entry 12 - what should i do with all this time?
this entry contains swear words and pontifications about political things, that is, it might sound like i'm telling you what to do, but i assure you i'm just confused about what i should do. oh yeah, there's lots of italics here, too.
brain log begun
2.4.21 - 05:50
my dear fellow human,
i would like my governmental representatives to think of their job like my job. i am a middle school music teacher – i teach choir. i don't think that what you do with your time is any more valuable than what i do with my time. that might be a little bit hard for you to swallow, but please, hear me out.
i'm not writing to badger you, or to demand you do something, or to insist that i – your humble constituent – am in the right.
i think, at your best, you are a philosopher first, and a politician next. you learn about the most beautiful and beneficial ways we could live our lives together, and then you attempt to lead us into behaviors that could bring those ways of life to our everyday reality. politics can be so beautiful!
our words are important – i think politicians and teachers might understand this better than many other professions. and yet, just because we might have a unique ability related to the nature of our work, i don't believe that warrants us feeling more valuable, and justifying higher salaries than a chef at a restaurant, or a massage therapist, or a doctor, or a janitor.
i see all of these functions as equally valuable for our shared life together. that is what i would like to convince you of, that recognizing the existing inequalities between the salaries and statuses of various professions is essential to making our collective lives easier.
whoever's eyeballs are reading this, i care about you, and i want to affect the way you think. give the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) act some serious thought, and see where it leads you. thank you for your time.
that's a letter i wrote to my representatives.
if i believe that an individual human's beliefs directly influence their actions....
and i also believe that the particular actions of this particular human are dangerous to other humans....
can i explain to them why i think what they're doing is dangerous for all of us....
without negating their potential and capacity for transformation?
another way to do this brain log is to take notes throughout the week, and compile them together in one weekly entry for public consumption. that would be more log-like. i might get more accurate and diverse records of my thoughts this way.
however, doing things that way is even more disjointed and hard to keep track of then the way i'm currently doing it, where i sit down on the weekend and put together a fairly cohesive entry. taking notes throughout the week and mixing it all together seems to lend itself to even longer entries, and create more work for myself, which seems to be missing the point a little bit. i have to keep structuring this work in a way that makes me want to do it.
this is an eternal human struggle: how do i make myself want to do the things i would like to do? this may seem like a silly question to you, and perhaps it is a silly question – for you.
but for me, there are lots of strange dissonances between what my imagination desires for me and what i actually spend my time doing. for example: my mind has been full of desire to record and release my own original music for years now, and i have even recorded a lot of songs. some of this music has been released, but far less than what exists in my head, and i haven't spent any time promoting it, making sure it's available in many different places.
but more importantly, i don't really believe i've ever taken the time necessary to make the music sound the way i'd like it to sound! only very recently i've become more adept at audio engineering, and so i've been thinking of re-recording some songs, or at the very least opening the old files and re-mixing what i've already recorded. but i've never spent my time in that way. why the hell is that?
i suspect it's because of a deeply rooted fear that if i spend that time, the music still won't be 'good enough,' and i'll have wasted my time. blech, there's that phrase again.
ok. i'm clicking on logic pro. i'm opening mr. powerful. i'm going to listen and see what this session sounds like to me now that i have more experience. do it!
as i listen, i'm reminded of some things that have frustrated me before: my voice doesn't sound free and relaxed to me. perhaps it's just remembering the struggles of getting all of these dense chords to sound in tune, but i'd like the singing to sound less sterile.
but, the first thing i noticed is that i really like this! it fills me with excitement about possibilities (my favorite thing to get excited about). the nagging thought is: 'but will you make time to do anything about it? is it actually worth it to work on this?'
if i commit to changing my internal value system – another thing that i profess to want, but spend little time really working on – the answer is 'yes, absofuckinglutely it's worth it! how else will i discover how to audio engineer songs in a way that's really pleasing, that's a real piece of art?!'
it's not just going to happen – i have to work for it. and the work can be joyful if i love the work itself in the moment, and concern myself less with the potential effect of the product on other people. it's so strange, i want to work with other people, but in thinking about how and if other people will listen to this music, i feel like i have to ignore what they might possibly say or do. i've got to work on it for the work's sake, for my own self interest, or else the fear of other people's reactions is too paralyzing.
i can look at written sheet music and i can hear what a fully orchestrated, expressive version of this would sound like in my head. in my aural imagination.
but i'm unable to meet that instantaneous imagined expression with my physical body – there's a barrier of time, a barrier of labor. when what i perform doesn't match what's in my head, i get intimidated and fearful of the work, instead of loving the work.
so how can i love the work of getting music to flow as effortlessly from my body as it does from my imagination?
i sometimes expect my singing to be an automatic addition to my piano playing, that piano is the only thing i really need to practice. but singing needs real energy and intention and focus!
i've painted the fear of wasting time as a main theme of this brain log so far, but i wonder if that really should give way to a theme of patience – or a lack there of.
a paragraph break is actually a way to force you to be patient. if i had written this sentence after one single space beyond the period ending the phrase 'or lack there of,' you might not have considered that thought for as long; you may not have connected patience to impatience so emphatically. but now, you certainly have.
