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The boy is a Greek; the youth, romantic; the adult, reflective.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Scholar


And now for something, completely different.

–John Cleese, Monty Python


 #53: Self Indulgence and Prime Numbers

  1. Is writing about Writing really writing, or is it simply writing about writing in order to avoid the hard work of actually writing?
  2. I’m being serious.
  3. Really.
  4. Really I am.
  5. You see I actively avoid books about creative writing or creativity because often what happens is the reader of said book spends more of their time dreaming up the possibilities of creativity than actually writing anything at all, or at least writing something that has any teeth.
  6. Metacognition.
  7. Thinking about thinking.
  8. This word, this idea boils down to a central concept.
  9. Thinking about thinking.
  10. This is not a wasted exercise like Writing about writing, though I should be fair in the fact that I haven’t determined yet if writing about writing is actually writing at all.
  11. Metacognition is thinking about thinking in order to be reflective so that the individual doing the actual thinking has something at the end of the contemplation to consider and eventually pursue in terms of agency.
  12. Agency = freedom of will and choice.
  13. Agency is important because ultimately everyone in their own small way fights for agency, sometimes at the expense of other people.The_art_scholar_by_amartinsdebarros
  14. The person who works as a retail associate at Walmart of Target.  These people are not the lazy drones of corporate America, they’re flesh and blood people who work a hard shitty job because they want to make a little money so that they can live their life, the rest of their life, in moderate comfort.  The conflict with shitty retail gigs is that the associates often suffer the wrath of customers, people who assume more agency when they walk into said retail outlet.  Customers are selfish because they’ve been told by corporate policy that their voices matters over employees, though to be fair if employees could not work they would.  The employee works the shitty job and has their agency reduced the customer, management, corporate, etc. up to the end of their shift at which point the world can suck it because they have Game of Thrones tonight, and afterward they’re meeting up with some friends to play Doomtown.  The employee of the retail outlet does not waste much of their time on metacognition, nor on reading about creativity because they have other things to do.
  15. What good is the example then?
  16. Perhaps none at all.
  17. Or perhaps it is riddled with meaning.
  18. Or perhaps I simply created a hypothetical and lost my train of thought.
  19. Perhaps I’m just enjoying the sound of my voice as I write this out loud.
  20. This self-indulgent bullshit reminds me of writing about writing and my original problem however.
  21. Each and every essay written up to this point has had a purpose.
  22. A book, a poem, a play, a graphic novel, a biography, a film, a television show, an essay.
  23. Sometimes the point is to explore an idea simply for the sake of exploring an idea.
  24. It’s in the latter category that a writer can simply without worrying about the form or thesis or management or style or any of the other concerns.
  25. The other concerns are what the writer is actually contributing to writing, and for myself I notice the conflict with this because there are many people who like to call themselves writers because they believe it gives them some kind of position in society but it doesn’t because they tend to produce drek.
  26. This is part of the other concerns.
  27. This essay is Self-Indulgent.
  28. It’s an exploration of conviction and consideration.
  29. Each essay has a purpose, but because of that the form becomes rigid and possibilities to really experiment with the form of the essay tends to be overshadowed by the nitty-gritty details of “reviewing” rather than simply writing
    1. Quotes need to be found,
    2. A first sentence is first however.
    3. First sentence has to be a “Hooker.”
      1. See previous essay “Great Hookers Don’t Return My Calls”
    4. First sentence has to be:
      1. Catching
      2. Funny
      3. Shocking
      4. Inflammatory973c4978-a5b4-4367-b3b2-808063736735.img
      5. Needlessly provocative
      6. Be a reference to a movie to television quote or a song
      7. Inquisitive.
    5. After the first sentence there needs to be anecdotal evidence for the origin of the book and this includes how I found the book and why I think it’s important and in this I get caught because almost every book possesses some kernel, some relevance to somebody somewhere reading a random article they found on the internet because they’re waiting in line at the Post-Office so that they can renew their passport so they can go to Milan with their sister-in-law and spend the week shopping and considering considering considering cheating on their boyfriend who’s sweet and everything she knows she wants but she knows before she dies she wants one honest-to-god free-fuck with a total stranger to prove to herself that she isn’t the “level-headed one” like her mother, co-workers, girlfriends, and boyfriend is always telling her.
    6. The anecdotal story gives the semblance to people as well that I am actually doing something with my time rather than simply reading reading reading, and writing writing writing, and thinking thinking thinking.
