Documentation

The documenting of how we live, where we live, what we do — that’s what I’m interested in. And it’s a waste of time, really, in that it doesn’t contribute to any of those things (oh, of course that’s simplifying it too much; oh well). It’s also necessary to live, to be of the world, to construct and do.

Being an observer is quite entertaining in its own right. Sitting, looking, writing; it’s a nice enough way to pass the time. I used to do it, alone and with fountain pen and Moleskine, on a street corner; that was good, but around 2001 I found this whole world of people doing and thinking similar things with ‘description’, out here on the web. Such excitement to be found in this throng! So now, I work at documenting and recording, editing wikis and building catalogues — not failing to recognise the recursive, self-modifying way that these activities impact how they’re done, but still aiming at something called ‘neutrality’, or ‘objectivity’ — and slowly watching things take shape. I’d give up, convince myself that this is actually stupid, if it weren’t for the many other people — the bloggers, Wikipedians, urbexers, hipsters — working in a similar vein. It’s the community, engaged with or not, that makes it worth it. (You should, of course, laugh at me for saying this; it’s cliqué and daftness, I know.)

But that’s not always enough, so I step back from the digital agglomeration: being an observer is exhausting, and seems to dull one’s concern about how one’s own life is lead. So, making steps in, for me, and I sew and work wood and brew beer and bake bread; worldly things, bringing sanity.

Anyway, I’m just once again trying to muddle through this dicotomy, and what I say probably isn’t quite on the mark. Unfortunately, the more I think about it, the less I can see a way through; probably not unpredictable, that. Oh well.

Blog Action Day

Bloggers unite. Today is blog action day, when we write about ‘the environment’ in order to ‘save it’. Oh yeah.

Tom Worthington calls for less emails; but I concur with Paul Kingsnorth, and say: smash your computer and lock on to the nearest airport check-in counter!

(I might say that, but I’m more inclined to sit in the shade under a tree, sewing my shirt and knowing the touch of the wind. Bring on the prelude!)

That on which the coding rests

Just to intersperse this stream of codeish posts with something a little more real

I rode part of the way to work today, and then put my bicycle on the bus for the remainder of the journey. (An odd feeling, looking through the bus’ windscreen and seeing my little bike all alone out there, bobbing up and down in the rush hour traffic; but I trust in these new yellow bike racks. Incidently, one of the recommendations from the Assembly’s inquiry into Action Buses was that passengers with bikes should travel for free — the argument being that putting the bike on the rack takes time, and so in order to keep the bus on schedule the putting of your card in the slot should be done away with. Hear hear!) Then at lunch time (oh, that sweet half of an hour!) I went and sat under one of my usual trees and sewed a button back on to a shirt. I’d planned to bring the real shirt that I’m actually sewing at the moment (completely by hand, I might add; no machine at all) but at the last minute thought this button would do. It wasn’t nearly enough: days like this were made for lounging under trees, enjoying the incrediblely beautiful calls of the birds above, and picking away at some little embroidery or other. Being quiet and being present, and certainly not locking one’s self up in an air-conditioned high-rise.

Bring on the recession, I must concur with Mr. Monbiot! Because (and I must appologise for the cliché) the Really Important Things have got nothing whatsoever to do with Economic Growth! But what I do, all this coding, is (it seems) very dependent upon this Growth, and so now I am sad…

Fake World DOES Contain Humans

All has gone well, since my last post, with my intra-office carlessness. My announcement (“I don’t go in cars; don’t ask me to.”) has been met with near universal acceptance (or silence), to my great relief. I had wondered whether the conversations in the tea-room about various cars’ power-ratings and other such motorcar trivia would mean some expression of distain towards one who rejects all that. But no, nothing has come of it. They’re nice chaps, and I needn’t have worried.

So, with that bit of excitement out of the way, I’m left pondering the far-off hills and wishing that I could be in the workshop, at my bench, and writing in ink and not at a keyboard. The computer-reality is basically two-dimensional: we, the IT people, strive to make everything the same. Documents can never show age; photos must be as bright forever as they day they were taken; we care only for content, and never for context or media. A rotten state of affairs! I want my pages to yellow and my photos to fade! A world in which nothing is old gives us nothing at all — despite what Wikipedia would have us believe.

But I wont go on about that. I can’t bear to think about it, not here, in this place.

This office has begun to pall my spirits, now the novelties of The Commute and Being A Man have worn thin. I just want to run! (Well, run for a little ways, and then sit and sew my shirt, or write in my Moleskine…). I can’t dream about my workshop.

All that I want to do is write.

I am unsure as to just how wise this whole online journaling idea is, and yet I feel drawn to it time and time again. Why on Earth would I want the world to read what I have to write? Why do I not just write it in my [other, paper-and-ink, bound, real] journal? That’s where I’ve poured fourth my ramblings for these many years, and I don’t see why I should feel that this is a better medium; and indeed I don’t feel so. Rather, I am drawn to blogging precisely because the world can read it, and it is something new to me to have an audience.

I’ve never considered myself a particularly good writer (whatever I might mean by that!), but I have always enjoyed it. In school I was told that I was no good in English Class, and I assumed that that meant that I was no good at writing—after all, that’s what one is taught in English, isn’t it? I think not now, and I’m happy to say that I was not overly deterred from pursuing my own creative writing as I’ve grown older. I get such huge pleasure from writing—be it on paper or screen—and just wish that I did more of it. Prehaps I’ll off now to 2602 (our local wearing-a-black-beret-and-sipping-a-short-black place to be) and ponder the laziness of life…

The nth Day Ends

I won’t fill you in on the background of anything; I have to start sometime, and it might as well be now.

The box is coming along well, better this afternoon once I gave up for the time being trying to make A Thing to cut trunnels. I turned instead to getting the bottom finished: I am putting a low divider in towards the front of the box and cut the rebates and tenons on it this afternoon. The work went really smoothly and pleasurably; I love it when it happens like this. I would’ve kept going but I wanted to get in here (the library computer lab) before 7:00PM, and also home before dark.

I began today feeling pretty down and wanted only to sit in my room and read, so that’s what I did. Didn’t last long though, before I hauled myself out of there and down the hill to school — why on Earth should I feel guilty?! I was sorry I had come when I got here, but after retiring to the library to read The Unknown Craftsman for a couple of hours I started to remember what it was that I was so excited and happy about towards the end of last week: letting go and just flowing with the wood; being guided by what it wants to do.