I often don't know what I'm talking about.
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I've already put more hours into personal projects this year than I did in the entirety of 2017. I'm pleased about that. I'm not please about how tired I'm feeling. I'm going to start tracking my sleep again to make sure I'm getting enough. I hope I haven't got cat AIDS.
I'm not sure how I feel about life at the moment. It's the first time it's ever started to feel 'day in day out'. Not that I have a particularly arduous routine in the grand scheme of things. But it's still the same tasks and projects on repeat. Sitting in the same room every day. I suppose that's the unglamorous part of hard work. But it's like life is simultaneously getting slower whilst going faster. Either way, I'd sure like a change from the software I've been UATing for the last year and half (intensely for the last 6 months). That's what I get for seemingly being the only person in the company who can use an ounce forethought before writing a bug ticket.
Part of this feeling is likely down to the fact that I got super attached to the kayaking I started and all the sessions have been cancelled for the last 2 weeks. It's amazing way to break free from the regularity. And I've been progressing fast apparently. The coaches certainly seem really enthused with how enthused I am. From what I can tell, a lot of attendees don't really push themselves to really improve. That's fine - doing things for the pleasure of them and all that - but I think they just like that I'm keen for everything and give it my all. It's starting again on Sunday and I can't wait to be back on the water.
Funny anecdote: at an earlier session, one of the coaches who I hadn't met previously came up to me at and said "you must be famous Jez". I responded with "famous Jez?" expecting him to explain the source of my newfound notoriety. Yet he didn't. And now it's gone on too long to question it. The last time I saw him I had been upgrade to "world famous". I guess there's worse things to be called.
Got it, thanks!
Nice, can you make the download available? I've got some bits I'd like to add to it.
You may enjoy Guru's Jazzmatazz albums:
My response is a whole load of excerpts from Jiddu Krishnamurti's book Freedom from the Known. I know I've pasted quite a lot, but I think it really touches on your observations (if I'm not off the mark). It even uses the examples of watching or painting a tree.
- Have you ever noticed that when you are in a state of complete attention the observer, the thinker, the centre, the 'me', comes to an end? In that state of attention thought begins to wither away. If one wants to see a thing very clearly, one's mind must be very quiet, without all the prejudices, the chattering, the dialogue, the images, the pictures - all that must be put aside to look...
...But how can we be free to look and learn when our minds, from the moment we are born to the moment we die, are shaped by a particular culture in the narrow pattern of the 'me'? For centuries we have been conditioned by nationality, caste, class, tradition, religion, language, education, literature, art, custom, convention, propaganda of all kinds, economic pressure, the food we eat, the climate we live in, our family, our friends, our experiences - every influence you can think of - and therefore our responses to every problem are conditioned.
Are you aware that you are conditioned? That is the first thing to ask yourself, not how to be free of your conditioning. You may never be free of it, and if you say, 'I must be free of it', you may fall into another trap of another form of conditioning. So are you aware that you are conditioned? Do you know that even when you look at a tree and say, 'That is an oak tree', or 'that is a banyan tree', the naming of the tree, which is botanical knowledge, has so conditioned your mind that the word comes between you and actually seeing the tree? To come in contact with the tree you have to put your hand on it and the word will not help you to touch it.
It seems to me that one of our greatest difficulties is to see for ourselves really clearly, not only outward things, but inward life. When we say we see a tree or a flower or a person, do we actually see them? Or do we merely see the image that the word has created? That is, when you look at a tree or at a cloud of an evening full of light and delight, do you actually see it, not only with your eyes and intellectually, but totally, completely?
Have you ever experimented with looking at an objective thing like a tree without any of the associations, any of the knowledge you have acquired about it, without any prejudice, any judgement, any words forming a screen between you and the tree and preventing you from seeing it as it actually is? Try it and see what actually takes place when you observe the tree with all your being, with the totality of your energy. In that intensity you will find that there is no observer at all; there is only attention. It is when there is inattention that there is the observer and the observed. When you are looking at something with complete attention there is no space for a conception, a formula or a memory. This is important to understand because we are going into something which requires very careful investigation.
Now, when I build an image about you or about anything, I am able to watch that image, so there is the image and the observer of the image. I see someone, say, with a red shirt on and my immediate reaction is that I like it or that I don't like it. The like or dislike is the result of my culture, my training, my associations, my inclinations, my acquired and inherited characteristics. It is from that centre that I observe and make my judgement, and thus the observer is separate from the thing he observes.
