Culture

13 Weeks of Wild Man Writing and Radical Reading

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Check out the previous installments in the evolutions of my 2013 Self-Improvement Experiment:

December 31, 2012: 7 New Year’s Resolutions I Invite Others to Steal

February 2, 2013: The Plan So I Don’t Waste the Last Year of My 20s 

April 10: The 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen

May 8: Every American Needs to Read Books to Understand Islam 

July 6: We Must Read Tons of Books With a Clear Purpose

September 28: The 20 Books in My New To-Blog-About-and-Review Pile 

Well, the past few weeks I’ve fallen off the wagon with my 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen. I tried to blend my daily reading/blogging series with my book reviews and favorite author promotions. But my challenge as an editor has remained the same: it can be real rough to try and balance editing and writing. Each day will be different and new challenges will emerge that need attention. So the focused time to try and integrate a serious analysis of an author’s book with the news of the day often did not materialize.

But I think I’ve figured out a solution. To define and implement it I’m doing what I mentioned in last week’s preview of the new 13 Weeks Season — stopping the last experiment early and starting new to align with Rhonda, Sarah, and the turn of the seasons. For your own 13 Weeks experiment I recommend trying to start with the seasons and shift your goals according to each season’s opportunities. 13×4=52, BTW.

So for this new attempt to organize my book research, I’m emphasizing a few new components of the strategy. Most important: I’m going to schedule some writing time into the mix — so-called “wild man” writing time. This is when one tells the internal editors and proofreaders to take a coffee break while you focus on writing as much as possible, as quickly as possible, legibility and spelling be damned. Just get the raw, uncensored version of yourself out there and you can rein yourself in and edit when typing later.

One of the ideas that I’ve gradually come to accept and now will attempt to institutionalize is that reading, writing, editing, and publishing are four very different tasks. With the rise of New Media now all four have been squished together. Many writers and bloggers today have grown accustomed to creating media in a perpetual rush to keep up with the gushing news flow and the demands to maximize web traffic for hot stories. These four tasks have been blended together and in today’s tech world one must learn to shift from one incoming task to another every few minutes.

I’ve decided that in order to increase both the quality and quantity of my writing I have to divide up these four tasks so I can intensely focus on each. I’m influenced in this by both Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin and their adoption of the Pomodoro technique. They’ve found success in focusing on single tasks for 25 minutes at a time, then taking a 5-minute break, and then after 4 cycles taking a 20 minute break.

In pursuit of this method I base my 10 revised rules from the foundation Charle established with his original 4 13 Weeks Principles:

By accident, however, I’d noticed a process, or pattern.

  1. Decide there’s something you want to change.

  2. Find ways to measure your progress.

  3. Decide on some small unthreatening things you can do that should affect those measures.

  4. Track the results for 13 weeks and see what happens. It helps to pick appropriate tools and techniques for that tracking, but something as simple as a Seinfeld calendar, where you just draw an X on a calendar for every day you do something can be very powerful.

So for me, in revising my 10 rules (amended last in July here) I’ll keep in mind Charlie’s mold. My answers to the four points:

  1. I want to change both the quantity and quality of my reading research and daily writing.
  2. I will blog 5-7 days a week and rather than doing a round-up 5 days a week, I’m just going to do a daily reading journal of the day’s PJM content and other links around the web that jump out.
  3. I’m hoping that the Pomodoro approach will be the small change that can improve the results.
  4. In addition to my daily blogging about progress, I’m formalizing a practice I’ve experimented with for a few weeks now. The Wife recommended a new journal — this 600 page whopper. I’ve kept it open throughout the work day and tried to notate more how I spend my time. Some days are more detailed than others…1377587_10101463255780688_488261950_n954899_10101463583898138_996510173_n

10 Tips for Those Wanting to Write And Read A Whole Lot More

This is my third season of creating rules to try and organize my book research. I’ve been pleased with the results so far and hope that this approach can also work as well for writing as it did for reading.

