Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

Blogging – So Far

The hardest part of setting up the blog was to complete the About section. I simply don’t know what to say. This writing, then, is in part, a beginning, is a start towards being able to fill it out. For I hesitate to list my interests. They are multitude and the extent of them will frighten most people. Besides, is that what I am “About”? No, I am more than the sum of my interests. I could populate the About with my achievements, my accomplishments. But that doesn’t seem right either. I could fill the About with domestic details but that would not be right either. For my blog is rather more than a personal blog.

So I cannot for the present complete the About section. When I began the blog I recognised that part of the the blog is about is to find out About me, who the About is.

That defining process began with the first post and continues with this.

In fact the blog may not be the right medium at all. Writing is about rewriting. Working a sentence, a paragraph over and over. A blog is not that. Hmm. That set of questions will answer themselves in their own way in their own time.

The title of this post is What We Love. And my blogs are just that. To explore what I love, what I have loved

I loved my time in South Africa. No, it is not a case of fond memories. In the sense that I gild the memories I have. No gilding is required. I loved being there. I came here to the United States to join a much loved brother. Since he is no more, I cannot regret that I came. But life in the United States is incomparably more difficult than was life for me in South Africa. Of course, when I left South Africa in 1984 no one could have predicted at that time what would come to pass a few years later. What happened in one sense is nothing short of a miracle. Perhaps that is why, at one level, all South Africans feel blessed.

So, I also run a South African blog. It pretty much reflects my American blog, which is only American in the sense that it is hosted on US territory. That is not quite true. Its readership is largely American. It competes for readership among the vast range and numbers of American blogs and has the most dismal readership of all my blogs.

I mention the South African blog because it is on that blog that I got what I would regard as an absolute gift as a comment. I hold it so dear that I wish to share it on my other blogs as well.

I will not say who left it. You can visit the blog yourself to find it if you are curious. The blog is Where Two?

“This is a totally fascinating blog, if rather confusing with its range from austerely academic to the intensely personal. In fact, an attempt to assimilate the content from inception has left me rather breathless.”

The stats system on the SA blog leaves something to be desired but readership is not bad. My first post there was November 11, 2010 and the number of views is on its way to 1000. 22 page views a day on average. Not bad. 5 stars have been silently placed by some blessed souls against Our Address is Music , A Free Press, A Multiparty Government, A Healthy Country and The Night the Theatre Went Dark. A heartfelt thank you to whoever (plural I would think) awarded them. The site itself carries a 5 star rating. I even have one fan. A thank you to you for that.

The next part of my Blogging So Far story is astonishing. At least to me. All writers love having readers. Every single reader is precious. (Spamers are exempt and most blog sites handle this aspect of blogging very well).

My best looking blog is at pas un oiseau tombé. Even the title is gorgeous. The acute shouldn’t really be there but it is hard to say without it. The content again reflects what the parent blog carries. But since I follow European and French affairs, my posts, like the South African site, reflect my interests and views. It wouldn’t be meaningful to post them without a French language site.

Readership has risen steadily though I haven’t a clue why. The stat system is excellent. Far better than what WordPress offer. My first post here was on November 10, 2010, my birthday, and for November I had a steady average of around 22 visits a day. For December the average for the number of visits is about half the November figure but page views has dramatically increased. The three highest are 103, 147 and an astonishing 171 on December 17, 2010. Sadly, no comments. I really would like to hear from at least one of my site visitors. Are the French shy to comment?

If the French confound me, the Belgians completely flummox me. où à? is my blog in Belgium (not everyone blogs in Belgium) is hosted by the Belgium newspaper La Libre. The site, like its American cousin, has a Blog Top Site stat on the front page that is running at 297 when I look at it. What it means I have no idea. I first posted there on the 7 of November with 17 visits the first day. In November the average was 32 a day. Dropped a bit for the first week of December but is now running around the 32 mark. I had no idea that I would get this kind of readership in French speaking territories.

So, last but not least, the parent site. The readership is abysmal, appalling. I simply do not exist in the greater bloggosphere. I am not even a speck. I am smaller than that. I first posted October 19, 2010. Visits run at less than 10 a day. I have the Blog Top Site thing reading 252 at present. I am just not on the radar. I post to Facebook, I post to Twitter. I do notice that the visits increase somewhat when I post comments on other sites. The most memorable of these was from 95 views after I posted Who Defends the Blogger? – Who Dropped the Ball on the Blogger in Australia? and commented at Crikey that I had done so.

