For fear lest day should look their shames upon, they willfully exile themselves from light, and must for aye consort with black blog’d night.

“Jacob,” he said, imploringly.  “Old Jacob Marley, tell me more.  Speak comfort to me, Jacob!”
“I have none to give,” the Ghost replied.  “It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of men.”

Hello there and good morning, so to speak.  It’s another Thursday, and therefore, it’s time for another of my blog posts.  QED.

Much seems to be going on in the world outside, though I suspect it’s not that there’s more going on than usual, just that there’s a more unified nature to what’s most being talked about in the news and in rumor and in office chitchat (for those whose offices are still open) and online.  But honestly, there’s not much real information being shared, as far as I can see.  Most of what I’m reading and seeing has more to do with pigeons in skinner cages developing stereotyped behaviors because they think those behaviors lead to food being dispensed than with real, thinking people taking real, considered action.

Not that I should hold this against people.  Humans are primates, and we react to stress the way primates do, only more so.  There are exceptions, of course; a modest percentage of people really do make a difference.  And certainly, a few of the actions many people take are beneficial.  I’ve spoken of them before, and they haven’t really changed.  But much of what people are doing beyond basic, consistent recommendations is as effective as hanging horseshoes and flicking the sign of the evil eye.  And as with such things, if people come out well on the other end of events, they’ll consciously or tacitly attribute their success to having performed their arcane actions instead of mainly to luck coupled with the few reasonable things they do and to the general work of the medical community and the various support people and services who truly do make a difference.

The toilet paper manufacturers, at least, are surely doing very well out of all this, as are the makers of various “wipes” and related items.  It would be nice—as I think I’ve noted before—if people took from this situation an increased tendency to wash their hands more frequently and more thoroughly, to cough and sneeze into appropriate places, and so on.  And, of course, it would be nice if people took forethought into what they made their governments do regarding ongoing healthcare, scientific research, social safety nets in place for disasters, and so on.  But I strongly suspect that this will not happen.  Nature has not shaped us to be good at rational prioritization.  We are much better at following our whims and then performing amazing feats of sophistry to justify our actions after the fact.  We’re very good at telling those stories.

It’s may seem unfair of me to complain about storytelling, but at least I openly admit that my stories are fiction.

One ironic thing about this all is, of course, that my workplace is still functioning, since it is a small office of only a few people that doesn’t interact physically with the general public.  I do our records and payroll, so I’d be working in any case.  Conveniently, at my office, we have an actual doctor (me) to give coworkers recommendations and advice, which they promptly—sometimes instantaneously—ignore to instead do the equivalent of rubbing their crystals.  Meanwhile, I’m not allowed to do the work for which I trained, and at which I was really quite good, in providing actual healthcare to some of the many people who need it.

It’s a bit of an irony, and one I bemoan, that people with loved ones with whom they share their daily lives, and to whom they are important on a daily basis, and with whom they interact, and on whom they mutually depend, are at significantly increased risk of infection, and thus of a small but nonzero chance of acute mortality.  Meanwhile, extraterrestrial weirdos such as I, who could be plucked from the surface of the world any time, with nary a momentary ripple to show that I’d ever existed, are relatively protected.  I suppose I could feel irritated that people are horning in on my act with all their talk of social isolation, but it’s not an act and I don’t recommend it except when it’s a necessity.

This is, oddly, a case where I feel something akin to jealousy of the people who suffer and die from this virus.  It’s not the first such situation.  And it is jealousy, rather than simple envy, because I really would like to deprive others of their illnesses, if that’s the proper word, and would happily take them all upon myself to do so.  It would be an excellent exchange, to great mutual, net benefit—I can only suffer and die once, after all, not millions of times over. And it would be so nice to be so useful, and at the same time get what I want. Regrettably, this kind of sympathetic magic does not work in the real world.  Physics is an implacable, intransigent bastard.

It would be nice to be more generally inspired by people’s reactions to global events, to feel moved by heroic individuals who rise to the occasion to help change things for the better.  I’m certain that those people are out there.  But they are a woefully small minority, and sometimes I think they’re doing a disservice by helping everyone else to survive when they really have no good excuse for doing so, beyond the inherent biological drive that nearly all living creatures have to stay alive.  Very few humans have ever thought seriously and critically about whether life is truly worth living.

