Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Supplementary and divagational

eWeek covers Winerama. I was asked to comment, then my quote didn't make the cut. Since we are all doing "journalism" now, here it is, a supplement, invaginary or otherwise, for eWeek readers.

eWeek reporter Matthew Broersma asked:

On your new blog it sounds like you're pretty resigned to the whole thing. Has it caused any inconvenience? Do you think it's to be expected?

I replied:

I am not in the least "resigned," if by that you mean passively accepting. I am intrigued. There is very likely more to the story than has so far been reported, or articulated by Dave Winer or anyone else. Dave has consistently operated from an individual perspective that has stood in tension with cliched norms of business, communication, and camaraderie. I find this challengingly valuable, even when it impacts me directly.

As for that impact, it took me about two minutes to create a new blog, which says something about how Net routes around outages. If there is damage or loss of past information (and there is no certainty that there will be any permanent loss), there is, untouched, the web of people, ideas, interests and connections constructed over time, whose value - past present and future - easily transcends the deletion of any particular subset of my blog entries. And besides, google cache* makes
even this "deletion" more a matter of inconvenience than anything more dire.

(*Along with the venerable Wayback Machine, as Ray Davis points out in an email.)

Speaking of Ray, he has observed Bloomsday in a way that brings the book we ought to remember to mind. Unlike the strangely abstracted T.S. Eliot, who, despite all the Tutor's craven efforts to rehabilitate his cultural centrality, seems ever more marginal. I mean, if T.S. was having trouble with contemporary culture 80 years ago, what figure blogging must he be doing in his even more wasted wasteland now. Here he is talking about Joyce's use of the Odyssey:

In using the myth, in manipulating a continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity, Mr. Joyce is pursuing a method which others must pursue after him. They will not be imitators, any more than the scientist who uses the discoveries of an Einstein in pursuing his own, independent, further investigations. It is simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history. It is a method already adumbrated by Mr. Yeats...

Bringing together chaos and science, anarchy and method, in one easy Eliotic grimace - sounds good, but what exactly does Mr. Eliot mean by words like "myth" and "method," not to speak of "signficance"? We don't get much chance to find out, because he's more interested in his oxymoron than in putting us in touch with the potency of Joyce.

What is that potency? I do not think it lies in the spectacular granularity of everyday life that some make much of: Soap in one pocket, lucky potato in the other. Or not solely in that static mode, which boasts the primacy of the photographic, and therefore is difficult to see as anything other than nostalgia for the stable sensory load of a Past lying stately, plump and intact in memory and desire. Then again, the Odyssey is a nostos, and that homeward drive does seem to impel Joyce's characters.

Not that the extreme particularness of the book isn't a wonder in and of itself. But those rare details must be taken in tension with, say, the macro level lovefest the book is having with large literary genres. Joyce wants us to feel the soap, but through a vocal phantasmagoria of strangely familiar modes and odes and ballads and pratfalls and catechistics and theatrics, a drunken revel of eternizing forms, irreducibly formal and common and echoic and general. The dizziness of that dynamic can be seen in Ray's selection, where every word is highly denotative and entirely formal in the same poynted semantic moment:

But beshrew me, he cried, clapping hand to his forehead, tomorrow will be a new day and, thousand thunders, I know of a marchand de capotes, Monsieur Poyntz, from whom I can have for a livre as snug a cloak of the French fashion as ever kept a lady from wetting.

and where the play of voices and genres with and against one another offers a music alien to the staid banality of dogmatic realism. The loveliness of that tension. Who knows, perhaps that's what Eliot was getting at...


Blogger The Happy Tutor said...

I am T.S. Eliot's heir? Wonderful, but you may be confused with Dick Minim.

6/17/2004 12:31 AM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

From another perspective (Kurt Lewin's, maybe ?), it seems that recent events have provided you with the impetus to get all juicy with words, ideas and observations about the messy nature of the co-existence of chaos and science, anarchy and method. And so the web grows from new understandings.

All this is intriguing, indeed. Power, personalities, positions, brains, words, feelings, trust and betrayal - the whole human catastrophe. Only a little bit of dialogue and groping for real understanding .... your responses have been instructive.

6/17/2004 12:58 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Alas, the Wayback Machine has no content from the blogs, aside from a curmudgeonly "make your crawler go away" message.

The question of whether an online author, having published, has the right (or ability) to remove his or her works from public view is an interesting one. You're right to point out the value of this disruption (along with the disruption caused by the Invisible Adjunct's announcement) in forcing us to consider our unspoken expectations.

6/17/2004 11:24 AM  

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