A floating couple dancing by Olive Adec.
September 3, 2021
15 rue Robert,
“Anything I remember about that day other people have helped me to remember.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Cat’s Cradle
“Worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.” — Mary Schmich, “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young,” Chicago Tribune (1997-06-01)
Sitting in the bath with big ideas, really big, like huge. I am impressed with myself. They have to be preserved. I reach for my pen and paper.
Being present includes looking at where you came from and choosing a direction. I can see this thread of thought loops back to another of my favourite ideas: People are alarmed about modern life while most of it, including the alarmism, is only history repeating. I want to differentiate between being in the moment and its directionless short-term thinking evil twin that ignores the past and damns the consequences.
But the good twin version still lacks clarity. It looks more like a paradox than a distinction. (Here I am being polite and kind to myself. It looks like pompous bullshit.) It would take pages to define what I am trying to say.
I suggest that revisiting how I got to this idea might help me find another, better way of saying what I mean. I counter that it will probably only help by giving time to the subconscious to play with the idea. However, I did really enjoy the journey towards the thought.
I arrived at the good twin while condemning the evil twin. I remembered that being in the moment is a good thing, one of the keys to happiness. Spotlighting the present is not the same as being present. A paradox, this is not.
This criticism of spotlighting the present came from the thought that having choices in the life to live is a modern phenomena. Until the early twentieth century most people weren’t educated, most didn’t have rights and, even in democracies, most didn’t have a vote. Most people were just a part of the current generation of peasants.
This from the thought that macho, homophobic metaphors along with rotary dial phones and mix tapes will soon require explanatory footnotes. Footnotes that I wouldn’t need. I have prepared mix tapes, I have experienced the anguish of a dial slipping on the last number, and I have laughed at humour that mocks the stereotypical effeminate homosexual. Some of the jokes would still make me smile.
And I had arrived at that topic because I was trying to reconstruct a joke that I had thought of about having one foot inside and one foot out the door. The French use the position of the butt hole, between two chairs, to indicate someone who hasn’t chosen which one to sit on. Somehow I had found a way to blame it for my horniness but now, like the tune you can’t get out of your head, I was stuck on the admonition to choose a chair to avoid getting sodomized. I am not sure the original joke was in good taste but I am confident it was in better taste than that piece of medieval style of wisdom.
Why do I wait until I have come to an interesting conclusion to start thinking about writing down the premises and arguments. Instead, I usually pull out the age old post hoc rationalization that if my idea was good enough, I will have it again. Today I counter with “Ask any stoner. They’ve all forgotten at least one world changing idea.”
“The techniques of artificial intelligence are to the mind what bureaucracy is to human social interaction.” — Terry Winograd, Thinking Machines