There is something thrilling about starting a brand new space for creative expression, which may be why I’ve moved this site so many times and given it so many forms over the years. To those who have been following along, thank you. For those reading for the first time, I hope you enjoy. By my count this is version 6, and with new features like the photography portfolio and a more powerful Squarespace platform, I hope it will be the best yet. There is no official editorial plan or agenda for the site, but you can read a bit about me and what I typically post here.
A note on blogging -- When I moved to Berlin in 2007, blogging was something that came naturally. With journals full of observations and boxes full of photographs, I had already begun documenting my Berlin life in the traditional ways. Platforms like Blogger and Wordpress made it easy to share those insights and images with people back home. As I became acquainted with Berlin, I linked to the events I attended, and occasionally wrote short reviews of plays, museum exhibitions, and gallery openings. In this way I met a variety of interesting people, many of whom were expats like myself. Eventually, I added longer posts on politics and culture, and though my readers were mostly close friends and family, I enjoyed the feedback I received in the comments section and the debates the articles would occasionally spark.
My first blogger self was young and rebellious. With a devil-may-care attitude, I was motivated by the idea that "words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.” That is a quote from Keynes, of all people. I most certainly offended people with my wild and sometimes sloppy words. Blogging can be a great medium for such things.
The many iterations of this blog have ranged from the very personal to the overtly political to the frivolous and mundane. Sometimes I look back at old posts, now hidden from the public eye, and am overcome with embarrassment. Though I’m sure “real” writers occasionally feel this way, the magnitude of embarrassment must be at least two-fold for bloggers – they enter the fray without having to pass a qualifying threshold, and do not have the benefit of an editor once they’ve written the piece they publish.
But despite the obvious pitfalls of this medium – reactionary writing, over-sharing, and self-indulgence, to name a few – I’ve never wanted to give it up. I think part of it is the exhilaration of publishing unadulterated words to readers where the only agenda is one’s own and the only editor is oneself. And though blogging is a superficial medium because it rewards brevity and immediacy and needs to be kept moving (I have been guilty of posting just to post), I think it is also a valuable medium, at least it has been for me. In addition to its connective function and the freedom it engenders, if a blogger is lucky enough to have a small audience, the readers may enhance one’s understanding of an issue and point out, though sometimes ungraciously, where arguments have gone wrong or where they have been left incomplete.
Most importantly, blogging is more personal than other forms of writing. I used to search the web hoping to find the personal blogs of authors and artists I admired. Perhaps it is faux intimacy, but I felt that I could begin to understand these creatives through their airy musings and prosaic notes. Their blog posts connected me to their experiences and made them more human. As Andrew Sullivan once wrote,
“Alone in front of a computer, at any moment, are two people: a blogger and a reader. The proximity is palpable, the moment human – whatever authority a blogger has is derived not from the institution he works for but from the humanness he conveys. This is writing with emotion not just under but always breaking through the surface. It renders a writer and a reader not just connected but linked in a visceral, personal way. The only term that really describes this is friendship. And it is a relatively new thing to write for thousands and thousands of friends.”
Since the Berlin days, I’ve become much more cautious about what I post online. I am more aware of and sensitive to criticism, anonymous and otherwise, and fearful of exposing too much. And yet, here I am again with a queue of book reviews and opinion pieces and photographs, ready and eager to share them. Blogging can be as little as maintaining a sort of online commonplace book, a repository for ideas, experiences, and images. It has been that for me and it will continue to be. But blogging can also be something more; it can be a medium for conversations and discoveries. It is for that latter reason, too, that I continue to write here.