Superman never made any money for saving the world from Solomon Grundy

Monday, June 23, 2014

Taking the temperature: 1

So, every once in a while, you come up with a plan, and it feels like a good plan, and you initiate the plan, and then something happens that makes you question not the details of the plan, but the philosophical underpinnings of the plan itself. We may have found ourselves there.

Last week, we launched WARMER, this year's Summer Self-Improvement Scheme™. The tally sheet in the right sidebar shows that the first week went pretty well: Writing, Art, Reading, Music, Exercise, and Roadwork all show strong participation and consistency. Lots of green boxes - yay!

Then this happened:

A friend connected me to this - Amanda Fuckin' Palmer throwing a great big pile of Chaotic Neutral all over my nice, neat Lawful Good spreadsheet.

And thus it has always been, the tension between order and chaos, Apollonian and Dionysian, the Gnome Monk and Dwarf Bard. I once took one of those diagnostic tests that determine how your personality characteristics match with broad career areas; the counselor didn't know how to advise me because my two highest scores were on the opposed tracks of Artistic and Clerical. Epicurus and the Ataraxia covering Wild Thing as a single.

I guess we could get all Aristotelian and run to the shelter of the Golden Mean, but that seems somehow non-committal, hedging the philosophical bet, as it were. The middle of the road just seems like the easiest place to get run over; a compromise between the Free Spirit and the Disciplined Soul doesn't seem like a Good Thing, but rather a weak thing from any direction. Choose your path. Decide. Commit to it, go forth, and embody it.

But which?

This dichotomy extends from my inner life to the practical sphere as well. The way I choose affects not just whether or how I structure my summer activities, but where I place myself in my life's work: as part of the order of the organization, even as an agent of change (administration) or on the edges with a little more freedom (faculty) and a little more opportunity to resist.

The monk and the bard.

I will leave myself with one line from the Anthem:

Quit the bitchin' on your blog
and stop pretending art is hard.

Peace out.

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