Raimundas — Journalisms — Sharing and linking

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Sharing and linking
A site for ideas and work in progress, or a site that contains everything? Or just a way to escape a bad case of eczema? Some call it an online diary, others prefer to see it as a notebook. The phenomenon of weblogging has already attained a certain historic dimension. This is an interview with three of the ‘bloggers’ out there.
By Raimundas Malasauskas
What is weblog? Or: When is weblog? Or: Why is weblog? The participants in the following interview don’t even agree with the term weblog itself. For example, Paul Perry calls them “attention bastions and mines” or “web opera”. Perhaps due to the dispatches from the Baghdad blogger www.dearraed.blogspot.com, about the first days of US occupation of Iraq, the word “weblog” landed on the popular tongue pretty firmly. Yet we know that the whole phenomenon of blogging has existed for a few years already.
Whether approached from a deeply journalistic or a more personal-existential perspective a weblog most often inhabits the genre of an online diary or a notebook. Ben Hammersley (www.benhammersley.com) in The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk) claims: “The newspaper is being usurped by the blog. A blog, short for weblog, is hard to define, but easy to recognize. It is a form of personal online diary, which is usually set out in reverse chronological order – newest at the top – and which points you to other things on the net. What once was used for teenage journals has now, however, been co-opted by specialist reporters who can reach massive audiences almost for free.”
Why could weblogs become an issue for an art magazine? In a similar fashion to Caterina Fake, who compares a weblog to an application, while art plays the role of operating system, I tend to see a weblog as a manifestation of a particular mode of living in which art has evaporated, thus becoming only cognitive software for everyday life. While negotiating its complexities and multiple distractions, a weblog provides a possibility for a creative life without a hardware spectacle. It also creates a certain self-sustaining community based on the idea of sharing and linking.
For the following interview to discuss weblog-related issues I invited Caterina Fake (www.caterina.net), Paul Perry (www.alamut.com — Bastion of Peace and Information) and Jouke Kleerebezem (www.nqpaofu.com – Notes Quotes Provocations and Other Fair Use Portal). More – below.
[RM]: I cannot help thinking about the beginning, despite the non-linearity of the flow of cyber-events. Could you please tell me how you started your weblogs? And why.
[Paul Perry]: Monday March 9, 1998. Paul Perry stays up half the night playing with Frontier, a content management system for creating websites. During the course of the evening Paul thinks 3 things:
(1) that a single website should contain everything – why should he create separate sites for separate projects? – one site should fit all…
(2) that this website would function best if it was updated daily until he died.
(3) that the most useful thing this website could do for him was to keep a record of his attention. Map his attention’s one thousand distractions.
Alamut was the result.
[Caterina Fake]: In 1999, while living in San Francisco, I had a terrible case of eczema that covered my whole body. Wearing clothes was painful and I looked like a leper, so I didn’t go out much. I stayed in my apartment and took oatmeal baths. My sister came periodically to bring me Chinese herbs, or new kinds of lotion she’d found. But I was lonely. I started writing an online diary at Diaryland as a way to talk to other people.
But I’ve always kept diaries/journals/notebooks, since the age of 5 when I received a little girl’s diary with a lock and key from my Lola (one calls one’s Filipina grandma “Lola”), I’ve always recorded what I was thinking, doing, reading. And I always loved reading peoples notebooks and diaries, and collected them: Camus, Fitzgerald, Woolf, Benjamin, Nin, Eno, Cobain – it really doesn’t matter whose they are, or even if they’re fictional (The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer). There is something about the offhand, scrappy and provisional nature of them that I like.
Whenever I’ve tried to keep separate notebooks for separate projects or separate ideas (a dream notebook or an art notebook or a writing notebook or a collection of quotes) they always turned into an everything notebook.
[Jouke Kleerebezem]: NQP followed up on Shadowplay, which is an autobiographical text on the web, first uploaded 17 October 1995, while away from home. In a sense it is more of an autobiography than NQP, since it follows the time line of my life rather faithfully (optimistically projecting a 100 year life span). NQP on the other hand, while showing sufficient autobiographical detail, to myself seems more of a fiction, in its elaborate narrative, in its writing/design style. Yet again Shadowplay is less a ‘journal’ than NQP, there is no everyday account of events in my life. It is after-the-fact, where NQP hopes to be 24/7, which of course I can not produce/perform.
