Is blogging ultimately the friend of war or peace?

My most disappointing conclusion from running this eight month-old experiment in blogging? It’s that we human beings appear to find fighting more enjoyable than sparkling debate and friendly disagreement.

Never mind that in answering a question about what he or she would do as a live, fully clothed substitute for a statue in the One & Other project now playing in Trafalgar Square – and proving hour after hour that Everywo/man has no imagination — one onlooker supposed doing ‘something to represent the need for world peace’. That this aspiration is usually honoured in the breach and not the observance is more drearily unsurprising than the wish itself.

The click count for acciaccature always soars when visitors notice a quarrel getting underway in the comments section. That is true even when the disagreements are only short and sharp like last week’s flare-up between an always-interesting contributor, @anytimefrances, and a tremendously welcome new drop-in commenter, @Anil Eklavya.

The least cheering job for anyone running a blog is defusing banal disputes with incomprehensible ‘bad chemistry’ behind them. These gain force and momentum from a tendency I find even more dismaying: bloggers forming themselves into packs and tribes in a medium that easily supports individuals expressing individual opinions — and proceeding, like pathetic George W. Bush clones, to act on the depressing, simple-minded principle of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’

The extraordinary persistence of such enmity struck me last week as a miniature version of the ultimate mystery of why countries still go to war. I was reading a gigantic obituary of Robert McNamara — the mastermind and manager-in-chief of the Vietnam war, which ends with his reflection that

War is so complex it’s beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend […] Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate. And we kill people unnecessarily.

He concluded that the US could not possibly win the Vietnam war near its end – and long before many of his fellow war-mongers did. The obituary contained a remarkable record of his abject mea culpa — which shows that he believed that cross-cultural incomprehension and intolerance, of which we’ve witnessed more than one instance in microcosm on this very blog, were ultimately responsible for the deaths of millions of Vietnamese and hundreds of thousands of Americans:

At a going-away luncheon given by Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Mr. McNamara wept as he spoke of the futility of the air war in Vietnam. Many of his colleagues were appalled as he condemned the bombing, aghast at the weight of his guilt.

He had thought for a long time that the United States could not win the war. In retirement, he listed reasons: a failure to understand the enemy, a failure to see the limits of high-tech weapons, a failure to tell the truth to the American people and a failure to grasp the nature of the threat of communism.

“What went wrong was a basic misunderstanding or misevaluation of the threat to our security represented by the North Vietnamese,” he said in his Berkeley oral history. “It led President Eisenhower in 1954 to say that if Vietnam were lost, or if Laos and Vietnam were lost, the dominoes would fall.”

He continued, “I am certain we exaggerated the threat.”

“We didn’t know our opposition,” he said. “We didn’t understand the Chinese; we didn’t understand the Vietnamese, particularly the North Vietnamese. So the first lesson is know your opponents. I want to suggest to you that we don’t know our potential opponents today.”

Getting to know actual or potential opponents is surely much easier now that we routinely have access to some of the most intimate thoughts, dreams and fears of foreigners – whether we read their blogs in English or rendered clumsily, but more-or-less comprehensibly, through automatic translators.

I’d have thought that our whizzy new digital tools would at least be discouraging disagreements about facts like the squabble between @anytimefrances and @Anil Eklavya – whom I’m guessing is a graduate student with a first degree from one of the famously dazzling Indian Institutes of Technology.

When we didn’t hear from @Anil after his last post here, I found the answer to the question I’d asked him about how he had word-processed documents in a mixture of English characters and Devanagari, the script used to write Hindustani. It’s a software product called ‘KickKeys’ that certainly made my eyes pop, even though I’ve worked with foreign keyboards in France and Spain:

KickKeys offers a complete language solution through Transliteration (type-as-you-pronounce). With it you can write a foreign language using the regular computer keyboard without memorizing difficult key sequences.

The optimist in me suggests that we have no way of knowing or measuring how much potential conflict our flexible futuristic tools have headed off — which, conceivably, could far exceed their promotion of hatred. Like good news, mutual understanding and harmony don’t have anything like the capacity of bad news and crises to attract attention.

I came across unexpected confirmation for this rosier view when I wandered over to another site after I’d pasted in the paragraph before last. There I found @anytimefrances – whose interest in Indian literature had seemed unserious and patronising to @Anil – saying,

i finally got something written after reading Nissam Ezekiel – i’m becoming very fond of the modern Indian poets writing in English. hope this doesn’t impugn his reputation too much but i just love his almost matter-of-fact deliveries.

She’d just announced the sudden death of her brother to other bloggers on the thread, and was explaining how a particular Indian poet had helped her find her way to writing a poem about her loss. So as hostile as her reaction to @Anil’s criticism had been, and much as I’d despaired over her failure to answer his generous concession with one of her own — if not an apology — she proved him mistaken, and in the most moving way imaginable.

@Atf, if you’re reading here, I was deeply sorry to read your announcement – since I can’t think of many shocks greater than the unexpected death of a sibling. And I’m surprised by meaning every word of that last sentence, even though I haven’t the faintest idea of who you really are or what you look like; not even after two years of blogging with you on various sites.

The succession of texting, telephoning, Twittering and key-tapping ‘plinthers’ might not, in the end, be meaninglessly engaged in their seemingly endless streams of yakyakyak after the JCB crane plants them on their Trafalgar Square perch to horrify pigeons fascinated by their dogged attempts to eat unappetising bits of buzzing plastic embedded with mysterious winking lights.



Filed under Psychology, Social trends, The blogosphere

40 responses to “Is blogging ultimately the friend of war or peace?

  1. A few clarifications:

    – I didn’t really think of that as a ‘flareup’. I just pointed out a mistake that I thought was serious enough for someone not just interested in casual talk but actually thinking of writing a history of Indian literature in English. Mistake corrected, chapter closed.

    – There is a distinction that most people seem to forget: criticizing a trend is not the same as criticizing an individual: remember that old saying about sin and sinner? What’s more, sometimes, the person criticizing in the first place may forget the distinction. Out of personal malice perhaps. But I had read many comments written by @atf before I pointed out the mistake so as to already know that, as far as the individual was concerned, it was more a matter of laziness and lack of knowledge. As I mentioned earlier, I have seen this mistake too may times by people who are supposed to be knowledgeable, so I was criticizing the trend, not the individual. The offense also was taken from the trend, not the individual.

    – You seem to have done some searching on me. Technically, I really am a graduate student, but things are a bit more complicated than that.

