Friday, February 17, 2012


This is my four hundred and first blog post! Considering that I've been with this blog for just about four years now, I suppose it's only reasonable to have stacked up so many posts. Still, it feels like an accomplishment, a significant accumulation, like a pile of autumn leaves large enough to leap into.

Lately I've been thinking about the nature of this internet chronicle of mine. Some of my thoughts are finally enough in order to record and share, and this seems a good occasion. So read on, for some reflection on different sorts of blogs and which sort this one might be.

I have noticed that, when I stumble onto strangers' blogs in the tangled forest of Internet, there are two types that snag my curiosity enough to make me linger. The first type is informative, educational, thought-provoking: the idea-driven blog. In these blogs, it's not important to me who is writing, because the ideas speak for themselves, and their relevance or importance is determined in relation to the world outside, not by their relation to the blog's author(s).

Then there is the second type: the self-disclosing blogs. The story blogs, the personal blogs. The blogs where I get to see the person on the other side of the writing, not just in a snapshot or a statistical analysis, but in an on-going account of life in which I know fairly soon who the main character (the blogger) is: her key relationships, his ideological standpoint, her job, his hobbies, etc. I quickly lose interest in personal blogs that do not make clear the who behind the writing.

My own blog does not fall into either these categories. It is definitely not an idea-centric blog, since I so often write things that take their significance primarily (or entirely) in relation to my personal experience. And while I do often write about events taking place in my heart and soul, I carefully excise most of the eternal references that would root the emotions and meditations in a story. This is largely because I do not want random strangers to know my story. I feel exposed and vulnerable to a person who knows the story-shape of my life, in a way that I do not feel exposed to someone who has seen intimate snapshots of my life but has no larger picture of how those images fit together. The shape of this blog has been largely or entirely determined by what I feel like and want as a writer, with minimal consideration for what readers might want. Does this mean any stranger who stumbles across this blog will abandon it after a few sentences in favor of a more story-centric one?

I suppose those story-centric blogs are like memoirs being written in real-time. Meanwhile, my kind of blog is more like a collection of lyric poems. In reading a memoir, you learn an entire history, the story of how a person came to be. You learn a thousand things about them, though it may be (depending on the memoir) that you gain very little understanding of what it feels like to be that person. On the other hand, in reading someone's poems, you can get to know that person in a very intimate and intuitive way. But you don't know anything about their life, necessarily; what you know is the indefinable, indescribable, invisible pattern of their thoughts and emotions. You carry the imprint of their heart upon your own, and yet you wouldn't recognize the writer if you met him or her on the street.

I would be okay with having hundreds of strangers read a book of my poems. (More than okay: I would be so proud and happy.) But I would not be okay with having hundreds of strangers read a biography of me or a memoir by me (which I will never write). So I guess it only makes sense that my blog has the flavor of a collection of lyric poems, rather than the flavor of a memoir. And that's okay, because there are people out there who read Rilke, if not in the same numbers as people who read Dreams From My Father.

Thanks for reading, and here's to the next 401 posts! :)

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