Whither blogging — and acciaccature?

. . . or, do I really mean, where are these still tentative splinter-blogs that broke away from the mercantilist Guardian going? (see the list on the right hand column of this page)

One effect of the defections that I most certainly didn’t anticipate is that traffic for concentrated discussion of serious subjects on all sites, including the Guardian‘s, would downspiral relentlessly over the months – with only nonstop chatter-chunter sites with a gloss or illusion of substance attracting high comment counts.

Can it be that large numbers of books bloggers have scarpered to social and fantasy networking (Facebook, MySpace, SecondLife) and all-day Twittering – so that blogging itself is being eclipsed in the same way as email socialising was overtaken by blogging? If that’s true, to what extent are the limitations of solo blogging responsible?

The summer before last, three of us commenting often on the Guardian’s books site privately discussed setting up a collaborative blog. Comrade A said that he would want to be editor-in-chief. Comrade B immediately put in a bid to be managing editor. I was silent until Comrade A generously said that he thought I’d make an excellent site organiser and nurturer of talent. Ah, but ducking all such responsibility has been a hallmark of my real life, I explained. I had no interest in managing people and nothing mattered to me more than what I’ll never have enough time for, if I live to be a hundred – getting ideas out to be read and discussed. Getting past the obstacles to saying the too-much I want to say – no matter how deluded, no matter how unwelcome — has to be my chief preoccupation.

I suggested inviting someone else, Comrade C, to be editor-in-chief – a person all three of us like and admire inordinately, who somehow gets away with expressing himself with scorching frankness; whose wit doesn’t just illuminate and delight but coruscates and so, wins over the most awkward and wild fellow-bloggers.

I predicted that dealing with conflicting personalities would be the biggest headache for anyone running a collaborative site. For instance, Comrade B was long a forbearing and steadfast friend of someone on the books blog with a disposition that could only be explained by his having swallowed every under-ripe lime and lemon, and every last drop of vinegar in the world — even though B himself has been the target of some of his most venomous attacks.

Comrade A is a good mate of someone whose blog might be a bit less off-putting to some of us if his obsessive focus on male genitalia, particularly his own, were balanced by a comrade who started a site that dripped menstrual blood and could hymn in texts what the curves and folds in some of Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings celebrate. Then we could see whether an equalisation of highly sexualised gender-centric excessiveness made both the male and female varieties of it not just bearable but enjoyable. (For what it’s worth, I’d guess not, having found Henry Miller only fractionally less tiresome than Anaïs Nin – though I’d certainly bring an open mind to any such experiment in the ether.)

I believe that one of us approached Comrade C about our tentative plan for collaboration and was gently turned down – for the predictable reason that it would steal too much time from his day job. Since he is very young and – judging by his posts – anxious to find the right person to contribute to the DNA pool with him, it was long ago clear that achieving financial security is his most pressing ambition.

There is of course no money at all in literary blogging, as far as I know. That is, unless you take the Tina Brown road and, with financial backers in suits, establish some equivalent of her Daily Beast, which feels nothing like a blog but, in every pixel, like the e-zine it actually is. It’s very much in the mould of the 1990s pioneers, Salon and Slate – but can also be seen as a more loosely edited political section of her old stamping-ground, The New Yorker.

I call the Daily Beast a model of top-down e-publishing – linked to current affairs, in its own case. As a reader, I have so far found it good but resistible. It neither offers the highly polished texts and images of print magazines on high-grade paper pleasing to the touch, nor the endearing eccentricities and highly individual scents – almost like perspiration – of the best solo blogs.

Nearly four months into my own diminutive blogging experiment, though, I see the obvious advantages of the top-down template borrowed from old media’s good old days. The biggest of these is obviously the ability to make a living from it – for as long as the investment capital lasts. Then there is of course no tamaguchi problem – the sensation of being the hapless single parent of a colicky electronic infant. On Beast-ies and their ilk, there are other willing pairs of hands to change nappies (I mean, reverse plunging click-count curves on WordPress’s charts by going out to chat) and stop squalling fits by administering choice morsels of baby food (I mean, write new posts to keep readers coming back).

Blog aggregation is one possible solution to these headaches of soloists. Some investors, mainly in the US, as far as I know, have been grouping together hundreds of individual blogs – such as those of interest chiefly to women – under common umbrellas. Bloggers share small percentages of the advertising revenue that these collected blogs attract.

Since I haven’t yet found any of them interesting enough to visit regularly, I can’t say how well the schemes work. A priori, I find it impossible to conceive of bloggers retaining complete freedom of expression if they are paid by the aggregators, or must worry about being careful not to offend advertisers.

So far, the chief attractions of joining sites with a comrade or two to form blogging co-ops would be:

covering for each other when off-blog life is being unusually demanding – as mine has been, over the last few days, leaving no time to write new posts or revive dying threads.

a division of labour – so that most of the chit-chat can be left to members of the co-op who are good at it. That would free others — for instance, those of us who defy the first unwritten rule of drinks parties and sink full fathoms five into conversations with the most fascinating person we can find, for the entire evening – for other tasks. Those with no natural gift for small talk could do chores such as optimising the site for search engines’ crawler-bots and seeking out, and linking to, spots on the internet with overlapping audiences – work that I, for instance, have had no chance to do on acciaccature’s behalf.

Which brings me to my immediate plans for this experiment. Posts will continue to be erratic over the next few weeks, I’m afraid, for reasons I can’t control. In the absence of anyone to cover for me, all I can do is ask my kind regular readers to check for new material with the expectation of finding nothing – until you do. This doesn’t strike me as remotely good enough. . . . It’s also the reason why most solo blogs have lifespans more like sunbursts than galaxies.

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119 Comments

Filed under The blogosphere, The Guardian

119 responses to “Whither blogging — and acciaccature?

  1. ISA

    Dear Wordy,

    Like you I’ve been away. For some of it I disappeared up my own ****.

    But what I have understood is that although I like blogging occasionally, and being paid for it, that’s not the reason I blog.

    I blog to express myself. So when I write about this or that I don’t really want to be told to follow a certain line. I want freedom of expression.

    I can earn far more by just doing my day job(s) – so far. Even the memoir. I could probably earn more in a couple of months over summer than I would earn hour for hour for writing a memoir.

    That’s not the motivation.

    I love your cooperative idea – if we can be brought together to cooperate.

    Now we do have a certain degree of power and influence. Is this enough? So if I or you or Sean or Misha or Susan write a blog on this or that person. When this or that person’s name is googled, then there it will be.

    Quite amazing if you consider the size of the web and the importance of Google and take into account the relative vacuity of what we have to say sometimes.

    If I was a student I would hardly like to read about how Lawrence was racist towards the Mexicans. I would want to read something written by someone with a bit more depth.

    We bubble up through cyberspace, but quality and depth, not just insight and wit, is an issue.

  2. ISA

    And then posting at work. It can be embarrassing. I am given leeway, a little, because of personal circumstances. And then at home. My family life and time constraints. The old Marxist idea of surplus and leisure resulting in art.

    I could lose my job and family and then I’d have plenty of time to write and post.

    So I suppose the issue is a burning one.

    How to finance this activity? Good question, Wordy.

  3. ISA

    Wordy, you say

    “Blog aggregation is one possible solution to these headaches of soloists. Some investors, mainly in the US, as far as I know, have been grouping together hundreds of individual blogs – such as those of interest chiefly to women – under common umbrellas. Bloggers share small percentages of the advertising revenue that these collected blogs attract.”

    An interesting thought.

  4. Who knows? Once film stocks like Super8 or VHS video became discontinued artists rushed in to take advantage of these by now cheap mediums and whole new avenues for creating work emerged ( of course they were used before they became extinct commercially but only by those with decent budgets could afford them ).

    Maybe with attention focussed on more up-to-date on-line interactive sites these blogs can return to ( or carry on with )the more subversive possibilities???????

  5. elcal

    you know, this blog-when-one-has-free-time as opposed to blog-for-money (and the former is infinitely more respectable, imo), this dichotomy has me thinking about literature in general, specifically some of its origins in aristocratic endeavor. not all our canonical greats were men or women of means that wrote their works in the family estates’ reading rooms, but a great many were. blogging may need to be something similar, classless though it may seem to try to be. ISA is spot on with the leisure-art relationship.

    if the co-op doesn’t work out, as it does appear a viable “third way” for lack of less malodorous term, wordy, i say just get into some money somehow and sit back on them laurels.

    .

    on a more serious note, i think this notion around the web that instant is better is a problem. yes, the web and various other IT-related technologies have helped deliver data and information faster, but that data and information must be created, and one cannot always create at a constant bitrate. i appreciate obooki’s well-spaced posts, and i also appreciate another blogger’s erudite blog-essays that come out, at best, once every ten days. those of us who write understand the need, at times, for time. further, we prefer that which has been crafted over time.

    let twitter have its day, this too shall pass.

  6. wordnerd7

    @ISA,

    Such a very generous response, as always, … thank you. And I’m sorry to be so slow replying, but it has to be like this for a bit, as I’ve said at the start of the thread. For you, too, I imagine, . . . the deeper you get into your memoir.

    Lots of thoughts running on parallel lines … and this is true whenever I come across any serious thinking about blogging as a form.

