DigiWriMo 2015 update

I got off to a great start but then tapered off dramatically. Also, much of my word count came from writing prep; not that much was actually finished.

I never got Scrivener Finals Target working so I created a minimal Google Sheets spreadsheet. But it required me to ensure I recorded some reasonably accurate idea of each day’s count at the end of the day before heading to bed. Not sure why I didn’t get Finals Target to work as I had it working for DigiWriMo 2014 and 2012.

Was I successful? However I might want to define that. Before attempting to answer the question, though, let me say that I just don’t care. I lost my motivation early, clearly, and several other events intervened at the end of the month to keep me from making any real progress.

A fairly accurate word count is 27695. I was aiming for 35k so 27695 / 35000 = 0.7912 or almost 80%.

At habitually probing generalist (here) I had 3 posts with one about one of the topics I had hoped to cover and two related to DigiWriMo itself.

At by the barrel I had 5 posts with only one about DigiWriMo and one guest post from my wife. I did not get any homebrew posts written but I did do The Session #105 and a book review.

I also had one post at Commonplacing. Had hoped to get a few more added.

hpg

  • # posts 3
  • Health 0
  • Pilot Butte 1
  • 2016 GIP 0

BBL

  • # posts 5
  • Home brewing 0
  • Session #105 check
  • Book reviews 1

I had almost no engagement with anyone else although I did poke at some of the official blog posts and such from the DigiWriMo crew. I was the only one who could make me write and I would or I wouldn’t. I also had very little interest in pursuing multimodal “writing” projects. Those sorts of things are theoretically interesting but not really my thing.

Success? Whatever.

Trying to wrap my head around moving on to next year. I still have a major project I “failed at” this year ahead of me. It will not go away until it is taken care of. Period. So it is a major project again this coming year. Lots of smaller projects are still projects.

Leaving 2015 behind. Thank you.

Pilot Butte Update 5: Goals attained

Intro

Back on 26 January I wrote my first post, Exercise goals for 2015, that included Pilot Butte, our local cinder cone and State Park. Due to health issues I needed to get in better shape. It has been an assortment of struggles but I have managed.

As for walking, this is what I wrote in that post as my revised 2015 goals:

  • 8 mi/week [till needs to go up]
  • Pilot Butte 1x/week
  • Make the Century Club by the end of 2015

Second Century

Yesterday (Friday, 6 November) I completed my 100th lap of either up and down and/or around Pilot Butte. My second Century completed this year! This being week 45 means I have done it an average of 2.22 times per week. Or, as I’ll get to, those 100 laps happened over 88 actual trips, so let’s say an average of 1.95x/week.

PB2ndCentury

I grabbed a blank Century Club Mileage Log on my way round the base for my 3rd.

Issues

There have been assorted delays, setbacks, etc. on the way to this achievement. I started the year pretty well broken physically and I am still working to correct that in some ways but have made great progress. My feet and legs were completely broken from bad shoes and too much walking in Portland during weeks 14 and 15.

Mentioning Portland, we’ve had several trips to Portland, Corvallis and Eugene that took away from my ability to do the Butte. Late in the evening of 14 June I spent several hours in the emergency room as every muscle in my neck and upper back was in complete spasm. That was another week or so I couldn’t do much physically. I have lately been doing physical therapy to correct that issue. Between 19-30 September it was too smoky out from forest fires. And so on.

Summiting

I started out summiting the first four trips to the butte but my back was hurting too much so I started doing the base trail, which probably has more overall up and down but is less taxing since it isn’t mostly all up and then mostly all down. I didn’t summit again until 1 April. Then 10 May, 26 September (Pilot Butte Challenge), and 27 Sep for Super Blood Moon.

Being both inspired by the Pilot Butte Challenge [here and here] (which I volunteered at this year but want to do next) and by the fact that I summited again the very next day, carrying a folding chair and goodies, for the Super Blood Moon I decided to start trying to summit more often. I have done it another eight times since the end of September. And all of those have been doubles.

Doubles

It turns out that since I have to take a good portion of the base trail around to get to the start of the nature trail to the top I have basically gone half way around just to get to the trail up. The other half of the base trail is only 0.17 mi longer. So I always now get two laps if I summit as I just go the rest of the way around the base trail on the way home. My first couple of doubles, though, were by doing the base trail twice around in the same trip. I first did that on 31 July, then 14 and 31 August. Since then, all of my doubles have been base and summit trips. Number of doubles by month: 1 July & September, 2 August, 5 October and 3 November (so far; as of 6th). The last four trips have all been doubles.

  • Jan 6 laps for 6 trips
  • Feb 9 laps for 9 trips
  • Mar 10 laps for 10 trips
  • Apr 5 laps for 5 trips
  • May 7 laps for 7 trips
  • Jun 7 laps for 7 trips
  • Jul 10 laps for 9 trips : 1st x2
  • Aug 9 laps for 7 trips : 2 x2
  • Sep 12 laps for 11 trips : 1 x2
  • Oct 19 laps for 14 trips : 5 x2
  • Nov 6 laps for 3 trips : 3 x2

100 laps for 88 trips

Centuries Completed

I completed my first Century on 20 July and my second on 6 November, as I wrote earlier. So it took me until day 201 to complete the first and only until day 310 for the second (or 109 days); I almost cut the time in half.

