Daily, snackable writings and podcasts to spur changes in thinking.
Building a blueprint for a better brain by tinkering with the code.
April 8th, 2019
Tinkered Thinking originally sprang out of a curiosity surrounding this question: is it possible to write about a single topic everyday? For Tinkered Thinking, that topic is a single sentence, for which every episode takes a different perspective, as though they all exist on a circle with this topic at the center. Each episode makes this circle larger and adds one more perspective on the topic in the center.
Seth Godin’s blog was most certainly a significant facet of this curiosity. He has been writing and posting everyday for many years. After visiting that blog everyday for almost a year, a very good and useful thought popped up. If he can do it, than most likely, anyone else can too, including you.
Then pops up all sorts of lizard brain objections- as Seth would probably put it – all of which surround, justify and uphold the phrase: but I can’t.
If curiosity or sheer drive can get a person through all such self-generated and self-defeating bullshit, then the actual blank page presents a new terror rife with ammunition for the lizard brain to once again bolster up an argument around it’s holy tenant: but I can’t.
Much of Tinkered Thinking is devoted to this point in the process: those moments that surround the beginning of something. Simply because, these are the precious and few moments where our lives can actually change. If these changes are thoughtful enough and mindfully directed, the results can be staggering in the long run.
It’s repeated nearly ad nauseam: change is possible. And yet there doesn’t seem to be much effective discourse about the tenuous moments when change is being grasped, though the huge literature of self-help is attempting to do this, and Tinkered Thinking makes no claim to be any better, as we’ll explore in a moment.
Tinkered Thinking, in many ways is a search for how change and the moments surrounding such function, and more importantly, it’s a platform dedicated to generating the questions that can spur people in better directions. As has been mentioned before on Tinkered Thinking, a lack of motivation is almost always the absence of a question one needs to ask. Either to one’s self or about the topic at hand. Tinkered Thinking is far less concerned about mapping out a framework for reality in the form of statements, as much as it is hoping to create a whirlpool booby-trapped with questions, that once sprung, propel the mind into more interesting and unexplored directions.
Much curiosity surrounds ‘process’. It’s a casual theory of this platform that anything a particular creator says about their own personal process is most likely incidental and idiosyncratic and probably offers little help for those who wish to emulate such productivity.
As is so often undertaken on Tinkered Thinking, it’s worth taking a closer look at the actual word we are using: Process. To a disturbing degree we are not using words as straightforwardly as we probably should. The way we use words often suffers from a double remove from the actual object. Words as symbols naturally present a first remove. The writing or utterance of the word boat is not an actual vessel that floats or sinks: it is a sound or a set of graphical marks, as discussed in Episode 250 of Tinkered Thinking entitled Language. But we add an additional remove. For example with the word Process, we are failing to stay close to the roots of the word, and instead we are outlining some bizarre space around it, as though we want a formula that will shortcut the whole…process.
Process comes from Old French proces meaning “a journey; continuation, or development,” which comes directly from the Latin processus meaning “a going forward, an advance, or progress,” from the past participle stem of procedere meaning, again to “go forward”. Inevitably we can think of the word Proceed. Which literally just means to just start.
Nearly all self-help literature boils down to the slogan for Nike: just do it.
The idea that there is some magic formula to process probably originates from legalese. The word process also has roots in the 14th century that refer to legal proceedings where process perhaps describes a course of action of a suit at law.
These two roots may be in conflict but instead of perseverating over the potentially interesting details of this word history, we can ask a better question: which aspect of the etymology is more useful for our purposes?
Shall we try to predict some kind of structure and formula for our activity and productive action, and then proceed according to what we think will work for ourselves?
Or should we just proceed anyways?
The gift of process is that once we proceed it constructs itself as needed, like a self-organizing system, it takes what is necessary for the process and discards what hinders it.
We return once more to the Nike slogan: just do it. Or rather, a more sensitive rephrasing of that slogan in this context would be: just start.
And in the specific context of the word in question, we might be best to just say to ourselves with full capitalization: PROCEED.
As for Tinkered Thinking specifically, there is one additional thought that helped oil the first initial effort: actually doing it is more important than it being good, great or perfect.
If considerations and obsessions over the final product can be erased, it can free up a bottleneck of energy to produce.
The only other factor is to remain consistent. Engage with the unknown everyday, figure out how to phone the void, and just keep going. That’s it, start, and keep going. That’s process, literally, and etymologically.
As this creator can attest, things begin to emerge that cannot be predicted. A whole new layer of Tinkered Thinking is going into production that will ship later this year and be available only to supporters of the platform. So stay tuned as the process evolves.
PS.For those who find issue with how loose the writing is here on Tinkered Thinking, it’s worth it to note that episodes receive very little in the way of editing, aside from spelling and the most obvious grammatical mistakes, episodes remain true to the original meaning of the word Essay. They are attempts, they are merely trying to get down an idea, and here, consistency rightfully trumps accuracy, precision or any notion of fine-tuning. For the ultra pedantic grammarian, it’s worth knowing that this platform believes grammar, while important, should be taken about as seriously as astrology. And if that feels like a contradiction, it’s recommended that perhaps you should keep tinkering with your thinking.
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