Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Diversity of Thoughts

You probably recognize this fellow. He's (I guess you could say) iconic. Rodin's Thinker. One of the places in the world where he sits is outside the Detroit Institute of Arts. Through rain, sleet, snow, dead of night, sweltering summer, and all the rest, there he sits.

Growing up in Detroit, I passed him more times that I can say. But it wasn't until I returned to Detroit a few years ago, to do research for my novel, that I really took him in, the way an adult mind can, especially an adult mind in the process of trying to understand. He seemed such an apt symbol for what has happened in Detroit over the years. Or not that exactly. He seems an apt symbol for the puzzle of figuring out what happened to his city. I mentioned him in my novel because this struck me in a powerful way. Oh, call it an epiphany if you like. I even named the last chapter of my novel after him.

I'm sure you read/heard the news this week about Detroit, about the population decline as reflected in the latest census figures, about the residents of Detroit who continue to struggle to stay in and support and believe in their city. It's a lot to think about.
There are a lot of other things to think about too. And I've been thinking that we don't take enough time for thinking. Please don't ask me who I mean by "we."
I've been worrying that too many important decisions--in business, politics, the world--are being made without sufficient time to reflect. I've been thinking that doing something like writing a novel is almost an anachronism, because it is such an exercise in deep thought. Don't worry. This isn't an announcement that I'm abandoning this particular form of anachronism. I'm actually making good progress with my novel, and am feeling it come into focus. But still, what am I to make of the frantic pace of things? What am I to make of the lack of time we have to think?

4 comments:

Jim Poznak said...

What are you to make of the frenetic pace? Perhaps you can help change it by your own example. Such as, taking the time to write your novel, and telling the world about the other ways in which you move to your own rhythm.

Susan Messer said...

Thank you, luv. Now that's starting to remind me of Harry Levine's brand of magical thinking, though. If he just keeps doing what he's doing, showing up, being the one responsible man, maybe he can keep things together. A coincidence that I would have anything in common with him, don't you think?

rasirds@cox.net said...

I am not a part of collective thinking, meaning what I assume most people think about, is not intense unless they talk about one thing and think about something else. Generally conversation is fairly indicative of thoughts though.

Many people are able to get their nails done and get eye lash extensions without thinking about the negative "what if?" for an elective medical procedure. A neighbor told me she voted for W because he is cute. And Ms. Palin could indeed heal the world. I worry about the effects of elevated radiation on people who have already been medically exposed to high, often unmonitored amounts of radiation in addition to living near nuclear plants. Consequently the possibility of qualifying the importance of worrying is judgmental.

I don't think the amount of time spent thinking about a particular issue is significant. Instead it's the quality of time one devotes to serious mind exercise.

The pace is too frantic and we all fall prey to this fact, but we live in this frantically-paced mental, emotional and physical environment. It is not changeable since it's considered "progress" if we are to believe that.

All that said, it sounds like you've found a adequate enough time to think to not chastise yourself.

Think about that!

Susan Messer said...

I'm thinking.