Friday, October 14, 2005

Clearly Attempting Something

A few weeks ago I became aware that Colin McEnroe, author, radio talk show host, and Hartford (Conn.) Courant columnist, was teaching a course on blogs at Trinity College in Hartford. I had begun to notice a trickle of traffic, and then quite a bit more than a trickle, into JingoLand from the Connecticut area. I followed it back to its source, and found that I'd had the signal honor to have been Blogrolled by Colin. We got to yakking, and he hinted he was going to use Neddie as course material, which I thought was pretty keen.

The other shoe's dropped, and By Neddie Jingo! now appears in his online syllabus, in this week's unit on words, rhetoric, and writing style. The link, which gave me a hearty guffaw, is labeled "Clearly attempting literature"; I can imagine borrowing this the next time I'm asked to say something nice about some wretched musical act: "Well, I think it's undeniable: They're clearly attempting music."

Now that I'm expecting a brigade of blog-students and their Nutty Professor to come wandering through here, scribbling notes about my run-on sentences and scattershot subject matter, I confess to a certain debilitating self-consciousness. Clearly attempting literature! That's quite a presumptuous undertaking, Sparky. And I worry that, in my recognition that my little needlework is being pored over for clues about the Glogosphere, I have violated some academic Prime Directive, some Heisenbergian First Principle, about the relationship between Observer and Observed. A paramecium doesn't feel the need to primp and tidy the water-droplet when the microscope focuses in. I'm not so blithe.

Colin's amusing characterization aside, I guess the question is valid. A little self-examination never hurt. Besides "attempting literature," what the hell am I doing, here?

I started this thing back in January, when I was in a bit of a blue funk about aging, about leaving something for my children to remember me by should I suddenly go under a bus. I've watched my father-in-law sink into the dreadful abyss of Alzheimer's, and have had to think very hard about all the memories, all the joy and sorrow and melancholy and love and goodness and humanity that's just been ...lost...because his brain got gummed up with plaque. It's a strange and terrible thing, how the cold inevitability of chemistry can trump a human soul, how something as simple as an accidental surfeit of carbon monoxide in a room can snuff out an entire human universe.

(Smack! Attempting literature!)

Back this summer I wrote a post about why I don't write about politics very much. Rereading it, I still like it very much and think it's a pretty good Statement of Principles. At the risk of attempting more literature, I have consciously tried to adhere to the principle of the Universal arising out of the Particular. I believe (see, for a hint, the organizing categories of my Blogroll) that we reflect the world and the world reflects us -- and that to study the tiniest thing is to study the biggest thing of them all.

Oh, yeah: I also really hate people who are boring. I'd rather be thought pretentious, precious, dilatory, verbose, captious or even diametrically wrong than be thought boring.

Ah, well. Enough thumbsucking. Welcome, Colin's Kids, I'll try to carry on as if you weren't here watching, watching, always watching....

Next Up: My keenly observed musings on Rectal Pruritis! Foreshadowing: I'm agin' it!

7 comments:

Nobody said...
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XTCfan said...

Okay, if you're being all self-aware and self-referential here, and then Colin's students -- who are, I assume, supposed to be studying this blog with a kind of academic detachment -- start commenting on your comments (which you made knowing that they'd be reading), can there be any authenticity here, or does the entire structure just collapse in on itself?

liojlzy?

Bobby Lightfoot said...

Dude I'll understand if you take me off your blogroll.





My blig is bulletproof- Alzheimers will affect th' quality not at all.

gamsv

helmut said...

Academic myself -- philosopher.... Be cool, Neddie. Don't worry about it. Don't worry about authenticity -- it's a chimera, the kind of thing that a few wanker academics concern themselves with, while bundling everyone else into knots of self-doubt and paradoxes in a world of mixed "authentic" and inauthentic realities. Regardless of that crap, you were closer to the anti-chimera before this knotted post. There's nothing worse than some radio-show creature adjunct-teaching his idiosyncracies by categorizing what counts as literature or not or whatever.

Hopefully, he'll have a class of creative students who have better powers of imagination and intellectual facility than what it appears he's after. I invite them to be experimentalists, rather than categorizers.

We're with you. You're real (nothing like a chainsaw to confirm that). Be cool.

Derryl Murphy said...

An utter bummer, to read his blog. I've got Swimming Chickens and Lose Weight..., both funny, funny books. But the blog just... teaches. Sad.

D

The Viscount LaCarte said...

Perhaps he's clearly attempting academia...

Colin said...

Hey, can we back the fuck up?
You guys are projecting AN AWFUL LOT onto a three-word hyperlink. Jesus! I'm a huge Neddie fan. That's why he's in my course. And what is this "some radio-show creature adjunct-teaching"" crap? I've got some halfway decent writing credits there, dude. The link is meant to reflect some interesting questions about the nature of the blog aesthetic. I mean, does it correspond at all to the pritned word aesthetic, and, if so, how much. In class tonight, we'll discuss Neddie as one of the people trying to bring SOME of the basic principles of pre-blog belles lettres into his prose.
Lastly, if you attended this class, you would discover I have almost NO interest in morphology or taxonomy, or at least, when it comes to blogs, I pretty much throw up my hands. The genre is so new, there's no way to talk about stuff like that. It's like talking about jurisprudence in Deadwood. Everyday, they write a new handbook. Now get off my ass. I'm not the enemy!