October 20th, 2006

ozarque figure

The mind (mine) as an embodied cauldron of slumgullion....

Progress is, after a fashion, being made here, chez me. Christmas presents are gradually emerging from the ends of my crochet hooks and glue sticks and watercolor pencils. [The layers of dust in my house are gradually becoming more like kudzu, but we'll ignore that.] I've finished the drafts of two of my November/December newsletters and have made a good start on the third one. There are now twenty poems in the book of science fiction narrative poems I'm working on -- two of them courtesy of my not having won a poetry competition I entered last summer, so I got them both back, and I'm glad -- and half a dozen more are in early stages; it's still a long way to the roughly fifty I want as a total, but it's encouraging. The lettuce I've planted on the front porch -- because I no longer trust lettuce from the store and the farmer's market no longer has lettuce -- has come up and looks as if it's going to thrive; it's Rouge des Quatre Saisons, which doesn't usually mind cold, and I have high hopes for it. Renewals for my newsletters are trickling in; my sf short story "Death and Taxes" is scheduled for Issue #25 of Challenging Destiny, which isn't too far down the numerical line; my accounts are all posted and up to date. [Not a single word has been written in the past three months on the two novels I'm working on, but we'll ignore that.] Halloween cards and checks have been sent to the New Zealand grandchildren, and the stacks for North American grandchildren are laid out to be taken care of this weekend; all the supplies are in hand for making this year's handmade Christmas cards, although I haven't started on them yet -- and of course the Thanksgiving cards have to be worked in somehow, in between. I've printed out the set of new questions about LAadan grammar that arrived in my e-mail this morning; that's not the same as actually answering all those questions, but it's a start. I've printed out all the e-files for my four Coyote Jones novels, plus their new introductions and Reader's Guide, and sent that off to Meisha Merlin on the off chance that it will be helpful to them to see the difference between the battered old paperback editions they have in hand and the nice new manuscript. I have no unanswered correspondence (except those LAadan questions); I've managed to answer everything. I've finished a middle-sized collage book and have written the rough draft of its text, but it's been sitting in the stack on my bedroom floor for two months now, waiting for January, which is the month when I always do collages and collage books. [The stacks of magazines I haven't finished reading -- not even in the triage stage when I'm just putting sticky-notes on the stories I think I'll want to use for the newsletters -- are literally three feet tall, but we'll ignore that.]

Meanwhile, these are just a few of the questions that are bubbling away in my head. Why is the population of the U.S. so deeply and inflexibly opposed to the very idea of a woman as president? Does it have anything to do with the recent flood of articles about the differences between "female brains" and "male brains" [beautifully debunked by Language Log, but not enough of the population reads Language Log]? Does it have anything to do with the ideas of Deborah Tannen? Does it have anything to do with the fact that the one thing my husband and I fight about most often is what is important and what is trivial? Is there some way I can explain why Steven Pinker feels free to be so nasty at George Lakoff in public without getting nasty myself and without boring readers into coma? Is there any rational explanation of the fact that science fiction shows us all these humans who've evolved into superhumans, and still none of them have managed to evolve beyond violence? Is that why George Lakoff can't remember not to claim that he is the ultimate authority on every aspect of "cognitive science," which gives Steven Pinker every reason to be nasty at him? If U.S. males can't communicate successfully with U.S. females, how the blazes is a post-Singularity super-AI supposed to be able to communicate successfully with human beings of all genders? Are George Lakoff and Deborah Tannen and George W. Bush holding back the Singularity? Why am I not doing a better job of promoting Peacetalk 101 and how can I find time to figure that out and do something about it? Why is it that people who get gift subscriptions to my newsletters from other subscribers never renew their subscriptions -- what am I leaving out of my newsletters that would turn that situation around? Why is it that readers of my blog never subscribe to my newsletters? What must it be like to be the wife or the parent of George W. Bush? Is there some way to explain how to sort out the genuinely useful things George Lakoff says from the insanely silly things George Lakoff says, without telling tales out of school? Considering the mess men have made of governing the U.S. for the past couple of centuries, what is it that makes them think they're more capable of doing it than women are -- and why do so many women agree with them? What kind of world are my children and grandchildren going to have to deal with, and is Hawking right that unless we get off this world there's no hope for us -- in which case the Singularity would be a very handy development? Is there something that would make poetry irresistible to U.S. readers, if I were only smart enough to think of it? How in the world are all the people I see all around me who are barely able to make it through each day supposed to find time and strength to plan ahead for being old people? Should I be somehow finding time to write a field guide to eldering? [I think that's what Peacetalk 101 is, but we won't mention that.] How am I supposed to get all these questions into a form orderly enough that it might be possible for me to answer at least one or two of them? How important is it for me to write that series of novels about the U.S. Corps of Linguists, or can I just say oh-the-hell-with-that? What is the next question and how many more are in there? [There are all those questions about super-AI/human communication that I don't have any vocabulary to even ask, but we won't mention that.] Is there any excuse for a mind as messy as mine, and would it help if I let more dust pile up in it?

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.....
ozarque figure

Postscript to the mind-as-cauldron-of-slumgullion post....

As all too often happens in cases like this, I left off my list the most important question -- the meta-question. Which is: Given the horrendous problems that we have in this world today, how can I be spending my time thinking about all those other questions? I do know that, even with this unaugmented human mind I'm limited to.