A diversation

I've had several responses to my note, "Can we talk?" (below). But so far none using the "comment" feature on the blog. Hmmm. I'm a believer in "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again-- and if you still don't, rethink your goal or your method or both." (I wish G. W. Bush would adopt that last part, but that's a blog for another occasion.) We'll see. It may be that the "comments" box is too constraining, or too public, or too something else. Or maybe my content just doesn't inspire a lot of comment from the sort of people who are likely to look at my blog. I look at other blogs, and the "comments" sections are generally empty. The exceptions are those where the blogger has assembled a large and avid readership about controversial themes, political or technological. For example, Juan Cole's excellent Informed Comment gets readers' responses when he asks for them.

Anyway, the responses I've had are friendly, but not especially directed to anything I had said. Which is OK, I like to exchange friendly greetings. I think this is a general characteristic of e-exchanges, that they are fissiparous, each idea suggesting some other not very obviously related idea, more a diversation than a conversation. As a sociologist, I don't take this personally but as a phenomenon that may be a key to some larger phenomena.

Among the tangents people have sent me are these blogs: Karla Huebner's Rabbits, Toyen, and so forth is a charmingly quirky collection of images and musings about, among other things, her everyday encounters in Prague, her rabbits (pets, not dinner), and "early Czech surrealism, which is to say Toyen, Jindřich Štyrský, Karel Teige, Vítězslav Nezval, Bohuslav Brouk, Jindřich Honzl, Jaroslav Ježek, Konstantin Biebl, Jindřich Heisler, and their associates in the interwar avant-garde." Now those are names not likely to appear often on my blog. I just wish Karla would provide links to those names (she has links to lots of other things) so ignorami like me could find out who those people were/are and why we should care. They're probably important, to some people, some how. And here's another as yet undeveloped blog that looks promising: Douglas Smyth's Roman Empire-America NOW!!! (What's with the exclamation points, Douglas?) He's done lots of research on the Roman Empire for a novel. Douglas, why don't you use the "comments" box to tell us what the novel is about? What century, and so on?


Karla said...

I think that some readers enjoy commenting, others are (as they say on email lists) confirmed lurkers. And others, like my family members, prefer to make their comments privately.

My observation of other blogs indicates that, as you say, controversial or software topics get a lot of discussion. Personal or somewhat personal blogs read by the blogger's friends also get comments (for example the various comments on my blog relating to the outfit I got to wear for last week's conference--all comments, not surprisingly, were either by my friends or by other regular readers).

As for the avantgardists mentioned at the top of my blog, I know I should settle down and write a description of each one at some point. But just the fact that I research these people doesn't seem to translate to blogging about them.

Anyway, my doorbell will be ringing any minute, better go now rather than in mid-sentence!

gef said...

Yes, I'm becoming more and more convinced that "conversation" is the wrong model for this medium. I know what real conversation is, where several people are actually listening to and reacting to one another, sometimes playfully, sometimes nastily, sometimes compassively. It's always f2f, and it happens all the time in a little town like Carboneras, or in New York whenever we bring a group of friends over for dinner. Exchanges on the Internet (email, comments on blogs, listservs) can be very useful, but the are not like those f2f encounters at all. Which is why Susana & I have been organizing so many get-togethers now that we are (for the next couple of months) back in New York -- we miss the spontaneous and often surprising conversations that just happen naturally in the little Spanish town that is our other home.

Douglas Smyth said...

Sorry I didn't get back to your blog for awhile.

I didn't think I had included more than one exclamation point. The point of it (or them) is that the parallels may not be obvious to many.

The novel that got me started on this project was: Attila: as Told to His Scribes. I was researching the fifth century, and about him, and the more I read, the more it sounded like our own times. I wrote another novel set in the same era, one around a personality who popped up in one of the Roman on-the-scene narratives of Attila. That novel is: I, Zerco, in which the eponymous hero follows an interesting life from Berber chieftain's son, to bestiarius, to partially crippled stupidus to the Huns' court jester, to magician. They are currently with a foreign agent who is looking for an American agent to work with.

Steeped in the fifth century, I kept on seeing parallels with our own troubled times, so I wrote a book: The Selfish Class, and now am designing the website, www.roman-empire-america-now.com which will be it's portal. The Website currently holds topical essay pages that link to chapters related to them, and also has a page that will link (eventually) to all the chapters in the book. I also intend to sell paper or electronic copies of it, if there appears to be a demand for same.

And what is the premise of the Selfish Class? That the ruling class of the fifth century, more so than in any of the preceding centuries of empire, was a selfish class that kept all wealth and power to itself, and even connived in the western Empire's overthrow (in 476) rather than agree to pay taxes--which does present certain parallels with our current "conservative" ruling class, doesn't it.

gef said...

Thanks for the info, Douglas. I see you've updated your web page (fewer exclamation points). Looks much spiffier. Good luck with the book.