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When I am working at work, I wish I could leave the office and go to the coffeehouse, where there are other human beings around but those other humans won’t generally bother me. When I am at the coffeehouse, I wish that I was home where I the coffee is nearly free and I don’t have to wrap the strap of my bag around my leg. When I am at home, I think to myself that I can’t really work anywhere but the office. Like the Bermuda triangle of inauthenticity that Heidegger sketches out in Being and Time, where ambiguity gives way to idle talk with gives way to curiosity and back to the ambiguity again, traps in triplicate, trialectic, are the worst sort of traps to fall into, as the illusion of choice, of possibility, is renewed just that more freshly.

Perhaps it’s not about where I work. Perhaps the fact of the matter is that this sort of work is so incredibly and so inevitably lonely. When I move around the city looking for a place where this isn’t so, I am looking in the wrong places for something that’s simply not going to be found.

Even working with someone, while it solves out some of the wider and deeper pangs, doesn’t really change the fundamental situation. There is chitchat and cross-banter, question asking and answering, distraction and aid. But those things aren’t the work itself. When the eyes are on the page or the screen, and you have reached a level of concentration sufficient to understand or make yourself understood, you are inevitably, unavoidable by yourself. Working with someone – someone at the same table or the next desk or in the bedroom upstairs while you sit in the garden – only changes the rhythm of the pressure and relief from pressure (which is also, of course, the cessation of work) but does not change the underlying equation.

Written by adswithoutproducts

April 13, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Posted in me

6 Responses

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  1. Just convince yourself you’re tapping into the general intellect/generic humanity/species-being/whateva-being whenever you’re sitting with your mac trying to think/write. You’ll feel less lonely then! As Feuerbach said (as paraphrased by me):

    ‘…to be ‘individual’ is to be an external, natural being, like the brute who can ‘exercise no function which has relation to its species without another individual external to itself’. To be conscious in the ‘strictest sense’, on the other hand, is to be universal, by virtue of the very fact that man can ‘perform the functions of thought and speech, which strictly imply such a relation, apart from another individual’. Thus man’s very essence, his Gattungswesen, depends on his capacity for universal, abstractive, activity, even (especially) in his isolation (his inner life).’

    But you’re probably a bit too poetical for all that romantic rationalism stuff. Kant’s stuff on ‘unsociable sociability’ seems relevant to your plight!

    infinite thought

    April 13, 2009 at 4:21 pm

  2. The weird thing is that the sort of thing that you’ve just said is the sort of thing that, you know, the happy-types say to the protagonist of the novel that I was failing to make progress on today when I wrote this post.

    Hmmm… Is that meta enough for you?

    Ads

    April 13, 2009 at 7:08 pm

  3. Being generic is not being happy. Quite the contrary.

    But it is betta than bein meta. It’s not the the 90s any more you know…!

    infinite thought

    April 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm

  4. Being generic is being unhappy? That’s not how I’d put it. Happy was a bit much, I agree. But “the contrary” can’t be right either. Generically sackcloth and ashes?

    It’s not the whatnow now? Shhhhh….

    Ads

    April 13, 2009 at 9:04 pm

  5. Yes — the grass is always greener on the other side of the writing room.

    Sisyphus

    April 14, 2009 at 4:27 am

  6. Weiszaecker would call this the Gestaltkreis, in which your trajectory can never be known – as you are trying to know it in the post – but only traveled. Thus spake von Weiszaecker. However, it sounds like you’ve developed a pretty good system of restlessness. Weiszaecker had another name for this too: the revolving door syndrome.
    Wuite a clever guy, old Weiszaecker.

    roger

    April 14, 2009 at 11:45 pm


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