Lichtenbergians

This past Saturday was the Annual Meeting of the Lichtenbergian Society, a top-secret organization for creative procrastinators. That is, creative men who procrastinate, not men who procrastinate creatively. We celebrate the virtues of procrastination. We are a veritable support group for procrastination. With drinking.

This Annual Meeting is one of the most important evenings of the year for me. Even though we gather often during the year and are companionable and argumentative, even though we have a website through which we communicate our ideas and passions, still this particular meeting stands out, because it’s the only meeting in which we have a ritualized ceremony.

We toast our genius Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, German physicist, aphorist, and satirist, and inveterate procrastinator. We submit Corroborative Evidence of our Claims, i.e., creative works the creators of which would have been well-advised to have procrastinated over a good deal longer. Then we Consign said Corroborative Evidence to the Flames.

Next comes the part that means the most to me. We have a journal in which the recording secretary has recorded each member’s Proposed Efforts the preceding year. The secretary reads out the list of what we thought we might accomplish this year, and to each we have to respond: “Accomplished” or “Cras melior est” (our motto, which means “Tomorrow is better”). After everyone has confessed responded to the secretary, and there’s a lot of discussion and commentary, we stand and have a silent meditation on the Year’s Efforts, followed by a silent toast.

This year, I am ashamed to say, I accomplished all four of my goals. Last year I was zero for seven, which is also pretty bad, but at least had the virtue of making me an exemplary Lichtenbergian. This year I felt cheesy, as if I had cheated somehow by choosing easy-to-conquer goals, and as if I had not set goals extravagant enough to be worth attempting. Success did not make me feel as if I had accomplished anything.

So in the next part of our ceremony, I was determined to challenge myself more. This is the Engrossment of the Proposed Efforts: each Lichtenbergian states for the record what he hopes to accomplish creatively this year. This is an awe-inspiring exercise, because you know that at the next winter solstice, you’re going to be confronted with your claims and have to acknowledge your success or failure.

After everyone is done, we have another toast, to the Proposed Efforts, followed by the agenda. This year’s topic was “compulsion and void,” revolving around the polar ideas that a) we are compelled by our nature to create, and b) we are confronted by the void which renders our creations pointless. How do we deal with these ideas as artists? And it may be that more toasts are made as the evening progresses. You get the idea.

What were my Proposed Efforts?

  • continue my painting, both the abstract Field series and my studies for the Epic Lichtenbergian Portrait
  • restart the 24-Hour Challenge, which to my surprise I had proposed last year to do only for six months, which is just about what I managed
  • compose one complete work, any description
  • write one good short story
  • begin work on A Perfect Life, my proposed description of what it’s like to live a life like mine
  • and in conjunction with all of the above, produce a lot of crap, i.e., produce boatloads of work

I think what I’ll do is blog about this for a couple of days. I need to write more anyway, and I need to set forth some ideas about this whole process and each of the particulars.

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