Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Blog Manifest

This is sort of a riff in response to Dave Bonta's brilliant recent post about blogging.

Manifesto. Curious word: is it Italian? I will have to look up its history. I don't think I can quite manage a manifesto. A manifesto would imply that I am planning to think the same thing tomorrow that I think today. But a manifest, a taking stock of what you seem to have on board, that I might manage.

What is manifest? That I write an online journal, which a few people are kind enough to read. That I post essays, and poetry, and observations. And very occasionally drawings. A surprisingly large part of my mental and spiritual life takes place here. I'm grateful that people read: very grateful. And some of the readers have crossed the membrane into what we call, for what I'm sure are good reasons, “real” life. I'm grateful for that, too.

This is not a springboard to anything else. I have no intention of ever being a writer, a poet, an artist, or a man of letters. I am decidedly a man of the body. (That statement, now, might qualify for a manifesto.)

So. Start from the other end. What is this not? What do I exclude?

For one, ranting. I write a fair number of political vituperations that I never post. I have strong political passions. But my information is all second hand, and when I read other people's second hand smoke, I feel ill. There's enough of that going around. I admire researched political writing, when I can find it. But opinionating is a chump's game. I have a dreadful facility and fluency at it: may God protect me from using it.

The other thing my writing here is not – and I guess I am now simply repeating what I said about not being able to write a manifesto – the other thing it is not, is permanent. I am not trying to make an enduring object. I love the word “essay.” These are essays, attempts. I am trying to sketch elusive things, things that have barely traced themselves in my consciousness. A heavy hand would obliterate them, or caricature them. I'm glad for the fragility and fluidity of this medium. It is tentative and ephemeral. It makes no grand claims. It's content to die when I do.

I like the long shelf of archives that this blog leaves, too, like a layer of submerged ice in a lake in the Spring. Is it there, or is it not? Hard to say, exactly.

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