Big Babies

Michael Bywater has long been one of my favourite social critics – though I am sure he would disown that title. So I was really pleased to see an article in the New Statesman, “Baby Boomers and the illusion of perpetual youth” and to see he is continuing this theme in a book to be published November 2, “Big Babies: or why can’t we just grow up?”
The opening to his article gives a flavour:
“If we want an image to sum up the spirit of the age, it would be this: a middle-aged man playing air guitar. A mime; a simulacrum; a declaration of unearned, shared identity; a banner of fake democracy; a determined declaration of youthfulness indefinitely prolonged. The air guitar is the Baby Boomers’ swastika, their marching banner; the Boomers, now growing old, are running the show; and they are making big babies, not just of themselves, but of the lot of us.”
Can’t wait to read the book.

The Limitations of Professionalism

Milton Glaser has an interesting take on professionalism. In his rule number 4, from his “10 Things I Have Learned” (all ten rules are well worth reading in full) he talks about how professionalism is about diminishing risk. The professional finds out how to do something well and then goes on doing it. For people involved in creative activities this carries a downside. As Glaser says:
“… Anyhow, when you are doing something in a recurring way to diminish risk or doing it in the same way as you have done it before, it is clear why professionalism is not enough. After all, what is required in our field, more than anything else, is the continuous transgression. Professionalism does not allow for that because transgression has to encompass the possibility of failure and if you are professional your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success. So professionalism as a lifetime aspiration is a limited goal.”

Well it’s done

A couple of hours ago I sent off the first draft of my manifesto, “Purposive Drift: Making it up as we go along” to Change This right on the edge of their deadline. So please join me in crossing fingers, touching wood, saying a little prayer, or whatever else you do to encourage the gods of fortune to smile on you, or in this case me, and hope they like it.
It has been quite hairy at times. There is the hairyness of trying to get my thoughts clear and then to communicate them, which, while at times painful, is in the end very satisfying.
Then there is the pain of wrestling with Microsoft Word to put it into the template and format that Change This require. That is simply painful and at points induced Basil Fawlty type expressions of rage.
To add to the pain, my internet connection went down. Our fault, not my ISP. So, thanks to Elena for rescuing me in my hour of need. It is amazing how simple the solution to what seem like complex technical problems can be when you know what you are doing.
So, so far so good. I’ll let you know what Change This’s response is when I know.
Meanwhile, keep those fingers crossed.

Trust the process

As a kind of postscript to my last entry, “Trust me” there were a couple of bits in a long profile of Diane Setterfield, who has become an unexpected bestselling author in the US, that caught my attention.
The first was this:
“But it took five years of rewrites and wrestling with the plot – complete with a genuinely hard to predict denouement – before it came together. ‘After about three years, I had index cards all over the living-room floor, and my husband used to come home and find me sobbing over the index cards,” Setterfield recalls. “But actually index cards aren’t the way forward. I did learn that. You have to relax, write what you write. It sounds easy but it’s really, really hard. One of the things it took me longest to learn was to trust the writing process.'”
The second this:
“The crowning twist in her plot dawned on her three years into the writing. ‘And yet when I came to look at everything I’d already written, I found everything that was needed for that [twist] was already in place’ – an instance, she says, of ‘the writing being more intelligent than the writer’. She pauses. ‘Although when I say that, I’m aware that people might think I’m a scribe, that all you’re doing is taking dictation. Which is to vastly underestimate just how damned hard it is.'”