Meme, Episode Six
February 6, 2008 § 11 Comments
A while back, after it turned cold but before the first snow had fallen, I started to think about shuttering The Smoking Section. I was deep in the muck of proposal-writing, or, more accurately, not-writing, and I was acutely aware that the blog was suffering for it. At moments, I wondered if I had lost my muse; at others, if the peculiar demands of scholarly and life writing weren’t fundamentally incompatible. At the worst ones, I seriously questioned whether I had anything of value to say.
I’ve often thought that blogs are like record albums–when they’re good, and even when they’re great, as some of yours are, they are composed of at most one or two singles and a whole lot of filler. As I see it, this is exactly as it should be: one can no more produce ten God Save the Queens than ten Nightwoods, nor should one try. Still, it was starting to feel a bit like The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle around here, minus the heroin and Frank Sinatra covers.
I dodged the question by setting off for New York, where the balance of living shifted from reflection to immersion. Frankly, after months spent at my computer, it was a relief to not write, and to walk for miles, dance on ledges, and kiss and be kissed instead. At some point, it occurred to me that this is how normal people live–without endlessly articulating everything that drifts into their thoughts, and without succumbing to the strange compulsion to share them.
It was during the last week of my trip that I started to really miss it: writing first and foremost, but also the various habits and structures that support it. Late afternoon coffee. A room with a door. Time reserved for one’s self. By the time I returned I was ready to try again, and luckily, there was a suitable meme waiting.
For me, the pleasure of blogging is in the process–the constant voicing and revoicing of the everyday which is both a means of expression and a form of play. This is something like what Roland Barthes wrote about language: “‘What takes place’ in the narrative is, from a referential (or reality) point of view, literally: nothing. ‘What takes place’ is language, the adventure of language, whose coming is forever being celebrated.”
But blogging is also, for some of us, a means of connecting, which occurs somewhere in the borderland between “Life” and “Art.” It can be a difficult space to inhabit, and sometimes a profoundly silly one, but, as this post has reminded me, it is still surprisingly meaningful. And that is more than enough reason to keep at it.