Dry November: Day 23

November 24, 2018

A week left of November and it’s been going well. I’ve done some interviews this week, with the cycles of anxiety, relief, and regret that follow. I’m once again looking forward to the weekend. Despite not working, I seem to have settled into a seven-day cycle. By Friday I’m more social and less productive. Perhaps this is conditioning from years of working and schooling, or perhaps there’s something more fundamental. The Israelites appear to have come up with the seven-day week, whereas other civilisations used eight-day weeks. In either case, the unit would represent roughly one quarter of a lunar month, but I wonder whether there isn’t something more fundamentally human than that going on.

Otherwise I’m carrying on with Empires of the Word and The Sense of Style, so it’s been a linguistic week. The former has sent me to many wikipedia pages to learn anew of long dead civilisations. The latter has led me to prioritise reading good prose, though I have not yet so far sought exemplars. Pinker seems to love his wife’s writing, which is quite sweet.

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about how to improve intellectual engagement. Ideally, I’d like to have face-to-face discussions with friends and their interesting friends, with minimal admin. My current thinking is that I might best set a regular day and time each week during which I’ll reside and write (but not drink) in a pub. I’ll put an invitation out but not stress too much about who does or doesn’t come. I want there to be a no-phone, pen-and-paper-only rule. Otherwise it would be an open discussion, or possibly one around a film, article, exhibition, or whatever else might come up in the open discussion. I would encourage friends to invite anyone they thought would find it interesting. The beauty of this is in its regularity; people can come and go as they like, there’s no hassle around planning, because if people miss it they can just turn up the next week.

Tonight has reaffirmed for me that I needn’t drink for invigoration. Much of the energy for which drink takes credit in fact comes from the places, the hours, the people, the ideas. Pubs can be a delight dry, and there’s much to be said for seeing friendly faces lucidly.

Bryan Kam

I'm Bryan Kam. I'm thinking about complexity and selfhood. Please sign up to my newsletter, follow me on Mastodon, or see more here.