Procrastination Chariots

Do you tend to leave things to the last minute, and then scramble around frantically trying to get them done in time?

I certainly have been known to do this on occasion. For example, for nearly two years, I’ve been meeting with a few friends once a month to share songs we’re working on. During this time I’ve written a new song every month, and often do so in the few days before we meet. I may have various ideas for songs before then, but don’t usually do much with them until the last minute. In this case, I find that having the monthly deadline of our meetings helps.

Before this group started meeting, I wrote songs when I felt inspired – sometimes I’d write several in a month, and at other times I didn’t write anything for ages.

What I indulge in could be called a charet(te), or “a period of intense work, especially group work undertaken to meet a deadline” [source], a word that comes from the Old French charrete (chariot).

The sense of last-minute work apparently comes from the practice of students at the École de Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris working together furiously at the last minute to finish their termly projects, which would be collected on a charette, a small wheeled chart. They were said to be working en charette (“in the chart”), and the night before the deadline was known as la nuit de charette (“charette night”). Any work not on the charette was not accepted for assessment. The word and concept was borrowed into English in the mid-19th century [source].

Vintage cart illustration

Do you find it helpful to have targets and deadlines, whether set by you or someone else?

I don’t usually set myself deadlines and targets when learning languages, unless I’m preparing for a particular trip, event or occasion.

One thought on “Procrastination Chariots

  1. I have often wondered at the paradoxical, self-contradictory nature of the term and idea of “procrastination”. Is the entire world filled with procrastinators, who merely put off making it official? If I indefinitely delay becoming a procrastinator, have I “succeeded” in becoming one anyway, without even trying?

    I believe this is an example of self-referential or “meta” language, where the grammar and structure of language starts being part of its own explanation.

    For instance, if I say, “Everything I say is false” is that statement itself true or false? There’s no answer, since the statement is self-referential, and thus no way to completely “resolve” it. Interestingly, it is just as impossible to resolve the statement, “Everything I say is true”. Why? Because I could “say” things which are not sentences and thus have no “truth value”. If I say “xvWrxytgg”, it that true or false? It’s indeterminate, because it’s nonsense – it’s not a sentence; it’s not “saying” anything, in the sense that it’s not making any “assertion” about anything. The “statement” need not be ‘nonsense’ to encounter that problem. Thus, if I say “five”, is that true or false? Without any context, it’s meaningless, and thus its truth is indeterminate.

    There are other indeterminate things, made so by the nature of their subject. For instance, what is the “color” of unexposed photographic film? In order for an object to have “color”, it must be exposed to light, and thus it is impossible for unexposed photographic film to have a “color” in the first place.

    Questions can have indeterminate answers when they are asked or formulated improperly. Thus, the film question could be rephrased as an answerable one by saying “Does unexposed photographic film have a ‘color”, and if so, what is that color?” Then it has a determinate answer, which is No. Questions that are indeterminate often omit the implied assumption. When that assumption is made explicit, its meaning can usually be determined.

    Likewise with the procrastination question. Humans having a limited lifespan, we cannot possibly do everything, and so there will always be some actions or activities we will never get to in our lifetime. Thus, we are ALL procrastinators about one thing or another.

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