In Shadowplay two axes scale my interests. The time line is its merciless horizontal line, a solid block of future years eaten away to become distinct dates, event dates; the vertical axis is composed of miscellaneous keywords to my prime interests, alphabetically arranged, from people to dates to subject matter to books to events to titles of works (some still to be made) etc., etc. Shadowplay has these disappearing in the background colour links. I figured once you’d have clicked them you’d know where to find them. Like when you look up a word in the dictionary and open it on just the right page. There are no external links. All is on site, it is a kind of map to my life and times. But there’s only parameters there. Every time I revisit it I am invited to fill in some of the territory. Most of that material I can probably find somewhere in NQP.
What always interested me is the notion of an active biography: as graphein the bios, ‘writing the life’ while it is being lived. I started NQP also because event paced commodity based life and work does not attract me in the least. Yet, I am a materialist, I love my objects and my spaces for what they are and how they inform me, but I cannot see their value just to measure my time and individual development as they do when they write most artists’ curricula. The whole idea of such development is strange to me. I want to see and show ideas and work in a progression, competing with the everyday while being an integral part of it.
[RM]: I can tell you how I came across them – I guess it was in 1998 when I was browsing the web and came to alamut.com via some link (it’s always so interesting to note from which link you enter one or another site as it always defines your experience of it) and after a while reading short notes on disparate subjects I found out that they were put up by Paul Perry whom I’ve met in 1995 in Vilnius. It was not so surprising to find a link to Jouke’s site on Paul’s site as they came together to Vilnius. Then I wrote a short message to Paul about “how happy I was to discover his open diary on the internet and how fascinating to me was the concept itself” to which he replied that it’s an open notebook rather than a diary. Do you still claim that difference between a notebook and a diary?
[PP]: Yes. I still see Alamut more as a notebook than a diary. Each entry for me is a place-holder, a way of managing and remembering Paul Perry’s identity (not so much “I was here” and “I did that” but rather “I’m leaving a reminder for Paul Perry here” and “I’m leaving a place-holder claiming that”).
[CEF]: “Online diary” is sort of associated in my mind with Live Journal and Diaryland blogs, which seem to be more personal blogs, whereas most of the notebooks I know of are either handcoded or written in Moveable Type. Caterina.net has both notebook-y and diaristic entries, though I try to keep the personal content to a minimum.
[JK]: To me a ‘diary’ isn’t public. Certainly not while it is being written and most diaries remain undisclosed after. I have never had an interest to keep one. On the contrary I have always been writing notes in a parallel production to my other work. This writing is largely unpublished. A lot of it is about work. I stopped it when I closed my studio around 1993. Only with NQP I started to publish my life and mix it with work in a public format. Today I keep no other notes than what is published on my sites. And ‘to do’ lists. Then I seriously try to maintain a few individual correspondencies.
Correspondence is a mystery to me, one I’ve always remained attracted to, even after my pen pal years in high school. The disembodied crossing distances idea of sending a letter to someone you haven’t met and after a while receiving one in return from ‘out there’, which is a reply. The dynamics of over distance communication, the actions taken to send out something well put, then waiting to receive a return, are of an in-explicit eroticism. I think it would (still) work better in the postal world.
[RM]: Do you keep a never-public diary separately from the weblog? Isn’t the relationship between private-public pretty fuzzy?
[PP]: Diary not. Other databases yes. Lately I’ve become quite giddy over DevonThink, a freeform database with AI underpinnings for OS X. I’ve been spending a lot of time with it. Everything of interest that I now discover online goes in to DevonThink. Not to discount the web but I’m finding that it takes more and more time to do research – one has to wade through more and more references and listings to discover decent information. Given the cost in terms of time and attention when I find something useful I want to archive it privately rather than simply bookmarking it and risking link-rot. This isn’t publishing this is building your own encyclopedia cum knowledge tree.
