When blogs were first invented and still weblogs, as I understand, they were very simple shared collections of links to other sites one had visited. The man who invented them, I believe, rather deplored what they subsequently became: people's personal on-line journals, reflections, opinionising etc, and the introduction of comments that led to posts becoming springboards and forums for discussions. He more or less said, as I remember, that there was no reason to introduce any personal element or affect at all, that one had no reason to think one had anything important to say of any originality, since whatever one thought needed saying had surely already been said and better elsewhere, and need only be found and linked to, and going on about it served no function. Such stringent reductionism and humility has a certain appeal, but there is surely a logical flaw to it: if no one ever seeks to post any original content on-line, beyond the starkest and most impersonal information, in the end, there will be no more content to link to?
Now, as many of my blogging mentors who are still around are reaching the ten year mark, the lament is that blogging has reached something of a dead end; that the discussions have moved elsewhere, blog posts are more set pieces than exchanges, etc. Among the contributions to the well-deserved paean of praise and congratulation for Beth's decade at Cassandra Pages, a piece from Blork, another Montreal blogger, who remarks:
'Where once the platform was largely about personal writing and exploration, blogging is now is a vehicle for competitive foodieism, personal branding, and all forms of marketing'
which was news to me, hanging out mostly as I do on people's personal blogs, though I had noticed a proliferation in somewhat scarily high-faluting foodie blogs, come to think.
Happily, most of these soul-searchings seem to end in a fairly cheerful if slightly sadder-and-wiser optimism: even if a certain amount of momentum, of starry-eyed energy and earnestness and sense of importance about this astonishing new thing and what might be achieved by it, has been lost, there's a consensus that the whole enterprise has been satisfying, life-changing if not world-changing, and will continue to be so for a while yet.
Coming in a few years later, this being my seventh year in this place, I don't think I had many illusions that I was doing anything very important, except, I suppose, for myself. From that point of view it became very important indeed and that people came and looked and read was a very nice surprise. The activity and its place in my life has changed, and indeed grown less intense; I carry and use the camera far less, I have fewer ideas that I think are worth noting, and when I do either lack the motivation to sit down and write about them, or they don't seem so remarkable and worth sharing after all, or, and perhaps this is a function of ageing too, they elude me and I forget them before I get to the computer, or even to pen and paper. Nevertheless, tiresome moments of blog angst and questioning of why I do it and whether and how I might carry on notwithstanding, blogging has become a habit, and I think a good one, and as the persistence of good habits is rarer than that of bad ones, that's something to be celebrated. Fellow bloggers come and go, but new friends still appear and many of the old ones are still around, which is a source of great pleasure and wonder.
However, I do feel I need need to find ways to keep the activity fresh and interesting, for myself as well as for my gentle readers. And as original words and photos of any substance or newness sometimes desert me, why not take a leaf from the book of the original weblog concept and collect things which interest and appeal from elsewhere? Not in the form of links but as snippets, a kind of scrapbook blogging? Now I know this is also being busily done elsewhere, in the shape of Tumblr blogs and Pinterest, but those things rather bewilder me, as with Facebook and Twitter, I can't quite be bothered to get my head round making them work for me, and why scatter one's eggs in too many baskets anyway? I've established my corner of the web here, why set up more flimsy new outposts? And the beauty of blogging, it seems to me, is that, contrary to the puritanical aims of its weblogging founders, one is free to enrich, inform and weave in one's own personal. subjective comment and experience, with observations and gatherings from the outer world, in any way one chooses.
And it doesn't only need to be things from the web. Blork, quoted above in the post from Beth's, also keeps, very quietly, a blog of snippets from books he's been reading. This rather appeals to me. In the first heady days of keeping a blog (sound a bit like keeping a pig, doesn't it?!) book reading suffered. With the undeniable waning of the former, I have been returning to the latter, but of late I've felt the need to make it rather more constructive. I've taken to listing what I read, but have no wish to try to write reviews or even brief reader responses; it's not something I enjoy doing very much, always perceiving an onus to be a clever bugger, and use lots of smart-alec critical theory terms, or at the very least justify myself as to why I do or don't like something! And anyway, I often don't really know whether I've found a book good or not until months after I've read it. Goodreads does not appeal, thank you, another on-line outpost I have no wish to maintain. However, there are times when I come across a passage that really pleases me or which I want to hold on to, so I may take to transcribing them here sometimes.
So those are some thoughts. This blogging thing is still an amazing, largely free, resource with great creative potential, and I intend to keep doing it for the foreseeable, howsoever. So here are some pickings.
The last post about early music prompted a question about old instruments; browsing in images on the subject yielded these, which I liked:
stringed instruments from different times and places;
some more strings, from a mediaeval enthusiast's Tumblr collection (I'm not going to put links in everywhere, it will be too time consuming)
Attributes of Music - still life by Anne Valleyer Coster. More of her in another post perhaps.
My sock-knitting is progressing, slowly. It will be a while before I can proudly present a complete pair, and then I fear they may be so riddled with mistakes and bizarrely shaped they may only be good for bedsocks. I'm enjoying the making anyway. Then I had to stop for a while as I was completely in thrall to Rose Tremain's novel Music and Silence, which contained this delightful passage:
Queen Sophie, when she was young ... loved to be rowed in a little boat to this island and there sit in the sunshine and indulge in her secret passion for knitting. This activity had been proscribed throughout the land as tending to induce in women an idle trance of mind, in which their proper thoughts would fly away and be replaced by fancy. Men called this state 'wool gathering'. That the wool itself could be fashioned into useful articles of haberdashery such as stockings or night bonnets made them no less superstitiously afraid of the knitting craze. They believed that any knitted night bonnet might contain among its millions of stitches the longings of their wives that they could never satisfy and which in consequence would give them nightmares of the darkest kind. The knitted stockings they feared yet more completely as the probable instruments of their own enfeeblement. They imagined their feet becoming swollen and all the muscles of their legs beginning to grow weak.
Wonderful book, and I think I will still think so in a few months.
Here with some newly emerging chives and Welsh onion.
What I now grow on the windowsill, pea shoots. A cheap pack of mangetout seeds from Lidl, and these crunchy little things contain, it seems, something like five time the vitamin C by weight of blueberries. Tasty too, scattered on a stir-fry, for instance. Here they are performing for the webcam.
The weather is perishing cold still, with a raw north-easterly, though we are spared the extremes many parts of the UK are getting. But the pussy willow is out.