Notes On Attention Paid

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First notes…

227.8 lbs

… first day of following No S diet… weight loss… it’s one day… i will see if i can keep it up…

… last night, as i was lying in bed i wrote a note… “i am beginning to imagine the unimaginable”… that is, i am beginning to imagine the United States as a failed democracy… i have started to give up hope that the ship can be righted… i did this partly on the advice of Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks, and partly out of real despair that the political stars are aligned against democracy right now…

… this morning i read Heather Cox Richardson’s posts from yesterday and today… hope flickered to life… the stage is set… a battle for the soul of the country will unfold in the coming weeks and months as the January 6 Commission makes its case to the public… and the Senate will try to amend the filibuster in order to protect voting rights… if enough people believe the findings of the J6 Commission, and the Senate passes voting rights legislation, all may not be lost…

… in the meantime, what i can do is help make sure the small levers of democracy where i live aren’t corrupted and make genuinely good information available to anyone who will read/listen… and, of course, i will vote like democracy depends on it…

… more broadly however, in the department of letting go of hope, i acknowledge that this democracy may well be reaching the end of its run… the cosmos, as Burkeman and so many before him have pointed out, really doesn’t care if democracy continues in the US or not… it simply unfolds and humanity responds in whatever way helps it survive… it may even be that the welling up of intelligence on the planet is pointed to an advancement that will have little to do with human freedom… i prefer to think not, but this is the trend of the “dominant culture”, for a few powerful elites to be in control and for the rest of us to be subsumed in effective slavery…

… i think to myself, nobody asks to live in a time when the social order turns itself upside down… i think to myself, i did not plan for my old age to be lived out in times of social order dismantling… i planned for it to run out in relative peace and quiet… i wonder if senior citizens overtaken by WW II felt this way?… looking forward to a little peace and quiet and not being challenged by the rigors of making a living and what happens?, a devastating war… as a white, middle class male, am i one of the few to have this blessing?… it did not feel that way as my life unfolded… there were certainly disappointments and challenges… but was i ever really challenged the way, say, a black man is challenged in our society?… we all have troubles… some of us from positions of relative advantage… even with that, there are troubles…

… i was thinking yesterday, why do people write?… originally, to express and communicate, to develop and record collective wisdom… i was thinking about this because i was thinking about how the dominant culture turns writing from expression and communication into a means for economic ends… we are made to believe that we must have an audience because we can’t monetize if we don’t have an audience… for this reason, we don’t accumulate wisdom and share it freely… we put a price tag on it… and because the ability to put a price tag on it means the work must be marketed, we start to see a world in which wisdom doesn’t prevail, only what is marketable prevails… words are useless if one can’t monetize them in this society… but really, reading and writing is about developing and communicating wisdom…

… we started watching Station 11 last night… central to the narrative is a graphic novel written by a young black woman… she writes and draws, but nobody has ever seen more than little bits and pieces of what she writes and draws… one day, she delivers a copy to her ex and says, “i finished it”… until that moment, she does it only for herself… this to me is the purest form of creation… work done entirely for its own sake… work done because we feel compelled to do it… that is what this blog, this Notes On Attention Paid is… something i do trying not to hope anyone will read it and doggedly pursuing it even though nobody reads it… i apply time out of my precious 4K weeks to doing it largely because i don’t seem to be able to not do it… it anchors me… it gives me something meaningful to do…