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Hello reader,

First of all, if you’re reading this today, and you read my blog post in January 2020, congratulations to both of us. First of all, to you, for still reading all my posts, thanks mom. ❤ Second of all, and of course, to me, for writing a blog post almost every week for a year.

Things have somewhat disintegrated toward the end of the year, but I find that having to write SOMETHING every week was VERY helpful. That’s been the theme of the year, in fact; me, personally, disproving once and for all that deeply-held belief that somehow, slowing down will make it better.

As a matter of fact, it’s never once in my life been the case that waiting to figure out what I want to do is a better decision. In writing, in relationships, in my career, action is the order of the day, and it’s always worked out better than passivity.

Just like Montaigne says it’s easier to judge the goodness of a life after it is over, I think it’s best to determine the theme of a year looking backwards–a belief concordant with Hillman’s admonishment that life, itself, is best understood reading from the end to the beginning. With that in mind, while I look back at 2020 and see that it was dark, and bleak, and lonely, and while we struggled alone in each of our billions of unique ways, I see too that there was connection.

Connection is something I think about on a daily basis–not only because we are now “blah blah more connected then ever,” boak ,fucking gross–but because we share more than ever. There is a piece of cheese next to me on the table as I write this. When I finish this paragraph, I’m going to take a picture of it, and send it to a friend of mine with whom I was discussing raclette last night, along with the caption, “IT’S RACLETTE SEASON!!!?!?”

My work this year–though it’s been, admittedly, sporadic and stressful and insecurity-inducingly-poorly compensated, has been intensely rewarding too, because I’ve been able to speak to and work with people from around the world. I don’t know these people, but I know their faces, I know their stories, and I have seen some of them survive the same year I have. I think about them, when I read news about events happening elsewhere, and we always take time aside from our work to have those moments of sharing–hello, how are you, are you well? isn’t this terrible? aren’t we all sad? at least we’re all together here.

I think a lot about what humans are. As a scifi/fantasy writer by passion, I am fascinated by the human experience and what it means to tease and deform it along different dimensions. When we travel, we look at a world which is unfamiliar to us through eyes that don’t understand what they see. Travel makes us open and excited and receptive, and when you come home from travelling in this state, you see your home in the light shed by the places you’ve left behind. Writing can do that. A story about another world can be a universe you can step into and use to look back at the world outside in a new way.

But, thing is, I can already do that. I can imagine myself into another world and never come out–there’s a reason A Wizard Alone is my favorite Diane Duane novel and maybe my favorite YA novel of all time. I could just write these stories for myself, and never tell any of you motherfuckers about it.

But that would be inhuman. Because the point of writing isn’t the ability to create something. It’s the ability to create something you can then share with others. The ability to put something into the world for people to connect with. Because that’s human. Humans are connection–we are majestic, wonderful, silly, naked little monkeys holding angelfire in our hands, seeking to share our light and warmth with one another. We are little groups and families that take care of each other, even in the sacred night before civilization. We are living things, and all living things must exist in connection to other forms of life–life cannot survive in isolation.

Happy New Year, reader. It is 2021, and you are not alone, and neither am I. Be well. See you next week.

nothingiwanttobeapartof

Shitposts That Make Me Think About Depth Psychology is a series of posts which–well, look, if you can’t figure out what it’s about, then I don’t know why you’re here, really. What do you want from me? What explanation can I possibly offer you?

THIS BLOG has been on hiatus now for entirely too long, because I’ve been pretending that I’m working on something else too hard to work on this. I do think that there are times in life when you have to choose and reallocate your energy.

The world is by nature finite, which means that we as finite creatures are limited in the suite of options we can pursue. When I was six, I wanted to be about ninety different things; fighter pilot, spy, marine biologist, teacher, wizard, businessman, etc., etc. But since I was maybe eleven or twelve, I knew I wanted one thing among all the other things: to write.

Now, it’s not exactly easy to make a living as a writer. I don’t know if you know this. In fact, in my whole life I have made almost zero money from any writing that I do–and I do a lot of writing. I don’t know that there has been a single day since 2004 where I haven’t written at least five hundred words. That’s a lot of time that I’m not getting paid for.

The other thing that I would like is to not die of starvation, so, like, there are things we want out of our soul, and things that we want out of hierarchy-of-needs reasons.

