Monday, May 01, 2006Full Up
This is it: I am officially maxed-out. My brain is now so completely occupied with its various intellectual chew toys that adding even one more would bring the risk of sending it into a perpetual feedback loop. Everything I have to do, I can do and want to do; but anything else that I find will, for the time being, have to wait. In truth, I've already cut a few lesser things out to make room for better opportunities. But this is it. I'm barricading the door.
I blame last year's academic sabbatical for all this. After a year of tying up all my theoretical and intellectual loose ends (and doing nothing else), when I then found myself free of all that I immediately started loading up my metaphorical plate with all the tasty stuff I hadn't ever had room for previously. And now, after a few months of hardcore buffet-mongering, I feel a bit sick.
How do I know that I have reached my limit? Because just now, while I was reading this piece on quantum mechanics and a sleeping puppy, I felt something in my brain pop out of existence. I don't know what it was: if I knew, I'd be able to remember, and thus it would still be there -- or else, something else would pop out of existence in its place and I'd be right back where I am now. All I know is, it was there, and now it's not, having been replaced by some babble about a puppy around which I can only barely wrap my head.
I was going over my situation yesterday and it occurred to me that organizing all of my assorted projects is at the point of becoming a project in itself. The good news is, as is often the case with an associative mind like mine, everything I'm doing seems to be at least slightly interconnected with everything else I'm doing. So in one sense, at least, all of these projects are just part of one much larger project -- and maybe if I can figure out how to organize that one, all the rest of it will fall neatly into place.
Or maybe not.
Anyway, here's the sort of thing I'm talking about. One of the activities I've dropped is a class I was going to take. In truth, I had a number of reasons for dropping the class -- a select few of which served as my rationale, even though they were really among the least important of the lot. The real reason I dropped the class was because taking it would have required that I spend too many hours of my life reading a book and watching a film that I have absolutely no interest in reading or watching. (I'm not going to mention them by name, but suffice to say that they both represent highly-concentrated and unnervingly popular forms of New-Age bullshit.)
I was really torn up about this prior to dropping the class, because one the one hand, I hate to be the person who walks in and harshes everyone's mellow by saying, "this is the stupidest crap I've ever heard in my life," but on the other hand, I also didn't feel comfortable playing along with it when I feel so strongly about the subject. So I was envisioning a situation in which I would have to play the "I-respect-your-emotional-response-to-this-bullshit-but-it's-still-bullshit" game. And I hate playing that game. Not that anything bad would've happened, and I could've managed it, I think. Maybe I could've even made a valuable point to the others: that creativity (the subject of the class) is not irrevokably tied to this irrational, airy-fairy bogus reality with which it is so/too often associated. That, if anything, the real world as it really exists is a far, far better source of artistic inspiration than the gross misunderstanding of quantum mechanics could ever be. But making that point wasn't worth the expense in time, energy, and money to me.
The curious thing is that I myself am a recent adherent to that idea (hence, no doubt, my strong reaction against the required reading, although I've been leaning that way for a long time.) I only first read Dawkins a few months ago, and since that time it seems as though the universe has gone out of its way to litter my path with deluded new-agers. I'm not sure what the point of this challenge is, except maybe to ensure that I don't start going around acting like I know everything (unlikely in any case), but it's been happening everywhere I turn. I have one acquaintance who has abruptly decided that he can astrally project and move objects with his mind -- and y'know, whatever, I don't care what crazy stuff he believes. If he really thinks it's helping him to relax and get his life together, then I'm cool with it. He can go have fun with his coven, it's no skin off my nose. (I only ask that he doesn't turn into a fundamentalist about it. The only person I could imagine being more annoying than a fundamentalist Christian is a fundamentalist Wiccan.)
To run through the rest of this train of thought quickly (because I've got work to do), finishing college begat my rediscovery of science, begat my reading of Dawkins, begat also re-rediscovering Douglas Adams (who, coincidentally, also first read Dawkins around age 30), begat part of another massive project I'm toiling at in secret, begat this new conviction that art and rationality can be buddies after all, begat dropping this class, begat the discovery that my mind's eye is bigger than my mind's stomach, begat reading just one last article about quantum puppies, begat my having lost... something. Something that I wouldn't be able to understand as well had I not just read about quantum puppies. (I think.)
I bet the Germans have a word for this. |