    === if we can be brought together to cooperate ===

    I was really saying that Comrades A and B and I failed to do that. . . I would still be willing to try out the idea with those two, but suspect that currents have moved us too far apart. Nothing bad – as far as I can tell – just a matter of where our lives have taken us. .. Comrade A, if you’re reading this, since you’re the only extrovert and it was your proposal, whether we really have a go at a co-op is up to you . . . 😉

    === If I was a student I would hardly like to read about how Lawrence was racist towards the Mexicans. I would want to read something written by someone with a bit more depth. ==

    That’s either/or thinking. Why not ‘and’? . . . I was riveted by what you said on the subject – said so on your blog. . . . Your revelation added complexity to my picture of a man I already thought of as impossible to pigeonhole. . . full of class resentment; writes wonderfully on behalf of the working man; marries an aristocrat . . . then – despises and looks down on Mexicans — ??? … And those are just my most superficial notions about him.

    === The old Marxist idea of surplus and leisure resulting in art. ===

    Yes, but that says nothing about who makes great art, or even just original art of a high quality. Someone I’ve put in the first category for literary talent, originality and promise, for nearly two years, is a comrade from the very bottom of the heap, in economic terms. By dint of phenomenal discipline, he’s hacking out time for writing – careful that the day jobs he’s chosen with great care support this ambition. . . By contrast, bloggers with every material advantage, dripping in lucre, who have boasted about gilt-edged educations, produce only imitative, skilfully crafted (on the surface, or virtually all there is) work . Surely you’d agree, ISA, that there’s an indefinable X factor in creativity worth noticing that that Marxian idea somehow leaves out?. . . . If you have the passage in which he makes his point, I’d love to see what the rest of it says.

  7. wordnerd7

    Dear @Alarming, being distinctly kip-zonder-kop at present, I can’t work out what you’re saying here:

    === Maybe with attention focussed on more up-to-date on-line interactive sites these blogs can return to ( or carry on with )the more subversive possibilities??????? ===

    . . . And on this point, which seems related to what you might be saying, I’m with @elcal . . . couldn’t hope to say this better myself:

    === i think this notion around the web that instant is better is a problem. yes, the web and various other IT-related technologies have helped deliver data and information faster, but that data and information must be created, and one cannot always create at a constant bitrate. ===

  8. wordnerd7

    @elcal,

    I’ve replied partly in my comments addressed to @ISA and @Alarming. . .

    === not all our canonical greats were men or women of means that wrote their works in the family estates’ reading rooms, but a great many were. blogging may need to be something similar, classless though it may seem to try to be. ===

    I’d certainly agree that a larger percentage of them had the time to write, paint, etc., than people struggling for crusts – but only a tiny fraction of those ended up as ‘canonical greats’. There’s only one word for most of the output of that fortunate class: mediocre.

    === if the co-op doesn’t work out ===

    I’ve said that the idea for trying one with A and B got nowhere. The question I’m really asking is, could we . . .all of us talking on this site … design a blogging co-op that isn’t a gobble-gobble-gobble bird? … I can only envisage anything like it working as a federation of small, independent countries – principalities – that come to each other’s aid often and further each other’s interests whenever possible. . . since the distinctive ‘look and feel’ of individual blogs is, as I said earlier, what makes blog-reading a superior form of pleasure.

    === i appreciate obooki’s well-spaced posts, and i also appreciate another blogger’s erudite blog-essays that come out, at best, once every ten days. those of us who write understand the need, at times, for time. further, we prefer that which has been crafted over time. ===

    Couldn’t agree more . . . the only trouble with long spaces is that even if readers bookmark your site, they have to remember to come back. . . I suppose other people know how to set up email reminders, etc., but I’ve never had – made — time to investigate solutions like that.

  9. BaronCharlus

    I think I’ve mentioned this in another context (must be my only clever-sounding historical analogy) but the possible reason the Catholic church won out over the gnostics, who proposed an individual experience of God, was that, by agreeing franchise terms, the Catholic church created a transportable model, recognisable as McDonald’s, whichever port you might arrive at. So, it seems, with blogging. The big sites will funnel to the middle ground the bigger they become, as all successful things do, but in doing so are able to access ever greater resources.

    Perhaps you could try a one-stop model, where all the dissenters can be heard together – even those who don’t seem to think much of one another out in the blogosphere – but from a platform where a click for one is a click for all. Nothing more needed than a front page with a portal for each blog; yourself, ISA, Mishari, Obooki, Zeph, etc.

    I notice that the domain name Grauniad.org is available.

  10. seanmurray

    The funniest suggestion I’ve seen is that all the GU splinter sites (lit, sport, politics, music, etc) come under one umbrella, sort of the antimatter GU. As the splinter sites tend to attract the most interesting GUers anyway, such a site may well clean up. Perhaps, wordy, you could ask one of your comrades to be ed-in-chief.

    The main hurdle to collaborative blogging is obviously all the disdain scooting back and forth. Short of a virtual knives amnesty (followed by a nice rendition of the Internationale), it’s hard to see that hurdle being surmounted. For the record: away from more gladiatorial sites like GU, I don’t do enemies (though they may well do me). I throw a comradely arm around anyone wishing to help the arts progress online.

    A number of us will be launching a joint site in the autumn but that’s only been possible because we agree about all the fundamentals. Best of luck to anyone thinking of doing likewise.

    Arise ye bloggers from your slumbers
    Arise ye prisoners of GUlag
    For reason in revolt now thunders
    And at last ends the age of cant.
    Away with all disdain
    Servile bloggers arise, arise
    We’ll change henceforth the old tradition
    And spurn the dust to win the prize…

  11. BaronCharlus

    Sean,

    Seems we’re proposing the same thing. Except I’m making it sound all pompous and portentious. Wordn, can you delete my post and just write ‘the Baron agrees with Sean?’

    *sigh*

  12. wordnerd7

    . . . We’re all thinking nearly identical thoughts, @BaronC, cause for celebration not deletion . . . This is what I just wrote off-line, before I read your latest:

    Magnificent responses, @BaronC and @Sean . . .

    @BC:

    === by agreeing franchise terms, the Catholic church created a transportable model, recognisable as McDonald’s, whichever port you might arrive at. So, it seems, with blogging. The big sites will funnel to the middle ground the bigger they become, as all successful things do, but in doing so are able to access ever greater resources.

    Perhaps you could try a one-stop model, where all the dissenters can be heard together – even those who don’t seem to think much of one another out in the blogosphere – but from a platform where a click for one is a click for all. ===

    A brilliant parallel. . . and your one-stop suggestion leads me to this question for @Sean – who, with his friends, will perhaps show the rest of us a way . . .

    === but that’s only been possible because we agree about all the fundamentals ===

    Is the model anything like the federation I’ve proposed – and @BaronC’s click-for-one-click-for-all?

    === The main hurdle to collaborative blogging is obviously all the disdain scooting back and forth. Short of a virtual knives amnesty (followed by a nice rendition of the Internationale), it’s hard to see that hurdle being surmounted. ===

    Yes, that was what I said to A and B – only, not half so well. . . So what do you plan to do about it, in your joint site?

    === For the record: away from more gladiatorial sites like GU, I don’t do enemies (though they may well do me). I throw a comradely arm ===

    Nor do I . . . no arm-throwing, though, I simply vanish.

  13. wordnerd7

    === The big sites will funnel to the middle ground the bigger they become, as all successful things do ===

    but @BC, if sameness and the ‘middle ground’ are the definition of success, how will this be any improvement over the old-media way — or, say, the Daily Beast?

  14. BaronCharlus

    1) I don’t know.

    2) Perhaps by, as suggested above, those bloggers uniting under an ‘umbrella’ whilst keeping their ‘virtual knives’ sharp, rather than sheathing them.

    What better way to show commonality of purpose whilst retaining indivuduality than two (or more) bloggers sharing a banner-site without compromising their differing, often opposing voices.

  15. seanmurray

    === but that’s only been possible because we agree about all the fundamentals ===

    Is the model anything like the federation I’ve proposed – and @BaronC’s click-for-one?

    Probably a mix of the above and a team site, wordy. I’m happy to chip in with other collaborations, though. Time is of course a problem. Who puts in the time setting up a click-for-one? Is this person then the boss (to inform blogger X that their pro-child-rape/Bolano screed is unacceptable)? How about a rotating crew of bosses (one per month)?

    Not sure how revenue would result, though. Most of us are on wordpress.com and you can only generate ad revenue if you use wordpress.org (though of course the click-for-one front page itself need not be on wordpress.com). And do we necessarily want those horrible little insectoid google ads for e.g. vanity publishing [insert wisecrack here] scuttling across the page? I’m not that bothered about cash (yet). I just want clued-up readers and the occasional groupie.

  16. seanmurray

    What better way to show commonality of purpose whilst retaining indivuduality than two (or more) bloggers sharing a banner-site without compromising their differing, often opposing voices.

    Absolutely. It might even add considerably to the site to feature Parsons vs Burchill-type action.

    So how about it, folks?

  17. BaronCharlus

    ‘It might even add considerably to the site to feature Parsons vs Burchill-type action.’

    This was the concept behind the Mailler flash-blog wasn’t it? As long as the topics don’t degenerate to ‘why X is stinky, LOL,’ it could work.

  18. wordnerd7

    === This was the concept behind the Mailler flash-blog wasn’t it? As long as the topics don’t degenerate to ‘why X is stinky, LOL,’ it could work. ===

    Oh dear, @Baron, I feel an overwhelming ‘why Y is stinky LOL’ coming on . . . must I suppress the urge to attack in such an eloquent form? …. 😉

    Yes, @ISA certainly gave us all a taste of collaborative blogging . . . but Sean, do the people in your ‘team site’ plan to share a common design — or what WordPress calls a ‘theme’?

