Friday, 26 April 2013

William of Ockham

Following on from yesterday's crowdpleasing rant (a record 7 'likes' on my alter ego's facebook page) I've decided to abuse my new found popularity to shoehorn in some philosophy and hopefully lose some of the late-to-the-game hangers-on that have started lurking around the site and go back to the days when it was just me and ubilol harping on about Bertrand Russell.

Regular readers have heard all about the origins of Finnginn, but few will know that it was this fiction of my pre-school self that first led me to encounter Ockham's Razor.

About 25 years before I was to name a blog about procrastination after him, I was convinced of Fiengins's existence (Fiengins was his real name, I just couldn't pronounce it, so adults thought I was saying Finnginn). At that age I was unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy. On a good day, I still can't.

I expect the two of you who have bothered to read this far are wondering, 'But where does William of Ockham fit into all of this?' Whenever I would blame Fiengins for some minor misdemeanour, my Father would say, "Avoid the needless multiplication of entities," and, upon observing the look of puzzlement on my cherubic face, would add, mystifyingly: "Ockham's Razor."  

Nearly three decades and a philosophy degree later I finally understand what this means. Ockham was the first person to point out that when looking for an explanation the simplest is most likely to be the correct one.

For instance, if an Easter Egg that I had been specifically told was to be saved for after dinner got eaten while I was in the house and everyone else was in the garden, there are two possible explanations:

1: I ate it.

2: A friend of mine that nobody else can see ate it.

Ockham sports the tonsured look.

On a good day, I recently found myself speculating whether an Orangutan had broken into my bathroom and deposited lots of two inch long ginger hairs into the plughole filter. But, remembering Ockham, I stopped myself invoking plurality and had a look in the  mirror. Maybe Ockham and I have something other than philosophy in common... 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Ranting about work (part one)

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I have altered my header so that it no longer reads 'hungover and debt-ridden'. It had been annoying me for some time. Nobody's permanently hungover, you have to be drunk at least as often as you are hungover. Being drunk is great as long as you haven't got anything productive to do tomorrow. Hangovers taste like soda-water. Sobriety, despite tasting like a cup of  lukewarm tea you didn't ask for but are drinking to be polite, isn't too bad for short periods and is great for productivity.

Of course, most of my readers know me as a Finnginn the philosopher/poet. But that is just my dayjob. By night, I am translated into a bartender at one of Norwich's many taverns. It occurs to me that there has been far too much poetry and philosophy on this blog and insufficient ranting about things that annoy me at work. Glancing around the rest of the blogosphere, most people don't spend months carefully constructing a poem then tenderly offer it up for criticism with an amusing anecdote that involves Steven Hawking and a girl they failed to get off with by starting a band despite a complete lack of musical ability (see The Choral Variation (part one)). No, be they postmanpolice officer or prostitute, most bloggers just seem to rant about work.

Now, there are two issues that bother every bartender. Music and ice.

Next time you are in a pub and a song you don't like comes on, here's a tip: If you wait three minutes, the track will change. If you decide to interrupt the bartender's battle with the Guardian cryptic crossword and ask him to change the track manually, you are entering dangerous ground. You may do this once per evening. He will, begrudgingly, leave his arch-nemesis Araucaria and skip the track. Never ask him to put something 'upbeat' or 'less depressing' on. You may get your one upbeat track, but listen out for an hour of Nick Cave later in your evening.

Don't imagine for a moment that you understand ice. When you are asked if you would like ice in that, don't reply 'a little bit' as if I'm going to listen to your preferences. I'm in charge of the ice. You are permitted only one preference, with or without. I begrudge you even this, but must comply. As for you who link your ice preferences to the temperature outside, I despise you.

When I ask you: 'would you like ice in your gin and tonic?' I am just fulfilling a social custom to which there is only one answer. How are you? I'm fine. Would you like ice in your gin and tonic? Yes. Essentially, I am asking you the opposite of, 'Would you like your gin and tonic to get gradually warmer and flatter over the next twenty minutes?' Only an insane person would answer 'yes' to this question. But that is the same as answering 'no' to ice in your gin and tonic.

There is a lot more to be said on the whole music/ice issue. I have added a 'part one' in parenthesis to the title of this blogpost. Be warned.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Rhyme Time

I got the bulk of this poem written in a single night and then took a month editing and tinkering. I even altered it a bit whilst typing it up here. But I think I'm happy with its basic shape now. It's about my Grandfather and the rowing boat he used to take my brother and I out in when we were children. The title refers to the boat which was called Pickle Pickle for reasons that remain obscure.

In a Pickle

Your strong arms
Steer long oars
Through calm seas.
Your arms seem so strong to me.

On wet sands,
Your deft hands
Unweave knots.
With strong arms,
You heave your boat down the beach.

My sea legs
Are feeling
I'm queasy,
You teach me
To fix my
Young eyes on
The distant
Horizon where sky greets sea.

My young eyes
Look up to
Your strong arms
And deft hands
And kenning of sea and breeze.

I think you
Would not be
To tall ship
Or longboat
And I hope
That one day
My arms will
Have strength like
The strength when your arms lift me.

I have noticed, in my recent notebooks, that my attitude to rhyme has been evolving. I'm moving away from formal rhyming structures and employing more internal and half rhymes. I really don't know why, I much prefer to read poems that rhyme. 

This previous is typical of my more recent notes in this trend of not formally rhyming but atypical in that it is complete.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A week of writing

Every Spring without fail I have an idea for a novel. 

On the first day of writing, I will bang out thousands of words in notes and sections of prose and conversations where I will fill in the names and details afterwards. 

On the second day of writing, I will sit in the garden with my notebook, watching the bees sniff lazily at the rosebush I should probably be pruning. Then I scrawl furiously for an hour and a half. 

On the third day of writing, I will transfer notebook notes to laptop and feel smug about wordcount.

On the fourth day, I won't write much but will try and fill in the names and details I omitted during the rush of creativity on day one.

On the fifth day, I worry that I'm not progressing as fast as I was earlier. I re-read the earlier stuff and start to hate it.

On the sixth day, I wonder if there is anything in my archive that I can crowbar in to get the wordcount up.

On the seventh day, I wake up and see that autumn has come and I go back to bed and wait for Spring and a new idea.