Wednesday, October 03, 2007


This is post 100! Writing this blog has been a deeper and more expansive experience than I could have imagined ... just as fulfilling, frankly, but more challenging than what I thought it would be. I promised myself only two limits regarding content when I started ... nothing that would lose me a job that I wanted and nothing that my mother would call disgusting ... and I think I have stayed within those bounds. But actually writing the thing raises an array of shifting micro-limits that I have to consider one by one as they arise. That turns out to be one of those expansive experiences.

As I re-read posts, I am probably a little too often cranky by say a third. I keep thinking that I should have more puppy-dog posts ... writing in the line of, "Jeez, aren't puppies cute." But cute as puppies may be, extolling their cuteness is boring for me and likely my reader. That raises another issue ... I promised myself that I would write this for myself. If others read it, that is great. But if I write with a dominant view to attracting others, then I lose myself and the challenges that make this sort of activity rewarding.

But a dichotomy like that ... writing for yourself versus for a putative audience ... is really a bit of a fraud, especially for someone who styles himself a lit-crit, if not perhaps brassy enough to call himself a literary critic. There is always an imagined audience ... I would assert that there is an imagined audience for a day dreamer snoozing in the sun imagining life on Mars in some fantastic future. I have been just such a day dreamer, and I have more than once interrupted my musings to imagine what kind of audience I have secretly constructed.

So too with a blog. I use a tool called Site Meter which gives me some data on how people get to my site. By far and away the one search term that outnumbers all other is the poor sod who was stoned to death by the bloodthirsty mullahs of Iran ... I'm not going to name him, because I want people who google his name to find my pointed comments. I had one today from Oman. No comments, though.

In fact, not very many bloody comments at all. A number of friends email me or discuss posts in person. I kind of expected enraged religionists to periodically condemn me to hell ... but, o well. Beware what you ask for. We know how bloodthirsty the believers can get.

I went to a forum today at MRU ... remember that MRU is Major Research University, which stands in for the major research university at which I toil. The head of the libraries talked about new endeavors in the digital humanities. He's quite a speaker ... a little rotund, white hair, a bow tie, and a tweed jacket ... but dropping technoid terminology with the same aplomb as only a decade ago a like man would have dropped some then-zinger-now-turgid terminology such as "crosscultural" or "polysemic" or "semiotician" or "seme." The curious thing about the power of technology is that it is re-privileging those who stand for content. I think that there are two new exploding forms of content on the web. This blog is part of a redefinition of what is current, and the exploding digital humanities cyberinfrastructure is part of the redefintion of how you research things, how you look things up. The danger is that the "australopithecines" of the ilk of Comcast and Microsoft and what-not, fearing the explosion of real content, manage to substitute empty piffle that makes them money ... yes, that battle seems lost. But every blog and every digitized book is a spit in the eye to those folks.

Getting a little lost here ... pause while I go search for some photos.

Back now. Another great treat in writing the blog has been to parade out a bunch of the kooky photographs that I like to take. I take dozens, even hundreds of photos every day, and I have slowly become accustomed to killing the ones that do not work. The photo above is from a mystery book store near UCSF, and the one at the top of this post is from one of the new French public toilets that provide relief and, by report, a comfortable place for junkies to shoot up. Ah, the joys of a liberal city. But the guy pictured seems one of the better sort of new San Franciscan, notwithstanding the goody-two-shoes entreaty to volunteer.

Whoops, getting cranky. And that is how I will end this little self-congratulation. I always regret the overly cranky posts ... not so much because I do or do not agree with them, as because throwing a public hissy fit is so uncouth. I feel bad about dumping yesterday on fat midwestern tourists ...I should be happy that I live in a city that tourists feel they should feel. I like the tourists ... I like them because they leave a lot of money here, because they tend to stay in their designated districts, what I call spaceship tourism, and because just often enough they provide a little non-local eye candy. Now as to the 'burbanite real estate monsters ... we'd be better off without them, but who am I to say? Who indeed.

So 100 posts ... I'll try to be less cranky and focus more on content. Try, try, try.

Photos by Arod.

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