    7. Quotes have to be precise and support the thesis.
    8. Thesis sounds academic and I’m tired of academic writing.  I’m a reviewer now.
    9. An essayist.
    10. Quotes tend to overshadow the rest of the writing I produce, and despite many compliments there is a concern that I am sacrificing my own integrity as a writer simply to wax philosophic about others’ works.  That I could be actually submitting my work out into the world and hope that I myself might get reviewed somewhere by somebody who matters and that my work won’t simply boil down to a reading list.
    11. Every writer hopes for originality, novelty, or significance because writers are rather lonely, selfish, self-absorbed, sometimes self-indulgent, little pricks who spend their life wanting after something.
    12. End the essay on something:
      1. Hopeful
      2. Philosophical
      3. Funny
      4. Wise-assish
      5. And thus the essay format is presented.
    13. This takes usually three hours while my wife watches Netflix, plays Skyrim, or works on lesson plans.
  30. I have more or less spent #29 mentally masturbating but this honest examination off the craft,
    1. Which isn’t really honest because I didn’t mention the fact that often I interrupt myself looking for facts:
      1. How old was William Faulkner when he died?
      2. What year did Faulkner receive the Nobel Prize?b5411c9366e51b06e9f50a9d54ebe3a1
      3. What college did Christopher Hitchens go to?
      4. How old is Margot Robbie?
      5. How did David Foster Wallace commit suicide?
      6. Why is there a picture of a girl in a bikini one of the top hits for the Google Search “Joshua Jammer Smith?”
    2. And while looking for these facts I become distracted by:
      1. Pictures of hot girls.
      2. Pictures of hot guys.
      3. Pictures of Presidents.
      4. Pictures of memes of hot Presidents.
      5. More pictures of hot girls.
      6. Pictures of breasts.
      7. Pictures of athletic men.
      8. Pictures of Ronald Reagan riding a velociraptor firing a machine gun set against a waving American flag.
    3. And this leads to:
      1. Hours wasted
      2. Folders full of pictures of Margot Robbie
      3. Which is weird and sad and gross in so many ways
      4. A general feeling of self-revulsion
      5. Only 500 words (if that) produced.
  31. #30 got overtaken by a tangent, but this honest examination of the craft tends to make it difficult when people say they love my work because sometimes it doesn’t feel like actual work.  It feels like the story of James Joyce:
    1. James Joyce’s friend was visiting him while he was writing Ulysses.  He walks in and Joyce is weeping.  His friend, desperate to help his friend because they’re bros, grabs his shoulder and say “James, James whatever is the matter?”539741_355062484564309_748576634_n
    2. Joyce looks up, tries to speak and only falls back weeping.  His friend eventually manages to wake him out of it and Joyce manages to say “I’ve been writing all day.”
    3. “But my friend that’s wonderful.  You said the other day you’ve been having difficulty writing.  How many words have you managed to produce?”
    4. Joyce’s lip trembles before he dribbles out the word:
      1. “Eight.”
      2. 8
    5. Joyce’s friend is shocked, but holds back and continues his encouragement, saying “Well…eight is better than nothing.  You’ve actually written something.  Then why are you so sad my friend?”
    6. Joyce’s lip trembles again and he opens his mouth and wails as he screams, “I don’t know what order they go in!”
  32. There sometimes feels like there’s a pronounced lack of productivity in the writings that I write because so often there’s so much research and distraction in the work that I wonder what I’m actually producing.
  33. Does bitching about the fact that you feel frustrated allow for creativity?
  34. Is it Self-Indulgent?
  35. The title of this essay is Self-Indulgence, and so it must be in some form.  But I have been writing about my writing which is the focus of my original concern.  But I also notice that I’m not really writing about Creativity in general which was my concern.  I distrust “writers” that write books about the necessity of creativity because often it seems like nothing but mental masturbation (See #’s 29, 30, & 31 for examples) and while exploring and dicking around can be useful when a writer is young and writers-writeinexperienced (no matter how old you are) as a writer progresses they should settle into a style that allows for more in-depth exploration of what they’re actually doing with the craft of writing, what they’re contributing to their own style, how they look upon their craft, whether or not they consider themselves artists, whether or not they legitimately believe in the work that they’re producing, and most importantly have they actually said something that isn’t just them talking about abstract creativity.
  36. Writers that talk about spiritual writing, and the importance of art and writing for the exploration of the soul can be excused if they’re observing the complexities of the mental process of creativity.  But writers who write endlessly about how much creativity matters to them and then do nothing but lift creativity into an ideal and never produce anything of original work are cowards.
