Saturday, August 3, 2013

Come Saturday...

I had plans for this morning, this Saturday morning. I’ve been blogging a major intellectual project these last couple of months, one on cultural evolution, one of my core interests. I figured I’d top it off this morning.

All I had to do was write an introduction, PDF the whole thing, upload the PDF, and post the introduction to New Savanna (with a link, of course, to the PDF). I’d made some notes last night and adjusted the outline for the introduction. I knew what I was going to do.

All I had to do was wake up and execute the plan.

Which I didn’t do. Didn’t feel like it.

Why not?

It’s Saturday.

So it goes. And so it has gone on several recent Saturdays. Each time I had plans to do some (hard) intellectual writing. Each time, Saturday dawns, and I don’t feel like writing.

What is it about Saturday?

Habit I guess, long years of weekend habits.

I was raised in a world where the seven-day week consists of five work days and the weekend. That’s just how it is in this modern post-WWII America. When you’re a kid you go to school during the week while Dad goes to work.

That’s how it was when I was a kid. These days, of course, Mom works too. During the summers, of course, there’s no school, But Mom and Dad still go to work. And the morning and afternoon TV programs are different on the weekend every weekend.

And that difference just gets worn into the rhythms of your brain. At least that’s what I think.

You see, for the last decade or so I’ve worked to my own schedule. I haven’t been obligated to separate the weekdays from the weekend. Yet I still do it.

To some extent that’s because the world around me still keeps to that rhythm. But I don’t think that’s all of it. I think that I’ve spent so much of my life living to that 5 and 2 schedule that it’s somehow become “wired” into my brain.

We know the brain’s wired to a daily schedule; circadian rhythms they’re called. That’s part of our “biological” nature. This weekday-weekend alternation can’t be like that, however, because the seven-day week isn’t a cultural universal. And within our own tradition (that is, the American tradition) the workweek was once six days long (and the work day was 10 or 12 hours).

What I’m suggesting, then, is that, through force of habit, my brain has come to anticipate and prepare for a change of behavioral modes on the weekend. I use the technical term “behavioral modes” because it’s not just that you do something different on weekends from what you do during the week. What you do is of a different kind (that is, mode).

Finishing out my current cultural evolution project, even just executing a plan I’ve already worked out, requires a certain kind of concentration, a certain commitment of mental resources that’s incompatible with my weekend frame of mind. I don’t want to do THAT kind of thing. I want to do something different.

And so I did. I looked through my photos, did a little organizing, and thought about a couple photo-essays. I’ve even thought about writing one of them today. And I might do it, as that’s very different from summarizing two months of thinking on cultural evolution.

As for this essay, it to is a different kind of thing. More casual, but not less artful. Just a different kind of artifice.

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