Can I get 25 more trips by the end of the year?

PRs

I had several PRs (personal records) along the way but the main ones were 22 July, with an average of 13:00/mile (walking) over 3.03 mi, which I thought I could never beat, and a week later on 7 August with an average of 12:05/mile and a time of 36:41 over 3.04 mi. I truly do not see myself breaking that any time soon. I was really, really, really pissed off about something that morning so I was in some sense already warmed up. Seeing as I didn’t believe I was ever breaking the 13:00/mile record I just set out. Getting that first half mile split from MapMyRun/Hike I told myself to slow down. Then told myself I felt fine and probably told myself to shut the fuck up with the self-direction giving and walk. Pace continued to be blistering and I felt good—at least for a while—so I kept at it. Eventually it wasn’t really fun anymore but I was still cooking so I stubbornly kept at it. Somehow—I still do not believe it myself except that I “was there” and I heard the splits in my earbuds and MayMyRun got the whole thing recorded with no hiccups—I took another 55 seconds per mile off my PR. Craziness.

Other Walking

Amongst all this walking of Pilot Butte, I have increased my walking around town (most of downtown is from 1-1.25 mi from our house), I walked all around Portland, Corvallis and Eugene, and I went on several other hikes, including one in Eugene. On 26 April Sara and I went out and took the Flatiron Trail in the Oregon Badlands. I also went on all three of the BMBW ONDA Bend-area brewery hikes: 20 May at Scout Camp with Crux, 12 June at the Oregon Badlands (a different section) with Worthy, and 24 July at Black Canyon at Sutton Mountain with Deschutes. On 21 September I took myself out the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway and hiked up Tumalo Mountain.

I have recorded walks totally 510.2 miles so far this year; divided by 45 weeks give 11.33 mi/week so far. It seems that I have achieved all of my walking goals for the year. There were a total of 14 weeks where I had less than 8 miles in them but the last was 10 weeks ago, with the previous one 8 weeks before that. Thus, the vast majority were early on in the year or due to injuries and smoke-filled unhealthy air.

2015 Goals

My other moan goals for the year didn’t work out anywhere near as well. I basically failed at all of them. Lots of extenuating circumstances, including aspects of my health and related issues, but I failed at them nonetheless. That was pretty devastating earlier in the year when it happened and, despite accepting it all, it is still fraught with repercussions for me.

This post and taking the time to look at these numbers and such to put it in perspective has helped mitigate those failures a lot. I nailed my walking goals for the year! More importantly, it has immensely improved my health and attitude.

Pilot Butte Challenge 2016 prep

Like I said above, volunteering at the Pilot Butte Challenge—a 1+ mi run mostly uphill—got me motivated for next year and I drafted an early training plan over the next couple of days. It has been modified a little since late September/early October and it will no doubt be modified in the coming months, especially as we see how my getting out during winter actually went and how soon I get started on serious training next year. Then there’s keeping healthy, needing smoke-free air and so on.

October 2015

  • Begin summiting more frequently [began Oct 2015]
  • Get a base summit time (by self) early [did 4 Oct 2015 14:45.28 (watch) :: 7 Oct 2015 0.86 mi in 14:29 @16:46 (MapMyRun)]
Screen snap from MayMyRun site of my baseline hike up Pilot Butte

Screen snap from MayMyRun site of my baseline hike up Pilot Butte. Not the Challenge course but a known entity for me to train over, Besides, the rest of the Challenge course is flat. I simply cut out the flat parts at the top and bottom.

Winter 2015-16

  • Keep hiking both base and summit, as can

March 2016

  • Start pushing through steeper sections, ‘resting’ on less steep. [aim for 15:30 through the middle uphill section (1.5 – 2.0 mi from home CCW). Did roughly 16:30 through there 28 Oct 2015]

April 2016

  • Start run/walking base trail concentrating on uphill sections

May

  • Try jogging whole way to summit

June

  • Run/walk summit concentrating on steeper sections

Mid-July

  • Run summit for time

Late September

  • Pilot Butte Challenge

Previous posts

Previous posts about or mentioning Pilot Butte:

DigiWriMo 2015 [mentioned as a writing project]

Pilot Butte Update 4

PRs and first Century. And another PR in the comments

Pilot Butte Update 3

Ran the base trail (once)

Atkeson – Oregon II [mentioned a photo most likely taken from the butte]

Pilot Butte Update 2

“Maybe I can complete two Centuries this year.”

Pilot Butte Inspiration

“The Pilot Butte Challenge is barely a dream at this point.”

Exercise goals for 2015

Pictures

For the more pictorially-minded, I have a set of 74 photos from the January 1st sunrise hike in Flickr and have just uploaded another 255 photos I have taken of and from the butte since then. [Flickr is being extremely ignorant and some of the photos are clearly not in chronological order, although most are. Asses me up!]

Wrap-Up

All in all, my progress on these goals is very heartening. As I said earlier, in other areas I have had an often horrible year; a very demoralizing one.

This.

This makes me happy.

DigiWriMo 2015

As I said in my previous post, I have committed to doing Digital Writing Month, DigiWriMo, again this year. I did it in 2014 and 2012 also.

