I slept a lot last night. I went to bed early (well, for me) and got up late. I’m not sure if it helped. I felt a bit depressed today, and very tired, which is normal for me, and fuzzy-headed, which may be due to the heat or depression. I feel more frustrated than upset that I’m still paying for the good day I had on Monday. I guess this is what depression and high-functioning autism look like, but I still find it frustrating.
I spent some time writing my novel. I’m not sure how long. I procrastinated a bit and struggled feeling fuzzy-headed and still quite frazzled, but I wrote over 700 words. I also managed half an hour of Torah study. I would have liked to have done more writing and Torah study, but, frankly, I was surprised I managed to do what I did, given how fuzzy-headed I felt.
It was too hot to run outside, so I stayed in and tried to do an aerobic exercise. I hadn’t tried to do any for a couple of years (I’ve been jogging, when I’ve been exercising) and got very exhausted very quickly and did fairly pathetically. Still, I did work up a sweat.
I’m struggling with social/religious feelings and thoughts again, angry thoughts about Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Judaism. A number of things I came across from the Haredi world today made me feel glad not to be Haredi. Only one was a thing I was not previously aware of, but it was still annoying. My life would be a lot easier if there was a local shul (synagogue) that met both my religious and social needs, but there isn’t. This means that I feel a degree of disconnection and now even hostility to some of the values and educational resources of my shul. It would probably also be easier if I could just “drink the kool-aid” about some things (about life in general, not just religion), but I seem to be resistant to that. Not that there aren’t things I don’t agree with in the more modern parts of Orthodoxy, but there’s fewer of them.
Related to this, a while back I saw some articles on The Lehrhaus (here and here) that said that Modern Orthodoxy suffers from lack of a “Hedgehog Concept.” I was unfamiliar with the Hedgehog Concept, but apparently it’s business jargon for a key core value, I assume from the Greek poet Archilochus’ saying that, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” So the Hedgehog Concept of the Yeshivish/Litvish world (the part of the Orthodox world that came out of Early Modern Lithuania) is Torah study; that of the Hasidic world is devekut (mystic unity with God); that of Habad Lubavitch Hasidim is outreach (bringing non-religious Jews to greater observance); and that of Religious Zionism is settling the land of Israel. These are things that all Jews in those communities can aim to achieve, to a greater or lesser extent (in some cases more by funding other people doing it than doing it themselves).
Modern Orthodoxy suffers from a lack of a Hedgehog Concept. In theory, Modern Orthodoxy is about combining traditional practise and scholarship of Judaism with modern academic scholarship. In reality, only a relatively small number of scholar-rabbis are able to do that. This helps explain the lack of inspiration in my life, the lack of some kind of core to define and focus my religious experience.
In the articles, Gil Perl suggested Or Amim (A Light to the Peoples i.e. making God known in the world) as the Modern Orthodox Hedgehog Concept, which he says is “a charge to take the treasure chest of wisdom, guidance, and instruction that comprises our mesora [tradition], proudly place it on the proverbial table of global discussion, and help others, unfamiliar with it, to understand its content” (brackets added). He goes on to state that this is not missionary and is compatible with pluralistic ideas of multiple truths, saying, “My mesora is my truth. The rhythms of halakhic life are my reality. My calling is not to convince you of their certitude, but to humbly offer you a glimpse of their beauty.” (Emphasis added.) This is at least something that I can do in my writing – or am already doing in my blogging (which, I realised today, I have been doing for fourteen years, although not without interruption). Whether it will work as a Hedgehog Concept for me is another question.
A somewhat related thought that I had last night and which I returned to when I read Sadie/Blushy Ginger’s post this morning: do people find me intimidating? I suspect that in real life I come across as either boring, serious and/or intense to a lot of people. I know the rabbi who gives the weekly sedra shiur (religious class on the week’s Torah reading) I go to once said that he can’t read me and I just sit there and he doesn’t know what I think of what he’s saying.
Then of course there is the fact that my blog is very Jewish even though it doesn’t have many Jewish readers. I worry that I have too much religious detail, which is off-putting, or that people who aren’t Jewish or aren’t religious or are atheists or whatever worry that I would have negative views of them and don’t like to comment. (For what it’s worth, I think I’m a very tolerant and non-judgemental person and have non-Jewish friends.) I guess this is the mirror of my “I’m not frum (religious) enough” fears in the Orthodox Jewish community.
It also has to be said that I sometimes go out of my way to give a negative impression of myself in my blogging, focusing on failures more than successes, holding up my errors and mistakes (see below) as if I’m daring people to reject me. I used to hope people I knew would find my blog (this was when I was blogging with my real name) so that they would see what a mess I was and think, “OK, now I know why he is so weird, it’s not his fault, he’s just messed up.”
I’ve mentioned about being locked out of my non-anonymous Doctor Who blog I thought because I hadn’t paid pay the WordPress subscription last year. Now they have offered me the chance to subscribe again, which implied I paid last year. So I checked my bank statement, and I did in fact pay and forgot later. I investigated, and I got locked out because I was using a an email address that I basically only used there (to keep it separate from this account, which is linked to my main email) and… I had typed the email in wrong once and it got stuck in the autofill, so I was using the wrong email address all the time. I didn’t notice because there was only a full stop missing. I am not proud of this. I would like to blame depression and stress warping my brain, or autistic rigid thinking preventing me looking at options or social anxiety stopping me contacting WordPress to investigate, but I have to admit there’s an element of incompetence there too.
Once I regained access, I quickly whipped up a post publicising my non-fiction Doctor Who book with links to various websites where it’s being sold. I’m tempted to renew the blog subscription, for the sake of £15, primarily so I can promote my non-fiction Doctor Who book there.
I just did a quick google search about advertising self-published books, and it seems a lot of people think it’s a waste of money, that the only way it’s effective is if you spend a lot on it. Otherwise, the best way is through blogs and social media. But I don’t really have any social media presence, and my blog has been in stasis for a year, and I never really got back into online Doctor Who fandom. My experience is that online Doctor Who fandom these days is mostly on Twitter, which I have never got on with, rather than on blogs.
Unravelling the situation with my blog and writing the advert post took about half an hour today, but I think it was time well spent. To be honest, I think I haven’t made any sales to anyone other than family and friends so far, so it would be good if I could sell just one copy to someone I don’t know in person (OK, one is an online friend I’ve only met once, but I’m still counting that as “in person”).