    – Typing Hindi along with English in the same document is now not so difficult if you install the modules in your operating system. (I do it easily on both Linux and Windows through facilities provided by the operating system itself). It was a difficult thing some years back. An encoding scheme called Unicode coupled with what are called ‘Input Methods’ allows that. In fact, for systems that don’t have the required language support installed or for those languages for which the modules are just not available, I have made a little contribution by designing a system for adding language-encoding support on top of the operating system. This is part of a bigger open source system called Sanchay that I have been developing (with some contribution from others too). I hadn’t heard of the system you have mentioned, but there are many such systems (even Google has one) and they all have some drawbacks. In fact, one of the problems I have been working on as a researcher is transliteration. But transliteration is different from providing language support through Unicode and rule based Input Methods. The system mentioned by you is most probably a probabilistic input method system that uses transliteration. I am writing this just to share this bit of technical information: not as a criticism.

  2. @Anil: “But I had read many comments written by @atf before I pointed out the mistake so as to already know that, as far as the individual was concerned, it was more a matter of laziness and lack of knowledge.”

    So who are you criticizing now in the quote above? The trend or the individual???


    Go to the Guardian Books Blog and start from a year behind and let me hear you repeat this same nonsense. You’ll think twice. Anytime Frances is one of the most astute and cleverest commentors on that intellectual blog. And don’t even get her started on Chinese literature.

    You come in for the first time, waving your ruler, saying to her she deserves “a rap on her knuckles” because of a spelling mistake. How rude is that? Where are your manners? You interrupt an enjoyable dialogue with your intolerant spirit.

    I’m a writer. I’m poor with the apostrophe and comma. Does that make me less of a writer? No! I should know my punctuation but I don’t always.

    In the same way, Atf should know the spelling to every word in every literary text in the world since she appears to express knowledge in literature as a whole, but that doesn’t make her less of an intellectual contributor just because she doesn’t know the spelling to every literary text in the world.

    It was a tiny honest mistake. Carelessness! Have you heard of the word? Plus, we don’t have deleting facilities as posters on WordPress.

    But you don’t know how to be gracious. If you were the gentleman, you would have requested of Wordy, if that word could possibly have been edited and corrected. At the end of the day, it’s still Wordy’s cue.

    Yes, Dublin is attractive and this to answer your earlier remark by the way, and you should be here if anything at all, to dismiss a parochial mindset.

  3. Wordy,

    I couldn’t identify with your latest topic – underneath this post – to be honest. It was simply that my interests on what you talked about especially that of classical writers are completely different. I think once in a blue moon, your subjects veer towards a specialist trend and you need a specific group of enthusiasts to comment. In any case with the exception of art commentors like Alarming and Atf, I didn’t think you would have had me in mind.

    Whereas Des’s passions move almost wholly towards Irish poetry and some aspects of publishing overall or else the colourful politics that dictate the movement of the poetry establishment these days in Britain.

    About Arundhati Roy and the subject of the dams. I was going to give you my 2 cents worth but since you indicated you preferred to wait for another poster, I decided to let it be.

    However, in last weekend’s Observer, there was a huge spread on a personal interview with her. I believe it would still be on the Observer link. If I locate it later, I’ll leave it here.

    I had also forgotten to mention that to the very surreal scene I spotted in that description of a Dublin afternoon, that there was a tall leggy model dressed as Molly Malone – one of Ireland’s most famous tragic figures, walking along College Green…in front of Trinity College. I caught sight of her, thanks to the amused stares and grins of passers-by and this along with the Hari Rama Hari Krishna orchestra and all of the magic that happened that afternoon. She was rushing somewhere in a long 17th century skirt and waving an empty basket. I got the impression that she had completed a street performance somewhere.

    Molly Malone stays a popular political symbol of a religiously-divided Ireland, mired in its grime and poverty in the 17th century. She used to wheel a barrow filled with cockles and mussels in downtown Dublin, shouting out her wares.
    Here is a picture of her life which you might find interesting… The Symbol of Molly Malone. I have a little collector’s doll after her personality, on my kitchen work top.

    Many apologies too, Wordy, for not having answered your question on Malaysian literature which is a tricky subject in itself… as so much of it is now measured by a rebellion towards a British colonialism of the past.

    It’s just that my time has been tight of late
    even in being here this morning.

    It’s always like that before I fly and I look forward to sitting down relaxed in my hotel room in Africa about a week from now and answering your question in length and giving it my entire attention, which it deserves.

    PS: It was a good 8 months for me on your blogsite Wordy and the time will stay memorable.

  4. Hi Wordy

    Spent a half hour writing out a somewhat long comment on some other issues for you, but it never showed. This, after I had clicked on the submit box. I think it could be lost.

  5. @Anil,

    Yes of course I did a search. I always look up writers of unusually good posts when the poster is clearly not using a pseudonym. It takes no time at all to deduce one of your occupations.

    I am writing this just to share this bit of technical information: not as a criticism.

    Thanks, I didn’t feel criticised, and it’s all fascinating — even though I’d have to ask you at least a dozen questions to be sure I understand what you’re saying. . . For a start — and it’s alright to groan at the dimness of this enquiry — I’m curious to know why the module has to be in the operating system. Is that because there’s a different keyboard involved — with an expanded set of characters ?. . . If so, does that let eg. Hindi-speakers _code_ differently ? … which wouldn’t, on the face of it, make much sense to me, since programming languages, even though they use the qwerty keyboard’s letters and symbols, can’t in any sense be called ‘English’?

    If I’d had to guess how these systems work before you told us about the modules, I’d have assumed that the m.o. must be exactly like your innovation — i.e., separate from the operating system:

    I have made a little contribution by designing a system for adding language-encoding support on top of the operating system.

    … doesn’t sound like a ‘little’ contribution at all.

    … Something amusing that occurred to me as I read your post is that you might almost say that Sanskrit anticipated extreme textual flexibility by a few thousand years. That language was for centuries exclusively oral. Then, after the invention of writing, it was independent of any particular writing system — in spite of its tremendous sophistication. . . . I know that Sanskrit texts in Southeast Asian countries a long way from their homeland were written in the scripts of those regions … and so Sanskrit also influenced the evolution of the foreign writing systems. For instance, the order of symbols in the ‘fifty sounds’ of the Japanese syllabary was copied from the order of letters in Indian alphabets — something I actually learnt from a conversation with an English linguist.

    ….. On the other matter — the kind I’m truly useless at sorting out, I think that both you and @atf are shadow-boxing, the way we’ve all done at least once in some argument on this net.

