Finding Everyday Inspiration: Consistency is a Hobgoblin

16 comments

Part of WordPress’s writing course Finding Everyday Inspiration.

Continuing to take clues from my readers, here’s a suggestion by David Bennett (hello and thanks!). The suggestion isn’t a suggestion (wait, read on). But I can easily recast it into one! David originally thought along the lines “anything to get the writing juices going” (I really shouldn’t get so much freedom for my free writing). Then David’s own writing juices got going on the subject of consistency (consistency to be continued after an inconsistent digression below).

Apropos Creative Juices

Now, the phrase creative juices always startles me. I’m creating in my head the image of juices flowing and I’m not sure what to make out of it. What juices in the first place? Orange juice? I don’t currently contain orange juice. I suspect that the brain juice which makes the mind work is blood really. So I’m imagining blood flowing. You know, as in, Let’s spill some blood and type some thoughts on the screen. This is getting mildly Gothic. By the way, guess what my native language says instead of creative juices? We say poetic saliva. Literal translation. This isn’t any better than blood. You know, as in, Let’s get the body fluids flowing and get creative.

Speaking of Emerson smoking weed (below), here’s some weed

As to Consistency…

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.
—R. W. Emerson

The above quote would have been so deep if anyone knew what a hobgoblin is. Don’t tell me, I know already, but I had to Google it years ago, which really deprived the quote of any potential spontaneous aha moment. I don’t particularly revere Emerson (I don’t revere most classics, I promote my own) and I still blame him for the horrible weekend I had ages ago trying to crack his essay on Nature. I mean, “I become a transparent eyeball etc. etc.” What the heck, Emerson? Whatever you’ve been smoking during your trips (as in drug trips), quit it, it’s not making your writing any more transparent.

As David pointed out in his comment/suggestion, consistency is a diagnosis of its own. I collect diagnoses, so I naturally couldn’t miss on this one. I’ve been pathologically consistent most of my life, and so far I’ve discovered that it’s good for one thing only: proofreading. Otherwise it sucks. On the other hand, I’ve made a huge improvement. Professionally, I’m still so consistent that I annoy the shit out of everyone, including myself and my cat (whom I feed consistently at 7:30 pm, not 7:29, for example), but on the blog, I don’t care. That’s my anti-consistency therapy.

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16 comments on “Finding Everyday Inspiration: Consistency is a Hobgoblin”

  1. I used to be desperate to study the classics but chose science because everyone assumed it would be easier to get a job. However, your “translucent eyeball” comment makes me think I made the right decision 😂😂

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      1. Thanks Mara. Sometimes I think if only I’d done something in the creative arts instead, but you know what, i ended up here anyway, so I guess it’s ok!

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  2. “I collect diagnoses”. Isn’t that the truth! As soon as those psychiatrists get their claws into you, it’s one diagnosis after another. Last night I met a recovering addict who told me that when she first went into recovery her head was a total mess, and she felt physically unwell. She eventually went to her doctor, who sent her to a psychiatrist. During the period of time when she was seeing him, she managed to collect 9 diagnoses. She refused meds, as she was scared they’d lead her back to street drugs, but she was struggling until she found Narc Anon, and did the 12 step programme. She says the programme cleared almost all of her symptoms. It taught her to love herself, and a whole load of other things besides. Now she’s doing the programme again.
    I’ve heard people say stuff like that before. Makes me think…

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    1. Thank you tuning in with your experience, which certainly is worth a thought (or two or more)! It’s a very complex issue and a very individual one.

      It’s true that before I had to go for a stay at the psychiatric ward, I just had depression and was on no medication, but returned from the hospital with a bunch of new diagnoses and meds. I’ve however found that while some of the meds are okay to pass on, some others I need to take if I wish to keep myself in a reasonably working order.

      Obviously, as you point out, the most important thing is to work on your own mindset and attitude. No one can do this for you.

      Stay safe and sane!

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  3. I’ve been using the hobgoblin quote for years, usually to critique overly-rational and hence obstructive approaches to language learning. I agree that Emerson is unreadable and unbearably wishy-washy. In fact, in my opinion, most 19th century literature is. It is what puts a lot of people off literature in school. I am working, however, on a post on Emily Dickinson, whose take on unreason and ambiguity is, by contrast, as sharp as stitchwork.

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    1. The hobgoblin quote is classic, so is Emerson, but he’s neither readable not that relevant today except as a point of historical interest. Dickinson, on the other hand, transcends time.

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  4. Aha, hobgoblin…I had to google..
    I, at first, read hemoglobin, haha, nope. Although you mentioned blood flow and diagnosis, this quote wasn’t about red cells.
    I guess I’d be consistently bored reading his essays.

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    1. Hemoglobin! No wonder you read this word after all my talk of creative juices, saliva and blood. I was not only consistently bored reading Emerson but also extremely frustrated.

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  5. Now I have to think of what the expression about the flowing juices is in Swedish … it escapes me right now. I haven’t read Emerson, but I’ve seen a lot of quotes going around the web. The translucent eyeball just reminded me of when we got to dissect a cow’s eye in school … what a huge part of the eye that is ‘behind’, that we never see … the vitreum. I’m always on the look-out for the ‘perfect’ red ink … that looks like I’d slit a vein and pumped it into my fountain pen 🙂

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    1. You got to dissect a cow’s eye at school? Wow! We only dissected a tomato. It was very unexciting. We also watched some bacteria under the microscope. That was more interesting, but not as much as dissecting a transparent eyeball. Hope you’ll find your preferred blood-coloured ink! That sounds like a colour I’d love too.

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