The last couple weeks have been a bit rough. It’s not so much the work as the uncertainty that comes with being a noob in a big project, and I’m an impatient noob. So some dark soul-searching happened, as well as some resignation, which eventually led to a few actual resolutions.
For one, some plans that I’d made for my future turned out not to be viable — a bummer, which might yet leave some other options open. But one of the more challenging things about my current situation is all the gaps between what I’m doing right now, what I want to do in the future, what else I think I want to do in the future, what I’m expected to do, and what I’m too lazy to do. I suppose the issue right now is that I’ve no clue what I want. This is a dilemma of luxury that I’ve obviously created for myself, because I’m in a good job (a great job, actually, where I’m learning an incredible amount) that pays well and I’ve more or less settled into how I’m living right now.
But I have to look around me and see what some of the people I love are doing, and the difference between them and me is palpable. They’re all either exactly where they want to be, or are planning meticulously for it. And they’re all extremely good at what they do; they’re passionate about something, and it shows. I’ve no clue what I’m passionate about.
So my one real resolution for this year is to figure out what I’m good at, where I want to be in a year’s time, professionally and personally, and how to get from here to there. Vague, I know, but … baby steps. The one scenario I don’t want to find myself in, in ten years’ time, is in this exact same situation.
Whew. Deep thoughts.
In other news, I finally bought Dune today. I don’t know why in the name of omniscient entities I thought I could walk through Barnes & Noble to get coffee from the cafe without interacting with books. Ten steps towards the new releases, one glimpse at the latest Orson Scott Card, and I was lost. But I have a policy to buy only books that I know I love, so Dune it was. I can never remember if I already do have a copy. Either way, I bought it, and am already reading it. Now I have the delicious dilemma of deciding between Dune and Doctor Who for my dinner companion, and I can’t believe how alliterative this sentence is.
The interesting thing about Dune is… well, there are lots of interesting things. But I wish I could have somehow sneaked it into my thesis, because my god I love this story. I need to print out the Bene Gesserit litany against fear and frame it up somewhere. It’s such a marvelous mix of plot and character, science and religion, society and politics. The cool thing is, even though Dune has nothing to do with AI or robotics or automata, it’s entirely overshadowed by the sheer lack of such things. The whole point of the Butlerian Jihad is that machines that think like humans are abominations; instead, humans control their minds and bodies in precise, machine-like ways. “Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man’s mind“, according to their version of the Bible. It would’ve been really interesting to see how/if elements of AI could’ve featured in the book, anyway.
Last weekend, Gsj and I went to check out the local bookstore near where he lives, which turned out to be a very good idea indeed. There’s something fiercely lovable about second-hand independent bookshops — they don’t have the gloss of new books to draw the uninitiated in, and they really are old and musty and possibly depressing. But there were some gems in there, for both lulz and edification.
…. which of course was right next to…
The latter was really rather extraordinary — it included all sorts of things like making your own electric shock machine and building stoves… or something. I believe the Boy Mechanic was published in the 1930s and the Girls Handicrafts in the sixties, though I can’t be sure about that.
Maybe I should get into this Instagram business. It would probably all be pictures of books in various seductive poses, and then it would get weird.
So maybe not.