These days I find myself more and more brought to mind of John Brown. Cloudsplitter was one of the most influential books I've ever read about any American and the impression it left me on the extraordinary life of Brown is permanent. But as I have been more concerned with my relations with fellow Americans, I thought that my own vector would never quite swing back to the kind of rugged organic quality that Brown has come to represent to me. Yet at this particular moment, I am feeling that quality again.
As of yesterday morning I have been unable to access the web via broadband. I have, however, been able to get to it via my cellphone and I've worked out something to tether it to my home computer so I could get a film review out today. But in one day I have rediscovered the world inside my own terabyte which is closer to two right about now. And so I have been fastidiously reorganizing the many gigabytes of this and that with an eye out for the blessings of redundancy balanced with the requirements of security and convenience. It has been glorious funky pajamafied fun, and I have discovered programs and documents I haven't seen in years. I've also been to my new accountant and she's got good news so far on my tax burden for this year. Not only that I found a stack of three by five cards that I put together about 16 years ago. Plus I bought a multimeter, and I rediscovered my GPG keys.
It's difficult to describe exactly how that feeling of heads-down concentration on a self-contained life manifests itself in me on a consistent basis. There isn't much of a vocabulary for that particular aspect of my life in America, or if there is I'm not aware of it. Organic is the best way I've heard it described. By 'organic' I mean unleveraged by social convention. An organic person is someone who is not particularly vested in those social conventions by which bourgeios people assert their place and privelege in society. If one is not wealthy, there is a certain amount of attention to which one must focus one's mind around what will distinguish you among your peers and betters such that you shall remain in their good graces, lest you find yourself an island. An organic chooses to be as independent of such graces as possible, and one who is not self-made may end up an ascetic. But I am finding in Boyd's Razor some comfort in the idea that I may become both more organic and more deeply tied to society. I am tempted to say 'real' society because what my intent is along these lines is to reduce my exposure to the popular culture and focus more singularly on those core operations of western civilization until such time as it rewards me extraordinarily. I suspect this will not take long but there are several things I must do along the way.
I have taken the first steps, which is to replace some fraction of my entertainments with more edifying activities. I may even give up action films. But for the time being, more reading and less blogging is part of the diet as well as more science and my traditional intellectual interests and less politics, culture and current events. Much of this is consonant with the T50 project, but I am moving towards taking up more of my time with these deeper pursuits recognizing exactly how much it takes me away from what society I have, here online and in the virtual world of that thing which accepted to be the province of 'black men'. And so to some details and directions.
A. I will add to my language capabilities. There will be two, perhaps three. The first is Java. I am committed to acquiring a level of proficiency with that on par with my korn shell and perl. Both of those I began in earnest in 2001, and while I'm far from a master, I've mastered enough to be perfectly servicable in my domain of computing, and then some. I expect, at the very least, should I stay the course in Business Intelligence, that I will know enough to be dangerous in building custom functions for database systems. I figure that's the least I can do. The second language will be Latin. I have determined that it's about time for me to make that effort and extend my ability to a second language for reading. I'm told my grandfather had a fair amount of Latin and that he taught himself. How much he possessed is anybody's guess, but I expect to learn enough to understand the classic Catholic Mass - and I intend on going too. It is my personal dedication to the Long Now and my kicking to the curb the facile conveniences of contemporary, short attention span theatre which is the American zeitgheist. The third and optional language will be Python, primarily because of Google and secondarily because of XRepublic. I have a feeling that Google is about to do something with its application engine that will make assembling widget based websites something of a snap. If Python is the language of choice, it shouldn't be to far afield from Java and given my Perl, I should be able to manage it easily. If I can build XRepublic with the evolving Google toolkit that will be great.
B. I will spend more time working on my book(s). I realize that I have spent Gladwell's Number of hours blogging and the marginal utility these days on the subjects of Cobb is found mostly in retrospectives. It's really as simple as that. The blog will continue as amenuensis, but not a whole lot more. I think I have discovered that I really am not interested in the pace of contemporary studies. Watching Coates and Yglesias have convinced me. I'm never going to be writing six essays a day again. It's a contradiction in terms, and having written 'In Defense of The Regling' has convinced me, I think at long last, that I am ready for a greater amount of length in my writing. If there's not 2500 words in it, perhaps it's not worthy of my attention.
C. I am prepared to enter a new geekdom. So long as I can stay employed at my level, I think that I should angle back towards the extreme tech. I'm going to take advantage of whatever my boss offers, but I should be content to fall back to the purest technical matters.
D. I am bifurcating my style and paying much more attention to my health. The bifurcation will be of a rich traditional wardrobe around the cues of Johnston & Murphy and of a very rugged wardrobe around the cues of REI and Eddie Bauer. I'm ditching the Hollywood Suit and all attempts to be slick. I will be doing calesthenics, period.
E. Spiritually, nothing changes but the following recent recognition. I have no real desire at all to attend worship services and I resent the discipline. I think it presumes that I forget God and my ethics during the week and need to be drilled. So at the moment, the very idea in me of any attempt to be religiously observant feels hypocritical. To whom would I actually be making my prayers heard? I'm afraid my piety will be expressed in other ways, some dependent on my emergent Latin skills.
In all of this Boyd is never far from me. I want to reduce my needs to zero. I want to feel strangely alien in shopping situations - like John Brown in London, but not financially inept. I love the idea of reading that which is free from Project Gutenberg, but I have also discovered the joy of listening to audiobooks and Bloomberg during every free moment. I love the idea of being very much in touch with all that is free - and yet vital. There are millions spending millions to bite off the intellectual property chase, attention markets. I'm not going there. I'm getting the free, open source.. well, we'll see. T50 continues.
Politically, I'm where I was and trust my instincts. I'm beginning to care less and less that I'm able to explain what that means to anyone. It's not my job. The Organic Conservative is me, and I'm not even particularly anxious to find out if it's Jeffersonian or after which model it follows. It's just what I'm doing these days, and it feels good. It feels right.