In 2012 my goal was 50,000 words and last year it was 25,000 [see last year’s post to see why]. This year …. This year … has been ….

Maybe we’ll learn about this past year during this month. And I sincerely mean that collective ‘we;’ I hope I can learn something from all of this.

This year I am aiming for 35,000 words digitally. “Sure,” you say. “What counts?” Legitimate but semi-fraught question. I discussed that a lot in my closing 2014 post, “If I Don’t Reach My Goal – Have I Failed?

But this being my third year now I am a bit more relaxed. I certainly won’t be counting every last tweet and text and Facebook status update [not that I ever did] and …. But some of them will.

I hope to have a fair few posts at this blog and also at my beer blog, By the barrel, or Bend Beer Librarian. I also keep my daily journal in Scrivener so those words are being counted automagically since I have set up Project Targets and will copy anything I want to count into t/here [I draft my posts in Scrivener also].

Some of the things I hope to write about are health issues and responses, Pilot Butte progress and goals, The Session #105 (beer blog), and laying out my 2016 Goals Ideas Projects. If you paid attention to my UnCV that I posted earlier you may have noticed some things about my health and about how I set myself up this year with my goals—with the help of those health issues, by the by. I’d like to write about much of that.

I am also, finally, heading down the homebrewing road. I’ve taken classes, helped people, read a zillion books about it—some even at technical levels far beyond me—and have now signed up for the same class a 2nd time. The class happens entirely during November except for the very last one so assorted thoughts on homebrewing will hopefully show up on my beer blog.

Like I wrote last year, “If any of you are participating in some kind of writing month in November let me know if you would like some support and hopefully we can find a mutual venue.”

::hangs head:: I know I owe Ranger feedback on dog stories from last year. Still.

I have no excuse and I won’t offer any but this last year can go … .

For Rachel and for her namesake I leave you with Jackson Browne’s For A Dancer [YouTube].

“… until the dance becomes your very own …”

I will miss you both for as long as there is a me. In the meantime, I learn to dance.

My Story, My Terms: Unofficial CV activity [DigiWriMo 2015]

DigiWriMo, which I am doing again this November, has asked that I Reconsider Me: to compose in some manner an unCV to introduce myself.

I have decided to go with song titles as the section headings of a table of contents, mostly comprised of song titles.

[N.B. I only got part way through the library and ignored large swaths along that road too. Titles should in most cases be taken as only the title and not as the content of the song; except when not. Most of these songs are quite meaningful to me but I may be twisting the heck out of that meaning with how I am using it here. Song titles are in italics. Performers will be listed at the end broken into sections.]

Ready Or NotThis Box Contains the Ballad of a Thin Man.

Table of Contents:

Industrial Disease [2014-present]

     Heavy Fuel

     So They Say

     Don’t Let Us Get Sick

     Here Come Those Tears Again        

     Dazed and Confused

     All Tore Down

     Changes

     Poor Poor Pitiful Me

     It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

     There’ll Be Some Changes Made

     The Distance

Setting Me Up [2015 goals]

     The Things I’ve Gone & Done

     Mutineeer

     You Tripped At Every Step

     Or Down You Fall

     Wicked Game

     Effigy

     Every Thing Happens to Me

     Ain’t That The Way

     Just One of Those Things

     You Painted Yourself In 

What I Am

     So Madly In Love  

     Almost Blue

     The Naming of Things

     21st Century Schizoid Man

     Moody Fucker

     Wishing For Contentment

     Searching For A Heart

     On the Border

     My Mind is Ramblin’

     Sorry I Am

     I Drink Beer

     Rebel Rebel

     32 Flavors

     Sittin’ and Thinkin’

     Reckoning

     Wondr’ing Aloud

     Pissed

     I’m a Stranger Here

     Little Earthquakes

     Strange

     Something Beautiful  

     Existential Exile

     Cause Cheap Is How I Feel

     Battered Old Bird

     Damaged From the Start

     Fuzzy Freaky

     Fuck, I Hate the Cold

     Howlin’ at the Moon

     In Love But Not at Peace

     It’s a War in There

     Calling the Moon

     Here For Now            

     Writing in the Margins   

     Willin’

From the Ashes [Aspirations]

     Don’t Get Trouble on Your Mind

     Get Up Stand Up

     Ripple

     Fierce Flawless

     Mercy of the Fallen

     Learn to Be Still

     I Love Myself Today

     Work Your Way Out

     Remember

     Revelling

     Don’t Be Afraid of Your Anger

     Evolve

     With My Own Two Hands

     New Dawn Coming

     All the Best                     

     Why Worry

     Slowness

     Breathe Deep        

     Wake Up Dreaming

     I Wish You Peace

This is me. Some sides of me, more honestly. Clearly, it has been a rough last year and a half. Trying to amble into the future as it comes.

Looking forward to DigiWriMo this year.

