Workaholic questions

What is it with us workaholics? I just don’t get it. I work hard at the job for which I get paid. I worry about it all the time I am not there. I think about it, get insomnia over it, and am constantly catching myself working out how to solve some problem or deal with some issue when really I "need" to be doing the ironing or attending to some family member’s needs or similar. (Actually, I have much worse things to worry about than work, and I always remember a colleague’s notice he had stuck on his terminal: "Nobody’s last words were ever ‘I wish I’d spent more time in the office’  ", but knowledge does not stop the situation I describe.)

Just over a year ago, I started messing about with this blogging lark. Everyone at work seemed to be talking about blogs, so I dipped my toe in, first via an rss reader and then over the Christmas break in 2005, started a blog just to see what it was like to write things "out there" off my own bat, rather than being related to my paid employment.

Since then, I’ve gone down several blind alleys but have developed and settled on a strong blogging identity; I feel I’ve truly connected with a dozen or so people (or their blogs). I read lots of others. I recognise that blogging is essentially a fragile activity: one can develop these intense online relationships of ideas, yet one’s blog can be taken down in an instant, on a whim, and one can simply not respond to people one only "knows" via email or otherwise online if one feels so inclined. One does not "owe" these people or blogs anything. Yet collectively they form, in my mind, a vast demand. Why?

Why is blogging such a consuming activity? How have I arrived at a situation, within a year, of a full screen of Gmail (as opposed to work email) messages every night (demanding answers, in my mind if not in reality) when I stagger home exhausted and log on after the "cooking the tea and helping with homework" hour? How come I feel such a failure when I have missed going through my rss subscriptions one evening and am so aware that I’ll "pay" by "having" 300 to scroll through/read the next day? Why do I feel the pressure to post at least once an evening?

Why have I turned blogging into work? Why do I now read a book a week instead of every 2 days? Why do I never watch any of the DVD boxed sets that I ironically buy? (Let alone go to a movie or watch a DVD of a single film?)

What is happening here? Why am I doing this to myself?

A short film about measuring the world

Quercus publishing has placed online two five-minute filmed re-enactments from the book "Measuring the World" by Daniel Kehlmann. The novel is a bestseller in Germany (600,000 copies sold, apparently) and will be published in the UK in April, when the author will appear at Hay and Edinburgh festivals. It is about Alexander von Humboldt and Carl Friedrich Gauss, who are played in the short films by Anthony Sher and Justin Brett, respectively. Apparently the idea is that the filmed scenes will encourage people to buy the book.

For more about the book, here is the review in the Philadelphia Inquirer (mixed), and here is a short piece on ReviewsofBooks (which provides links to other reviews and to Amazon sites).