    The flaring up started with her not understanding that yours is a man’s name — and if I’m remembering right, she was sure that you were an angry ‘little’ woman ;)… And you think she’s writing a history of Indian literature, though I’m sure she’s doing nothing of the kind — is only reading on the subject for pleasure and enlightenment. . . I know that you’ve read a lot of comments by her on the subject, but I’d advise switching on the scientific caution that must be second nature for you before you draw any conclusions about her. . . Yes, she is combustible and on some days confrontational — but in time, I hope you’ll come to see that she’s good-hearted, underneath all that. . . Having quoted your perceptive analysis of the female character in The Shining — all the more impressive for being written across the gender gap — I know that you’re a natural psychologist.

    Dear @Suzan, … I’ve just rescued your missing comment from the spam queue and am about to read it. Sorry it got put there — I don’t yet know how.

    As you’ve wisely suggested on other occasions in different words, … perhaps we can all laugh at the absurdity of misunderstandings between the ghostly beings we are in this space? . . . I’m not going to delve further into the specifics of that quarrel, because we‘ll discuss nothing else for days if I do — yes?

  6. @Suzan,

    … if you’re saying you’re bored witless by my conversation about computerised transliteration, etc., …. ahem … 🙂 … I can only say I’m sorry — but can’t stop. Yes, just like @Des and his passion for bardic literature. … @Anil happens to be an expert on a particular interest of mine — the intersection of computers and linguistics — and I can’t believe we’re lucky enough to have him here.

    Anyway, since no one is volunteering an opinion on the question in my headline, .. or on the Trafalgar Squ. plinthers, … or McNamara … why shouldn’t I just enjoy myself?

    === since you indicated you preferred to wait for another poster ===

    Where oh where did I ever say such a thing? … When I said I could be patient, waiting for a comment from you, I was only trying to unburden you — since I’m keenly aware of you packing for more long-distance rambles. I’d love to hear your opinion of Arundhati Roy railing against dams, etc., — we can still continue that thread, or indeed any old thread, no matter how long in the tooth. None of that ‘comments …. now closed …’ nonsense.

    … Yes I’m sure it’s difficult to explain about Malaysian lit. because you know too much about it and the rest of us too little. Still, I think we’re getting a feel for it from you, bit by bit … and I’ve been enjoying that immensely.

  7. About the comment by @abramsuzan, well, sorry, I thought I was among the people who practice the qualities mentioned in her comments (tolerance, etc.). The simple thing is that one could just make a search for ‘Ghandi’, you would get results which will inform you that the correct spelling is ‘Gandhi’. Not doing this is (at least) a bit of laziness and requiring to do this is (at least) a little of lack of knowledge. If I don’t check James Joyce’s name, before I write about him, that would be laziness too. I am sure I can’t claim to never have been guilty of laziness or lack of knowledge. Perhaps @abramsuzan and @atf can.

    But just to give one more example, the movie I had written about (which @wordnerd7) quoted, was Malena, not The Shining, though I did mention the latter movie too. This too is laziness, but it is not in same category as referring to ‘Hindoos, the savages living on the banks of the Ghanges’. If you wrote Hindoo instead of Hindu, it would clearly indicate that you have been familiar with mostly colonial literature (where this spelling was used).

    I would repeat once again, I didn’t think of it as a flareup, even after @aft commented back with a passage that seemed irrelevant to me.

    Anyway, sorry again for trespassing in forbidden territory.

    But you are free to go on with your abuse as I leave.

  8. === But just to give one more example, the movie I had written about (which @wordnerd7) quoted, was Malena, not The Shining, though I did mention the latter movie too. This too is laziness … ===

    Off with my head! …. and sixteen lashes of the whip and a week on bread crusts and water after that! ! … Not just laziness but ignorance, too … since I haven’t seen either film and don’t know a thing about the stories. . . which is why I confused them.

    It was the subtlety of your insight into relationships between women that intrigued and impressed me — and I hope you’d agree that although analysing a story was its context, the _capacity_ for that kind of observation is a thing apart.

    I hope we can get back to language modules soon. . . would prefer to know what I got wrong there.

  9. Also, @Anil, I hope you’d agree — on reflection — that the common ‘Ghandi’ mistake is simple transliteration. If you listened to English-speaking Brits and Americans pronouncing the great man’s name, that is what you would hear … An easy enough error, wouldn’t you say, for someone who doesn’t speak any Indian language?

  10. @wordnerd7:

    Why not drop in on my blog? You are welcome to criticize and point out mistakes (but that doesn’t include pointless abuse). I don’t feel comfortable among a group of people who talk of things like tolerance and so on, but at the slightest sign of criticism (especially when they find out that it is from a mere ‘graduate student’) take out their daggers with a shower of abuse without even understanding what was said.

    See you at my blog about the language model. That is the more appropriate place for this anyway.

  11. Thank you, @Anil, I’ll accept your kind invitation to drop in there.

    Much of the bad feeling in blogging comes from haste … For instance, the way you’ve written this sentence makes it look as if I’ve also attacked you …

    === You are welcome to criticize and point out mistakes (but that doesn’t include pointless abuse). ===

    … but anyone reading the two threads on which we’ve been chatting would see that I’ve done nothing remotely like that. . . When I _do_ attack anyone, believe me, there’s always a reason. But I haven’t attacked you — have only recommended caution in drawing conclusions from a single discussion.

    Btw, @anytimefrances gets very angry with me from time to time — has left this very site, furious, at least once. And then she didn’t return for months.

    === (especially when they find out that it is from a mere ‘graduate student’) ===

    I don’t see you as a ‘mere’ anything. I have weighed everything you’ve posted against the fact of your being very young indeed. Similarly, if you were to consider the possibility that the reason for@anytimefrances’ extreme combustibility, when you two disagreed, might have been extreme anxiety and sadness — because her brother, who died this week, might have been ill and on the verge of dying — you might not be so offended.

    May I suggest … [coughs politely] …that that’s what the Mahatma might have wanted you to do? …:) …Surely no thread on any blog has ever _inadvertently_ answered the question in a topic better than this one has.

    See you on your blog — though I hope to see you here again, too. The click count tells me that your words are getting a lot of attention.

  12. Oh come on, Anil.
    You know what I have said is right.
    It’s nothing to do with abuse.
    I’m sure you’re matured enough to face up to and to handle confrontation situations even as you dish them out.
    Take it as a criticism of a trend not an individual.
    Just kidding.
    I hope you will carry on and enjoy your conversations with Wordy.
    As you indicated, one thing has nothing to do with the other.

    best wishes

  13. Oh and by the way Anil,

    That was meant to read as confrontational not confrontation.

    when you said here….

