September 16, 2012

This confusion of writing and thinking with the internet...


I have now been doing this blog for about seven years. Lately, I have once again become a bit obsessed with it, wondering what it is and why. It receives between 1,000 and 2,000 hits a month. There are very few comments. (136 in seven years.) Many of those who click on it are, I believe, people I have met or know, but there must be at least a few strangers in the mix. I have been wondering, for someone who either barely or does not know me, what kind of impression I make through what I write here. If you were to know me only through this blog what, if anything, would you know. (I think about this far more here than I do with my books or art writing, since there is always something vaguely diaristic about blogging.) I basically never write about my personal life, or about everyday things. I’m not sure precisely why, but I find it almost impossible to get myself to write about daily things, I suppose because I have little interest. I write a little about politics, a little about literature, the occasional poem, a little about art. (Half my life is spent listening to music, but for some reason this particular obsession is barely represented here.) Quotes and aphorisms make up a great deal of it, and I am wondering if the reason I gravitate towards them is because, I believe, they provoke while at the same time giving little away.

I suspect many, if not all, of my posts are imbued with a certain sadness and negativity (or even worse ambivalence), since those are the qualities I feel most strongly in life, but at the same time I often delete posts if I later feel they are too negative. (A few times, when my writing was too depressing, strangers have written to me, worried I was going to kill myself. This always seemed so strange to me. I just can’t imagine my writing would seem suicidal to a stranger.) I am sad but don’t believe in being sad. I am depressed but don’t believe in being depressed. These are things I try to fight against, both within myself and in my writing, but most often I simply lose the battle. (If you don’t find my writing to be as negative as I am portraying it, perhaps that means I’ve won a few more battles than previously thought.) At the same time, so many people I know are depressed and hardly anyone talks about it. Maybe if we talked about it more we’d be less depressed. I don’t know. One part of me thinks depression is a reasonable reaction to the current state of the world, and the other part thinks it's only a disease or waste of time.

I hope there is also a certain anger, honesty, wisdom and energy to my posts. Sometimes I believe I write because I feel there is some way I can put things, some way of thinking about the world, that I don’t particularly see anywhere else. And other times I think it is only because it calms me and fills time when I don’t know what else to do. I also make performances, but hardly ever write about them here. In many ways these performances have been my main vocation over the past twenty years. But, more and more, I don’t know what to think or say about them. They are something else, something live, in the moment, out there in the world. Writing about them always feels strange. Like it would be better for you to see them in person, and reading about them will always be besides the point.

Then there is the fact, the irony of our age, that more people read this blog than my books, which I of course work much harder on, vainly hoping they will outlive me. (Of course, something could happen that might reverse this dynamic. At this particular moment it doesn’t seem likely.) And it is somehow misguided to compare books with blog posts. They are two different worlds, two different ways of reading, that perhaps don’t especially intersect. I don’t know. The past few months a number of people have written or spoken to me about this blog. I had the uncomfortable feeling that it was one of the main things I was doing in the world, my public face, and really wondered what it was all about: this confusion of writing and thinking with the internet. As I wonder, I stare at the following list of my most popular blog posts of all time. It really does give me an uncanny, even unnerving, picture of my life. (Perhaps in the same way that anything popular gives a distorted view of the culture from which it emerges.) It is true, music is featured more prominently on this final list:

Notes from the Jacques Rancière / Pedro Costa round-table - February 19, 2011 (957 hits)
Manifesto for Confusion, Struggle and Conflicted Feelings - May 13, 2011 (713 hits)
A play list of 83 videos (with commentary) - October 10, 2010 (447 hits)
A play list of 96 videos (with commentary) - April 9, 2011 (378 hits)
Excerpt from Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed - July 22, 2010 (351 hits)
Perverse curating - February 24, 2012 (343 hits)
Some Favourite Books - August 20, 2011 (304 hits)
Trying to shift reality closer to hopes that are still in the process of being defined - August 16, 2011 (292 hits)

That last one is perhaps worth quoting in full:

Trying to shift reality closer to hopes that are still in the process of being defined. Always struggling with the emotional triage of defeat. When faced with insurmountable odds, the only real choice is to find some way to keep going, to cling tight to the truth that the way things are will not always be the case, the world is constantly changing, and our actions have consequences.


1 comment:

Kathryn Mockler said...


I agree with you that "depression is a reasonable reaction to the current state of the world".