Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Bells, piano, guitar  §

I haven’t thought about the Cocteau Twins in a long time. I never really listened to them. Funny things pass across NPR.

Sometimes I feel as though the only thing in life that’s holding me back is my choice of tools, or the lack of tools, like a good writer’s word processor and a display that sort of pulls me in, rather than distancing me.

I feel as though i was much more productive back when my tools were more rudimentary. It’s as though displays are so high in resolution and anti-aliasing and contrast these days that they take on the appearance of the objective and generate the subconscious belief that they are not, just as are not the pages of a book, places open to amendment.

Complacency is creeping in everywhere. I am becoming middle aged in the quality of my mind, in my lack of creativity and drive.

I used to think that suffering was the source of work in the end, but actually it’s not. You can reach middle age and suffer a lot and get nothing done. You can actually stare straight ahead for hours simply wondering what’s happening in the rest of the world without once bothering to check on it.

Not that I have time to stare for hours at anything. I suppose I’m making that up. Really, it’s minutes.

But in the current climate even losing minutes is something of a disaster.

I’m just not ready for where I am. As has always been the case, I’m a step behind myself. Or a step ahead of myself. Or on a different page from myself, etc.

Every day I tell myself that today when I get home I’m going to work. Recently I never do. The moment I step through the door, all motivation leaves me. Vexing because while I’m sitting in the car, I’m being driven absolutely nuts by the fact that there is no computer screen in front of me with matching keyboard on which to type. I feel as though I’m going to burst from the pressure of all the things that need to come out, the weight of all the ideas and amendments for existing papers that are piling atop my eyeballs.

But when I get home, it’s all gone. All I want to do is flop myself down and miserate (not comiserate because recently I do it myself). What they say is true: it’s impossible to really work at home. Home is poison for writers. You need an office. Home is where to be comfortable. Writing is simply not comfortable. You go home and home wins. You’re at home and home wins.

Why shouldn’t it? You only live once. You find yourself in a place where you can kick back, relax, where nobody can blame you for not working just now (after all, you’re at home) and you take advantage. You don’t deprive yourself.

I suppose it’s the sign of a good home life that you’re unable to work at home. If you hate it, work won’t just be preferable to sitting there experiencing your environment, it might even provide a kind of escapism.

Not that I’m wishing for a worse home life. Paradoxically I also need my home life to sustain me when I’m not at home.

But the long and short of things is that something’s got to give. I have a few ideas:

– Go to my office at the college more often (problem: it’s bare and public)

– Get a different chair (a kneeling chair, which for some reason might help)

– Make a rule or a bubble of some sort about “Aron’s Writing Time”

– I don’t know

I have no other ideas. But this is ridiculous. This is crazy. I’m brilliant and I’m a multiply published writer and I’m at the top of my Ph.D. program and should be in my prime and I’m having not even writer’s block but pure and simple writing/researching laziness.

I hate my other work, yet I spend all kinds of time doing it. I love writing/research, yet I don’t ever do it anymore when I get the chance.

Add another option to those up there:

– Spend more time on campus

This would, of course, be easier if we had a proper campus. But yeah, that is what’s missing, that’s the variable that’s changed. At Chicago I spent all my time in Regenstein. When I first got to the New School, I spent all my time sitting in 65 Fifth Avenue, and I was incredibly productive. There was nothing “at home” (home was International House with a tiny room to myself, not even my own bathroom, much less actual space or comfort or furniture of any kind) to draw me out of my academic shell.

Basically, I’m getting soft and it sucks and I have to arrest the process because I can’t afford to get soft before I get this damn Ph.D., publish 76.4 articles, get $12 million in grants, and get appointed at Harvard.

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