    “I don’t feel comfortable among a group of people who talk of things like tolerance and so on, but at the slightest sign of criticism (especially when they find out that it is from a mere ‘graduate student’) take out their daggers with a shower of abuse without even understanding what was said.”

    I had no idea you were as you put it, a “mere graduate student”. In any case, you shouldn’t hide in the shadow of labels.

    You should stand up to any action you conduct or word you speak and be accountable for it, just as you expected atf to. We don’t know her identity. Who knows. She could just be a “mere graduate student” as well.

    If all else fails, put yourself in her shoes. Someone comes to you for the first time in a public domain and says a rap on your knuckles is in order because you made a mistake. Wouldn’t you be embarassed at such a statement spoken to you?

    You can’t possibly rap the knuckles of a trend after all, can you. 🙂
    That’s it from me. Ciao.

  14. ISA

    I am not sure I agree with you Wordy.

  15. ISA


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  16. @Wordy,

    As you’ve wisely suggested on other occasions in different words, … perhaps we can all laugh at the absurdity of misunderstandings between the ghostly beings we are in this space? . . . I’m not going to delve further into the specifics of that quarrel, because we‘ll discuss nothing else for days if I do — yes?

    Suzan Abrams coughs politely. 🙂

    Definitely, Wordy. Too much time and energy wasted on these things. Loyalties you thought strong suddenly portray themselves as flimsy and divided. Take it from a veteran blogger. Life is too short.

    How’s the weather where you are? Dublin has lost the summer sun completely. Temperatures shot down like a tequila shock… right into the mid-teens. Cold winds. Dark, overcast and muted days. Rain.


  17. About what, please, @ISA … and any help from you with this muddle would be most welcome …

  18. @Suzan … I always enjoy your Dublin weather reports. They somehow make the place seem more alive than it ever did before … the place used to be something like a lovely mausoleum, im my imagination.

    Cool and sunny here … and I’ve greeted every cold and overcast day this week ecstatically, … anything is better than the (thankfully brief) heat waves we’ve had, off and on, in the last few weeks …

  19. @ISA … that’s a marvellous link you posted — _thank you_. I’m still listening to the pundit chanting …

  20. Wordy,

    Was never one for heatwaves myself. If I had to edit that entire paragraph, I’d say, it’s turned into a premature autumn.


    A group of fun-seeking gulls from the nearby Liffey River hoping for a to-die-for July tan, have settled on our thatched roofs, chimney tops and also on a row of shaky geranium pots belonging to a cantankerous and bent little old lady two doors away. They think of her window sill as a dormitory.

    It’s a bit of a Greek wedding atmosphere at the moment, what with her shouts and broomsticks and her sudden straightening of posture and too, the breaking of plates.

    The gulls have been duped by their holiday brochures and think my stone ledge is the promenade for Rio’s Copacabana Beach. What a party and how often they’ve sauntered around tipsy and in the buff by too much mossy water in the bird-bath, which they were promised was a jacuzzi.

    But times are hard. As a result, the worms have turned to mining and scuttled down deep in the burrows. The fish in the Liffey have migrated to the North Seas…prosperous careers are rumoured to be had, as handsome Cod Liver Oil lotions, all nicely buttoned no I mean… bottled up!

    I’ve been told the gossip by an irate Irish Coal Tit – higher up the pecking order with its beautifully turned out plumage and a respected citizen among the sparrows who rule our street – that the unruly flock are of a backpacker variety…light travellers on a shoestring budget. No comfy nests or leafy parasols are included with the holiday price.

    The gulls in their fury are a wonderful weather vane for the rains. What a loud clatter they make on the roof…all that fuss and noise about wanting their money back once they see a storm abound. They swear abuse at the puzzled nimbus. They loudly caw up a devious plan to raid the premises of a swallow who ran a dodgy winged-for-rooftops-holiday scheme up north on the Howth coast. The bad hat has since flown off on a one-way ticket with another shapely bird to sunny Africa.

    The gulls have asked if I could courier an extradiction notice to a suspect address in the Kilimanjaro where the swallow may just be living it up in the wild. I’ve said no and kept myself to myself. But the other day, an insistent matronly one with a buxomy breast that would be in high danger come Thanksgiving, peeped into Des’s loft, wondering if I had put the kettle on and if the crook of a swallow had been in touch with Africa Telecoms.

    But thank God for small mercies and the frustrated party of gulls, I say. Why, my laundry and I are warned of a downpour in good time and remain humbly indebted to this facade of a swinging Brazilian beach on my doorstep.

  21. Ah … @Suzan, the perfect antidote to the bad feeling — such delicious, joyful imagining that it has me smiling all the way down to my toes. I particularly loved:

    === The gulls in their fury are a wonderful weather vane for the rains. What a loud clatter they make on the roof…all that fuss and noise about wanting their money back once they see a storm abound. They swear abuse at the puzzled nimbus. They loudly caw up a devious plan to raid the premises of a swallow who ran a dodgy winged-for-rooftops-holiday scheme up north on the Howth coast. The bad hat has since flown off on a one-way ticket with another shapely bird to sunny Africa.

    The gulls have asked if I could courier an extradiction notice to a suspect address in the Kilimanjaro where the swallow may just be living it up in the wild. I’ve said no and kept myself to myself. ===

    … So you’re the Dove of Peace they’ve released into Trafalgar Square — to keep those dyspeptic pigeons in check … just to get back to something resembling the topic …


  22. Thanks Wordy.

    I have so enjoyed writing these little quips for you.
    They were relaxing and fun.
    So dare I ask, what now of the experiment? 🙂
    You do have my email addy don’t you?

    Wordy, I am contemplating closing my blog. I feel I have had a good run in the last years as a blogger and I just want to move wholly into writing.
    Right now, my little stories of anything are fragmented and scattered all over the web and that’s not a good feeling. My blog posts contributed greatly to this lazy temptation. I’d rather put my thoughts into a post than write up a story. Not good for me in the long run!

    I think it would be wiser especially now with my trip to Africa and to 2 other countries in October to work on some proper travel narrations and put them into a book of some kind. At least, it’s a solid record of my experiences and all the stories can be located in different chapters.
    Just thoughts but I am considering letting my blog die.

    Anyway, I’ll still be around for you if you have yours.