This isn’t to say that I don’t still want to be a fighter pilot, spy, marine biologist, teacher, wizard, and businessman. And there are aspects of my life where all of those elements come through. But first, foremost, and primarily, I am driven by that desire to write. To give voice to something that is larger than me, speaks through me.

And not just that. To give voice to other people. Helping other people to speak and write and express themselves is, in my opinion, a high and holy calling. Hillman said “words are soul” and by that measure, as you increase the eloquence, the confidence, the aptitude with which an individual can express themselves, you are narrowing the gap between their soul and their world.

But I’m getting off topic. Limitations, those are the topic of the day, and this story is related to that, I swear. See, pursuing this want that I have requires the elimination of other options. I will not ever be an Olympic high diver, for example. Mostly because dive caps aren’t good for my face shape. So unflattering. But also because the hundreds of hours of passion and practice that teenage Olympic high divers put into their sport, I have spent writing very bad novel drafts that no one will ever read.

Sometimes, in order to pursue things, we have to give up other things. That’s just a fact of embodied existence. But it’s one I’ve always found contained an asterisk. Because I myself, personally, find I am happiest when I am pursuing multiple threads at once in my life; when I feel my life is growing and advancing in multiple directions simultaneously, linked by a united vision of what I want to be. And the times when I stall, spin out, crash and burn, are always the times when I cut too many of those threads for the sake of focusing.

So, yes. I’ll tell you now, reader, if you’ve made it this far; I was putting this blog on hiatus because I thought I needed the extra time and energy to devote to launching a wordpress-hosted work of serial fiction. I now realize I was wrong. I don’t need the extra time and energy. That time and energy went into procrastination, although now I do have a sick Warframe loadout and some really impressive Spotify playlists. (side note: check me out on Spotify if you want I guess, fuck)

I’m no longer on hiatus. I started this blog in December 2019, and god fucking dammit, I’m going to finish it in December 2020. I have to write over 2000 words per day for the next 23 days in order to hit my launch date and you know the fuck what? I’m going to do it, and do everything else I have to do, and I’m going to have precisely zero time apart from that and it’s going to be amazing.

Stay tuned, reader. I’ll see you next week!

Working on a project this week, hopefully I’ll have something for you all soon! :3

Hello, reader.

It is very nearly election time in the U.S.A., and while I try not to talk about politics here on the blog, it’s a difficult and unsuccessful policy, because politics is simply the natural extension of ethics into broader society, and thus inextricable from who we are as individuals and, from how we think about the world.

This is, of course, part of the problem. We tend to talk about “politics” in the USA as if it were something we could separate out from everything else. There are two sides to this coin, and I’d like to come to grips with them quickly before we move on to the main thrust of this post.

Problem one: The fucking Puritans.

We COULD just stop the post here, comma, semicolon, period, and be done, but I say “UGH the FUCKING Puritans” so often that once in a while I ought to explain it. When I say this, especially here on this website, I am shorthanding a whole lot of stuff (I should do a Toolbox on this…hmm, stay tuned for next week) into the idea that maybe people from the U.S. tend to categorize and make moral judgments very quickly.

Problem two: Politics IS not something that you can separate from daily life. I don’t understand how to say this more explicitly. If you think your brother should be able to go to school without thousands of dollars of debt, you should be in favor of free or low-cost college. If you like the independently owned coffee shop on the corner and don’t want them to go out of business, you should be in favor of legislation that actually protects small businesses. If you think your child should make more than $12.50 an hour, you should be in favor of raising the minimum wage. If you think your health insurance should cost less, you should be in favor of universal health care.  Hypocrisy is bad. Don’t do that.

BUT THAT iSN’T WHAT WE’RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT TODAY, and I’m becoming DISTRACTED by my RAGE.

What I want to talk about is the day, whenever that day actually ends up being in this year of CONTINUAL fuckery, when we actually know for sure what the state of our political system will be in the next two to four years. Because now, and then, we have some work to do.

Because, you see, when we get done with the current president, and when the country finally has a substantive Left that isn’t just three women willing to admit that yes, they are kinda socialist, but in that gentle way where they just want people to not starve to death? if that’s ok?, THEN we are STILL going to have the following problem:

This country is FULL of Nazis.

Let me rephrase this in a slightly less polemic way.

