Rendered Fat Content


Dorothea Tanning: Lumiere du Foyer (The Light of the Fireplace), 1952
"I do not have a process by which to formally disagree with their assertion …"

I have wrestled with 'process people' all my professional life, for professions tend to be dependent upon defined processes. Definite procedures exist for practicing dentistry and accountancy, and making it up as you go along is strictly forbidden if one intends to serve as an airplane pilot or a brain surgeon, but my profession belonged to that class of activities largely dependent upon Inadvertencies. To manage a project is in many ways to be managed BY that project. While many insist that there exists a right and proper procedure for managing projects, actual evidence strongly suggests otherwise. Still, I felt challenged to define what I did, to teach others how to do it, and to pretend that this profession wasn't different. I'd usually wait until the hiring executive had left the room to level with my students and collude with them to do what we could to prevent the Change Prevention Specialists in Human Resources from glimpsing the truth, hiring executives and HR professionals being notoriously thin-skinned when defending the existence of processes. It had always seemed to me that my work was better suited for birds of the field who never sowed, reaped, or stored but managed to find sustenance anyway.

I was reflecting last night, after spending the last half of my Sunday afternoon in the Pop-up Paint Shop ridding baseboards of their paint, that I had not known how to perform that operation when I'd started.
A process of sorts eventually emerged but not through logical deliberation. It seemed as if the more important bits had just come to me or shown up unbidden. How I managed to handle a twelve foot board one-handed, to balance it on its thin edge while heating and scraping with some precision until it became coherent and replicable seemed like a form of magic. How had I managed to accomplish that? This process joins many others, like my evolved process for refinishing five panel doors, each of which seemingly emerged from nothing other than Inadvertencies. It was not know-how that enabled me, but not knowing, which leaves me wondering after the formal process for not knowing.

Tabula Rasa seems a relative state, for nobody ever experiences an entirely empty and receptive mind. It might be that a mind's just fine whatever it's focusing upon but that the important things lie elsewhere, out of attention. An intuition creeps in somewhere and dawns there, only then coming into awareness but having lurked in shadows before being recognized. Once recognized, it's as if it had always existed, indistinguishable from knowledge though unpracticed. I just tried something, often at the point of great frustration or some tardy dedication, exhausted by not knowing how into just doing without over-thinking. It worked or it didn't. Iterating, somethings eventually stuck together. This was less application than invention, and less invention than accident. I can't really remember how I came to be able, if able is what I am. I mostly feel inadvertent.

When I wrote my bible about my profession, I promised in the preface that reading the book would not teach anyone how to manage projects. Some readers didn't notice or didn't believe my caution and set about reading the book as if it was an instruction manual. I suspect that their approach might have been inadvertent, the product of a lifetime spent perceiving everything as step-wise process. Even a deliberate attempt to not describe as process could be interpreted as a form of process, especially by a hiring executive or an HR Change Prevention Specialist. My daily essays do not emerge from a defined process and I've convinced myself that they cannot. I seem to have to get good and lost before one can emerge. I do not know how it happens. There are those who will contend that I'm not much of a writer if I don't understand how I write. I do not have a process by which to formally disagree with their assertion, either, other than all the Inadvertencies I have already written without once knowing how to.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver