Chapter 5

I’m writing this chapter a little earlier in the morning, and there are not a bunch of other writers sitting and looking at their screens and also on video. So I’ll keep my feet firmly planted on the ground for this one and not type too fast. I gave it away again, this is being written for the first time on a keyboard, not long-hand. Well, I’m a lot faster at typing and it feels a lot more like it’s coming straight out of my brain when I’m typing than when I’m using a pointy object to form each individual letter. Almost more like I’m speaking. I’d like to see a symbol of some kind on the books that were dictated, vs. written longhand, vs. written on a typewriter, vs. written on a laptop. It’s like identifying the author’s language, because each of these mediums is a different language in itself, even if it’s all in the same English or German or Chinese.

I tried to learn Chinese once. But I didn’t try that hard. That’s the only C I’ve ever gotten in a class.

I’d like to learn languages. It seems like something I already try to do regularly, but in English and the language is the English of the person I’m specifically communicating with. Such is the way Wittgenstein helped me look at language, as well as Zhuangzi. I keep thinking to add a link to references like that, but I’m writing a book. So I’ll explain, or maybe add footnotes later when my explanations are insufficient. Wittgenstein was the child of extremely wealthy parents, educated in music, walked away from all his money, and wrote a lot in a cabin in Norway. He became a professor or at least a PhD at one of the big time UK universities by just having something he had already written submitted for a philosophy doctorate. He and Bertrand Russell had a complicated relationship. They were friends, and then Wittgenstein realized that his philosophy would destroy everything Russell had done in his career (destroy in a very academic sense) and Russell didn’t exactly love that, while he did admit it. Anyway, W writes about how language can only exist in context and how the definitions and “ontologies” (very scary) of words are not things in themselves outside of the relationships that subjects in a conversation, writing/reading relationship, or monologue have with those words. If words can’t transcend the subjective, the momentary, then philosophy as Bertie conceived it wasn’t really possible (and maybe neither is math). But the latter thing we’ll leave to the physicists, the most fervent searchers for certainty who, if they had a little perspective, might remember that everyone that came before them had their certainty shattered by everyone who came afterward.

Time passes more slowly when there aren’t a bunch of people on a Zoom call that I’m writing with. But it’s the weekend and the London Writers’ Salon doesn’t seem to operate on the weekends. I accept my loss of that technology today, and will keep on keeping on at this keyboard in this living room (to let a little more plot into the room). What does the word plot mean? DuckDuckGo talks about a small area of planted ground when I search. Wikipedia seems to think about cause and effect, a chain of events that are in sequence (redundant with the chain metaphor?) and flow in a narrative. I’m more interested in small areas of planted ground than I am in sequence, though I’m more interested in non-“planted” ground than I am in cultivation. Have you been in a meadow recently at 6pm on a spring day? Have you scared a herd of deer away while biking through said meadow? Have you breathed deep the complex flavors of the non-planted ground? Far better than cause and effect, if you ask me.

Onward is a word that often comes to mind when I feel I have finished a thought and I don’t know where to go next. I had been reading about Bento boxes as an analogy for thinking about life beyond one’s own immediate desires and into one’s future, into the present of others, and into the future of others + oneself (us, perhaps). Onward is an immediate desire of my own that may not accord with the Bento box framework. What if the best thing to do in the short and long run for myself and the other people in the world is to go backward? Or to not move? Or to transcend the idea of progressing in any direction and not really not move, but to more than and less than move? I’m not sure what that last one means, but it feels more appropriate than “onward”. Punctuation seems to be a language all its own for staying in one place – it’s like, instead of going out to the town and finding another word, staying in my pajamas and using the words I have in this cozy living room, and just adding a little bit of punctuation. That might be better for me in the short and long term, and better for those around me (who don’t want to have to pull out a dictionary every five minutes when they’re reading what I’m writing).

