How we make it. Derrida, a 3s vignette, and a turkey sandwich recipe for long working afternoons.
After 8:00 p.m. I tend to be very stupid and we won't talk about this.
—Ursula K. Le Guinn, on her daily routine
Because I don’t have enough on my plate already, I’m auditing Derrida & Literature, a comp-lit course at Columbia that I walk 33 minutes through inclement weather to get to. I know very little about philosophy, and have long been curious about Derrida, whose dense, convoluted writing seems to me a manifestation of all that’s wrong about academia. I own a copy of Dissemination, and the idea of investigating it without professional guidance is utterly unappealing. So, for an hour and a half, twice a week, I sit audience to a scholar who’s made it his life’s work to study the man and his output. The professor, an Irish bloke and Derrida fanboy no.1, sings and dances the subject in front of twenty-nine bright-eyed college kids, and me, his sole auditor.
He’s quite animated; it really does feel like a performance. Our first assigned reading contains excerpts from Of Grammatology, and I think, at first slog, what utterly opaque babble. The professor’s lecture on it, by contrast, is surprisingly clear and easy to follow. He compares traditional philosophy and its preference for decisive cuts between binaries, paths straight and direct; against Derrida’s penchant for the crooked, the deliberately roundabout, and ambiguous. “He performs the binary,” the professor says, “without naming it.”
Regardless of what I ultimately think about Derrida’s contribution to society, it’s exciting to attend class at a top-tier academic institution again, and to have access to the quality of synthesis and insight that I receive during these lectures. I like challenging my tastes in this way, investigating perspectives and bodies of knowledge that feel, at first, foreign and unpalatable.
In the studio
How do people make time for everything they want—and need—to do? As banal as it is to look at early morning hours as the foundation of productivity (everyone—sometimes, by the season—is different), I admit that this is also when I’ve historically been most productive.
I, too, feel stupid when it comes to generating (versus executing), after 8pm; it’s nearly impossible for me to start anything after dinner. Ideally, my day begins at 4am, with the bulk of personal work finished before noon. So far I’ve only been able to achieve this when severely jetlagged from Europe, but I’d love to have it become a routine by end of year.
As mentioned last time, I’ve been exploring Procreate Dreams for animation on the go. Last week, I finally had a chance to check out “performance mode,” where I animated a character by moving it directly onstage.
The user experience still feels, as the Derrida professor might say, fiddly to me. I still haven’t been able to figure out how to precisely set frame duration—but ex-Disney pros like Blaise are animating entire short films with it, so I chalk up some of the growing pains to my lack of expertise and familiarity with the tool.
The initial animation:
I animated scale and depth, plus a “walk cycle,” through performance mode. It took seconds, what normally would be much more involved:
For me, as for many animators, quick, low-commitment exercises like this are like sketches in a notebook. It’s how I collect and explore ideas, stay limber. Many vignettes eventually get integrated into formal projects.
Here’s what’s been feeding me
I dislike meal breaks while I work, so I appreciate long-burning fuel. I’m not really a sandwich person but the stamina afforded by this hearty turkey sandwich (I mean, it is nearly 500 calories) can’t be beat. Prep is more involved than I’d like, but I had one of these every day last week, and by Thursday, I was able to put it together in about 4 minutes. With regard to condiments—with the exception of mayo—less is more.
- Toast two slices of bread in a buttered skillet
- One one, on a generous amount of mayo, plus a wee bit of sriracha
- A little dijon on the other
- Over which: one crisp lettuce leaf,
- Thin shallot slices, quick-sautéed, for crunch,
- A smidge of relish,
- A few slices of tomato,
- Some grilled cheese
- A small dollop of savory jam, conserve, or chutney
This last is the secret to success—spoon it over the crevices created by the shallots, then trap it with the hot cheese. I use a fig & black-pepper chutney that a friend picked up for me in Paris.
I’m two episodes into the latest season of True Detective: Night Country, which is finally living up to the standards set by the resplendant first. Jodie Foster rocks my world.
During the course of a recent evening with fellow artists and writers, my co-host played The Aces’ latest album. 2023, but make it 1995. My heart panged like anything.
I was fascinated by this account of a woman who spent 508 days alone in a cave. People are strange, and insane.
Until next time.