    I’d miss looking at the pictures of his parents if Phil, for example, were to give up his own site’s design for a collaboration. And then, visiting theadorata without having to squint to read white-on-black would also be a tragic loss — never mind that I have to paste-and-copy your posts into Word to read them . . . ahem.

  19. seanmurray

    Well, certain comrades are avoiding any direct exchanges, it appears, and that’s probably for the best (everybody seems to be avoiding ugliness on these splinter sites, which augurs well). But it might be amusing if the veiled (or not so veiled) disses were to continue while the blogs themselves, as you suggest, were part of the same umbrella site.

    Before proceeding, though, it might be a good idea to discover if this stuff interests anyone beyond the posters on this thread!

  20. seanmurray

    but Sean, do the people in your ‘team site’ plan to share a common design — or what WordPress calls a ‘theme’?

    Yes.

    And the adorata’s *grey* on white, darling. Helps reduce screen glare, a major problem with longer works of online fiction.

  21. BaronCharlus

    ‘I’d miss looking at the pictures of his parents if Phil, for example, were to give up his own site’s design for a collaboration.’

    What I’m imagining is simpler than that.

    A one-page site that offers titled and pictured links to all the blogs already in existence; like a file-sharing aggregator, the banner-site would not be ‘responsible’ for the content at the other end of any of the links. This would also mean that no one would have to change a thing about their blogs; all the designs, WordPress URLs would remain the same. Members would simply need to agree to being featured, perhaps supplying a brief synopsis and picture/logo to comunicate the tone and themes of their blog.

  22. seanmurray

    Roughly like this (but hopefully better designed)?:

    http://www.britlitblogs.com/

  23. BaronCharlus

    Exactly like that. And much better designed.

  24. sean I’m certainly on here for a more relaxed discussion and enjoy the atmosphere wn sets up. I’m tired of commenters speculating/making up things about what I do and who I am and then attacking me on the strength of those speculations. Of course I’m also tired of having to do the same back 🙂 !

    I think the Baron’s suggestion seems the most effective and less time consuming for those involved . But I don’t run a blog so how helpful my comments are is debatable

  25. seanmurray

    ‘I think the Baron’s suggestion seems the most effective and less time consuming for those involved’

    So do I — with one suggestion. Good idea to have some kind of fresh content up on the front page every day (rotating bloggers or something) to encourage folk to keep visiting it. Getting traffic to go through that front page to the individual sites is key, I think.

  26. ISA

    I would be happy to give up my blog for the experiment and transfer more personal stuff onto an ancilliary blog – the reason being that it has buit up high rankings which would mean an IMMEDIATE high profile launch.

    If Sarah Crown types in Sarah Crown Editor she will get my criticism of her review before she gets her own entry in the Guardian. That’s what you would get by using xuitlacoche.

    But I also think the Baron’s idea is excellent and I think the idea of grauniad.com is excellent too.

    It makes sense to blog together. That’s what we do anyway. I am sure we could generate enough content to put the Guardian or New Yorker or whatever, books blogs to shame.

    Although there must be some revenue or benefit out at the end of it. A higher profile for future publishing ventures, money whatever.

    I think this quote from Cannetti would be a good slogan to help the site along. It was chosen by my father, a journalist and editor of 50 years, someone who lived by his words and beliefs:

    “I believe that part of knowledge is its desire to show itself and its refusal to put up with merely a hidden existence…Knowledge radiates and wishes to expand everything along with itself. One ascribes the qualities of light to it… There is a small Herodotus in every young person who hears about hundreds of things, and it is important that no one should attempt to raise that person beyond that, by expecting restriction towards a profession…They wish to radiate knowledge as soon as it takes hold of them, so that it won’t become mere property for them.”

    Phil

  27. ISA

    Sorry wordy. “My comment is awaiting moderation as I forgot to type an ‘l’ in correctly.”

  28. ISA

    My basic point is that if you used xuitlacoche you would get an immediate high profile. But that I think the Baron’s ideas are excellent.

  29. ISA

    And in the post being held for moderation I suggested the following quote from Elias Canetti to guide us in this enterprise:

    “I believe that part of knowledge is its desire to show itself and its refusal to put up with merely a hidden existence…Knowledge radiates and wishes to expand everything along with itself. One ascribes the qualities of light to it… There is a small Herodotus in every young person who hears about hundreds of things, and it is important that no one should attempt to raise that person beyond that, by expecting restriction towards a profession…They wish to radiate knowledge as soon as it takes hold of them, so that it won’t become mere property for them.”

  30. BaronCharlus

    Okay.

    Give me a couple of days. Any ideas for names?

  31. ISA

    Or “Goodness.”

  32. BaronCharlus

    I tried Grauniad; entertainingly, Grauniad.com redirects to GU. Grauniad.co.uk is taken but Grauniad.org is available.

  33. ISA

    Keep in mind that whatever name we choose we will appropriate in the end – a scary thought.

    Which is why it would be nice to appropriate a ig word like Goodness.

    Also some non related Guardian name: Something gnomic and iconic – 3p4 could come up with something.

    I like wordy’s feature where you can see who’s just posted along the side.

    I love Misha’s graphics.

  34. ISA

    Sean’s Music, Susan’s travel writing and so on. But we would need a set of libertarian ground rules that we can agree to abide by on the whole. I suggest Wordy come up with those. Editorial expertise and all.

    Hey. I have never been in a real co-op. This could be fun.

  35. ISA

    Would you need some money to pay for the name Grauniad.org Baron?

  36. ISA

    It has to be a piss take then on “Comment is free but the facts are sacred.

    We have tens of excellent poets out there I am sure they can come up with something.

  37. BaronCharlus

    Another name idea:

    GU-Tang Clan

  38. Good name Baron ( very good in fact ) but do you want/need to be beholden to the Guardian?

    I like Joe Orton’s invented letter writer Donald Hartley who used to write letters to the papers full of pretentious praise over Joe Orton’s plays. One of his comments was something along the lines of “An oasis in a desert of filth.”

  39. I know on blogger has a facility for *team* blogs. The simplest thing occuring to me at the mo, is to set up a site and give those involved the password and username and then anyone can post up anything whenever they like.

    I have set up about four chat gaffes and each one has taught me something, with the main thing being that, no matter how much I thought the enterprise was impelled by socialist principles, once that tiny bit of power was got by way of site administration, it doesn’t take long to turn into a dictator, under the guise of doing it for the comrades. The problem with saying lets do this and that and have a utopia, especially if the primary spur is that the originating team are all defectors from gaffes they consider less free – is that very soon it all goes Lord of the Flies. It’s easy for us to say we are the tolerant ones but we are all human beings with our petty prejudices and what not. This is not to put a downer on the idea, merely an observation.

    It would take five minutes to set a blog-site up and swap around the password and username, and we could get ranting right away.

    ~

    On another bent of thought, has anyone else noticed that the most popular and most viewed facility on the books blog is no longer there? Also, they closed potw early last week and also this afternoon.

    I have been off the shouting for a bit, and am using this as a way to get the grease back going. I am half way through Sean O’Casey’s first volume of letters 1910-40’ish and it is great reading. He had his enemiy in Yeats and AE after the Abbey nocked back the Silver Tassie and am getting inside tips, as his style was very much the working man autodidactic who pulled himself away from a life on the shovel, and my own thinking on changing the world, is changing, or rather slowing down. The need to point out injustice and make myself the centre of it, lessening and now it is week to week instead of day to day online.

    All the various places and people I have in my head as markers on the virtual round, are slowly joining up, the various poetry sites and personell using the web to futher their ambitions of all pervading planetary presence and I have found my own burning ambition taking a back seat as the rhythm slows up and..I dunno, I am extemporising here, trying to hit a groove whereby the lingo is freed and I can spool out a riff.

    But in principle, I am with you comrades.

    In fact, when I first set up my blog, it was supposed to be a collaboration, but none of the poets I knew bothered. If anyone fancies being made a team member, I will do so. It means you can log in and post, and you will be helping me out as I hardly ever do there now.

  40. wordnerd7

    Yes, @BaronC has beautifully spelled out exactly how a loose federation would work — It’s the flash mob principle applied to e-publishing, a body with no head… hurry, hurry, let’s take grauniad.org, dear baron … I’ll be back in a bit …

  41. wordnerd7

    @Des, you did indeed have the first collaborative breakaway blog — and gave us a chance to see what we do and don’t like about joint sites …

  42. wordnerd7

    @ISA, I’ve just liberated your splendid 3.39pm post from the jaws of the mod-bot . . . a fine Canetti quotation . . . I think that @BaronC would be best at drafting a set of ground rules: @BC, would you be willing to do that for us?

  43. BaronCharlus

    I’ll have a think, Wordn. Thanks for asking.

    Al; I do like the idea of tying this to GU in some way (depending what others think). It’s the one unifying and motivating factor in so many of these discussions and even in the creation of many of the blogs. We could be a kind of rude, unwanted inbred rural cousin. Lear’s Fool.

    @ISA; re money; I think there’s lots to discuss before we get to that but it’s really not expensive.