[JK]: The private/public relationship is fuzzy. Everywhere. Old and new media and technologies keep further mixing the two domains. Personalization is in our hardware, our software and our content. Architecture and design have always mixed the two domains. Art has with more and less success tried to mix the two domains. Politics mix them all the time. The private and the public have always been fuzzy. They have mutually invaded each other, lived at each other’s expense, perverted each other, in every societal system, in every age.
This may seem like a sweeping statement but if you want you would find proof of it wherever you look. What is new — or recent — is the communication media saturation of the private and public sphere, and the commercial powers that thrive on their mix and match. The weblog is no exception to the rule. It’s a way to format the private/public, or as much the personal/political ‘problem’.
[RM]: The whole phenomena of blogging has received a certain historic dimension already. One can probably talk about a certain evolution or a history of a subject as in any other media. Would you be interested in describing this?
[PP]: Raimundas asked us in a private mail whether we wanted to invite anyone else to this ‘Interview Swiki’… I for one would be interested in hearing from Peter Merholz (who has far as I know coined the term ‘blog’ in an entry on his peterme weblog sometime in 1999) on how he feels about the creation of a word that today returns 12,900,000 Google results…
From Alamut (25 August 1999):
Weblog Meta
To be honest we’ve never liked the term ‘weblog’ (or its abbreviated form ‘blog’ – sorry Peter – external link). Logging is an activity that evokes both the ‘captain’s log’ and the clear cut (28.06.99), but just doesn’t seem to ‘cover the bill’ (or dek de lading as they say in Dutch), for what we, and the others that we admire, are currently doing. The captain’s log is too formal, the clear cut lacks nuance. We need a better descriptor. A term that evokes narrative: the telling quotidian details and the sublime drama of this practice of ours. A term to mirror the confusion, the context, and the creative potential of our access to all this information. What say you folks about ‘web opera’?
Operas are interesting, lots of room for conceptual thinking and design lie within their stately form. And they are reasonably dead as media (which, like dead languages affords us exquisite possibilities for expressing change). As for the links, they come with today’s territory. Come to think of it, we might even skip the word ‘web’.
So what are we left with? Privately, we say ‘attention bastions and mines’ not weblogs. Publicly, we say opera.
[CEF]: I hate the terms ‘weblog’ and ‘blog’ and also wish for a better term. The thing I wish the word would capture is the accretion of experience and the flattening or spiralling of time that happens within it.
Opera? Opera seems too structured a form. Is there a name for the lovely tuning up sounds the orchestra makes before the performance begins? That’s what I’d call it.
[JK]: Weblogging invites serious research, that’s more than one can do in an interview. To me the ‘mode of publishing’ would be central to such research. And to education. Pervasive publishing is where communication, interaction between the personal/public spheres is going, on a mass global scale.
[RM]: ” to recount one’s day – not because of the importance of the events that may have marked, but precisely even though there was nothing about it apart from its being like all the others, testifying in this way not to the importance of an activity but to the quality of a mode of being – forms part of the epistolary practice: Lucilius finds it natural to ask Seneca to ‘give him an account of each separate day, and of the whole day too.” This quotation of Michel Foucault from “Self Writing” perfectly describes the blogging impulse and practice to me. Especially if we talk about Foucauldian sense of ‘life as a piece of art’: weblog seems to be the most adequate medium for such a life in the information society. Of course, life is a medium in itself, but isn’t there some two-way street: weblog can become a certain software to organise one’s life in the same way art has a potential to do. Or: weblog as an interface between difference practices and flows of everyday, a sort of connecting-linking device that makes sense out of details.
[PP]: So what’s the question again?
(To be honest until now I wasn’t aware of Foucault’s “Self Writing”… I’ve just looked it up… happily there is one occurrence of the essay online. As it’s in .doc format I thought it would be useful to reformat it and publish here.)
Foucault: Self Writing
Perhaps I’ll have something to say later.
[PP]: Later… I’m going to follow 4th century Athanasius (who Foucault cites in “Self Writing”) and declare the weblog the ultimate weapon against the devil.
