Saturday, May 29, 2010

practicing to master

Raffaello - Self-Portrait.jpg
Practicing to Master


This is an essay I’m writing out to help structure my practicing schedule. I am going to sit on it for a while—just a rough draft. Your feedback is welcome.


                Postmodern writing lacks content, other than its obfuscating style, and this is consistent for Derrida, Lacan, Delueze, where the main message is in how it is side, not in important ideas, but in a sneering attitude. The tone is clear, though the ideas are not, a sort of mood music, an incantation or magical spell over the intellectuals, a style aiming to paralyze, bully, and ultimately seduce the weak to join the intellectual bully. Postmodernism, which could be called the rise of the mediocre, or slave morality gone intellectual, is best ended by the tyranny of a master morality and its discipline: great art requires great practice – and greatness is the only proper goal to a noble man.

            Great prose takes much practice, and not only practice at writing, but the creation of a strong consciousness able to face the biting truth of reality, and sooth it into eloquence. Style is the setting of a piece, the tone and mood. More than anything else, a world is defined by the consciousness which creates it, the style of consciousness that structures it into an experience. Within one universe, there may be as many worlds as there are perspectives. The strongest minds will be able to reduce it to simplicity, to directly express its nature. In this, ornament is central, for just as syntax and grammar imitate the moves and attempts of a mind in time, so too does ornament and rhetoric evoke the heart that supports and feeds the mind in action.

            A walk through the woods is richer if you know the names of trees: names allow a man to see individual things separate from their surroundings. The ability to name a thing requires eyes that see without words, a vision that knows how to paint an object into existence by naming it.

            Language becomes a playing field, a recess of the mind from the work of life, with the joy of syntax, the idiosyncrasies of diction, the poetical densities, the genius of the perfect word, and the resonance of words with words, the long strong focus required to construct a period, balanced with antithesis, climax, and even teased out with rhymes, puns, and subtle games of self-reference, such as a sentence within a sentence, a play within a play, a god before the mirror, a child giving birth to herself.. What is deep speaks to what is deep; what is superficial speaks to what is superficial: we must be masters of both: the depth of truth, and the superficiality of beauty.

            Read your work out loud several times, and read your favorite authors the same way. Combine all the senses, especially voice and vision. Style is joy, the joy of personality. A personality is nothing more than a conscious style. Mind is a willing, unified, changing, self-owned focus, but it is language insofar as it thinks in time, through images, and the handles it places on them, words, names, or images, so to skip from one to the next easily.

            Master morality requires the antidemocratic morality, the morality of subordinating that which produces more subordinated, and ordinating that which produces more ordinated. This is de facto life, each man resolves into his place, like a marble down a hill, finding his nook to perch, as high as he can, but more importantly, as stable as he can.

            Cut your works by 50%, read them aloud, construct your sentences in parallel construction, plan your essays as an architect plans a building, prefer the thing to the commentary of the thing, and show thing in such a way that the commentary silently shows itself, be specific, be likeable if you can, but authentic even if you cannot, write about people, use anecdotes, examples, quotes, and quotations. Over years of work, develop a theme.

            It becomes apparent over an author’s career the undersense of a theme in his work. More and more his novels resolve to retelling the same story over and over again. Melville’s quest repeats through all his work, Whitman’s motherdeath romance never leaves him.

            Aristotle wrote that “no great genius was ever without some mixture of madness, nor can anything grand or superior to the voice of common mortals be spoken except by the agitated soul.” You must take your whole life, subordinate the difficult, but do not cut it off nor cut off the best in deference to it. The allistic method is to use all, leave each part as much itself as possible, but relate all things to a larger schema. Your goals must be cemented together into one goal, hardened into a unified purpose.

            Each man shines brightest in one narrow direction; his success is in aligning that light to the world, and working especially through that aspect. Every style is based on a trick, a sort of metatrope, by which, once mastered, you could predict him. In the same way, the skeleton of a situation is transparent enough to the piercing eye, but a full ambience requires a lifetime of study.

            True practice is struggling at the edge of your ability, to continually test yourself, to plan on it, to stretch yourself further and further, to set yourself to make many honest mistakes, and to continually wrestle to overcome them. In this way, your skill circuits in your brain will be well-myelinated, and you can exact the best effect from a little bet of practice. Practice a new style, a new trick a new idea, slowly, perfect, and then build up moment. Set yourself for immediate critical feedback, a ruthless commentary on your work – get that coach and internalize him. Practice deeply and obsessively. Practice in the boiler room: make conditions as difficult as possible. Minimize the slack space, so your practice is much harder than the performance you must make.

            See the gestalt, and break it into smaller bits, which you can repeat each till you have mastered them. Break a skill into small circuit – cut up your poems, memorize the small parts. Slow your sentence down – take a day on a single phrase. Observe, judge, and strategize your performance: coach yourself. Learn to feel what optimum practice is, and sink into it every time.

