Idle Thoughts 25FEB22

BLOGGING PROGRESS REPORT: Today is day 25 of 100 days of blogging. So far I’m enjoying it. Sometimes it’s challenging to find something to write about, or something I want to point to. This has led me to evaluate my own information diet. Why am I not finding more cool stuff to share or to think about?

FAIRY UPDATE: I’ve made substantial progress into the fairy research. I have a pretty solid outline and today I spent quite a bit of time working on the first draft. I’ve kind of had May as a loose deadline, and after today’s work I think I might have a first draft by then (or maybe a 0th draft I can start turning into a presentation).

SCHOLARLY WRITING THAT COULD BE POETRY: This is the opening paragraph of a chapter titled “The Invisibles: Toward a Phenomenology of the Spirits” by David Abram in the book The Handbook of Contemporary Animism edited by Graham Harvey.

“To live is to dance with an unknown partner whose steps we can never wholly predict, to improvise within a field of forces whose shifting qualities we may feel as they play across our skin, or as they pulse between our cells, yet whose ultimate nature we can never grasp or possess in thought. To affirm our own animal existence, and so to awaken inside the world, is to renounce the pretension of a view from outside that might some day finally fathom and figure every aspect of the world’s workings. It is to acknowledge the horizon of uncertainty that surrounds any instance of knowledge, to accept that our life is at every point nourished and sustained by the mysterious.”

THE LIMITS OF SERENDIPITY ON THE INTERNET: To me, serendipity seems harder than ever on the internet. Since my attention is a commodity and is constantly being directed by commercial forces, it feels less likely than ever that I’ll stumble across something weird and unexpected that sparks my curiosity. That stuff is still out there when I specifically look for it, but part of the joy of serendipity is discovering stuff I never knew existed, much less could ask for by name.

(Horace Walpole in writing about “The Three Princes of Serendip” captures the meaning of serendipity – “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.”)

NO ATTRIBUTION: An article I’m reading quotes the following, but doesn’t provide attribution. (I couldn’t find anything on Google, but I suspect it’s probably Yeats). I love the conciseness of this —

“The mind changing changes all.”

(100 Days of Blogging: Post 025 of 100)

Here’s the David Abrams paragraph from above broken into a more poetical-looking format:

“The Invisibles”

To live is to dance

with an unknown partner whose steps

we can never wholly predict,

to improvise within a field of forces

whose shifting qualities we may feel

as they play across our skin,

or as they pulse between our cells,

yet whose ultimate nature

we can never grasp

or possess in thought.

To affirm our own animal existence,

and so to awaken inside the world,

is to renounce the pretension

of a view from outside

that might some day finally fathom and figure

every aspect of the world’s workings.

It is to acknowledge

the horizon of uncertainty that surrounds

any instance of knowledge,

to accept that our life is at every point

nourished and sustained by the mysterious.

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