Consider, for a moment, how many people in the United States must have extreme, disconnected-from-reality, hardcore threaten-a-public-official white supremacist ethnonationalist neo-nazi third reich two electric boogaloo views. What percentage of the population are you willing to believe that might be? 2%? 10%? 15%? Fine. Now think about all the people who nod along when those people get started on a rant in a bar, and who if you corner them will say, “sure, he’s a little extreme, but he’s making a lot of good points.” What percentage of the population is that? What percentage of the population is content to live in a Fahrenheit 451 haze while drone strikes are ordered and asylum seekers are held in prison cells, so long as they don’t have to think about the yucky parts of living in a very active imperial power? How many family members do you have, who have voted for the current president, or for one of his supporters, and who you are now ready to cut ties with?

This is the problem.

A problem, I should mention, which doesn’t exist for the Right. Nazis are playing politics on Easy Mode: just listen to your leader. The answer to “what do you do with the part of the population which finds your politics incompatible with their ideal state?” is “genocide them.”  Shoot them, force them to flee the country, lock them out of healthcare until they die. Boom, done, ethnic cleansing accomplished, time to have a huge party where nobody can fucking dance.

But for the left, for us bleeding heart AOC simp snowflake socialist liberals who just want evweywone to be happy, UwUniversal Heawf Cawwe, MinUwUmum Wage Inkwease, we have the following MASSIVE problem: when we’re done, and the GDP is through the fucking roof, and the cost of living is $20 per year, and everyone has free health care, and college is $1, and we’ve nationalized Amazon’s logistical network to carry food through the entire continental United States, entirely eliminating food deserts and shortages, we are still going to have Nazis in this country. 

The next time we have a Democratic president and House and Senate and Supreme Court, we are still going to have a substantial vocal minority of people in this country who want to burn it to the fucking ground. And we are going to have to reckon with this.

Re-integrating these people into society is going to be WORK. It is going to be work from EVERY SINGLE FUCKING ONE of us. Yes, this means people who have baggage. People who have trauma. People who by all fucking rights should not have to do this, are going to have to reach out. Yes, this isn’t fair. Fairness is a luxury for people who don’t live in a post-authoritarian state.

What comes after this presidency is not utopia. Maybe we will live long enough to see a kind, fair, just country. But first comes the grimy, slimy, dirty work of reaching back out and rebuilding some semblance of unity across a political divide that goes back decades. Because it’s simply not possible to run a country well when less than half of its population is on board.

Goodbye for now, reader. Stay safe this Election Day. Good luck.

Hello reader! In these uncertain times, I’m happy to announce that we’re back on our bullshit today with another post about life, death, aesthetics, and angels.

The question on the docket today is none other than the old standard: the meaning of life. We have previously talked about the ideas of, respectively, James Hillman and Oscar Wilde–now it’s time to bring one of my favorite French essayists into the conversation. Actually, I suppose we should call him The French Essayist–Michel De Montaigne. 

Brief overview for the lucky few new readers who haven’t seen me write about this zany French author; Montaigne was a French noble who in 1571 decided to lock himself up in his personal library and write a series of elaborations on the subject of “anything he could possibly fucking think up.”  

I highly recommend reading one or two of Montaigne’s Essais, chosen not by some schmuck on the internet but entirely at random; he has a delightfully chatty style which even four centuries later makes his essays sound like a rambling, self-deprecating monologue you could hear from a drunk undergraduate majoring in political science and philosophy. 

As you might suspect from reading this description, I take Montaigne to be something of a personal idol, and I am very much of the hopes that today I can share a little bit of my enthusiasm for this dude. 

Today, keeping our other thinkers in the wings, we’re going to spend a little time with his pleasantly unfocused essay, “That To Study Philosophy Is To Learn to Die.” Social media coordinators take note: the man knows how to title a thought piece.  

As someone who references Aristotle with insufferable frequency, I am personally quite pleased with Montaigne’s opener in this piece. His argument in this essay is simple and stated right out in the title, thesis statements be damned. The thing we want from life is happiness, not only the positive presence of joy but the absence of fear and suffering, and one of the great fears in life is the fear of death. Thus, becoming wise is the same as reconciling yourself to death.  

“All the opinions of the world agree in this, that pleasure is
our end, though we make use of divers means to attain it: they would,
otherwise, be rejected at the first motion; for who would give ear to him
that should propose affliction and misery for his end?”

