Diary, 11/1 to 11/6/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Terminator:  Dark Fate

{11/1/19}  Weight 219.4.  I binged on potato chips and called it “dinner.”

910 words so far this morning on The New Book.  So far it is a “book” of “thinking on paper,” and so far it is thinking about weight loss.  Obviously, I don’t intend and could not think about weight loss every day to the tune of a thousand words; it would be nice, but I don’t expect this, if I could “think on paper” each day, thinking about self-mastery, and so get my book written.

Today I had a chocolate milkshake and chips for dinner.  Clearly, here’s a “willpower challenge.”  I only buy these milkshakes when I’ve taken the “wrong” 21 bus and so am facing a long wait for the 44.  And, typically, I’m on the 21 because I’m coming home from Barnes & Noble.  So I could set a rule that I can’t buy a milkshake if I’ve spent more than $25 at B&N.  Don’t think I will yet.

Over 1200 words, two and a half pages of The New Book.  It would help a lot if the Willpower Group is a success.  If meetings happen, I need to remember to take notes about it.  I’ve wanted to do that with the HC, but rarely have done it.

{11/2/19}  Weight 219.2.

So The New Book is at 3000 words (five pages) after two days of work, and it’s time for breakfast.

Watched, a second time, Wes Anderson’s beautiful fantasy of Moonrise Kingdom.  While watching I realized that I identify strongly with the character Sam Shudusky (or whatever the name is), though of course I was not an orphan and I was loved by my parents.  I had the thought, approximately, that “this is the childhood I should have had or wish I’d had or something.”  In fact, given who I was, it could not have happened.  Not that that matters.  I also had the thought that “this is the kind of story I should write, or that I should write a story like this,” more or less.  In fact, my Albert’s Book has some elements that appeal to me in the same vein.  My character of Apple, perhaps even more.

I typed about four pages of quotes from The Willpower Instinct last night, necessary “research” for TNB and the upcoming Willpower Group first meeting.  I want to continue the effort with Lost Connections and In and Out the Garbage Pail.  Bertrand Russell’s The Analysis of Mind is proving somewhat disappointing, though my hopes for it were not high because it’s so old (1921), and it’s an exercise in logical analysis.  I kept reading it because there was something about habits, and I just don’t have a lot in that line—I’ll likely have to go back to William James’s 120-year-old classic, Principles of Psychology.  There are other books that I might be involved with this month as well—the month of NaNoWriMo and TNB.  One is Barrett’s book on emotion, of which I’ve already typed the quotes, and there are a couple of others in the back of my mind.  I don’t know how much I’ll have time for, but I am making this project a top priority.  The Willpower Group is part of the project.  Quotes, by themselves, are at best a rather feeble effort towards getting at the heart and value of a book, more a place to start than a place to stop—not that I’ve ever previously done much beyond quotes.

For the next week I really need to focus on learning everything I can in The Willpower Instinct, because I’ll want to be prepared for the hoped-for discussion at the WP Group meeting.  I’m likely to be disappointed, but I’m not willing to wait forever for people to join the group.

I got Jack Hamm’s old book, Cartooning the Head and Figure, finally.  If you want to buy only one book on the drawing of cartoons (as opposed to layout and such), this would be the one.  It seems exceptionally thorough.  I had a copy way back when, in my twenties, but never did anything with it.  I’d have done better getting a used copy, of course.  Cartooning is mostly going to be on hold this month, or so I anticipate.  If the WP Group fizzles, that may change things significantly—though not The New Book (alternative title, which amused Pablo:  Self-Mastery in Thirty Days).

I’ve been rather neglecting the blog for a month, posting about half as often.  It’s not like anything is happening there, anyway.  My readership is consistently low, typically about five views per post.

{11/3/19}  Weight 219.2.

After writing half a page this morning on The New Book, I seem to have hit a wall.  I’ve told my “willpower story,” bringing the history up to the present.  It also seems that I have put my mental house in order to some degree.  Losing weight and saving money I expect to happen as a matter of course, given my current habits.  Curing my neurosis remains the ultimate challenge, which I do not feel at all ready to take on.

And I see, finally, that I cannot write about that.  Any claim to have cured this problem will never be believed, and it cannot be proved.  Without that, however, the book is looking rather thin, unless the group provides enough stories that I can use.

In other news, what I ate today does not bear repeating.  Expecting a gain tomorrow, as well as a difficult night tonight (drinking fluids after 7:00 pm).

The Hemlock Club today was good, however.  Much discussion of willpower and the quotes I had typed from McGonigal.  Looks like the members all intend to attend the first meeting the new group.

If The New Book is dead, I’ll decide that tomorrow.  I have no idea of what to replace it with.

{11/4/19}  Weight 219.4.  Given that it seemed that I couldn’t stop eating yesterday, this is a pleasant surprise.

As for The New Book, I’m thinking that weight loss will have to take the place that I had intended for “my neurosis.”  That is, if I hope to finish the book.  But my heart isn’t in this.  Maybe the thing to do is to write what I had originally intended, and never publish it.

