Lichtenbergians, part two

Before I write about each of my Lichtenbergian goals, I need to explain why this group means so much to me, if I can.

As part of our discussion Saturday night, Craig kept asking why, given the Void that is ignorant of our efforts, is it useful at all to talk about our creativity? Jeff finally replied that it provides us with a sense of community, that we are not alone in our efforts. There are others like us.

A truism, of course, since the other side of our discussion was the idea that we are evolutionarily compelled to create the thing-that-is-not, but sometimes in our modern world we can forget that. Especially as men in small town, middle class America, we find ourselves on the outside, wondering indeed whether all the time we scrape together to pursue our art is worth it.

So this group of men meets fairly often, but especially this once, to say those things which rattle around inside us, to share the ideas and theories and plans we have, to meet and understand that we are not alone, that what we feel we must do is in fact understandable by someone else.

And this night, the Annual Meeting, with all of its made-up ceremony and ritual, is the most important night. Because that ceremony, that fake little ritual, requires us to present our selves as Accomplished. We must drop the pretense that we’re not really artists and instead proclaim what we want to do in the coming year. We must bind ourselves to our fellow Lichtenbergians in a trust that demands that we regard our creative impulses as legitimate and not merely impulses, but imperatives.

This is the third year we’ve done this, and I have found my three lists to be interesting in their arc. Last year I had seven goals. I don’t even remember what all of them were, but I didn’t meet a single one. It was stinging.

And so I lowered my sights. Last solstice I set only four goals, and they were ones I knew I could meet. And I met them, all four. It was stinging.

I felt as though I had cheated, as if I had lowballed myself and the Society. I did not feel accomplished, smug, or even happy that I had made all four goals. They were measly goals, cramped, little things that might have made others proud, but not me.

This year, therefore, I made some goals I felt would be honorable to make, and some more that I felt would be honorable even to fail at.

Because when I bind myself to these guys, it means something.

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