Hi Internet! It’s been a while. How are you? Coming along well? Good.
Since last we met, I’ve done something interesting. I’ve gone to college. WHOA. Yeah. Exactly.
Yep, I am now a Freshperson on the proud campus of a liberal arts college, rubbing elbows with all kinds of liberal, artsy people, eating cafeteria food and getting very excited about sitting in classes for several hours per day.
Now, one of my classes has been given a book. This book is very special. It is the Essays, by Montaigne.
If you’re not familiar with Montaigne, here’s the Cliff Notes off-the-top-of-my-head version:
In, around, or near 1570, this french guy named Montaigne essentially locked himself away in a corner of his mansion somewhere near Bordeaux. He spent pretty much the rest of his life writing short, stream-of-consciousness pieces of literature on whatever the hell he felt like writing about.
He called these pieces essais, from the French word meaning to try or to attempt. Yes, that’s right, Montaigne invented the essay.
Put the pitchforks down.
Chill the **** out.
Montaigne didn’t invent the boring essay. He wrote about everything that came into his head–and, seeing as he was a learned Renaissance man, that was quite an expansive subject. He wrote about thought, about sensations and feelings and perceptions, and while his countrymen were off killing each other quite violently he pioneered the field of subjective literature. If you haven’t read his Essays, you really should.
There they are. Read a few. Or read them all, if you have a week or so.
WHEN YOU’VE DONE WITH THAT:
So here’s what’s up.
I like Montaigne.
I like what he did.
And his writing had a dramatic effect on his mind. He became more perceptive, better able to focus, more sensitive, and developed a preternatural gift for translating thought and emotion into language. He was able to stay in the moment–to simply be where he was, something that even the most advanced of Zen students sometimes struggle for.
This is not unfamiliar to me.
In fact (YOU KNEW IT WAS COMING) it reminds me of Jung.
In 1914, Jung began to experience bizarre visions. Disturbing dreams. A cloud of cosmic ice descended and froze all the land, killing every living thing, a dream he experienced in April, May, and June of that year. In the final appearance of the dream, a leafless tree remained after the frost, laden with berries, and Jung provided these grapes to a waiting crowd.
August 1, and the first World War broke out. Jung took it as his mission to document these dreams and provide the record to the world–but he wrote down not only his fantasies. He wrote down images, thoughts, emotions, everything that came into his head, in a sweeping, grandiose style that grated on his sensibilities and yet flowed from his unconscious.
And when Jung opened himself up to the gates of his thought, his soul responded. He, too, came to learn/develop/experience this mysterious wonder of being wholly absorbed in the moment, able to see people as they are without judgement or clouded thought–the philosopher’s gift.
I’ve been inspired by this, I’ll admit. Montaigne has joined my long list of people over whom I am effusive in praising, sitting in my personal hall of fame along with Jung, Jacques Cousteau, Alexandre Dumas, John Hodgeman, H.P. Lovecraft, Shakira, and many more.
Consider this a re-beginning of the blog. A reimagining, if you will. Because here is what I will do. Every day, at 4:30 Central American time, I will sit down at my gleaming, sexy Toshiba laptop, turn on the instrumental music (Bach’s Toccata And Fugue in D Minor, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, selections from Two Steps From Hell, various Irish folk songs), and write.
I have a timer. It’s bright red, and it’s set for 35 minutes.
Each day, I will sit down, roll up my sleeves, hit ‘play,’ and whap that START/STOP button. And I will write for 35 minutes. About anything. About everything. Probably at least once about nothing at all.
When I’ve done writing this, I will then put an emphatic period, sign it with –TOR, and hit “Publish.”
I will not edit it. I will not consider. I will not permit myself to alter anything other than the sentence I am typing at any given moment. You will be direct recipients of my stream of thought. Within a few days I will have no more readers. These two are not unrelated.
I also will no longer be able to guarantee the parental safety of a blog post. Because, frankly, what’s in my head is not always pretty. But I will do my best to keep obscenity at bay because, frankly, I don’t like it. I’ve never liked profanity. It just strikes me as boring. It serves exactly one purpose: to make me feel better when I stub my toe.
In fact, from this point on I will be doing my utmost to avoid the use of any obscenity at all, aside from perhaps ‘crap,’ ‘shit,’ and ‘ass,’ because, frankly, if you don’t know those words, you shouldn’t be on the internet. Go ask mommy what they mean. Also keep an eye out for ‘bugger,’ ‘nifty,’ and our special triple-points word of the month, ‘pretentious.’
I’ve been called pretentious before. My immediate response is amusement and pleasure. However, after some consideration I have to take issue with this.
How, exactly, am I pretentious? I don’t ‘pretend’ to be anything. I may be flamboyant, enthusiastic, and downright nerdy, but really, I strive to be myself. There really is no one else I’d rather be, except perhaps for a gentleman from Gallifrey. But that’s true for a lot of people. And that’s why I have a trenchcoat.
Perhaps it’s sarcasm. I use so much of it, I can see how it would be hard to separate the bullshit from the truth upon an initial meeting. But rest assured, if I tell you that I am the coolest person ever, it’s meant to be intensely sarcastic. In point of fact, I do not believe I am the best person ever. That award has not yet been given, but I am pretty sure it will go to Bono.
Speaking of Irish music, I just went on an Itunes binge. You know, when you get a gift card and suddenly buy everything you’ve ever wanted? Well, I went out and I bought a whole bunch of Irish folk rock. Which, I’ve decided, is my favorite genre. Ever.
…I think I want to form an Irish folk rock band, or at least a rock band with a fiddle player/violist.
That would be easy, because I’ve met a lot of violists since I got to college. You can’t throw a rock without hitting one here. And then they’ll get all huffy and go on about how they deserve special treatment just because they have their own clef.
That’s the fifteenth time I’ve used that joke since August 22nd, and it’s probably still funny to someone. Not to me, though. It’ll be taking a break for a while.
Which reminds me: How am I supposed to respond when someone says they like my glasses? I mean, my glasses are cool, I’ll agree, but I hardly know how to segue a conversation out of that. If I’m really lucky the other person will be wearing glasses too. Then I can say where I got mine and ask them how they got theirs, and BAM, conversation! If not, I’ll just have to make some witty comment and make the first conversational move.
It’s not my favorite thing, starting a conversation. BUT EVERYONE IS SO GODDAM SHY AROUND HERE.
I’m not sure if they’re shy or polite, in retrospect.
But seriously. GAHHHHHH
I’ve been spending hours at the dining hall. A la Spain, I go to dinner, grab some food, sit with someone, and talk and eat for a while. They leave, I get more food, and I repeat the process. In this way, when dinner ends, I’ve been talking nonstop for about an hour and a half, two hours if I’m lucky, arguing, joking, and just generally enjoying a conversation.
I’ve been conversation-starved for years. Orange County really is a social wasteland. I can’t believe I even survived there, and I pray for my family back home.
19 seconds left.
I’d like to thank the Academy?
MORE TOMORROW CAPS LOCK FOR SPEED