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/

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