Eight Days a Week

Long time readers may be aware of it, but the title of my blog is self-consciously ironic. The name came from some unpublished notes on a speech that was probably never delivered by William Blake. Its subject was the “state of the art” of the techné of engraving. It’s taken some time (I’m thick) to really have the difference between painting or drawing and engraving sink in. Engraving is publishing; drawing or painting are not necessarily publishing. Keeping a blog is publishing; keeping a diary or commonplace book are not necessarily publishing.

Notebooks don’t have settings. They don’t often have tables of contents, indices, or categories. They don’t have links or trackbacks.

Decisions are involved in this enterprise. For a long time, the front page contained a week’s worth of entries. I changed it to seven entries because the move to more graphically intensive content made the loading sluggish. Now I’ve changed it to eight. It’s not an eight day week, but with spending five days a week on campus, it seems as if the weeks this year have been longer. I’m regaining some of the urgent compulsiveness I used to have. Just when I write something about silence, I have the urge to say more.

In case it hasn’t been noticed, I’ve been experimenting with making the connections between my notes here more explicit through trackbacks. I think they provide a nice trail of crumbs between my lapses in attention span in a looser fashion than categories. Since the blogging “public” has largely abandoned trackbacks, I decided I’d just use it to trackback myself.

Lately, I keep thinking about the difference between photographing and publishing. Some photographic enterprises are clearly publishing while others aren’t. Stereographs were most often published; tintypes, #2 Kodak snapshots, etc. were not. Cabinet cards? They seem to be a sort of vanity publishing not unlike the long tail of blogging. Swapped among friends, with a few “A-list” collectables of celebrities, CDV’s defy easy description. Just thinking . . .

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February 18, 2006 4:55 PM

Equivalent Ambivalence

I missed it by a week. I just forgot about my five year anniversary writing this thing. Since February 10, 2001, it hasn’t been a Blogs to Riches experience and I’m glad. No advertising revenue, not now, not ever. I steadfastly refuse to think about writing in these terms:

A blog is like a shark: If it stops moving, it dies. Without fresh postings every day—hell, every few minutes—even the most well-linked blog will quickly lose its audience. The A-listers cannot rest on their laurels. Federated Media owner John Battelle recently published a book on Google, and while on the book tour, he neglected his own well-trafficked blog (No. 81 on Technorati’s rankings) for several days. “And suddenly I was getting all these e-mails going, ‘If you don’t get your shit together, I’m out of here,’ ” he recalls. He stayed up late that night frantically adding posts. “If you start sucking,” he says, “it’s through.”

I suck. I suck a lot. I fall to the bottom and drown because I can’t breathe the water. I didn’t start it to further a career either. I’m oddly ambivalent about audience, and no one succeeds with that approach. I’ve not only refused to engage with most of the “public” save a handful of people who have read me for a long time, but I’ve stopped (verbally) engaging with myself. It isn’t that I don’t care, though that would be quite punk of me, but rather that interaction is only one of several reasons why I do this. For a long while, interacting with any sort of “sphere” has been near the bottom of the priorities. Growing myself has been the major priority. The moments of clarity have been few and far between.

Instead, there have been increasing networks of associations, lately more visual rather than verbal that dominate my public space. Some of it makes sense to me. Much of it doesn’t. If you can’t make sense of it, you’re not alone. This blog has become more like a coral than a shark. It grows slowly accreting its way along as a filter of things that concern me.

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February 18, 2006 2:27 PM