Michel is a well-read French intellectual, and one of the hallmarks of his personal style is a laconic, casual integration of dozens of disparate thinkers and sources, so closely entangled that it takes an equally erudite reader to decipher and annotate the original text for consumption. In this essay in particular, this lovely tendency is on full display, as Montaigne gives us a casual survey of a dozen different authors writing on the subject of death, musing on the fragility of life and the importance of cherishing it. 

Montaigne, in his early thirties at the time of writing this essay, speaks of death with familiarity, and calls on his readers to do the same:  

“Let us disarm him of his novelty and strangeness, let us converse and be familiar with him, and have nothing so frequent in our thoughts as death. “

I have to confess, too, that when I originally conceived of this blog post back in January of 2020, I did not imagine that I would be rereading this specific essay now, in the midst of a world-altering pandemic, half a globe away from where I had started. My relationship to death has changed so much since I first read Montaigne sometime in 2011, and now I am quite moved by his simple but INCREDIBLY goth attitude towards the end of this piece: 

“A friend of mine the other day turning over my tablets, found therein a
memorandum of something I would have done after my decease, whereupon I told him, as it was really true, that though I was no more than a league’s distance only from my own house, and merry and well, yet when
that thing came into my head, I made haste to write it down there,
because I was not certain to live till I came home. As a man that am
eternally brooding over my own thoughts, and confine them to my own
particular concerns, I am at all hours as well prepared as I am ever like
to be, and death, whenever he shall come, can bring nothing along with
him I did not expect long before.”

Toward the end of autumn here in the northern hemisphere, it is the season of coming death, and the natural end and transformation of life is not far from my mind. I see it in the bare and browning trees, and it is all around us now in the time of the pandemic, our new plague, represented by cold statistics and bright red info-boxes on CNN.

I wonder if Montaigne would have liked Blue Oyster Cult.

Hello reader,

We are now halfway through October in the year two thousand and twenty, and here, the leaves are starting to turn. When I sit at my computer and write this blog post with electronic music in my ears, I feel like an anime background on a 10-hour youtube video someone might study/chill out to.

Fall is the season of creature comforts. Chunky sweaters, pumpkin spice, hot cocoa, apple cider–the treats and trimmings of a harvest season that is now largely unmoored from most of our daily labors. This is, possibly, the one season where our culture most encourages us to just be cozy.

That’s important, because being comfortable and self-indulgent is in my opinion fundamental to a good life. This is a thread I see in other cultures, and one which is gathering traction in at least one of the countercultures in the U.S., but it needs to be stronger. We put so much stock in function and willpower that we often fail to recognize that the quickest and easiest cure for a stressful life is just, not to have one.

To do the little things which bring us joy–to put weight and solemn priority behind things like, making sure to get that bowl of hot soup, light those little candles, heat up a cup of tea–this should be as dreadfully important as the all-consuming American obsession with Productivity. And yet, it is only in this time of year, the rainy midpoint of autumn, that we feel empowered by the culture to follow those needs.

What if we just…did things we liked, all year round, though? Isn’ that worth it? I had trouble putting my finger on this when I traveled in Spain, but something about being there felt like I had time-travelled from the early Paleolithic–and it was, in part, the creature comforts. Everything in every public and private space was engineered to be more considerate of a life where a little bit of extra time is something worth trading for a little bit more pleasure.

This is an idea that folds easily into my ever-evolving stance on art and creation; sometimes it is necessary simply to do things because you like them. American culture has a very strong tendency to want to apply moral judgment to everything, but frankly, that’s those god damn protestants at it again; there are things in life (most of life, honestly) which are just, amoral, in the very specific clear sense of “having no real moral content.” And I don’t care how long of a list of complaints you nail to the door about that, I’m going to stick to it.

On that note, have a good weekend, reader. Find yourself a creature comfort. You are, after all, mostly a monkey in need of care and enrichment.

Due to temporary lack of time we are on a brief hiatus until next week! Shit!

Hello, reader. It’s October first!

Where I currently live, this is a transitional time, and one of my favorite times of year, as it brings a kind of melancholy vitality. All the trees are changing color, preparing for a long winter ahead, but at the same time the moss is exploding, growing rapidly, intensely. The rain makes the colors more vivid, and as much as the growing cold suggests winter is close, I always associate this first part of fall with life, more than death. It’s only after, when the leaves are gone and the frost begins to hit harder, that the winter begins.