1. I will stay organized with what I’m reading and what I want to read using my Freedom Academy Book Club account.

If you don’t have one yet then I strongly encourage you to sign up now — it’s free and on the same system as the PJ Media comments. The Book Club allows you to add books to your own digital book shelves, leave reviews, and make recommendations. I’ll especially utilize the “want to read” and “reading now” shelves but also try and fill in past years’ books.

2. I will maintain the 7-piles of books-to-read regimen wherein each day of the week has a different pile of books grouped by subject — but with 2 small adjustments…

First, I’m combining Saturday and Sunday’s piles (and subjects) into one general weekend pile. Thus science, spirituality, Judeo-Christian values, and history will all be integrated together. (For the next year while The Wife finishes her third year of graduate school weekends remain the most unpredictable of times — just aiming for a day’s worth of the usual reading allotment is more realistic for the next 2 or 3 seasons.)

Second, with a now-open pile amongst the seven I’m going to try and dive every day into my the “to-blog-and-review” pile mentioned last week. There are plenty of recent books I’ve received to write about that I want to get to more quickly. Having a single book to focus on at a time and then also the weekly themes seems like a good balance.

3. I will read and Write back-to-back.

Rather than just striving to read each morning for 30-60 minutes before starting the day’s editorial work, I’m going to try and get into a three-part “Pomodoro series” that shifts reading, writing, and editing into separate spheres:

4. Each morning I go for a run with our Siberian Husky Maura and listen to an audio book.

While I remain somewhat embarrassed by my occasional turns to Bible-thumpery, my intent for this 13 Weeks Regimen is to put the James Earl Jones Reads the New Testament onto the iPhone. (And I need to find a good Old Testament recording too… Tips?) Others considering replicating this program are invited to substitute with something from their own religious traditions. Or secularists should go for Shakespeare plays or something literary — just something to get your brain and spirit moving in the morning. But I would advise against something too technical or detail-oriented while you’re just waking up.

5. 25 minutes reading both a book from the “to-review-and-blog-bout” pile and the day’s pile.

I’ve gotten in the habit of doing 2 cups of green tea with this… I will strive to find, photograph, and Instagram at least 2 excerpts a day and while I’ll strive to get both of them done during this initial reading session, as long as I can get one to base the morning’s writing off on then that will be sufficient. Follow me on Twitter to get sneak peeks of each day’s book excerpts and also previews of some of the links featured in my daily reading/writing journal.

6. 25 minutes to write a post by hand — the writing-first-drafts-by-hand is an approach I recommend.

Typing, word processing, and writing are all different acts. The method that one uses to write will alter what and how one writes.

7. 25 minutes to type up, edit, and prepare the post for publication.

Then when it’s ready to go I’ll have some themes in mind as I pull together the day’s news and culture links and excerpts over the course of the morning. I agree with this writer at Slate who also has this practice.

8. Regarding focus, I will maintain the plan articulated after the Boston Bombings: reading books to understand the Jihad and its postmodern Marxist allies remains my primary intellectual priority.

Books read on Monday will keep this focus. The other themes of the week will remain the same save for the weekend shift noted in point 2. I’ll read on media and technology on Tuesday, art and culture on Wednesday, conservatism on Thursday, and biographies (still Walt Disney-focused for now) on Fridays.

9. Visit the public library each week to pick up holds and return books.

I remain a fanatic, usually with 30 books checked out a time. This is one of the advantages of the Freedom Academy Book Club — it’s not specific to any platform, thus you can put in books you own, borrow, library books, Kindle books, and the random PDFs you discover online…

10. The purpose of all this: first, find new ideas through juxtaposing a variety of perspectives; second, apply them to better understand the world; and third, try to make the world better first and foremost through improving yourself.

So what books and authors am I focusing on this 13 Weeks? I’ll mostly continue the path I’ve pursued, but with a few rearrangements and also one more “Read Everything They Write” author included.

