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It’s easy to do almost anything, provided you’re supposed to be doing something else. This simple truth (at least it’s true in my experience), has been my defining flaw since I was a twinkle in my father’s eye. I sometimes think the only reason I was actually born at all was because I was scheduled to be doing something else that day.
Writing and broadcasting may be the principal exceptions to the rule of procrastination in my life, but even then a battle must be waged. I sat down to write just yesterday, and immediately noticed that I needed to spruce up my study, which had fallen into chaos due to the extended hours and increased stress of my day job in the soul-lacerating world of retail. Accordingly, papers were sorted through (at least a few of them), the place was dusted and polished and partially rearranged.
Finally, it was time to put thought to paper (or keyboard, to be exact), which time coincided with the realization that, gee whiz, my website had not been updated in forever, so I set about that instead. New graphics were obtained and placed on the main page, and the page devoted to past articles was partially updated with new material and graphics.
Then, what-do-you-know, a couple of packages arrived at the house! First was a bottle of amazing single-malt whisky from a wonderful friend and writer extraordinaire, as a thank you after I spirited an absolutely killer coffee mug her direction (the mug is the same one I now use pretty much around the clock at home and on live stream/video broadcasts).
Then, the package containing my Webson Gill fountain pen arrived and I absolutely had to get that beauty set up. The cap and barrel are solid brass, with the barrel wrapped in oak. The nib features a 0.7 mm iridium point, and the pen uses bottled ink via converter. The cap screws onto the barrel rather than snapping on, and the bottom of the pen’s barrel is also threaded, allowing you to store the cap there without worrying that it will fall off the thing while you’re writing.
The overall effect is a comparatively large pen which, while somewhat weighty, is perfectly balanced when writing. None of which improves the epileptic squiggle-scrawl that is my handwriting in the least. My penmanship looks like the frantic scribblings of a madman who is afraid he’s going to lose track of his thought and move onto another epiphany before he finishes a single sentence.
But there I go again. You see, I could spend more time recovering my lost penmanship, or I could collect pens. As in much of life, there is a balance which must constantly be sought, if not always achieved, between pursuing that which quenches and that which nourishes.
Take broadcasting or writing, for example. After my little MacBook Air laptop crashed, I had to start from scratch in order to broadcast or write. After a new iMac was obtained, it remained to immerse myself in the software and programs necessary to move into the world of video broadcasting/podcasting/live streaming. Graphic overlays, animated graphics, cameras, lighting, split screens for guest interviews, animated lower third advertisements, logos, audio issues, and more — all which must be controlled on the fly, in real-time, by the same person who is hosting the program and responsible for compelling content as well as technical mastery — became my raison d’être.
At some point, however, you’ve got to stop obsessing over polished graphics and cease brainstorming a captivating video introduction, or catchy music beds, or creating amusing liners for the production company to use in professional audio clips, etc., and you simply must focus on what the hell you’re going to say when the little red light goes on and you’re live on camera.
The same is true in writing, of course. Ideally, I would spend at least as much time (preferably more time) reading as I would spend writing. Here, I’m not talking so much about reading and staying abreast of current news, as I do that compulsively, every moment that I can spare during the day. Rather, time would be quite wisely invested in reading substantive work, yes?
A proper education, at least insofar as I understand it, is a continuing process and should not stop with one’s formal schooling. I’ve developed a little regimen that begins each day with reading a single entry from a collection of the writings and brief biographies of Catholic theologians, Saints, and philosophers before going on to read take in a brief history lesson and a today-in-literary-history synopsis. Then it’s onto the news, and hopefully some time spent reading one of several books I’m reading (Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell, The War on Cops by Heather MacDonald, The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom, among others).
As I say, it’s a balancing act, but one which seeks to process current events and ideological trends through the accumulated wisdom and empirical evidence of the human experience. In this regard, the predisposition of the historian is never far away. So that when someone has a bright idea to pay off a useful political constituency with someone else’s money, or divide sovereign individuals into groups and pit them against each other (usually with erroneous accusations which cannot withstand the scrutiny of facts), or promote a demonstrably false narrative that depends for its success on the incurious acceptance of the many, those who nourish the intellect can see through the facade.
Yesterday’s reading, for example, disclosed information on Lord Acton, who famously wrote that, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Born John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton (1834 – 1902), the quote occurred in a letter he wrote to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:
I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. …The inflexibly integrity of the moral code is, to me, the secret of the authority, the dignity, the utility of history.”
Which, when you think about it, pairs nicely with James Madison’s observation that:
If Men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and the next place, oblige it to control itself.
Now, compare those observations with the current President’s announcement of a veritable cornucopia of new incentives and programs and freebies to be dispensed by politicians who should never be mistaken for angels, but appear to view themselves as such, and you see the dilemma, no?
At a minimum, a restlessly curious mind ought to make for interesting and even provocative commentary, observations, and interviews, which is precisely the wager I make every time that little red light on the camera goes on, and I combine the shiny technology with the goal of constant learning and increased understanding.
Let’s face it, I wasn’t exactly born to cater to those who have seismic meltdowns when they can’t locate a pair of pants in size 64X30 without pleats! There is more to life. At least there ought to be more, which is the proposition to which I have devoted the most enjoyable moments of my own life proving.
(Note: The above, which appeared on my website at Davecarteronline.com, seemed appropriate for inclusion here as well.)