Saturday, June 07, 2003

An Introduction and Excuse

This is all Trevor Joyce's fault. Some months ago he suggested I leap on the blogging bandwagon, and formalise slightly the thinking about poetry and its many associated issues (everything) which appears in bits and pieces on mailing lists. I demurred, for a number of reasons: I am writing two novels this year, and so the thought of anything more formalised than a post dashed off to a listserv was too frightening to think about. And my computer was so ancient that I couldn't load weblog pages in less than about twenty minutes, so writing one was unthinkable. And maybe it was just plain cowardice; weblogs, after all, seem more to the purpose than a list, where so much of the writing is simply reactive. Since I discovered listservs about six or so years ago, I've (mostly) enjoyed the to and fro of argument, and it's mostly been useful to me.

But lately I have begun to feel a little like a lightning conductor on lists, and I have started wondering if they are as useful to idle one's thoughts around in, if all one does - I'm sorry for the "one", perhaps I am feeling a royal isolation in writing this - if all one does is repeat what one says again and again until it sounds nonsensical and defend oneself against arguments which have nothing to do with what one said.

Some years ago I interviewed Loe McKern for a newspaper. He was very pissed off about being interviewed. He therefore pretended to be deaf. It was the most difficult interview I have ever conducted. It improved only after he fixed me with a gimlet eye and demanded to know what books Samuel Johnson had written, in full expectation that I had never heard of Samuel Johnson. I was able to say "Rasselas", and he was so surprised that his hearing came back: the only miracle cure I have ever witnessed. But his pretending to be deaf meant that every time I asked him a question I had to repeat it several times, each time louder, until I was shouting at him and what I said sounded like complete tripe. I have never forgotten it. Well, the point of that divagation is that mailing lists have begun to feel like that to me; and I am interested to see if there is any profit in sending my excessive doodling, which are overspills from what I am really supposed to be doing, onto a webpage instead.

I have no idea what will happen here. It's been years since I kept a journal, and it will be interesting to see if this develops in any interesting way. I will probably post whatever thoughts occur to me about whatever I am reading or writing, and perhaps it will help me to refine them in a more ordered way. Or perhaps not.

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