My 2020th Post, Legends of the Fall, and Blogging: What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been
My 2000th blog post went up on 15 December. Lots of things were going on, including taking care of a sick child, so I did nothing special for that occasion. I have had in mind a post that I’ve wanted to do for some time, and since I didn’t do anything marking post 2000, I’ll make the post now as post 2020. I used to like the old cartoon Sealab 2020 way back when, so that’s an interesting synch, anyway. What the heck.
I had never thought to get into blogging. Being of the tail end of the Baby Boom generation, I was well into my adulthood before the Internet started to become the phenomenon it is now. I had had some experience with intranet BB’s and such in college, but not that much. Even though I was a math major, at my university we still were doing things mostly the old fashioned way. It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that I got an email address (long since defunct), and in the late 90’s that I started spending lots of time in cyberspace.
A little after the turn of the millennium, I became aware of blogs and began to be a little curious. Several times in my life I have tried to keep journals. Sometimes they were personal, “Dear Diary” types of affairs; sometimes attempts at spiritual journals; and sometimes ways to write about things I found interesting. I learned that the former two types just weren’t my forte and abandoned them. The last genre was more promising, but hard to keep in any organized way, though I did fill most of a notebook and some loose-leaf sheets (long lost) that way.
Around 2003 in the runup to the election of 2004, I came across the political website Democratic Underground. At that time, I was a lifelong Democrat (disgust with the ineffectiveness of said party and in the current President’s continuing G. W. Bush’s war and surveillance policies led me to register as an Independent in 2012, though I still support liberal policies–better than the Democrats do….) and found the site intriguing. I was particularly fascinated by the essays of a contributor going by the handle of the Plaid Adder. I always found her essays to be interesting and thought-provoking. I was led from them to her now defunct website (still viewable via the Internet Archive’s always-wonderful Wayback Machine). From there I became a regular reader of her two LiveJournals, the older War Journal and her current effort, Women on Fire [Update 2018: Both of these LiveJournals are now defunct, so I’ve removed the links. The Plaid Adder’s current web presences is here]. I note that the latter is named after her series of fantasy novels, which I’ve read and liked, and which I think she will still distribute for free (if I’m wrong on that, I’m sorry, Plaidder!).
I was eventually inspired to begin a LiveJournal of my own in 2005. I kept it sporadically, eventually letting it lapse in 2011. It’s still there, and in fact I eventually re-posted some of the essays originally published over there at the Chequer-Board of Nights and Days. The remainders were some essays that were slightly (not much) more personal than what I do here, none of which has much interest to anyone besides myself. The good stuff I transferred over here, which is why I’ve not linked to the old LiveJournal, which I have not deleted only in order to keep up with a person or two over there.
Thus, I abandoned my LiveJournal in January of 2011. A few months later, to my surprise, I got an invitation from the administrator of the blog Alexandria to be a guest blogger there. I was surprised and flattered. I had never had non-spam feedback on my LiveJournal, and had directed most of my online activity to commenting at a few blogs that interested me. I found that several of the writers at Alexandria were people I knew through my interactions with them on various iterations of Rod Dreher’s blog (current incarnation is in the links to the right). I accepted the offer. In order to blog there, I had to get a WordPress account. Since I had to do that anyway, I decided to start a blog of my own, as well. My idea was that I’d try to write to topics of interest at Alexandria, and save this for things of more personal interest to me. Thus, on 21 June 2011, I began this blog.
At first I did the requisite post a month over at Alexandria, and did a random variety of things here. Eventually I found that I couldn’t spare the attention to do a blog here and a second one elsewhere, even at the rate of only one post a month. I was also having issues with the administrator and some other contributors over there; so I finally dropped out and devoted my energies to this blog [Update 23 January 2018: Alexandria is now almost totally defunct, with only a couple bylines besides that of the blog administrator. Some of my posts from that era are still there, but they seem to be hard to access. Luckily, I long ago ported all writings that I wanted to keep over to here.]. There were many other things going on in my life, so I tapered off and quit posting here by the end of 2011. I started back in May of the following year, though fitfully. I made a push to do more regularly something I’d begun earlier in a more sporadic way: to post music every Friday (I was inspired by Arturo Vasquez’s old blog Reditus in this) and a quote for the week every Sunday. Later that month I posted my very first post in the Legends of the Fall series. That was a turning point.
I did slack off a bit, but a positive comment over here inspired me to kick myself in the behind and get back to regularity. Once I did, a couple things happened.
First, I discovered that what I’d originally thought would be three or four essays on the Fall started bringing up complexities and sidetracks that I hadn’t anticipated. In order to do full justice to these, I had to start branching out and giving some of the asides that began as parts of Legends of the Fall–the ones on polygenism, universalism, and free will, to name a few–full-blown series of their own. This forced me to do more regular blogging and to delve deeper into the issues involved. One very much tangential sub-series, the one on reincarnation, which was more or less an ancillary toss-off, has (interestingly) received more views than any other to date. In any case, Legends of the Fall has in a sense become the beating heart of this blog–the first domino setting in motion most of the action here. I should note parenthetically that I think I see the way I want to continue it towards a tentative conclusion; but it will still take several posts over the next few months to do so.
Second, I found that even with the renewed impetus, I simply couldn’t keep to a regular schedule. Sometimes I was busy with real life. Sometimes I was too tired. Sometimes I had to research potential posts more than I’d expected. Sometimes the muse just wasn’t there. Then, I hit on a great idea almost by accident.
For some reason, I know not why, I decided to post Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, one rubá’í per day. This motivated me to schedule weeks’ worth of posts ahead of time. More importantly, it allowed me to ensure that there would be a new post every day, come hell or high water. Thus, instead of standing inactive for days, weeks, or months on end (something that tends to turn me off of blogs I discover), the Chequer-Board could at least have something new each day. Meanwhile, I could post new essays at leisure. I began on 12 August of the same year, 2012. After finishing Fitzgerald’s translation, I went on to publish E. H. Whinfield’s more literal translation. Fitzgerald’s first edition (the one I used) had 75 verses, and Whinfield’s had 500. Thus, my Rubá’í of the Day series ran almost two years, ending in March of 2014. Of all the series, it has received the greatest number of likes thus far.
Anticipating the end of that series, and not wanting to keep doing different translations of the same thing, I took a poll on whom to do next. The result was Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. That turned out to be a great result. Some of the poems are multi-part, and I publish each part separately on its own day. This, plus the sheer number of poems, gives me around 620, close to another two years’ worth of posts. I thus began my Daily Whitman series on the day immediately following the last rubá’í. Meanwhile, planning ahead, I have Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology lined up next, and after it the haiku of Kobayashi Issa. Those two series will cover at least a year and a half–plenty of time to pick successors.
Thus, I got into blogging more or less by accident; and my quixotic decision to write about the theology of the Fall in light of evolution ultimately led to pretty much everything interesting in this blog, as well as the poetry that comes thick and fast here. Funny how “way leads on to way”, as Frost said, and we end up in places we’d never expected. It has indeed been a “long, strange trip”.
So, if you like what you read here, thank the Plaid Adder, Alexandria, and Legends of the Fall; and I thank you for your interest and support!
Posted on 03/01/2015, in Blogging and tagged blogging, blogs, Daily Whitman, history, Legends of the Fall, LiveJournal, miscellania, poetry, religion, Ruba'i of the Day, science, the Chequer-Board of Nights and Days, theology. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.