So at 84k+ words in about 10 days—albeit a good many cobbled or rewritten from other things—my first-next project, Too Big to Surveil: Tech, World Peace, and Chocolate, is first-drafted.
It’s a nonfiction book translating my dissertation and postdoctoral research and beyond for a popular audience. Also a constructive, creative critique of the surveillance state. Also a travel memoir. I was going for Sarah Vowell meets, well, somebody much nerdier than Sarah Vowell. But being me, I probably also did lots of these poetic and non-linear things that I try to not do. But they happen anyway. I’ll probably have to fix that. And all the things.
Now I am going to put this monster on a shelf and walk far, far away. For a few days.
I want to ask who can help bake the cake. I have a tiered list of people I could ask, want to ask. There are seven tiers. There are a lot of people. I don’t want to bother any of them. Plus, it has to be, like, really good before I can ask. Obviously.
“You’ve got … your Despairing type, who’s fine as long as he’s in the quick-improvement stage before a plateau, but then he hits a plateau and sees himself seem to stall, not getting better as fast or even seeming to get a little worse, and this type gives in to frustration and despair, because he hasn’t got the humbleness and patience to hang in there and slog, and he can’t stand the time he has to put in on plateaux, and what happens?”
“Geronimo!” the other kids yell, not quite in sync.
“You’ve got your Obsessive type … so eager to plateau-hop he doesn’t even know the word patient, much less humble or slog, when he gets stalled at a plateau he tries to like will and force himself off it, by sheer force of work and drill and will and practice, drilling and obsessively honing and working more and more, as in frantically, and he overdoes it and gets hurt, and pretty soon he’s all chronically messed up with injuries, and he hobbles around on the court still obsessively overworking, until finally he’s hardly even able to walk or swing, and his ranking plummets.”
“Then [there’s] maybe the worst type, because it can cunningly masquerade as patience and humble frustration. You’ve got the Complacent type, who improves radically until he hits a plateau, and is content with the radical improvement he’s made to get to the plateau, and doesn’t mind staying at the plateau because it’s comfortable and familiar, and he doesn’t worry about getting off it, and pretty soon you find he’s designed a whole game around compensating for the weaknesses and chinks in the armor the given plateau represents in his game, still—his whole game is based on this plateau now.
And little by little, guys he used to beat start beating him, locating the chinks of the plateau, and his rank starts to slide, but he’ll say he doesn’t care, he says he’s in it for the love of the game, and he always smiles but there gets to be something sort of tight and hangdog about his smile, and he always smiles and is real nice to everybody and real good to have around but he keeps staying where he is while other guys hop plateaux, and he gets beat more and more, but he’s content.”