Wednesday, 15 April 2009

I write why I like

“I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
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For as long as I can remember, I've scribbled on bits of paper and in random books and on lying around pages. I tried keeping a daily diary a few times when I was a kid but I found it particularly restrictive and I suppose didn't have (or want to have) the discipline to write daily. The habit probably developed in late high-school or early university. Nowadays I have a book and pen handy at all times to write down ideas and bit of poetry and fragments and work things out.

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The urge to write, to document, thoughts and ideas, experiences and feelings, is not new. Much of what we know of recent history comes from personal and professional journals and correspondence. Perhaps, many, many years from now, some glimpse of the current reality, of this fleeting historical moment – a moment of no great significance other than to be a moment – will be garnered from the myriad blogs and journals now scattered through cyberspace.

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The ongoing dialectic of blogging provides a unique medium to construct the self and in the process to develop a unified perspective on life, meaning and everything.

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Blogging is emblematic of the existential crisis of post-modernity. In a world where we are constantly beset by cries and wails, from those set up by society as our gurus and teachers, that nothing makes sense any more, that the absolutes and truths have melted into oozing puddles of relativity, and the centre has decided to reject the imposed socially-ascribed identity that suggests that it should hold and is going on vacation, it is unsurprising that so many feel the need to scream, to shout, to spew words into the void.

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Sometimes I wrestle with words and ideas in a desperate attempt to figure out what I want to say. And how to put it on paper. How to find it. No, to create it. To create it by the very act of writing. Often, the writing would be better if I went back a week or two weeks later and revised and edited it. But that is not the point of a blog. That would diminish the joy of the discipline of blogging – the discipline of the finality of publishing combined with the knowledge that publishing now – that launching these somewhat-unfinished, maybe-silly, underdone words out into the world - is the only way to achieve some relevance and that unless they are launched today, these ideas may fade and wither into nothing.

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One - my first - started as a vibrant collection of reflections and ideas but has slowly drifted to become a gentle gathering of musings and meanderings of a more cheerful or, more often, nostalgic nature.
Another is an in-the-moment, heart-outpouring of roller-coaster emotions that is generally not shared with many others. It's really just a narcissistic celebration of the wonderful thrill of honest release.
One is really a travel blog in-waiting – waiting for me to get in some travel, that is – that will shortly become a collection of travel musings and reflections, interspersed with the odd review; an attempt to pin down the echoes of real-life experience.
One is a more personal, frivolous space, somewhere I play with memes and jot down ideas and rant a little. Recently it has taken up being the home of little bits of attempted poetry, too.
Another tends to be an exploration of the ideas that take my passing fancy and works hard at using the words and thoughts of others as both stimulus and anchor for new posts – and sometimes also the cause of irrepressible ranting rage.

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Blogging is emblematic of the existential crisis of post-modernity. In a world where we are constantly beset by cries and wails, from those set up by society as our gurus and teachers, that nothing makes sense any more, that the absolutes and truths have melted into oozing puddles of relativity, and the centre has decided to reject the imposed socially-ascribed identity that suggests that it should hold and is going on vacation, it is unsurprising that so many feel the need to scream, to shout, to spew words into the void.

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I collect ideas the way some people collect butterflies; catching them as they flit past and pinning them to the paper, preserving them and figuring out how best to display them. But ideas are more ephemeral than butterflies. In fact, it is in the writing that we not only pin down the ideas but in many ways create them.

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So there is a chance that we are constructing the important ideas of our lives, perhaps of our time, far from the rigorous challenge and peer review of academia, in the dim isolation of a series of blogs. Perhaps this is positive. Perhaps, unhindered by the weight of the tomes of history and academia, new ideas and entirely new ways of thinking will be developed. There is also a chance, given that these bloggers do not blog in a vacuum, that the cold, harsh embrace of academia is being rapidly replaced by the warm mushy hug of Oprah's book club and ideas epitomised by The Secret and The Shack. The hype around blogging very much resembles the overly optimistic hype around the rest of the internet and citizen journalism. 90% of the ideas floated on blog pages probably wouldn't stand up to vague glossing-over by a bunch of bright-eyed first years, let alone analysis by serious students. Assuming the whole world hasn't entirely drowned in insubstantial fluffiness, there is a danger that, without the protection provided by the almost impenetrable traditions of academia, the 10% of ideas that may well be of some importance are liable to be overwhelmed by mush. If they survive, it is perhaps from blogs that the great ideas that spark changes and paradigm shifts, those maverick ideas which in every generation emerge from outside the mainstream of thought, will come.

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with this pen
i etch the outlines
of the story
of our lives

with these syllables
i echo reality
on the pages of books
and half-something blogs

with these sentences
i write off
large parts of the world
and society
condemned to the purgatory of boring

with these fragments
i remember
who we are

in this speech
i attempt
to perpetuate
thoughts
that have captured
my grasp
and to refute all anticipated
rational opposition

with these words
a call to arms and hearts
i dream
of revolution

with this pen i write
into being
the moments
we share
and the whole
of experience
and subtly construct
my self

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