So, where to from here? I will continue to blog to find out.

Filed under: Arts, , ,

What We Love

Some weeks ago I had an insight that I thought was worth exploring. In working with an insight it will take some working and reworking to reveal to others what was instantly clear to me at the time.

I had been thinking about writing and the fact that a muse is so central to many artists’ endeavours over the years, over the centuries. Many artists, which would naturally include writers, have declared that their muse was central to their efforts. The term is derived from the Greek where the muses are plural. Most artists declare to one muse. In many cases this appears to be a personification, the muse is embodied in a person. Picasso and Dante spring to foremost to mind.

Among artists composers seem to be less prone to this declaration. Architects too. On the other hand, performers performing music frequently express the need for a muse.

What struck me is that writing, perhaps all artistic endeavours come out of love. A deep love of the medium and the expression through that medium of the artistic creation.

I realized, through the insight, that artists who declares to a muse, embodied or otherwise, are making an effort to keep the candle-flame of creativity in front of them as a means to maintaining and sustaining the creative spirit.

In other words, love for an artist is directly connected to the creative spirit, to creativity and, hence, to the production of the creative works. That love is a necessary conduit through which the creativity can flow. The muse, embodied or not, is a means of maintaining the love.

Is a muse always necessary? I would say not. However, for those who employ it as an artistic conduit, the connection between love, love of the medium, and the creative output, it points to me the necessity of an artist having a deep connection to his or her medium. Stray from the love and you cannot create. The muse then serves a symbolic purpose, if you like.

This is not to say that the artistic endeavour is painless as a result. Who says love is painless. Quite the contrary. What one does know through love, in its many forms expressed, heights that few other areas of human experience brings. It may also bring some extremes of emotions in other directions as well, but let us put that aside for now.

There is also a relationship between the love the artist feels for the medium and beauty. I think of Roy Cambell’s last line from his poem Luís de Camões, “… wrestled his hardships into forms of beauty and taught his Gorgon destinies to sing.” I have to say, though, that beauty is on a far more elevated plane than is love. Let’s leave it that for that is not where we are headed within the confines of this essay.

For myself, I have many interests. You might say that I have a promiscuity of interests for I flit endlessly from one to the other.

Among those interests are a few that I love. The degree to which I love any one of these few must vary in some way. Is the love for each of these few as deep, one to another? No. I love architecture but not to the degree that I love the theatre, love drama. I love music, Do I love music more than I love theatre? Possibly. Were I more gifted in music, I certainly would pursue it more than I have done the theatre. And poetry? And literature? Where do these fit? Le’ts put aside questions associated with painting and drawing, for we have already asked too many questions and answered none of them to any degree satisfactorily.

The best that I can offer at this stage, is that I have a few interests which I love, and many, many interests which I like. The purpose here is to explore the relationship between the two, the liked interest and the loved interest, bearing in mind the idea that love sustains the creative impulse.

What has me put pen to paper on this occasion is rather to explore writing and the forms that it might take. I can write of what I love. I can write of and through my interests. The more sustainable form surely is is the writing driven by love.

The writing sparked by interests less than loved is not self-sustaining, it seems to me, as is the writing sparked by interests loved.The self is much more involved, the whole self, when writing from love of the topic, the subject, the interest.

May contribution, when writing from my less than loved interests will rely upon my knowledge, my understanding of the subject. To this subject I will bring my intellect and my writing abilities, no small contributions it is true. What drives me on many occasions is the fact that so much that is written in any of the many areas of my interests is poorly written. A drop of good writing in a sea of mush might inspire those around me to write better, to think better, to write more clearly, to think more clearly.

But I find that this activity, being as it is in areas of less than loved interests, is hard to sustain. After all, I am speaking of an area of interest, any area of interest not loved but held luke warm to the heart, so to speak.

And being an area of interest less than loved, my interest cannot be sustained for very long on a voluntary basis. The blood of the interest drains off and needs sustenance from a switch to some other activity.

