Monday, November 05, 2007


This post is inspired by Dup. First of all because Dup is fascinated by media consumption and second because he links to this article wherein Jerry Seinfeld talks about the key to his productivity being "inch by inch anything's a cinch" (note: that cringeworthy cliche is used by lifehacker, not by JS). Like Jerry and Dup I've long been one for approaching big projects by taking slow, steady, manageable nibbles. This has served me well, but lately I think it's got a bit out of control.

My media routine: Every morning I go to the Victrola, get a French Press, cry to myself that they stopped doing drip coffee (FP is watery, grindy, muddy!), and write for about an hour--not much, but it adds up over the years. Then I read whatever book of poems I'm reading, currently Charles Bernstein's Dark City, for, say, fifteen minutes. Then I read a page or two of some other poet, just to keep things fresh. Right now it's Cesar Vallejo, the Complete Posthumous Poems (as recommended by Double A), but I'm still crawling through Clayton Eshelman's fascinating intro about Vallejo's life and the translation process. Then, for about ten minutes, it's some more of Conents Dream by Bernstein, a great collection of essays on poetry, film, et cetera. That's a book that it actually helps to read in small, digestible chunks and I guess the approach of intensely focused short bursts is suited to reading poetry in general , but I'm finding myself wanting to focus on just one thing. I read the New Yorker for twenty five minutes twice a week while doing my cardio at the Y (the third day, Saturday, is "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" day) and that's no way to stay less than six months behind on those things. And the book The Field Guide --really fun--is a wee tome but at the pace of half a page a night before my eyes start shutting you'd think it was Ulysses (another "chunker"--ten pages a day out loud to myself back sometime in those days of copious free-time, the 90's, my youth). And although I worship Colbert I haven't been able to gain much traction in I am America (and So Can You) because I'm also reading this great book Shantaram that's 800 something pages. And...did I mention that I'm a very slow reader? This is no way to live! And it's carried over to DVD's; I'm watching movies in twenty minute chapters. And music--thank god I listen to a lot of compilations 'cause a complicated concept album about, say, a wall, wouldn't stand a chance against my constant flipping back and forth between some collection of lost psychedelic nuggets (Psychedelic Phinland gets the prize for best album with worst name) and NPR. This post was even written in five minute blocks. Now I know why writers dream of cabins in the woods. Of grants. Of uninterrupted hours to dig in and get down under the deep focus spell of One Thing at a Time. I want some focus. I want retirement. I want to move from the 21st century. I want to cancel my subscriptions. My late friend Malcolm told me about a friend of his who only ever owned one book and one piece of music at a time: That might be the way to go...


At 10:23 AM, Blogger Ash said...

Simplifying is a good thing. I am trying to win the lotto so DK and I can retire. Maybe we will buy a cabin in the woods when we win and you and CTM can be the caretakers.


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