Cast List, in Order:

Warren Zevon, The Fugees, Ani DiFranco, Bob Dylan

Dire Straits: Dire Straits, Cowboy Junkies, Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Winter, Becky Chace (and others; e.g. Bowie), Warren Zevon, Bob Dylan, Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler, Cake

Dire Straits: Carrie Newcomer, Warren Zevon, Elvis Costello, Gil Scot-Heron, Chris Isaak, Andrew Bird (or Natalie Merchant), Lightnin’ Hopkins, Ani DiFranco, Anita O’Day, Jolie Holland

Edie Brickell: Georgia Gibbs, Elvis Costello, Andrew Bird, King Crimson, Lambchop, Andrew Bird, Warren Zevon, Al Stewart, Howlin’ Wolf, Ani DiFranco, Dan Reeder, David Bowie, Ani DiFranco, Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco, Jethro Tull, bitch and animal, Lambchop, Carrie Newcomer, Elvis Costello, Clem Snide, Conjure One, Cowboy Junkies, Eric Clapton, Dar Williams, Cowboy Junkies, David Byrne, Cowboy Junkies, The Chenille Sisters, Dar Williams, Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams, John Gorka, Little Feat

Rosanne Cash: Jolie Holland, Bob Marley, Grateful Dead, Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams, Eagles, Bif Naked, Ani DiFranco, Jolie Holland, Ani DiFranco, Clem Snide, Ani DiFranco, Ben Harper, Cowboy Junkies, John Prine, Dire Straits, Calexico, Lambchop, Little Feat, Eagles

de Botton – How to Think More About Sex

How Think More About Sex How Think More About SexAlain de Botton; Picador 2013WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

I read de Botton’s How to Think More About Sex on 1-2 November 2014. It was not quite what I expected; I also expected more. Then again, I gave a mixed review to The Architecture of Happiness, which suffers from some of the same issues.

But first, the contents:

I. Introduction

II. The Pleasures of Sex

     1. Eroticism and Loneliness

     2. Can ‘Sexiness’ Be Profound?

     3. Natalie or Scarlett?

III. The Problems of Sex

     1. Love and Sex

     2. Sexual Rejection

     3. Lack of Desire: Infrequency, Impotence, Resentment

     4. Pornography: Censorship, A New Kind of Porn

     5. Adultery: The Pleasures of Adultery, The Stupidity of Adultery

IV. Conclusion

Homework

My comments and excerpts:

de Botton writes in an overly generalized fashion, he considers few alternatives, he is quite probably contradicting himself on a couple occasions, he is often anthropomorphic and reifies to no end, and he seems to have written this book from a healthy, Euro-skinned, heterosexual of reasonably decent (or better) looks perspective. Gays, transexuals, asexuals, whatever do not appear. Do not get mention. Nor do the vast majority of people who are of mediocre appearance at best. Apparently, the only ones who should be thinking more (clearly/intelligently/humanely) about sex are healthy good-looking heterosexuals. Not.

I know this book is short but it leaves so damned much out. And that is perfectly fine and certainly expected. But if you are leaving out that much of the human experience of sex without even mentioning that you have no space for it then you do not deserve to name your book How to Think More About Sex. It really is that simple.

Based on this alone, one probably ought skip this book. But it is short and it has great moments. There are things of import to think about that he brings up. Some of his offerings for ways in and/or out of things are fine and some are bunk. But he is trying to intelligently discuss sex. I appreciate the hell out of that! But this only hits on occasion and it misses by so damned much in its general approach to ignoring much of the world’s population’s individual experiences.

Let’s dive in.

I. Introduction

I really liked this bit in the Intro. The end of that first paragraph is a bit over the top but I can’t argue really with that full one after it. He does a decent but succinct job of showing how messed up our “thinking” is about sex and, thus, why we may need to think/talk/act more intelligently about it.

“…. We [are] bothered by sex because it is a fundamentally disruptive, overwhelming and demented force, strongly at odds with the majority of our ambitions and all but incapable of being discreetly integrated within civilized society.

     Despite our best efforts to clean it of its peculiarities, sex will never be either simple or nice in the ways we might like it to be. It is not fundamentally democratic or kind; it is bound up with cruelty, transgression and the desire for subjugation and humiliation. It refuses to sit neatly on top of love, as it should. Tame it though we may try, sex has a recurring tendency to wreak havoc across our lives: it leads us to destroy our relationships, threatens our productivity and compels us to stay up too late in nightclubs talking to people whom we don’t like but whose exposed midriffs we nevertheless strongly wish to touch. Sex remains in absurd, and perhaps irreconcilable, conflict with some of our highest commitments and values. Unsurprisingly, we have no option but to repress its demands most of the time. We should accept that sex is inherently weird instead of blaming ourselves for not responding in more normal ways to its confusing impulses.” 6-7

II. The Pleasures of Sex

He leaps right in trying to show that sex is messy and great and vengeful and loving and …. He does a good job showing that we truly are less in charge than we think when it comes to sex. This is also a bit thin for someone new to it (I am not) but he’s on the right track. Evolutionary biology can only explain so much (if it does at all) and one has to bring other theories to bear to explain more than mere biological sexual attraction for reproductive purposes. He does. Are they the right ones, or at least highly useful?

