This week in Andalusada blogging: 6/30/2012

Last week was Chinese week on Andalusada. This week is much more French:
Not an enormously productive week, because I was busy blogging here instead.

And only a few small edits:
  • Oliver Farrell got an edit, to clearly indicate that he has two Bibles to his name and to cross-reference it with the Opus Transtulit.
  • Farrellitism got a bit of a cleanup too, to spell out "Romandy" a bit more.
Thoughts for next week:
  • Some extended derp about the Farrellite Biblical canon may be in order. Or not. Depends on whether anybody cares.
  • Because I started touching on the chansons de geste (and the cantar de gesta tradition), you know what else may be in order? Actually outlining what Rodrigo Diaz does all the way back there at the beginning. That sort of thing is going to have a literary impact, to say the least.
  • I started derping out a little bit about Korea; should I write some further thoughts on the emergence of the Korean Orthodox Church?
...and there are other further thoughts, had I the sleep last night to think them. I pronounce this week reviewed.


On caretaking and self-neglect

It seldom fails to awe or to impress
How frighteningly easy it can be
When called upon, in direst distress,
To be on hand for anyone but me;
Heroic, really - deftly plucking specks
From eyes (by now I've learned to do it blind),
Or rescuing the others from their wrecks
While leaving mine for  last (since who would mind?)
Though all may be of need, I still believe
That all else equal, they should need it more;
That I may strive, their burdens to relieve,
And my afflictions casually ignore.
For theirs I have no right to hesitate;
For mine, no wish to face them -
Mine can wait.

The Lower Room daily confessional

I have no idea what his name was. He had the kind of hair that comes from having no comb to brush with, the kind of beard that comes from no razor to shave with. I'm not sure if he had a second change of clothes with him.

He knocked on the door, and asked in a lowered voice if he could sleep back here for the night. He'd be okay with the floor. I basically told him I'd think about it.


On presence

"I am a creature," I wrote, "of inertia and sequence and force of habit."

I wake up. I take Concerta. I shower (always shower, or when would I shave?), lie down, let my hair dry badly before I comb it. Brush my teeth. Check my pockets. Step out for the day. Go somewhere I can write. Plant my ass in front of a monitor and write. Go places to look at books we all know I will neither read in full nor bring home with me, or won't read if I do bring them home. Eat a meal, sometimes even a memorable one. Brush my teeth again at night before I pray before I nominally go to bed.

More than a few times, that prayer's been awkward when I realize how little I have to say. The well-being of my friends, because I'm the only one who isn't routinely sick with something. The causes of peace and justice that nothing I do causes. And then, invariably, my self.

Who am I here for? The honest answer is, most days, "Not even you, Edo." 90% of life, they say, is just showing up. On a lot of days I don't even put the effort in to do that. And changing that is no easy task.


On regular writing

"What do you mean by 'regulate'?" Therapist asked. That was, at least, where I left off these thoughts.

Let's start off with the big issue: framing my life and work in terms of "discipline" and "goals" feels futile, because I have neither.

"Goals" imply achievable things; "setting goals" involves dreaming about what could be, looking at what was plausible, and planning how to achieve them, and doing them. For the longest time nothing was plausible; I had vague wouldn't-it-be-nice ideas, but no way to get there from here, even if I was the sort of person who could - and I'm still not. Building worlds without me was as much as I could manage. My goal was "the status quo," because hope was always and consistently the first step on the road to disappointment.


Regulation, presence, and Thomas Merton

A few weeks ago, I discovered Thomas Merton. I picked up Contemplation in a World of Action from the library; I actually bought No Man is an Island a few days ago, because it was ridiculously cheap. It's like legible outsider art, reading him discussing problems that I will never have the leisure to have.

A few weeks ago, I also decided to commit to regular writing, which (reading back) I realized that I'd never actually defined. This is not the post for that definition (defined here), but it's as good a time as any to say why I wanted to write on schedule: most of the "regular writing" that I wanted to do was disciplinary.

I've never tried to write about specific things at specific times. I've done so - when I sit down I can, for instance, write sonnets without much prior thought - but I've never tried to do so. And that's a problem. Because part of the reason I read my favorite blogs is because they are regular writers: able to write something new consistently. (Charles Dickens was able to write serially. Achieving that kind of consistency is a long-term goal of mine.)

Looking back on it, though, I had a problem: I was writing at cross purposes.

This week in Andalusada blogging: 6/23/2012

In this last week there have been all of five new posts:
Four guesses where my attention was this week.


Ethics as engineering

I am not an organized thinker. I love me my disorganized, non-systemic minds, my Ellul (still) and all. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, but it is how I am; discussing that would be useful to write about someday.

