Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘bloggers’

Desert at dusk by Lady Caroline Gray Hill 1843-1924

Spring,1855. Andrew Wilson, a young, unemployed journalist, has ventured across the western frontier of British India and begun a meandering exploration of neighbouring Baluchistan. He’s down on his luck, looking for distraction in adventure. There, in the desert, he comes across ruins dating back to the time of Alexander – vast mausoleums, marking the passing of innumerable lives. He’s moved to sit and reflect on this, scribbles some lines in his notebook, speaks wistfully of the vastness of the ages and the obscurity of the individual life, a life of infinite worth to itself but passed entirely unknown and apparently worthless to anyone else now living. Those lines appeared in a magazine in 1857 where, in turn, they gave me pause when I discovered them in dusty archives a hundred and fifty years later.

Think about this for a moment – the act of that young man, sitting down in the dust and the desert hush, being moved to reflect. Who did he imagine he was writing for? He was not well known – certainly no darling of the literati. Indeed, his own failures and obscurity at the time, must have weighed heavily upon him.

Wilson had been studying divinity, thinking to become a  minister like his father, but he’d had a head-on collision with the German Romantic movement, an experience that had rendered him suddenly too much of a mystic for the staid pulpit of the Kirk, and landed him instead in the precarious position of a jobbing hack.

And then there’s me. Where do I fit in the strange equation of time and chance? There’s not much we have in common, Wilson and I, other than the fact we’re both an unlikely pair of mystics. All I can do is reflect upon his thoughts. If I’d been with him that day I would have replied it was the uniqueness of individual experience that makes each life infinitely valuable, not only to itself but to the greater consciousness out of which we’re all briefly incarnated. Yes, those Alexandrian era lives are gone, as Wilson is now, and as I shall be one day, but for a time we each look upon this world and reflect back, if only through our hearts, what we’ve felt about the whole experience of time and form.

We exist far apart in history, Wilson and I, but nowadays disparate souls need not wait upon the ages, nor the printing press to court these serendipitous encounters. We can blog our reflections, and if in doing so one other person  reflects upon what we write we have already entered upon that vast and subtle network of  human thought, pulsating, vibrating, self-reflecting, and ultimately, I’m sure, swelling towards a transcendental awakening in the collective being.

Take heart then, dear  blogger, and believe your persistence, even in the face of your individual obscurity will play its own part in helping sweep aside the sterile structures we see decaying daily all around us, that it will play its part too in building  upon the better reflections of all who have lived, nurturing what is best in human nature, and learning to let go of what is not.

We owe it to those lost Alexandrian era lives, passed entirely unknown in the wilds of Baluchistan. We owe it to every life alive now, reflective of its own experience, and of course we owe it to ourselves.

What say you, Wilson?

Read Full Post »

woman reading letterNothing happened today. There was no news, no carnage, no politicians to be called to account, no food scares, no financial ruin. There was no one to hate, no one to pity.  The nation breathed a great sigh of relief and we all drove to work in soft sunshine, with lighter hearts, skipping along like children let out of school early. A gentle hush settled over hill and vale, I saw my first Snowdrop,… and the world felt like a much better place.

The opening of an impossibly optimistic fantasy novel? No,… our regular news and current affairs programming was off the air because of a strike by journalists, and oh,… what a relief!

I’m sorry. I know it’s important to keep up with current events, to be able to understand and talk knowledgeably about the world. But there’s also a terrible downside, being inundated daily with crap that you can’t do a damned thing about. You begin to form a picture of a world in which nothing good happens, and it doesn’t matter that it bears not even a passing resemblance to the world you personally experience, you feel cowed by it, intimidated, depressed, goaded into cynicism, even afraid to venture abroad for fear of having your head cut off by blood crazed trolls.

So I don’t buy newspapers. I don’t watch the TV news, preferring nowadays to get my snippets in controlled bursts, through my iPad. I read the news briefly, with a cold, objective eye, digest the main points, then turn to the blogs I’m following because they’re so much more interesting.