Weblogs (as the practice of everyday digital life) prove the recurrence of everything – even the weblogger.
[JK]: I think I follow your speculation here, “testifying (…) not to the importance of an activity but to the quality of a mode of being” is exactly what I have described in Daily Operations, as the ‘un-eventful’ which for me is the main focus of my weblog and what I appreciate other weblogs most for. So indeed, as a ‘linking device’, which connects and herewith relates, contextualizes disparate ideas and practices, over time and between locations. Keeping a weblog (and reading some) structures ones experience. It is so much time based, endurance based, sustainable. I’m every time surprised that it actually is a live activity which seamlessly blends with the everyday and yet articulates life out of the everyday, into a symbolic order which it shares with all other ‘arts’ or mediated experience.
A weblog can at once level different kinds of attention, from the abstract to the immediate, while at the same time it articulates every bit of the author’s life and times by lifting it out of both the mess of the everyday and out of the equal mess of institutionalized culture. Adding to this the unprecedented functionality of networked content, the unique quality of instant read/write/linking of the web, personal publishing enters a new mode of cultural production and ‘life in the information society’ as you call it. Meaning also for example that understanding what it means to publish and communicate in an open media environment will have to be added at the top of the educational reform list.
[RM]: To which extent weblogging could be considered as art and whether it is necessary to claim it as art at all (in the art-centric universe some of us inhabit). Or whether a weblog is a witness of a universe where art has evaporated and became only a software of a daily life?
[CEF]: “Method of this work: literary montage. I need say nothing. Only show.” (Walter Benjamin)
[PP]: Art is not dead. Note I am saying this as a living person who is 47 years old.
It is too early to say anything about weblogs.
I don’t think weblogs will ever be art. How could they be? Weblogs (like wounds and time) are naught but unfinished business.
[CEF]: Hm. I like and don’t like the “software” metaphor. I’d say art is more of an operating system than an application. I’d say a weblog is an app that can run on the ART OS.
[JK]: I am convinced that ‘art’ needs ‘weblog’ to come to its senses in many ways. If art includes the production of artefacts, their access by an audience, their critique – a make and break history process – then it constantly needs upgraded models of information gathering, processing and production, distribution. So to me it seems rather irrelevant to claim weblogging to be an arts practice. There are it seems few artists who ‘do’ them. To me as an artist personal publishing however is another example which contrasts the art world and market’s gridlock routines of the vernissage ruled spectacle.
As I first read with infamous ‘usability guru’ Jakob Nielsen, the material world is increasingly modelled after the information world, trying to compete with its mobility and accessibility as long as it can keep the pace, which is not for very long I’m afraid. If weblogs are to be an art form, then they would be closer to a performance than to an exhibition. This performance could never take place in any ‘old’ art format.
Then who says all personal publishing should be usable, accessible? Usability has nothing to do with it, as in art.
[RM]: One could claim that journalism and design are two interdisciplinary practices merging into weblogging. Regarding the latter: Hal Foster claims that “design is a crime” and “contemporary design is part of a greater revenge of capitalism on postmodernism – a recouping of its crossings of arts and disciplines, a routinization of its transgressions.” He also brings up the idea that design in our time is a perverse reconciliation of art and life (Hal Foster, “Design and Crime”, 2002). What do you think? How often do you change the design of your weblog?
[PP]: Haven’t changed the design in more than 5 years. Frankly Alamut doesn’t do design. And I don’t care much for ‘designed’ web sites. I look at them and think, “What’s all this for?”
[CEF]: My site has had two designs, both fairly spare and utilitarian: the first was created in all of 10 minutes, the second in half an hour. I agree with Paul. Too much design detracts from the content where weblogs are concerned.
As for design being “the revenge of capitalism on postmodernism” and “routinizing its transgressions”…hmmm. I resist this state of affairs by not hewing to the line. I don’t frame it like that. I think of the people who read my weblog as ‘readers’ and not ‘consumers’ or even ‘users’. I tend to imagine ‘design’ as ‘craft’.
