Few things are impracticable in themselves; and it is for want of application, rather than of means, that men fail to succeed.
– Francois de La Rochefoucauld
So regularity, constancy is mayhap the most difficult quality to evince. And maintain, which is the very thing to do. To perform the same actions that need to be performed on a daily basis, to do so on a daily basis. I am prolific as concerns getting the kitchen cleaned up in the early morn’, a reliability when it comes to the gym, even a conscientious regular in regards to daily reading. As for writing, not so much; no routine- or habit-forming rituals but instead spells of sheer, wordless vacancy. I just sit and breathe, each of my cells going about its business. This should perhaps give rise to pangs of bad conscience or despair but it hasn’t. When there is nothing of significance to be written, there is nothing of significance to be written. I submit to my lack of creativity, cravenly or not, whole-heartedly. The urge or talent or will festers as pure potential, biding its next outpouring. No problem reaching the zone of indolence N. Zuckerman could only envision abstractly: let the others do the writing, they can do so competently enough, two hands and one brain more or less will not be missed, let the great world spin. Who needs a TM when there’s a Bolano? Ahhhhhh, yes but then now what if Bolano, Roth, LeGuin, et al would’ve been thinking likewise?! And how very horrid does it feel, in the guts, to know that at this very moment the great PR no longer is typing his heart-rending stuff on that old Olivetti? So: From each their own. OR: A few more grains of prose in a desert will hurt no one.
I tried to resist cellphones reasonably long enough. My cells were quite enough. This was at the changeover of the gregorian millenia. On the close hand as the near-compulsory thinking person’s resistance to faddish gadgets [not meek, idle technophobia], touche, but also, on the far one, in astonishingly sensible forebearance against sky-high monthly bills [dearly sub-ideal for most students’ budgets]. I can’t remember how long I held out; quite a longish while it seemed to me, two months or so. Then some discount-action rolled into town and a flat-mate beat the advertising drum most convincingly. Given how much I was in transit due to an unfortunately marginally located appartment in the city of Z, the purchase turned out to be a most sensible acquisition. And as I recall there weren’t that many call minutes as everybody went in for the same little trick: let the others call you.
A decade later I, with equally misplaced valiance, resisted the smartphone for a considerable while. This time the motives were even, so I imagined, nobler if anything: the suicides at Foxconn, the unethical mining of rare earths, the social and cognitive ravages of screen-o-philia. The prototypical scenario is fairly familiar: four buddies assembeled around a table, around four ales but not getting a word out, as each of them furiously swipes away at a pathetic little screen. My resistance wasn’t altogether silly. The ideals stand as legit. But. In the end, always those blasted „buts“.
Within three or four years the rationales against these concerns accumulated into a pressing pile. I couldn’t ever schedule worth a damn and was/am quick to lose or forget weekplanners. One [.5 to be realistic]. Same goes for addresses. Two. I keep losing cellphones too and so now since they’ve all come down to zero…what the hell! Three. I could track my runs in data-phile detail. Four. Still: I had/have the worrying image/sight of people everywhere in public space transfixed by the damn little demonic rectangles, walking off of piers, walking in front of zooming buses, ignoring their so-so-significant others, shitting all over social etiquette. Minus one.
But as with any good modern-day consumer, you get to that day, or even just 60-minute sweetspot where one is able to screen out all the negatives long enough to dash to the next point of sale and purchase the damn thing. Often it can even happen in the space of ten minutes: to hell with my apprehensions. Thus I bought a Galaxy II for zero bucks; a star system for zilch dineros, come to think of it, sounds like a good deal.
To make up for the discarded ideals, I’ve been restrained in its use, initially cleaving closely to the scheduling-, telephone- and pocket-watch functions: „Oh, this, it’s nothing, I only just use it for scheduling really. You know. And for the record: At the GalaxyII-factory they’re all happy working-bees, they get toilet breaks OR There haven’t been any reports of suicides from Samsung subsidiaries, have there?“
But around here there’s always something more pressing, or at least more feasible, than the emancipation of Chinese workers. Apps made me excessively wary – if I didn’t pay attention they were going to snatch my soul within a single download. I didn’t even want to know at what times the local buses and trains arrived or departed. The innocuous public transport app certainly was going to be the first slip on the slippery slope down into the pit of retina-ruinous, neuro-degenerative smartphone addiction. No, not me.
Meanwhile, on PT I was indulging my love-affair with the Kindle. Soon enough I arrived at the insight that gadgets could be used in transit to become, drum-roll and thinking cap please, smarter rather than dumber. I carefully downloaded a French-vocabulary app and brushed up my lmtd francophone vocab [unfortunately the app now has lay dormant for a while, perhaps too little shuttling to’ and fro’…or app, application that is, on my part]. For a long time that sufficed. More than one of these things, however beneficient and benevolent, was surely going to do me in.
However, a few weeks past I indulged one more curiosity: getting to learn that ancient board-game named „Go“. Friend taught me in the presence of good wine and dinner; except for the problem that now this guy is located in a far-off city and, this side, no willing, living soul is to be found to waste their precious time on a dusty board-game. Blurgh, no thanks. Thus instead of tapping into a social network to appease the oldest of urges, to play, I now much like the poor guy from the Zweig novella play the occasional game of go against myself. On the, gasp of gasps, agora go app. The anti-social thing is being social to me.
Additionally, there’s been the issue of a ludicrously clement January. This led to me going out for a run in approximately the same way that a marmot might waken from hibernation a couple of weeks early and then get a bit on the hyperactive side before it realizes it needs to really „wake the f_%^ up“ and get back down into the burrow. Well, before I personally got back into the cozy warren of the gym [and its dreadmill] my non-hybernating brother thoroughly convinced me of the overwhelming upsides of RunKeeper. Another app, another slip’o’the’slope. Now it glistens bluely, parked on my home-screen, with all of one single activity to my name apart from those silly d.m runs that lack exactly what makes RK so exquisite: an intricate triple-profile of each run, mapping pace, distance and velocity as though one’s very existence as a runner depended on it. To me there is some added enjoyment in the specificity of the run’s data, that has nothing or little to do with how it theoretically allows one to improve one’s performance. It is more about the juxtaposition of exertion and reflection, pain and thought, similar to how a run becomes perversely more satisfying the harder one focuses on each single stride, every last marshalling of energies to the legs’ movements, the body’s precarious forward motion, dependent always on one’s will. The horror of flying off the mill backwards. And yet at the same time not, autonomic, habituated to the process of running. Anyway, RunKeeper has been a further addage to the thriving app-endage.
And finally, lastly, a fortnight ago I again managed to accidentally destroy/loose one of my cherished objects: the kindle got crushed. My heart sank very low indeed at the sight of the defunctionally rectiliniearlly dis-pixellated screen’s upper half. For a few weeks I limited reading of e-books to the laptop, gnawing fingernails if wheter or not my depleted resources would be well-allocated with the latest edition of the crushed object in question, sobriqueted now „paper-white“. Amidst Vocab, Go and RunKeeper it did at last occur to me that a reader might be downloaded at zero cost. Which I did yesterday. Then read on the bus home within three or four seconds of pulling the smartfella from the pocket, standing there amid the other bus-sitters and -standers, ferried in a flash to Westeros. Then again later in bed, lying on my left flank, swiping at the screen, learning from Mathieu more about happiness, without waking my truly significant other, quite HappY.