Today’s post consists of a quotation, an observation, and a cartoon, appearing in reverse order.
Here’s the cartoon:
(An executive decision has been made that the post won’t bother embarking on a form-and-content-what’s-the-difference-is-there-a-difference type debate.)
The observation is as follows. ‘Make your updates good so people will want to read them’ seems like sound advice, but it’s actually quite difficult, when you start blogging, to decide what kind of tone to adopt. This is partly because you’re still discovering how blog-writing compares to email/essay/Facebook status/shopping list/etc.-writing; it is also because of a peculiarity about the readership you imagine—the way blogging is kind of public, even though it kind of isn’t. I can be pretty sure who the readers of this post will be, but I don’t write as if I’m directly addressing them, because the post is going to be out there On The Internet, and The Internet itself seems like a large, hazy, all-seeing, imperturbable reader.—Hi, Internet. How are things? Nice to have you. Glad you could make it…
So I’m going to quote headlong from the opening pages of Seymour: An Introduction (supposedly by Buddy Glass, and actually by J.D. Salinger). The quotation seems relevant, but, because I like it, I’m also offering it as recompense for any occasions in previous posts where the tone has been misjudged. It has been abbreviated (Buddy is given to long paragraphs).
Very luckily, to push on and make my point here – and I don’t think it’s the kind of point that will survive an interminable buildup – I found out a good many years back practically all I need to know about my general reader; that is to say, you, I’m afraid. You’ll deny it up and down, I fear, but I’m really in no position to take your word for it. You’re a great bird-lover. Much like a man in a short story called ‘Skule Skerry’, by John Buchan, which Arnold J. Sugarman, Jr, once pressed me to read during a very poorly supervised study-hall period, you’re someone who took up birds in the first place because they fired your imagination; they fascinated you because ‘they seemed of all created being the nearest to pure spirit – those little creatures with a normal temperature of 125°’. Probably just like this John Buchan man, you thought many thrilling related thoughts; you reminded yourself, I don’t doubt, that: ‘The goldcrest, with a stomach no bigger than a bean, flies across the North Sea! The curlew sandpiper, which breeds so far north that only about three people have ever seen its nest, goes to Tasmania for its holidays!’ It would be too much of a good thing to hope, of course, that my very own general reader should turn out to be one of the three people who have actually seen the curlew sandpiper’s nest, but I feel, at least, that I know him – you – quite well enough to guess what kind of well-meant gesture might be welcomed from me right now. In this entre-nous spirit, then, old confidant, I privately say to you, old friend (unto you, really, I’m afraid), please accept from me this unpretentious bouquet of very early-blooming parentheses: ( ( ( ( ) ) ) ). I suppose, most unflorally, I truly mean them to be taken, first off, as bowlegged – buckle-legged – omens of my state of mind and body at this writing.
(I still don’t know what’s going on with the different font sizes…)