Genius loci

A Slow Summer

1 June 2024

Kodak H35N Dipytch Jeremy Bassetti
Kodak H35N Dipytch

With the arrival of the Memorial Day holiday in the US, the summer is unofficially upon us. But summer certainly feels official here in Central Florida, where we’ve seen temps no lower than 90° F (32° C) over the last few weeks. I don’t write this with a smile.

Yet, where the temperature heats up outdoors, our activity tempers. With its heat the summer brings lethargy, inertia.

For me, this is good timing. While I am teaching a few classes online now, I’ll soon be on summer holiday until classes start again in August. From the American perspective, having this much time to spend with a newborn is unusual, a privilege. And it will be a joy to slow down even more in what will be our first hot, lazy summer together.

Let this time grind to a halt.

It is all not without difficulties. Though, managing a child and a household has forced me to cut the crap, to prioritize, to trim all the “busy work” I often give myself, to cut out all but the essential. I’m not making a virtue of a necessity; others have noticed the same feeling after having children. As Ryan Holiday writes in Discipline is Destiny, “To me, nothing has required and strengthened my discipline more than having kids.”

What is essential? Certainly not committee meetings and brainless diversions like social media and the news. What is enriching? What is creative?

What will be your focus this summer?

For me, it is the book proposal, something that has been elbowing out of my life most other things. As should any priority.

Making progress on the proposal has been slow going with a baby in my arms (as you can see in the photo above), but what’s the rush? This will be a slow summer anyway. And besides, a few hundred words here and there eventually amount to something.

By the way, my year-long photography project is advancing as intended. I’m experimenting with different film stocks and different half frame cameras. I’ll make a video and write a post about this at the end of the year. I’m also considering making a limited edition zine… But more on this later in the year.


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My work

It was a slow month. Yet I still pitched a few ideas and I also redesigned my website’s homepage.

I posted some notes on Shiva, Parvati, and Mountains on my blog.

I made a few entries in my Creator’s Log reflecting on and documenting the process of writing a book proposal.

From around the web

I’ve been purposefully limiting my digital consumption in favor of higher quality and better targeted material. Yet below are some links of note.

Ryan Murdock spoke with Paul Theroux on the Personal Landscapes podcast. He also recorded an episode about Jonathan Raban. Both are worth a listen.

Jesse Armstrong wrote an excellent piece about Writing America, from the outside. Read it now.

Jordan Salama discusses his new book and the new generation of travel writers.