Thursday, December 31, 2015

Loose Ends 2015

This year I spent a lot of time thinking and reading slowly. Part of this slowness was due to the demands and interruptions of life.  Part of it is a sort of lessening of energy I am experiencing either due to aging or my increased workload or both.  I find my career more fatiguing than rewarding, regardless of the necessary money it makes me. The health insurance alone saves me several thousand dollars a year.  All that is factored in and I accept it for now. I try, instead, to see my “job” as a meditation in action, or at least an obstacle course to strengthen my resilience.

But working about 50 hours a week (and decompressing from work – I run and do yoga) slows my life in various ways. Since May I have been considering and reconsidering a post about various absurd perspectives on human consciousness. I find the linking of human consciousness with some sort of larger "force" or "agency" in the universe to be about as grounded and worthy of respect as The Force in Star Wars. But, I have to be careful about how I approach this subject. There are many potential roadblocks to clarity, much of them muddied by fringe scientists with a religious and/or spiritual agenda. Even more importantly, most human beings believe that they need this imaginary force or agency to live fulfilling lives - I don't really want to disrespect that specific metaphysical need.

I have also been rereading two books on philosophical aesthetics beginning primarily with Nietzsche and including Heidegger, Adorno, Camus, Foucault among others.  The Re-enchantment of the World and Life as Art each deal with the possibility of Art (and the incorporation of Art into one’s intimate life) as a replacement for religion in human living.  I am very sympathetic to this perspective as it rings so true in my personal experience.  These two books fascinate me and spark all sorts of (as yet) fragmented ideas. So, again, I am moving slowly through the experience of that. 

I spent a lot of time, particularly in the second half of the year, rereading my small collection of chess books and reacquainted myself with that ancient game.  There was a time in my life when Ted, Jeffery, and I played dozens if not hundreds of games of chess.  But that started in my college days and stopped well over a decade ago now. Again, I am doing this slowly, studying about a dozen games by world masters over the course of weeks while playing chess against my iPad a little. I enjoyed these moments of play along with a couple of wargames I concentrated on: Ukraine '43 and The Mighty Endeavor II - both of which I found fun and historically insightful.

So I have not written as much in 2015 and much of what I have written is in the form of notes and random paragraphs. I have toyed with a couple of ideas for fictional writing but have made little headway other than a few spontaneous bursts of creativity which have yielded a few pages of what I would consider acceptable text.  In addition to my thoughts on human consciousness mentioned above, I have several other blog posts in the works but also unfinished.  They need more thought and consideration.  My Nietzsche blog continues to progress slowly as well.

The truth is kind of enjoy it, this journey - or the reveling within the consideration rather than the resolution of questions; in between walks on my land, staring at the sky and stars, regular running, tending to chores, and Flipboarding (see below).

I blogged about various books I read throughout this year. There are some cool books already lined up for 2016, mostly of a historical nature.  But I also am interested in rereading Proust again.  It has been awhile.  But Proust is massive and all-consuming and the slowness of reading his thousands of pages would overwhelm other worthy interests of the moment.  So Proust will wait. 

Meantime, I began a biography of Soviet Marshall K.K. Rokossovsky after Christmas. I am particularly excited to read this history since we have so few biographies of Soviet commanders during the Second World War available in English. This is primarily a residual effect due to the inaccessibility of Soviet records during the Cold War period, when the Soviet history and culture was mostly off limits to the West. But since then a lot of terrific material of the Soviet war effort has become known, such as the work of Colonel David Glantz. Before the current period, only biographies on the great Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov were accessible to me. Nevertheless, in my general reading about the Eastern Front of WW2, I became aware of Rokossovsky’s particular operational prowess as an army commander.  So, I look forward to learning more about this interesting military leader.

Back to the Flipboarding mentioned above.  I am not into social media much.  I don't have a Facebook account or Snapchat or Instagram or anything.  I have never seen much value in the mindless technological intrusion into human intimacy that all that entails. I text with family members but that is about it, except for my blogs, of course.  At any rate, I blogged in last year's Loose Ends post about becoming an avid user and reader of the Flipboard app on my iPad.

In 2015 Flipboard became a larger part of my daily life.  I spend an hour or two every day, mostly in the mornings, reading and sifting through articles for possible inclusion in my Flipboard magazines.  I discovered the rather addictive nature of "likes" and "followers" as my various magazines caught the eye of other Flipboard users. I now have ten separate magazines and more than 1185 followers. Last year at this time I had only a handful of followers and my most popular flipzine, one on art, was not even created yet.

I admit there is an obsessive aspect to my Flipboarding.  It is likely as bad as what everyone is doing with smartphones these days.  I don’t have a smartphone, so Flipboard is my “plug-in” to technology.  But, I would be doing this anyway, more or less.  I am fascinated with the world and with keeping up with all things my magazines represent. They are all topics of fascination for me. I have always studied the news and read about current events more than most people I know.

Only now when I do it, in the back of my mind, there are these invisible “followers” watching me – or at least peeking in on me now and then. Sometimes I think about them when I am selecting a story.  But, I try to minimize that sort of mindset and stick to general journalistic guidelines I have formed in my head and gradually refined from using the app so much.  I churn through over 100 content sources every day.  I skim every story I flip into a magazine.  But I usually fully read only 8-12 stories per day. 

My Loose Ends flipzine had no followers this time last year. Today it has 104.  That is not a large number by any means. There are plenty of flipzines by other flipboarders that have thousands of followers and millions of page flips.  Sex and Intimacy remains my most popular flipzine in terms of total page flips with more than 115,600, all basically over the past year.  Notice: Art has the most followers with 477. I created it back in March. My daily news Notice Magazine has 189 followers and features my own mix of short-term news and special interest stories. Nearly 109,000 pages have been flipped in that one.

So, I enjoy flipboarding, it is a "flow" experience for me. When I flipboard time just seems to fly.  I discipline myself to keep it under two hours a day. That might sound absurd, spending so much time on such an activity. I am entertained, informed, puzzled, made more aware of so many things happening in our world.  These things cannot be dismissed by either going outward into the infinity of space or inward into the infinity of consciousness.  These are, all of them, things in themselves.  They are out there in definable mental or physical (only) space.

I can choose to trivialize them from some spiritual or scientific perspective - they don't really matter because of whatever theory you might wish to apply.  But I think that theory is about as relevant to the origins and workings of things as my flipboarding all this content. Obviously, Flipboard in no way creates events nor does it make them happen.  Yet that utter nonsense is pervasive in the grand dialog about "truth" (biocentrism or the alleged spiritual implications of quantum physics are two examples) and I hope to blog more about this ridiculousness in 2016.

You do not need the Flipboard app to view my magazines. You can do it on your PC, if you like.  It just formats the pages better if you use the app. My Flipboard magazines, for those interested…

Loose Ends
Putin’s Syrian Gambit
Sex and Intimacy
Notice: South China Sea
Notice: Art
Notice: Climate Change
Notice: The Security State
Notice: Space
Notice Magazine
Hot Pix

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