100 weeks ago today you started this Blog.
It was partly intended to harness, shape and render more valuable and perhaps constructive the time, energy, art, humour, politics, images and citations that you were pouring in to something called ‘facebook’ – a strangely compelling and addictive social networking site.
The Blog was also motivated by a wish to publish more writing, about art and life, more often and more rapidly, and thus find an additional outlet to the professional and referee journals where your work currently appears, but which have a relatively slow and tight editing process.
What inspired you to start it was a talk at Tate by critic Roberta Smith of the New York Times. She gave you the idea of posting a regular amount of words at a regular time and day each week, like the old-fashioned print journalists that she still represents. (Ironically, today of all days is the first time you missed your deadline, by several hours – please accept apologies!)
The third, related motive, was simply freedom, i.e. to give yourself a space within which to experiment further with your long-term engagement with art writing.
Some of your colleagues are happy to call themselves art critics, theorists, or historians, but you have never been comfortable with any of those pigeonholing terms. Your life and career might in fact have been a little easier, a little more prosperous had you managed to lop-off on or two of your wide-ranging and heterogeneous creative aspirations, but to be true to the self that you are still seems as important to you now as it ever did.
And to you that means pursuing parallel paths as artist, writer, lecturer and musician /songwriter/ producer, sometimes feeling some of them to be in conflict, and yet increasingly often enjoying the sense that the wide-ranging skills, experience and wisdom you have accumulated, from what is now a lifetime of working at them all is now able to grace, unite, inform and cross-influence them all. Somewhere in that amalgamation is a whole person and their whole contribution to the arts, modest though it might ultimately be.
The Blog has allowed you to slip between diary mode and art review mode, social network posting mode, and more literary modes, as well as going through a few self-reflexive and formal experiments. These mainly concerned the question of who is writing, and thus informed what you write and how you write about it.
At one point in the 100 weeks, these experiments briefly created an alter ego, a character (named YOV) who wrote for and with you. But you killed that character off when one of your most loyal readers complained that your experiment was spoiling the other values and attractions of the Blog.
Like every artist perhaps, two contradictory aims keep you baffled and force you to travel, not in any straight line or towards any clearly accumulated outcome or reward, but rather in hesitant surges and swerves, and occasional periods of feeling you are riding downhill as well as struggling up.
One of those contradictory aims is that of achieving consistency and homogeneity, and of both form and content. Achieving a consistent and recognizable ‘voice’, or an enduring and productive engagement with a passionate personal theme.
The other contradictory aim is to upset any apple cart you may have thus carefully stacked and to thus maintain heterogeneity, diversity, and ride the edge of a brimming wave of uncertainty, as bravely and for as long and as often as possible.
Hence, the past 100 weeks are both a failure and a success. The WordPress stats tell a similar story. Little columns form abstract representations of weekly popularity or relative unpopularity. You could however read them upside down, or concentrate on the negative space around them that gives the columns their form. Therein you could perceive some alternative record or representation of your actual experience in writing the Blog and the experience of those who have read it.
You have to pause here to simply and sincerely THANK anyone and everyone who has ever read the Blog, and especially those who read, or claim to read it, both thoroughly and regularly, and with the greatest thanks of all going to those who have left comments on the Blog itself or on associated facebook threads that emerge from my weekly announcement of a new post.
Today, you again have to seriously consider whether to continue beyond 100 weeks, or perhaps END your Blog here, perhaps take a pause, either from today or perhaps in 4 weeks when you hit that other milestone of two years Blogging (104 weeks).
One thing that disappoints you about the Blog, as well as social networks and apparently ‘amazing’ computers in general, is that, far from improving and changing and saving the world – as you once thought they might – the period of this first great computerized flourishing has accompanied nothing but a dramatic deterioration of human behavior and prospects all around the world.
The ability to potentially bring into reciprocal contact the thought, words and deeds of almost everyone on the planet simultaneously does not appear to have brought out the best in humanity. Your Blog, as a microcosm of this condition, though designed to replace many of your most intuitive and spontaneous online utterances, has also provided a fast and easy way (slightly too fast and too easy) to publicise your most rapidly executed, and therefore least well crafted and considered words and thought.
And there’s the rub (as the English say). We all seem to instinctively know and feel the ultimately developing influence that computing of every kind is having on our individual lives and on wider, national and international society. Just as I dither, wondering whether to continue my Blog, or to stop to give more time to higher quality, more considered, professional and even remunerated activities, so computers have us all in a similar bind, hard-wired into their ‘attention-economy’, without which we fear we will die of disconnection, like a hamster denied its feed.
Today you are just going o think, reflect and quietly celebrate the passing of 100 weeks and 100 posts, some of which you really enjoyed writing and some of which you felt quite proud of. You can leave the ultimate decision as to whether to continue the Blog until next week. Thanks again to everyone who has been supportive and came along for the ride., which began 100 weeks ago, on ‘the tourist bus’ in your first post, on the way to see Anselm Keifer at the Royal Academy.
4 thoughts on “100. Dithering at 100”
Paul, please don’t end your blog – I’ve really enjoyed following your posts.
Thanks for the encouragement, but I have to think seriously about ending it.
Someone suggested posting once a month instead, and that could be good, perhaps for a while, a good compromise that would keep it simmering. Thanks again.
I am still trying to get through all 100 posts….love this project and hopefully you will keep on inspiring people with your 750 words, even though it is once a month 🙂
Thank you Steffen. Hope you are well. I hope I can get back to ‘ONLY YOU’ some time next year.
Did you hear about our ‘Alone But Not Lonely’ publishing events BTW?