Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Sartre never had to worry about what UART his modem needed

I think I’m starting to calm down after my week of everything gone wrong. I planned on getting a bunch of writing done, but spent the day doing laundry and leafing through a generic history of philosophy book, a sort of cliff notes-esque thing that wasn’t that detailed, but contained such a wide overview that I got pretty lost in it, in the good way. And I continue to work on a contract job that will probably be done by the 20th or so. But no real work on Rumored, just a few dozen words.

I guess I’m still lost; I thought about that a bit more today. A catalog for the New School came in the mail and I wondered if $400-something on a night class in fiction would be a waste of money or not. The timing is bad right now – a fall class would really butcher my time with Rumored, and this week has demonstrated that I’d really need to work to fit anything else in my schedule. Even though I spent most of my day doing nothing, that nothing provides me with the lack of structure I need for the bursts of work that eventually add up to great things. It’s something that’s impossible to fathom when you’ve spent years doing things according to tightly planned schedules. I can’t force myself to write x pages a day, especially if I want them to be creative and unique. All I can do is provide myself with a comfortable situation – plenty of food, plenty of sleep, something good in the CD player, and the words will eventually come.

I was reading about Sartre and his book Nausea today. The main character, during a bunch of research, withdraws and gains the ability to recognize that things and events in life are not categorizable, and contain no intrinsic meaning. What he discovers is that cultural and social efforts enforce or impose an order or meaning onto things. When those systems are ignored, the bare existence of things, or their facticity, is revealed. And once you see that, you realize that any meaning of events is supplied by your own free will, and you are what you choose to be.

It sounds simple, but Sartre also goes into the extreme difficulty of comprehending the extreme freedom and the extreme responsibility that comes with this realization. The freedom is in a sense a trap, because one you experience it, there’s no way you can go back the the straight-man, 9 to 5 world and expect to deal with it on any level. Also well-said by Bon Scott in the first line of Highway to Hell: “It ain’t easy living free.”

What the hell does this mean? I don’t know, I need to sit down and read Nausea when I have some time. But I do know the difficulty of dealing with this much freedom. A lot of options also means a lot of confusion. Sometimes I wish writing books was more like a 9 to 5 job at a corporation, where I went in and wrote fucked up stuff every day, and knew what was wanted from me. That’s not really true – I’ve already mentioned that I can’t write in those conditions, and I don’t think I would want to. But the problems with comprehending this whole thing that Sartre talked about is something that comes and goes for me. Sometimes, I’ll be walking down Broadway and I’ll think that none of this makes sense, the way people are controlled like slaves by religion and corporations. I don’t know why anyone would do something like run a fruit stand for their whole life when they could write or pick up a guitar or learn HTML or SOMETHING. It sounds elitist, but… I don’t know, maybe I’ll explain it all later someday.

With that, I should try to get some sleep…