[JK]: Hal Foster is clearly not a design critic, and a conservationist at that, but here he seems to jump the design and media bashing bandwagon. I haven’t read his book so I can not be more precise. I wonder if he notices that today design measures time and changes the world. Like technology. Like art used to, hoped to do. While at the end of the day it only changed art and curricula. Which is important enough! It’s what art is for, if it would not first of all be profoundly use-less, thank god.
Design makes new media old. Weblogs can be as much anti-design as that they could be (an) art (form), which perverts time, doing away with its linearity. A weblog design change can be in other details than in its interface. Paul at some point using ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ was a design change. The way you introduce links, the underlying architecture, navigation, opening new ‘rooms’, distinct writing style decisions are all design changes from a generous contemporary notion of (sometimes called ‘editorial’) design, one Foster is probably less attracted to.
In many such ways I keep changing the design of my weblog. Not only the interface, which finally seems to have come to a rest in its third remake, but in the detailed way images and text relate, when and how links are provided, etc. I am my weblog’s first reader and I want it to offer what I as an artist would aim for it to offer. Just like in other art forms…
New issues of NQP are started when I feel the need for them. I do not adhere to the calendar faithfulness of some weblogs. When connections were still slow I opened a new one when the current one would reach a certain size, slowing download time. Today at some point an issue has exhausted its possibilities and I open a new one. Then there is the NQP numbering, I’m the only weblog I know which does this. A design decision? Certainly it comes from habit: serial publications in print are numbered.
[RM]: Does the design of your weblog correspond with your living room or design of your everyday life experiences, so that the virtual and physical merge or interact?
[PP]: Good question. There is definitely a relation between the two. I wrote once: “I often feel I am a poor approximation of my weblog”. These days, however, with much less time to spend on it, the opposite feels more true: “My weblog seems a poor approximation of me.”
(Suggestion to C. & J.: Why don’t we each publish a photo of our living rooms here?)
[JK]: (Yes! Otherwise I am working on the answers off-swiki and begin my answer: “This is a good question!”… Who needs collaborations? 🙂 But I should not be reading here because to me answering these questions is another thing from having a discussion, which for me comes ‘after’. Puritan me!
[CEF]: The design of my weblog is nothing like the design of my house. My weblog is fairly spare, my house is more than a little baroque. However, the content perfectly mirrors it – I have lots of weird things around my house – a bucket made from tire treads I found in a souk in Syria; tiny perfectly black magic beans inside a perfectly spherical wax ball inside a perfectly cubical box with a chicken painted on it, from a Chinese Medicine shop; the scrawlings of a madman found in the street; too many books; art by artists I have known; things made by prisoners in faraway jails… Likewise, my weblog is a cabinet of curiosities.
[JK]: This is a good question! If only my life could be half as organized, thematized, designed and coherent as is NQP! There are plenty of relationships, if only because my lemoulindumerle.com annex is conceived as a part of the physical place where I live. I can hide there like I could hide in the house’s attic. I use parts of it to properly build the site. The other way around my physical life follows so much my information habits, to the point of being terrorized by it, that I have to force my living situation away from it. We moved from the center of Amsterdam to rural France, to this big old extremely labor intensive place, and small community, for contrast and balance.
[RM]: Are there collaborative weblogs? Or is this by definition an individual activity? Would you be interested in one?
[PP]: On the contrary, whether or not weblogging is done with others, it is always-already a collaborative activity: collaborative in the sense of one’s many selves and collaborative in respect to the web as the grand joint venture. No man is an island eh? “Every name in history is I.”
[CEF]: Gosh, I just got a shiver when I read that, “Every name in history is I” – I’d just read the same line in Forthcoming.
Having comments ensures a certain degree of collaboration, though this era may be coming to an end, sadly, now that spammers have discovered weblog comments…
[PP]: “Every name in history is I” is from Nietzsche’s last letter to Burckhardt, written in January 1889, a few days before he looked into the eyes of a flogged horse and descended into madness.