When I lived in other places, the seasons were different. This is so obvious as to be just stupid rather than profound; but let’s put in the time to make it profound. When I lived in other places, the way that the external world changed affected my daily life in different ways. When I lived in California, fall was the time of year when the hot summers relented, but the rain hadn’t yet come, making it perfect for outdoor activity.

I’ve talked before about sacred time and continuity; something I think about often as a human rather than as a writer is continuity or, to use the word I prefer, concordance. It’s important to me, personally, that every moment of my life be concordant with every other; something in each action I take connects not only to the rest of my life, but down, into the world around me, and up, into infinity.

There’s an intentional aspect to this. I’m trying to live in a way which is constantly, eternally spiritual. Always tied to the world. It’s not, always, successful; there are days where I struggle to see the eternal in the things I am supposed to do, but I think that inconsistency is actually a hallmark of humanity. Only theories are perfect. Real things can never be so.

Imperfection. Being content with the uncompleted, to live in completeness? Hmm. You can track my mental state by how meditative these posts are. This week is a more esoteric one. And that’s…it, really.

Hello, reader,

Some days it’s easy to engage with my writing. An idea or a character or a concept moves the needle, stokes the fires, gets the engine running. When the muse is in the room and my creativity is running high, when I’m bursting with energy and eager to see each word spill out after the next.

The VAST majority of days are not like that. The idea of writing seems like a chore, or seems too daunting–either I don’t have time to devote to it, or I don’t have the time or interest to do it properly, to give it the time it “deserves.”

Lately, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do some collaborative writing. Nothing that I’ll publish–and I’ll talk about that aspect of it later–but it has SUCH a learning experience. Writing with somebody else is something I haven’t done since I was literally twelve, writing Harry Potter fanfiction in pencil at the park with the one other person who would talk to me. (note: this sounds depressing when I put it this way, but we had SO much FUN, i wouldn’t change it for the WORLD)

And I’d like to talk more about that–because it’s a new experience for me, as an adult, as a creator–and i will talk more about it, but for now we’re going to focus on the basics; in order to write something with someone, the other person has to be there.

This is huge. Because if the story is there, waiting, anchored to a person, present–you can’t set it down. You can’t walk away or go get some Fritos or wait until tomorrow because “the vibe just isn’t right.” You have to SHOW UP and create, now, on demand, and it has to be good enough, right then and there.

And you know what? One hundred percent of the time, it is good enough. Reading back, the writing that I do on demand, when forced, without the fire, without the muse, is just as good as the passages which sparkled with soul when I wrote them. What transforms them for me is the experience of writing them as a pure conduit for creation–but for the reader, and seen through a reader’s eyes–it’s fucking identical.

There is a certain irony to this. Me writing this blog post directly takes time away from the fiction project I wanted to work on–a work of serial fiction which I’d like to start publishing in December. But this project has been such a HUGE source of procrastination, such an intimidating task, that I have done ZERO work on it–because i haven’t “been in the mood.”

One thing about my job is that I get unexpected snippets of free time. Opportunities to sit down and knock out fifteen or twenty minutes of work that I wouldn’t have expected otherwise. When I was working 40 hours a week, it was easy to think of writing as something you had to do in huge blocks, slaving away over a manuscript every weeknight like John Grisham writing on the train into Manhattan.

But you don’t have to do it like that.

Sometimes writing is something you do for eight hours straight in a mad fit of passion for the story. And sometimes it is something you knock out in eight minutes because god fucking damn it, I haven’t missed a week of posting here on JWF yet, and I will be damned if I’ll start now.

But I am sad to say I must refrain from any further elaboration in this meditation on alienation from my motivation. Because I’ve got five minutes before I have to do something, and I can use those five minutes to put a little more work into this actual project that is so intimidating.

I’m not even going to indulge the impulse to think for five minutes to give this post “the perfect ending.” However it ends is how it’s meant to be. So I’ll raise a glass of PIPING hot coffee to Ivy, who’s helped me rediscover so much of the pure manic joy of creation, and smash that publish button.

And then I’m going to show up, and create.

That’s all for now. Until next week, reader, stay creative.