Thursday, October 28, 2004

A notebook of Every thought in your head

I've just skim read the first chapter or so of this.

It's oddly compelling. Partly because it reads exactly as it was written - JUST BLURTED OUT, and as such is hanging in some strange liminal middleground between sanity and schizoid rambling.

It's that 'Is the writer sane?' that fascinates me. He admits that his system for capturing every important thought will bring clarity, but also drive you mad. The intensity of his belief in the process of capturing all of his thoughts also seems to verge on insanity - who on earth in their right mind does try to capture their entire inner life? The obsessive and quixotic nature of the task seems to mark it as being the project of someone in the grip of a compulsion.

The other thing that... prickles about the piece is it's closeness to 'The curious incident of the dog in the night time'. The approach to writing sounds like the voice of the autistic narrator. So, is this fiction? An elaborate hoax? How did the author of 'dog' have such insight into the fractured narrative of an autistic mind? Is there a literature of insanity?

Then, of course, there's the similarity to my current working process. I've spent two months documenting my though processes around building a CMS to run websites - in notebooks (and yes, using a homebrewed annotation system), through mindmaps, on wiki pages, in links through I'm externalising my thought process in the pursuit of a product. Not the best way to go about it, but the need to hold the entire scope in my head has been overwhelming.

Strangely, I've had long conversations about my need to hold perfectible mental models in my head during various theraphy sessions. So is this a manifestation of the 'mad' side of my personality? The slightly strange and intense bits that make me good with systems and classification, and absolutely terrible at tact?

Who knows. But I think I may abandon my idea for a crazy art project of capturing everything in the world in a taxonomy of my own making, using mind maps. Despite the lure of the fun of the project - and yes, that is my definition of fun - I think the damage it would do to my mental state might not be a good payoff...

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