Out of the stupor

March 13, 2022

Since graduating in 2019 I now have free time. I’ve spent it recovering from the deeper sort of depression, reading long fiction, trying out every hobby I’ve ever thought of, spending weeks alone, and then just sinking into random grabbings in the dark to find a way to fill the time.

I started working full-time in 2020. Work occasionally is intellectually stimulating, occasionally is creatively stimulating, but throughout I get the sense that I am becoming withered both intellectually and creatively.

Yet I am also pulled between thinking and making. It’s a weird triangle of needing to work, wanting to think, and wanting to make.

I won’t expand more on the “needing to work” frustrations, or even try to brainstorm how to collapse one of the triangle sides by seeking work in which I can fully think and do intellectual work or fully make and do creative work. Instead I want to focus on thinking vs. making.

Thinking, Making; Making, Thinking

It’s fair to say that growing up I was a maker: a creator, an artist, an engineer. I liked to make art and to build things.

My intellectual world opened up when we started critically analyzing texts in middle school English class. Then in high school came world history, much more comparative literature, in college post-colonialism, cinema studies, queer theory, theology, and post-college metaphysics, and more philosophy.

These “thinking” worlds can be seen as the engineering of knowledge: crafting intellectual frameworks for understanding the world. Yet I do feel myself somewhat split in two.

There’s a curiosity that is like a hesitation in trying to understand something. In art, I’ve expressed curiosity through play: trial and error, endless iterations that resolve into something interesting. The making-mode is very much one of craft, of doing. On the other hand, the thinking-mode, as I’ve experienced it, feels more like intaking information, reflecting, and synthesizing.

Making is inductive while thinking is deductive. They feel so different! Do I need to pick?

The stupor …

The stupor comes when it feels like I haven’t been making or thinking much. I alternate between thinking and making like a dampening sine wave, each action becoming more half-hearted as time goes on. Rather than ambivalence (being pulled strongly in two directions) I have apathy (not feeling strongly at all).

I’ve been germinating: lot’s of information intake, not much reflection or synthesis yet. This is partly the motivation for starting this “longform thoughtblog attempt”. I miss being a student confronted with new material and needing to engage with it critically. I’ve been throwing stuff at myself, but not really engaging with it. I’ve been creating sporadically, but not with any direction or urgency. I’d like to start building toward something, so this is my attempt.

Thoughtblog is for my thinking self, but my making self needs it too.