  44. wordnerd7

    On behalf of all of us keen to explore this idea, @BaronC, heartfelt thanks . . . And as for this, I’d certainly want to contribute my share:

    === @ISA; re money; I think there’s lots to discuss before we get to that but it’s really not expensive. ===

    Someone related to a lawyer keeping a close eye on the evolution of libel laws for the net would have to advise us on how to ensure that none of us could be sued. For, eg., the fine @Bolano example Sean gave us upthread.

    . . . This is of course part of the genius of the flash mob idea. In San Francisco, Critical Mass, a group of cyclist (anti-car) activists spontaneously — through, I believe, an exchange of text messages — assembles somewhere in that city once a month and rides down its most prominents streets together. Motorists forced to proceed at a crawl are usually incensed and some would certainly love a chance to take CM to court. Only CM has no leaders, so there is no one to prosecute.

  45. wordnerd7

    @BaronC,

    . . . and everyone else interested in the idea of a collaborative blog . . . here’s an example of a charter/’aboutus’ for one that’s been going for ten years. I hadn’t visited the site for at least six years before I went there for the link — originally sent to me by a good friend — but have been reminded of its existence by this week’s discussions of a joint site. . . though I still think that a loose federation would work best. . . The colours and design certainly wouldn’t be right for us. I’d most like plain black-and-white — the simplest possible presentation — for a shared home page.

    —-

    TheColumnists.com was launched as an independent web magazine on Dec. 1, 1999. It’s operated as a cooperative. Each columnist retains the copyright and full ownership of his or her columns and is totally responsible for the content of those columns. Inquiries about use of our original material should be made to the individual columnists via the TALKBACK
    email system or by writing to:

    The Editors
    TheColumnists.com
    5437 Canvasback Rd.
    Blaine, WA, 98230, USA.

    FOUNDING PARTNERS:
    Murry Frymer, Ron Miller, Gerald Nachman, John Stanley
    Managing Editor: Ron Miller

    HOW WE OPERATE

    TheColumnists.com was created to give established writers a new online venue where they could write what they wanted to write without concern for advertiser demands, demographics, censorship or any other restrictions upon their creativity except the normal requirement to not libel anyone. Most of the writers involved in this collaborative effort are retired newspaper columnists, feature writers or editors who wanted to continue reaching their large readership through the Internet. The work of our celebrity columnists is NOT ghostwritten and is entirely their own work.

    The DARK CORRIDORS mystery section is entirely owned and operated by Ron Miller, though others may write for it.

    TheColumnists.com was organized as an affiliation of independent writers. Columns, articles or illustrations are submitted to the managing editor, who incorporates their work into future editions. Each writer has advance approval of the final content, style and presentation of his or her work before it is posted to this website.

    Columnists, editors and other contributors receive no salaries, but are free to market their work elsewhere once it appears on this website. Freelance submissions are not accepted. Most new columnists who join the group are invited by current members of the staff. Writers interested in joining the group without prior invitation may contact us by using the Talkback email feature on this website. You will be asked to submit samples of your work, a biographical sketch and a resume of your professional background via email.

    Product advertising is not accepted. All requests for information about our policies should be made through the TALKBACK email system on this website.

    http://www.thecolumnists.com/aboutus.html

  46. wordnerd7

    Anyone who would enjoy being rocked from head to toe with helpless laughter … by a story that one of of our comrades tells against himself — pitilessly — do follow this link: you will thank me for it, I promise.

    It would have fit beautifully in the surreal vacation thread . . . but I can see why its author put it on his own site, since it belongs with his irresistible memoir-in-progress.

    . . . @BaronC, I think there’s a message about collaborative blogging in the consequences (on another — dyspeptic — site) of my light-hearted mention of that possibility in explaining a longish gap between posts on this site.

    Say that you are overwhelmed by tedious tasks in off-blog life, but you are also happy — because it’s been raining softly but determinedly for about ten days and, for weeks before that, where you live, people were desperately anxious about forecasts of a drought like Australia’s. Say that you’ve been exulting, watching grey, Raggedy Anne rainclouds whirl past cherry blossom trees and lacy white ornamental pear saplings in full bloom . . . well, that would be the mood of _your_ blog . . and some readers might enjoying sharing it with you.

    But on a shared site, the joy could be contaminated by the sour, envious posts of someone who has nothing cheerful to write about . . indeed, very little of substance to say, in general .. . Since I don’t want to name the chronically unpleasant man I mean, anyone curious will please look at the latest post in Marginalia [wordnerd7 March 6, 2009 at 10:56 am] for an explanation. 🙂 . . . Repeating myself yet again, . . . I’d only be interested in the informal and loose collaboration I’ve described — else I’ll just continue to see what solo blogging can — or more likely, can’t — do.

  47. ISA

    I am glad you laughed Wordy.

    About the general blog idea Baron’s idea is the best.

    I imagine it as he describes it:

    A well designed place that pulls in blogs from those that have signed up to it. Brilliant. Somewhere where you can simultaneously see who has posted what and respond if you feel inclined.

    I am willing to contribute a few pounds to that.

  48. BaronCharlus

    @Wordn,

    Yes, was out enjoying the first sunny day of the year yesterday.

    I have had a crack at some ‘guidelines’ which I’ve included below. Obviously, these are only my personal priorities which, I’m sure, will be different to other people’s.

    That said, is it worth looking into the shared WordPress group Des suggested? It seems that would offer lots of nice things like automatic updates, new post alerts, a ready-made template and suchlike.

    And what are your thoughts for a name? Unless I’ve missed it you haven’t expressed an opinion.

    ………………………

    This is great:

    ‘A new online venue where (we) could write what (we) wanted to write without concern for advertiser demands, demographics, censorship or any other restrictions…except the normal requirement to not libel anyone.’

    I would add something like the following:

    – The rules and limits of each blog regarding subject matter and moderation are the author’s absolute right and responsibility. If you don’t like what you read, get over it or craft a response. As in public schools and the army, disputes may be resolved through the flash-blog duel.

    – Rigorous, boisterous debate is expected and essential.

    – Equal to the thrill of speaking one’s mind is the thrill of being heard. Read others generously.

    (please, please note that I wrote this following point before the recent conversations with SA!)

    – The World is yet to issue categorical definitions for terms such as racism, homophobia, misogyny, etc. They are notorious Internet red rags. Consider how your words may be read 180° across the world. Equally, consider what the other person may be trying to say before assuming the worst. Failing that: flash-blog duel.

    Or alternatively:

    Do What Thou Wilt Shall be the Whole of the Law

    I’m not sure I have any thoughts about membership conditions, or even that there should be any. The Columnists.com statement on that issue feels a bit restrictive; the idea of a vetting process seems a bit cabal-like. In my opinion, anyone from the GU blogs who wanted to be involved should be welcome. I feel that the more diverse (and divisive!) the membership, the more the project will justify itself.

  49. wordnerd7

    @Suzan:

    mmMMM-wah! (… okay, also super-soppy ;), as you say … though I think we’re supposed to be doing authentic ‘saccharine’ . . . ?)

    @BaronC,

    Many thanks indeed for your careful thinking and suggestions, . . . On the name, I did warmly second the idea of seizing Grauniad.org and even offered to contribute currency notes . . . If one of us were to set up a PayPal account — that should make sharing the cost effortless (does the email address you use here still work for actual messages?). . . You’ll have noticed that I have a special affection for clunky and/or difficult names, so if we can’t get our first choice, perhaps we can have a female tutelary deity, . . . a luscious and euphonious Graudina.org?

    . . . Yes, I see that you closely anticipated almost exactly the point I was making to @Suzan.

    === In my opinion, anyone from the GU blogs who wanted to be involved should be welcome. I feel that the more diverse (and divisive!) the membership, the more the project will justify itself. ===

    I agree with the whole of your last para, especially that bit . .. only, how do we know they’re from GU? Do we check their claws or scars — and in what order? 🙂

    I hope others will come in and react to what you’ve said — some time before Monday.

    This is a rushing-about weekend for me, I’m afraid, so I’m not thinking very well. . . Thank you again for your thoughtful weighing and excellent judgment.

  50. ISA

    Baron,

    It has to be short and pithy and gather its own moss:

    The DREADNAUGHT

  51. ISA

    Conference of the words

    akoshiratki (precious in Ainu)

    My favourite is

    Tezcatlipoca

    The god of the black mirror

    Quetzacoatl the great and magnificent brought speech and writing like Thoth did on the other side of the Atlantic. He tried to stop human sacrifice and was a god and divine king – a Toltec some say – when he was expelled from Tula he was sent over in a boat and he went to the Mayan provinces where he was called Kukulcan.

    Tezcatlipoca was the hidden God. People said he was evil. He had a smoking black mirror in which all the future and all events could be seen. I am going to write a little novel around that theme.

    But the point is that he went up to Quetzocoatl in all his glory and in a sort of move that reflected the Queen in Snow White, (Perhaps this is where Oscar Wilde filched the idea of Dorien Gray from) idea) after praising Quetzacoatl to the skies he offered to show him his real face in the mirror.

    And to this glorious king and God he offers the smoking black mirror and he looks into it and sees his real face – and it is a pustulant ugly visage with a horrible leer, horrible. A Quetzocoatl falls to the ground stuck dumb and then after a while he weeps and weeps and then he gets angry. Texcatlipoca has bewitched him. He is “evil” he is bad, he is the enemy – and here we see the Zorastrian Ahuru Mazda casting his shadow God.