            Your long term self image, how you imagine yourself in the end, determines your success more than anything: let this image become your eidolon, a symbol of your purpose.

            The unconscious can compute 11 million pieces of information per second, the conscious only 40 pieces: so practice continually to make it all second nature. Acquire that one powerful idea that moves everything else in your life, and tie it into your primal drives for survival, importance, and love.

            Even Whitman, a loafer who slept late, and was lax with his schedules, was “all urgency and strain when it came to his writings.” So you must economize your mental energy, herd it away even from duty, and let your slowly building reservoirs of stay energy by directed again to the same goals. Energy slowly builds until it is ready to burst, and we seldom get excited about what we expected to, but if we learn to reinterpret every novel excitement as a part of the same immortal goal, we will have maximized our effort towards it. The ability to interpret a book becomes again our greatest tool in structuring our own lives.

            It takes 10, 000 hours of deliberate practice to master an art: monomania wins the day. Learn to practice as effectively as possible.









Wednesday, May 26, 2010

what is a definition?



                Concepts grow from abstractions. The focus, or some automated engine habitualized from it, abstracts from memories some atom of experience from it, whether a sensation, or perhaps the feeling a given series of events feels like.

Once a lexicon of such abstracted words exists, imagine a concept, therefore, as a chain of micro-experiences, of the most basic sensual sort, that feel contextual-less. They feel like they are floating, though they are grounded in reality, and in this free-floating form, they may be bound together in abstract chains to create definitions of abstracts. A definition is a definited, deliniated, repeatable, exact experience. It by no means refers to anything but itself, and is immediately real. A definition is not a verbal formula as in a dictionary, but those are meant to give you the feeling of the definition. A definition as its name suggest is the most definite experience possible.

            When we hear a rule “When at time X do action Y” we must always first interpret it. put ideas between the objects. We have image XY, but they are mere words, they are not direct experiences that apply again and again in the world. To understand the connection for all things like X and Y, we must put between X and Y a verbal sense.


and then put in substitutes


And then we may infer the sense or spirit of the rule:


            Once this is known, all the variables that can be united by verbal conceptial “~~~” can be applied. After a rule is interpreted, and its sense felt, we no longer have to interpret anymore, we make a judgment to add it as habit, and do it automatically, blindlyl.

            All interpretation, analysis, and insight requires finding the hidden binding name between imaginable elements. It is a conscious process. If it is ever done unconsciously, that is possible because the interpreting itself has becone an unconsicous habit, but only after much deliberate practice. Nothing comes without willfull effort.

            A concept is abstracted from a sensual fact. The fact, a living experience, recorded as a memory, is abstracted, like a painting whose details are wetted out, leaving only a general shape, colored with an ethereal ambiguity that lets any detail needed fall in. When we think the word “dog” we think a sensual imagined thing. Not a specific dog, but something specific enough that any possible example of dog will be seen to be the same thing. For concepts are made of sensual experiences, and are sensual, but are reduced to simple forms, and combined with emotions. Since the entire mental language is made out of feelings and sensations, even the most abstract ideas are in fact imaginary, suggest a rudimentary geometry, and feel like a meaning, are felt to correspond to other ideas. Not only the bare words that we label them are sensual, but they are made of chopped and structured images, with a valence of meaning, a chain of abbreviation, by which we can feel the whole category it corresponds with. When we think the word dog, our full history of experience with this concept is recalled instantly under an abbreviation, a meaning that symbolized the whole.

            Ambiguity is also a positive experience. The feeling of a range of possibilities is definite and visceral.

            Meanings are concrete because they are definite and repeatable: either one experiences a meaning, or he experiences another. The sensual word we use to label a meaning can confuse us, and make us think that language is abstract, but we should say that spoken language can be ambiguous, whereas the language of pure thought is absolutely self congruent.

            In a precise language like mathematics, all numbers, even though abstract, are abstracted from sensual things, and still retain a sense, or feeling, of identity. Each number is symbolize not only by the name we use to handle it, but a physical relationship we’ve had with the number. This is not only true with addition and subtraction, which feel like something be added or taken away from our hands, but applies to even the most abstracted higher mathematical formula. These operations are based in gross bodily experience, and finally refined into precise operations. And executing an equation involves the tension of holding a goal, the effort of focus, the desire for a solution, curious, self doubt, perhaps a dozen periphery emotions, with a definite sense of finality when we feel we have solved it. All these emotions lend a mathematical operation a completely subjective and sensual experience which would assumably be lacking in the computer calculator seemingly performing the same operation.

            To think of a dog is to imagine for a second what it is to be a dog: we mirror everything we see, and take in its concept wholistically. From many various experiences of objects in a category, certain absolutes are drawn from each category, making a skeleton, and the variable parts are like a paint of grey were we can plug in any details.