     1. Eroticism and Loneliness

          “It could sound disgusting — and that’s the point. Nothing is erotic that isn’t also, with the wrong person, revolting, which is precisely what makes erotic moments so intense: at the precise juncture where disgust could be at its height, we find only welcome and permission. The privileged nature of the union between two people is sealed by an act that, with someone else, would have horrified them both.” 22

          “Sex temporarily liberates us from the punishment dichotomy, well known to every one of us since childhood, between dirty and clean. Lovemaking purifies us by engaging the most apparently polluted sides of ourselves in its procedures and thereby anointing them as newly worthy.” 37

On fetishes:

          “In a clinical sense, a fetish is defined as an ingredient, typically quite unusual in nature, which needs to be present in order for someone to achieve orgasm.” 38

          “In this wider sense, fetishes are simply details — most often related either to a type of clothing or to a part of another’s body — which evoke for us desirable sides of human nature. The precise origins of our enthusiasms may be obscure, but they can almost always be traced back to some meaningful aspect of our childhood: we will be drawn to specific things either because they recall appealing qualities of a beloved parental figure or else, conversely, because they somehow cancel out, or otherwise help us to escape, a memory of early humiliation or terror.

          The task of understanding our own preferences in this regard should be recognized as an integral part of any project of self-knowledge or biography. What Freud said of dreams can likewise be said of sexual fetishes: they are a royal road into the unconscious.” 39

Tying our fetishes to issues of values and the good life which he’ll bring out later:

          “The pleasure we derive from sex is also bound up with our recognizing, and giving a distinctive seal of approval to, those ingredients of a good life whose presence we have detected in another person. The more closely we analyze what we consider ‘sexy’, the more clearly we will understand that eroticism is the feeling of excitement we experience at finding another human who shares our values and our sense of the meaning of existence.” 44

     2. Can ‘Sexiness’ Be Profound?

          “A consensus emerges about which sorts of faces we find most appealing. From these studies [cross-cultural], evolutionary biologists have concluded that a ‘sexy’ person of either gender, far from being an unclassifiable abstraction, is in essence someone whose face is symmetrical (that is, the right and left sides match precisely) and whose features are balanced, proportionate and undistorted.” 81

          “The discipline [evol biol] absolves physical attraction of the charge of being purely superficial. While conceding that we judge people by their appearance, it holds that appearances themselves are anything but trivial and indeed point towards some rather profound qualities.” 84

     3. Natalie or Scarlett?

          “Evolutionary biology confidently predicts that we will be drawn to people on the basis of their evident health, but it has not put forward any truly convincing theories about why we should prefer one specific healthy person over another.” 63

But what about people who clearly are not “healthy” who find love and are attracted sexually to others?

          Wilhelm Worringer’s theory on art appreciation; essay, “Abstraction and Empathy,” 1907 64-8

          Worringer’s theory applied to sexual attraction 69-72

          “We then declare people ‘sexy’ when we see in them evidence of compensatory qualities, and are repelled by those who seem prone to drive us further into our extremities.” 70

          “We need both art and sex to make us whole, so it is not surprising if the mechanisms of compensation should be similar in each case. The specifics of what we find ‘beautiful’ and what we find ‘sexy’ are indications of what we most deeply crave in order to rebalance ourselves.” 72

III. The Problems of Sex

This section attempts to offer possible remedies, or at least ways in, to mitigate some of the many problems with sex. Of course, only a few are covered in the short space allowed. I am not sure how effectively he deals with some of them either.

     1. Love and Sex

          “It’s time for the need for sex and the need for love to be granted equal standing, without an added moral gloss. Both may be independently felt and are of comparable value and validity. Both shouldn’t require us to lie in order to claim them.” 79

Amen! The data on this–and he does provide some; there is much more–show what a damaging idea modern love (and marriage) truly is. Maybe someday perhaps the two can be pulled apart in a more sane and sensible way but I have my doubts.

     2. Sexual Rejection

          “We don’t have to take sexual rejection as a sure indication that another person has looked into our soul and registered disgust at every aspect of our being. The reality is usually much simpler and less shattering than that: for whatever reason, this particular individual just can’t get turned on by our body. We can take comfort in the knowledge that such a verdict is automatic, preconscious and immutable. The one doing the rejecting isn’t being intentionally nasty; he or she has no choice.” 82

If we could already use reason in regards to love and sex then this probably would be less of an issue than it is. Realigning our views on the issue, as he suggests, would be useful but quite unlikely to be of use to more than a handful of people, statistically speaking.

     3. Lack of Desire:

          i. Infrequency

               “The solution to long-term sexual stagnation is to learn to see our lover as if we had never laid eyes on him or her before.” 97

               “While going about their quite different types of business, the lover and the artist nonetheless come up against a similar human foible: the universal tendency to become easily habituated and bored, and to decide that whatever is known is unworthy of interest. We are prone to long for novelty, kitschy romanticism, drama and glamour.” 99

               “We should try to locate the good and the beautiful beneath the layers of habit and routine.” 102

          ii. Impotence

     Argues that this is a “symptom of respect.” Not buying that for a second, except in some percentage (I’m going with small) of all cases. And the reason why is all the bullshit he says about men in these paragraphs. Again, overly generalized beyond all possible acceptance. Gamergate and #teamharpy, along with way too many other things today show us that most men have not “evolved” as de Botton seems to think.

          iii. Resentment

               “By overwhelming consensus, our culture locates the primary difficulty of relationships in finding the ‘right’ person rather than in knowing how to love a real — that is, a necessarily rather unright — human being.” 121

Yes. This bit is quite valuable. Again, shows the utter destruction caused by the currently prevailing (by those in power) views of love and marriage in Western society.