    The legend of the good Quetzocoatl is born and the bad Tezcatlipoca – but really, Tezcatlipoca represents reality, like Abraxas, and when Goodness and progress are proclaimed and roll forward on their iron tank tracks, Tezcatlipoca becomes the hidden God, the God of the great poet of the flowers: Nezahualcoyatl.

  52. ISA

    You have my long post penned up Wordy.

  53. ISA

    So, in fact, The Black Sun, the Smoking Mirror, Tezcatlipoca are all good names – a little portentious perhaps.

    But isn’t that what we do when we write poetry, when we write, we look into a smoking black mirror like the great Nezahualcoyatl and are the better for it.

    It is only the fools, the vain-glorious, the Andrew Motions and the Martin Amises and the other guffawing fools of the establishment that should be frightened to look into this mirror. But we are not.

  54. ISA

    Of course the connection is that John Dee is said to have acquired Tezcatlipoca’s mirror. Rubbish, of course.

  55. And as for me Isa,
    The sunshine is green today, did you see the sky a strange colour as light wears its rays from seaweed as a fashion trend…
    I stand encased in the circumference of a nomadic madness, balancing the lines of a water’s edge to match the symphony of my little toes, that they would not slip lest my mortality sinks into the waves that hide deep wells and immortality breathes a prayer of reincarnation into my icy lungs.
    I smoke aquamarine cigars and stare at the blue water where my mirrors hold no smoke but ripples that threaten the spin of a belly dance.
    Through this careful reflection, I brush my hair with a lacquered brush made from the tail of a fish, martyrish in its absolution of grief. The well fast blinds my vision. I am silent to the fact that through my blue rippled mirror, I see anyway… Of course, of course.

    Do pass me my hickory and Ray Bans, Isa.
    🙂

  56. wordnerd7

    @ISA and @Suzan .. lots of little wheels set whirring by the treats you’ve posted here but I’m completely useless after an unusually lively 24 hours . . . Will need a bit more time to think, so please forgive me for not replying now … ISA’s 8.12pm has been wrested from the jaws of the spam-bot. You didn’t make any spelling mistakes, Phil, so I’m guessing that those massed names of Aztec gods look like very clever spam to the filter — quel wheeze!

    . . . am struggling to fit Ray Bans _and_ cigars into my the picture of my imagined @Suzan . . . hard work, it has to be said . . . 😉

  57. ISA

    Susan,

    I’m beginning to think of you as one of those powerful female characters from an Ian Banks science fiction novel.

  58. Hi Isa, (Phil),

    Found your thoughts so inspiring I wanted to touch base so I lent myself to an absurd imagination – a certain form of writing I find myself taking rather seriously of late. And see here:
    “And mortality sunk into the waves… the water tasted of champagne and she drowned from one glass too many…” hence the reincarnation bit afterwards…

    You are always inspiring as a fellow-writer, Phil.

    And aquamarine cigars too at that, Wordy. 🙂

  59. So from me The Aquamarine Cigar, The Green Sun and The Mirror in the Well.

    Forgive the silliness and fun!

  60. BaronCharlus

    Hi all,

    I wanted to share something I’ve been working on…

    http://www.hyagog.com/

  61. ISA

    Yog Sothoth, the eater of souls, Baron?

    Sue – a sort of death by hedonism?

  62. Hi Baron

    I’ve had a look and will link your pages to my blog if you don’t mind.
    Decidedly dark and possibly very exciting. I’m going to read them all – as I would a book – once I’m in Dublin.
    Reminds me of Steven Augustine’s writing site which I’ve always considered to be a work of art. Have you seen?
    I ought to dismantle my blog and have a site like this for my work.

    Hi Isa
    Yes, but she is awakened again. An absurdity of thought. I ought to take it further.

  63. BaronCharlus

    Thanks Suzan,

    Hope you enjoy. Mind if I link to you? Same to ISA, Wordn, etc.

  64. wordnerd7

    Funny how well all the posts since my last site check fit together. @Suzan’s fantasy jambalaya reads as if it came from the same kind of imagining as the marvellously paradoxical and contradictory stories about the Aztec gods of which @ISA has reminded me. . . And then from @BaronC, … ‘this voice appeared next to my ear and said something like “isn’t it fascinating, how everybody’s expression of true selfhood derives entirely from a common, repetitive symbolic language, it’s almost as if the individual is a myth,”’ …

    @BC, I’ve started reading at your site and it will take many more visits before I investigate all the booty there – I enjoyed the bittersweet, satirical Corinna fragment, not least for its strange picture of contemporary life in England, and wish I could read the rest of the novel. . . Thank you for the generous look at your fiction that you’ve given us . .. and yes of course to linking — and I’ll do the same.

    @ISA, I was amazed that Tezcatlipoca didn’t make as big an impression as he clearly should have done in earlier reading about Aztec mythology – which has always had strange magnetic powers over me, so pessimistic that it turns me into a Pollyanna . . . Tezcatlipoca is, as you say, a sort of enemy of Quetzalcoatl but one reference book says that Quetzalcoatl is also ‘white Tezcatlipoca,’ and in addition, comes in blue, black and red (!) Yes I think he’d be wonderful as the focus of a novel . . . When I went looking for pictures of statues and paintings of him on my shelves, I came across the curious fact that though the Aztecs were famously cruel – for instance, in the hideously gory ways they killed people in rites of sacrifice – they ‘wanted as many prisoners as possible to offer to their gods,’ which made them easy conquests for the Spaniards who ‘were seeking to kill as many of the enemy as possible.’ . . . Not an hour after I read that, I came across this:

    Mexico morgues crowded with mounting drug-war dead

    . . . Sun Mar 8, 1:55 pm ET

    CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Death froze his exhausted face. The attackers lashed or punctured nearly every part of his body. […]

    As with most murders in Ciudad Juarez, police found no witnesses, no weapons. […].

    “Every organ speaks,” says Dr. Maria Concepcion Molina, who gently removes packing tape from the head of her third decapitated victim in a week. The dead man’s slack mouth and eyes still seem to pray for relief.

    Bodies stacked in the morgues of Mexico’s border cities tell the story of an escalating drug war. Drug violence claimed 6,290 people last year, double the previous year, and more than 1,000 in the first eight weeks of 2009. . .

    . . . Thanks to xuitlacoche, I know just a little bit about the background to all that . . .

  65. wordnerd7

    Back to the topic . . . collaborative blogging . . . and after a gap of a day or two I see many more problems than I did before.

    @BaronC, I’ve been thinking about this:

    === That said, is it worth looking into the shared WordPress group Des suggested? ===

    @Des, if he has time to join us here, might confirm that we could have all sorts of security problems. Like you, Baron, I want the site to be open to anyone who wants to link to the home page — but it would be dangerous to share its password with absolutely anyone who came along. . . Des’s experiment taught him and the rest of us a lot of lessons about how not to do joint blogging — a prankster or two created havoc near the end.

    Another thought . . . if everyone can blog on a joint site, then presumably everyone can comment on everyone else’s blog. . . But I’ve learnt the hard way that there are certain voices I absolutely wouldn’t want in my space. . . Lots of comrades have closed comments altogether on their sites, or insist on approving every single post, so I imagine I’m not alone in feeling as I do.

    Names: I don’t care what a joint site is called. Lots of excellent possibilities have been suggested — I could create a little poll, and we could all vote.

    On reflection, I’d lean towards _not_ referring to the newspaper where we all met in any name we choose. . . I’ve made the points I want to make about its censorship policies and will find other ways to remind readers of why they matter — but I don’t see criticism of the Gruan as our chief raison d’etre. . . I just fell for Sean’s suggestion of a dedicated antimatter operation — for its intrinsic charm 😉

    Overall: I’d say, why not just a single, simple, type-only web page on some blogging site — probably WordPress — to which we all link, with or without descriptions of our individual sites or even selves?

    . . . Does this seem too boring for everyone else?

  66. WN I don’t have a blog to link to so make of my comments what you will but agree re: The Guardian references – reminds me of students who railed so much against the college they were in that once they left they had nothing to kick against.

  67. BaronCharlus

    For me, Al, the GU reference in the name was at least partially affectionate. That said, I do now agree that a stand-alone name is better.

    Also Al, would you mind if I link to WRAS from my site?

  68. Baron, many thanks for the offer.

    I’m a little reluctant as our site is, as it were, a commercial one for promoters to check us out rather than a continually updated blog. Mishari has links to our site but I’m now feeling guilty as I’m not linking back to his.

    If you are happy with that than by all means and thank you but I will understand if you think that’s too one-sided a deal.

    Have little time ( beyond writing grisly sonnets obviously ) at the moment but have had a quick look at your site – very you, not that I know you at all but the images are in the spirit of your comments here and there. Will definitely delve further when this new show is up and running.

  69. exitbarnadine

    Thanks Al,

    Of course I understand the nature of your site; it would be inappropriate for you to link back. I just want to show that I know cool people online 😉

  70. BaronCharlus

    @Al,

    I understand completely how your site needs to operate; it would be inappropriate to link back.

    I just want visitors to see all the groovy folk I know online 😉

    (@wordn, I know I posted this under my new login by mistake. Please disregard. I’m still the Baron in this manor)

  71. ISA

    Agree with Baron, agree with Wordy, agree with Alarming. Hi Susan, hi Des. And whoever else is about.

    Careful with copyright for the combined blog name.

    Re Tezcatlipoca.

    There were competing forces in the Aztec empire that were for and against human sacrifice. We have reason to believe that the followers of the hidden god – or the God who is always behind your shoulder [the right place for a deity in my opinion] were against sacrifice and against other cruelties. These included the great Cuahtemoc and Nezahualcoyatl the poet.