  23. @Suzan,

    That’s a typically generous promise, _thank you_ … but I don’t think any of us need to shut down our blogs altogether. Unless you’re like a person dieting who has to throw out every last ounce of fat and sugar to prevent lapses … as I feel sure you aren’t … I’d just treat your blog like a house from which you come and go — and are sometimes missing for longer spells. Then the rest of us, driving by and checking your windows, see lights after days or weeks of darkness and think, hurrah! She’s back … laissez les bon temps roulent! …

    I’ve had to treat this site like that for some time — although my absences haven’t been particularly long, so far.

    There are too many surprises, constantly, for me to stop altogether. People I never imagined coming here at all did for a while — and others I wouldn’t have expected to stop commenting have vanished . . . And I’m learning a lot from guessing their reasons.

    The stimulation is endless. Again, I’ve found on my own fascinating partial answers to questions that would never have occurred to me if we hadn’t had last week’s unexpected visitor. . . Since I know that you found the subject irresistible …;) … part of the reason why those language translation modules have to be in a machine’s operating system appears to be that

    [m]any localization issues (e.g. writing direction, text sorting) require more profound changes in the software than text translation. For example, OpenOffice.Org achieves this with compilation switches.

    The idea of a directional change just never occurred to me.

    … I found it sad that the discoveries had to be interlaced with so much friction — so utterly ironic. It was @atf‘s posts that both drew in and alienated our drop-in visitor. .. I don’t know what else I could possibly have done by way of defusing, which has bothered me because, as a child, I was often the stranger in a new place and new school — so believe intensely in this philosophy, even as a non-Jew:

    The admonition to care for the stranger, i.e. the non-Israelite, appears no less than 36 times — making it the most frequently cited moral injunction of ancient Judaism.

    … It would be easier to make a stranger feel completely at home if I were the only person responsible for the quality of his or her experience here. But I’m not — since the comments section is collaborative, de facto … and I can’t count on every commenter seeing any particular newcomer exactly as I do.

  24. Hi Wordy,

    Coming straight to the point of your latest reply. Just a reflection of my permanent observations that are unlikely to change. Not a debate at all.


    There is very little loyalty in the blog world. Unless an acquaintance/poster makes the initiative to go the extra mile and this to invite a real friendship in an obvious way and not something elusive or hidden in the dark; loyalties no matter how sincere the intentions or how great an initial mutual admiration and respect, will gradually turn flimsy…certain to vanish at an inappropriate moment or otherwise fade off with a slow wilting disinterest.

    I have observed the blog scene and been a part of it, very early on since 2004. I have seen enough to last a lifetime especially with lessons from hindsight.

    There have been good groups. American bloggers especially those who hold lifestyle blogs are naturally a friendlier lot…they’re open and far more extroverted, much more inclined to share links, complain a lot less and aren’t always cynical.

    This possibly too from a religious upbringing…especially those from the Mid-West and the conservative Christian belt. There is a greater attitude of thankfulness, positive forethought, better manners and openness and you can count on a generous comment count for your own blog as long as you have the time and inclination to provide regular return visits.

    But there have also been moments where you could be very good friends on the web… and suddenly a blogger from thousands of miles away whom you feel lives just down the street – because you’ve got to know the person so well for a few years – decides to move on with his/her life. There have been many cases of good, wonderful, heartwarming people who have literally wiped themselves off the web. They make new lives, they progress in a different way and they no longer want to blog. Sometimes, they regret the things they may have written about, the stories placed for others to read. Then everything is deleted, everything is removed. Even the emails may be returned unanswered. A showcase of non-existence. At other times, the blog stays like a forgotten scrapbook from the past…you know the blogger has never returned to the site but left everything intact just as it is. Then history marks its stamp on a friend once found then lost.

    I still have old acquaintances (different individuals) sometimes send me emails saying that she/he is trying to contact so and so…from a group we knew before. Would I know what happened to so-and-so when even the emails don’t work? That acquaintance is almost often distressed because somewhere along the line, real feelings of affection come to pass more so perhaps in one blogger than the other. And especially so when the camaraderie was a blissful one.

    This is far worse, Wordy; far more painful than any newcomer who may fail to make an appearance after 3 or 4 intense comments. And there are plenty of Anil‘s in this world, people who drop by because they are bored or because they took offence to something etc. etc. I got the impression that he was reading you for awhile, yet only chose to come in when a philosopher’s name was wrongly spelt. The moment you stopped discussing Indian literature he would have been out the door anyway so…

    I did feel from the start that his manner was high-handed. He was certainly not friendly, but rather on the offensive even if slightly so. I thought his views of the Indian community in the West to be patronising but I said nothing. I only spoke up when he threw Atf and the subjects of laziness & lack of knowledge into the same category. I felt that was a bit much.

    At least, she returned to answer him. I wouldn’t even have bothered. I’m second-guessing Atf but you don’t expect her to be apologetic to a complete stranger who was frankly rude at the first instance, no matter how genius his aptitude in other areas.

    Some people just have their own agendas…while you make them feel very welcome, they have other things in their mind. I’m sure you found that with the case of one poster – and after a substantial amount of flattery was made for your blog – was never ‘heard’ of again once you showed no interest in an immediate purchase of that poster’s book. Or rather, when you made no reply to a question as to if you were going to actually purchase, read and write a review of that so-called book. That than marked the last of those flattering remarks or that poster’s appearance again, for that matter.

    There are many like ‘that’ around as well, just using you for their own ends.

    I think you would have regaled in your old group had I not been in the picture, or that you had chosen to defend me in the face of a ridiculous age-old enmity that frankly bears no intelligence, logic or sense. But alas that happened.
    I believe I am the catalyst in the way. And it doesn’t help that I am blunt and very outspoken.

    But of a herd mentality, of people rather late in age who live ordinary lives and who need that extra edge of approval and popularity and who may not have been noticed in a broader way by society otherwise – nothing like a fine gossip – then a clique works wells. As long as one or two stronger individuals are in charge and all the rest know their boundaries, then a clique works.
    But I have already talked about this in a previous post. The pattern of personalities and the lifestyles lived are always similar.

    Wordy I hope blogging will be a happy experience for you. As for me, you do have my email addy. I have a feeling that if I bow out, you’ll get your group back.

    I am glad that I have my escape, that I can go off to the wild, to the mountains, to the oceans and to the wildlife, where the environment is always sincere and warmly welcoming. The hills show no snobbery.