There are precious few inspiring humans in the world, and humans are more inspiring than any other creatures on this planet.  The Earth’s history really is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Speaking of tales told by idiots, Unanimity continues to go well.  I’m nicely into the penultimate editing run-through, and it continues to be fun to read, for me at least.  If civilization survives—and/or if I do—then the book should be coming out sometime this year.  I’m not sure if those contingencies are ones to which to look forward or to dread for all of you.  I have a personal bias, and I’m betting that you can guess what it is, if you’ve been paying attention.  But it’s not for me to decide such things for you.

I more or less completed the final mix of my song Schrodinger’s Head by last weekend, and it does sound better and clearer than the original.  I just haven’t felt the urge to share it yet.  I suppose I probably will at some point.  I’ve been having more and more difficulty finding enjoyment in things that used to engage me, even my old fail safes.  I’m losing my patience even for nonfiction, science and math reading, let alone for fiction, and even audiobooks are hard to bear.  The blogs I used to enjoy are all so tediously overwhelmed with politics and pandemics in recent months and years, that I can’t bring myself to sit through a single whole episode.  Even music is mostly just an irritant.  I envy those who are able simply to sleep in their spare time.  Perchance, to dream.

I encourage all of you to keep being careful, if your value your lives and health and those of the people around you, but you don’t need to panic or otherwise go nuts.  Just follow the simple rules of handwashing, appropriate cleanliness, appropriate respiratory hygiene, and “social distancing”.  If you want help with the latter, I’m more or less an involuntary expert, so I can give you some thoughts on it.

It helps to cultivate a conviction that you are not only inherently valueless on any serious scale of being, but that you are actually a burden and a chore to the people around you, a detriment and an unfair load on the shoulders of anyone kind but foolish and deluded enough to care what happens to you.  If you’re able to do this, then trying to interact with others will soon become actually painful—even if you wish to do it—since it will make you feel guilty, anxious, and ashamed.  Because these feelings will be aroused by the presence of and each interaction with others, you will come more and more to dread such interactions, and even to hate them, however much you wish it were otherwise.  If you can arrange for those whom you love to despise you, or at least to find you unpleasant and uncomfortable and not to want you around, that can be very useful.

You can probably see how easy that is.  Familiarity breeds contempt, for we humans are prone to recall and dwell on the noxious far more readily than the soothing…for good, sound, biological reasons which all but guarantee that each life will have more subjective suffering than joy.  Creatures that are content and joyous and readily satisfied do not tend to survive to leave nearly as many offspring as those driven by the internal prods of anxiety, pain, longing, and insecurity.  Obviously, too much of these things can be debilitating, and can impair biological success.  Biology has to leave just enough of a carrot out front to make an organism decide that it’s worth moving forward at all, but short-term thinking combined tiny and transitory rewards accomplish that nicely.  We overestimate the size of those often-illusory gains, while responding only too well to the many blows of the stick, and ensuring that the area under the curve of suffering is maximized across all life.

It’s rather akin to the dynamics of a viral contagion.  A virus that kills too high a proportion of its hosts kills itself off before it can spread very far.  A virus that spreads easily, producing symptoms that encourage its spread, like coughing and sneezing, and which only kills a modest few of its hosts, can maximize itself.  Of course, host immunity in those that survive may suppress it before long, especially if those hosts can take active measures.  But a good virus—like the flu, for instance—mutates often enough and is varied enough that developing lasting resistance to it is extremely difficult.  It’s not a sprint, after all, it’s a marathon.

Wait, am I talking about viral epidemiology or about the nature of suffering in general?  I suppose it’s a bit of both.  They certainly overlap each other.

TTFN

As who should say, I am sir Oracle, And when I ope my lips, let no blog bark!

Meaning

Hello and good morning, as usual.  It’s Thursday (the second Thursday of the decade, or at least of the year), and thus, as usual again, it’s time for another blog post!

So far the new decade has been…well, reasonably interesting, I suppose, but more or less on a par with all other beginnings of years and of decades, and with Thursdays in general, for that matter.  I’ve been continuing to try to feel my way toward the best thing to do with Iterations of Zero, and to that end, yesterday I posted the edited audio of two different recordings, one made on the morning of January 7th, and the other made on the morning of the 8th.  [I also did a bit of a recording on the 6th, but that was almost like one of my old therapy sessions…it was very glum and dark and dreary, and I don’t think I’m going to be sharing it with anyone, at least not for now.]  Anyway, the first of the two, both of which I posted yesterday, was about both the necessity of suffering and the desire for a sort of “political scientism”, as well as a more parochial attitude toward the importance of political ideas…in the sense that I want to encourage people to stop getting so caught up in the importance of their current political bugaboos, and recognize how transitory most of these concerns are.  I’m not sure if I made my case effectively or not.