But the observer is aware of more than one image; he creates thousands of images. But is the observer different from these images? Isn't he just another image? He is always adding to and subtracting from what he is; he is a living thing all the time weighing, comparing, judging, modifying and changing as a result of pressures from outside and within - living in the field of consciousness which is his own knowledge, influence and innumerable calculations. At the same time when you look at the observer, who is yourself, you see that he is made up of memories, experiences, accidents, influences, traditions and infinite varieties of suffering, all of which are the past. So the observer is both the past and the present, and tomorrow is waiting and that is also a part of him...
...One image, as the observer, observes dozens of other images around himself and inside himself, and he says, 'I like this image, I'm going to keep it' or 'I don't like that image so I'll get rid of it', but the observer himself has been put together by the various images which have come into being through reaction to various other images. So we come to a point where we can say, 'The observer is also the image, only he has separated himself and observes. This observer who has come into being through various other images thinks himself permanent and between himself and the images he has created there is a division, a time interval.
Awareness of all this, which is real meditation, has revealed that there is a central image put together by all the other images, and the central image, the observer, is the censor, the experiencer, the evaluator, the judge who wants to conquer or subjugate the other images or destroy them altogether. The other images are the result of judgements, opinions and conclusions by the observer, and the observer is the result of all the other images - therefore the observer is the observed...
...This awareness that the observer is the observed is not a process of identification with the observed. To identify ourselves with something is fairly easy. Most of us identify ourselves with something - with our family, our husband or wife, our nation - and that leads to great misery and great wars. We are considering something entirely different and we must understand it not verbally but in our core, right at the root of our being. In ancient China before an artist began to paint anything - a tree, for instance - he would sit down in front of it for days, months, years, it didn't matter how long, until he was the tree. He did not identify himself with the tree but he was the tree. This means that there was no space between him and the tree, no space between the observer and the observed, no experiencer experiencing the beauty, the movement, the shadow, the depth of a leaf, the quality of colour. He was totally the tree, and in that state only could he paint.
Any movement on the part of the observer, if he has not realized that the observer is the observed, creates only another series of images and again he is caught in them. But what takes place when the observer is aware that the observer is the observed? Go slowly, go very slowly, because it is a very complex thing we are going into now. What takes place? The observer does not act at all. The observer has always said, 'I must do something about these images, I must suppress them or give them a different shape; he is always active in regard to the observed, acting and reacting passionately or casually, and this action of like and dislike on the part of the observer is called positive action - 'I like, therefore I must hold. I dislike therefore I must get rid of.' But when the observer realizes that the thing about which he is acting is himself, then there is no conflict between himself and the image. He is that. He is not separate from that. When he was separate, he did, or tried to do, something about it, but when the observer realizes that he is that, then there is no like or dislike and conflict ceases.
For what is he to do? If something is you, what can you do? You cannot rebel against it or run away from it or even accept it. It is there. So all action that is the outcome of reaction to like-and dislike has come to an end.
Then you will find that there is an awareness that has become tremendously alive. It is not bound to any central issue or to any image - and from that intensity of awareness there is a different quality of attention and therefore the mind - because the mind is this awareness - has become extraordinarily sensitive and highly intelligent.
I'm with you. I use a £20 hand grinder to grind some fresh beans and make a pour over in 3/4 minutes. I do it by eye, drink it black and enjoy it.
You can be pedantic about anything, I guess. But I live in one of the 'top ten hippest areas in Britain' and haven't experienced anything to level that this article is mocking, even in the most trendy of coffee places.
I'm an uncle now. There were some complications during the birth but the baby is out safe and sound and the mother is recovering well. I intend to write a rhyming children's book for my nephew and illustrate it myself. It'll be some time before he can understand it, but I can't draw yet so it'll be some time before I can illustrate it.
I just got back from my fourth kayaking session on the river. I love it. Everyone is super friendly and the coaches are informative and attentive. They can train you up through the various awards so you can become a coach yourself too, which I definitely want to do. There's a surprising amount of different techniques you can perform with the paddle. And it's great how much of a full body workout it is; you don't actually don't use your arms that much. My shoulders and legs are now the loosest they've been in years.
It's almost a year since my last trip to Canada. I've been meaning to write a trip report for ages but my brother has all the photos, so I'm waiting on him to process and upload them all. Here's a teaser:
Last month I broke my record for most amount of 'productivity hours'. I'm happy with how much my music is progressing. There's always things to improve upon though. I heard a quote the other day that went along the lines of: "There was once a time where you dreamed of being where you are now". I'll try to remember that when I'm 10 hours and 20 attempts into coming up with the next section of a track.
