Monday, May 17, 2010

Writing and Thinking, Picking and Rolling

This post is probably ill-advised. It's getting quite late here on the eastern coast of the United States, and I do have work in the morning. But sometimes, man, you just gotta write. I've made a deal with myself--I'm going to forgo any and all proofreading so, you know, watch out for that.

I've been in a moderately introspective mood over the last few weeks, mostly because of David Lipsky newly published book Although of course you end up becoming yourself.... The book is basically a transcript of five days of interviews Lipsky conducted with DFW while he (DFW) toured to promote Infinite Jest. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, because I like reading DFW and this book is ~300 pages of DFW talking. Perhaps the most recurring of the various topics of conversation help between interviewer and interviewee consists of Wallace thinking about he's dealing with success of his giant novel. Does he write because he likes writing? Or because he likes the attention and accolades? And if it's the attention and the accolades, how does that affect his writing?

I'll let you read AOCYEBY to see how Wallace answers these questions, but the book has made me think about this type of question, especially as I've begun writing way more often than really I've ever previously written, writing which is being published for a publication with a higher-profile than the publications I normally write for (meaning: this one). I'm going to be honest here: I don't entirely know the answer. I really like writing, but I'm not sure why, precisely. Let's pretend, for a moment, that writing can ever be done without an intended audience held in the mind of the author, even if the intended audience turns out to be the author himself. Would I still write? I did publish two posts here on this blog before I told anyone that this thing existed. They're bad and they're weird, both because I was just trying to learn how this Blogger service worked and because I wasn't writing for anyone. And while I truly believe that maybe the main benefit of writing is that it forces the writer to think more clearly and in a more organized manner about the topic at hand, the point still seems to be that someone else should read what I write. It's a really tough question.

Here's another: if you've been reading this blog since December, you might remember a post I've published in two consecutive years now, in which I list the various cities I've visited, the media I've read/watched, and the events I've attended. I'll admit that I've asked myself at times whether, let's say, I'm reading a book for myself or for the list. (Usually this happens about 75% of the way through a book I'm not enjoying.) I also wonder how the publication of such a list affects my choice of what to read in a given year.

I don't have answers to these questions. It's really hard to know why I do things, to know what I really like. I'm about as certain as I can be, though, that I really like playing basketball. And it's nights like tonight that help crystallize why. In this case, I participated in the pick and roll just about as well as I ever have. The pick and roll is a somewhat technical term for a nearly indefensible strategy in all levels of basketball. It is the primary offense tactic in professional basketball, but the principles in play are remarkably consistent across all skill levels. Now that I think about it, tactic is probably a more descriptive word than strategy here. Despite its simplicity, I find that I'm having a hard time explaining the pick and roll using words, and the various diagrams available on the internet don't seem particularly helpful. But, luckily, I've spent a decent chunk of my night watching picks and rolls on YouTube, and here is a good crash course in how this tactic works:

I played the Amare role tonight in the pickup game held twice a week in a synagogue basement, if only Amare couldn't jump, wasn't agile, and couldn't finish around the rim (my hands are moderately soft). It was just a real pleasure to run this offense with someone of talent, knowing that no matter what the defense decided to do, we'd have a good chance to score for all the reasons on display in the above video. It's something of a spiritual connection, knowing that if I spin left here, the other guy will find a way to get me the ball in a good position to score, being able to anticipate what your teammate will do. I can't even imagine how Nash-Amare or Stockton-Malone feel. I think this connection has a whole lot to do with what DFW described in the first footnote of his "Federer as Religious Experience" piece, in which he delineates the benefits and downsides of having a body. But now it's really late, and you should read that article in its entirety anyway.

I'm not sure about a lot of things. But I am sure about the pick and roll.

No comments: