May 1. The other day I wrote:
Driving really wears me out mentally. Most people can just zone out, but I have to give it my full conscious attention to not crash, and it always seems like everyone is going much too fast.... I actually believe there's some kind of collective unconscious that prevents car crashes, because when you look at how incompetent humans are generally, and how casual people are about safe driving, there should be a hundred times as many crashes.
I live in Ho Chi Minh City, and here that collective consciousness is glaringly obvious. I joked that you could do a documentary about Vietnamese motorbike riders where David Attenborough says "despite decades of research, nobody knows how they so precisely and quickly coordinate their movements."
Now I'm trying to diagnose myself, because I've never experienced that kind of flow state. It's not mental vs physical. In middle school I was the worst athlete in every sport, but I was also the best calligrapher in art class and the best lathe worker in shop class. When I get in the flow, it's always working alone, with unlimited time to really focus my attention.
I think the reason I can't get into the flow in fast group activities, is that I have something like proprioceptive dysfunction. It's not that I don't know where my limbs are or how to move them, but that I don't know subconsciously. For me to walk around without bumping into things, takes the same kind of mental focus as saying tongue twisters, or counting the grooves around a coin. Maybe I'm good at those things because I have to practice that kind of precise focus all the time, just to navigate the physical world without people getting mad at me.
Related: On Monks and Email. It's a short post about how medieval monks arranged their lives to eliminate distractions so they could spend hours in deep thought, and how we're basically the opposite.
May 3. Long article from the Guardian, Post-work: the radical idea of a world without jobs. Every time I read an article about "work", I like to go through and mentally substitute "work for money", because that's what they're really talking about, and it makes the issue a lot more clear. For example, when a politician says "Mankind is hardwired to work," he means we're hardwired to be active, and he can't imagine any way of managing human activity other than the money-based system that's only a few hundred years old, and already failing.
Related, a short blog post, I Can't Do Anything for Fun Anymore; Every Hobby Is an Attempt to Make Money. I'm the opposite. When I start a creative project, I see the world of money as a danger.
For example, this long reddit comment describes the conflict between Mike Love and Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson wanted to keep pushing the boundaries of creativity, while Mike Love wanted to make money by giving audiences what they expected. You have to fight to show people something different from what's already in their heads, and the more money you're making, the harder it is.