would be “the year of seeing clearly,” since it sounded like the usual pronunciation of the (American at least) description of normal vision. Alas, as is often the case when I attempt to be optimistic, I was disappointed. I’m also likely to be disappointed in my less serious wish that the year following 2021 should be 2223, but at least that’s just silliness, while the former was a legitimate hope. Maybe I should stick with silliness.
I’ve been doing my best to continue with my usual processes over the course of the dismal holiday season, and thus I can happily report that The Vagabond has now entered its penultimate editorial run-through, and I’ve even begun formatting it for eventual publication.
I think horror aficionados will appreciate it, as will even some who may not be true horror fans, but who enjoy fantastic adventures interposed into seemingly ordinary reality. Based on my own experience of popular fiction in one form or another, I suspect that a great many people do enjoy such stories. It’s just kind of fun to think about the usual, mundane* rules of ordinary life being suspended or infringed upon by epic, paranormal events.
Yesterday I posted a new “audio blog” on Iterations of Zero. It’s a meandering soliloquy about, among other things, the biological source of the human tendency not to appreciate what we have but only to bemoan its loss or impairment. I did an audio blog because I had trouble writing another post using my smartphone, partly because of the continuing musculotendinous pain in my left hand and forearm. Also, I just felt too glum to summon the will to do it. It can be hard to find the motivation to put one’s words out into the aether. If a voice cries out in the wilderness and no one hears it**, did it really say anything?
I gave myself the freedom not to edit out background sounds and whatnot too much for that post, to make it easier and more likely that I really would upload the recording—which I did, so I guess that worked. I don’t know whether the audio has so many such artifacts as to be irritating, but at least I put it out there. If anyone listens and has comments, feel free to leave them in the appropriate section on IoZ or here.
I continue to have trouble getting interested in new fiction (new to me, anyway) of any kind, whether movie, TV show, book, or even comic or manga. This distresses me greatly, because fiction, especially novels and short stories, but also movies and TV shows, has always been one of my greatest joys. That’s one of the main reasons I write fiction. I bought a new tablet, of decent size, so that I could read manga and some of my old favorite comic books from my youth on it. That pursuit ran out of steam after about one and a half days.
I still do enjoy some nonfiction—science, particularly—but I’m running out of new material that interests me even there. I’ve read so many of the science books that interest me, and I’ve watched most of the hundreds of YouTube videos on science-based channels that I like, such as PBS Spacetime, Sixty Symbols, Numberphile, Veritasium, and so on. I even have (in the office at work, where I’m given a fair amount of leeway, which is nice) a collection of harder science books, like Feynman’s Lectures on Physics, Thorne el al’s Gravitation, Sean Carrol’s Spacetime and Geometry, and Hawking and Gibbons’ Euclidean Quantum Gravity, but it’s hard to be surreptitious when perusing a big-ass textbook during moments of downtime, and let’s face it, those books require some real attention. I’m interested in the last one because I was quite taken with Stephen Hawking’s notion of complex time as eliminating the singularity problem of black holes and the Big Bang, making the nature of such boundaries no more unreasonable than the fact that one can’t go further north than the north pole while on the surface of the Earth***. But this material is…well, it’s complex, obviously, and to understand it deeply would take some real concentration.
That’s what I seem to have trouble with, perhaps. Real enjoyment, I think, requires concentration, and that requires the will and discipline to concentrate. I’m not the sort of person who can come and go while a movie is playing, for instance, and I get irritated when other people do it. But it’s getting harder and harder to be interested in anything enough even to care to watch or listen to or read it, and I certainly have no one with whom I’m able to share or interested in sharing any of these experiences…not anyone who wants to share them with me, anyway. (Can you blame them?)
Sorry, I don’t know why I got off on that tangent so much, but it is bothering me tremendously, and it makes everything else in the world seem progressively, increasingly gray, muddy, and faintly noxious. Maybe I’m hoping that someone reading this will recognize the issue and know of some hitherto unimagined solution. But I don’t think that will happen. As with Moriarty and Holmes, I suspect that everything people might have to say has already gone through my mind and has been found insufficient.
I could be wrong, though. I’d be quite satisfied to be wrong on this matter. I don’t mind being proven wrong, myself, because what I really want it to become more right as time goes by, if that’s possible. Maybe that goal simply isn’t conducive to satisfaction and enjoyment; I don’t know. But if ignorance is necessary for bliss, then I guess I’d rather be uncomfortable.
Anyway, that’s enough of that. Welcome to the new year. I’d like to be optimistic about it, but at least if I’m not, I will only tend to be pleasantly surprised. Stay well, and stay reasonably safe, and do your best to stay (or become) sane.
*Of course, they’re only mundane because we’ve become inured to their familiarity. If you stop and read (or watch or listen to) some works on cosmology and physics or on natural history, biology, ecology, or similar things, you will encounter forces interacting at scales both vast and minute with character that the greatest mythologizers of the past could never have imagined—or would never have had the audacity to share.
**Not even the chair.
***I even used some highly bastardized related notions in Son of Man to describe the workings of the “Assembly Chamber”.