Here is Walter Kaufmann’s translation:
“Do not take the Prado case too hard. I am Prado: I am also the father of Prado; I dare say I am Lesseps too. I wanted to give my Parisians, whom I love, a new notion: that of a decent criminal. I am also Chambige – also a decent criminal (…) What is disagreeable and offends my modesty is that at bottom I am every name in history (…) This fall I was blinded as little as possible when I twice witnessed my funeral, first as Conte Robilant (no, that is my son, insofar as I am Carlo Alberto, unfaithful to my nature); but Antonelli I was myself (…)”
C., has anyone commented on caterina.net that he or she was you? (Every name in history is a lie!) And if they did (I assume no one has) how would you feel?
[CEF]: Now here’s an interesting thing: no one has ever said that they were me in my comments, but I have said I was someone else in my comments, i.e. Stewart, who at the beginning of our relationship had given me blanket permission to appropriate – steal? – anything that he said, a strange and wonderful proposition! At one point, I’d asked him why he hadn’t posted in my comments recently, and he’d said he didn’t have the time. Now Stewart says brilliant things all the time, in normal conversation, that are never recorded. He needs a Boswell. Sometimes he even says brilliant things about Caterina.net posts that ought to be comments. And so once I entered his brilliant remark as a brilliant comment, as if I were him and the next day he screamed “Identity theft!!” – in the comments – and I was much chagrined, and embarrassed, and had to delete it. I suppose I should have written, as me, “Stewart said X yesterday…” but whatever it was lost its immediacy that way. Stewart and I have a very “Did you say that or did I say that?” kind of merged consciousness, and I would never have suspected he would react that way, since I’d posted his own words verbatim, but there you go. He would have had no problem with my saying his words as me, but saying his words as him was not allowed.
[RM]: How weblogging could be characterised in terms of gender?
[CEF]: Short answer: it can’t.
Related, from a post I wrote October 28, 2003:
I entered 10 of my blog entries on this page into The Gender Genie, and all of them came up male. Boredom, Horses, Passion came up Female Score: 358 Male Score: 1249 Repeat Viewings came up Female Score: 110 Male Score: 288; Weekend Ends came up Female Score: 268 Male Score: 408 Regan, Poetry, Tango came up Female Score: 241 Male Score: 640 and so on… all of them decidedly male.
I remember the article in the New York Times about this, and suspected that I’d scan as male, but didn’t try to scan it until I found this little app., which is accurate about 80% of the time. The Gender Genie links to an article in Nature about the same study, which summarizes it thusly:
“Crudely put, men talk more about objects, and women more about relationships.”
“Female writers use more pronouns (I, you, she, their, myself), say the program’s developers, Moshe Koppel of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, and colleagues. Males prefer words that identify or determine nouns (a, the, that) and words that quantify them (one, two, more).”
[RM]: How many people visit your weblog daily? Is the notion of quantity important for you?
[PP]: Is the quantity important to me? No. (The numbers were only interesting when they took me by surprise, when I first discovered my web stats, and then again much later, in the tremendous surge of hits Alamut received in the months following 911. These days I never look. Why should I?)
[CEF]: I look at my stats once a month or so. But I check the referrer sites about once a week (Technorati, blo.gs) to see what posts people are discussing. Caterina.net gets 1,500-2,000 unique users daily. Is that a lot? It seems like it. But boingboing.net and gawker.com get over 10,000 hits a day when last I heard.
Once I became aware that there were this many readers – I didn’t have stats for the first two years – I started feeling self conscious, or obligated to write this rather than that, etc. But I did my best to discard that notion.
[JK]: As an artist I’ve always denied the importance of quantity – like if a 1000 visitors to your exhibition would be better than 10. Having contributed an exhibition that was visited by 3.5 million people, but for the wrong reasons, learned me a lot. It’s not the eyeballs that count but how people are informed, introduced, hosted, educated, challenged, answered to, etc. NQP has a steady amount of between 150–250 visitors per day, with most of them coming in via a search and some I hope to be regulars.
[RM]: What is the temporality of weblogging?
[PP]: Although Jouke pull-quoted Sontag a couple of days ago:
“The world in which these essays were written no longer exists.
(Susan Sontag, linked to from NQP#27, 18 April 2000)”
I don’t agree with Sontag’s sentiment. All times exist (neither world nor moment ‘passes’) and I believe weblogging demonstrates this.
