“If I quit now, I will soon be back to where I started. And when I started I was desperately wishing to be where I am now.”– Unknown
“A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.”
― Jorge Luis Borges, Afterword, Dreamtigers
Time is a strange tunnel, a hazy, imperfect continuity, telescoping violently, with no warning or logic. Events that transpired not twelve hours earlier feel like they happened days ago, while those from years ago can feel like just last week.
Apparently, it’s been just over four years since my last post here – the time went by freaky fast! (I regret to inform you Jimmy John’s is no longer a sponsor, so for that, I may be sued.) I still remember conceiving of this site in late 2012, and it looks like I could barely keep it together for more than a year. Now I realize the main reason for such a weak track record is how much pressure I created for myself. Without realizing it, I had established arbitrary constraints that each post be either a refined (and relatively long) essay or an excessive link roundup of everything interesting I had come across in the past week (which was…a lot). While I still think both types of posts are valuable, they are both also a huge time-drain to create.
Amusingly, I’ve already addressed this failure directly, detailing the exact reasons essays, in particular, are unsustainable for me to write and post with any regularity. Despite this realization, I didn’t progress in any new way that made posting here fun or sustainable.
Lowering the threshold for the requirements of what constitutes a “valid” post is part of a philosophical problem I’m trying to tackle, which relates to the finality and attempted perfection of a released creation (song, artwork, essay, etc.) Being a perfectionist (who perpetually creates deeply imperfect and flawed things) has resulted in analysis paralysis for most things I make, which translates into an enormous volume of creations that no one other than myself has seen. So the relaunch of Thoughts Involuntary is a concerted effort, along with new methods of creating and releasing my music (and art in general), to allow spontaneity and imperfection to pervade my projects, to value shipping over the refinement of something ad nauseam.
So I’d like to recommit to that vision of creating posts that are more concise, more spontaneous, and just a bit less refined. Ideally, they’ll be insightful as well, but no guarantees!
Being on Twitter (pre-280 characters) more regularly helped show me the value of concision, and while I doubt the new, shorter posts here will at all resemble any of my vaguely ok Twitter jokes or anything from the Showerthoughts subreddit (I can be pretty humorless when I write non-fiction), I’d like to align this project with their general economy.
It’s also worth adding that while I still plan to write about very specific topics (I’ll slowly be documenting and adding them here with reckless abandon), many of my newest threads of thought and writing concern the very act of thinking itself, the patterns I’ve noticed arise. I’d argue that this may be the most important thinking and writing endeavor: exploring and documenting the ways your mind functions, its tendencies and idiosyncrasies. Doing so can allow you to hack it, both to increase its efficiency and productivity, but also enable you to establish mechanisms to be a happier, more fulfilled person.
Ok this post is already too long and boring to be useful to anyone other than myself, so if my purpose was to emulate every other blog in the history of the world, I’ve started off on the right foot!
Let’s get to it.
I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.
– Leo Tolstoy, excerpt from “What Is Art?”
As to the course which I seem to you to be urging on you now and then, my object in shutting myself up and locking the door is to be able to help a greater number. I never spend a day in idleness; I appropriate even a part of the night for study. I do not allow time for sleep but yield to it when I must, and when my eyes are wearied with waking and ready to fall shut, I keep them at their task.
I have withdrawn not only from men, but from affairs, especially from my own affairs; I am working for later generations, writing down some ideas that may be of assistance to them. There are certain wholesome counsels, which may be compared to prescriptions of useful drugs; these I am putting into writing; for I have found them helpful in ministering to my own sores, which, if not wholly cured, have at any rate ceased to spread.
– excerpt, Letters from a Stoic – Letter VIII: “On the Philosopher’s Seclusion”
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist