Against the total and ultimate meaninglessness of life

Viktor E. Frankl on his Man’s Search for Meaning repeats this quote a few times.

On how prisoners need a aim in order to strengthen them to bear the terrible how of their existence:

He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.

—Nietzsche

The challenge we all face in our existence (to find a why) is the challenge of every protagonist of every story.

If a book is a hopeless prison for its hero, what is the ultimate goal that will give the hero the strength to pull through al the adversities.

July 30, 2022

A list of baby toys

July 19, 2022

A List of Obsessions

July 17, 2022

A List of Childhood Daydreams

July 17, 2022

A List of Lists

July 17, 2022

On Flow

Taken from Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:

While we are thinking about a problem we cannot truly experience either happiness or sadness.


But whatever the dictates of fashion, it seems that those who take the trouble to gain mastery over what happens in consciousness do live a happier life.


[E]njoyment, as we have seen, does not depend on what you do, but rather on how you do it.


One can survive solitude, but only if one finds ways of ordering attention that will prevent entropy from destructuring the mind.


From the point of view of an individual, it does not matter what the ultimate goal is—provided it is compelling enough to order a lifetime’s worth of psychic energy.


Self-knowledge—an ancient remedy so old that its value is easily forgotten—is the process through which one may organize conflicting options.


The consequence of forging life by purpose and resolution is a sense of inner harmony, a dynamic order in the contents of consciousness.


Is there any possibility that a new system of goals and means will arise to help give meaning to the lives of our children in che next century?

July 16, 2022

Kurt Vonnegut on the Effects of a Writers’ Strike

Taken from Cat’s Cradle:

Young Castle called me “Scoop.” “Good morning, Scoop. What’s new in the word game?”

“I might ask the same of you,” I replied.

“I’m thinking of calling a general strike of all writers until mankind finally comes to its senses. Would you support it?”

“Do writers have a right to strike? That would be like the police or the firemen walking out.”

“Or the college professors.”

“Or the college professors,” I agreed. I shook my head. “No, I don’t think my conscience would let me support a strike like that. When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed.”

“I just can’t help thinking what a real shaking up it would give people if, all of a sudden, there were no new books, new plays, new histories, new poems…”

“And how proud would you be when people started dying like flies?” I demanded.

“They’d die more like mad dogs, I think—snarling and snapping at each other and biting their own tails.”

I turned to Castle the elder. “Sir, how does a man die when he’s deprived of the consolations of literature?”

“In one of two ways,” he said, “petrescence of the heart or atrophy of the nervous system.”

“Neither one very pleasant, I expect,” I suggested

“No,” said Castle the elder. “For the love of God, both of you, please keep writing!”

April 18, 2022

John Dufresne on writing against the clock

John Dufresne, Storyville!

I need to get less anal about it all because I have many stories I want to write, and have decidedly less time to write them in. I’m writing against the clock- we all are.


Time, time, time. In short supply for all of us. And there is less of it now than there was this morning. What you don’t write today will never get written.

April 11, 2022

Visualizing 10 years of writing

Inspired by github’s activity graph I decided to aggregate all the words I’ve written since I started writing/blogging.

2010 to 2022 wordcount

Almost since I started writing 10+ years ago I have been quite consistent with my format.

I have written for many reasons:

I also have started keeping track of my activity. I use many systems for tracking my work on a daily basis. Specially important when I’ve committed to any everyday project.

Key data

What does this all mean

Hard to put into words exactly what I felt seeing that graph and reading those numbers.

  1. I thought I had been more consistent. Honestly, before seeing the graph I would have said I wrote more days than not, and wouldn’t have noticed the big gaps the last two years.
  2. I thought I had written more. If a novel is roughly 100K words I have written the equivalent of 5 novels. But thing is, not all of that is fiction, I’d say half of it is non-fiction. So I’ve written less than 300K words of fiction rough, unedited and unpublished (for the most part).
  3. I’ve written for longer than I realize. On the other hand, although I haven’t been writing since I was a kid, I’ve pass the 10 year threshold. Still have a long way to go to write my first million words though.

What does all this work look like?