reading this writing is an implicitly consensual activity, is it not? i'm not forcing you to go on. i'm not coercing you, am i? i'm not offering you some benefit for reading these words, for getting to the end. i'm not even asking you to sign up for my email list! if you get bored or offended, you can leave, close the page, read something else, hell, leave a nasty comment if you want!
what obligations do i have to other people? do my obligations to others get in the way of realizing my full physical artistic abilities? i don't want to blame other people for that, it's all my choice – but it's true that if i choose a life balance that favors fulfilling obligations to others, i will have less of this finite time to devote to exploring my piano, singing, and music theory techniques and knowledge.
as i've written before, i want to be less judgmental of how i spend my time.
one of the potential pitfalls of this implied for me philosophy (ifm¹) is that i can get confused about how to make decisions. if every preference is equally valuable, does that mean that choices about how to spend my time don't really matter? what if i decide to listen to neo-soul and hip hop the vast majority of the time, and never listen to country or bluegrass? what if i spend infinitely more time writing this brain log than reading the materials that the democratic socialists send me? does anyone care? is it useful to label those behaviors 'good' or 'bad?'
this brings me back to the opening letter of this entry. am i at all convincing about this idea that doctors should not be valued more than janitors? i do mean that in both a financial and moral sense. let me try to make the case.
while one is alive, having your environment be clean is not only pleasant, it can contribute to one's overall health. mold in a moist corner of one's house can cause respiratory diseases. cleaning said moist corner is a highly effective and efficient way of preventing disease. the one who cleans – who is sometimes labeled a janitor – is contributing to our shared good health.
a doctor can diagnose that respiratory disease and probably offer antibiotics or some other treatment to contribute to our shared health. a doctor can diagnose and treat many other ailments as well, contributing not only to our health, but to our existence – some diseases prove deadly, and medical treatment can preserve one's life for far longer than simply cleaning one's environment can.
but why should we value the state of being alive above the quality of that state of aliveness?
i don't want to live for a long amount of time, i want to live for a healthy amount of time. when i die, i shall die, and life shall concern me no longer. i do hope to leave those humans whose well being is connected to my own in a self sufficient and peaceful place before i die, but that is still a hope of life, not of death. once i am dead, as i have said, i will cease to concern myself with the living.
sometimes i doubt philosophy as a whole, because it can feel so removed from life, from survival. but these big brains of ours actually require a lot of maintenance. it's uncle ben all over again – with great power comes great responsibility. We've got brains that can make pretty incredible calculations, that can imagine tremendously creative – or destructive – worlds. i feel strongly that my brain, at least, needs to be routinely pruned of unhelpful or damaging thoughts and fed nutrients that will help me grow thoughts and actions that serve the survival of my community. the survival of my community is my own survival – i see no reason to separate the two.
my doubts about philosophy disappear when i read some well thought out shit like this:
“The biggest threats to social justice attention and informational economies are not the absence of yet more jargon to describe, ever more precisely or incisively, the epistemic, attentional, or interpersonal afflictions of the disempowered. The biggest threats are the erosion of the practical and material bases for popular power over knowledge production and distribution, particularly that which could aid effective political action and constrain or eliminate predation by elites. The capture and corruption of these bases by well-positioned elites, especially tech corporations, goes on unabated and largely unchallenged, including: the corporate monopolization of local news, the ongoing destruction and looting of the journalistic profession, the interference of corporations and governments in key democratic processes, and the domination of elite interests in the production of knowledge by research universities and the circulation of the output of these distorted processes by established media organizations.“
-from Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Difference, by Olúfémi O. Táíwò (i highly recommend reading that whole piece to put that quote in context, it's awesome)
i had to look up the word 'predation,' it's related to predators; the author is saying that our society's tools to prevent powerful humans from preying on the rest of us are eroding, weakening. we have a hard time preventing rich people from doing whatever they want to do, and it's getting harder.
after i publish this entry i have some research and thinking to do about how i interact with the internet and monolithic corporations, like google. a new browser might be in my future; it seems wise to allow some serious time to consider making a thorough switch. you will hear all about this² and more in next week's brain log entry.
until then, don't underthink³ it.
brain log ended
3.4.21 - 13:08
1: referenced in previous entries, the implied for me is the idea that after every expression of preference or opinion i make, one could insert 'for me' to clarify just how far that statement applies. neo-soul is good dancing music (for me). talking about the underlying philosophies of governmental policy is fun (for me). carefully thinking through how to make myself love work is necessary (for me). you might not find these statements apply to you. that's ok, because the statements aren't about you, they're for me. (back)
2: will you actually hear about that? my partner is very close to going into labor, and i might get pretty focused on a whole brand new life in my house next week. we'll see what becomes of the brain log as a baby occupies my mental energy. i know i'll have things to write about it eventually, but how long will those entries be? can i give myself permission to write a single paragraph and move on?
ha! i did not even publish this entry before my baby was born, and i edited this entry and typed this sentence with him laying in my lap. baby brain log, comin' atcha. (back)
3: it blows my mind that overthink is automatically recognized by wix's dictionary, but i had to add 'underthink!' more hints at what we have valued for such a long time.... (back)