Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Place in the Sun: A Way into my Personal Philosophies

Lately I've been curating all of my many 'motivation' tracks and playlists into one master list. And it's got me thinking about all sorts of interconnected concerns that keep cropping up for me lately.

And so I'm going to start a series of posts. Possibly the most epic series of blog posts I'll ever write. Because we're going a journey, my friends. A journey through my thoughts about success, career, literature, all the way down the rabbit hole to the very centre of my personal beliefs; and then back out again to what this all means for the direction I intend to take with my writings, my life, my career and my place in this currently tectonic change taking place in the publishing industry.

Philosophy is my bag, even if I don't always use the language of the in-crowd and I can't exactly remember important philosophers' quotes off the top of my head. What can I say? I've filled my headspace with other (more important?) things. But it is the way I've always lived my life. Thinking deeply and at length about everything I do, everything I think about.

So this is your warning; your out. If you aren't into philosophy, best to get out of this post immediately! :P

A Way In

Specifically, all these yet-unnamed issues came to a head for me when I listened the song "Roxie" on my motivation playlist. Why did I consider this particular song motivational? What is it about a song about a would-be star who murdered someone that spoke to me?

When I was a teenager, my parents moved out of the house I grew up in and into an upgraded home across town. When we about to leave my childhood home, I made a crack about how it better stay intact, since that would someday the future S.A.Wilson foundation would want to make it into a museum.

Delusions of grandeur for sure. When I was 11 years old or so, I realized for the first time that being a writer, especially a decent writer, could very well mean a certain brand of guaranteed immortality. It's not the reason why I wanted to become a writer in the first place. But it certainly was the reason I wanted to become a well-known writer.

Especially in researching my favourite authors at the time (yes I researched. I was that kind of kid), the Brontes, and how they juvenilia survives to this day, I was preoccupied with the benefits authorhood could afford me. When I look back on those childish attitudes, I have to laugh. How much work I've done on my art since then and now! How much work is still to be done! I only thought about the things I would receive as benefit for such a career, and not the mighty price it costs! It's all theory when you're young -- it's all play. Nothing is about the work.

But somewhere along the line, even immortality wasn't enough. At some point along the way I became less interested in my immortality and more interested in this life. I wanted the potential monies that authorship could provide, and the potential notoriety. But besides all the issues of out-sized ego this desires implies, it has been said many times in many of the internet's dusty corners before: there are much easier ways than writing to become rich and famous.

My Place in the Sun

But whether concerned with lasting (books with everlasting editions) or more fleeting (interviewed by Oprah) forms of notoriety, it amounts to the same concern: finding one's 'place in the sun'.

The commonplace phrase 'my place in the sun' actually comes from Blaise Pascal's (yeah, that math guy) book "Pensées". In it, he writes:

"Mine, thine. – 'This dog is mine,' said those poor children; 'that is my place in the sun.' Here is the beginning and the image of the usurpation of all the earth."

There's a lot to think about in that one little statement, isn't there? Ownership of animals, of land -- possession of anything at all. And what does he mean, usurpation? What could be problematic about having a little space to oneself, right? And what the heck does all this have to do with Chicago?

Well, I'm actually going to leave you hanging for that explanation. This blog post is already longer than most of mine are, and I think I'd rather just let you mull over that little concept than dive into a massive discussion about it. I'll probably get a chance to write about this again sometime next week. Maybe I'll shoot for Thursday again. Philosophy Thursdays, what do you think? Good name for a title?