[CEF]: In spite of the dates that head every post, I see weblogging temporality as non-linear, taking a kind of spiral or DNA-like lemniscate shape, circling back on itself to touch on the same points. (Using spatial metaphors is the easiest way for me to talk about time.)
I’ll side with Paul on the Sontag quote.
[JK]: It is all now. The weblog hails a present, the current one and the past ones. It connects ‘present attention’ over time and between people. It does not so much respect linear time, it flows it back and forth. Which is a neat quality. I like Paul’s re-reading cycle for Alamut a lot, but a 5 year jump is a bit random. I know of his interest in deep time and how he enjoys like how The Atlantic can throw you back hundred years in their publication’s presence. It happened to me that I search a topic via Google and hit on my own past writing. Another time I actually retyped an Agamben quote when halfway I remembered having used it before and had to search NQP for it. &tc.
Browsing time is a different story in time based media than it is in material, dead media. A friend just sent me a copy of a January 1971 Whole Earth Catalogue. Nothing can link against that piece of paper.
Afterthought: Although I did not quote Sontag in agreement with her statement and would not refer to her in this context myself, now that it has reappeared here I wouldn’t mind to give it some more thought, since despite all our flexible ideas about time I think she has a point.
[RM]; I like to put ‘from non-existing weblog’ into the subject line of some of my email messages. Do many weblogs disappear or get deactivated? Is there any link with ‘dead media archives’ by Bruce Sterling? Do you have an idea where does deleted information disappear in general?
[CEF]: Along the lines of non-existing weblogs, there was a squatter blog that appeared in my comments…the guy apparently posts only on the comments of other people’s weblog, one post per weblog. I can’t find it now, but it’s there…
Re: lost information. I remembered a Caterina.net post about this and here it is, entitled, interestingly enough, Paul Perry, Hollis Frampton & James Merrill (together at last).
[PP]: Nice Post C. I had completely forgotten it. Which reminds me why the film Memento came as such a shock. As I watched Leonard Shelby, the character with no short term memory, I thought to myself, “Am I not like this? Are we not all like this?” Frantically trying to remember…
Concerning the advantages and disadvantages of multiple points of view. Jalal Toufic, in his section on Letters in “Vampires: An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Films”, discussing the form of Stoker’s Dracula, writes “(…) the different fragments, like different shots from different angles, are being used to edit around all the objective inconsistencies in the chronology and space (…)”
Funny, I’ve forgotten (and can no longer seem to find) the literary term for narratives which proceed by fragments of writing – letters, journal entries, shopping lists etc.
What else might be remembered here? Perhaps something about the use of proper names and the addressing of proper names such as the names of one’s contemporaries, siblings, readers in one’s writing (putting names face to face). Jalal commented to me recently that his own use of letters (such as in “Over-Sensitivity”, the book which you are reading now) is simply a way of putting two names together (“together at last!”).
[CEF]: Whatever form that is…diary, epistolary novel, aphorisms, belles lettres… it is my favorite.
Have you read “The Changing Light at Sandover” [by James Merrill]? You must! More on this later, running out to a meeting…
[JK]: Can you actually delete information? A lot might be still where it was, on some discarded non-recyclable piece of hardware in the scrap yard. Whether it still should be considered ‘information’ I doubt. Then it should again have to be deciphered. Information disappears (back) into mere data, or noise. Data can be erased. The secret life of NQP is in noise. The books on my shelves are noise, until someone scans the titles, picks and opens a volume and starts reading. The books on my shelves are a pretty picture too. A pretty picture is information. Objects on my table are in the background, a gentle noise, until I focus.
[RM]: Do you ever upload your log from a palm or any other handheld?
[PP]: No. I haven’t. (And not sure whether I would want to.)
[CEF]: I haven’t either. I can see the attraction, however, of the completely unchained doesn’t-matter-where-you-may-be, blog at any time capability. And also the downside of never escaping one’s online forma de ser.
[JK]: I wish I owned such a device that would monitor the more mobile times in my life: take the picture, author the writing and beam it up to some public platform. But no, I still have to hassle. Weblogging is a mess.