Monday, July 24, 2006

power of purposelessness


I ate a bowl of vomit for lunch today. -- parody of vanity blog postings.

How many times have you done something for no reason outside of the act itself? For itself alone, and without any imposed meaning or subservient goal? Done something for the sheer joy and delight of it?

Not even for personal fulfillment or satisfaction? Just doing it because you like it, or, even better, because you feel it must be done?

Blogging can be like that.

You may be improving your blog design, writing style, topic relevance, and entertainment value...but getting few reactions. Still, you continue in the direction you set upon, because you feel confident you're on the right track.

Why would few people respond to what you're doing?

Maybe -- they are lazy, or inarticulate, or overwhelmed with work, or in a big hurry, or, perhaps, they're jealous of you. There could be many reasons your improvements result in nothing externally. You may be too far ahead of the curve, which makes mediocres very uncomfortable.

When you read about John Milton, Galileo, Thomas Jefferson, Blake, Robbes-Grillet, Rimbaud, Picasso, Dali, Varese, Ussachevsky, Martin Luther, Hemingway, Dickens, Martin Luther King Jr., John Cage, and other great reformers and innovators, you learn about Opposition and Attack.

Some great thinkers and change agents suffered horribly. Milton wrote Paradise Lost during blindness and extreme poverty and hardship. Many artists do their best work under terrible conditions, loneliness, betrayal, heart ache, depression, and despair.

You don't need "purpose", "goals", or "meaning" as much as the pop psyche guys tell you. What you do need is stubborn determination to stick with something. Something you know is right. Even when it seems burdensome and meaningless and without "desired results".

Business today is too much about a quick profit, then cheapening the product, generally by outsourcing, without passing the savings on to the retail store owners or the consumers. This is very greedy and fucked up.

So keep performing your music, selling your computers, teaching your pupils, launching your space shuttles, sewing your fashions, writing your blog, painting your art, composing your poems, building your ethical business. Be blind and deaf to negative slurs and demotivating losers.

Keep at it. The reward is great, both material and immaterial.

Of Milton's complex and troubled career in controversy, we need not say much.

...He began by publishing antiprelatical tracts, against government of the church by bishops. These are rough, knockabout, name-calling pamphlets in the style of the times...

...Milton was much embittered by ridicule of his ideas.

[Regarding Paradise Lost]...despite the many difficulties that it presented, despite its unfamiliar meter (blank verse was rare outside drama), despite the unpopularity of its attitudes and Milton's reputation as a dangerous man, it [Paradise Lost] was recognized at once as a supreme epic achievement.

--Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors

10 comments:

carrie snell said...

Do you support Israel's current military action in Lebanon?

steven edward streight said...

I am a pacifist.

War by nation states, and acts of terrorism against nation states, solve nothing.

Every soldier in every war that was ever fought died in vain, for nothing at all.

Nation states, and anti-nation state terrorists, both perpetuating the myth of government, always act like insane children in all things.

sea snail said said...

that's cool

that's what i thought...

but was wondering due to your badge on the sidebar which says you're a friend of Israel... right?

vaspers the grate said...

What is going on with the "sea snail said said"?

Yes. I'm a Friend of Israel.

carrie said...

hmmmmm maybe it is because of cocomment?

CK said said...

Insightful, inspring post. Especially enjoyed the encouragement behind.."Even when it seems burdensome and meaningless and without "desired results".

It really is about the journey, not destination, eh?

steven edward streight said...

CK: it's about both the journey and the destination and what the heck you do once you "arrive"...many just die or defilibrate into desultory desolutes.

AndrewE said...

This post is right on the mark. I was grappling with a similar sentiment the other day - it's an ongoing process.

What we need is more self-determination and self-belief. Too much of our internal energy and focus is being dissipated in useless entertainment entreprises making a few people even richer than rich.

But you can be rich and still hold it down, this guy is testament to that:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk5MaehO4qc&mode=related&search=

morris said...

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If your not interested, I'm sorry you feel that way, simply delete this comment.

Thanks

Morris

Paul Woodhouse said...

Ah yes! How to become a disciplined blogger as opposed to a purely inspired one.

Maybe the reason why so many blogs have a short shelf life is that most will only vomit outwardly until their guts are empty. And that's it - spleen vented.

I wrestle with this daily now. Sometimes I don't care and don't post, sometimes I just post anyway. Sometimes it just drives me to drink.

It can be quite liberating to think nobody gives a crap.

I'll stop now, I'm just free-forming. ;-)