Progress report Q3 2019

The title of the fourth Sermon is now final. It will be called “The Labor of Humanity”. Some incremental improvements have made their way in, but overall there has been little progress. I continue to be stuck on what is probably the last particularly difficult bit. After that, the work should proceed into the polishing stage for another couple of months. If I find a solution soon, I might be done by the end of the year. Or maybe not.

I did finish the German translation of Children of the Milky Way that I previously mentioned. I should probably get opinions from people who have experience translating rhyming poems, in order to get feedback or possible improvements. In complete isolation and ignorance, I’m provisionally satisfied with it. I can always update it later.

It works as a song, anyway. Some good friends and I tried it. We thought it might benefit from higher tempo (I’m so used to singing it as a lullaby) and a bass line. If I had money left over I’d hire a children’s choir to make a recording and a musician/producer to wrap the recording into the frame of an electronic dance track.

I have begun work on a big blog post that is going to be a kind of mission statement. I aim to describe the intended practical purpose of the Seven Secular Sermons, or how it is different from a strictly aesthetic art project. Making this explicit is arguably a distraction from writing the actual sermons, but these thoughts keep swirling through my head and I hope to improve clarity by putting them into writing. That should be finished in late October or early November.

At this year’s Less Wrong Community Weekend, I performed the first three Sermons, and a work in progress preview of the fourth, to a very kind audience. This was the first performance in a new format that seems to work well. The format goes like this.

  • All the sermons are read in sequence.
  • Between each sermon, there is a scheduled break of a few minutes where people can check in with each other, adjust their position, go to the bathroom or whatever.
  • Everyone is invited to simply rest and dream along. The ones inclined to sit up straight and summon heroic intensities of awareness will not need prompting to do so…
  • The only instruction is to please not interrupt each others experience. This includes that anyone who doesn’t like it or has had enough is asked to postpone leaving until the next break.

Over the years, I keep finding more bits in the finished sermons that I am not satisfied with. The second sermon in particular needs work, but all of them will need some focused editing at some point.

You might think this should probably help me get on with the current one, because it implies that what I’m writing now is only a first draft and therefore does not need to be perfect. But the opposite is the case. I do expect I will be a better poet by the end of the seven sermons than I am right now, so I do expect to re-work everything I write now, but I still need to do best job I can in order to actually become that better poet.