     4. Pornography:

          i. Censorship

I. Just. He seems to accept, and argues, that pornography is extremely dangerous to society and that some form of censorship is necessary. He is writing in particular about the Internet. Yes, indeed, let’s let nanny-state governments censor the Internet so we can get back to work. Jackass! There are so many intermediate steps.

I should explain that my vehemence here is he because he made no real argument for pornography being an immense destructive force; just assumed via anecdata.

          ii. A New Kind of Porn

I. Just. Don’t. But now he wants a new kind of porn. “Virtue porn.”

“Yet is is possible to conceive of a version of pornography that wouldn’t force us to make such a stark choice between sex and virtue — a pornography in which sexual desire would be invited to support, rather than permitted to undermine, our higher values.” 139

OK. This might work for a few folks; he should go back and re-read his discussion of fetishes though, as a first caution. And some of his examples later on make some sense; again, for a few folks. But his discussion. Oy! His example to lead us into pornography that might support our virtues is Sandro Bottticelli’s The Madonna of the Book, c.1483.

Seems to be contradicting himself in these two sections also. Porn must be censored. Oh, look, a new kind of “virtue porn.” Make a choice or choose a middle ground, sir.

     5. Adultery:

          i. The Pleasures of Adultery

               “However, the real fault in the situation lies in the ethos of modern marriage, with its insane ambitions and its insistence that one person can plausibly hope to embody the eternal sexual and emotional solution to another’s every need.

               Taking a step back, what distinguishes modern marriage from its historical precedents is its fundamental tenet that all our desire for love, sex and family ought to reside in the selfsame person. No other society has been so stringent or so hopeful about the institution of marriage, nor ultimately, as a consequence, so disappointed in it.

               In the past, these very distinct needs — for love, sex and family — were wisely differentiated and separated out from one another.” 152

          ii. The Stupidity of Adultery

This section brought out how also very middle-class and above focused it is.

IV. Conclusion

     “When every contemptuous but fair thing has been said about our infernal sexual desires, we can still celebrate them for not allowing us to forget for more than a few days at a time what is really involved in living an embodied, chemical and largely insane human life.” 175-6

I can certainly agree with this view, but while he did a decent job arguing this, if it was what he truly meant to argue then I suppose it would have been a somewhat different book. Or perhaps not.

Homework

This is the sources section.

Conditionally recommended is what I am going to say. That is, if you want to think more about sex. Then again, if you want to think more about sex then I would recommend this book [any edition would be fine], even if the focus of each is not the same.

Administrivia:

I had to create a record at Open Library so I could use John Miedema’s OpenBook plugin. I had hoped I was done with adding so many records there but is good to be writing again. And it is a nice record.

Variations on a theme – book spine poems

Earlier today I composed some book spine poems—all variations on a theme—once I found a good “punch line.”

Perusing my long list of book titles, compiled during DigiWriMo 2012, I came across these two in the midst of the list:

The way it is
In the next galaxy

I decided then and there to riff off of that. This is a kind of nice as these are two of my favorites out of our poetry books [both Sara’s].

I still like the first one I chose to be the set-up best, though [bottom]. Here are a few of them, while there are a total of eight in my Flickr album for DigiWriMo 2014.

Whether or not you check out the others, you should consider composing your own book spine poetry, and I would love to see comments in Flickr or your own photos suggesting additional titles that would make good opening lines. Comment here or in Flickr.

And, no, this isn’t really a joke. My main thrust—at least of those I prefer—are more of the “The grass is greener,” while the others are more of the “Oh. My. The Other” category. I am sad though that I couldn’t put my hands on George Steiner’s Grammars of Creation because I truly like that thought. Far more positive.

Tastes of paradise. The way it is In the next galaxy.

Tastes of paradise.
The way it is
In the next galaxy.

Tastes of paradise.

The way it is
In the next galaxy.

Slaves of the Machine. The way it is In the next galaxy.

Slaves of the Machine.
The way it is
In the next galaxy.

Slaves of the Machine.

The way it is
In the next galaxy.

There's treasure everywhere. The way it is In the next galaxy.

There’s treasure everywhere.
The way it is
In the next galaxy.

There’s treasure everywhere.

The way it is
In the next galaxy.

Temperance

Friday night at BTBS I had Dr. Evelyn Crook read my tarot. My question was “How will DigiWriMo go for me?” She decided to do one card with the possibility of more. [See my previous post for more context.]

I drew the Temperance card. We did not draw more.

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

Temperance in Emily’s deck was the Blue Heron, which got her excited. She said it was about self-determination and self-reliance and progress through evolution and compromise. [OK, that’s what my couple words of notes say when I reconstruct them.] I asked her about the water drops (tears?) and fire and she said it represents the calm in the midst of the two extremes. This is echoed in Pollack below [not quoted].