  37. Clarification.
  38. A writer is not always going to be:
    1. Emily Dickinson
    2. Jonathan Franzen
    3. Ernest Hemingway
    4. Stephen King
    5. Ovid
    6. David McCulloughKingTypewriterphp
    7. Goethe
    8. Alison Bechdel
    9. Neil Gaiman
  39. There are writers who are:
    1. Sports writers
    2. Technical writers
    3. Mathematical history writers
    4. Academic writers
    5. Political writers
    6. Op-Ed Piece writers
    7. Speech Writers
    8. See ETC.
  40. These writers fulfill great purpose and necessity in society because they master their craft, become important figures in their field, and generally help humanity in whatever capacity they can.
    1. It is important to note
    2. However
    3. That even these writers
    4. Can become
    5. Self-Indulgent200px-Onwriting
  41. Writing about writing seems to possess great merit for On Writing is a book about writing and it has provided one of the most important lessons about writing that I have ever learned:
    1. If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.  There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.  (145).
  42. Everything else seems immaterial, but I felt that this essay was necessary.
    1. Because I had already written the first line.
      1. Which I thought was funny.
        1. And Kafkaesque.
          1. And a great way to fuck with people.
            1. Because I am that pathetic.
              1. And I believe that I’m actually sometimes funny.
  43. And because I really did want to examine whether or not writing about writing could provide an opportunity for:
    1. Self-exploration.
    2. And the chance to see if I could make art out of it.WIN_20160618_22_25_39_Pro
  44. To be honest this exercise has seemed incredibly indulgent because it seems like I mostly whined through most of it, which often happens when I’m reflective, but nearing the end, because I know, I can feel that I’m getting close to the end, there is a remarkable sense of release because it feels like I have broken free from the usual way that I write essays, because for once I’m writing about something original that doesn’t seem to fit into a formula pattern or be about someone else’s work.
  45. The essay as a topic of discussion, worthy of being written about, is subject to the writer that writes in its form.
    1. Essays come from Essais which come from Michel de Montaigne, a French aristocrat who wrote Of Cannibals, Of Books, Of Conscience, Of Friends,
    2. See Etc.montaigne
  46. However unlike the novel, poem, play, of non-fiction work, the essay is pliable.
  47. Subject to experimentation.
  48. As such.
  49. It is open to exploring the topic of writing about writing because such an essay allows the writer to understand and re-assess whether or not they are producing something of merit,
    1. And at this point I should drop the fucking “the writer” because even I’m starting to indulge in that bullshit that writers are some kind of abstract being or creature of standard because really writers are just,
    2. Flesh and blood people who get a kick out of writing and because,
    3. They need to write because
    4. Writing gives them something that they lack, either in their personal lives or else in their relationships with people outside of their immediate circle because
    5. I think all writers are trying in their own way to write out the
      1. Ideas
      2. Desperations
      3. Desires
      4. Suggestions
      5. Pleads
        1. See Etc.
    6. That they lack or miss in casual conversation.
    7. Writer’s aren’t fuck-ups.
    8. But they’re close.
    9. I would rather write out a five-page explanation of why somebody should read
      1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
      2. god is Not Great
      3. Go Set a Watchman1-fun-home-alison-bechdel-cover1
      4. Infinite Jest
      5. Ulysses
      6. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
      7. Fart Proudly
      8. The Great Gatsby
      9. Flashpoint
      10. See Etc.
    10. Because whenever I try to actually tell someone why they should read it I am
      1. Nervous
      2. Often interrupted before I can complete my explanation
      3. Remiss of the exact quote that I am trying to remember
      4. Desperate for attention
      5. Trying to show off
      6. Trying to explain why I’ve spent the last six years studying English rather than a STEM field
      7.  Always bumbling the words I speak
      8.  Never as eloquent as I should be
      9. And I think that’s it.
    11. And so I call myself a writer because I read a lot and think a lot and writing gives me a space in which to explore these ideas that I have read and thought.  But most importantly it gives me purpose.  Writing has provided me an outlet that, had it not come about, I might not still be around.
      1. But suicide is selfishness I won’t consider and so I write odd essays wonder.
      2. Wondering:
  50. Is writing about writing really writing?
    1. It’s an honest question.  The only real answer I have is that allows me to try something different and new.
    2. I think I’ll end on #50.
    3. I like even numbers.
  51. Although 51 is a prime number.
  52. Wait no it isn’t.
  53. Great. I wasted the opportunity to be funny or smart.
  54. Now I just a look like a yutz.
    1. Fuck me.
  55. Thanks for reading.
    1. Now Piss Off.
    2. Should’ve ended it on #53.
    3. That one’s a prime number.
    4. And it satisfied the rule of #29, Section “l”, Sub-Sections (i, ii, iii, iv).