Observations or the start of another series

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My thesis advisor once told me that it is the things that you finish that count, not the ones that you start. With all due respect for his wisdom, I will now endeavour to question the wisdom of that assertion in my own life.
Right now I have the distinct feeling that I have more on my plate than I can chew. I estimate that in the next two weeks I have over one thousand pages of scholarly writing to read, and all of that so that I can produce something that makes sense and that can be read in half an hour. This means that I will be dealing with drift at all levels, if I am to stay focused.

One thing seems certain, I am dealing with information overload. But then so is everybody else. In the search for parameters that are controllable in any measure we tend to look for cause and effect in the form of some simple relationship, usually a linear one. I assert that this may lead to useless results.

So, what does this have to do with dead fish?

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For all the great software and hardware tools available, in the time of information overload – also known as web 2.0 – knowledge is a rare art form. It could be that at this point I am making no sense to anybody, however it all makes perfect sense to me.

While on a break yesterday I went and signed up for LIFT07 and even had the idea of doing a workshop similar to what we did at SHIFT. I do get a kick of doing these workshops and seeing how knowledge gets created when you put a few thinking heads together in a room for a few hours. Anyhow that is what these conferences and unconferences are about: getting a few heads together (booze, drugs and hookers optional). The internet is not virtual, regardless how many times I do get asked what it is that I do in real life. The internet is physical, and my life is real.

Meanwhile I have discovered that I really like Joi Ito’s music taste in spite of last.fm’s claim that my musical compatibility is very low to his. I am one who always piggy-backs on somebody else’s music taste. Digging through music is for me much too time consuming, I’d rather read books or pounce the library stacks. Still, I love music. I love to dance. Like with my own entrepreneurship, with music I am a dilettante. I love it, but do not ask me to get systematic about it… And I am not in love with DRM.

I came back from London in the best of moods and my trip to Strasbourg only reinforced that mood. It was as though I have pierced through some barrier at which I have been ramming all my energies for years and years. Now, the other side of that coin is to manage the ecstasy of it and keeping my feet on the ground. The sheer volume of material to go through before the end of the year ought to ensure that there will not be a moment of dullness, boredom or any space for hesitation. A friend and Aikido teacher (sensei) told me during practice in London when I attacked him (uke) to relax. Under my breath, I said, relax. He has an uncanny ability to always find the one word that I need. It is eerie.

Yes, I have to have many balls in the air. Balls, projects, friends, books, stories, articles, possibilities, all of it. Yet, to me what is important is to find the silent path in all of this apparent overwhelming overflow of activity.

Yesterday night I had a long phone chat with my dearest friend Elisabetta who lives in Rome. I am way overdue to visit her, and getting down to Rome is just not on the way to anywhere else that I go, although I get down to Milano often. It had been a while since Elisabetta and I had had a good chat, so there was a bit to catch up as to how our kids are doing and the lessons learned in raising children, doing physics, and just living. Elisabetta has been and is married to the same man for many years. She went to school together with her future husband, attended university at the same time and place, and they have managed to make a career and stay a couple. Something that nobody would have predicted was that both her husband’s and my career would take a tumble at roughly the same time. He and I have both reoriented in major ways, while my dear friend has stayed her path and held on. She is quiet, calm, soft spoken and poised. We, her husband and I are more of a whirlwind, and a bit similar in her opinion.

What was remarkable in our last night’s conversation was the discussion about ambition and competitiveness. When we look at the bottom line, neither my son, nor theirs seem to have much in terms of ambition. But then, neither do I. I have a passion, and it is a passion that goes beyond just writing stories, it is a bit more complex than that, it is not linear. However the publishing world, the world of literature, or the world of art is just very competitive, or so the business end of it looks. Try to get a novel published, or to find a literary agent as is the customary with fiction, and then you will learn what competition is out there. It is not necessarily the authors directly, but certainly the publishing houses are all competing for a piece of the market. Does this bother me? No. If my ambition were beyond the writing, and into the publishing, it could be that it would. Right now it does not. This could change, but right now it does not bother me.

It could be that I am going into this publishing of fiction bit like I went into Aikido. I knew nothing about it, I just wanted to do it. I read preciously little about technique, only about the learning curve in Aikido, and that fascinated me. Then many years down the road I discover that of all the budo arts, Aikido is one of the toughest ones to learn. Had I known how steep and drawn out the learning curve is, would I have gone into it? I do not know.

What is this with the dead fish?

I do not know. I like fish.


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