I've been listening recently to Colin Marshall's wordsy* podcast, Notebook on Cities and Culture, and it's been giving me a terrible Sehnsucht, reaching in all kinds of impossible directions: other places, imaginary conversations between me and unreal people of the plausible, reasoned type I meet in dreams.
All of which has brought me to remember that the word "notebook" is one of my magic words. Long one of my favorite category of objects (assuming it's just so: I remember the horror of wide-ruled notebooks in my 5th grade imagination, and the lovely matte texture of a certain green oversized spiral-bound), the word's power hasn't worn much with use for me. Though it points to many destinations in my remembered experience, I still find it regularly transportative.
So I'm bringing back my notebook to the blog, with a shift brought about in the past month or so. In the crunch I've been in recently, I've taken to writing myself instructions. Not all of these are strictly from a notebook - some are from scraps of paper, or digital notes. In any case, a sampling, gently edited:
I imagine a gruesome surgery. The reason why it will be better to have some kind of first chapter than none, even if it's awful, is because I will have cut the thing open & started painstakingly to carve it out. Maybe I'll occasionally miss the cut an expert butcher would have made, but by god, I'll get it all out before I'm through.
If I can be consistent on something, it will be this: the only way to counteract with anything resembling rigor the dangers presented by narrative-formation around supposed facts, it is to cultivate a limbo state in oneself, where one resists, for as long as possible, the formation of a narrative to explain events, facts, even data.
... The goal here is not to find a story, because a story will always lie. It won't be impossible to hold a story off forever, but by holding it off for as long as possible, perhaps we can at least strip it of its power.
Finally, this belongs to a different category, not advice to myself, but rather a hope that reaches outward, and pertains to a notional project of mine:
That you can build a community that promotes quality and manifests good taste without a hierarchical system of gatekeepers. We don't have to tear one another down to make one another better - this process will grow in ease if we disconnect it from our egos. And this is just what de-hierarchization will do. It will no longer be a question of how the work reflects on you, because no one will care. It will only be about the work.
That one is very dear to me. Maybe, maybe.
*in the word-positive sense