And here’s the graph in github’s green, because why not.

2010 to 2022 word count

April 9, 2022

Joyce Carol Oates on Writing

Writer Joyce Carol Oates at home:

Anything that I encounter in the world is never as interesting as a novel. What you find out there is never as exciting as your own creation.

April 8, 2022

Pedro Almodovar on the Life of Characters

Pedro Almodóvar’s Oscar Diary:

Walking among the 12 screens full of close-ups of Victoria Abril, Marisa Paredes, Carmen Maura, Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Caetano Veloso, Pina Bausch, and many more, I feel like a ghost who has been allowed to visit a place where what is alive is what the screens reflect — which is, in some ways, a metaphor for what happens in this city. Everything revolves around the images projected on domestic screens and on those in the cinemas. In the worst sense, people’s lives matter little compared to those of the characters who make up the story of the films and series, unless people are the inspiration for some of those films, as happens with biopics.

April 7, 2022

Matt Mullenweg on self-care

Thirty Eight:

Sometimes we’re in the boggle, life is throwing everything at us: complicated situations, complicated relationships, we have all these feelings, all these impulses pulling us in different directions, and we have no idea what to do. No idea how to resolve it all. Even no idea what self-care strategy to implement right now. So what’s interesting about the boggle is that there’s the challenge of the situation itself, or situations, and there’s the added challenge of the confusion of it, the scrambling to make sense of everything. So we’re going to try something different, we’re going to stop scrambling and accept, even forgive, the boggle. We’re going to let ourselves be right here, inside any confusion, and take a break from trying to fix any of it. That’s the itinerary, let’s go.

February 18, 2022

Paul Thomas Anderson on reverse writer’s block

P.T. Anderson:

I think if I have a problem as a writer it’s writer’s block in reverse, which can be just as detrimental as not knowing what to write. I think I have so much shit in my brain that sometimes I just kind of vomit a lot of it out.

January 12, 2022

Writing advice from Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch:

“Just try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose.”

The French Dispatch

January 1, 2022

Bob Lefsetz on following the rules

Lefsetz Letter:

Life is hard, people will take advantage of you and if you’re not looking out for yourself, you’re falling behind.

This always depresses me. In our educational system they teach you to obey, get in line, pay fealty to the teacher, all qualities that will leave you left behind in real life. Especially college. It’s like an alternative universe. You get good grades…exactly why? Have you noticed that all the people who didn’t fit in, who weren’t the teacher’s pet, are the ones who blew up the world and made beaucoup bucks? Turns out you win if you color outside the lines. If you behave you’re a sucker. You’re being taken advantage of right this very second, unaware of it. And to win you’ve got to bend the rules, employ obfuscation and abandon relationships and in many cases morality.

December 31, 2021

Haruki Murakami:

“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”

December 19, 2021

Jill Harris, Novel Writing Blueprint:

Even if computers get really, really good at making generic stories, they’ll never have the visceral knowledge of language and human thought.

They cannot know what it is to live within the skin of a living body. They will never have stifled their cries as they were beaten as a child, or laughed at the sight of a huge wave crashing on the beach.

They will never have made love, lost someone they love or driven too fast down a highway late at night with the moon chasing them

December 18, 2021

William James on Daily Rituals

I love this line from William James:

There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision

Here is the full context:

The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation.

November 14, 2021

Hemingway on Daily Writing

Hemingway:

When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

November 14, 2021

Dave Grohl on writing

Dave Grohl:

“The Storyteller” debuted at No. 1 on the hardcover nonfiction list and is now in its second week at the top of the chart. Grohl seemed genuinely tickled to find himself in this new role as an author — and, whether he realizes it or not, he now has solid wisdom to offer fellow ink-stained wretches. His musical mantra, “Never erase, always record,” also applies in the literary realm, where self-editing is a surefire creativity killer.

“There’s an old saying: Don’t bore us, get to the chorus,” Grohl said. “Because with any song, you want to keep the listener engaged. And I would imagine it’s the same when it comes to writing. But that being said, what the [expletive] do I know? I’ve never done this before!”

October 22, 2021

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