Looking in Mistress Quantum Sum’s books:

Pollack: Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom 105-

“Temperance, appearing below the Chariot, shows a person whose behaviour [sic] is once again connected to the real world but in a way more meaningful than ever before. … Temperance indicates the ability to combine spontaneity with knowledge.” 105

“The divinatory meanings, like the card’s ideas, begin with moderation, balance in all things and taking the middle path.” 108

Bartlett: The Tarot Bible 112

Keywords: Self-control, compromise, moderation, virtue

Key phrases: The blending of ideas, harmony and understanding, Alchemical process

My interpretation/commentary:

Moderation seems to be a key to staying away from the [what the fuck do I call one of my “attacks”?] pain and long-term elevated stress levels. Moderation is often a good guiding principal whether of natural, right action or as an ethics-backing one. In this case, it is focused on bringing opposites/dualities into balance/inseparability.

Compromise: between ambition and desire, between others and myself in the production of ‘writings,’ and between the many others that will arise.

Blending ideas, alchemically or otherwise, is definitely one of my goals and desires. Always a desire.

As I said at the end of my last post, “Temperance. Am going to have to spend some time with that concept.”

This is a slippery one; eel-like. More like chameleon eel-like. Slippery and changing its “appearance.”

Kick-Off Surroundings

I was unable to participate in the Digital Writing Month Launch Party celebration so this is my response, particularly to the Kick-Off Surroundings bit.

The kick-off happened at 12:01AM UTC 1 November which was 5 pm Halloween here in Oregon. I had just closed the library at a few minutes after and then had to catch a bus to the bottom of the hill to meet some folks. I was also having a discussion with one of my usual patrons while waiting. I did check my phone for the kick-off post and had a quick look. Saw I wouldn’t get any done on time. No worries. I was with friends and had a good grip on ideas already.

We were supposed to accomplish three tasks within the 1st hour:

  • Who are you? Post a Vine to Twitter, due by 20 min.
  • Where are you? [Environment] 3 photos to Twitter, due by 40 min.
  • What are you going to do? [Goals] Roster and abridged version to Twitter

I was not going to bother with the first. Just not interested. And that’s OK. “The point is creation; the method to the madness is up to you.” Sean Michael Morris in Invention, Ambition, Fearlessness: Digital Writing Month 2014

Sure. The idea is to push one’s boundaries, creativity, and so forth. I plan on doing that. And while I may well ignore some of the prompts and perhaps not participate in everything, I did the same last time. Some of the new things I did to push my limits worked and some didn’t. That’s OK, too.

This post serves as my Kick-Off Environment post, which stands in way “late” for the three tweets. I did post my goals to the roster and had earlier tweeted my goals but did so again. It was definitely after the party was over by a couple hours but not many folks got to that part anyway.

Photo #1

Dr. Evelyn Crook and Mistress Quantum Sum before Halloween tarot readings for the Humane Society at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café.

Dr. Evelyn Crook and Mistress Quantum Sum before Halloween tarot readings for the Humane Society at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café. [somewhat processed]

Sara and Emily prior to giving their first readings of the night. They were doing Halloween tarot readings for charity at our local, Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café (BTBS). When I got there, Sara was with three of our friends who I joined until they headed out. Not a whole lot later another couple friends, along with two more new-to-me friends, joined me for much of the evening. While we love BTBS we do not spend many Friday evenings there. Halloween was a lot more mellow than I figured it’d be though.

Photo #2

Cooler case and BTBS sign [heavily processed]

Cooler case and BTBS sign [heavily processed]

I am (consciously) unclear as to what this image means to me or the story I am trying to tell. I have an as yet undiagnosed illness, since this summer, that is playing havoc with me in many ways. For some reason this appealed to me. I, and Sara, spend a lot of time in front of these colors. They are a refuge, of sorts. This image is anything but refuge-like though. The unprocessed image is. So. This. Is a story element. Yet to be fully realized.

Photo #3

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

For the significance of this photo you will have to read my next post, which is thankfully 95% written already. Past me doing current me a favor [Wickett’s Law/Rule].

This was a large part of my environment for the kick-off of Digital Writing Month 2014.

Temperance. Am going to have to spend some time with that concept.

DigiWriMo 2014

I have committed to participating in Digital Writing Month 2014, more commonly known as DigiWriMo, this November. I did it its first year in 2012 and made my goal of 50,000 digital words. Most people who know November as a writing month know it as National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. There is also Academic Writing Month, AcWriMo. Wikipedia says there’s an Academic Book Writing Month, AcBoWriMo but that’s a new one on me. Well, on Twitter there is no #AcBoWriMo but there is plenty of #AcWriMo.

I have been driven to write lately—perhaps driven by the mysterious and as yet undiagnosed illness; which is neither here nor there. I have so many ideas and there are tons of old ideas not finished, or ever even fleshed out, to work with.

Preparation has involved recording these ideas as they occur and corralling old recorded ones too, prepping my Scrivener project file (my writing tool), and spending more time learning to use it well.

This year my goal is ≥ 1k words/day, with a total of ≥ 25k words/November. Yes. I am aware of the missing 5 days. I am trying to be gracious with myself. [If this illness can possibly help teach me that idea then, OK, I’ll take the rest. I’m not counting on this being an actual lesson, though.]

I do not know how much I will do with the, thankfully, re-expanded DigiWriMo folks’ official efforts but I will be “playing along at home” at a minimum. I certainly hope and plan to interact a fair bit. I just have to manage my stress triggers and adding a #digiwrimo twitter search window to my already overflowing two twitter accounts for a month ….