Zoetic though. Get out your dictionary for this one, it’s worth it. But you might have to just use the Internet. Of or pertaining to life. At least according to the search engine that isn’t harvesting my thought juices to sell to businesses who want to sell me things. Does that make death stuff “anti-zoetic”? Or “non-zoetic”? Bringing it into the lexicon is an important personal project that fits the Bento and may transcend W’s context-only subjective framework.

That brings up an important question. Is life objective? I’ve been reading some things that imply that it might not be. What does life mean? What does it mean to be alive? Is light alive? Is the sun alive? Is the moon alive? Is a virus alive? Am I alive? Some of these might seem like they have easy answers (even if you are willing to set aside the Bertie v. W cage match), but I’m not sure if they do have clarity. Consciousness, metabolism, goals, purpose. Do I have any of these? I’m feeling a little hunger, so that second one seems to apply. But doesn’t light metabolize? More questions for the physicist of a hundred years from now. Will I be around to ask? Will “I” be around forever? Will I only be around forever if I have children? That last one seems like a silly question, that if answered in the affirmative, would put an unbelievable burden on “my” children (theoretical children); particularly to procreate themselves, otherwise how could forever happen?

The sun is almost fully up. My mom is sleeping on the couch on the other side of the living room. A plane just flew overhead. A plane that sounds like it has a propeller rather than a jet engine. The birds are opening their mouths and using their voice boxes (Do they have voice boxes? Do they have to open their mouths to speak?). The are lots of flowers facing me down in this living room, perhaps making me sneeze even more than this New Jersey spring. I like the sneezing. It makes me feel alive and conscious of the plot (sequence of planted plants on land, with cause and effect).

Coffee might mean I need to take a quick writing break. But just because of the diuretic thing. Be back in a moment.

Pain and the medication to reduce it. I don’t feel the same nausea that I imagine comes with managing the body after surgery, but I do feel affected by the thought of the pain and the experience of being near one who is in pain or medicated post-pain. I’ve had this experience several times over the last year. It’s discombobulating. But better than not being nearby. By far better.

Aging. A beard grows on my face after a day. Just the hint of one. This is both growth and the indication of age. What’s the difference? Hair seems to grow and grow until it’s cut. My mind seems to absorb and change (until it stops). My body seems to reach a certain size and remain somewhat stationary, depending on how stationary and ravenous I am. Is it all like the brain? Is the experience of a certain state the permanent access and possibility to and of that state? Or are these prepositional relationships impossible to describe objectively, theoretically, in the same way that language between people is undefinable outside of the context? I think there’s a middle way between Bertie and Wittie. There’s a way to learn musical notation and still play from the instincts and heart. A way to see the glimmer in someone’s eyes and hear the dictionary definitions of the words that they are saying at the same time. It’s less of a middle way and more of a both-ing. Zhuangzi talks about this. He doesn’t indicate in his parables that society is broken or meant to be escaped. He indicates that finding a way to be one with nature (the everything, the universe, the Taoist goddish-ish) can coincide with the societal rituals that Confucius loves, particularly if you’re paying attention to the grain of the wood you’re carving and the grain of your mind while you’re carving.

I’ve been a bit more distracted without 145 people on video to be able to scroll through, watching them while they write and becoming inspired to continue on my focused way. But it’s a good reminder that I can motivate and concentrate all on my own as well. Even with all the things that pop into my head that I could do to alleviate pain or the pain medication related side effects. Even with all the tasks on my to-do list. Even with all the unanswered emails that have tasks associated with them, and people I’d like to spend more time with associated with them. An hour of concentration might be too much to ask, but ask long as this cup of the dark stuff still give me light, I’ll keep going (even though it’s lukecold at this point). The big question is, do I eat a little breakfast before brunch or do I “intermittent-fast” like the doctors supposedly do until eleven am? Good question. And I think I was supposed to use the numerals for 11. It’s only one more than ten, but that makes all the difference.

The coffee’s gone (that’s what happens when one gives oneself an out – one chugs the remaining coffee). So that means this chapter is over. Until there is more coffee, goodbye. But don’t worry, the plot will still be in sequence, and this sentence absolutely causes the effect that is the next chapter.