I'm also working on 2 comedy podcasts with a friend. The first is a purely improv thing where we play a couple of hapless and deplorable film producers who give ridiculous behind-the-scenes commentary of films. It's rude, puerile, and absurd. It's a total laugh to do. The second is a written show. It's still finding its feet so I can't say too much about it yet, but it's quite dark and has more of a 'human condition' edge to it.
On the other hand, I haven't seen the film.
I just finished the book a few minutes ago. Apart from the inevitable ending of the story, I didn't feel it was overly bleak. In fact, hiding underneath the initial conflict and melancholy, there was a quiet sense of hope at the heart of it all.
I think this is gifted to book chiefly through the first-person narration by Bromden, which I gather was lost from the film (along with some key parts of his character development). So I can imagine that contributed to a bit of a shift in tone.
- The darkness was looking at me, amorphous, immense, eyeless, devoid of limits.
A fascinating idea that's steeped in atmosphere. Having recently finished The Pale King, this felt as though it was moving at a breakneck pace. I loved it. It got a little bogged down by some excessive exposition in the second half of the book. The narrator essentially gives you a run down of the scientific literature written about a planet and its curious phenomena. Whilst these sections are highly imaginative and well written in and of themselves, it very much feels like the emergency breaks get put on the otherwise fast paced story. Especially as it's just worked into it by the narrator being in a library recounting it all to you.
Still, that's nitpicking. A fantastic book.
The Pale King
- Sometimes what's important is dull. Sometimes it's work. Sometime the important things aren't works of art for your entertainment, X.
Finished this one after starting it around the time of the last book thread. It's presented as a series of vignettes focussed around boredom and everyday tedium. Though there are reoccurring characters and locations, there's not really any overarching plot (linear or otherwise). I didn't enjoy it as much as Infinite Jest. However, it had a much greater emotional impact on me.
Halfway through, a person giving a presentation to new employees at the IRS says:
- Only certain information is good... Your job, in a sense, with each file is to separate the valuable, pertinent information from the pointless information.
In some ways, I feel like this is an analogy for reading this book. There is a significant amount of writing in it that seems pointless. Not to an overwhelming degree, but its certainly a theme. Thing such as dense, textbook-esque explanations of tax procedure. Or an entire chapter made up of fragmented conversations, until one of them reaches an important point and its suddenly thrust into full focus. You could argue that it was the same for in Infinite Jest, but there that sort of stuff was usually relegated to the end notes. Here it's slap bang in the middle of the text.
It was my conclusion that, in reading the book, its the author's intention for you to take on the same role as the IRS employees and learn to filter out "valuable, pertinent information from the pointless information." And the fact that someone would write a book this way made me feel very... I don't know. I guess it could be described as third-person existential dread. Like, "who the fuck writes a book this way?" Maybe i'm overthinking it.
Still, it's the kind of thing you read and think: "I'm not surprised that the person who wrote this ended up committing suicide." I hope that doesn't sound callous or loathsome; I'm conflicted on whether it's a disrespectful thing to say. It's not meant to be, more an honest reflection of how it made me feel emotionally.
If you have the patience for it or have enjoyed Wallace's fiction in the past, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Just over halfway through this. It's been a while since I read a book with an unreliable narrator and I'm very much enjoying. Some of the character dynamics remind me of the film 12 Angry Men, in that there's lots of inter-character conflict playing out in a small space.
I don't have much more to say on this one other than i'm excited to read on.
The Cold War
Another one that I'm halfway through. I picked this one up after OftenBen bumped kleinbl00's Geopolitical book post a month or so back. I'd actually been looking for a book that does the a similar thing for WW2 for a while, but settled for this.
It's interesting to see how often the US' attempts to instil the 'right' governments in places such as Chile and Guatemala led to the complete opposite, which they were then basically forced to support. It's also clever how the smaller powers would leverage the US and Russia to their own ends too.
It was eye-opening that figures like Mao and Che Guevara were seen as hero figures by their supporters not necessarily for their competence or their results, but simply as they represented 'revolutionary romanticism'. I think it draws parallels to the same sort of attitude that allowed Brexit to pass or Trump to be voted in. Not necessary because they're good or believed to be the right choice, but because they're a 'fuck you'.
Union Jack waving intensifies