    I guess my strange independence has freed me from the desire to impress and to receive praise from other fellow individuals just like me or worse or slightly better…who knows; and if I were Des, I should add, “Who cares!” 🙂

    But if I wanted this independence to be completely liberating, because of all that happened, I should make a complete break. I am just wondering how to go about it. It takes courage especially if you’ve been blogging a long time.

  25. Dear @Suzan,

    I’ll be back with a more complete answer to your thoughtful and sensitive post later. I find you particularly perceptive about group dynamics in blogging. What’s important now is this:

    You must please wipe from your mind any idea that you were responsible for the departure of members of a blogger-pack (yipyip-yowwwwww!) whose leader gave my refusal to side with him and against you as his reason for suddenly deciding he didn’t love me, after all (sob!). . . You might, like me, have imagined that people stopped behaving like this on school playgrounds … but found that the Blogosphere encourages regressive behaviour.

    For the real reason why he left, do look up this wonderful record in the doggerelist’s archives. As you read, imagine me watching that thread silently and with growing amusement as your would-be persecutor, the Omniscient One (OO!) was arguing in his usual gracious fashion with poor @ropeofsand, whose side @cycnicalsteve had taken. . . Other equally incautious beings supported OO! …. The fight makes simply scrumptious (re-) reading. . . Another man might have laughed about being put in his place so gently. This one? Not a prayer – as you know. ; )

    I haven’t mentioned this living monument to dyspepsia for a while, but he’s obsessed with me – has, this very week, gone to the trouble of writing about me _again_, both on his own site and on a newspaper’s PosterPoems thread.

    mishari Says:
    July 4, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Actually, rope, the internet was first created, in a limited sense by ARPA, (Advanced Research Projects Agency), funded by the Dep. of Defense, who wanted a bomb-proof communications network. The ‘military’ had fuck-all to do with it.

    ….. Eventually, I joined the discussion, … when it seemed that the last comrade opposing @cs and @ropeofsand had run out of banana skins to practice skiing on:

    wordnerd7 Says:
    July 6, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Since obooki is the calmest and least prickly comrade on this thread (aside from our host, dgg) I’ll start with his contribution to the wildly entertaining blind-men-and-the-elephant argument about whether the military did or didn’t invent the Internet. (Thank you, comrades . . . 😉 . . .)

    The Alexander Graham Bell parallel won’t work, obooki, because from the perspective of ‘money talks and has the last word,’ the Pentagon was indeed the sugar daddy that had the most to do with its invention. Bob (Robert W.) Taylor . . .(RWT) . . . , the key figure behind the conception of the net’s prototype, the ARPAnet, and manager of this research project, was a Pentagon employee at the time. The military commissioned the project and paid the scientists who worked on it.

    After that, things get a bit complicated. RWT was a _civilian_ employee of the Pentagon, and he insisted that it would be impossible to hire the super-duper computer scientists he’d need unless the project was completely de-classified. That meant that all the new technology that flowed from the ARPAnet would have no military ‘copyright’ but would be in the public domain – free for anyone to use. . . Lots of the best and brightest scientists belonged to the rabidly anti-war generation and only agreed to assist with that understanding. . . So in another sense, the project was as un-military as could be – for a military project.

    Misharious was therefore mistaken and not a little reckless to say:

    ‘The ‘military’ had fuck-all to do with it.’

    . . . but partially right in saying, . .

    ‘the internet was first created [because] the Dep. of Defense, who wanted a bomb-proof communications network.’.

    But you’d have to call gratifying the wish for a bomb-proof network a happy coincidence with a more pressing need, […]

    What was his answer? … _Silence._ Any of the rest of us would have said, … sorry, big oops! … etc.

    … I hope that your move is going smoothly.

  26. Hi Wordy,

    The place I’m in right now, I don’t even think about the individuals you mentioned. I left them somewhere on the wayside of my recent past.

    The one you called Ob…, is from the old crowd isn’t it and in 2007, a devotee of Amazon Books.

    This individual made sneering comments about Des and myself when we just got together and not knowing anything at all about us. The remarks were at the time totally negative, hurtful and were spilt out just to be seen, to be in with a crowd…to fuel a hot gossip on the late CS’s blog with assumed information on our accomodation which wasn’t even correct. So this person was talking pokies about our accomodation and chalking it up as gossip pertaining to Des and myself.
    As a result, I’m not about to hear anything in his favour right now. I’m not interested.


    And as for the other individual, everytime you mention his childish antics, you give him the desired results…basically the attention he seeks. I would say, Just forget him once and for all unless you want to battle with a six-year old. The whole shoddy affair just keeps going around in circles. Don’t waste your time, Wordy!

    As I said, these are people who live ordinary lives.


    When I was at the Literature Festival in Dubai, the audience paid US$100 each, to hear a former popular cricket player who had turned motivational speaker, Jamil Qureishi – a very handsome man from London -. He was such a joy to watch and to listen to. Full of humour and wit, extremely friendly too and polite. A millionaire already and a bestselling author but no smug airs about him.

    I think my life really started to change in an exhilarating fashion from my last trip to Africa. Something in my spiritual consciousness changed especially at Qureshi’s session. I can’t capture the moment as vividly as I did then. I had pasted some thoughts on my old blog. Here it is:

    …And I almost forgot that I went too, to see famous cricketer Jamil Qureishi in action…talking about high motivational factors with which to turn ambition into achievement. A good-looker, the was the sure show-stealer, fun, charismatic and absolutely electrifying. Listening to him speak, I felt that I was engulfed in an exciting futuristic moment. Qureishi spoke to a packed crowd. One thing he said hit home.
    The laws of attraction he stressed, apply so importantly to most of us, although we don’t realise it.
    He said that successful people always hung around with successful people.
    And that depressing cynical people – his very words – always gathered other depressing cynical people together for friends and to act as a safety net. This, as they were unable to handle optimism in any form. Established patterns of negativity in their subconscious minds meant that they were simply incapable of it….”


  27. === The whole shoddy affair just keeps going around in circles. ===

    I do and don’t agree with that, @Suzan. . . Real progress this week, when OO! (not obooki — I meant the all-knowing Middle-Easterner in my last comment) went for the PosterPoems threadmeister’s ankle like an overcaffeinated pit bull. . . Some new bloggers who had no idea why I recently asked @Alarming not to mention him here have had their eyes opened. . . But as I said, he’s written about me twice in recent days — on two different sites.

    As this is a thread about blogging as a social form — asking whether it sows more peace or discord — our collective history is useful for the illustrations it supplies.