    Hey, there ain’t but one big heart in all the world:

  72. BaronCharlus

    @ISA,

    Just read back to your Tezcatlipoca post. Fantastic. I’ve a feeling you’re not a comics reader but Tez features as a charater in a thread in Grant Morrison’s Invisibles. He is, if i remember, the patron of Lord Fanny (yes, yes, I know) a Mexican transsexual raised as a girl by his/her bruja grandmother. The child encounters Tez during an initiatory journey into the spirit world. Tez demands a joke, or the child’s soul in forfeit. He wears a paper crown.

    I was inordinately affected by the Aztecs exhibition at the RA a few years back. I have a replica dog-spirit statue on the right side of my desk. They served as guides through the underworld. He’s helped me slip past Yog Sothoth more than once…

    Also, ISA, okay if I link to your blog?

  73. Hi Baron,
    No, I don’t mind a link at all. Thanks. Can’t wait to read you.

    Hi Wordy,
    Des is having a bad head cold at the moment but will drop you a line either later today or tomorrow and answer questions.

    Hi Phil
    Yes, there’s a hidden God behind my shoulder. 🙂

  74. Oh dear Wordy, Baron, Phil…

    How embarassing is this!
    That was me above, back in the Dublin flat and using a computer from where Des hasn’t yet signed out of.
    Yikes!

  75. BaronCharlus

    The ‘Des’ post did seem, ah, how you say, succinct.

  76. One of the easiest platforms for collaborative blogs, is blogger.com (I don’t know if wordpress has a similar shared facilty, it may well have).

    If you look at this collaborative poetry blog: As/Is, you will see how the posts look. Every post has the member’s name below it, and here’s how it looks at the profile/dashboard of my site. If you scroll down, you will see a list of the team members.

    The way to set up a collaborative blog, is by creating a normal blog at blogger and then inviting others to join via their e mails in the settings part. Once the invitation is accepted, they can then sign into the collaborative (with a gmail account, which takes two minutes to set up one) and start posting. This way, you do not need to share passwords. Basically, the person who creates the blog will have the admin powers of deletion etc, and the invitees will only have control over their own posts.

    So if Wordy wanted to set one up, she would create a blog using her usual e mail account and organise it from there.

  77. Hi Wordy.

    I have just answered with some suggestions, but the post didn’t appear. It must have slipped into some holdng area.

  78. wordnerd7

    Hello @Des, my first chance to be online for 12 hours and I’ve just come to the site after answering some vital email messages … I am so sorry that your 7.54 pm post got locked in spam. Can’t see why, but will carefully compare the posts that did and didn’t get through later . . . I miss not hearing from you here. Don’t feel competent enough to comment on poetry, Irish or other kinds, so — as you know — I usually don’t …

    I killed my last cold fast — by going to bed on the day the symptoms came on; with megadoses of astragalus (central in Chinese herbal medicine, as @Suzan would know); and by not giving up my usual exercise routine . . . The next weekend, I got cheerfully soaked on a beach in freezing rain and wind that blew my umbrella inside out half a dozen times before I gave up trying to pacify it. . . The cold was history by that night: I call this paradoxical medicine.

    … Thank you for that very clear and sharp explanation of the blogspot option. Shall think and reply later. . . Oh, @BaronC, I’ve just liberated a charming new blogger joining us, @exitbarnadine . . .

  79. ISA

    Go ahead and link Baron.

    I don’t think the comic got Tezcatlipoca right. A superficial reading. But I have learned to appreciate comics. Promethea of course. And after seeking haphazardly for 30 years I have discovered the underpinnings of these hidden things and now I have to check and see if they work and put them into practice.

    Promethea is about that. The power of Alan Moore to penetrate our culture on the back of these ideas. Writing like the cast of a spell – perhaps a bardic spell. Spell as a metaphor for the imagination – the imagination acting as a vortex like conduit between heaven and earth.

    The question is: How should we fill our words up with so much life.

    I must admit, in Belfast as I watched the Union Jack flutter over the building in the main square and compared the huge Prespetarian church where one of my former colleagues listened to Ian Paisly rant as a young boy. I did think.

    But something is not quite right about this. And although Ireland exports poets galore the streets seemed deserted. There weren’t many types of Northern Irish food and the only beer was Guiness and a rubbishy weak ale.

    The mark of a true sea change is a cultural revolution.

    And I didn’t see any sign of a cultural revolution in Belfast. There were many silver whistles in the shop windows, Queen’s university sparkled in the sun, I ate a Bacon soda, and a paltry- gaudy copy of the London Eye to symbolise Tony Blair’s contribution to the peace process.

    That’s it. Vacuity – nothing.

  80. ISA

    Wordy –

    I cracked my ribs as I ran naked out of the bathroom to answer a phone call from my mother a few years ago. I was in great pain and there was nothing they could do.

    As I turned the corner my legs slipped from under me and my side smashed onto the ceramic lip of the bath.

    A few weeks later the bruise on my side was turning from blue to yellow and I was complaining to colleagues.

    A Japanese teacher trainee turned to me and said. My husband breaks his ribs all the time. He is a part time karate teacher. He says it doesn’t hurt at all. In fact he says its good, because as your ribs knit back into place they get stronger.

    And so I turned away and thought to myself. Well if her husband can do thet so can I. I so I turned inwardly to my pain and said. FO pain your pathetic. and I completely ignored it and soon it wasn’t there.

    So what you need Wordy is someone to tell youn that they enjoy flu, because it just builds up resistance and that anyway, when they have flu it’s like a mild cold and drinking a glass of onion juice and honey always scares it off.

    (My grandmother’s recipe)

  81. ISA

    And BTW can I link to you Baron?

  82. BaronCharlus

    @ISA,

    Please do! I’m familiar with Promethea. Invisibles, like Promethea, was intended as a means of passing more than narrative into the culture. Both authors were very serious about that although Moore is more formal whilst Morrison has a more pop-culture, Chaotic approach. I met Alan Moore once, under strange circumstances.

  83. ISA

    But isn’t Promethia really just a riff on Robert Anton Wilson’s Eris. I don’t think originality is Moore’s main quality. It is something else.

    There is a place near Mombassa where there is an abandoned little Arab town. It had such a sense of unease about it. In the rocks. I was afraid of going there as a child. I’ll do a blog on it.

    Of course, on reflection, it was an Arab slaving town. The scene, probably, of a million cruelties. They left their mark in the stone.

    Pick up the personal posession of someone who has died. Their glasses. What do you feel. Go into an Oxfam shop and look at the trinkets under glass. You don’t want to buy them, but some of them are pretty, their atoms rubbed in one direction by the hands of someone else.

    And Promethea is like that. She is a syncretic piling of two or three aspects of the image of the Goddess that has melded into one and then imagined through narratives and handled and polished and the more Promethea is read and gazed at and “fondled” the more, unaccountably, life gets imbued into her.

    Because if you are a materialist then you will not understand this.

    So Promethea is a creature of the imagination that gathers real power like all the other creatures, but if you set Promethea against the order of Jedi nights, you know, that in the imagination, at least, Promethea will win.

    Alan Moore’s method is the method made possible by Giordano Bruno.

  84. Alan Moore seems like someone who can channel various current strands of thinking and put them together in a story.

    I’m not a fan of superheroes but enjoyed Watchmen. His Jack the Ripper story “From Hell” was too indigestible too often – the footnotes far out-numbering the story and very much under the spell of Ian Sinclair. For me it wasn’t helped by Eddie Campbell’s drawings which vary alarmingly in quality and didn’t add anything else to the story-telling.

  85. wordnerd7

    Tsk tsk .. . soon, this is going to be known as the naturist blog. Google keeps teleporting people searching on ‘nudism’ to this spot because of a single post in December about nudist avatars (not even humans, n.b.) . . . In November we’d had @Hazlitt gambolling wantonly in the altogether in a blizzard in Zurich — or something like that — and now … hmm …

    @ISA, what most interests me about your nerve-racking story is, since you were expecting that call from your mother, . . . did you think you were on your way to a good scolding, when you fell? Doesn’t seem likely because she doesn’t look remotely like a scold (emphatically the opposite) — but then occasionally, even fervent anti-scolds have to put the boot in, innit.

    I once did something similar — though far less dramatic or painful. I’d been talked into giving a sort of speech — among the most dreaded tasks. I was staying with friends for this event and, getting ready to attend, reached down into a suitcase on the floor for some object or other. As I rose, I managed to smash my mouth into the doorframe and narrowly missed splitting my lower lip wide open. It made no sense for my face to come into any sort of contact with the door . . . A psychologist friend of a friend who came to the gathering said it was clear that only the logical and conscious part of me had accepted that I had to rise above my terror: unconscious me was still in full flight and did its best to aid my escape. Impossible to think she was mistaken in her conclusion. . . But of course I went anyway, with a frightening puffer-fish face.

    @Des, . . . something as simple as As/Is is exactly what I have in mind . . . my visit there was a bit distracting, though. Guess who I saw? . . .None other than @Scalljah — who revealed his true identity to me in private (so to speak) in what I used to call the books blog dungeon when the mods and eds used to whiz threads in which we, the honourable opposition, were winning any particularly heated argument with them by miles. Remember the way a thread like that sometimes at the top of the table of contents on a particular morning slid like melting butter into good old ‘Previous Posts’? . . .

