Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Trials of Busyness and Performance Anxiety

All two or three of you who read my blog regularly may have noticed that I haven't been updating as frequently as even I would have liked. Part of my mission statement for Canadians Lost in Canada was to blog somewhat less frequently, but make the posts higher quality. Not necessarily longer, but punchier, more thorough, and a better read overall. Anne Hathaway post aside, I think I've succeeded in this regard.

But the delays in my blogging lately have come from simply being busy as all get out. My philosophical work is rather intense, with a paper on extended mind theory of which I have to write at least a first draft before next Thursday, when I am inundated with essays for my first year course for which I'm a tutor. As well, my survey course on Gilles Deleuze requires some fairly intense reading and quick bursts of writing that occasionally become exercises in stream of consciousness philosophy. These seem to be working, but I don't yet know why or how. I also have a conference at which I'm presenting a paper on flaws in philosophies of language that privilege reference as an essential source of meaning. This is in just over a week, in Windsor.

Simultaneously, and at the same time, I've begun working for the Graduate Student Association here at McMaster, fully aware of the irony involved. Earlier in my university career, I worked for The Muse, which at the time (2001-4) had one of the most antagonistic relationships imaginable with the undergraduate student union. It is an antagonism I still hold for the Canadian Federation of Students. One of the reasons I enjoy my work with the McMaster GSA is because despite being members of the CFS, my colleagues share my antipathy for our national affiliate. Once our current organizational overhauls are complete, I hope to do some actual lobbying of the university administration, which seems willfully incompetent and inattentive to students' needs.

I also have a book to finish. My novel, A Small Man's Town, is in the final stages of writing, with only one major sequence of about 30-35 pages left unwritten, and my second-last sequence almost complete. Depending on how things work out this summer with Deidre, my unbelievably enthusiastic illustrator, I should have a publishable text within a few months, and a manuscript by sometime in April. Soon I'll have to commence a task that is far more gargantuanly difficult than actually writing the book: finding an agent and getting a publisher. This is more of a summer project, but the preparatory stages have to be done over the next month or so.

Among my other summer projects will be gaining an encyclopedic and critical knowledge of every major debate in contemporary environmental philosophy, possibly relating it to my current course work on extended mind, or as I like to call it, world-integrating cognition. Also, I hope to write several short stories I've sketched over the past year, as well as a paper critiquing the law of identity. Somewhere in all this, I hope to foster some kind of functioning personal life beyond work.

But one nagging difficulty when it comes to blogging is performance anxiety, especially when I compare my own writing to the living, breathing work of hallucinogenic theatre, Joe Rogan.

I remember Joe Rogan most fondly from the classic 1990s sitcom Newsradio. His personality in real life is exactly the same. His work on Fear Factor, which consisted of goading people into humiliating themselves with pain and risk of exposure to deadly disease for moderate amounts of money, was not his artistic high point. His blog, which I've linked above, is a masterwork of the freest of free thought. One of my longest of long term goals in philosophy is to work out how to make all these kinds of ideas make sense to sane people.

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