I also recently acquired a new phone making the leap from an iPhone 4S to a 6. I had been eligible for an upgrade for well over a year and $200 was the most they were ever going to give me anymore for my 4S. Or that anyone was going to give me. For a lot of hoops and a delay of several weeks, I got to pay roughly $100 and a $35 activation fee to move from a 16GB 4S to a 64GB 6. I took that deal.

It was particularly tempting as I use both TextExpander and 1Password on my computer. They have also both been on my phone but were basically useless. Finally iOS 8 allows them both to be useful. [Sadly, I will not be putting iOS 8 on my iPad 2. It is struggling already.]

The point of all this is that having those 2 programs actually doing good work on my phone may let me use it to do just a couple more tasks than I would’ve before. Also, the bigger screen isn’t to laugh at with my old eyes. They will also allow me to more productively write digitally even though what I “write” on my phone will still be pretty damned minimal.

Some of what I write will be public, much as now although even more will be. Much will be kept private. I really want to start doing a better job of journaling, in a couple senses of ‘journal.’ I hope DigiWriMo will spur me to do so, or at least take advantage of the illness’ urging me to do so. I hope to get a few more blog posts up here and definitely more written on By the barrel.

Poetry, 2015 goal planning, book reviews, tweeting, and all sorts of other writing endeavors are on the docket. Some of the topics I hope to address, whether public or not, include Facebook, gender labels (as language), gender on labels (as in depiction of on beer labels), sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, body image, altered consciousness, and many others. We will see what happens.

If any of you are participating in some kind of writing month in November let me know if you would like some support and hopefully we can find a mutual venue.

Hysteria (movie)

[This, too, is a late DigiWriMo post.]

Thankfully, later after watching The Tree of Life we watched Hysteria, which we have also been wanting to see after seeing the previews a couple years ago. It by no stretch came to conservative Sioux City so we missed it in the theater. We couldn’t even find it in Omaha, although we could be wrong on that count but we had looked repeatedly while it was in theaters. Ninety miles one way is a long way to go for a film but we would have.

After we watched it I tweeted,

Cleansed my movie palate with Hysteria, based on this most excellent book by Rachel Maines http://marklindner.info/blog/2011/02/02/maines-the-technology-of-orgasm/ [tweet]

The next morning, Karen Coyle tweeted to me:

@mrlindner One of my favorite books. See: bit.ly/UYGA8X [tweet]

Check out her review at that link. It is much better than mine.

We saw the preview for the movie in the cinema shortly after I read Maines’ excellent book and I knew that it was (somewhat) based on Maines’ book immediately. It looked hilarious and as The Technology of Orgasm is one of my favorite books of all time—which I had discussed a fair bit with Sara as I read it—we really wanted to see it. It did not come to Sioux City or environs and time went by. We moved and even more time went by. Sara got it from the public library finally and we watched it last night. The movie was as good as we hoped and we are in the process of watching the documentary (actually excerpts from Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm) that comes as an extra feature on the DVD. It is also pretty good and features a lot of Rachel Maines, along with a couple of others, so I am happy to be able to hear her talk about her research also.

The Technology of Orgasm The Technology of Orgasm: “Hysteria,” the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual SatisfactionRachel P. Maines; The Johns Hopkins University Press 1998WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder  
Katherine Young (Ph.D. and author of Presence in the Flesh: The Body in Medicine) puts forth the idea that the Copernican Revolution was revolutionary in another way than is typically thought. She had been outlining some long time ideas on human sexuality in that males were thought to be of the elements of fire and air, thus hot and light, and that women were of earth and water, and thus heavy, cold and wet. When the Copernican Revolution replaced the Earth (female) as the center of the solar system/universe with the sun (male) then female sexuality as a topic disappeared from discourse.

It is an extremely interesting idea but I would really like to see some good supporting evidence. If anyone knows of any books or articles that address this idea I would be most grateful. My initial skepticism leans toward the shift having started well before and that the displacement of the Earth from the center was perhaps the final straw. And even if the idea as presented is true, then I imagine it is hingeing on a highly condensed version of reality, in that the Copernican Revolution involved an awful lot of historical, political, societal and religious changes that were highly intertwined and influencing each other in multiple ways. Symbolically this idea is highly interesting, but I imagine the reality of the shift away from a supposedly fairly prevalent knowledge of female sexuality and needs to one that pretty much discounted female sexuality would have to be far more complex than a shift in symbols.

I would love to have my skepticism discounted though so please do pass along any sources you may be aware of that address this issue. [I went back and re-watched that section and got her name and the name of the book she wrote, Presence in the Flesh: The Body in Medicine, which Sara has requested for me.] So, if you are aware of any other sources that address this intriguing topic please do pass them along.

Synopis:

Hysteria: Good romantic comedy based on an excellent and important book.

Follow-up: Tonight (3 December) we watched the full documentary, Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm, which we got through ILL. It was good but it was only 74 minutes vs. the 47 minutes of excerpts on the DVD of Hysteria as an extra. The additional material was interesting but probably not worth going out of one’s way to acquire. You can find more information about it here.

Young’s book has also arrived by this point in time and I look forward to having a go at it, but I am highly disappointed to say that neither Copernicus nor Copernican Revolution are anywhere to be found in the index. I want to know more about this symbological interpretation but am remaining highly skeptical as to its actual explanatory depth.