Monday, October 6, 2008

The Rest of Week One and Week Two, or, Yes, Apparently He Is

After a nearly perfect Day one, the rest of the week was too busy to be a useful test of the effectiveness of my computer fast.

Though Tuesday is normally the last day of my four-day weekend, I agreed to work for Brad in the morning, and because I had scheduled a meeting for later that afternoon I stayed in the city in between. After work I sat and ate a lunch from Whole Foods salad bar while sitting on a ledge on the 200-block of W 27th, which is the de facto campus of Fasion Institute of Technology. I often eat there because it contains guaranteed ledge seating two blocks from Whole Foods and the people watching is excellent. Crihs joined me for a bit and we talked about, surprise surprise, bikes.

At 5pm I met with Matt Evans - my former professor - and discussed my potential future as a philosophy graduate student. I won't bore you with the details (because obviously avoiding boring details has been a high priority thus far), but I received some encouraging and some discouraging feedback, leaving me still in the position of not being sure what to do. I do know, however, that the next step is to read more Donald Davidson and Jaegwon Kim and to write the paper I've begun to mentally outline based on Searle's idea of biological naturalism as a means to collapse the intuitively dualist framework with which most people look at the mind.

Later that night I saw My Bloody Valentine with Adam, who managed to find tickets on the internet the day before the show after his dad lost the ones he bought months ago. It was very disappointing in a way that I probably should have expected: I couldn't see anything, they sounded just like the record only louder (and with the irritating addition of a high-in-the-mix kick drum that ruined the shoegaze vibe), they didn't move around at all (hence the name "shoegaze"), and I paid $65 for 50 minutes of music and 20 minutes of feedback. I do not, however, regret going, because they have been one of my favorite bands since high school and at least now I can say that I saw them.

The next night I went straight from work to a date, and since I'm not in the habit of writing about my personal life in this, it will suffice to say that it was really good.

Thursday, Sean and I saw Built To Spill play Perfect From Now On at Terminal 5, after riding a car service to Queens and back for a very expensive delivery, and it was way better than MBV. I could see them, they put on a very entertaining show, and they sounded amazing.

On Friday I took a Metro North train to Bronxville, home of Sarah Lawrence College, and spent the night, returning the next morning just in time to wait through several bands and then to finally see Write Back Soon - a band consisting of several old friends who, perhaps due to their anti-civilization political stance, do not have a myspace - and Swallowed Up - my roommates' new band who, despite a slightly more vague but still distinctly anti-civilization sentiment (if not actual stance), have a myspace. It was a good show. Look out for Swallowed Up playing with End of a Year and Defeater at my house, self-releasing an overly artisticly packaged 10" in the next few months, and going on tour in late January with me as band manager, merch manager, band financial adviser, and life coach. My duties will thankfully not include paying for stuff, booking the tour, or carrying anything heavy.

I spent the rest of the weekend with my roommates and the nameless person from my date on Wednesday and didn't have a large enough chunk of free time to explore the efficacy of entertainment-asceticism again until Monday afternoon. And that's when things took a bit of a downturn.

In high school, I rarely read the assigned material and copied homework, did a rushed job on it in the last moments before class started (often during prior classes in between naps) or simply didn't bother to do it. I put more effort into learning how to avoid doing work than it sometimes might have taken to just do it, and I became an effective efficiency expert. These habits continued and even worsened (or improved, depending on how much you value efficiency) in college. However, had I not figured out a way to be so high-functioning in high school, I think, looking back, that I would have been diagnosed with ADD. Not that I put a whole lot of stock in such diagnosis; who hasn't been so described? We grew up around computers and video games and internet shopping and if I waste another sentence ranting about what technology has done to the attention spans of our generation (or, for that matter, our sense of community and connectedness), it will be at the risk of banality, so I'll allow what I've said thus far to suffice in introducing my recent self-discovery: I have no ability to focus whatsoever. If I'm engrossed in a book or am in an unusually clear-minded state of concentration (as I was last Monday when I developed the foolish belief that just by promising myself not to watch TV anymore I would revert back to my pre-high school interest in reading as a necessary and sufficient pastime), I have no problem sitting and reading for hours on end. However, if the reading material requires even the slightest amount of discipline to stay focused and I have anything else on my mind (which I nearly always do), I can't read for more than 2 minutes without my mind wandering in a million directions and before I realize that I've stopped paying attention to the book I find myself staring at the ceiling pondering the meaning of life, my financial situation, a city that I'd like to visit or revisit, and what I'm going to eat for my next meal. It never occurred to me in the past that my lack of focus was a problem because as soon as my attention drifted away from reading I would start watching TV instead, but on Monday and Tuesday of last week I was stressed out be the results of recalculating my budget and a whole host of introspective issues raised by being recently involved with someone new and I got almost no reading done. Black market Ritalin is too expensive and I don't have health care, but taking up meditation and yoga to improve focus and clear-mindedness seems like too much work, so my plan is to start drinking more Focus flavored Vitamin Water.

The rest of the week was the usual work, come home, try to read, hang out with roommates, go to bed routine (with a couple more visits from a certain Sarah Lawrence student), and the weekend was similarly unproductive. Last night, however, I decided to do something radical and leave the house. I took the subway to Bedford and met Andy at Blackbird for tea. The interior of Blackbird is nice but contrived and the tea is $3.50 for a small pot that contains about two small cups' worth, but it's as good a place as any to read, write, think, and discuss. We mostly talked about his thesis, including some discussion of what role political/social/existential philosophy might have in it, which lead us in a very interesting discussion concerning the synthesis of our respective disciplines. After an hour or so there we set out to find a coffee shop to which I'd delivered Vegan Treats in the past which turned out, after a several-mile-long walk up into Greenpoint, to either not really exist or to be somewhere else entirely. The evening ended up being intellectual stimulating nonetheless and left me feeling inspired to get back to work on my various academic projects.

If you haven't heard the new Slipknot record, get it. In the meantime, listen to the second track, Gematria, on imeem or whatever because it is way good and the lyrics are totally righteous. Some examples:

What if God doesn't care?

America is a killing name
it doesn't feel or discriminate
life is just a killing field
it's all that's left - nothing's real
throw away your disposable past
and fall apart like cigarette ash
we are the fatal and vital ones of the world
and we will burn your cities down

Feed the Hungry - Feed them shit
Feed them BONES and POLITICS


etc.

5 comments:

Ren said...

I've really enjoyed hanging out with you too, Jack!! Heh. Heh. Heh.

L. A. Kiechle said...

Jack? You've been hanging out with Ren? I thought you were really into Emma.

allison corinne said...

aww, but yoga is so much fun! and all the physical benefits! (it's probably better this way anyway, it's totally addictive...)

also, check out your natural foods/ health store... there's tons of herbal supplements for improving mental clarity and focus.

welch said...

i know you've already done this for a period of time, and that it might conflict with your profession, but cutting out processed sugars made a difference of night and day in my ability to concentrate while reading (minutes as opposed to hours).

write back soon said...

Oh dude, myspace - no. We are the website-having variety of anti-civ. Super, super sophisticated. We take our own car on the information superhighway. But don't worry, it's a...solar-powered, recycled prius van...mostly made of corn...with lots of canvas bags in the back seat...full of local food we bought...at whole foods...www.unsustainablespecies.com