Wednesday, May 19, 2010

part 3: Life is Narrative


Mental Vigour part 3: Life as narrative


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Life as Narrative

                To enjoy art you must be willing to breath water. The fantastic world is another element, one must lose himself to it if he is to be taken in, otherwise, his eyes are critical like an alien’s eyes are critical: disliking because he knows not how to engage. But what he takes from art must be in turn dissolved into his own life.

            Lives are structured like narratives: the plot of the novel is the same stuff as the biography. The primordial plotline features a hero struggling for his goals. Every story resolves to this final spine. Ditto our lives. Since each man holds a limited amount of mental energy per lifetime, gaining or losing it, perhaps, by circumstance and the habits he forms, it follows that there must be a maximum use of his energy, which, when played against the chance of daily surprise, is best achieved through a general plotline. The basic plot of his life should be driven by a main overall purpose, to fuse his many goals and subordinate them. Like running a river through a woods, to water all life, yet not waste it in swamp and weeds, a tangible plan, like a staff through sand, must set the river in direction.

            We can focus on only a little at a time; therefore we ought to use symbols to fuse our goals into a purpose, for the symbol will make tangible the ethereal purpose. What we call a purpose for our lives is the name for what is important to it, and the highest name men have given for importance is “divine,” and “God” – indeed, the safest definition of God for theologians would be “the most important being.” Well as Allists, we take the All-form as the most important being, and take our lives to reflect the All: we aim to align our metaphysics and our biography.

            This is what the major religions have been up to from the beginning, this is how they market themselves: they sell a story about the big picture, a “metanarrative” or overall view, which the individuals participate with by following the ordinances of the religion. In this way, their lives borrow a relative importance insofar as they align them with the values of the religion. As all such “all-forms” “Gods” and “metanarratives” are fantastic, and apply to the imagination, the part of the mind that looks at what has not been experienced, the fantasy space, it could be well said that the greatest meanings of mankind are fantastic. We could not say they are illusory, since their purpose is to orient a life to fulfill its greatest needs – and this all religions have succeeded at. The theological poets have ruled the minds of man the longest, and their fables have swayed the public imagination even wider than art, which is too often elitist, noble, and proud, reducing its appeal to the intellectuals and the refined.

            A good story subordinates every new instance, so that once a man has chosen a style of consciousness, and a basic attitude towards obstacles, he is fated to live a certain sort of life. The greatest aspects of his story are the symbol he chooses for his purpose, and the attitudes he adopts to achieve this purpose. Note also that the conscious purpose of a man’s life is often only seeming so, and that the actual purposes of his actions speak better through the general outcomes of his adventures: we cannot cheat our feat for long, but gain what we secretly seek, whatever a crooked mouth may profess.

            Verbal consciousness, the habits that subordinate experiences into meanings, the grammar of thought, mature in adulthood into a definite style of speaking and writing. This style is based on some trick of perception, which, once guessed, would render the man completely predictable, if his style were not also self-conscious in the form of a personality, for a personality is a self-conscious style. The most effective way for it to be self-conscious, is to imagine how others view it, by watching them respond to it. In this way, a man avoids losing status and appeal through being predictable by subtly hiding his trick of style and instigating a brash of surprise often enough in to his talk to stun the careful analyst.

            And so this verbal self-consciousness we call the personality of the person, or the “me-myself,” should empower the will to narrate its own preemptive autobiography. We ought to plan our life into a story. In this way we will reinforce our habits into the power of a few meta-habits, and thus maximize our power. If all our goals and whims can be recruited into practice towards a greater mastery, we need not regret our daily caprice. We can subordinate the folly of daily life into the happiness of a life-long wisdom. Power holds pith in all life’s materials, we need only to digest it.

            Developing a personal mythology, featuring the general archetype of ourself, will orient us and place us in a greater scheme. And the more we do this according to private storylines rather than prefabricated roles in the world religions, the more our energy will work to glorify and empower ourselves, rather then the fantasies of others. Let each man be his own God.


Daniel Christopher June










Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Waiting again (revised)

Okay I ended up hating that poem. So I tried again.


Waiting Again


Where’s your word of explanation?

Tongue as jealous as death!

Holding back your last breath

Must I throw my arms in frustration?

Merely dreaming of you?

Warm as pulse, kiss like glue

Golden love from bee’s gestation.


Where’s your gift of loving respect?

I set down verbal cages

Pretty traps—please engage them!

Must I search your silvery aspect

But to glance a mere lance

Of moonlay by chance

And bottle the secret like an insect?


Where’s your return, to reclaim the stolen?

Your words dance in my hand

Like spit in a pan

Must I pretend that your silence is golden,

Your trace pains the prison

Like silent derision

Depth’s breath strives high for heaven’s devotion.