It is doubtful that you are waiting for 𝌡 Uman’s arrival. But if you were, I apologize. I went through a lot in the past three weeks, forcing me to rethink how I write and share online.
I have decided to simplify (again) my newsletter writing system, so I can focus on tending forest garden of the mind. Moving forward, I am implementing the following changes:
- My other newsletter, Lilim, will be integrated into Uman. This means that all future Lilim issues will be linked to Uman. Managing one newsletter is more straightforward than two.
- Uman will continue to be sent monthly but in a simpler format. Instead of spending four days and more piecing together a narrative of my past month, I will be using Uman to share links to changes I made to my website, which mainly include writing progress I have made in my forest garden. I’ll be linking to notes about what I am referring to as my “forest garden of the mind” in the next Uman issue, but for now, you can go around my website and poke around its design to get an idea of what I am talking about.
With that out of the way, let’s get right into the July issue of Uman. Uman, the Pangasinan word for “change,” documents the monthly changes I go through as I walk The long walk of life. It serves as a cairn to the journey, marking where I have been in both geographic and intellectual excursions for an entire month.
Here is July 2022’s cairn.
Philosophical and other studies
I reviewed and improved my notes on henry david thoreau. I studied and thought about Thoreau for a good chunk of July 2022. I researched his choice of literary medium: the romantic excursion, and read about his quest to live his unique version of Transcendentalism and how this organized his various interests. I also continued reading Walden.
But the most crucial step I took with my relationship with Thoreau this month was learning about Thoreau’s philosophical stance after reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on him. It showed me how different I am from him philosophically, which was mind-blowing and depressing at the same time.
Reading about Thoreau’s quest inspired me to think about my own. I journaled about and published an initial note on my forest garden: my quest.
Philosophy is the core of my work
Philosophy is still my main work. The most critical work is studying and living (writing is already part of studying). Sharing is writing for others, which is not necessarily the point. The core of my work does not involve others—just myself.
I reaffirmed that the writing I do in private is the most important writing I do, which I partly learned from Thoreau. Thoreau prioritized content over style in his writing, and his journal was his magnum opus.
But if philosophy was my main work, what kind of philosophizing and philosophical writing am I attracted to?
I started reading Lost Intimacy in American Thought by Edward Mooney. It is an interesting book whose thesis is that there is a circle of philosophers who “beheld” reality rather than “theorize” about it. They put themselves in the middle of reality rather than detach themselves from it. These are philosophers who I have never heard of but are associated with Thoreau by their methods and style. The form of philosophy they wrote can be described as lyrical philosophy. To learn more about this philosophy, I read the journal article “Lyrical Philosophy or How to Sing with Mind” by Mikhail Epstein and Mooney’s definition of lyrical philosophy in his blog.
I particularly enjoyed Mooney’s lyrical writing, although it can be cryptic sometimes. I checked if he has a blog. He does, although he no longer updates it. Through Mooney, I discovered henry bugbee and his lyrical, philosophical work The Inward Morning. I am currently studying it and finding inspiration from how he did philosophy. I also journaled about Henry Bugbee’s philosophical method and how they relate to the fact that ”We learn to live while we are living.” Lastly, Bugbee’s vision helped me rearticulate my purpose: my purpose is to live deliberately.
Ordinary language philosophy
I also explored ordinary language philosophy, which was a reaction to the attempt by Bertrand Russell and the like to create a specialized language for philosophers based on logic. They argued that words and concepts could not be understood in isolation but in how they are used in everyday life. ludwig wittgenstein was one, if not the most influential proponent of ordinary language philosophy. To explore Wittgenstein, I read a few chapters from the book Wittgenstein’s Artillery.
Ideas on experimenting with lyrical philosophy
I asked myself: How can I combine truth and beauty in one philosophical practice? And I wrote what I wanted to create: artifacts of writing around universal subject matters, which are place-based and use the romantic excursion as their device.
I then listed some ideas on how I could explore and create these forms of philosophy in my work. Thinking about lyrical philosophy made me ask about emotions and their difference from feelings. The more I think about it, the more I see that philosophy sprouts out of the same tree that poetry comes from: wonder. I journaled about this similarity: Poetry and narrative trace their history so readers can re-enact them.
Photography and philosophy
Philosophy and photography can be complementary. The only time photography becomes disconnected from philosophy is if philosophy continues to become this academic intellectual theory-only exercise.
But photography takes on a different function if I take philosophy as a way to deepen life through both happiness and meaning. It becomes integral to the philosophical practice by the following examples:
- I take a philosophical thought and look for a photo to represent it.
- I use photography and walking to deepen my relationship with place and Nature.
- I use photography to elevate moments as I do with poetry.
One of my goals last July was to try to get published somewhere. I am not doing this to “build a portfolio” or anything. I am simply curious about the process. I edited, rewrote, and translated some Pangasinan poems, which I then sent to an online journal. My friend Rem provided some much-needed feedback on the verses. Preparing the poems and communicating with the editors was very instructional.
I used Kaufman’s ideas from The First 20 Hours to identify the minimum viable steps I need to take to learn photography. The result: I was able to finalize my photography learning roadmap. By the way, I finally invested in an entry-level pro camera. I’m currently slowing down with learning photography, but I will jump right into the camera once I feel the photography itch again.
I started reading Teju Cole’s beautiful debut novel Open City, a meditative collection of vignettes told from the perspective of one walker. I also read the first chapter or a few of Martin Bunzl’s Thinking While Walking. This book was written by a professional philosopher who used walking the Pacific Crest Trail to prompt him to philosophize. The general structure of the book was a narrative. Bunzl tackled one problem for every trail station, all ten of them. But the style of writing was academic philosophy and wasn’t very lyrical.
In July, I published a couple of Lilim issues:
In my journal, I wrote about what is most important to me during walks (Connection with space, object, or scene is the most important part of my walk) and how I might be better off doing short philosophical walks in a specific place for an extended period rather than long walks.
Reviewing and resetting goals
Lastly, I read James Clear’s web page on goal-setting and took some notes on Zotero. Then I read his article on Warren Buffet’s list. I pondered about the process and thought about how I could integrate it with my annual and monthly reviews. I applied the process, and it made it clear that my most significant projects in the coming months pertain to clarifying my life work.
I created a few new notes to facilitate my thinking on this goal-setting process.