Schedules are not my thing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say routine isn’t really my thing (unless it’s a routine of doing nothing; that I can live with) and I’m very happy to be surprised by the universe. That said, when I walk into work at 10am and switch on the computer, I am not prepared for something like this in my email:
“I’ve noticed that these days I’m either picking my nose or using earbuds in my ears or both. It’s like I just have to stick something up my nose or in my ear. Most of the time, there’s nothing to pick or poke at since I’ve picked and poked just hours earlier. If I don’t have an earbud, I’ll stick my finger in my ear. I’m positive my nostrils are getting stretched by my constant fingering. Do you think this is a psychological thing? I googled nose-picking and there is such a thing as rhinotillexomania. You probably knew about it but I just found out. Do you think I’m suffering from it?”
The central question was this: why do I strike someone, anyone, as being a person who would know about rhinotillexomania? When I wrote all of this to a friend of mine, they responded with, “Well, it’s obviously a OCD thing. Maybe a sexual root, given this finger-orifice thing that’s going on?” Of course my friend would completely ignore the fact that there’s someone who thinks I’m the person to contact when they’re manically digging their nose and focus on the nose-digger’s problem.
From nose-digging to blogging was an effortless leap and soon enough, we were pondering what kind of psychological dysfunction was being articulated by my addiction to opening blogs. Blogspot, WordPress, Posterous (RIP), Tumblr — you name it, I’ve opened it. Some blogs I’ve abandoned, a few I’ve been compelled to shut down, a couple I’ve deleted and at present, there are three I’ll admit to owning. If I didn’t restrain myself, I’d have about a dozen blogs. Seriously. It’s an addiction. I accept this. “Think of yourself as Sylvia Plath,” my friend wrote during our email exchange. Apparently there’s some theory that a guy came up with about Sylvia Plath’s suicide, based on “Lady Lazarus“, that posits death wasn’t the intended effect of the act. It seems she tried to kill herself every few years because she saw near-death experience as a rite of renewal. “You’re like that, but with blogs. As in you open blogs instead of sticking your head in the oven, but it’s all about wanting to make a fresh start,” I was told. (With friends like these, I tell you…) I don’t think I have anything in common with Sylvia Plath but I must say, “a rite of renewal” sounds so much better than “compulsively sets up unnecessary blogs”.
Except there’s a slight twist to my affliction. I told my friend I’ve been thinking about shutting down this blog. For reasons best known to them, my friend sent me a link to a list that Jack Kerouac drew up and titled “Belief and Technique in Modern Prose“. I wrote back saying I was deeply disappointed that while nose-digging had critical faculties firing on all cylinders, I had to settle for pearls of wisdom like, “Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea”. “Kerouac was a compulsive note taker,” my friend replied. “There must be something in that list that will tell you whether or not you should get rid of the one place that’s you’ve managed to keep as an online notebook for a length of time.” Which isn’t a bad attempt at obscuring the fact that my friend had clearly not been paying much attention to what I’d been writing in my emails all this time. Here’s Kerouac’s list along with my notes (in italics).
1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
Secret notebooks with scribble — check. But SMS spelling, Mr. Kerouac? Really?
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
Submissive? Erm. I suppose 2 out of 3 isn’t bad.
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
Erm. That’s almost against my culture.
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
Daydreaming — check.
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
Hold on. Can you really be grammatically inhibited? While sober, that is.
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
On the “Will Try” list.
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
So much for no poetry.
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
As in, write drunk?
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
And what if it doesn’t?
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
Have calendar, can do.
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
On the “Will Try” list.
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
Well, the numbers aren’t in yet for Hunger Games.
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
And then stick head in oven?
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
Sad truth: I’m not crazy. I’m distressingly normal.
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
If that list is any indication, I have neither belief nor technique. While this has not helped me figure out whether or not I should give in to the urge to delete/abandon this blog, at least I know Kerouac and I are not writing soulmates.