Soo nearly wrote ’16 and flipped myself into a Groundhog Day spiral… no, not doing 2016 again, ta.
Okey-day. Happy Friday! It is in fact Friday 13th and I am inordinately happy about that. And the prompt is Look around your desk or room, choose an item you can hold in the palm of your hand, and write about it until you run out of things to say or run out of time. This came out of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which everyone should read if they have a spare week or so – if you’re keen, hit me up, I’ve got a DRM-free ecopy I can send your way. It’s confusing until you work out who Phdrus and Chris are, but so, so worth it.
I’ve found an object, and I’m giving myself until dinnertime. (Pizza. No way am I missing pizza.)
This is a little pin badge that my good friend Walter sent me from Waterstones. (At this point I could legitimately segue off onto Waterstones if I felt like it.) The badge is a little over an inch across, just the right size to balance the ‘no circular reasoning’ pin on the denim jacket where I keep my collection of patches. (At this point I could legitimately segue off onto the contents of the jacket and what they all mean. I have to do this most times I wear it anyway.) It appears to be paper under a hard plastic laminate, crimped onto an aluminum backing. The pin is stiff to open, on a safety-pin loop with an elegant simple bend clasp rather than a cage. (At this point I could legitimately segue off onto safety-pins, the history, uses, and manufacture of.)
The aluminum is very shiny, and I can see the sky reflected in it. The plastic crumples a little where it gathers at the edges, and has a pleasingly milled feel to run one’s fingers over. (At this point I could legitimately segue off onto milling, coins, and the reasons for either or both.) Around the edge, the paper under the plastic is a rich deep black, curving upwards to join the perfect circle framing the design of the badge: a fine green ring, around a buttery pale-yellow disc. The words say “To read or not to read… never a question,” in a subtly serif font in mint-green for the first line and black for the second. (At this point I could legitimately segue off onto Hamlet, or Shakespeare, or commonly understood literary references if I felt like it.)
And now there’s pizza, so I have run out of time. (Green olives, yum.) But – did you notice the ‘legitimate segue’ tags? The general idea of Pirsig’s theory is that the small thing is to start you off, and once you’ve kicked the idea that only big things are worth writing about, you can go literally anywhere. I could comfortably have written a full-on essay off-the-cuff, no references or extra research, on any of those tags except maybe Waterstones. And if I felt like doing extra research (I don’t, I don’t usually do for fun what I’m also doing for work at the time) I could write about aluminum or circles or (a little tenuously) geometry.
The point of this exercise is that it isn’t hard and doesn’t require you to go read anything.
So k’oya’cyi, Walter, you didn’t realize you were sending me a blog topic!
Next month’s topic, for which I will be posting on the 13th and with which you may do as you like, is: Write about chocolate. This can be literally anything about chocolate: your favorite, your least favorite, a comprehensive review of every chocolate candy bar you’ve eaten in the last year, cool recipes to share, amusing facts, interesting fiction… you get me. Sure, it’s a lame prompt – I wanna do one really fun and stupid one before I turn 21 and have to pretend to be more grownup.
Thanks for reading.