For example, yesterday evening, I learned about a play in which Freud’s fictional final consultation was with the writer CS Lewis. It sounded like a fascinating idea, but the writer who saw it had felt let down by it. I also read about Innis Oirr, one of the remote Aran isles, off the west coast of Ireland and how the way of life there has changed over the centuries. Then I read about the pope and his reportedly unsympathetic views regarding people who might be labelled gay, bisexual or transsexual.

I realised I knew very little about CS Lewis and have now chased down some more very interesting information about his life that syncronistically informs something else I’ve been thinking about. I also mused that although my grandfather is from the west of Ireland I’ve still not visited his birthplace, and I really must do something about that.  I also pondered on the fact that religious teachings are too often defined so narrowly they cannot hope to encompass the rather more eclectic nature of the human condition. And is that right or wrong?

This is so much better than being blathered at by assertive media types, evasive politicians and pontificating pundits. Through blogging you realise there’s a whole ecosystem of ideas out there, and you can get involved in shaping it simply by writing your own material. But like anywhere else there are abusers in the blogsphere. They contribute nothing, yet expect the globe to laud them in return, catapult them to the dizzy heights of celebrity. A bit like the conventional media then.

Case in point: something odd happened last night. I put my piece up on “Photographing Ghosts”, but in the process managed to lose all the text, so what I actually posted was just the title. I was wondering how on earth that had happened, and whether it was worth sorting out, or if I should just delete the lot and go to bed,  when my iPad started pinging like it had gone mad. Before I knew it I had 3 likes for that piece – which was very gratifying but of course I could claim no credit for my literary prowess because all I’d posted was a blank page.

What was that all about then?

Among the rules of successful blogging the most important is that, apart from posting our own sincerely intended content, we should also take the trouble to read the work of other bloggers who catch our eye, and comment on their blogs as we might in making polite conversation with strangers. If you really like the work, then “like” it. If you consistently enjoy the musings of a particular blogger, and you want a regular dose of them, then you “follow”. What could be simpler?

But it seems some of us are sitting at the gates of WordPress’s “what’s new!” list and “liking” anything that wanders through, even “following” with no more motivation than the hope or expectation we’ll get liked or followed in return. This indiscriminate technique is the same as jumping up and down like a petulant wannabe, shouting “Look at me! Look at me!”. Are  we trying to get ourselves into WordPress’s currently hot list perhaps? Maybe from there we believe it’s only a short step to a slot on whatever passes for our nations top celebrity chat show?

Hmmm.

You cannot be serious. Real blogging is for those with something to say, and who are perhaps denied any other voice. If you’ve nothing to say, if you’ve only web farmed stuff for content , or “products”, or yourself to “sell”, then shut up and go away.

Blog because you like to write, because you like to present ideas, and see what ideas ping back at you. I blog about writing fiction, about the creative processes, the psychology and even the underlying spirituality of it, and if some of my readers are tempted to have at look at my stories while they’re at it, then all the better for my ideas, but I’m not selling anything, not courting my own celebrity here. I’ve been writing for thirty five years now  – I can walk into a bar anywhere in the world and no one will know who I am. And that’s the way I like it. I don’t know how to transform a blog into a WordPress hottie, and to be honest I don’t care. I’d rather remain obscure than lose my virtue vainly trying to escape it. I blog because I enjoy the debate and because that debate informs my own ideas, and because also, crucially, it paints a very different picture of the world out there than the one I get from the TV news.

I’m currently following around 12 blogs. This doesn’t sound like many, but I do read the postings from these authors, and I allow their musings to tickle my own thoughts and if you follow too many, you’re not going to find the time to do any of them justice. And it’s in doing justice to the blogs of others, even in a small way, that enables the blogsphere to collectively reflect, and more importantly to inform the global zeitgeist. Thus begins the slow fight back from a position where our views of the greater world are dominated by an entirely negative and sensationalist press.

I’m glad nothing happened today.

It’s was nice hearing myself think for a change.

Read Full Post »