This update it’s books, books, and more books, even more than usual.
First a little housekeeping note. People outside the US (and maybe some inside?) have been having trouble accessing the website, apparently because of some DNS problem with my domain registrar. So I’ve initiated a domain transfer to another registrar, and that should be taking effect later this week. Hopefully that’ll resolve the problem.
It took twice as much listening per day as I expected, but I finished the Bermúdez book, Cognitive Science. I thought it was a very helpful overview of a central issue for the field–the question of how the mind is organized and operates. It gave me an idea of the issues and positions and lots of pointers to further reading.
Tuesday our futurism group met and talked about smart drugs and psychedelics. It was very educational and thought provoking, especially since I was in the middle of the cognitive science textbook. Psychedelics and similar drugs aren’t just an illegal or immoral activity or a way to have a good time. They’re clues to the workings of the mind. So the psychologist in me hopes the way will be opened to more scientific research in that area.
The meeting reminded me that the point of psychedelics for many people is psychological or spiritual insight, and their experiences are like a condensed form of therapy. Assuming psychedelics are gateways to the secrets of the soul, it made me think people who don’t want to engage in them aren’t necessarily missing out–there are other avenues to reaching them.
Side note for anyone who’s wondering: No, I haven’t used any of these drugs, and I have no plans to. For smart drugs it’s because they’ve barely been studied.
I used my new powers of text-to-speech to finish an ebook that’s been hanging around on my Goodreads Currently Reading shelf, Trusting Doubt by Valerie Tarico. It’s a critique of evangelicalism by a psychologist and Wheaton College graduate. Unlike many skeptics I’ve encountered, she represents Christianity pretty fairly, in my view, and is concerned with holding it to a high standard of ethics rather than sneering at its absurdities. A lot of her observations were ones I share, but some were new to me. I might interact with this book as a way of organizing my reflections for my essay on my beliefs, which is a project that’s been on hold for a while.
My apartment is still in a mostly packed state, though the boxes are somewhat organized. As I’ve pondered my plans for getting it into a normal, livable state, a trio of topics has emerged: tidying, cleaning, and interior design. To get a handle on these, I’ve been finding books that would give me a solid starting point.
For tidying, I’d already listened to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and bought her more manual-like follow-up, Spark Joy.
For cleaning, I carefully sifted through the popular options available as ebooks and settled on Clean My Space by Melissa Maker. I chose it because the author approaches cleaning about the way I would–basing techniques on research, aiming for efficiency, and setting up routines. I picked up the audiobook too, which the author reads herself, and she gives it the animated personality it needs to keep the listener awake and (mostly) interested.
For interior design, I again sifted and came up with an intro textbook on the profession from the New York School of Interior Design called Home: The Foundations of Enduring Spaces. It’s written for both aspiring interior designers and people who want to design their own homes. Lots of it isn’t relevant to my situation, but I like having a full picture of the real issues in a subject. That kind of context makes me feel safer and less lost. The parts of the book that are relevant have given me helpful advice.
One principle I’ve picked up from all three topics is that you should organize your space in a way that makes it easy to clean.
My next step is to throw together an initial plan for these activities. I’m thinking the furniture arrangement should come first, and then I can discard and organize my things while I unpack.
At work we’re starting this year’s book groups, and I joined the one that’s reading Middlemarch by George Eliot, a classic British novel that’s been on my mental list but that, left on my own, I probably wouldn’t get to for years. My plan is to listen to an audio version all at once so I actually get through it and then try to at least skim the print version on the group’s schedule. The audiobook should take me a couple of weeks. I picked the Nadia May version.
I’m counting the homemaking books as part of my personal development category in my listening rotation. But I don’t want to start skipping the spiritual formation category just because I’m including other topics in personal development. So after Middlemarch I’m going to jump back to personal development for a bit and listen to Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Calhoun.
When I get distracted from a project, I’m in danger of putting it on hold for months or years. So to keep that from happening with music after being preoccupied with my move, I’ve been researching books that will give me some context and guidance for listening and composing. For general music theory I looked at the recommendations on r/musictheory and, after a library visit to compare a couple of them, picked The Complete Musician.