Sunday, January 02, 2005

See What the Boys in the Back Room Are Reading and Tell Them I'm Reading the Same

This is just an impression, but perhaps someday some bored academic can do a survey. I'm think there are plenty of "subgenre" writers who actually don't participate in their subgenre as readers but only as writers. They are singing in the shower, their voice is in the shower reverberating off the tiles as it were, but their mind is at the Met. But here's the difference: They would like you to come into their bathroom to hear and watch, though a reciprocal invitation would be treated as the most awful joke.

Perhaps, a more pertinent illustration would help. Back in the days when I was trying to get my poetry into the little magazines -- and the littler and the more obscure the better, since I understood the less competition the more likely my submission would be accepted -- I found it painful to read any of the poetry in these small obscure magazines. I was reading pretty much "famous" poetry. As a literary critic, I was pretty much functioning like one of a cow's subordinate stomachs. I wasn't sure I was capable of discriminating among varieties of grass. I was satisfied with cud.

I'm wandering off the point. The point is that I was writing one kind of poetry, and that poetry, when I succeeded in placing it, was embedded in a matrix containing the very same kind of poetry, none of which I could bear to peruse for more than a minute if I hadn't written it.

The point is that I very much love my little blog, but it doesn't make me want to read most other people's blogs. There. That's clear enough.

I go up to the little icon in the upper right corner of this page and I click blindly through a dozen of the millions of other blogs hosted by this exceedingly charitable site. I have yet to stumble upon one that I've bookmarked and returned to. Indeed, I've yet to find through any means a blog I liked that was a) NOT political; b) NOT informational, that is, not designed to collect and disseminate facts and insight about some place, thing or activity, the expressive qualities of that dissemination of quite secondary importance; c) NOT written by a personal friend -- I've yet to find a blog outside any of these three categories to which I have ever returned.

So, see: I am writing something of a kind that would have absolutely no appeal to me if I weren't writing it. As a reader of brief essays, I continue to depend on gate-keeping, on turning to magazines, newspapers or published collections when it comes to sampling patiently and thoughtfully the kind of stuff I am putting in my blog.

But that doesn't mean that over time I won't find such sites, and perhaps myself be found! (I love these little associational rants of mine that I begin with no idea where they will land. The healthy mind will always find a soft cushion on which to land.) Blogs are a new and profuse form, and I choose to assume that by blundering across the face of this great blogswamp I will in the fullness of time find some spots of dry land to which I will choose to return. Or perhaps friends will direct me. I will find blogs that are not political or useful or the work of friends, and I will come back to them on a regular basis.

Odd form this personal blogging, vain and simultaneously lonely. I am curious to see what will come out of it that will last. I'll bet something does.

Meanwhile bloggers! It's our shower we'll sing if we want to.

(Should I link to Janet Leigh or Lesley Gore? The web is generous so I link to both. Both links make subtle commentary on this post.)


Melissa said...

Well, good luck on your quest for an interesting blog to bookmark, J. Michael. Mine won't be one of them as its not a) political, b) informational, or c) a personal friend. Keep looking though. One of these days you'll find something out there that's worth a second look.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Thank you, Melissa, for dropping by and commenting. The rarity of such a kindness underlines my point, which could have been clearer, but Doing Clear isn't as much fun as some think. (Also, it's hard...) Of my very small number of visitors, at least half are wanderers who pass through never to reappear. This is normal and as it should be. It's a rare personal blog that is so well done that it should be singled out and returned to. Even if a blog is very well done, if the skill is not in service of a personality or worldview that appeals to a reader, why should the reader return, particularly given the fact we have only a finite amount of time to invest in blog reading? I do think, however, that some personal blogs absent a, b or c (see above) will make their way and get a widespread readership and become more than an online diary. I don't know what the mechanism will be, though I'd guess it would be through absorption into some larger website that manages to attract advertisers through its mix of features. Undoubtedly, this is a question that has absorbed bloggers for years now. I just haven't been paying attention because originally this blog was about newspaper column-writing -- a faux column as it were -- and only now am I struggling to accept my blogness. What fun having a wanderer pause, consider and comment.

Anonymous said...

I too just stumbled on this blog. Your picture reminds me very much of a naked man I saw once on the Kansas plains through binoculars as I was birdwatching. As you are a Californian, this is unlikely. Yet the resemblance is truly amazing.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

I have played nude volleyball in Kansas at various times. I see nothing unmanly in that.