I hate technology. I condescend to texting and occasionally to email, largely because the one reminds me, rather quaintly I admit, or a sort of direct automatic telegraph, and the other is far easier and more reliable than typing out a letter on my Remington and posting it. (It is also far cheaper; the price of stamps just broke 50 cents, USPS having come to the economical conclusion that the best remedy for a total lack of demand is to raise prices. But that’s the postal service for you: doing the unnecessary inefficiently since Xerxes was on the throne.)
As for the rest of it, I am firmly convinced, and experience continues to bear out the view, that the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, and cetera, self-select for all that is base, stupid and perverse in human nature, to the emphatic exclusion of the nobler sentiments and/or anything creative, authentic or worthwhile. ‘They used to say that a million monkeys pounding away at a million typewriters would eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare; now thanks to the Internet we know that is not true.’
Blogs, the medium through which I now talk to myself in what will soon become a dusty, cobweb ridden and perennially unvisited corner of the indelible historical record, are if anything even worse. As I see it, they cater on the one hand to the would-be pop culture icons who feel that their no doubt fascinating and completely original lives deserve the level of attention society pays to a Lindsey Lohan or a Hurricane Katrina, and on the other hand to the would-be demagogues who feel that their no doubt moderate and well-reasoned socio-political views deserve the sort of adoring audiences society provides for a Huey Long or an Adolph Hitler.
Given the nature of the Internet, all of this fevered activity should draw easy and obvious parallels to those other institutions now synonymous with wrong-headed communicative failure (High Schools, the Senate, Italy) with everyone shouting and no one listening, the result can only be truckloads of useless and in retrospect embarrassing term papers, red-tape and Italians that we’ve resolved to ignore until they go away. Sadly the Blogosphere (someone has decided that the Blogo-world is circular, presumably to match the logic that sustains it) has proven more enduring then the problems of the kind that we’ve traditionally faced, it cannot be burned or forgotten, and all attempts to distract it with Boobs have backfired horrifically.
To be fair, there are of course plenty of good blogs out there, and the Internet is full of useful information and even, I admit, valuable original work, and I have nothing but respect for those almost Nietzschean aberrations that have managed to heave themselves, half-dead and crusted in faecal matter from the malarial swamp of a marketplace to which our culture comes to trade, gossip, sicken and die.
Of course, I anticipate your obvious and by this point assuredly outraged question: ‘What the hell are you doing writing a blog you hypocritical Ludite?! If you want to express your inflammatory views to an indifferent audience, go write a book lamenting the Decline of Western Culture or the Ignorance of the Masses, or better yet, go write for the New York Times, surely that’s the place for widely-held minority opinions and unsubstantiated cultural commentary with an elitist tilt and a progressive thrust!’
Hmm. I seem to have forgotten why my straw man is wrong.
Ah, yes! I was going to answer the question. Why has an avowedly technophobic enemy of mass culture decided to throw his hat into the already over-populous ring of amateur authors and armchair cultural critics who spend their free time transcribing their indolent observations and tacking them up online in the vain hope that somebody might give a damn? It seems that some sort of Statement of Principles or Declaration of Intent is in order.
In the first place, despite my unsympathetic appraisal of modern culture and my firm belief that not just the state of things, but the sort of people who generally talk about the state of things has been looking pretty damn shabby lo these past 30 or 40 years, I believe that there are still people out there who are saying important and insightful things, some of them even going so far as to say them on the Internet, and while I don’t necessarily claim to be one of these people myself, I do hope to be able to bring some of their ideas together with older, largely forgotten ideas in new and useful ways, and generally bring attention to the ragged rear-guard of the civilised world, and possibly have a bit of fun while doing it.
In the second place – and I warn you now that I am about to make an Unsolicited Disclosure of Personal Information – I’ve reached a point in my life where it will be either the Blog or the Bottle for me. Confronted with the classic problem of Artists, Intellectuals, Sensitive Souls and those like myself burdened by the particular conceit of secretly believing to be one of the above, ‘Do you make something of your life or do you drink it away as quickly and painlessly as possible?’, I have decided to take the former path insofar as it will have me. That said, given my personal weakness for Jackson Pollock’s double or nothing school of artistic philosophy, you will probably be right in expecting the occasional drunk screed for or against something something something, or not, etc.
And finally, in the third place, though I may wax vitriolic at times (often with more venom than I honestly feel), the reason that I like to think and write about the world and people and the things they do and books and such, is that I genuinely find them interesting and exciting, and perhaps there are others who do too. The world, our hearts, and our psyches, may be full to their inky bottoms with quite a lot of plastic, prefab shit, one-size-fits-all ideas, emotions and desires made en masse in China for a firm in Milwaukee, but there are also a lot of beautiful, wonderful things out there or in there, and I’d like to do my bit to expose the one and elevate the other.