Monday, July 8, 2013

What came before this

Before this blog, I had another blog for three years. It was just like this blog, also quite different. It was very personal. During that time I was working through something - my departure from the spiritual communities I had been a part of for so long in San Francisco. It was a difficult divorce, full of rancor on all sides. I was appalled, waking up to what our magic had become, they were furious with me for leaving and writing publicly about it. It was not pretty. After I started this blog, I slowly took down everything I'd written on The Gold Poppy. It was therapeutic and I'm glad none of those essays is available online anymore.

Ah the early days of blogging. It was like the wild west. No one knew for awhile what was appropriate to write about. Mistakes were made, blog posts were taken down. People took offense, boundaries were breached, all of us blundered about content in the early years. Many of us remained anonymous on our blogs because that was before Facebook. It was a different world in which the dream of privacy still held sway.

Before I knew about weblogging, I wrote my essays and emailed them to a listserve. I felt about those posts just like I do about blogging now - if people want to read them, they should, but if they aren't interested, they shouldn't bother. I love the liberation of self expression with no strings attached.

Good god I would never email essays to a listserve now! That would seem invasive because email now is a much more formal way of connecting than blogging or Facebooking or texting. But at the time it was the only technology available for my favorite self expression. At the time it wasn't inappropriate.

Before email what I did was rent ad space in a weekly San Francisco newspaper. It was a very small ad space - the size of a yearbook picture. It wasn't cheap, but well worth the money because I never had to submit what was published to editors. I drew cartoons, or filled the box with text - whatever I was in a mood to do. Sometimes I did a series that built from one week to the next, other times my "ads" had random themes. Once I left it blank - of course! How predictable. But I enjoyed the expression. At that time in the 1980s I was way into Keith Haring and Jean Basquiat and the other graffiti artists. I loved the way they transformed public spaces into their own art galleries. By buying ad space in the SF Weekly, I was not curated, not edited - just like Jean Basquiat in the subway. Also just like here on this blog.

You see I have always been a blogger, awaiting the technology.

For a long time, the blog world was the place where I engaged in relationship over the internet. I had a long blog roll on the side of the page. But these days I do my every day relating on Facebook. My posts here are offerings. If there are comments, I love that, but if there aren't, I'm far less concerned than I once would have been. I am very relational on Facebook - it works well for me. I no longer need to be as relational here.

And though I still read many blogs, I rarely comment. For me the blogosphere has become more like literature. At the end of an essay in the New Yorker, there is no way to comment or "like" what has been written. I read posts differently than I did even a few years ago. I take them in, rather than figuring out how to respond to them.

Clearly I take blogging more seriously than I used to. I watch it evolve with great interest. As it changes, the way I participate shifts. That's why I removed the blog roll from the page recently. Many of the blogs that were listed are either defunct or no longer public, or the blogger rarely posts. It was time to make a clean start.

I love blogging. I love non-curated, unedited artistic expression - I always have. Long live our human urge to express artfully, to share our expressions even when they are not Great Art. It is one of our best qualities, if you ask me. It surely is.



Steve Reed said...

I like blogging a lot. I think I approach it in the same way -- like, "Here's my journal entry, read it or not, as you like." But to be honest I probably would be dismayed if everyone stopped commenting!

I'm impressed that you used to rent ad space to express yourself. That takes some serious dedication, even for inexpensive ad space!

Reya Mellicker said...

It was in a weekly newspaper in San Francisco. I am such a hard core blogger!

Lynne said...

I'm with Steve. I blog for myself but I would also like others to get something out of my posts. When people don't comment you have no idea who is reading, and you have no interaction with the person which is, to me, the very soul of blogging. I don't Facebook, so my blog is my way to keep in touch with people. Maybe blogging is becoming passé with all the social media around. I think it's sad.

I read lots of blogs and don't usually comment either, but once in a while I do comment just to let that person know I appreciate their efforts.

By the way, whatever happened to Pod down under?