Monday, August 31, 2009

On a treadmill

This blog is mired in a serious malaise, one that at times feels terminal. Though I don't have any desire to quit, lately I have been finding it extremely difficult to finish writing posts that I begin. Part of the problem, as ever, is my tendency to link too many ideas together, resulting in so much rambling, bad writing. Just when I think I've gotten the hang of it all, I invariably hit a snag, writing slows down, ideas dry up. Or they come to me, but on the train, in whole paragraphs, good ones I'd like to think, but who can write on the train? (The Marc commuter train is not the smoothest ride in the world, and my handwriting is poor enough as it is.) And if I wrote on the train, anyway, when would I read? (Never, by the way, is the answer to that one. I don't think my reading at home this calendar year has added up to more than a few hundred pages.)

One problem, I realize, is my reluctance to just put it out there. I persist in thinking that I should have read this or that before expressing an idea. When it comes to the actual writing itself, the germ of the idea gets buried, in fact unwritten, as I bog myself down in shaping the introductory remarks or the background. A bog that weighs me down, when what I desire, what I value, is lightness. (God, I looked at my numerous posts in draft status, and there's an earlier unfinished whinge about how I can't write... I'd naturally forgotten all about it.)

All this is to say that I have a lot that I've been wanting, and failing, to say here. Here are just a few topics I hope to get around to finishing posts on in the nearish future, though I make no promises:

  • J.M. Coetzee (on Diary of a Bad Year, naturally, while everyone else's moving onto Summertime...)

  • Flannery O'Connor and politics and literature

  • Evelyn Scott (again)

  • Art and Ontology

  • Chomsky, an appreciation, and more

  • Conservatism and relational political spectrums

  • Modernism and post-Modernism

  • a line or two about Gayl Jones' Corredigora (in connection with Modernism)

  • ideas about primitive accumulation and lost social orders

  • more on Blanchot, possibly finally getting into his ideas on communism

  • communism as the original human, cultural state (circling back on Art and Ontology, touching on Chris Knight and Heidegger and more)

  • the role of play in the former, as well as in art, and what that means for us, moving forward (combining, if possible, Knight and Josipovici, among others; in truth, this feels like my main unwritten book)

    stuart said...

    I'm particularly looking forward to your thoughts on Chomsky and human origins and play. Just stick it out there!

    Richard said...

    Hi Stuart. Thanks for the encouragement... You're right, of course, I should just stick them out there. Soon, I hope.

    Jim H. said...

    I want to echo stuart's comment above. Just write.

    There're so many ways to think about what we do when we blog. There are many models. I just found a terrific book edited by Phillip Lopate "The Art of the Personal Essay" collecting such from Seneca and Plutarch to Montaigne to Addison & Steele to Lamb to Hazlitt to Benjamin to Barthes, etc. That's one model.

    Then there's the "Notebook" model and the Journal model and the drafts of formal pieces model and the incipient scholarly monograph model. Random thoughts work, too—well-formed or not.

    Others aggregate.

    One thing seems clear to me: one should blog one's interests. If you've got something to say, say it. We'll either read it or not—you've got no control there, so don't worry about it. Write and let the writing find its own audience.

    But, no matter what you write, as you hint at in the OP, at some point you'll go back and re-read something you wrote earlier and it might sound like crap and you'll think to yourself 'did I really write that?' but you'll remember that you had those thoughts at one time: that was who you were at the particular time: it's like re-connecting with an old friend. Then you can revise and retract or expand.

    But I ramble.

    And, hey, if it feels like it's too much, don't be afraid to let it go. Do something else for awhile. That's cool, too. If you come back to it—if you can't keep away from it—(well, you complete the sentence...)

    Jim H.

    Lloyd Mintern said...

    Describe the treadmill further. You are very clear when explaining how confused you are. Hang all this free standing dispassionate literary criticism, and view it from on high, by staying with what is totally personal. Expand the description of the experience on the train, and only make references to other books in the context of this type of difficulty.
    The difficulty is the adventure.

    You can bring everything back, as long as you keep hearing the sound of your own voice. Of course, renunciation also works. Sitting down in the wreckage. Then you can secretly write a long book, with nobody looking over your shoulder. Don't tell your wife for at least six months.

    Anonymous said...

    I'm particularly interested in your take on the communist and communist ideal as the original ideal—it's an often written topic, but not one often written well.

    Richard said...

    Thank you all for the further encouragement and the excellent advice.

    Lloyd - your comment is most appreciated. Describing the treadmill, writing about the train, etc.. even if I don't write about these exactly, this is the sort of thing that I need to get back to, in the context of the different ideas I have. Thanks.