July 2, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on July 1, 2018

It looks like it’s going to be boiling hot today and that we’ll be turning on the A/C again later. Early this morning the upstairs registered 78ºF, downstairs 76ºF. Now it’s climbing, climbing to who knows where. I don’t know… I’m not a fan of summers here. The humidity blows. And I don’t care if N. N. Taleb thinks that living without air conditioning is advisable because doing so makes you, in his opinion, antifragile. (So how come it’s “allowable” to have heating, even central heat, in winter? Shouldn’t we rough it out then, too?) Maybe his distrust of A/C stems from having lived in a drier, Mediterranean climate…

Yeah, so, weather issues distract me. Perhaps I am fragile. I “set” goals again these days, but I’m not getting anywhere, really, with achieving them. Then, when something knocks me sideways – say, a mini-heatwave – I feel all my progress melting away. Excuses. I say I want to write this novel, yet find a thousand excuses not to continue, not to work on it. My (bad) habits of procrastination are strong, as is my post-motherhood tendency to put my own ambition on the back burner – to the point of forgetting the dish itself, seeing perhaps even only the ghost of a pot, and having no recall of the recipe for what I’d concocted once upon a time.

For example, I can’t for the life of me do an outline for anything I write anymore. Once I was the Outline Queen, able to conceptualize the whole project, and break it down into an actionable (i.e., writable) outline. I always pitied the “pantsers,” seat-of-the-pants academics whose muddled organization and structure betrayed their inability to see the whole before starting. Then I became a pantser of sorts myself.

Pantsing is the kind of writing that’s okay for small jobs, some articles, impressionistic stuff like morning pages, and perhaps impressionistic fantasy as found in some novels. But I think it’s fatal for really grand works. I told myself that my novel should be good, but needn’t be grand. (Grand is not necessarily big, by the way. I think my scholarship tended toward grand, but I never wrote a “big” anything, in terms volume for volume’s sake. My book is quite moderate, length-wise. But it has a grand ambition: to explain a mystery.)

Speaking of art history: A. and I had an interesting conversation around the blockchain. My contribution was that it struck me as extremely resonant with art history’s concern for provenance. Value is added to the art object, especially in the private market, through established provenance. Blockchain, similar.

Tillicum Bridge with Classical Columns

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