Chimney pots and slate removed

I am very intrigued with the idea of attention redirection towards something that is much more worthy, as advocated by Jenny Odell in her book How to do Nothing (and if you have been reading here long enough or are my friend in real life, you’d know how much I have been raving about the book already). ‘Worthy’ in this sense refers to the resistance to feed the outrage and blasphemy residing in the infinite neat little boxes of our social media timelines, and start to pay attention to something that is not decided by algorithms and filter bubble of the social media platforms. Odell does this by birdwatching, an act that is an exact opposite to adhering to algorithms, as birds only decide when they want to come near you instead of because you like them or you can relate to them. It is all a happenstance, one that is so unpredictable yet pleasant.

I’ve been texting my friends these recommendations on paying attention, writing down notes, and keeping a notebook by writer and translator Lydia Davis. Her own included hilarious tidbits like “I kept smelling a smell of cat pee but could not find where it was coming from, until I found the cat pee—on the tip of my very own nose!” or “High wind yesterday blew women’s long hair, women’s long skirts, crowns of trees, at dinner outdoors napkins off laps, lettuce off plates, flakes of pastry off plates onto sidewalk.” It also reminded me of an episode from Jane the Virgin where Jane found herself in the midst of a writer block, so her mentor advised her to keep little notes where she should write ‘dispassionate narrative’ of everything she had observed, including the people she loved. Knowing Jane as a romance writer, she ended up writing these notes in a narrative that is so passionate anyway, as pointed out by her mother.

I really appreciate this chart of Beaufort scale where it indicates the force of wind written in vivid imagery, as shared by Davis in the same article (thank you @byrogriffiths for the image below). I wonder if Sir Francis Beaufort himself was a closet writer, and if he also kept a notebook along all day with him.

A chart of Beaufort scale from 0-12

Some related, some not:

  • Discover the scary, yet exciting unknown of the deep sea (I scrolled and read all the way through!)
  • After major protests in March 2014 in Taiwan, the PDIS set up vTaiwan as a new process for consultation — a mix of online & offline consultations aiming to use the Internet to pull people together rather than split them apart. Some critical analysis on technosolutionism still needed, but good initiative so far.
  • Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.”

(Note: I’m starting the practice of keeping a status board as inspired by Alan Jacobs in his newsletter as a way to, well, pay more attention.)

STATUS BOARD

  • Work: Thesis revisions!
  • Reading: (Still) How to do Nothing, and just purchased This Is How You Lose The Time War, an epistolary poetic SF novel from the points of view of two time-travelling spies, which comes highly recommended by Gretchen McCulloch, who wrote Because Internet, which I love!
  • Listening: A playlist on Spotify called Contemporary Classics as I was working on thesis revisions.
  • Food & Drink: A couple of chapatis from Manzur Chapati, which was way too good and too soft and worth revisiting, and home-brewed coffee.

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