November 1, 2019

"I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism."

"I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity."

Said the novelist Haruki Murakami, quoted in "How To Wake Up at 5 A.M. Every Day/An unconventional and compassionate guide to becoming an early bird" (in Medium). The author of the essay, Brian Ye, likes this idea of repetition as mesmerism and describes using it to become an early riser.

I liked this piece because I love repetition. Sometimes I puzzle over why I'm so happy to live another  day composed of the same elements, so I'm interested in the suggestion that repetition itself is mesmerizing. I've had some success introducing new elements — notably breaking up the morning writing with a venture outdoors at sunrise.


tim in vermont said...

Hemingway said it was like training for a prize fight, and he would write short stories to get in shape.

gilbar said...

"How To Wake Up at 5 A.M. Every Day
Go to bed around 9 P. M. Every Day
works for me! (except for the part about being able to sleep until 5am)

Shouting Thomas said...

My life revolves around the counting of repetitions.

I count prayers in my prayer cycle when I sit in the hot tub.

I count repetitions in my weight lifting routine. I even count breaths in my yoga routine.

As I practice for Sunday services, I count the number of repetitions of verses and courses. It’s important to remember this, because I can’t always make out the words the congregation is singing. Every time I return to the top of the form, I make a mental note of the current number of repetitions.

In making the move from primarily being a pianist to playing pipe organ, I count the number of repetitions of technical exercises.

My life is entirely organized around counting repetitions. I don’t think of this as mesmerizing. I think of it as cultivating peace of mind, an orderly life and a clear sense of purpose.

Dave Begley said...

Althouse certainly has been even more prolific since she retired from teaching.

I think the sunrise walks are great! Great for AA; great for the blog; great for the photos!

It's a great day! It's a great life!

(Last line are the last words in "Frankenstein, Part II.")

roadgeek said...

I use an alarm clock.

traditionalguy said...

Does reading the same book or watching the same film over and over again count? It has to be something in the style and logos that feeds your mind endorphins by memories of good times.

My theory is that you have to like yourself so much that you are happy to see yourself again.

As for all that arbeit mach frei, that sounds like writer bragging. Rising at 5:00 AM just means no mandatory interruptions from daily social life with others until that kick off around 9:00 AM.

Bob Smith said...

Well, I had a job that required my presence at 6AM so 5 was late.

tim maguire said...

I find repetition depressing, which makes it hard to stick with things.

Shouting Thomas said...

And, yes, in retirement I've become an early bird. Usually up by 4 or 5 a.m.

Quite a change from my working life. I was an up all night musician and shift worker.

Narr said...

643PMCDT. gilbar's at 620PM gets to the heart of things. How early do you go to bed, in order to even want to get up at 5AM?

Don't glorious sunrises get old after a while?

madAsHell said...

Men respond to demands from women.

There are no demands at 4:00AM. Women get up late. I have hours to read.....uninterrupted.

Ann Althouse said...

“ I think the sunrise walks are great!”

I’ve actually been running!

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

as long as you dont expect different results each time.

(hey -- dont shoot the messenger)

gilbar said...

How early do you go to bed, in order to even want to get up at 5AM?
It's NOT that i Want to get up at 5am, i just Am; not much point in laying in bed (alone)

If it wasn't for the Global Cooling; i could be fishing, but not much activity anymore until 10am or so

traditionalguy said...

Query: Do you always order the same items you liked before at a restaurant? That's Food Favorites mesmerism. The wife notes that I have always ordered the same baked chicken club sandwich at Buckhead Bread Company for 20 years. She tries something else every time. We are both mesmerised by Pano's French Pressed coffee.

madAsHell said...

Rising at 5:00 AM just means no mandatory interruptions from daily social life with others until that kick off around 9:00 AM.

Preach it!!

madAsHell said...

Holy Cow!!

I'm re-reading my comments. I'm slowly turning into rhhardin.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

"The more things repeat, the more they stay the same"

Rory said...

Want repetition? Get a dog.

chickelit said...

Background info on Franz Mesmer.

RMc said...

