Friday, May 10, 2019

Early Onset Summer Illusion

Every spring I suffer the Summer Illusion. The following three incompatible propositions all seem to me, in the spring, to be true:

(1.) When summer arrives, I'll finally get a bunch of that research done which has been crowded out by my teaching and administrative commitments during the school year.

(2.) When summer arrives, I'll finally get a chance to do all of that non-academic stuff that I've been putting off during the school year -- big home maintenance projects, vacation travel to the four new places I want to visit, my plan to catch up on the whole history of golden-age science fiction.

(3.) When summer arrives, I'll finally have a chance to spend a lot more time just relaxing.

The Summer Illusion is surprisingly robust. Every spring, I suffer the Summer Illusion, building up big plans and hopes. Then, every summer, as those hopes fall apart, I scold my springtime self for having fallen, yet again, into the Summer Illusion. The pattern is so common and predictable I've given it a memorable name, The Summer Illusion, to help convince myself that it really is an illusion -- and hopefully not fall into it again. And yet I fall into it again.

You might think that the Summer Illusion depends on entertaining only one of the three propositions at a time. You might think that the way it works is that sometimes I entertain proposition 1 (I'll get my research done!), and at other, different times I entertain proposition 2 (I'll get all my other projects done!), and at still other times I entertain proposition 3 (I'll finally have lots of time to relax!). Largely this is so. And yet the Summer Illusion also survives simultaneous consideration of the three propositions. Even looking at the propositions side by side like this, I am tempted to believe them. Some part of me thinks of course all three can't be true, as I've seen time and time again -- and yet in my heart I continue to believe. Summer days expand so magnificently to fit my fantasies!

This year, I have Early Onset Summer Illusion. While I was working on my book, I thought to myself: Come April and May I will have plenty of time for all of my other projects. And so I put off project and project and project and project. And I also thought to myself: Come April and May, I'll finally have some good time to relax a bit more at work.

It's almost an inversion of busyness. If a period of time has the outward appearance of being a "relaxed", low-commitment period of time, it serves as a fantasy-and-procrastination magnet. I pile my future plans and hopes into that period of time, not noticing the impossibly mounting sum of expectations.

Well, now I'm off to U.C. San Diego to talk to the Philosophy Department about whether garden snails are conscious -- come by if you like! If this blog post seems a little short, well, it seemed like this week would be such an easy week, and so I found that I'd promised to finish this and this and this and this....

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Arnold said...

Your link "Conscious Entities-Machines Like Me"; a quick read about S F today...

Ask the people around you to organize a online summer doing list; and publish-write stories daily, about what they find...

And, remembering everything we need is right in front of us--is not an illusion... this moment 'right' has become a question for me, thanks

Howie said...

Now is the summer of your discontent