The second was a bit of thinking about the quantum wave function, Everettian “many worlds” quantum mechanics and the ideas of Fourier analysis.  It’s a bit more esoteric, I guess, than the previous one (but to me a bit more interesting…the other is just a subject that’s irritating, mostly).  Anyway, I posted both of those on IoZ, and then later in the day put them on my YouTube channel.  If you’re interested, I’d encourage you to go listen.  The longest of them is less than fifteen minutes.  If anyone has any feedback, I’d love to get that as well, as always, but I often feel that’s a bit of a pipe dream.  I often feel that when I’m doing these sorts of things, I’m very much talking—and writing, I suppose—to myself.  Now, of course, that’s literally true, when I’m doing it, but I feel that even in the general, broad sense of interaction with the outside world.  Oh, well.

I continue, as usual, to work on Unanimity, which is coming along, and getting pared down slowly and steadily.  I’ve cut over thirty thousand words off already, but it’s still got a ways to go before it reaches where I want it to be, following the general advice Stephen King received from an editor many years ago: that your final version should be your first draft minus ten percent (or words to that effect).  I still sometimes wonder whether I’ll live to see it finished and published or not.

I’m trying very hard to make use of the New Year as a means to drive myself to improve my habits, and I’ve already made some headway on a few fronts (I won’t go into specifics to spare you the potentially dangerous boredom), but I always come up against the barrier of motivation.  It’s not really a matter of willpower, or at least not in the traditional sense.  I have a tremendous supply of stubbornness, and more than a little willpower.  The real question is more of a “why bother?” or “what’s the point?” question, sort of the converse, or obverse, or transverse, or whatever, of Victor Frankl notions put forth in Man’s Search for Meaning (an excellent, but harrowing, book).  His point in general, as I took it, is that if one has a meaning and a purpose, then one can endure almost anything*.  Potentially implicit in that argument, however, is the possible notion that, if one does not have any real meaning or purpose, then almost nothing seems worth enduring at all.  We can certainly see possible evidence of this all around us, perhaps most glaringly and poignantly realized in the drug use and overdose crisis, and the glaring examples of suicides among the highly accomplished and successful (which are only the most obvious examples of such cases throughout our culture…the number of suicides in America is roughly equal to the number of traffic fatalities annually, and the number of attempts is more than ten times as high).

I guess maybe this sort of stuff is more appropriate for discussion in Iterations of Zero.  After all, despite the fact that I glean my weekly blog post titles from Shakespearean quotes, and Shakespeare certainly dealt well with the darker aspects of the human psyche, I do try to keep this blog upbeat.

Of course, I’ve also struggled back and forth in my head with whether I should continue to keep my blogs separate or if I should just consolidate them into one blog (it would be this one, obviously…it would be silly indeed to discontinue an eponymous webpage).  I’ll have to see.  I’d actually love your feedback on this.  Would you like to see the material that I tend to put up on Iterations of Zero just put up here as a greater number of posts of various types? Or do you like keeping the two blogs separate? Which form would lead to greater readership? Does anyone actually care at all which way I do it?

It’s hard to expect an answer to that last question, because surely any negative answer at least would be self-contradictory…though I guess a positive reply would be valid.

Okay, that’s it for today.  I’m not actually feeling all that well, physically, so I think I’m going to post this without quite my usual editing.  I apologize if the means to quality of the content is not as refined as usual.  And if it’s not noticeably worse, I don’t know whether to feel glad or sad about that.

TTFN


*And as a concentration camp survivor, he had the credentials to make that claim.

Art thou not, fatal Vision, sensible to feeling as to sight? Or art thou but a blogger of the mind…

2020

Hello, good morning, happy Thursday, and—of course—Happy New Year!

It’s 2020 (AD or CE), a year that I’ve personally dubbed #TheYearofSeeingClearly*.  My book giveaway is now officially over, sad though that may be.  For those of you who took advantage, I hope you’re enjoying or will soon be enjoying your chosen books or stories.

