New York City
January 26, 2020

Rotation

The volume is louder in America. Voices and sirens, the televisions playing in empty lobbies and waiting rooms. We talked about not staying in New York. We talked about finding a way back to Helsinki and we discussed moving to Taipei. We imagined ourselves in the Mojave desert. I paced. I flipped open a book. My eye landed on Kierkegaard’s “rotation method” in which he compares the shape of a life to the rotation of crops in a field:

One tires of living in the country, and moves to the city; one tires of one’s native land and travels abroad; one tires of Europe, and goes to America, and so on; finally one indulges in a sentimental hope of endless journeyings from star to star. Or the movement is different but still extensive. One tires of porcelain dishes and eats on silver; one tires of silver and turns to gold; one burns half of Rome to get an idea of the burning of Troy. But this method defeats itself: it is plain endlessness.

Instead of changing the location, Kierkegaard argues, we must change the method of cultivation. “Here we have the principle of limitation, the only saving principle in the world,” he says. “The more you limit yourself, the more fertile you become in invention. A prisoner in solitary confinement for life becomes very inventive, and a simple spider may furnish him with much entertainment.”

Today a basketball star and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. Breaking news that the former national security advisor with a ridiculous mustache wrote a memoir about the president’s illegal behavior. He probably won’t testify in the impeachment trial but his book will be a bestseller when it comes out next month. A decade ago nearly sixty inches of snow had fallen in New York City by this point in the winter. As of today, there’s barely been four inches this season.

Further reading: Søren Kierkegaard; excerpt from Either/Or (1843) via Lawrence Weschler’s Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees.

Each night in 2020 I'm writing a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I want to etch these days into my memory before I forget them. Before the world changes completely.
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