cincinnatus_c: (Default)
cincinnatus_c ([personal profile] cincinnatus_c) wrote2017-05-26 04:38 pm

In the pits of my own making

One of a variety of related thoughts I keep coming back to is Nietzsche's line that you can put up with almost any how as long as you've got a why. Sometimes I guess you put up with the how kinda hoping that the why comes together somewhere down the line. Or else hoping that it doesn't fall apart ... any more than it has already fallen apart. But you're probably not gonna get bit by as many mosquitoes before you come inside to look at random shit on the internet ... or else write something, although you're not really sure why you're doing that either, so. (On one hand, guilt is a terrible motivator. On the other hand, "I'll feel worse if I don't than if I do" (let alone "things will be worse") is not completely lacking in motivational force, even when you feel like if you do it probably isn't going to work out very well anyway.)

Others of those related thoughts have to do with laziness, e.g. how the relation between laziness and things like learned helplessness (where "learned helplessness" may or may not be taken as a technical term) is something like the relationship I was on about between cowardice and anxiety--i.e., you could see them as two ways of describing the same thing, or you could see the latter as a cause of the former ... or you could insist that they're different. What is laziness? Obviously, to begin with, avoidance of work, of effort ... the "harder" the work is the more laziness resists it. But is laziness that, or is laziness a particular kind of psychological inclination to avoid effort ... and if so, what could that possibly be? It strikes me that one interesting thing about laziness as a vice is that it easily lends itself to the ancient style of thinking about vices and virtues in that I think people tend to think that the opposite of the lazy person--I'm not sure there's one good word for the virtue that's the opposite of laziness--is someone who isn't just willing to make an effort and work hard but who actually enjoys working hard. (It's pretty easy to start formulating explanations of why this is, having to do with the fact that (in, uh, social arrangements with which I am most familiar) work is normally done for others, and those others--starting with your parents--tend, if you're unhappy about working for them, to be unhappy with you, whether out of guilt for making you work or out of some kind of righteous anger at your ungratefulness either for being given work or at being asked to work for what you're given (and (obviously?) that righteous anger may sometimes or often or usually be a product of guilt).

Saying that laziness especially avoids "hard" work of course brings me back to the problem of what "hard" means ... although come to think of it I'm not sure I ever put down here what I was thinking about that a couple of years ago when someone said something about living at the cottage through the winter being "hard" ... I said it wasn't hard; it was just a matter of doing the things that needed to be done to get through it, and either that was possible or it wasn't, and as long as it was possible you just kept doing it until it was done. Which reminds me of digging a really big rock out of the ground today. For a while I really wasn't sure it was possible for me to get it out, but I was determined that if it was possible I was going to do it, and eventually I did it. Obviously getting that rock out of the ground was harder than getting most rocks out of the ground. I could've looked at it as being hard, and I could've given up because it was too hard. But I wasn't looking at it like that--I wasn't looking at it in terms of hard and easy; I was looking at it in terms of impossible and possible. I've always thought of getting through my PhD dissertation in the same kind of way. Like I always used to say, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other until it was done. (With, uh, a lot of lying down on the ground along the way, but y'know.) It didn't seem hard; it just seemed like a thing I was going to keep doing until it was done. (Why all the lying down on the ground along the way, then, though? See, this is all not so simple.) I guess I'd venture that what might make me look at things in terms of hard and easy as opposed to impossible and possible is if they hurt ... in a way that is not very simple either, because sometimes physical pain counts as hurting in the relevant sense and sometimes it doesn't. And this takes us back to that old boa constrictor, which makes things that are very very possible also very very painful--hard as fuck in terms of hard and easy, "easy" as hell in terms of possible and impossible. (So, right then, anxiety is to laziness as anxiety is to cowardice. Excellent.)

Currently at Havelock: 16.8. High today: 18.2.