I haven’t posted anything on Iterations of Zero since my last blog post here…the last two musical posts went out on December 25th.  However, given that the holidays have been underway, I feel it’s okay to give myself one week of a miss.  Now, however, there is no further excuse.  It’s a new year**, and even a new decade by most people’s reckoning, and while there may be nothing magical about the transition, it does serve as a good psychological milestone by which to set one’s goals for self-improvement.

I like the idea of striving to see clearly in this new year because of its coincidental numbering.  It would be nice if we could encourage people around the world to use this year to become more aware of their biases and blind spots, to work at removing the beams from their own eyes so that they can—when necessary—assist neighbors who have asked them to pluck out an occluding mote.  Of course, there’s a bit of a contradiction in trying to encourage other people the world over to be less critical of others and instead to try to look at themselves a bit more harshly with an eye to self-improvement.  Isn’t the very promulgation of such advice a violation of its own precepts?

Maybe in a small way, but it’s not advice that’s focused or targeted on any one person, but on us all, especially on me.  Goodness knows I have plenty of room for improvement, self- and otherwise.

I am, however, trying to achieve such improvements, on several fronts, though I try not to be overly ambitious on each of them, lest they get in each other’s way.  One thing I’ve learned at least to some degree by this stage in my life: you can’t let the “perfect” be the enemy of the good.  I’ve long tended toward an attitude of ruthless perfectionism with respect to myself, with the additional, cruel parenthetical that I know that I can never be perfect, so I can never be good enough.  However, as I’ve pondered things throughout the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that, except regarding quite simplistic processes and ideas, the very notion of perfection is mostly vacuous.

It’s also limiting.

To say that we are shooting for perfection implies that there is some upper limit beyond which we can never go.  But as math and science seem to show us, there is no real upper limit to many processes.  We can always improve, always find ways to make ourselves, and our cultures, and our creations, better.

Einstein is reputed to have said that there are only two infinite things:  the universe and human stupidity…and he wasn’t sure about the universe.  That statement about infinite human stupidity—perhaps infinite ignorance would be a better way to think of it—implies an infinite potential for human improvement.  We can keep getting better, as individuals and as a whole, without ever reaching a stopping point, until the end of time itself, if there is such a thing.

One may never reach the peak of an infinitely high mountain, but one can climb higher and higher, and be able to see farther and farther, to ever more distant horizons, with new vistas, filled with wonders one couldn’t have expected, because to have expected them, one would have already had to know what one hadn’t yet discovered.  And obviously one can’t do that.  We cannot ever, in principle, predict the specific shape of future discoveries and knowledge before they are created, for to predict them, we would already have to know them, which we don’t.  Quantum Electro-Dynamics***.

So, it is with a guarded sense of optimism that I approach the new year and new decade, and I hope you are also able to be reasonably optimistic, while still always maintaining a habit of self-improvement, and trying to see as clearly as you’re able.

Finally, with respect to writing/authoring news, Unanimity is coming along well and should be out sometime in the early part—at least the first half—of this year, hopefully followed shortly by Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  And whither then, I cannot tell.

TTFN


*Yes, I had the temerity to give it a hashtag.  It’s probably an unjustified bit of wishful thinking, in any case.  There’s little reason to expect people to see any more clearly, metaphorically, just because the year is 2020 than we ever have before.  But maybe we will.

**Though, admittedly, as I think I’ve said before, “new year”, “new week”, “new month”, etc., are arbitrary notions.  There’s nothing special from an astronomical point of view about any particular point in our planet’s orbit around the sun.

***In other words, “QED”.  That’s my little physics/philosophy joke.

Man on top of a mountain standing contemplates the dawn

O, let my blogs be then the eloquence and dumb presages of my speaking breast.

Antarctic

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.  For those of you who are paying attention, I have not (yet) written a post on Iterations of Zero this week.  That parenthetical “yet” may yet become a superfluous “yet”, alas, because I recently suffered from a rather nasty gastroenteritis.  For the first three or so days of this week, I felt almost literally rotten, and I’m still rather washed out, if you’ll pardon the expression.  So, I may have to call this week’s IoZ post a miss, though it pains me to do so after only having done a few weeks’ worth of continuous posting.  I may need just to write a very brief entry there as an apology.

I have been able to keep up with editing Unanimity, though the process was rather slower than usual.  I’m again approaching the latter part of the story, and as expected, it’s not quite as gripping as it was the first several times.  This is good, since it makes me a more ruthless editor, which is a large part of the point of doing it this way.  I’ve already trimmed more than twenty-five thousand words from the original draft, but I’m not near my goal yet, so I must be increasingly brutal as time passes.

