First, I loathe diaries. I have never been able to keep one, and the scattered pages that I find at the bottom of my bag after a trip to a doctor's office or a prorogated academic conference are filled with alternating sloped and cramped, exuberant and repentent, observations on philosophy and personal misery. They do not constitute a diary, do not reveal what happened to draw out such passions, and explain absolutely nothing. In other words, I write essays rather than journal entries, and every time I attempt to write only about what has happened to me or around me, I end up frisking through the fields of Elysium or diving to the bottom of the Slough of Despond.
"The horror of getting up is unparalleled, and I am filled with amazement every morning when I find that I have done it." -- Lytton StracheyI sympathize with the distinguished shade. I find that the worst of it is realizing that, as Emerson said, I have taken the Giant with me. I'm still me, despite the respite of dreams. I cannot help writing essays, and I have sought help for it. In my actual life, away from the bombard of electrons and phosphor, I have been told most consistently that I write essays "like Samuel Johnson." Instead of puffing with pride, I generally react to this with despair. I don't want to write like Samuel Johnson.
The problem is that he and I may be doomed to write like one another. Like him, I do not like myself very much. Like him, I am quite sure that all my time is wasted. Like him, the world has endorsed my opinions by refusing to pay me sufficient money or to provide me with a happy wife (or even an unhappy Tetty). Like him, I tend to grow clubs around me, whether I seek to or not. More to the point, like him, I have as my model Joseph Addison but, like him, cannot stomach writing about manners and the titters of society. Like him, too, I can only deal with myself and my authorship of my ideas and emotions by cloaking them in the armor of feigned universal truth. Unlike him, however, I have not been to the printers, not butted my head against the walls of Fleet Street, for, unlike him, the chorus of nay sayers have control of my world.
So, to the impulse of blogging: it mystifies me.
- Catharsis? No thanks. I have rarely found that writing makes me feel better, except when writing a truly nasty letter to a girlfriend who was now someone else's lover.
- Sharing and caring? Nah. I don't care and don't believe that sharing will do much.
- Recording the vitality of my life and shoring against the deserts of vast eternity my poor ego and small life? Well, it's an attractive offer, but there is nothing that suggests that my little all should be saved when so many billions disappear. I haven't the egomania for that.
- A ticket to power over political candidates? Oh, please! I plan to be plenty political, and I'm an enraged Democrat, but if reason and virtue cannot touch the heart of politics, I don't have any desire to put my fingers in there.
- A ticket to a book contract? Again, the world has words enough.