According to this piece by Sarah Boxer, in The New York Review, I don’t know how to blog.
whatever you think you’ve been doing for the last 3 years, dude . . . you’ve been doing it all wrong.
My reaction? Kind of like the guy on his death bed said, after encountering the winning numbers printed on his lottery stub: “better late than never.”
According to Boxer, what distinguishes my work from true blogging is that I don’t:
- thrive on fragmented attention (one-liners, song samples, summarized news);
(I mean, if you discount these bullets I’m just beginning to work through).
I also fail as a blogger, because I:
- fail! To: punctuate?
- eschew the use of punctuation and acronyms to express my feelings—a la :-) or ;-)
And, I fail as a blogger because:
- I tend not to adopt the mien of an impresario, curator, or editor—picking and choosing the snippets and headlines found on-line;
PRESIDENT’S DAY NEWS FLASH: Elder Bush Backs McCain
Looks to get back in the picture as his new VP
Okay, so I’m having a little fun here, at someone’s expense. Yours, McCain’s, G.H.‘s. Mine. (But really, doesn’t that creepy sneer on senior and the semi-dazed, semi-satisfied look on McCain’s face make you suspect that something unsuspected is happening off-camera?)
But, in general, it is true that I don’t trade in Boxer’s following standard blog tropes:
- I don’t begin my posts mid-thought or mid-rant—as if I am talking to my buddies;
- I don’t shirk from feeling responsible for a reader’s education, instead, struggling to provide all the necessary details for a casual interloper to keep up;
- I don’t get caught up in trying to be famous; thus, this blog doesn’t seek to: say anything to get noticed, start rumors, tell lies, pick fights, create fake personas, and post embarrassing videos; (I mean, aside from the snide photo aside concerning senor senior Bush, above);
- I don’t trade in trendy, esoteric blog-speak; and
- I don’t have a foul mouth; (I mean, aside from the snide photo aside concerning senor senior Bush, above)
Well, at least I don’t possess a very foul mouth. (The last one being why I probably have managed to keep this gig over these last 36 months).
The bottom line, though, is that, perusing the above list, I have a lot of holes to fill in if I am ever going to live up to this space’s billing as an actual “blog”. So, given the list, where (and when?) does one begin?
Cut to the now! Where: here I am on the way to San Francisco—cruising up the Pacific Coast Highway—with little time to get myself as organized as usual, and (aside from feeling incredibly insecure, certain that I’ve lost utter control) it occurs to me that this might be the perfect opportunity to become more bloggy, to earn my cred as a big-time blog-hound. If you’re game, I am too. So, let’s try this . . .
The first thing I should start with is a picture. Or maybe a matching set. The two taken at the rest stop along the northerly shore with the sign warning that the surf is a dangerous thing: strong backwash, sleeper waves, and rip currents.
I didn’t know that sea water could be so specialized.
Anyway, check out the placid gull hanging out atop the sign: offering up his best imitation of concern over the caveat below.
So, that is kind of bloggy, right? Ironic contrast, culled (from the gull) in the moment.
And after moving the camera around the landscape—at the bench overlooking the beach, and the guy occupying the bench as he shoots snaps of his gal posing on the precipice overlooking the beach—
it is time to move down to sand-level. There one encounters a well-tempered piece of an up-rooted telephone pole (unless it is a portion of a dismembered pier), along with some driftwood detail and stray seaweed:
And after capturing a solitary walker braving the brisk wind, basking in the sparkling winter sun, beholding the munificent unadorned ocean . . .
. . . it is time to head back out, on PCH. Refreshed, reinvigorated, rededicated to peripaticity.
After 3 years of posts, there is one overriding question that faithful readers—of this, well, if not a blog, whatever it is—invariably ask. You know the one, right? (cause you’ve thought it, yourself—admit it!): “how do you manage to get all these glorious photos?”
The question usually attendant to the unveiling of shots like this:
And admit this, too: you’re jealous, right?
The answer, of course, lies in equal parts (ahem) talent, serendipity, and—well, actually—luck. That, and taking multiple chances with my life as I point my camera out the window of my Lexus RX 300, generally revved up to . . . 70 mph (but not a click more, Mr. Officer, honest!)
More often than not, shots come out somewhere between the unusable and the inscrutable. Something akin to the one below:
providing an unplanned glimpse of the wizard behind the curtain—spied in this mis-angled (or is that “mangled”) mirror shot.
Which is probably a good enough place to leave this entry (and bring it full circle). Suspended as we are between the peripatetic push up the Pacific Coast Highway and deep into the self. For, in any writing—as in any work of art or simple communication—there is no way of avoiding the self. It is the iron law of subjectivity. Something illuminated in the reminiscence of Joan Didion during her memorial service oratory for Elizabeth Hardwick, co-founder and advisory editor of The New York Review:
In 1985, when Darryl Pinckney suggested during a Paris Review interview that (Hardwicke) did not like to talk about herself, she gently set the record straight: “Well, I do a lot of talking and the ‘I’ is not often absent. In general I’d rather talk about other people. Gossip, or as we gossips like to say, character analysis.”
Which is really the deeper truth behind blogging. There is very sheer veneer between the subject of attention and the blogging subject. A point that Sarah Boxer basically makes in concluding her analysis of blogs:
Blog writing is id writing—grandiose, dreamy, private, free-associative, infantile, sexy, petty, dirty. Whether bloggers tell the truth or really are who they claim to be is another matter, but WTF. They are what they write. And you can’t fake that. ;-)
Imagine Peripatetic Postcards without its peripatetique and you will see that Boxer is certainly spot-on. Which is why, despite the paucity of points of confluence, it must be that these peripatetic entries are, after all, lo and behold, blog, after all.
And if you don’t believe it, just tune in tomorrow (or whenever the next installment gets posted); when the next stage of PCH comes into id-tinged view, in the form of: pine trees, rocky cliffs, ocean sunbeams, a highway billboard or two, and a sunset even better than the one filtering through today’s trees.