Gnomicon 217

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Introduction to Gnomica.

Gnomicon  217
Saturday 15 December 2012
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 The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.
Lee Iacocca (15 Oct 1924 – )

This rock star of CEOs ran Chrysler from 1978 to 1992.  And I couldn’t agree more with his notion – though probably in a different sense from the way in which he intended it.  Thus, I imagine him plotting production improvements or general business strategies, and starting the process by writing down what he had in mind – either in an extended narrative or simply with some jottings on the back of an envelope, and then turning this material over to armies of effectuating MBAs and assistants.

I, of course, not being a CEO of any kind (except, if you will indulge a strained analogy, of my own life) am pondering neither general business strategies nor production improvements.  But I do think about how better to run my own life and deal with all the snafus that inevitably separate the original idea from its implementation and the final results.  Perhaps one may be forgiven for – broadly speaking — so pursuing the business analogy.

Whether in business or in life, the first step to any solution to anything is to clarify in quite specific detail the nature of the problem in need of solution.

In connection with putting a strategy of this kind into practice – of actually doing something about a problem — I am fortunate in that I have always liked to write (at about age thirteen or so I laboriously typed out my first ‘story’ on my Mother’s aging Smith-Corona – wish I still had that tale somewhere!).  And writing, just writing, has seen me through some rough periods – personal losses, first year of graduate school (wish I still had those three hundred odd pages too of hand-written musings and moanings about this and that and so forth).  It was never so much a conscious effort to explain to myself how to get this done or get through that as it was a sanity-preserving device.

The blank page – or, to move up into the modern world – the blank screen facing me on my computer beckons to be filled, be filled with my conversations with wisdom drawn from others of ages past, be filled with the projected solutions drawn from somewhere within.  For me, the written word forces a kind of rigor, a kind of discipline on me that merely talking does not:  I have to take the time to search the store-house of my personal lexicon for the mots justes or the phrases that will just pin down what I want to say. And then this embarrassment of lexical abundance must be organized into coherent sentence obedient to standard rules of syntax, and the sentences strung together into lucid narratives.

And this writing down of stuff compels a kind of disciplinary severity with myself that just talking about matters to another person or – as I have also done on occasion – to a tape recorder largely obviates!  And what I write down has an organized permanence (as long as I keep the files or print them out!) that desultory and fleeting thought never can enjoy.

The image I have in my own mind of what goes on is this:  there is somewhere deep in there this hopelessly tangled skein of confused and messy feelings, wants and thoughts whose very untidy and chaotic disarray blocks the possibility of applying any kind of structured thinking to a potential unraveling. But writing does: by its very rule-bound and method-driven nature it at least articulates the interior chaos, gives some shape to it, perhaps offers a clearer and more distinctly limned view of the essential issues in play.

I can’t seem to think myself into clarity, but I do seem to write my way to it – at least partially.

Now, whether or not I execute as a result of these written clarifications is to be sure another matter entirely.

For it is an article of faith with me that, in the final analysis, however much I might come to understand and untangle a problem as a result of my writing, actually dealing with the matter is not – like writing — a head game:  it’s an action program.

To this day I continue to write.

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