I have to admit, at the risk of seeming narcissistic, that I tend to enjoy reading my own stories.  There’s just something about them; it’s as though the author really knows me.

On the other hand, I continue to have trouble finding other people’s tales—including television and movie fiction—engaging.  There are shows and films and books out now that should by all rights be seizing my attention and holding it without ransom, but which barely raise an eyebrow.  I can’t even seem to force myself to partake of them.  It’s not exactly ennui, but maybe that’s the closest thing to it*.  The only stories I’ve been able to focus on lately are the Japanese light novel series whose title is shortened to Oregairo.  It’s about a collection of loners (this is not a contradiction), with a narrator whos particularly misanthropic and cynical, though none of them are hateful or overly pessimistic.  Unfortunately, I’ve reached the end of the volumes that have been published in English, and though they’re good books, I’m not likely to reread them anytime soon.  This is a glaring departure from my usual pattern for books that I enjoy.  God knows how often I’ve read The Lord of the Rings, but it’s been well over thirty times, and even much more so for The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.  The Harry Potter books don’t quite reach that level of repetition, but then again, I was already a working and studying adult when they came out.  I didn’t have the free reading time on my hands that I had in grade school, junior high, and high school, when I first read LotR and Thomas Covenant.

Unfortunately, I haven’t even had the will or desire in recent years to reread these great classics.  I’ve started Tolkien**, but I haven’t even gotten to the end of the first section.  Frodo hasn’t even been stabbed on Weathertop yet.  I just lost interest.  And every time I look at either the hard copy or the digital copy of this or any of the other books to consider reading them, I just kind of feel, “meh”.

I do a bit better with nonfiction, especially science books, including audio books.  This is certainly some consolation; I’ve always loved science as much as I’ve loved fiction (though, oddly, only very select science fiction).  Even this has its limits, of course, partly because Brian Greene, Sean Carroll, Richard Dawkins and the like can only write so many popular science books so quickly***.  I tend to devour them rapidly when they come out.  Also, unfortunately, a lot of science books in subjects I enjoy are just rehashing things I already know.  One can only so often read some new person’s attempt to explain General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics or Astrophysics or Evolutionary Biology to the layperson, especially when others have already done a better job on the subjects.

I think part of the trouble I have with enjoying new fiction—and even new nonfiction, but to a lesser extent—is that I simply don’t have the people in my life with whom I used to share that joy.  Because of that absence, even new potential happiness in reading such stories (or watching such shows, etc.) is tainted and soured.  It’s hard to take pleasure looking at photos of—or imagining—sipping cocktails on a tropical beach with one’s estranged significant other or splashing about in the surf with one’s children if one is currently wandering, lost and alone, in a frozen, Antarctic desert.

Not to be melodramatic about it or anything.

In lighter news, I’m thinking of setting up a promotional giveaway of at least electronic versions of my books and/or stories—one per customer—sometime soon…in time for the holidays, perhaps.  If I do, word of it will probably appear here, in this very blog, before it appears anywhere else.  Indeed, in a certain sense, it just has.

I wish all of you all manner of wellnesses, including ones you’ve never even imagined before, and which certainly I have never had the courage to contemplate.  May each of your personal world-lines become ever better with the passage of time.

TTFN


*It’s almost certainly dysthymia, with its attendant curse anhedonia.

**I’ve even tried rereading The Silmarillion, which I’ve read at least a dozen times in the past.  (It’s not as though I could have read it in the future, is it?)  No luck.

***Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould have been slacking off lately to an inexcusable degree, in my opinion.

A good old man, sir. He will be blogging. As they say, when the age is in, the wit is out.

Nobita crying

Hello and good morning.  It’s the first Thursday of a new month.  Back in the day, you’d have been able to look forward to next week’s episode of “My heroes have always been villains.”  Of course, it seems that I was the only person who ever looked forward to those episodes, which is why I stopped writing them (insert sigh here).  I guess the title, which I thought was a mildly clever play on the old Willie Nelson song title, was worrisome for most people.  Oh, well.  These things happen.

We’re into November, anyway.  Halloween, and October generally—which should include my two best days of the year, integrating over my whole life—is over.  It wasn’t much of an October, though.  Halloween was quite a disappointment.  I was one of three people who dressed up where I work…two, really, since one of the three just brought a mask that he put on occasionally.  And a total of only two trick-or-treaters came ‘round my neighborhood in the evening.  A separate, less universally noted occasion (which should have been a major life milestone) happened eleven days prior to Halloween and was also a thorough anticlimax.  In fact, it barely avoiding being a non-event.