Writing from the core, it seems to me, is much more sustainable and ultimately much more rewarding. I think there are aspects to writing from love that bear closer scrutiny. I think it takes effort. Much more effort than does writing from lukewarm interests. In fact, it may take considerable effort. That may be what the love is for. To sustain one in the effort required to overcome the difficulties one faces as one shapes and hammers what one is writing into a form that is not simply pleasant to read but is actually worth while in some meaningful way.

Writing from love certainly calls on the writing skills, naturally. Knowledge and understanding are required, that is true too.

But there is more to it than that. Much more. Writing from love is a creative act. This means that a far greater range of ones faculties are at play than simply writing from mere interest.

As I have pointed out in the postings on my blog, in thinking, the writing that expresses thinking, the emotions are best kept to one side.

Writing from love does not ask this. In fact, when writing from love, that the emotions are engaged is paramount to the enterprise. It is the emotions that allow the intellect to range freely and deeply. and to make connections that no intellect so unpowered could make. The emotions serve to lubricate, to facilitate the process.

It will be clear to those of you who have followed my postings that I do not write off the top of my head. That all of my stuff is composed. That is to say it is written beforehand and mulled over even before that.

Of course, it is absolutely true that what I have written already would benefit greatly from revision and revision for I feel that my points are not clear. That what I have attempted to say so far is far from transparent. And what I have written cannot be said to be limpid prose. But there lies the secret. French polishers worked and worked and reworked to get the supreme finish that they finally achieved. Of course, now we use machines. But craftsmanship is required of writing. Something the web makes glaring obvious. Mere words on a page or the web are just that. Mere words. Sense is something else. And beauty in writing something else again.

So writing from love is hard work. The post I made recently The Origins of Consciousness versus Self-consciousness as Expressed in a 4000 Year Old Ancient Egyptian Tale continues to fascinate me. I feel I can develop the piece more. I am at a loss for the moment quite how to do this. I am not an Egyptologist. However, I continue to mull over the piece for I feel a deep love connected to it. Perhaps I have to reread the work and discover what else there is that fascinates me. This surely is a further expression of the idea that writing from love is hard work. An inner searching is required and, in this case, an inner searching of the work itself.

What I have been attempting to find the words to say is that however difficult it may be, I will be better served as a writer if I seek for the most part to write from love.

I have often been accused in my life of seeking the easy path. I do not think I am on my own in this respect. I am certain that people along the way were trying to tell me was that I have far greater abilities but that I would never find them if I simply always took the easy path.

However, as with any choice made in life, there is a price to pay. The easy path and the more difficult each has their price. But also their rewards.
The easy path always gets there quicker. And patience, up til now at least, has not been my strongest point.

Not long before I began writing my blog; in fact because of this event, I started blogging, I found myself with a freedom to write I had not previously known. I have kept a diary since 1983. Still do. The overwhelming majority of the entries have been self absorbed, turgid muck. Dense junk. Something like I see on the web, as it happens. There are a few entries, month on month of detailed writing but they are few indeed. So, for the greatest length of time I longed to free myself from the tyranny of this turgid scrawl.

A few weeks before I began the first posts on the blog in which I am writing, I found a freedom I have never known.

At first I was ecstatic. I felt released and those first posts were written in the heat of that release. I found myself writing night after night until 4 o’clock in the morning. After a day’s work at the office. On occasion I wrote through the night without going to bed and went off to the office. You can imagine, I was frequently like a zombie there. I felt released on the one hand, hence the exuberance, and also scared that it, this new found freedom, would vanish overnight. Would be disappear to be replaced by the turgidity of before.

That I am writing this some eleven weeks later is proof that the freedom has not disappeared.

It will come as no surprise, those of you who have stayed with me this far into the present writing, to hear the next statement. With freedom comes responsibility and that, more than anything else, is what I am exploring as I write these words.

I am weighing my responsibilities as a writer, to myself, to my readers, and weighing them against my other responsibilities. I think, at the end of the day, when it comes to writing, I have to choose the hard path. If I choose the easy path, I simply will not write. Or, if I do, it will be only in a very desultory fashion.

So, the hard path, eh? What does that mean? Let’s explore it and find out.

Filed under: Arts, , , ,

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