Saturday, December 15, 2018

Wittgensteinian Wanderings

Two steps forward, and a bit of lurching back:  my spouse moved the washer/dryer unit back to the laundry room and hooked it back up.  He spent the afternoon washing clothes and waiting for the dryer to dry.  By the time I got back from work, it was clear that the dryer wasn't working.

Before we moved it, it had started acting up again.  At the end of summer, it wouldn't go through a full wash cycle without the dryer being on.  We had a repair team who seemed to fix it--for about 6 weeks.  But the dryer had always worked.

So, while my spouse finished grilling burgers, I moved all the wet clothes into baskets.  We ate dinner.  I emptied the lint trap, and my spouse flipped some breakers.  Lo and behold, the dryer gave off heat!  We dried the dress shirts and enjoyed some wine, since we wouldn't have to take loads of wet laundry to a laundromat.

And then--the dryer stopped giving off heat.  Sigh.  So I spent much of my Friday evening draping wet laundry over the drying rack, shower rails, anything that would support wet laundry.  It was oddly peaceful and meditative.

It was an early night after a long week that probably felt more difficult than it was.  As I drove home, anxious about all sorts of things, I heard a variety of news that reminded me that my problems are very manageable:  I'm not being held in a detention camp which is safer than the violence in a Central American home country.

Because it was an early night, I got up in the wee, small hours of the morning.  I've been reading a variety of interesting things, working on a poem that weaves together the cracking of the older Arctic ice and home repairs/grading/writing, putting together a poem submission for the Tampa Review--in other words, the kind of morning I like best.

I loved this piece at the On Being blog.  It's full of wisdom and ideas for writing and heartbreaking observations.  This bit led to some interesting research on both Wittgenstein and Spinoza:  "For a time, I required my students to write a Wittgensteinian essay: Start with one idea. Notice where it goes. Number each idea. Keep them short. Don’t worry if you hop around. Read and play with what emerges. It may take a while to understand what you are trying to say. To yourself."

He also makes lots of spiritual connections:  "I discovered that the Desert Fathers and other ascetics employed this approach. They sought a way to move from contemplative sense to paper. Sometimes they called what they wrote a century: 100 pieces of heart-sourced inklings. Heart to hand to ink. Follow what comes. Only the numbers seem orderly. Like prayer."

I am interested in the composition of these short pieces.  I also stumbled across this site which talks about the writing practice of William Stafford.  He, too, began his writing day by writing a short observation:  "Some prose notes from a recent experience, a few sentences about a recent connection with friends, an account of a dream. This short passage of 'throwaway' writing, it turns out, is very important, as it keeps the pen moving and gets the mind sniffing along through 'ordinary' experience. You are beginning the act of writing without needing to write anything profound. No struggle, no effort, no heroic reach. Just writing."

This morning, I also went outside in hopes of catching a glimpse of a meteor in these waning days of the Geminid meteor shower.  No luck.  I stood on the sidewalk, looking up and looking at the 3 small trees that lit up my front windowsill.

My grades are turned in.  My next round of classes don't start until January 7.  In these three weeks, I will read over my manuscript of linked short stories and begin my revisions.  I will return to my manuscript that is part memoir, part spiritual meditation.  I will continue to write poems and to do my spiritual journaling.  It will be a good break.

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