Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thinking Places

Podcast. Digital dependency sneaks up on you, as it did me this morning.

Cable system and wifi down, I considered not even going to my Thinking Place - the back porch of my Little House across the yard - worried I'd possibly not be able to come up with any words at all if I couldn't immediately transmit them via QWERTY. Then I remembered that I could go ahead and do a dawn podcast on my phone (could do a blog post that way too, of course, but I hate thumb-typing); and only then did it occur to me to begin the day with pen and notebook.

That's not as bad as maybe it sounds, my recently-adopted new routine of heading straight to the keyboard each day was by deliberate design. I'm not giving that up, it gets me going a little quicker and lets me tap into my drowsy subconscious before the caffeine kicks in. I choose to depend on the digits I type with, and probably would even if I were still pounding the Smith-Corona.

But, and it's a big but...

It's imperative not to lose the older habit of reaching reflexively and repeatedly throughout the day for the trusty Moleskine. Make new friends, keep the old. Silver and gold. Open chromebook and notebook simultaneously.

Digital dependency won't be a problem-addiction for me, so long as that notebook continues to feel like a reliable friend and not a last-ditch alternative, in an emergency, to failed electronic media. And it will continue to feel that way so long as I keep scribbling, at all hours.

That doesn't settle the issue, many of us are still feeling our way for a healthy balance between old ways and new. I know, for instance, that I simply have to resist the daily seductions of social media at least until I've composed something new each morning and then thought about it while pacing and pedaling. I know I must not check email until I've done that and come up with my next line of reflection.

And I know I must then put my butt in the chair and leave it there, with periodic mini-breaks on the hour to relieve the sore arthritic numbness I'm determined to call an annoyance and not a "pain" (if you call it a pain, they'll ask you to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 and I just don't know how to do that).

While in the chair, I also know I need to pour more words into the keyboard or Moleskine than I pull from the screen or page. Up to a point, at least. Later in the afternoon and evening I can and should give myself over to reading. An issue closely related to digital dependency is the decline of reading for pleasure and guidance, as opposed to the social "reading" people do to report and monitor "status" and "likes" etc.

Consistently connecting the knowing to the doing, though, is always the challenge. How to do it? I don't know any shortcuts, just gotta keep plugging. There's only one way to get to Carnegie Hall.

Well, I did make it to my Thinking Place this morning, pulled out the Moleskine, wrote some notes, uploaded a podcast, and remembered how good it feels to be at least modestly self-reliant in the processing of words and sentences.

It's not my back porch so much as the aura and mental associations I've created around it, I think, that makes my Thinking Place a good place for me to begin thinking each morning. But it's not anchored, it's mobile. It walks and rides with me, that aura. It relates the porch to all the places I go, somehow. I am not dependent on the porch as such. It moves.

And so, we arrive at the zen of all this: the best Thinking Places are one with the universe.
Classrooms are supposed to be Thinking Places too. Maybe that's why I was so put-off by the décor of my classroom in Forrest Hall, with its militant orders and slogans. "Follow Me," etc.


I had to contradict that. In Philosophy you DON'T have to follow me, you don't HAVE TO follow anybody.

But of course, Brian ("You're all individuals, you're all different") Cohen was not ROTC.

Good news: we're "revisiting" the name of that building.
University officials said it dedicated the ROTC building as Nathan Bedford Forrest Hall in 1958 because of Forrest's military record with the Confederate Army and his Middle Tennessee ties. The Confederate cavalry leader was known for his tactical battlefield skills and for leading a successful 1862 raid that captured more than 1,000 Union troops and freed local residents in Murfreesboro. He also reportedly served as the first grand wizard for the Ku Klux Klan after the war...Phil Oliver, a 12-year philosophy professor at MTSU, said it's past time to rename the building for someone who isn't a "symbol of racism.
"I'm embarrassed every time I teach there," Oliver said.
And pass by. Or even just think of it. Dropping bad symbols doesn't solve racism but it's not (contrary to the opinion of a "Smyrna resident") a mere "laughing matter" either. If we're ruthlessly enforcing high standards of humanity, that name's got to go.

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