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Links in this section will go to the appropriate shelf on my Freedom Academy Book Club which will then include a link to the book itself and others similar to it. Anyone can see the titles on my 2013 Recommended Books shelf but to see the other shelves — my want-to-read, reading-now, read-this-year and read-in-previous years shelves — you will need to register to use this great new program.

Here are the authors and books I plan to focus on during this 13 weeks session.

Monday: Islam and Marxism

Robert Spencer’s Vivisection of Islam

** On My List of 2013 Recommendations: Not Peace But a Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam

** On My Reading Now Shelf: the crusades portion of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) 

** Next in line on my Want to Read Shelf: The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion, Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins, Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t, Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions about the World’s Fastest-Growing Faith, Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West 

** On My Previously Read Shelves, That I Plan to RereadStealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs and The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran

Mondays are when we publish Robert’s weekly article here at PJ Lifestyle. He’s currently focused on exploring the Islamic family’s role in incubating the Jihad. I’ve read three of Robert’s books now, seen perhaps a dozen of his speeches at various events over the years, and now editing who-knows-how-many of his articles and blog posts. I finished his newest book Not Peace But a Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam recently and it’s very important, a vital tool for all those concerned about winning the military, political, and cultural wars against the Jihadists attacking us.

I’ll just state it plainly: Robert’s scholarship and activism make up the foundation of the Counter-Jihad movement. He is among the most important voices championing American values today. In reviewing his book I plan to build off of my previous review of James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity In the 21st Century—Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come. I agree with the authors thesis that America is in the process of a momentous political, technological and cultural shift with implications across the board. I believe that in implementing this shift and winning the many cultural wars within it the Conservative movement will continue to evolve. America 3.0 needs a Conservative Movement 3.0 to midwife her birth.

In reviewing Robert’s new book I’ll make the case that he and the Counter-Jihad movement he has built for over a decade with provide a key component of Conservatism 3.0. Just as anti-Communism provided the glue that unified a coalition capable of electing Ronald Reagan to defeat the Soviet Union, so too with someday the Counter-Jihad movement energize a new, broad coalition to defeat the Islamic slave states keeping them people oppressed being a Shariah curtain.

Former Soviet Spymaster Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa’s Revelatory Life

** On My Reading Now Shelf:  Disinformation and Red Horizons

** Next in line on my Want to Read Shelf: Leszek Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism.

Following my review of Robert’s book, I’ll discuss another PJM writer’s new book. Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism by Pacepa and his co-author Prof. Ronald Rychlak is an amazing new paradigm that will transform the way you understand 20th century history and today’s political landscape. The number of ways that the Soviet Union sabotaged America’s culture throughout the 20th century is astonishing. And the truth Pacepa explicates clearly is jaw-dropping. He explains that the Soviet Union wasn’t really the enemy during the Cold War. The KGB was — it was the state-within-a-state that enforced the terror all over the world and unleashed the disinformation that has warped millions (billions?) of people’s brains with poisonous ideologies that sabotage their lives. And even more amazing: Pacepa recounts that his boss at the KGB understood his organization as an extension of an even longstanding Russian tradition. The heart of the Soviet Union was not the USSR and Marxism in Pacepa’s recounting. It was the KGB — which, REMINDER, is now in control of the state — and its roots were 500 years old! From page 286 of Disinformation, Soviet General Aleksandr Sakharovsky predicted that Russia might not always keep Marxism, that totally different principles and symbols might be embraced, but not everything would change:

One thing, though, was certin to remain unchanged for as long as the Russian motherland was still in existence: “our gosbezopasnost” (the state security service).

Sakharovsky used to point out that “our gosbezopasnost” had kept Russia alive for the past five hundred years; “our gosbezopasnost” would guide her helm for the next five hundred years, would win the war with “our main enemy, American Zionism,” and would eventually make Russia the leader of the world.

