I am re-watching the first season of Survivor. You know. Richard Hatch and Borneo. The skin diseases. Susan and the thing about rats and snakes, and the actual rats and snakes shown through the night-vision camera. In something like episode two, Richard Hatch explains that he knows he’s going to win (and watching it now, one knows that in fact he does win), and spouts all sorts of premonitory stuff with what back then looked a lot like buffoonery and what every reality show castmember says in the confessional booth, but now looks just downright psychic.
I do not actually think that Richard Hatch is a psychic; I actually just think that Richard Hatch had a plan. I admit that recently I’ve found myself in what could be called a professional slump: I feel lazy, stale, old, and often as though I’ve already thought of everything I will think of for the rest of my life. Already I’m repeating stories. I’m not thirty and everyone’s already heard every story I have four hundred times. Is this because I have stopped caring about my existence because I’m so preoccupied with noticing interesting things and being imaginative? Did Richard Hatch, with his corporate-training communication skills, focus himself so intently on being able to adapt to a shifting emotional environment that he was able to win a difficult game? One doesn’t have to become Richard Hatch (a “snake,” a sneak) to learn from Richard Hatch. All he did was look around, listen, and adjust himself accordingly. Perhaps that’s both easier and better than shouting over the din.
A person must have felt very driven, out in Borneo, away from the internet, back in 1999. To win a million dollars, to write the Great American Novel, to record a concept album, to catch a fish, to find a coconut, etc etc. It would be exhausting (bugs, tropical storms, lack of reliable protein, despair, malaise) but also a good time for razor-focus reflection. No ideas floating around sounding a lot like the idea you had three months ago and making you feel discouraged. The best thing would be to have elements of the existence of a cast member of Survivor: Borneo in 1999 incorporated into your human form, the one that’s now sitting in a room with walls and a floor and indoor plumbing and MTV and hardcover books. It can’t be impossible, if certain people can bend spoons with their minds.