pk the Procrastinator

/ Stories / Themes / Family /
@K. 2008 07 17

Procrastination: working like crazy to avoid the work that’s necessary.

When I was a teen I regarded the procrastinations of my slightly elder peers with awe. It seemed to me that society was a competition to see who could postpone joining the society and its economy the longest. Those in the Honor Society, those who skipped desert at the Christmas feast to go and study, those who graduated and stepped right into a good job were the losers. The geniuses were the ones whose graduation was delayed because they continued to avoid doing the one trivial thing declared necessary by the society’s authorities: teachers, prospective employers … My friend Rudy refused to graduate. Pratt was practically begging him to let them give him a scholarship: all he had to do was graduate, all he had to do to graduate … was salute the tin star. Finally, after their last warning had expired, Rudy saluted, graduated, and sure enough, Rudy won: Pratt hadn’t meant it, they gave him the scholarship anyway. Within one week at Pratt, during a draw-the-live-nude-female model class of all things, Rudy, with his ridiculously pampered biceps shaming the rest of his neglected body, punched the professor in the nose, breaking it, and that was the end of all Pratt’s offers: for Rudy. Rudy spent the next eight years standing in front of the candy store. Finally, age twenty-six, he got a job in a nuts and bolts factory. I guess he must have finally decided to yield a bit further to the economy after all, because the last thing I heard Rudy was the manager of a bank in California.
Put our lives side by side and I think I’ve gone Rudy several procrastinations better. I did graduate, though the teachers told me it was impossible. I did go to college, Columbia, in the freaking Ivy League, and didn’t break the professor’s nose, but I never did join the economy: and I’ll be seventy next month!
My best army buddy, Phil, taught college for a while, like I did, but then, a decade and a half earlier than I did, started madly writing a few novels. Was writing novels a procrastination for writing his Ph.D. thesis? Well, that’s interpretation — as Nietzsche said, there are no facts, only interpretations — but I believe that not-writing his Ph.D. thesis was a procrastination for not-writing his novels. (One of the biggest disappointments in my life was not liking his novels!) But then Phil got some shit job, some all nighter, wiping the ass of a main frame computer for a bunch of banks. After a while, several years — of procrastinating, not writing his Ph.D. thesis And not writing his novels, the computer service started paying him lots of money, in cash. Alas, Phil became avid at it, became a programmer, got promoted, got in on the ground floor of a start-up …
Was making money a procrastination for writing his Ph.D. thesis? or for writing his novels? Or had the doctorate and the novels been procrastinations for making lots of money and living in a nicer house than you grew up in?
I just penned a blasphemy of the kind I long ago became convinced God was amused by, not indignant at all (though humans, taking God’s name in vain, appointing themselves his spokesmen, crucifying God’s real friends, make sure such blasphemies get punished by man if not by God), at such jeux:

Universe: what God did while he was procrastinating from doing something else.

Well, hell: if God made man in his image, and we’re procrastinators, isn’t it a fair joke to imagine God as likewise a procrastinator?
No. Not it the conventionally religious are watching. Be clever long enough, and they’ll finally notice: stacks of crosses to the ready, piles of jails …

Writers Block
I read a wonderful procrastination story decades ago in the New Yorker. That magazine hired some young writer. Immediately he suffered from writers block. It didn’t help that over the transom he heard the typewriter of some veteran writer for the magazine. The keys he heard were smacking the paper on the roller with the rapidity of a machine gun. The more he overheard the other guy’s writing fertility the less he could produce. He was well on his way to the mad house before learning that they manic typing he heard was the veteran’s version of writers block: he wrote madly about being unable to write!
I seldom suffer from writers block anymore, but who knows what my life wouldn’t have been like if I had ever actually been published, or commissioned to a particular task: if I ever had a job, like those guys? I don’t take direction from the kleptocracy at all well. Meanwhile, the kleptocracy doesn’t take direction from me at all.

OK. After I go kill some more mildew on my roof, between rain drops this time of year, a process I’ve already been at for seven days, I tell some pk the Procrastinator stories here: scrapbook style: just running them on as they occur to me, with the possibility of ordering and weaving them later.

Right now I’m writing this module: session two at a “first draft.” By doing this, what I am therefore Not doing? I’m not working on Macroinformation! I’m not working on my Deschooling section, or on my Thinking Tools!

pk Family, Friends

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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