That battle is still ongoing. And Pacepa demonstrates that radical Islam and Putin’s KGB Criminal Cult state (REMINDER: the man is worth $40 BILLION DOLLARS!) are effectively one entity. The KGB has been pouring gasoline on the fundamentalist Islamic flame for most of the 20th century. And Putin continues the tradition.

Tuesday: Media and Technology

Douglas Rushkoff’s New Media Survival Tools

** On My Reading Now Shelf: Get Back in the Box: How Being Great at What You Do Is Great for Business and Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism. 

** Next in line on my Want to Read Shelf: The GenX Reader, Coercion: Why We Listen to What “They” Say, Media Virus! Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture, Screenagers: Lessons In Chaos From Digital Kids and the novels Exit Strategy and Ecstacy Club.

** On My Previously Read Shelves, That I Plan to Reread: Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take It Back, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age , Testament, A.D.D. Adolescent Demo Division, Present Shock

Rushkoff remains a #ReadEverythingTheyWriteWriter. His new Present Shock that my pal Chris Yogerst reviewed is perhaps his most insightful, useful book yet.

Quantum Humor with Robert Anton Wilson

** On My Reading Now Shelf: First finish the original 3 volume-edition of the Schrodinger’s Cat trilogy.

** Next in line on my Want to Read Shelf:  Masks of the Illuminati and volumes 1-3 of The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles. Also the play Wilhelm Reich in Hell remains unread. And then I think that’s all of Wilson done for me, finally? At least the major ones?

** On My Previously Read Shelves, That I Plan to Reread: Cosmic Trigger volumes 2-3 (I already reread volume 1 again in 2011,) Quantum Psychology, Ishtar Rising, Prometheus Rising, Everything is Under Control, The Illuminatus! Trilogy, and E-mail to the Universe. And of course, Sex, Drugs and Magick.

I finished the first volume of Schrodinger’s Cat last 13 weeks and have now started the second

Wednesday: Art and Nature

Understanding Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae

** On My Reading Now ShelfSexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson

** Next in line on my Want to Read Shelf: Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays, Vamps & Tramps: New Essays, Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World’s Best Poems

Camille and Howard are a match made in heaven. Two big-thinking, exuberant, un-orthodox, countercultural conservatives (whether they want to accept the labels or not.) I remain hooked on Sexual Personae‘s bold prose and enlightening erudition. It’s a real joy to read and I need to pick up the pace in it.

Howard Bloom’s Science-Culture-Hybrids

** Reading Now But Not Yet ** On My Reading Now Shelf, Since Not Available through Amazon… yet: First finish reading the completed version of The Mohammed Code: Why a Desert Prophet Wants You Dead now self-published and available on SmashWords here.

** On My Previously Read Shelves, That I Plan to Reread: The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates, The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History, The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism, Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century, 

I’ll blame the fact that The Mohammed Code is on my iPad and that I’ve been generally bad about keeping up with my PDF books. But I’m going to get back on finishing it and that too will get some blogging and reviewing. I’ve only read an earlier, incomplete draft and that was several years ago before my head was filled with even more Islam and Jihad study.

Thursday: Conservatism

William F. Buckley, Jr., National Review, and the Rise of Conservatism 2.0

** On My Reading Now ShelfGetting it Right and In Search of anti-Semitism 

** Next in line on my Want to Read Shelf from Buckley: Athwart History: Half a Century of Polemics, Animadversions, and Illuminations: A William F. Buckley Jr. Omnibus, Happy days were here again : reflections of a libertarian journalist,  Flying high : remembering Barry Goldwater, Miles Gone By : a literary autobiography, Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith, God and man at Yale; the superstitions of academic freedom, Overdrive: A Personal Documentary, Up from liberalism, 