    Still not my whole answer … Btw, there’s a _funny_ new post on @cynicalsteve‘s site, revealing Michele as an excellent … er, toad portraitist. 😉 Sad that their house has just been sold, but I’m sure she’ll feel that a crushing weight has been lifted from her. Both the house and garden were much too big for one woman to handle. And there is no risk whatever of her forgetting him by moving away. Missing him is hard enough for those of us who never had a chance to shake hands with him.

  28. Hi Wordy,

    I guess I’m just not the right person for this thread. I need to seriously put all this behind me and so far, I think I have done pretty well.

    I meant to contribute a poem for the Poster Poets’ thread if it stays open for the next 2 days. I just have not had the time. But I’ll take a look at what you said.

    Wordy, I’d still maintain to just ignore the mischief-maker in question. That’s the hardest thing to do but the most effective solution.

  29. Nonsense! You wrote an excellent contribution on this subject, a review of events, in part:

    === I have observed the blog scene and been a part of it, very early on since 2004. I have seen enough to last a lifetime especially with lessons from hindsight. ===

    … and I’ll be back with a bit more to say. There is so much that needs addressing in your overview, but I can only blog in snatches at the moment. Enjoy your lovely new flat in the meanwhile.

  30. This is a better link for Michele’s site, for which I posted a url earlier:

  31. @Suzan,

    It’s funny that people (not you) object to me or anyone else referring to (‘digging up’) old posts – when the citation is done carefully, almost always supplying a link to the source. . . I gather that someone sees this as ‘scoring points’ – and so what? Isn’t that part of friendly debating? Or are we supposed to be engaged exclusively in kissy kumbaya when we blog? … More pertinent yet is that strings of words are all we have by way of identity. No sensory information whatsoever. It’s by linking what each us of us say now with what we’ve said in the past that we fill out screen personae and enrich our acquaintance with each other.

    May we please go back to being in complete agreement about this:

    perhaps we can all laugh at the absurdity of misunderstandings between the ghostly beings we are in this space?

    Since I’ve never met this blogger so strangely obsessed by my opinions, I am at all times aware — to some degree — that I’m not really dealing with a person but a _thing_ more like a hologram. And the same is true in reverse. He has no idea of who I really am or what I’m like in person. . . This makes the intensity of his reactions amazing.

    The assumptions we’re all making about each other fascinate me. You might remember what I said soon after I started blogging at the newspaper, which is that I enjoy being a Rorschach blot and seeing what I can learn from other people’s interpretations of that blot — and vice-versa.

    Some disagreements between any two bloggers can be enlightening about behaviour and people in ways neither blogger consciously intended. I gleaned something like that from the disaffected blogger’s annoyance about the ARPAnet disagreement – whose extent I gathered from some remarks by him on his own blog more than six months later.

    He was asking his site’s visitors something like, ‘Who ever heard of a female nerd?’ … and ‘What woman knows about these geeky subjects?’. . . Three things about his remarks gave me pause: What grounds did he have for assuming that I was female? Had he never heard of Ada Lovelace (the world’s first programmer, according to wiki) and Grace Hopper (one of America’s first programmers)? Didn’t he realise that though men still dominate computer science and the ranks of computer tech-ery, there are plenty of girl geeks these days? … The NYT’s Sunday lifestyle section had a front page feature on the subject a few months ago – with a collection of Jennifer Anniston clones walking down a street together, all of them heavily into computer nerdery, according to the article … which was making a point about geek chic.

    His assumptions show you how antediluvian some people’s thinking about gender can be even when they work hard to project a cutting-edge-ageing-cool-cat image elsewhere … (and partially succeed)…a contrast I find vastly entertaining. . .

    … This is at the heart of what I find so irresistible about the veiled identities on the net – its masked ball aspect.

    … Now I know that that’s precisely what you and @Des dislike about it. 🙂 It comes through in all these places:

    Unless an acquaintance/poster makes the initiative to go the extra mile and this to invite a real friendship in an obvious way and not something elusive or hidden in the dark; loyalties no matter how sincere the intentions or how great an initial mutual admiration and respect, will gradually turn flimsy…certain to vanish at an inappropriate moment

    .. . I would ask, should friendship on the net be about people arguing from ‘loyalty’ and semi-formal affiliations — or from spontaneous, overlapping views on important questions and genuine compatibility/ sympathy, etc.? … Once people start arguing to support each other like members of tribes or teams, how far are we from the pack mentality I’ve been criticising? … which destroys real debate … and discovery through discussion with no strings attached, …. no obligation to support one position or other for reasons of friendship?

    … I see that as very different from going to the aid of someone being bullied by other bloggers.

    … Your ‘elusive or hidden in the dark’ made me smile. That’s a typical perspective of an extrovert. Introverts think of that as exercising our rights to privacy – or what remains of it.

    There is very little loyalty in the blog world.

    I don’t agree with that at all – not least because you are yourself a model of loyalty, something I have always appreciated. (And then what about the hyena pack – isn’t that a negative form?) For my part, I’ve annoyed some comrades who were regular visitors by refusing to exclude bloggers they dislike from this spot – eg., someone generally lovely who thought @anytimefrances followed _him_ here. Whereas I know that she came because of you and @Des – and was welcome anyway.

    … I’d ask, Suzan, how much loyalty is there in the offline world, now? I honestly don’t see much of a difference between the way we relate, on this score, as ‘people’ and people. . . But I know you’ll tell me how I’m mistaken.

    … much too long a post. [ sigh ] … I shall have to put myself in stocks in Long Posts.

  32. @Suzan,

    This conversation floated back into my mind on a long drive, returning from lunch** with a wonderful friend I hadn’t seen for ten years. I would say that she’s one of my best and most trusted friends, but the career-and-motherhood juggling act on her side and geography — I mean, physical inaccessibility — on mine, made it hard for us to meet. So people come and go in the embodied world too, in my experience.

    If anyone I’ve chatted with often online came anywhere near where I live, I’m sure we’d meet — just as I would try and look you and @Des up if I ever came to Dublin. In that way, we’d sort of fall into knowing each other as — if not quite ‘real’ (who knows what that is?) , then just embodied people — without any special plan to do so. . . So although you might see blogging on books-and-ideas sites as being partially about social networking, and I don’t, we would be doing exactly that if … well, if that’s what the fates intended. . . One dimension of friendship for me is something like a happy mutual burdening. It creates responsibilities. So I’ve only ever been able to manage having a few friends in any phase of life. . . Something I’ve loved about blogging is that it doesn’t come quite so laden with obligations — even the kind I take on cheerfully. This means that unlike you — if I’ve read you right — I haven’t been disappointed very much. My expectations for online relationships were never high.

