The Idée Fixe

The east park garden in bloom.

The east park garden in bloom.

To quote Van Gogh from a letter to his brother: “Principles are good and worth the effort only when they develop into deeds. . . . The great doesn’t happen through impulse alone, and is a succession of little things that are brought together.”

Which leads to a discussion about what happens between the the thought (impulse to action) and the action. Santiago Ramón y Cajal called them “diseases of the will”:
1. There are the ineffectual but enthusiastic contemplators,
2. The pretentious intellectuals who stumble into endless erudition, but never stop preparing,
3. There are those who puff up with over-confidence, and mostly believe in miracles,
4. There are those who never manage to get the inside to the outside: the thoughts inside the mind out into the world,
5. There are the talkers, the groupies, who endlessly mine the minds of others,
6. And there are the bibliophiles–lost in book after book after book after book . . .
Who have I left out? Certainly not myself!
What have I left out? Well, I’ve left out all the parts of life that fill it up with things that have to be done, and done NOW! And I’ve left out the parts of life that have more to do with the corporeal than the ethereal: the body and the mind get tired, hungry, sore, restless, sometimes sick, sometimes anxious, often worried, frequently on hold. I’ve left out time. I’ve left out the constraints of the human condition that make it necessary to keep on keeping on with the mundane.
Now van Gogh pretty much retired to a solitude. But before then he was attracted to trouble–finding women he wanted to help: not a recipe for a steady life. Living in the days before modern medicine, he turned to art for it’s therapeutic benefit: it worked for him. It worked well enough that he spent his money on art instead of food: in the end, that didn’t work for him.
But he painted.
So let me add:
7. Life happens between the impulse and it’s manifestation. Those who manage to bring forth the pregnant impulse do so at a price.
It’s a choice, always a choice. Many say life needs to be balanced, should be balanced. But what, exactly, comes from balance? Happiness? Success? (If success can be defined.)
What is important? All I know is that what is important seems to have a short attention span. It’s like the weather near the ocean: wait a few minutes and it will change.
There is a buoy out there in the water: memory. Idée fixe, that is OBSESSION seems to be the only way to birth the interior self. Obsession has a bad reputation, though I can’t imagine why. It’s uniquely the obsessive impulse that leaves any trace of the interior self behind.
It’s Friday. It’s only on Friday that I have time like this to let my mind wander into words–at least until September. Until then, I’m a gardener. The garden, at any time of the year, is a muse. But it’s in July and August–during the summer heat–that all the work has to be done: the digging and shipping of the iris. And it’s in July and August that my mind goes into neutral: not much conscious thinking goes on on when there’s work to be done. Still, it thinks. It must still think, because while it rests it manages to put its house in order. July and August are my mind’s respite from itself.
M L S Baisch

Time Management

Good writing is never wanting for metaphor.

Good writing is never wanting for metaphor.

Time management: it’s been awhile since I’ve thought much about it. Back in the days when I did think about it, the problem was simply not having enough hours in the day: there were simply too many things to do and prioritization was essential. Some things just weren’t going to get done. Period.

Now, the days have enough time in them–though there are still too many things to ever get done, and there are still many things that never do get done. The truth is that many things just don’t need to get done.

But there is another time management sort of problem. It’s of the type that Harold Klawans wrote about in his story, Chekhov’s Lie: one simply cannot do justice to both one’s wife and one’s mistress. In other words, the mind has room for only one obsession at a time. An obsession, by definition, is all-consuming.

Of course, in order to bring anything to fruition from nothing more than thought–which is what creation is–obsession is required. If one takes off in a new direction (finds a mistress), it isn’t that one intends to leave or neglect one’s wife (one’s previous interest), it’s that something important has come up and has, at least for a time, captured one’s attention.

How then does one support both one’s wife and one’s mistress, metaphorically speaking? The answer to that question, if there is one, gets back to the notion of time management. Or, more correctly, it gets to the notion of obsession management. If anyone has written on how to manage multiple obsessions, I’ve not run across it. But that’s the problem. And it’s a problem that has kept me from writing much.

If, however, you’d like to meet my mistress, just go to or or

Let it be known, that though I do love my metaphorical mistress, that I also love my metaphorical wife, and intend to re-instate my wife to her rightful place in my life somehow. I do not intend to forever neglect her: my writing life. A wife, after all, has a superiority before others, a central position, a traditional preeminence. A wife, even a metaphorical wife, is central to one’s life. A mistress . . . well, a mistress is often just a passing fancy. In my case, interest in my metaphorical mistress is more than just a titillation. She is important and I’d like to keep her around for as long as possible. But she has to make peace with my wife. Somehow.

M L S Baisch