My last post, in which I wrote about the potential war on Iran and the need to prevent it, highlights a problem I've had here--a problem I perceive of tone. It does often seem frivolous to follow up a serious post about war and human suffering with a post telling the world what I've listened to on my iPod. And yet I want to do both, as well as all kinds of other things. So I have. But I am not unaware of the oddness of it. Life is like that.
Of course, aside from music and politics, the other area I've written substantially on has been literature. On this, contra Scott Esposito, I agree with Sam Tanenhaus on one point (mind you, this is pretty much the only thing I agree with him on, as far as I can tell):
It is easier to get a good piece of analysis and writing, a better essay, a better report, whatever you think a book review of being, on non-fiction than fiction. Novels and short stories are very hard to write about.Scott says in response to this: "If you are concerned about literary aesthetics and culture, then they are in fact very easy to write about." Really? Isn't this a strange thing to say? I find literary aesthetics very difficult to write about (of course, "literary culture" is a distinctly different thing, so maybe that's what's so easy). And I don't find all that much discussion anywhere about the actual aesthetics of a work of fiction, even online (I'm not saying there aren't blogs that do this; obviously there are, and those that do have become much more valuable to me than are the bulk of the litblogs). Even where blogs are better than mainstream book reviewing (and the best of them unquestionably often are), I see mostly writing that is concerned primarily with content and theme, comparatively very little with how the things work. And I think this is because it's difficult. It certainly is for me. If you've been paying attention, and care, you may have noticed a relative lack of literary posts lately, and an increase in the number of posts on politics and music. This is why (that, and an overall increase in sleepiness, but that's another matter entirely). But I haven't given up on it; I promise. Perhaps it is for this difficulty that some of the posts I've been happiest with have been those in which I've tried to do some of this, and succeeded, at least on some of my own somewhat nebulous terms. (Specifically, I'm thinking of my posts about Peter Handke's Across, Tom McCarthy's Remainder, and Nabokov's Despair, as well as my defense of David Foster Wallace and my post about Stephen Dixon.)
As I started out, it was interesting to see who responded. It was enormously gratifying to be blogrolled and linked to by some of the literary-minded bloggers I respect the most, such as Dan Green at The Reading Experience (and thanks to Dan, also, for early encouragement, for example in a comment to this post on "Politics and Literature", as well as alerting his own readership to the Nabokov, Wallace, and Dixon posts mentioned above), Steve Mitchelmore at This Space, and Ellis Sharp at The Sharp Side. Early posts about music and music culture caught the attention of Carl "Zoilus" Wilson and Simon Reynolds, two of my favorite music writers, both of whom sent many readers to me--after which I naturally promptly stopped writing about music for weeks! Thanks to everyone who has sent readers my way, whether via blogroll, or a link to a specific post. Thanks to everyone who has commented, particularly those who've commented regularly, thereby helping to form a sort of Existence Machine community--I'm thinking of long-time readers like Scraps (of Parlando) and newer readers like Brandon (of No Trivia).
This incremental awareness of a readership, however small (and mine is certainly that), does pose its own set of pressures and expectations, beyond those I already put on myself when I write. But I try not to worry to much about that. Anyway, it's been a good year. Thanks for reading.