And now, like many others, I’m irritated by the time change enacted last weekend.  It gets light “earlier” in the morning, which ought to be good, but this tends just to make me feel as though I must have overslept.  As someone who prefers to be early, I find this disquieting.  And, of course, the premature nightfall is irritating as well.  You wouldn’t think that someone who writes horror stories would be bothered by darkness coming sooner, but unfortunately, I tend to be rather strongly affected by the seasonal decrease in daylight.  Once October is over, I’d really prefer to sleep until the vernal equinox, and maybe longer.  By the time the winter the solstice arrives, I’m often so mired in gloom that it seems that it really could take three months of incessant bathing to wash it off.  Don’t worry, though, I’ll try not to let my blog posts become too much of a downer if I can help it.

Let’s see, what else is going on in my thoroughly exciting and captivating life?  Well, as always, I’m moving steadily along with the editing of Unanimity.  The trimming of the fat* from a novel is rather satisfying in a curious way.  It’s a little like when one carefully inks over a pencil sketch and then erases the underlying graphite once the ink is dry.  The product is so much neater and sharper…though occasionally, to my dismay, the inked drawing feels less alive and interesting than did the sketch beforehand.

I don’t know whether I’m really talking about drawing or writing here, or about something else entirely.

As for everything else, well…my life is really just too full and exciting to begin enumerating all the many events that unfold in it, but I’ll try.  First of all, I’m indulging my weakness for breathing on an almost continuous basis, despite all the air pollution to which I know I’m exposing myself.  What can I say?  I live on the edge.  I’ve also continued to go to work five or six days a week, since I’ve yet to be able to kick the habit of eating at least once a day, and that’s an expensive foible.  They say people with addictions will do insane and inexplicable things to satisfy their joneses, and I guess I’m a case in point.  Thankfully, I’ve at least been able to avoid the dangerous compulsion of socializing with other human beings.  That’s a vice that causes much trouble to many; I’m lucky not to be prone to it.

Sarcasm, now…that’s a craving I’ve not gotten under control at all.

Oh, I did write another blog post on Iterations of Zero, for those of you who haven’t followed it.  It’s basically about the joy and necessity of learning at least something of the wonders of math and science, which I wish received more respect than they do here in the U.S.  Unfortunately, their status seems only to be diminishing, though our lives are ever more dominated by technologies that are deeply dependent upon them. It’s disheartening to see a population so peculiarly averse to understanding the very things that underlie and maintain their lives and well-being (such as it is), but humans never have been particularly foresightful or insightful, have they?  Honestly, I don’t know what anyone sees in them.  Humans, I mean.

And with that, perhaps it’s a good time to call this week’s blog post to a close.  I know I haven’t really said much about much of any real substance, and one would think that such an exemplar of vacuity would be more at home in IoZ than here.  Still, the concept of iterations of zero is more than just a website title.  It’s a philosophy.  It’s a way of life.

I hope you are all as well as you can possibly be.  Though I may seem misanthropic at times, I’m really not.  I want you all to thrive and excel and succeed and grow and play your parts in an ever-improving world.

Maybe that’s just the fantasy writer in me.

TTFN


*Which sounds a little like some esoteric cultural or religious event.

The teeming Autumn blog with rich increase

flame-maple-tree-autumn-blaze-almost-at-peak-amur-pruning-florida-red

Good morning, and good Thursday.  It’s blog day, of course, and I hereby officially welcome you all to another weekly post.

My experiment with tags last week worked very well, i.e. labeling my post with the tags “sex,” “drugs,” and “rock ‘n’ roll.”  I’m not up to doing such a thing on a regular basis, though.  In fact, I doubt that I’ll do it more than once.  Of course, it may be that those inaccurate tags simply weren’t as off-putting as the ones I’d used the previous week, which upon reflection might have seemed weird and (incorrectly) New Agey.  I think one of them was something along the lines of “cosmic caring,” and that’s bound to make a discerning reader want to keep his or her astronomical distance.  I can’t blame them.  I’m too embarrassed even to go back and look at what my other tags were.

