Thursday, July 25, 2013

 

Procrastinating by Doing

A quoted observation1 triggered the question: is doing and doing and doing but putting off finishing a form of procrastination or is it something else? Here's the quotation
His [Felix Guattari's] hyperactivity and the immense effort he had put into the book led to something of a collapse, a feeling of emptiness. Completing a work is never as satisfying as the many imagined possibilities and ongoing pleasures of a work in progress. ‘I feel like curling up into a tiny ball and being rid of all these politics of presence and prestige…The feeling is so strong that I resent Gilles for having dragged me into this mess”

At the risk of seeming to trivialize (why would it seem so?), a televised competition of young pastry chefs broadcast this week comes to mind. In each event, contestants were given a challenge to deliver in a limited2 amount of time. Their work was amazing, but they never finished early, they always could have used a little more time to add a few more finishing touches, and in many cases they failed to deliver what they had intended3. How much longer would they have gone on, delaying finishing, if they could have?
Meskimen's Law4 seems less applicable (and less true) in such cases than a pitch for a brand of beer: you only go around once, so do it with gusto.  Some things cannot be done over and over: writing one's (first) doctoral thesis, raising one's first or last child.  The great temptation is to transform that to "when you only have one go 'round, make the most of it (make it last);"  put off finishing.  Procrastinate by doing.

  1. Cited in _13 Things You Didn't Know About Deleuze and Guattari as coming from "Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: Intersecting Lives (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism) [Paperback], by Francois Dosse (Author), Deborah Glassman (Translator) )
  2. Challenges included: four different pastries--to sell in an ephemeral pastry shop--in four hours, a deconstructed-reconstructed classic cake in two hours, a chocolate and sugar centerpiece in seven hours,...
  3. What they did deliver was excellent, but they took risks and things didn't always work, so they had to "settle" for what could be done in the allotted time.
  4. "There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over." cf/ anvari.org


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Saturday, July 13, 2013

 

Le Donon: a very nice hike in the Vosges near Strasbourg

West-South-West of Strasbourg in the Vosges is the Vallée de la Bruche, a river valley not far from the city where some people have their "get-away" houses for week-ends and vacations. In this continental climate, summers can be very hot and humid; some years it seems there is s thunderstorm every afternoon or evening for a month or more. But in the mountain valleys with the rivers or streams running through it is cooler, quieter, breezier: a refreshing comfort, particularly before air conditioning became widely available.
Bronze plaque indicating directions.
Posed by German administration in the 1880s.

A few kilometers from Schirmeck, a town with a railroad station well into the Bruche valley [about 47km from Strasbourg via A35, A352, N420, D1392], are a pair of mountain tops called le Donon (semantically, "high place") and le Petit Donon (nearly as high, but not semantically). Although not a stand-out peak visibly highest in the area, the Donon has historically--and pre-historically--been recognized as "special" by the Celts and Gauls and Romans, who built temples (and possibly other culturally significant sites) on its top. Later, as the archeological vestiges were discovered, a museum was built in emulative stone temple style (1869); it has long been abandoned, however, and most of the stone carvings have been taken to a museum in Strasbourg for curation.
Stone temple-style museum, built in 1869.

The visit hike is very well presented. It is a relatively easy trail, but does rise about 270m (to 1009,25m) in a couple of kilometers; the round trip took us about two and a half hours. The main difficulty is that much of it is steps rather than ramp (so no prams!); there are gaps in the stone at the top where one really has to watch one's step, and there are opportunities to fall for lack of railings.
Some of the appreciable points are :
The prominent television antenna is an eye-sore, yet one can ignore it (and its service road, which the trail crosses twice) and have a very nice half-day outing. Schirmeck has plenty of restaurants and bakeries (and even a couple of supermarkets) to feed the hungry hikers, too.

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