Tag Archives: focus

Out There

Why I’ve Started Writing Naked – I think Robert Cormack needs to pay his energy bill — he keeps coming back to being cold when he is naked and how that is supposed to help him write better.

Haruki Murakami’s Five Favorite Books – According to Alfred Birnbaum, one of Haruki Murakami’s English translators, Haruki Murakami is “an American writer who happens to write in Japanese.” If I were Haruki Murakami, I would fire Birnbaum on the spot. Anyway, apparently these are some books that inspired Haruki Murakami.

The Presence Prison – How to work asynchronously and how presence can fuck up your flow. You can’t stay ‘Away’ for too long, now can you?

Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen – We are losing the ability to be present. Of course it depends on who you hang out with, but I definitely see it around me.

Holding my Breath – Jonathan Becket is struggling with not blogging — and blogging about it.

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Once the storm is over

“Pointless thinking is worse than no thinking at all.”

― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (Source: Goodreads)
ENCI Maastricht, the Netherlands. Photo: Twan van Elk.

I just cannot keep up with the tempo of Twitter anymore. Or I am definitely doing something wrong in how I handle stuff there. Update after update I try to give my attention to. But I fail. And, as much as I hate to say it, the same goes for the avalanche of new posts that keeps rolling in on my WordPress Reader. The more interesting people and blogs I encounter, the longer the list of updates that waits for me, every time I come back. So, what do I do? I come back more often of course! Yah… as you can guess, that is not the solution for my attention problem.

I want, no, I need to focus on what I am doing right now: writing. Wrangling my thoughts, bullying my mind to stay on track, letting things make sense again, at least for me. Picking someone else’s brain sometimes is awesome, but when after a while that is all I do, I have no room anymore to process stuff in my own head. I don’t know if that’s the same for everyone, but that is how it works for me.

Constantly trying to follow what everybody else is doing and thinking is not stimulating for me right now, it is numbing. My own thoughts get pushed out of the way by that growing pile in my head. There is such a thing as daily life also, you know? Work, family, friends and the distractions and challenges that come with those, they all eat up attention, time and energy.

And when things stay unresolved because I actually don’t deal with them, not really, that pile just keeps on growing. Picking one item out of it gets harder every time, because of the increasing amount of stuff that is there, all yelling out at me, in a cacophony of blurry priorities.

Okay. I think my weekend can begin now. It is getting dark and I am going to have drinks with my love. Have a great one.

Into the trees

Trees rustling above me in the gloomy evening, while I gaze at my shoes:

Bad faith

We are our choices.

― Jean-Paul Sartre

I did not know, but apparently it is World Book Day and Anindita Ganguly asked: “What are the books that you keep reading often? Do you have any favourite book/ books?”

To answer that question: I do have some favorite books, but I don’t actually reread. There are too many books I still want to read, before I again start looking up books I already have read.

Favorite books though… Well, off the top of my head these come to mind:

About Haruki Murakami… ‘Kafka on the shore’ was the first one I read of him and it is pretty special to me. I was really into the atmosphere that Murakami manages to put into his storytelling. Murakami’s ‘Men without women’ I read on the plane, when we were flying back from Indonesia in 2019. I bought it at the airport in Jakarta and I just blazed through it. When we touched ground again in Amsterdam, about 14 hours after takeoff, I was almost done with it.

And while I was watching the Yann Martel interview about ‘Life of Pi’ I link to in the list above, I was thinking… this could actually be a book that I could read again. – Immediately followed by: hold on, I also still have to read his ‘Beatrice and Virgil‘, that is lying around here somewhere.

When I started thinking about other books that I could add to my list, in my mind I went back to books that I read in my… erm… youth, and that I know I really liked:

Truman Capote’s ‘In cold blood‘, ‘De kellner en de levenden’ (in English: ‘The waiter and the living‘) by Simon Vestdijk, Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses‘, Umberto Eco‘s ‘The Name of the Rose’ and his ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’.

I know I loved those books, but when I try to remember what they were about, I just have vague recollections, not an outlined idea of what their stories were really about. So, perhaps I should start rereading some of them. Why read something, love it, and then lose the plot right after? (Erm… Yes.)

A question then came up. Why did those stories not stick with me?

I think it had to do with my age and with the way I gave attention back then. I have always tried to get my hands and eyes on as much information and influences as I can. And I still do. The internet is great for that and I have a hunger for it. I don’t consider it a bad thing. But sometimes it has to be focused, reigned in again, you know? Shout “Whoa boy, calm down!” and meanwhile pull down hard, something like that.

The slower I go (read: the older I get) and the more I become conscious of my surroundings, the more I can appreciate the value of certain things that, when I was young, I would have passed without noticing. I’m also pretty sure that I miss a lot of things that my younger self would have noticed without noticing it. 

It is what it is.

Hey! It’s Friday again! Who’d have thought? (God, I can ramble sometimes.) My son has just made us some nice coffee and brought me a big mug of it, and my wife just called to tell me she can probably finish work early today. Yesss…