On The Conditions Of Writing

I find myself often pondering not only about writing but about the conditions in which writing is possible. I say this in the midst of what must be the hottest summer on record here in Oregon’s history, and I can say without any hesitation that I do not write well under conditions of intense heat. Writing in an air-conditioned office is pretty straightforward and easy to manage, but writing when it’s hot, not so much. I must say that trying to be productive in times of intense heat has made me feel a lot more empathetic to those who have to deal with hot temperatures on a regular basis.

There is a well-known theory about climate that states that temperate climates tend to be the most productive because no one can work hard in the tropics. This is often framed as a sort of ode to the laziness and torpor of people in hot weather but is not necessarily the case. I know I tend to be a lot lazier when I am hotter, which tends to structure how I engage in certain behavior. But other considerations are at play as well. For one, warm-weather societies tend to structure how it is that they operate in different ways. Most of them choose to seek the shade as much as possible, and avoid working in the heat of the day while being more productive when the weather is cooler. This is only sound thinking. At other times still other considerations are at play, such as the losses in productivity due to tropical diseases like sleeping sickness and malaria (among others) which tend to dramatically limit the amount of effort that people are able to undertake because of sickness.

I have long considered myself to be a skeptic of the arguments of anthropogenic climate change, although I do not believe that mankind has done a good job at being a steward of God’s creation. That said, there is no argument that the weather has gotten increasingly unstable and unfriendly in recent decades, regardless of what or who is responsible for it. Given our lack of ability in moderating such conditions as exist, especially because the political incapability of moderating human behavior as a whole, it is for the best that we at least be able to cope with things, and I have to say that the coping doesn’t always work very well.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to On The Conditions Of Writing

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    Your blog brought to mind that our air conditioning unit stopped working suddenly last Sunday (of course) and we had to sweat it out until the maintenance place opened up on Monday morning. You are right; I didn’t feel like doing ANYTHING. As you might expect, the temperature within our home here in muggy, hot central Florida rose steadily and the fans simply recirculated the very hot air. Fortunately, there was a cancellation in the scheduling department, and the repair people were able to get to us in the early morning, after what was for me a sleepless night. The problem was a minor one and the cost–well, service calls aren’t cheap and there’s another charge for handling the equipment. All in all, though, it could have been far, far worse. We had cold air by mid morning, and a very grateful recipient was back to normal once again.

    I remember having been made aware of stereotypes of certain cultures because of their midday siestas; that they were less productive, or lazy, etc., which coincided with their very hot and mostly desert climate. However, I came into contact with these same ethnic people as they worked in our service and rural industries and found that the opposite is true. Given the right set of circumstances, everyone can shine. We haven’t been good stewards of God’s creation as a general rule. If we had, we would have found the optimal ways of productivity for the situations in which we live. But that requires that we think beyond ourselves, which includes the coping skills which you allude to.

    • I didn’t know that you had air conditioning problems (I don’t actually have an air conditioner at home myself), but yes, when the temperature is hot you absolutely do not want to do anything. I’m not going to blame other people for that :p.

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