I began a novel that I had started years previously with the hope that this time, the writing would be easier and I’d actually finish the thing.
I lasted about three paragraphs, went away from the word processor and realized I hadn’t written a blog post today.
So I went to the Write page and started a post that, after a few paragraphs, veered off into territory I’d already discussed in an earlier post.
Meanwhile I thought about a topic I really wanted to write about, though I knew very little about it: should philosophy be the aggregation of ways of thinking that benefit ordinary human beings as they negotiate their turbulent lives, or should it be a branching heresy of extraordinary thinking (which is not to be confused with thinking about the extraordinary) becomes a probe that reveals things about our world that most would tend to ignore?
Restated, should philosophy function as an art, or a science? The easy answer is it should be both–sharpen our understanding but also show us what we could be doing better–and neither, because our definitions and assumptions about art and science are based on prior experience and, for philosophy to grow, it must not let what has been thought previously hold it back.
Others among the zillions who write blog posts, and the few who actually read blogs other than their own, might say, “who cares?”
With that, I lasted about two paragraphs.
In my experience, what starts a writing session is mysterious. What stops it is obvious, but never final. Writing, like the practice of any art or activity that gives you something you can’t get anywhere else, is never finished. It stops and starts, again.
Writing doesn’t have to begin with an idea, but it helps. For me, Ideas come from an invisible place and, like seeds, they spoil if they aren’t planted. They also fail to grow and propagate if the soil, sunlight, water, the presence of predators and other plants, isn’t within a limited range.
How much, then, does limitation–the frame around the picture, the rules that control the game, the moral or ethical traditions that identify acceptable behavior, the laws that construct society–have to do with creativity, whose proponents notoriously resist categorizing, qualifying, quantifying, disciplining and most every tendency to define what they’re doing?
Finally, to what extent is writing a blog post part of a larger avoidance strategy interferes with, prevents or limits the accomplishment of…going to the gym?
Thus I stop, to start again.