** More on my Want to Read Shelf about Conservatism 2.0: Coming out Conservative by Marvin Liebman, The Right Nation: Conservative Power In America by Adrian Wooldridge, John Micklethwait, Funding Fathers by Nicole Hoplin and Ron Robinson, Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy

In coming to understand Buckley conservatism and its role in defeating the Soviet Union — knocking back the KGB’s anti-American subversion efforts for a decade or so — I want to grasp how it rose and why its factions are now coming apart in the post-Cold War era…

Ann Coulter-style Political War

** Next in line on my Want to Read Shelf: Never Trust a Liberal Over Three-Especially a Republican Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama, Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, Godless: The Church of Liberalism

My position remains unchanged from 2009 when I named Ann Coulter the Queen on the conservative chessboard. She is the most powerful polemical powerhouse and valuable warrior on the board. The Queen of Boomer-Xer Blend Conservatism, it’s time to get caught up on her work. Demonic and paying much closer attention to all of her columns and TV appearances have convinced me that she’s not just a provocateur but has a very precise analysis of the Criminal Democrat-Media-Postmodern Marxist cultural complex. Don’t let the rhetoric highlighted by Media Matters fool you — she’s her generation’s Thomas Sowell but with brass knuckles.

Friday: Biographies and Memoirs

Walt Disney’s Capitalist Wizardry

** On My Read in 2013 Shelf: Disney’s World by Leonard Mosley (Not recommended! As I’ll write about soon…)

** On My Reading Now Shelf:  The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney, Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince

** Next in line on my Want to Read Shelf, five more promising biographies:The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life by Steven WattsWalt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal GablerWalt Disney: An American Original by Bob ThomasThe Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney by Michael Barrier, Creators: From Chaucer and Durer to Picasso and Disney by Paul Johnson

Reading the conflicted narratives of Walt Disney — he was accused of being an antisemite and Nazi-sympathizer at the time of his anti-communist activism — alongside Ion Mihai Pacepa’s Disinformation has been enlightening. It’s led me to suspect that Disney paid the price for his outspoken anti-communism by being targeted with a smear campaign that resembles how the KGB framed Pope Pius as “Hitler’s Pope.” After seeing the context of the smear in Leonard Mosley’s otherwise very engaging biography I’m now diving into the notorious Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince to analyze both barrels of the smear of one of my favorite Americans.

Weekends: History

Victor Davis Hanson and the Western Way of War:

** On My Reading Now ShelfThe Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern, Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom

** Next in line on my Want to Read Shelf from VDH: Between War and Peace: Lessons from Afghanistan to Iraq, Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power, Ripples of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think, An Autumn of War: What America Learned from September 11 and the War on Terrorism, The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny, The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost – From Ancient Greece to Iraq, Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece 

War is a subject that I’ve wanted to learn more about for a long time. For the vision of Conservatism 3.0 that I’m developing VDH has already been a foundational influence (see why here; I made the case in August) but now digging into his books further I hope to find more wisdom and insights.

Paul Johnson’s Big Visions of History:

** On My Reading Now ShelfA History of the American People, The Civilization Of Ancient Egypt, A History of the Jews, Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky, Enemies of Society

** Next in line on my Want to Read Shelf from Johnson: The Renaissance: A Short History, Churchill, George Washington: The Founding Father, The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830, Modern Times Revised Edition: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties, History of Christianity, Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle, Mozart: A Life, Socrates: A Man for Our Times, Napoleon: A Life, Darwin: Portrait of a Genius, Art: A New History

Reading a Paul Johnson history book I remain perpetually in awe at how easy he makes it look. The prose is so extraordinary and the density of facts and compelling points is tremendous. My new literary heroin. Reading Johnson is like drifting off into a literary, intellectual haze; another bigger world unfolds and one finds a renewed clarity of thought in interpreting today’s nastiness.

So anybody have any other books that I should add to my shelves? And publishers with new books they would like to suggest for review are always invited to contact me: DaveSwindlePJM{@}gmail[Dot]com