Wyoming's Internet Seer
My vague plan for organizing the infinitely vague task of learning my way around the blogsphere has become to identify one blog each day to add to my "Links" list. Tonight the new blog carries a name from my past, John Perry Barlow, whom I met when I was editing a new energy magazine in Casper, Wyoming, more than 20 years ago. John Perry Barlow--I never think of him as "John," because his three names seem to be inseparable from each other--agreed to serve as an advisor to the magazine, and I must have met him a couple of times, because his photo looks familiar to me. But I lost track of him for a decade until he turned up as a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation with Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, and for a while it seemed as if his name was everywhere, spouting off poetically and believably in Newsweek and Wired about the incredible future of the internet. On a hunch, tonight I Googled "John Perry Barlow blog" and, of course, here he is, still writing fluid, articulate, visionary pronouncements about how the world is changing through the internet. His latest dispatch, four days ago, concerns a very strange encounter he had with two young Asian women who found him via the internet and wanted to practice their English, speaking through a voice program. Sounds fishy, right? But if you read all the way to the end of the lengthy post, you find that some things are to be believed even when they sound like the latest scam, sexual or otherwise.
Otherwise, it was a slow, sunny day here at CaribSurf. Darlene and I and her sister Deb spent the late afternoon at Hawk's Nest Beach, where the water is turquoise and the sand is velvety. Being there feels as if you have woken up inside a three-dimensional postcard.
Tomorrow morning I will report to the Wind Spirit for my first newspaper assignment in nearly 20 years, a feature story with photos for the St. John Tradewinds. Unlike the old days, my camera will also serve as my tape recorder, thanks to the digital wonders of my Pentax Optio. I love new stuff, which is why I am delighted to link fellow new-stuff enthusiast JPB to these Chronicles.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
I don't have time to blog. (And I lie, if you haven't noticed).
But it's not just time that Allen lacks. My mother and I attended one of his two-day workshops in Cambridge, Mass., last fall, and in that setting the GTD guru is supremely self-confident, sure of his voice, of his material. But as a new blogger, he is finding his way tentatively, as he explains here:
And for Robert (and others who may not be as vocal as he was about wishing I would blog more), may I just run the apology for now that I'm trying to find my own voice in the medium. It's not like I don't get a chance to share myself, verbally and otherwise, with lots of folks. And most of the time I am aware of many other things as higher priorities for my creative time. Also, much of what I have to share will best be served contained and integrated into a different context. But this medium is a unique frame that draws out its own kind of pictures from its participants. Indeed, There's nothing like the salon. Nostalgic memories, hanging out at the Cafe Odeon in Zurich, at age 18 (as an American Field Service exchange student there in '63-'64), with the ghosts of Jung and dadaism...
I am intrigued by this problem of finding the appropriate voice for an entirely new writing medium. You feel as if you are talking to someone, but it also feels anonymous, launching words into cyberspace as if dropping them off in a bottle from an island. In reading other blogs, I find that honesty, or the appearance of it, seems to be a common flavor. And intimacy, as if the conversation is happening, as David Allen suggests, in a cafe in a foreign country, far from home, when you are 18 and full of possibilities.
The women are on St. Thomas today, shopping. So I have treated myself to nearly seven hours of reading and writing on the porch, listening to an island hip hop and R&B station in my headphones, 105 Jamz, while rereading for the third time Edward Said's brainy argument for humanism. This seems right, I thought. One of his most appealing insights is how fertile the zone is between cultures, between wildly varying views of the world. I knew I had successfully tricked myself into falling deeper into hip hop reality when I found myself snapped to attention by the strange voice of a nasally white guy interrupting the black, island rhythms with the Bloomberg financial report. Oh yeah, that's what I sound like!
Friday, January 28, 2005
Reporting for Duty
Thursday, January 27, 2005
My name is Len, I am a blogger...
I happened on a profile of Edward Said in the print edition of The Guardian in Oxford, England, last fall, and immediately afterward found myself standing next to a copy of his new posthumous book in Blackwells. Sensing synchronicity, I bought the book, and thus began a long and happy immersion in Said's writing and my upcoming review of Humanism and... , which I have now read nearly three times. Shortly after my introduction to Said, back in Cannes, I read a sweet homage to Said on the front page of Le Monde . It was a French translation of a piece by Said's friend Daniel Barenboim, which I just found at Guardian Unlimited in the original English.
Returning to the Peck review, I am glad to see that it answers the question of why my friend Sven Birkerts found himself in Peck's gun sights. To wit:
First, though, there's a score to settle with Sven Birkerts, a fellow critic who dared grumble that Peck's reviews "subtly degrade the profession". Peck responds with a 36-page extravaganza of scorn, of which the following is only one of several climaxes: "Or, to put it another way (ready Sven? I've been saving this one up...), with friends like this, literature needs an enema. Ooh, that was probably a bit much, huh?"
And so, still forgetting hunger, I taste the addiction that is blogging, how one thought leads to another, and how with a few clicks of the Vaio's pointer and Blogger.com' s tools, I can reference the original text of what I was thinking about, and then the thing that reminds me of, and then.... STOP!
(But I didn't stop. I made the mistake of reading over the draft, changing it, playing with it some more, diddling with the links. At 2:04 Deb arrives with Maria's little dog, Mia, to lure me back to reality and food. "Wait, I can take your picture and put it in the blog," I say, then realize that will take another hour to pull off. "I'll be right there," I say. "Just let me finish this off...")
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
So this time it all happens on the blog. I've been surfing blogs in the middle of the night for the past week, preparing for this transition, as well as looking for blogs for the nonfiction section of the Denver-based online literary journal, Wazee. I have felt a similar excitement exploring the blogsphere to what I felt the first time I found the internet in the mid-1990s on my Radio Shack Model 100. Only instead of the simple discovery that there are people "out there" able to send crude text messages to each other, this entry into the world of blogs is about finding a world of thinkers, writers, cranks, pedants, and critics--my kind of people--all posting unique views on an infinite number of topics, updating daily, commenting on each other's posts, building what seems like an entirely new take on reality. I am assembling a list of blogs that updates automatically on my computer using Bloglines . They include Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind by Sarah Weinman, the crime fiction columnist for the Baltimore Sun, and Silliman's Blog, described as "a weblog focused on contemporary poetry and poetics" by the poet Ron Silliman, whom I hadn't known of before finding his blog, but whose bio of published books and accomplishments is 43-pages long.
There's the phone, waking me from my blog reverie--bloggerie? We must now dash to the airport in hopes that US Airways will honor our free tickets issued by United, taking us from Atlanta to Charlotte to St. Thomas. Time to click on "Publish Post." Let the trogging begin!