I woke up at 5am five days a week during my radio career (20+ years). I liked getting up early; I felt like I was getting a jump on the rest of the world. (The fact that I was a newsman fed into that, of course.)

David Begley said...


Your readers want you here longer than RBG on SCOTUS.

You are a force of nature.

David Begley said...

At the Austin Film Festival Film I heard Ron Bass speak. He has written 212 scripts including “Rain Man” and “The Joy Luck Club.” He graduated from Harvard Law and practiced law for 17 years before he wrote full time.

The name of his company is Predawn Productions.

A total inspiration.

BamaBadgOR said...

Scott Adams recommends maintaining the same schedule for most days to reduce stress and to save energy to use on other and more important things. I've been doing the same most of my life on my own. But I wish I could sleep until 5 a.m.

p.s. I won't believe Ann is running until I see a video.

PluralThumb said...

Repetition leads to structure. ( Negative and/or Positive )
Grave yard shift over a 5am wake up, I'll never miss overnight shifts for the rest of my life. Reading a book at night is better, so was studying for college.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

According to the very convincing Matthew Walker (Why We Sleep), about 40% of us are hard-wired to be early risers, 30% night owls, 30% along a continuum between the two. The early birds have given themselves moral credit for this as long as i can recall. So too with routines. Those who like them, have them, and think the rest of us should have them too. The Japanese do like them a great deal. Well, they have been a remarkable people these many centuries, so maybe they are onto something. OTOH, the English are not known for routine and have been a remarkable people for centuries as well.

While it is possible that some disciplines are superior and we should cultivate them, I have yet to see scientific evidence for this.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

if there's a flight to catch in the a.m. I just wont go to sleep
the night before.

If I'm up at 5 a.m. it's because I worked all nite with no distractions.
The crew here is on Nosferatu time-- we basically dont drag our sorry
(but toned and shapely) butts to "The Pit" til about noon.
Then, after a hearty Continental-style breakfast of starbucks and marlboro's,
and whatever was left over in the pizza box/ashtray (Buttzenkrust-- breakfast
of champions!!) and finally acquire a healthy pallor do we finally get in gear.
I'd rather be sleeping than be mesmerized.

During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours

DavidUW said...

I get up at 4 am. It’s called having a job

Tina Trent said...

Dogs' bladders nature's alarm clock. Circadian coyotes assist.

ndspinelli said...

Macro OCD.

alanc709 said...

Consistancy is the hobgoblin of small minds

stlcdr said...

Is already been said; the secret to getting up at 5am is having a job.

However, living in a warmer climate where it’s almost always sunny by 6am helps. Depressing dark dank places like the UK really squash the desire to be anywhere else than in bed, asleep.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Althouse: Sometimes I puzzle over why I'm so happy to live another day composed of the same elements, so I'm interested in the suggestion that repetition itself is mesmerizing.

I don't know about mesmerizing, but a life with a peaceful routine that you have chosen for yourself is certainly soothing. The little routines of our lives that we don't even pay that much attention to are reassuring.

Obviously,not all of our life choices are entirely our own and are those choices of others. Having a job with a deadline. Children who have their own demanding time schedules.

My husband and I often make a joke that we are worse than the cats, because they don't like "change" either. Move furniture in the house and the cats would freak out!

Primitive man took comfort in the regular rising and setting of the sun. In the coming and going of the seasons. This is why they made things like Stonehenge and watched the skies. Reassurance that life will go on and things will be the same. Life was very short and uncertain in those days. Routine was safety

Getting up at 5 am or earlier is something that I have always done. Even when I worked nights. Winter or summer. If I sleep in to 6 or even 6:30....I'm sick. Thankfully, my husband is on the same biological clock. Next week I will be getting up at what the clocks says it 4am. The clock lies. It is still 5am to my body.

However, it is very good to have your comfy routine changed up once in a while. Makes you respect the routine and not take it for granted. This happens to us when the power goes out, as it OFTEN does in the winter....and now with PG&E unpredictably cutting power.

Appreciate the routine and accept the challenge. It makes you stronger.