    We still need to think of what we have in common other than our emancipation from the GUlag . . . along the lines, perhaps, of some of the suggestions in the Fanfare for the Makers thread. . . not least because @Alarming seems greatly relieved by the news that we aren’t bent on a complete crucifixion.

  86. wordnerd7

    === Eddie Campbell’s drawings which vary alarmingly in quality and didn’t add anything else to the story-telling ===

    Good heavens, _another_ of your artistic collaborators, @Alarming. Just how many are there?

  87. wordnerd7

    There’s surely an old-fashioned muckraker at the core of every true blogger with a strong interest in current affairs . . . On Saturday, in an obit. of a great editor and journalist, a founder of the New Journalism, there was this remark about The New Yorker made in the spirit of more pointed and less ranty – so, arguably more effective – criticism of the Gruan.

    “He loved stirring up trouble,” [Tom] Wolfe said in a recent interview. “If a week went by that there wasn’t some controversy that he was in the middle of, he felt like it was a wasted week.”

    In one such storm, Mr. Wolfe wrote a satirical send-up of The New Yorker and its esteemed editor, William Shawn. It described The New Yorker as “the most successful suburban women’s news magazine in the country.”

    A pre-publication copy of the article was sent to Mr. Shawn. He wrote back, calling it “libelous” and “murderous.” Mr. Bellows sent copies of Mr. Shawn’s letter to Time and Newsweek magazines, saying The New Yorker was seeking a court injunction to keep The Tribune from publishing the piece.

    😉

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/business/media/07bellows.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

  88. Hi Wordy.

    Scalljah was one of the earliest voices to come along after I left uni and moved to Dublin. I saw a poster for a Bob Marley tribuite band called Souljah, when I was chatting in the liquid lingo way Liverpool speakers do. I am from Ormskirk, Lancashire, but it is only 12 miles from the centre of Liverpool, just on the Lancashire side of the Lancashire/Merseyside border and it is an interesting, liminal place accent wise – a place where two accents jostle in the voice for balance.

    The word *scally* is a corruption of scallawag and is a common word in the NW of England, and refers to young men who are chavvy (a more recent word), and Scalljah therefore is (hopefully) a self evident monicker.

    I did a faor amount of gassing as Scalljah, and this name was about the third blog I set up during the year long period of 2005-6 when the voice was making its way to the first firm landing stage and I would set up a blog under a different name as the various strands of the voice made an appearance.

    Scalljah did a lot of chatting on a West Lancashire music site for local bands, where I had just left after spedning three years at the home town college getting my head fixed inter some kind of insane order wordy larrhhhh, d’yiz know wharra mean thare hey, hey, heeeeyyyyy?

    The piece below gives a flavour of this strand, and this name was knocking abouyt for two years until taking a back seat.

    Yo tiny town squeeze-feelers
    whassup wiv yiz trippin full time on the miseriblic moment?

    Yiz wanna get dead busy ‘n up to all sorts of daftness
    wiv da full time unemployable penniless poet

    just offered a well paid voluntary position bein a global news hound, reviewin for the World Poetry Council Surf Collective;

    but it’s a bit tricky at the mo coz I’m banged up
    on the secure unit of Ward 11.

    If yous lot out there in cyberville can rustle up a snatch squad and have a do at smuggling me past the nurses when showtime explodes

    I’m your number one hack, firin on all the ink cylindrical spikes I can stick in and go to OD

    heaven on, you squeeze feelin’ trainee corpses.

    ~

    In relation to the blog idea, my own thinking on it is to just set it up and start the thing and see how it pans out. The worst thing that can happen is – not a great deal. A few spats in cyberspace, effectively, nothing of an consequence in reality. It’s only a gas station after all.

  89. Dear Wordy,
    Des’s comments are not showing up, just in case you think he’s not writing.
    He wrote you a long one on collaborative blogging and also just now, he wrote you one on Scalljah but was told it’s awaiting moderation. The earlier one just didn’t show.
    He’s going to kill me when he reads this.

  90. Our artistic collaborators are many and various but do not include, as far as I know, Alan Moore or Eddie Campbell. But presumably I can change this by describing them in an alarming fashion.

    Crucify away.

  91. wordnerd7

    Thankyouthankyouthankyou @Suzan . . . I wouldn’t have missed that @Scalljah post (@Des; 12.03 pm) for the world . . . This time it’s easy to see what the problem is — just as I often do, Des put ‘.co.uk’ instead of ‘.com’ after ‘hotmail’ in his email address, so was treated as an alien.

    WONDERFUL post, and I’ll reply in a bit . . . can barely think, at present. . . Meanwhile, . . . in an ethereal place a long way from acciaccature, . . . Flarf is brill on Twitterers. Saw that last night.

    @Alarming, I haven’t a clue about who Eddie Campbell is; nor have I googled him/her . . . just couldn’t resist that chance for a tail-tweaking. . . Really must stop doing this.

  92. Hi Wordy,
    I said that Des was going to “kill me when he reads this…” because I have in the last 24 hours, been sacked as his unauthorised spokesperson. This has come about as he feels “a slight degree of annoyance” with me brandishing his name all over the place with reference to the unruly playground episode in Marginalia and the last straw with me announcing his head cold to the world.
    He feels this to be a violation of his poetic rights and my eager desire for feminine control…. shall I add that he expressed “strong disappointment and frustration” when his comments didn’t show up, in the true flavour of Ovid Yeats.
    P.S: And his cold is much better, thanks. 🙂

  93. wordnerd7

    @Suzan . . . still no time for proper answers, I came here checking for victims of the spambot . . . Glad he’s getting over his cold and I (half-)wish I had a spokesperson to explain my silences or strange posts when I’m similarly afflicted. Will only say that I was grateful for your ‘unruly playground’ quotation because I’d read what he was referring to exactly as he did . . . Actually, I’ve rarely seen two people able to sort out each other’s tangles as well as you two do. . . This is one of those days when I would rather be a tree than a person — dare not check for email because everything I’ve been saying, trying to sort out a misunderstanding with someone infinitely dear, only digs me deeper into the hole.

  94. WN Eddie Campbell is a cartoonist who illustrated Alan Moore’s “From Hell”. To save you at least one Google.

  95. Sorry to read the ’email’ bit, Wordy. Des was just teasing.
    But let the dust settle between you & your friend.
    May help.
    cheers

  96. exitbarnadine

    Crumbs,

    Lots to catch up on.

    Regarding a site, where are we at? Des, on Blogger, would it be possible to have a title page, rather than just the most recent post. I did like the idea of the portal. To give you an idea of something_very_simple I could knock up, I imagined something like this (different icons, colour scheme, obviously)

    http://hyagog.com/1st%20Chapters2.html

    But each icon would link to a different blog.

    @Al,

    I read From Hell in the midst of an Iain Sinclair, Peter Ackroyd, London history obsession. I lived in Greenwich at the time but would visit the Hawksmoor churches, Bunhill, learned most of the space between the West End and the Greenwich foot tunnel. Eddie Campbell’s art certainly matched the mood of some of those places for me. That said, once on the other side of that obsession (I have cycles), I tried to read it again and noticed some of the flaws.

  97. Sorry folks; ExitBarnadine (which is how it should have appeared) is myself, le Baron. Got confused.

  98. ISA

    Baron that is a beautiful design.

    But the flatter the better. What you seem to have there is a portal. But what would be good is a kind of one page fits all.

    I know you are not father Christmas, but what I would ask you for if you were Father Christmas, would be a slender version of the old books blog design.

    In other words everything visible on the same page. An icon like masthead with the different blogs at the top. And then the blogs appearing as they are written.

    I agree with Wordy about standards, but I think we have to be open minded and inclusive and perhaps put up a disclaimer somewhere in big letters. I do visit Mishari’s site. We all do. I don’t see why people should be left out unless they really do come out with things that are REALLY offensive.

    Now this is Wordy’s idea and she/he has a very fine editorial – writing nose. So Wordy should obviously be listened to. But we have to be a little bit open minded about this. We all met on the Books Blog and we should be allowed to gather our writing and commenting in one place.

  99. wordnerd7

    To give you an idea of something_very_simple I could knock up,

    Oh dear, @BaronC, should you really be telling us about that?. . . sorry, you’ve reminded me of a favourite joke of Americans discussing the unfathomable Briddish. . . I must have been told it at least fifty times . . .

    This must be my week for being poor little misunderstood wordnerd [hysterical sobbing]. . . you know, I never suggested running a collaborative blog myself. Quite the contrary. Read my post initiating this thread, @ISA, and you’ll see that I was merely ‘thinking aloud’ about possible solutions to the tamaguchi problem — I mean, blog-tending in weeks in which I don’t really have time to blog.

    Then YOU got the idea that I wanted to run such a joint site — and @Des, who might never believe I have less than no interest in building an empire, got infected with it . . . but really, dear people, I am looking for ways to remove myself from regular blogging, not get more entangled in it or take on burdens I have no time for. . . From this distance — four months since my last posts there — I only miss GU for the freedom of coming and going as I pleased . . . even disappearing for two or three weeks at a stretch, when I felt like it.

    @BaronC seems ideal as blogmeister for a joint site. . . I won’t flatter him by listing his virtues, which are obvious, but he’s also the least divisive figure and a born diplomat.

    @Suzan, no worries . . . but thank you. 😉 . . . I’m still smiling about @Scalljah, and loved the explanation of his genesis.

