Saturday, July 3, 2010

My brain is in the "puddle of glop" stage.

LEFT: A monarch butterfly chrysalis, which has become transparent after about ten days. From Bug Life Cycle.

I'm kind of sad that I haven't been writing here much (compared to putting up links;
though I do love when other people share links, so that's not all bad).
For two years, I'd wake up almost every morning with half-formed blog posts chrysalis-ing in my mind, and I'd often spend a bunch of hours putting together a post.

But now I wake up thinking about my latest research on communications. "Thinking" is the wrong word; it's more like my thoughts have dissolved into a puddle of glop. They don't have enough form to write about, really.

"Puddle of glop" is a technical phrase I got from life-coach Martha Beck's article Growing Wings. Her explanation of the science behind butterflies rescues their transformative process from the Rainbows and Unicorns category:
"I used to think... if I were to cut open a cocoon, I'd find a butterfly-ish caterpillar, or a caterpillar-ish butterfly, depending on how far things had progressed.
I was wrong.
In fact, the first thing caterpillars do in their cocoons is shed their skin, leaving a soft, rubbery chrysalis. If you were to look inside the cocoon early on, you'd find nothing but a puddle of glop.
But in that glop are certain cells, called imago cells, that contain the DNA-coded instructions for turning bug soup into a delicate, winged creature...."
Example of the sort of brain melt I've been living with:
Yesterday I was sitting at the coffee shop reading Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations, by Clay Shirky, and I started to feel all emotionally shaky.

I'm practically weeping in public, reading Shirky's description of how organizations have traditionally organized themselves... and how that's all changed now.

Cause I've seen it change, bit by bit, but piecing the whole picture together can overwhelm a person.
I've been using the computer since 1992 (though not much as a producer until 2004). If I'd had a baby in 1992, this fall she'd be heading off to college, or prison, or some other legal-adulthood place.

In those past eighteen years, the norms of communication pretty much dropped their exoskeletons and turned themselves inside out, like caterpillars forming chrysalises. To try to really understand all the social changes the new technology has wrought, personally and globally, leaves me all soft and rubbery.
Hence the weepiness, kind of like intellectual PMS.

But even though our culture is morphing like crazy all around us, I'm like humans in all other times:
I can only take in so much Civilization Crumble, and then I go back to my daily concerns.

Like citizens in Rome after the 410 Vandal invasion. Some writers saw the writing on the wall and waxed eloquent, like Saint Jerome, crabbiest saint ever, who wrote,
"The city which had conquered the whole world was itself conquered."
but pretty soon everyone's thinking, you know, ... the laundry.

Which is a good thing. It's how we've survived as a species through many, many convolutions of culture. We're like:
"OMG! THE SKY IS FALLING!!! OMG, OMG, omg... Hm. I wonder, what's for dinner? Did my roommate, that bastard, eat the leftover chicken?"

So, I put down the book and go for a walk. Then I reapproach the scene and try again.
Today, as part of trying to enter into the fray of the culture, I joined Facebook ...again. I'd hopped on a few months ago and quickly got off when I had nightmares about being back in my high school's cafeteria.

I'm not sure I'd go as far as Wil Wheaton and say "Facebook is evil",
but I do share his concern "that Facebook is training an entire generation that personal privacy isn't as important as it truly is."

(I read Wil's book. It makes up for Wesley Crusher.)

Nonetheless, it is the social communications tool, and that's what I'm researching.
I'm not needing to judge it, just to understand it.
Also, since I'm not really writing much these days (I mean the real creative, sometimes wrenching, work of transformation), I may as well chat with everybody.
I trust my brain--it has always coughed up the imago cells that solidify glop into words, if I give it time. Prying open the cocoon just destroys the whole thing.

In the meantime, I don't know that I'll use it much, but if you want to friend me, please do: Fresca on Facebook.


momo said...

Puddle o' glop! this is a good description of one of those stages of existential transformation: hmmmm, why can't I get off the couch? oh, it's because I feel as if I'm in the throes of change but right now I'm in the puddle o' glop stage.
I have a book which will help put Shirky's stuff in a useful long perspective....

ArtSparker said...

There may be a need for a library for all the books and musical offerings by Star Trek alumni...

Fresca said...

MOMO: The o' makes "puddle o' glop" even better!
Thanks for your help with links and books.
I'm liking the Shirky book but there are so many OTHER perspectives to look at too. It's like a kaleidoscope.

SPARKY: Absolutely! Rocket Man Library!

Margaret said...

The book cover alone is ultrawhelming. Thank gGod for the laundry and the leftover chicken your bastard roommate eats!

And promising puddles.

It's sort of spherical - you go far enough west and you end up east; you think about Civilization Crumble enough and you come 'round to laundry;
(an ST episode is so bad that it shores up on good).

I like your quote of moment---
"things don't really get solved" ---

I am refresh.

Clowncar said...

it's heartening to know you get so enmeshed up and enveloped by the subjects you write about (hey! like a cocoon!). you hear the horror stories of the textbooks coming out of texas. and then I realize there are people like you writing them too. I just hope your books are the ones taught to my kids, not theirs.

your like that Empath chick in Star Trek.

may I say chick?

Jennifer said...

I hear you about Facebook, and I also understand why you feel you have to tackle it--I'm the same way about Twitter, which I can't seem to bring myself to like, but I gamely check it now and then because I have to teach it, so I have to understand it.

Facebook mostly has managed to expose me to EXACTLY THE PEOPLE I WAS HAPPY TO GET AWAY FROM after high school...they show up now and then to make fun of my "big words" and "reading books so much." :/ A valuable reminder of why I'm not still living where I grew up...