Sunday, April 15


Margins have been on my mind lately. Katie and I had a conversation the other day about our plans for the next twelve months. We're trying to decide how many credit hours I should take next year, among other things; I'm concerned about our margins. I hate being busy, so one of my goals for the next year is to minimize busyness as much as possible. Katie pointed out that no matter how many things we're actually doing, we always manage to let our current tasks expand to fill all available space so that we always feel busy.

Which brings me to margins. How do I set margins and live within them when I feel busy no matter how much I do? The answer, of course, is self-discipline*. Living with margins takes discipline; mostly, it seems it takes the discipline to say 'No.' Yes, the discipline to say 'no' to other people, but mostly the discipline to say 'No' to myself. I would like to think there is some other way to live with margins, but that seems to be what it boils down to. Hopefully, when I learn to have the discipline to say 'no', I will find the freedom to say 'yes'.

*I say this answer is no fun, but life must be more than fun (unfortunately).

Thursday, April 12

On Reading, Writing, the Malaise, and Fantasy Literature

I am currently reading Luke's Gospel, Tolkien's Roverandom, and Rossignol's This Gaming Life. Luke is challenging me, but I'm not sure I'm rising up to the challenge. I like Roverandom so far. It is much more whimsical than Tolkien's other pieces as it is a children's story, even moreso than The Hobbit, in fact. The introduction to This Gaming Life seems to be out to prove a point in defending the value of games by arguing for their ability to sharpen the mental reflexes of gamers and increase their ability to process information from multiple sources simultaneously. That's all well and good, but I look forward to seeing what else he has to say about video games and gamer culture.

I'm considering enrolling in a course on Creative Fiction next semester as an elective, so I've been thinking lately about what kind of fiction I might write. I would like to write about the Malaise, but I'll have to come at it from my own angle. How does one such as me write about the Malaise in a way that people understand? The Malaise, for me, seems to stem out of tasks of mental abstraction. Ironically, some of the things I most love--computers and games--seem to be the triggers for the abstraction of my self from itself. If I want to write about the Malaise, I will have to relate it to those things somehow.

Of course, I could also make an attempt at fantasy literature, as I have had an interest in doing since my childhood. I tend to feel very critical of modern fantasy literature. Tolkien invented the genre and very few have done anything truly original with it since then. For some reason, fantasy novelists seem incapable of separating the genre of fantasy from the epic scale it participates in within Tolkien's literature. My theory is that most fantasy novelists would be better off sticking to smaller adventures, or fantastical travelogues, rather than trying to create their own worlds. Maybe I just feel this way because Fellowship was my favorite of the trilogy and I think a lot can be done with the journey theme, but I also know that Tolkien spent years crafting Middle Earth, and he did it from his viewpoint as a linguist--it seems a little foolhardy for so many authors to try to start where he finished.