  100. Knew it was you Baron.
    That telling link. 🙂

  101. wordnerd7

    === Knew it was you Baron. ===

    Really, @Suzan? . . . me, I dunno about these people deliberately sowing gender confusion. I mean, I’d have bet my life on @BC being a he — else he’d have said @BaronessC, innit . . . but, sakes alive, stone the crows, have you seen @exitbarnadine’s portrait?

  102. Wordy,

    It was just a spontanous thing. 2 clues.
    First.
    The link points to Baron’s site.
    Second.
    Baron often addresses Des.

    Just that.

  103. What what what?

    What portrait? I did post a Gravatar for my blog but it seems to have vanished and – being masked (not me) – the figure was gender neutral. Is that what you’re talking about?

    And thanks for the job reference. I’m off to the Netherlands tomorrow. but when I’m back let’s look into a collaborative blog/portal, if people are still interested.

  104. wordnerd7

    @BaronC, .. . (phew … such an embarrassment of titles on this site today . . . a hereditary aristocrat now, and a weird general/admiral hybrid on Fighter-Poets a few minutes ago . . .)

    === being masked (not me) – the figure was gender neutral. Is that what you’re talking about? ===

    Yes, but then there’s also the name, you see . . .Barnadine’s suffix — as in Geraldine . . . but then I suppose you’ll insist on Constantine and perhaps even Heseltine (only, please don’t, in the last case).

    . . . I have a very plain type-face in mind for the co-op blog’s (cpb hereafter?) main page, with the links — am still thinking of plain black-and-white . . am sure I don’t want anything heavily designed. Every image and every colour chosen would set off particular trains of association . . . and these would clash with the look and feel of individual blogs . . . Does anyone else have an opinion on this?

  105. And of course Reynardine.

    May be under the radar for a few days but will try to check in.

  106. wordnerd7

    May I suggest that this werefox would make an even more er . . . arresting avatar, @BaronC . . .

    http://www.dandutton.com/full_index/reynardine_oc.html

    wiki:

    Reynardine is a traditional English ballad; in versions most commonly sung and recorded today, Reynardine is a werefox who attracts beautiful women to him so that he can take them away to his castle. What fate meets them there is usually left ambiguous.

    [ . . . woo-woo! . . . ]

    . . . so then, Barnadine is . . . ???????

    . . . safe journey, @BC, and I do hope you’ll keep checking in — perhaps with the odd travel note? You know @Suzan has set an excellent example with those . . .

  107. wordnerd7

    That’s such a funny painting — the one I’ve linked to in my last post. Only look at the expression on the putative werefox’s face. . . who could he ever hope to frighten?

  108. Parrallax solved the Barnadine Code over on my blog.

    Here’s Reynardine…

    I also wrote a poem about him, here

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/jan/09/ballads-poster-poems?commentid=b3fc2fff-42c7-4ba7-a15c-ca01712ab269

  109. Thank you . . . haven’t had time to fiddle with YouTube, but I went straight to your poem — one of your best, I think, … now that I understand it.

    BaronCharlus’s comment

    10 Jan 09, 11:46am

    If someone in the town
    Had warned Janey
    About Reynardine
    They would have saved a lot of money
    On flowers

    She walked to school
    Along the snake-ridge
    Of samphire and frozen mud
    That joins Blakeney and Cley

    The sun an iron shield
    The ocean held down by winter
    Like a master presses down
    The head of an insolent mutt

    Her hair was red
    Her eyes alight
    Nodding to the music on her headphones
    She saw the fox trot to her side

    But didn’t hear it speak

    She laughed as it capered
    She giggled in shock:
    Perhaps all foxes could bow.
    Sixteen next Sunday: how was she to know about foxes?

    Fingertip brushed button, silencing the boy band
    Whose songs had never prepared Janey
    For the old, salt love you find along the marshes:
    ‘Oh, gentle Janey, youve stole my heart,’
    Said Reynadine, then

    ‘How can you keep those honey lips
    From kissing?’
    She laughed, forgot to wonder
    How
    He knew her name

    His paws danced with impatience
    From one hollow, frozen footprint
    To another
    ‘But I shouldnt be talking to you,’
    She said

    ‘Mum says youre vermin.
    Dad, too.’
    Reynardine brewed rage but poured
    A smile

    ‘Are you so obedient?’ He asked
    And placed a paw upon her hip
    It felt like a man’s hand
    The warmth wide as a shovel
    Across her thigh

    And the mud became
    Insolvent, piled itself
    Into a mound beneath
    Around and upon

    Reynardine.
    It thumbed itself
    Into handsome contours
    And the hand on Janey was a man’s:

    In half-buttoned shirt
    Bootless. ‘Now I see
    How red your lips are’
    And his smile was stronger

    Than the sap that rises in the yew
    Than the drum that calls the frog to spawn
    Than the tide that winds a million starfish to the shore
    All of which

    Were stronger than Janey
    Who kissed and kissed and kissed
    That sly old Reynardine

    ——————————-

    Particularly loved these lines: ‘ For the old, salt love you find along the marshes:’ . . . and ‘And the mud became/ Insolvent, piled itself /Into a mound beneath /Around and upon … and … Than the sap that rises in the yew / Than the drum that calls the frog to spawn /Than the tide that winds a million starfish to the shore . . .

  110. Many thanks for reposting this poem, Wordn. And thank you for the kind words.

  111. The site you posted up is very impressive BC. Far superior in layout to a blog.

  112. Oops, forgot to sign out of Sue’s blog. The above post is mine.

  113. The video link is of one of the most astonishing works of shit-art ever performed. It was in London last week, a couple at the open mic of a funky urban poetry do in London. The man strips of and defecates whilst roaring jibbersih and obscenities, as his paertner gyrates after stripping her nickers off.

    They turned up last night at another do but got heaved out of it before they could cause any aggro.

    Be warned, it is not for the faint hearted, but as an guerilla event which happned last week, it will go down on the annals as a legendary do.

  114. wordnerd7

    But can this succession of bizarre not-him-Des-but-me-Suzan and not-her-Suzan-but-me-Des posts really mean we are witnessing the historic birth of a matchless hybrid, .. . Deszan? Suzades?? Deszie ??? . . . 😉

    Not a prayer, @Des, of me watching that video — not least because I’m not supposed to be commenting at all.

    Something for you, with your LLF collaboration behind you, and @BaronC to consider . . .

    Might there be a risk of people comparing their blog stats with other people’s and getting discouraged . . . if we all blogged on one site? . . . Fiction and poetry sites and bloggers specialising in intensely personal subjects are never going to get as many comments as bloggers writing on subjects of general interest — mainly because anyone sensitive knows how harmful even well-meant criticism or suggestions can be to comrades exposing their soft underbellies in their writing. I remember oscarmacsweeny expressing his outrage about supposedly frank destructive criticism, once — and whoever he is, he doesn’t strike me as a wilting lily. So if _he_ feels like that . . .

    On the other hand, I would want to see a breakdown of clicks for any blog of mine, even if I collaborated in some form. If I didn’t, I’d miss the entertainment of wildly divergent comment and click counts — something that happens, now and then, that can be revealing and instructive. Eg., before @BaronC was brave enough to start the Obama thread (haven’t checked but am fairly sure it was you, @BC), tidal waves of clicks broke on this shore, yet all were silent and I remember chortling . . . I’d hate to have to live without this behind-the-scenes perspective.

  115. Des – you might be interested in the activities of French street theatre provocateurs Cacahuete who stop short of crapping in front of you but who push all those buttons for what they are worth.

    Sometimes it feels like they are Catholics getting over their upbringing ( hard to share if you weren’t brought up in the same religion ) but when they are good it’s strong stuff. Their website is defunct but a google will unearth some choice pictures.

  116. ‘Might there be a risk of people comparing their blog stats with other people’s and getting discouraged . . . if we all blogged on one site?’

    It’s for reasons like this that I originally envisaged a shared links-page rather than a shared blog. That way, we’d all be free to esentially carry on as normal but with a shared front door, as it were.

    Des, thanks for the comment about my site. I was aiming for something clean and clear to give me a presence online.

  117. wordnerd7

    Yes I see, @BaronC . . .we’ve both wanted a very loose affiliation for most of this conversation. . . I suppose I’d reverted to considering your original ‘click for one is a click for all’ proposition — since you didn’t actually say you’d discarded it entirely.

    Also because, without cooperation to that degree, we can’t help each other much with the blog-minding/tamaguchi problem. . . My head has been making loops, you see, going over the pros and cons of all the possible co-op choices.

    If we can’t find a common ‘mission’ (like Sean’s wicked antimatter idea), don’t want to share a heavily designed ‘look and feel,’ and can’t help each other with blog-minding . . . I’ve been wondering whether we shouldn’t just leave things as they are, with all of us linked to each other’s sites — ?

  118. wordnerd7

    I won’t think I’ve wasted my time in the excellent discussion that grew out of my casual mention of collaborative blogging as a possibility, even though it hasn’t produced such a site. Thanks to @Des, we have precise and clear information that would let us set one up in a flash — if we had to, and there’s no saying when that might be.

    I’m still experimenting with blogging on my own . . . was able to start acciaccature in a fit of outrage, almost as fast as I conceived of it, because I’d been practicing for a few weeks on (even wobblier) training wheels elsewhere.

    . . . I haven’t written off an attempt at a co-op blog in the near future, but enthusiasm for it seems far from universal. . .

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