Rendered Fat Content


Francis Picabia: Force Comique (1913–14)
"Time's a jealous one …"

Authoring, like writing, can be time consuming. I might spend three hours crafting a single thousand word essay and exhaust a few days assembling a quarter's accumulation of posted pieces into a draft manuscript, then a few days proofing that manuscript, a few hours correcting the master manuscript, all that before releasing the semi-finished work to broader review and critique. The process, if, indeed, it qualifies as a process, seems interminable and I suspect that it's actually impossible to maintain much enthusiasm for a work that takes so damned much effort to produce. There's just something about working hard that encourages moving beyond the effort and into well-earned leisure, but writers and authors do not work for the purpose of not working any more, or they sure don't seem to. They seem to work for the purpose of continuing to work, for properly engaged in, their, our, work might be better labeled play. What do I do for work? I play, but only when I remember that I can make it that way.

Any time-consuming anything tends to weigh heavily upon the one engaging, for time, a concept apparently without physical substance, weighs more than any other material.
Minutes might carry the heft of hours, and hours, days, even weeks. Boring work brings the weight of more than just our world to bear, but the weight of our entire universe, a crushing load. The very worst work seems to be the work that does not allow itself to be transcended, effort that must be minutely experienced and accounted for, and thereby becomes excruciating. The best work seems to carry no weight at all, and allows an easy transcendence such that time's passage comes to seem irrelevant when engaging in it. I suspect that most any work could go either way. The same effort might encourage a hyper-awareness of the slow passage of time or distract one from even noticing its passing. The better work entrances such that it renders time's passage irrelevant. One awakens to find their labors already completed, as if by elves or magic.

Yesterday, I experienced Learnering, the deeply dismaying sensation of engaging in learning without having successfully learned anything yet. Yet. That day weighed several metric tons and nearly crushed my enthusiasm for this Authoring bullshit, for Authoring seemed to become bullshit beneath the weight of such tenaciously unrequited aspiration. In the afternoon, I stumbled upon a resolution and the weight began lifting, leaving only a little bruising of ego and intention behind. Then, I was enjoined to engage in the next step, the one that my ignorance had prevented me from initiating. I caught myself dragging my feet into that arena, for my memory of that next stage was one of mind-numbing tedium, not precisely the enticement any effort should bring with it. I crawled into that effort without expecting to find any enthusiasm in it, and didn't.

This morning, though, I set myself to head back in there again. The first quarter hour continued the prior evenings drudgery, but then something strange overtook me. I began noticing patterns. I was copying a quarter's essays into the manuscript-making application, and this effort required several sequential copy and paste operations: Copy the title, paste the title. Copy the body, paste the body. Format the body, format the Buried Lede, then save and proceed to the next essay. I found and removed some complications in this process, but more important, I eventually became entranced by it. My awareness seemed to expand but not my awareness of time, more of an acute awareness of the utter timelessness of the activity overtook me. Time then didn't matter, it didn't have any relation with either my effort of my product. I had apparently rendered time irrelevant. It no longer weighed down my progress. An hour later, I emerged from this play, ready to re-engage, sorry that other pressing business —CREATING THIS ESSAY— was calling me away. I will be back later today, for I see that I have another ninety or so introduction to copy and paste into that quarter's essay entries before I can compile the fresh manuscript for proofing, another lengthy and potentially weighty requirement unless I can discover a way to make time just go away when I engage in it, when Authoring.

And there's my Authoring challenge. I can write almost effortlessly because the very act of writing seems to induce that trance where time cannot invade or even exist. Authoring might be little more than this, that I find there, too, the means by which, by engaging in it, I vanquish time's encumbering influence. Yes, proofing those manuscripts will take a lot of time unless I manage to transcend time's influence. Should I succeed in achieving that, the effort will seem to take no time at all, though time, as it always must, will certainly continue her passage, unimpeded by my concerns about her malign influence. Even truck drivers know this trick. One does not focus upon time's presence or passage, but plays around within it instead. Time encouraged the dread I'd been feeling about the apparently overwhelming Authoring effort before me, for she seems a jealous presence and would rather influence an encumbering time consciousness than any liberating Timelessnessing. Time's a jealous one and fears being seen as irrelevant, just like the rest of us fear.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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