Of course, it may be that the post from two weeks ago was just too dry and dreary to be endured.  I tend to be that way when in a glum mood, and I’m sure that even hypothetical people who are really, deeply interested even in my darkest thoughts* would find my melancholier musings stultifying.  Even my humor tends to be dark, and though I do try when I can to make my darkness humorous, I know it’s still probably unpleasant.

On a lighter note:  I got my vehicle back yesterday, after almost two weeks without it.  I was so pleased that, even though I got thoroughly soaked just riding it back from the shop to work**, I was as happy as a pig in shit.  Even by the time I got home, I was still borderline giddy.  I doubt that I’ve smiled that much since, oh, maybe 2011 at the latest.

Taking the train has been good for me in some ways, though.  I’ve been forced to walk between 2.5 and 5 miles a day, and I can tell that it’s had a beneficial effect on my endurance.  My back, however, which as I noted last week has been experiencing an exacerbation of its chronic pain, has not been pleased!  Having no stegosaurus-style brain with which to be able to articulate its concerns, or with which to understand the necessity of the extra work I was giving it, it mulishly insisted upon reminding me with every breath that it was pissed at me.

Human backs are stupid.

Thankfully, the train, and my habitual early hours, continued to allow me to edit.  Unanimity is getting whittled away, as I strive to remove all the bits of it that don’t look like a good pseudo-sci-fi horror novel.  I still like the story, and I still like the characters—including the “bad guy”—so that helps a lot.  Even if I didn’t, I think I’d be able just to push myself through as a matter of stubbornness, something with which I’ve been endowed in great quantities, but I’m glad it’s not necessary.

And in other news, I can’t let the arrival of October go unheralded.  It’s generally my favorite month, because Halloween is my favorite holiday.  Once it’s over, the steady shortening of the daylight hours becomes pronounced enough the wear me out.  By the arrival of the Winter Solstice, I’m often so affected by the season (get it?) that I feel like celebrating the holidays with a game of Russian Roulette***.

October, however, is still fun, though in south Florida it’s lamentably un-autumnal.  This will be the first year in a few (I think) that I won’t have a new horror short story to release around Halloween, which is a bit disappointing, but Unanimity is such a big project that I want to make it the sole focus of my fiction work.  I hope it will be worth the wait.  It’s ambitious, at the very least, even if I can say nothing else about it without subjective bias.

I am still finding myself sidetracked here and there by music; I’m working on another new/old song and have early work done on a few fully new ones, but those really are a personal indulgence, a set of vanity projects if you will.  I have no idea whether anyone would ever willingly listen to them if they didn’t know me.  My stories, I think, can stand on their own.  Maybe I’m wrong.  I guess, ultimately, it doesn’t matter, since I’m writing them because I want to write them, just as I’m doing the songs because I want to do them, and I can only offer whatever I am for others to waste or hold as they see fit.

Speaking of wasting, that’s probably enough blogging for today.  Including the footnotes, this post is already over a thousand words long.  Once I get going, I’m hard to shut up.  It’s lucky for all of you that I have a day job, or I’d probably be doing this more often, and even the kindest of readers might lose patience.  Perhaps there are Everettian branches where that’s happened, or maybe there’s some infinitely repeated version of me that meets that description somewhere out in one of the other versions of the multiverse—if any of them exist (if you’re unfamiliar with this subject matter, you couldn’t get a better introduction to it than Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality, which I recommend unreservedly).

And, really, now, I must be going.  I hope you all have a wonderful day, a wonderful remainder of the week, and a wonderful month.  In fact, why stop there?  I hope you have a wonderful future for as long as you’re able.

TTFN


*I don’t recommend it.

**My “vehicle” is a scooter…though it’s a scooter with a 600cc engine, so it’s really just a motorcycle with automatic transmission.  It provides no protection from the rain, which rather hilariously was absent right until the day when my scooter was ready to ride again.

***I did that very thing once at that time of year.  I lost that game, unfortunately, as should be obvious from the fact that I’m here and writing.  But, of course, as with all such games of chance, the odds are against you, and the house usually wins.

