It’a question I quite frequently ask myself. It’s a form of social networking. Gossip to put it crudely. I can’t get out and about so I interrelate by blogging. People can comment or ignore. I get emails from strangers and friends commenting upon what I’ve written.
There is another level. Speaking of poetry Auden once said he didn’t know what he was going to write until he’d written it. A blog is an ordering of thoughts, ideas, scraps of information. It can be a heat-seeking missile homing in on a target or a thistledown wafting where the breezes take it. It’s me. And it’s not me. There is considerable self-censorship. I try not to be hurtful. I try not to be bitter. I try not to be indecent. I try to be fair. That in itself is a form of discipline. Or is it self-indulgence?. Either way it’s creative.
I’m having these thoughts because Howard Jacobson in an interview in Time magazine talks about novels and the blogs about them. ‘I wasn’t brought up to intepret literature such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Great Expectations’ as something I should agree with.’Of course he’s right. ‘Sons and Lovers” for another example is an entity in itself, an opinion about it is merely that, an opinion.
I have a neighbour who considers Alison Wong’s novel ‘As the Earth Turns Silver’, which I blogged about yesterday, is spoilt by too much historical research. I disagree. It’s one of the strengths of the book. I consider her material well-digested and the Chinese background is obviously familial. So my friend and I disagree. That’s life. Our dialogue, discussion, chinwag, is an age-old human custom.
When I was cooking I found I wanted to share recipes, share triumphs and swap anecdotes over disasters. It’s part of a learning process. If I see a film I want to talk about it, to share experiences and discover how others perceived the story-line, camera work, music etc. Why we liked it or didn’t like it. Part of the reason I enjoyed teaching was this sense of sharing Curiosity is a very human characteristic.
So my blog meets a personal need. At random, on 10 May 2009 I put up a blog called ‘Rididulous Rhinos’. That morning there had been an item about rhino on the radio. It aroused my curiosity and I went on to the internet. A few hours later I emerged having been down all sorts of byways and highways about rhinos, hippos, elephants and ancient Rome. I switched to Microsoft and typed out the blog.
Friends ask does it become a chore. Not yet! The day it does maybe I’ll consider giving it away. But I value it as a lifeline to the world, and to sanity. Though once or twice when I’ve missed a day I’ve had emails asking me if I’m all right. The lack of a blog could be caused by many factors. One lurking dread is a computer crash. I’d be bereft without it.
To put it bluntly ‘I’m a contented blogger.
The 2018 Book Council Lecture
2 days ago