Typing in quotes from Abraham Maslow:  Toward a Psychology of Being, I encounter this “shocker”:  “For shock purposes, I could even call the self-actualizing person a self-accepting and insightful neurotic, for this phrase may be defined in such a way as to be almost synonymous with ‘understanding and accepting the intrinsic human situation,’ i.e., accepting and facing courageously, and even enjoying, being amused by the ‘shortcomings’ of human nature instead of trying to deny them.”  p. 115.  This is a “direct” response to the last paragraph I typed in The New Book:  “But here’s a big problem:  any claim to have cured myself of my neurosis will not be believed, probably not even by me.”

In other words, I can claim (reasonably) to have achieved “self-actualization” according to Maslow’s “shock” definition.  How this would look, finally, is a very open question at this point, and I can’t expect too much.  But the important thing is that I can work with hope instead of from apathy.

Actually, I have a hint that I am already cured, or perhaps “cured”—the last time I indulged, I felt guilty.  And anticipation of that guilt being repeated, makes me reluctant to indulge again, or even, try to indulge.  Surely, this is what being cured looks like.  It’s apparent to me that I could overcome this reluctance, but why would I want to?  This is very interesting.

Now, back to that typing.

{11/5/19}  Weight 219.6.  “Self-mastery” my ass.

Hap the Crystalwright rises from the grave in the form of a dream of new characters plotting to assassinate the Emperor.  All I can remember is my thinking of how to add the Wallace-Shawn-like character to the story—what is his role?  I settled on leader of the Pretorian Guard, getting wind of Garto Bessen’s revolt and deciding to throw his lot that way.  He must do it out of cowardice and fear for his own skin, presumably.  If I decide to pursue the writing, which I’m unlikely to do.

I’ve been taking these “melatonin” pills at bedtime, and for two nights I have not suffered insomnia—previously, when I got up during the night to pee, it was always a bit dicey whether I would get back to sleep or not.  Failure is very tiresome; with these pills, resuming sleep has been easy.  I will continue the “trial,” while being alert for signs of side-effects.  One wonders if they contain any melatonin.

This morning I’ll finish typing the Maslow quotes, but this is not getting The New Book written.

Here’s the review I added at the end of the quotes:  “This is a book I need to read or review again—it seems, as much as any book could be—specifically addressed to me and my life and problems.  As such, I have only the highest praise for it, while recognizing that other readers will be unlikely to react similarly.  Indeed, when I read it some decades ago, I thought it useful but also at times fanciful and “overreaching.”  Now I see those parts as being the most valuable for me personally.”

Listening, finally, to Boris Godunov, CDs which I’ve owned for a few months, and sitting here going “Wow.  Wow.”  Ghiaurov impresses me again, as he did in Mefistofele.  I like this recording, despite the presence of Herbert von Karajan (who is non-PC), better than the old highlights album I had on LP with Boris Christoff.

Thinking about “approaches to Donna”:  “Do you have enough friends?”  “How’s your willpower?”  I can’t ask her if I’m bothering her—that puts her on the spot, forcing a polite but uninformative response.  “I am not entitled to know what you think of me,” an old memory from an old book…Hugh Prather, maybe?

The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology is rather dismissive of “humanistic psychology.”  But I want more recent material than Maslow and Perls.  McGonigal, clearly, is relevant.  Maybe I need to look into “cognitive psychology,” “cognitive-behavioral therapy,” and such like, some of which I’ve done, of course, via Pinker, Dennett, well, I don’t need to rack my brains to come up with the names.

{11/6/19}  Weight 221.0.  Ouch.

Melatonin pill failure last night—that is, I had trouble getting back to sleep after getting up at 3:30.

I had been on the verge of giving up The New Book, when I remembered that it doesn’t have to be published, or indeed, read by anyone.

Bought three books from Thriftbooks:  Jourard’s The Transparent Self, Hugh Prather’s Notes to Myself, and the “important” one, Fritz Perls’ Gestalt Therapy Verbatim.  I neglected to check on Gestalt Self-Therapy, which I also want to get.  Anyway, the total came to about $13.

Reading Bertrand Russell:  The Analysis of Mind, and being pretty bored by it.  It has a different approach from all the “mind-reading” I’ve been doing, but I’m doubtful that it has anything I’ll find useful.  I reread the chapter on “Habit” in William James’s Principles of Psychology, and thought it of some value to my current quest, self-mastery.  Now I’m reading Stephen S. Hall:  Wisdom:  From Philosophy to Neuroscience, which I started several months ago and was unimpressed by.  I’ve neglected Emily Dickinson’s poems lately.  I dipped a mental toe into Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius; I might go on to reread Marcus.  But until I get Gestalt Therapy Verbatim, I don’t think I’m likely to be very excited about any of these titles.

Saw Terminator:  Dark Fate today with Pablo.  I liked most of it, though it’s almost nothing you haven’t seen many times.  Linda Hamilton turned in another hard-as-nails performance, and Arnold did his usual.  The Latina playing the target of the Terminator was very good, and I’m sorry that I don’t know her name [Natalia Reyes].  The script was, unfortunately, not at all special, just adequate.

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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