You blog an infinite deal of nothing

Hollywood_Amtrak_Tri-Rail

Hello, good morning, and welcome, as always, to another Thursday edition of my weekly blog post.  I’m riding the train today—as I have all this week and from the end of last week—because my poor vehicle is in the shop.  It’s a bit frustrating, but also weirdly nostalgic, and the extra walking I must do has forced me to realize just how little walking I’ve been doing lately.  I’ve gotten terribly out of shape.  As testament to that fact, though I can’t be certain it’s related, at the beginning of this week, I slipped while getting out of the shower—nothing severe, don’t worry; I didn’t fall down or even have to grab anything to right myself—and my back has consequently suffered a severe exacerbation of its already chronic “failed back surgery syndrome” pain.  This makes riding the train more of an adventure than it might be otherwise, to say nothing of simply going to work, but such is the way of things.  In the words of the Dread Pirate Roberts, “Like is pain…anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Speaking of pain, I was very disappointed by the reception to my blog post last week.  This is really a euphemistic way of saying I’m disappointed in the post itself, since there’s surely no one to blame but me if it didn’t do well.  For the first time in a very long while, my Thursday blog post didn’t get even one single “like”.  And I’m just not capable of “liking” my own post.

I’m honestly not sure what it was about that post that was so unappealing.  I didn’t feel that the writing was particularly bad, but maybe it was.  I had, just a few days earlier and after a four month “course”, come off Saint John’s Wort, and maybe that affected my writing style or quality.  Maybe it was just that I used a bad collection of “tags” to highlight the post.*  If there’s anyone out there who had the courage to force their way through it and has an objective (or not) assessment to give me, I’d appreciate it.

As I said, it’s a bit nostalgic for me to be riding the train again, not least because it was at the train station in Hollywood, Florida that I received the inspiration for my story Prometheus and Chiron, which I like a lot, even if no one else does.  (I have no reason to think that no one else likes it, but I similarly have no way to know if anyone does…there are no reviews on Amazon for it, though maybe there’s something on “Goodreads”, and I just didn’t look closely enough.)  It is, however, just a bit frustrating to ride the train when one’s back pain makes one feel, and move, as though one were ninety years old…and not a particularly healthy ninety, at that.

Still, I’ve done some good, or at least extensive, writing on trains and/or buses throughout the years.  Thanks to the existence of very small laptop computers (and even smartphones!), I can write on the train without subsequently having to decipher and transcribe my own atrocious handwriting afterwards**.  I’ve had to do such transcription before, with both Mark Red and with The Chasm and the Collision (neither of which was written on a train or bus, however; they were written at Florida State Prison, which is less bumpy but which has its own drawbacks), and I can assure you, as a fun thing to do to pass the time, it’s highly overrated.

Speaking of such things, the editing and rewriting of Unanimity continues as always; and it does feel like forever, sometimes. It’s still enjoyable to read as I edit, which I guess is a good thing.  I always aspire to the mental state of being someone who generally likes the story, but who is fed up with it just enough to be critical about its flaws so that I can correct them with a ruthless but well-meaning attitude.  That’s the ideal, but as Run DMC said, it’s tricky.  Anyway, it’s coming along, slowly but surely, and hopefully it will be finished sometime before I die, or before the world ends, whichever comes first***.

In other news…well, there’s not much other news, come to think of it.  Of course, I’m sure there’s “news” out there in the world; there always is, if you’re looking.  Some of it might even just possibly be relatively important, even on a long-term scale (though the majority, I’d guess, is indistinguishable from random gossip around a water cooler—and though biologists and anthropologists say that gossip served and continues to serve important social functions regarding reputation and trustworthiness, etc., I can’t help but find it appalling, embarrassing, and worthy of contempt; say of me what you will).  My own life, however, tends to be repetitive and tedious, and would make very poor viewing, even ignoring the deeply unattractive protagonist.

My imagination, however, is thankfully and sometimes joyfully fertile.  Einstein is quoted as having said that imagination is more important than knowledge.  I’m very fond of both, but I do think that without imagination it’s hard even to arrive at knowledge of any but the simplest of subjects.  How, after all, are you to construct a mental model of a concept if you can’t imagine such a model?

Well, to quote the immortal (and, perforce, imaginary) Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”  This is not quite true, of course.  I could probably go on and on ad infinitum, and I’m sure some of you feel that I already have.  But, anyway, I’ll hold off any further mental meanderings until next week, and simply wish you all the very best of all that is possible, both individually and collectively.

TTFN


*I decided to use the tags “sex”, “drugs”, and “rock ‘n’ roll” for this post to see if it makes a difference.

**Handwriting made all the worse by the bumping and jostling of a moving train or bus.  Those who know how bad my script is, in and of itself, can only imagine with dread the nightmare of such Lovecraftian output.  The horror…the horror…

***Of course, from my point of view, the two events are equivalent.