Of Patti Smith and Time

Long Beach, CA

Awhile back I was reading M Train, Patti Smith’s latest memoir. Within a few pages I found myself becoming jealous. The early parts of this book are largely about nothing in particular, by which I mean they are about thought and contemplation–in her case intertwined with hours of drinking coffee, hanging around in cafes, writing in a notebook now and again … In total, they’re art of living in-between moments, where one accepts the past and prepares for the future, moments that must be lived slowly by definition … I used to have my share of such moments. No longer–my life is now about work. And between teaching, trying to find time to write, and the novels piling up inside me I’m starting to go a little crazy.

But I know that, artistically at least, these are good times–part of the reason I’m so busy is that I’m both taking in and putting out so much. Still, Patti understands something I don’t. She obviously enjoys her “idle” timeĀ  at least as much as her periods of creativity. I’m not sure how much I enjoy anything these days: my life feels less like a dance than a march. This of course means that for me it’s time for changes, big ones probably. Maybe that’s why I’m starting to lose it a bit: I sense that I’m playing out the end of something and I’m ready to move on …

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For some reason I’ve suddenly become very interested in philosophy. I’m really enjoying rereading the first volume of Peter Gay’s Enlightenment study. I’m also delving into some Plato. Karl Popper‘s on the to-read shelve. The Chomsky-Foucault debate transcript is there as well …