Experiments in Change

In 1968, Leonard Nimoy in his eponymous album Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space, changed a line at the end of Max Ehrmann's "Desiderata" from "Be Cheerful" to "Be Careful."  What an apt amendment to the text to reflect the change of man as he reaches beyond the atmosphere of childhood.  Caution is certainly learned through expectations that are molded through experience, though the latter is often a source of fear and as people get older, they become more fearful than disinterestedly cautious.  A friend once wrote that the young ought not be dismissed because they are less full of fear and that precisely because of that they are important to us. The thought could be extended to say that the young seem freer to experiment; the truth being that we can all continue to experiment so long as we are alive but few of us want to bother with the oblique glances of the Joneses.  Experimentation can be rather necessary, particularly if one finds oneself in a situation in which one's hands are tied.
Consider this ever-frequent scenario where one may even take on a mercy job with a deadline and not be sent the material, like copy, in a timely fashion.  Linguistic and copyright standards are further infringed by the speed and thoughtlessness of a certain kind of communication that began with the facsimile, which means make similar; it's other appellation, telecopying, seems the harbinger of today's activities that take the prefix 're', e.g. retweet.
Instead of becoming angry at irresponsible people who are not entirely honest and disregard one's requests to honour terms of work, one might wish to read about the state of the industry.  A gem of a resource for anyone working with the printed word is "For Editors" at writersandeditors.com.  Among the links posted there and repeated several times down the page is the once-popular aphorism, "Cost. Quality. Speed. Pick any two."  Good work takes time, so what if one has no time?  I propose that out of such unhappy situations, one merely claim to those who question one's poor output that the job was one's very own Persian carpet, and that one has a collection of such (to reference the practice in the weaving those carpets to intentionally leave or make a mistake).
Much can be said about the need as a professional to refuse any work that will not let one's talents shine through in order to establish a good reputation.  But it is becoming a platitude among some today that to stand in such a light is a privilege because where most people are standing, economic necessity is the star of the play and its curtains for them.
Silly word play is one thing but it is another to recognise the number of advocates for relaxing rules (e.g. retiring restrictive relative clause distinctions); some such advocates are esteemed editors, such as John E. McIntyre, whose now pens a Baltimore Sun column, You Don't Say.  Rules change and are therefore not to be reverenced but regarded.  It seems curmudgeons, of which I am sometimes one in my professional life (this blog is recreation), need to get with the program.




In general, experimenting allows for more leeway in getting the strange combination of components to a life in harmony.  We do not all learn at the same time; one may admire Victorian polymaths but this admiration cannot form one's foot to fit that crystal shoe.  The crystal may always have been, anyway, not so much in that which one knows, per se, but how willing one is to engage with those multiple aspects of life that have something to teach.  The experimenter becomes excited by a problem, wondering what on earth all that ugliness will have to impart.
Bertrand Russell in The Conquest of Happiness recommends that one think through all the terrible consequences one can foresee in one's worries until one eventually becomes bored by those thoughts and therefore entirely uninterested when such worries recur.  He generously shares anecdotes from his own life when he was not at his best, such as his early lectures, which incidentally helped him develop a technique of invention that involved thinking deeply about a subject, not thinking about it at all for some time, and then returning to write a lecture about it; the ideas would fall into place and the only time he made any changes was when the idea was not clearly expressed.  He admits to having come to the wrong conclusions about some things, and it would be hard not to notice that even in that book is support for ideas that have since fallen out of fashion.  But such is dwarfed by his acclaim in other areas, for his having, generally speaking, a great mind.  Russell also reminds readers to put their own lives in perspective: no one is the centre of the universe, in fact, everyone is almost incredibly minute.
One can truly feel like a speck of sand and feel bound to circumstance not of one's own design; despite all one's work, one realises that one depends on waves if one is to get out to sea; one may reach a moment when it seems futile to impose one's will on that landscape.  Things will not be the way one wants them to be, expensive mistakes can be made, deceitful people encountered, one may even stagnate for years and be tempted to believe such is deserved, but the impositions are also those restrictions that the imagination sometimes loves like ivy takes to wood lattice; expensive mistakes (that may cost time) are easy to remember; deceitful people are cause for the stories of most panache; stagnation is an illusion so long as one is aging and also there is a beauty in the slow life if one can train oneself to see it.  I will never forget as one of those small children sent to summer school going to an office to drop one activity in favour of another and thinking the organizer had little time so immediately made my request.  "And good morning?" he asked, and I burned with embarrassment.  All these Persian carpets!  Good morning, world.



Brush: Galaxy by GIMP.

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