    … I couldn’t help admiring @Anil for his courage in taking on so many strangers older than himself, all alone and on foreign territory — or what this site was for him. . . And by chance, I noticed today that @Polly/Pinkerbell has been equally brave on another site. She did herself no favours with her original screen name, as you pointed out. That’s even clearer, now that we have a glimpse of the steel in her spine.

    **@atf …because you are curious about what people eat in lunch meetings: ham-and-salad sandwiches, coffee for me, water for her, and half a chocolate brownie each.:)

  33. Hi Wordy,

    I’m in a different headspace right now, because of the schedule of both moving house and long-haul flights that wait round the corner.

    And it doesn’t help that I’ve never taken to packing. This weekend is going to be a nightmare for me, to say the very least. 🙂

    It’s a good thing that Des is around, otherwise I would have been all at sea with 2-and-more major upheavals happening at once. He’s been marvellous at organising everything.

    I will for your sake because we are friends – & because I have moved on seriously from this very subject of blogging & the people you mention, Wordy – reply when I have a free moment in Africa, in Dar, in my hotel room before I go up to the Kilimanjaro. Give it the early part of the first week of August as all of next week I’m going to be on the go. Everything would have been properly sorted at the start of August.

    I will return to my suite with the wonderful harbour view outside my window, where I was able to create and write stories easily the last time I was there just looking at all those ships; and I believe that will prove a relaxing and infinitely soothing time for me. And I know I’m going to be doing some good writing there.

    Once I’m in the Kilimanjaro – at the end of the 1st week of August, I’ll be a real tomboy; on a combination of 3 to 4 safaris which may take up to 1 1/2 to 2 weeks straight. I will return to Dar – so I’ll be free for that period and sail on to the Zanzibar towards the end of the 3rd week of August, which is a meditative haunt made up of tranquil coastlines. I’ll also be able to write easily then.

    I’ll fly in to Dublin for a few weeks in September to see Des and also to attend to some errands and then go off again until the start of November.
    I’m not sure where I’ll be all of October. I’m guessing either Cairo, India or Australia. But I will return to London at the start of November to catch up with all the fiction that would have been newly published and then back to Dublin for the next good few months.

    I’ll be okay with blogging in Dublin but time will once more prove erratic come October. Once I return to London, I should be ok for the next 4 months or so.

    I owe you 2 replies and I promise to give them all my attention – this being on the subject of English Language fiction in Malaysian literature and also what you wrote here.

    I will always respect atf. For that matter, Polly has written to me and apologized. We’ve made our peace but in these weeks, I haven’t thought about her.

    Neither have I thought about Anil. Why don’t you write him? I’m happy to take a backseat. He can easily come back to speak to you if he wants but there is always the matter of pride isn’t there. I think it’s easier to be pleasant and polite at the outset, rather than to be rude and then seeming to appear courageous later on.
    Had he been pleasant, I would have straightaway watered down atf‘s reply but he wasn’t pleasant. He was rather rude.

    I have gained a lot of wisdom from all that’s gone on – the kind of hindsight not ever taught in schools and rarely in books – so I’m not disappointed, rather I now have some interesting fodder for future stories.

    Life is too short, fragile and fleeting Wordy. And at the end of my summer years, I want to be surrounded by the good and beautiful in spirit. Not the openly-I’ll-step-on-your-toes-if-I-feel-like-it or the eternally pessimistic, convinced they’re destined for doom.

    PS: By the way, you’re welcome to stay if you ever want to visit Dublin. 🙂

  34. anytimefrances

    good luck with your travels and move suzan! and thanks for your recent fair and sensible peaceful comments. it’s been a sad time for me so i’m glad you stood in for me and made sense. regards to d.

  35. Thank you dear frances,
    If I could have just had the pleasure of your company for a much longer time and invited you to stay to tea… to share a delicious Lipton from my best china…
    And too, a barley malt cookie from the biscuit tin. Would you have so kindly obliged me?

    Do I sound like a ‘lady of letters’? 🙂

    Be strong, be well.
    I’ll always think of and remember you with love.

  36. anytimefrances

    yes, suz, you do sound v civilised and polite, and wise. i would drink Lipton’s tea with you, even if you bought it from tesco’s. i would listen to you read some of your poems and i would read a few of mine to you. we could waltz to Strauss and blow kisses to the stars from Howth Head…

    perhaps someday my dream may come to pass! 🙂

  37. A done deal, atf. 🙂

  38. Three cheers for the outbreak of peace on this thread, ladies. . . In recent years I’ve been getting more inclined to simply tell people what I admire about them and not worry as much as I used to about being suspected of flattery. The other day I was trying to check a famous quotation and came across this:

    Do not keep the alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them, and while their hearts can be thrilled and made happier by them.

    @Suzan, … The spirit of the author, George William Childs (1829-94), whoever he was, burns brightly in you and @anytimefrances. . . Lost a friend last night prematurely (she was 55), not anyone close but still someone I admired and treasured: was glad that she knew that before it was too late to tell her.

    Thank you, @Suzan, for your generous invitation … I strongly suspect that we’re most likely to meet in London, but it would be entirely consistent with the rest of my life to be introduced to Dublin — and Ireland — by a gentle, whimsical and poetic half-Hibernian, half-Malaysian-Indian couple at least as eccentric as I am.

    the wonderful harbour view outside my window, where I was able to create and write stories easily the last time I was there just looking at all those ships;

    … yes, that was clear. The reminder took me back to being given a tour of a Greek mathematician’s office en route to dinner on a long summer evening years ago, and asking whether he didn’t find it distracting to see trains sliding in and out of a station so close to his window. He said that he’d been amazed to find that the movement of the carriages on the tracks seemed to speed the movement of thoughts in his mind.

    … Oh, I nearly forgot … WBY must have anticipated the birth of @atf … so that ‘Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths’ is really an encoded reference to Frances inventing wildly from whole cloth, then running amok with her embroidery needles on a Potw thread on a certain newspaper site . . . . Let me be the first to tell you, dear @atf: it’s fantasising that’s your métier. . . 🙂

  39. Hi Wordy,

    Promise to write next and in greater detail sometime next week from Africa.


  40. Safe journey, @Suzan! … and we’ll hold you to your promise.:)

    @atf: I believe that people have been talking about you over the way on the doggerelsbollocks site. No, no, … absolutely no need to panic … Just breathe deeply and count to a hundred.

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