So when, on Slacktivist yesterday, one of the old-timers said that "[A unified ethical] framework has the advantage of being more robust, able to answer new questions, like having calculus instead of a book full of logarithms," I responded:
"Unifying theoretical framework" is balls, because ethics is not science: it's engineering.
We do not have the luxury of isolating every variable, controlling the circumstances of the work, and submitting the results to peer review afterward to see if we got it completely right. We have to work with budgets, deadlines, and all kinds of other arbitrary factors, and "getting it wrong" has horrible human consequences. "Explanatory robustness" is a nonissue when you're missing lots of information, when you have to rely on heuristics and best practices, when "good enough" is a valid category.
Pure science, like pure philosophy, may benefit from structure; engineering and ethics need to be load-bearing. Some base in theory is useful, but the superstructure is real and needs to stand on its own merits.

And historically, a lot of great systematizing is used not so much to better build things up in the future, but to tear stuff down now, like Ursula L said.


In which religion is a relationship too

Several years ago, I was talking with Chris about the "personal relationship with God" routine. I don't buy the "personal relationship with God" routine, especially not one that argues from there that Christianity isn't a religion...
Chris was the one who went down that line, and I was going to expand that passing comment into a rant against began saying when I communicated myself again a few weeks ago.

It was going to be a rant; the original version of this post began "Relationship is the freebase of the masses," and it went from there gloriously. I bounced it off a friend or two and it was met with some approval.

But then I read dynamic (r)evolution, who linked to RELEVANT on the matter, and I lost the heart to rant for a little bit. Oh, I will, because that way I can add the "regular writing" tag to this whole thing; but today I'm going to reflect, first.


Ode to embarrassment

My constant guest, my old and closest friend,
Come in, come in!, how long you've been away;
I'll always host you - always, to the end;
Sit down, do tell how long you mean to stay?
I'll hang your coat up. Pour yourself a glass
Of all the wine my life has ever spilled.
I'll burn you up a meal of finest class
In all the pots my life has ever killed.
I'll give you, honored guest, my best instead,
So gorge yourself and feast without reserve;
The soup is cold, and doughy is the bread,
So take my plate; I'll have what you deserve.
Do knock next time, before you come again -
But Godspeed, guest, and blessings until then.


Thinking with Therapist (3/x+1)

"What gets in the way of writing like that?" Therapist asked; and so we continued the conversation from earlier.

"Time, mostly," I responded. I think it's less that, though, than timing.

The big glaring issue is accessibility. Samsung is not Blogger-friendly, which means that the two blogs I write on can't be worked on from home - anchoring me to public terminals to keep them updated.

This week in Andalusada blogging: 6/9/2012

In the beginning, I wrote "Not much killing this week." That was wrong; this week was when, to the best of my memory, I first seriously discussed the Thousand Days, which more than decimated Sweden. But the most important things I wrote about this week, I feel, were about writing:


Thinking with Therapist (2/x+1)

"How much would you like to write a day?" Therapist asked.

Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a hugely productive discussion. Anyone can quit smoking every day; I can set goals every day too. Getting them to stick is a bit more challenging. Some people need to sit down and write for, say, an hour each day; I can do that easily. But that day, I actually came up with something:

"At least two hours," I said. "But writing multiple things."


Thinking with Therapist (1/x+1)

Last week, my therapist asked me to think about my long-term goals. To my shame, I didn't until I was on the way in, and confessed as much.

So instead I talked, a bit, about my writing. And that digression yielded some interesting fruit.


My words flow not as freely as before

My words flow not as freely as before
To vocalize my love and sing your praise.
It pains me, cuts me deep and to the core
To struggle when I strive to count the ways
You are to me: the holder of my heart;
The harbor for my loud and storm-tossed soul;
The woman that I love; the one last part
Apart from which no part of me is whole...
Beloved, held in every thought of mine,
I walk the widow's walk with tear-streaked face
Until you cross that far horizon line
And I can hold you tight in my embrace...
I broken sing, until your drawing near,
My love for my love, too removed to hear...


Communicating myself: 6/3/2012

Several years ago, I was talking with Chris about the "personal relationship with God" routine. I don't buy the "personal relationship with God" routine, especially not one that argues from there that Christianity isn't a religion. (I get the point he was trying to make, but it was still simply wrong; other religions are significantly different, but they are not simply magical-going-through-the-motions, and it's bullshit to claim that "Christianity" - by which he meant Bible study - is both magically exempted from that and the true, rightful practice of what was first done in Antioch.)

In the end, to stop his well-intentioned efforts to proselytize me, I told him very simply that I did not attend church, and if and when I was ready to do so, I would do so with integrity, and not a minute before.


This week in Andalusada blogging: 6/2/2012

It's been a relatively sparse week writing Andalusada. Sparse enough, in fact, that I have only two really new posts to note:
And both of those, it should be noted, are still works in progress because they're so damn big.