“First Thought, Best Thought”

Yes, that’s right, I don’t want my Blog to be a diary, or an art critic’s weekly column, or an artist’s studio reports. I don’t want it to be political, nor neurotic. So what CAN it be then? It will just have to be what it is, what unfolds, what I write when I am avoiding all the aforementioned styles and modes.

I take writing seriously, but there are times and places for all kinds of writing. In fact, one of the difficult things about writing professionally is working out just where to place/publish something you’ve written. Every journal has its own schedule and routine, its own editorial mission, its own style, audience etc. Fitting neatly in with one of these isn’t easy, even if what you’ve written is great, exactly who is it ‘great’ for and useful to?

The Blog has been provided to us as a model by the internet and I like to think it is a new and different venue for writing. Hence my search to locate and only include things here that could or should only belong here.

Aaaah, the internet. This strange new free space where anyone and anyone can now publish their written thoughts for all to see. It seems to make us all ‘writers’ and at the same time remove some of the privileges of ‘writers’ as exceptional beings. What we write here is published instantly and (generally) without the intervention of an editor. A Blog is highly personal and highly public.

We are reluctant to put carefully wrought written works here, because we might be wasting them in the relatively lo-value arena of Blogging, because it still seems to be the case that what we think of as our best ideas or best writing doesn’t belong here, that it should be saved and worked-up into something more considered and substantial, something carefully edited and composed. etc.

And yet, there is a strange tension here between a desired goal (promised by the internet) of a democratic, free, non-hierarchical space in which we can all be writers and all of our writing is ‘writing’, a tension between that ideal and the maintenance of some standard and value established by and perhaps only achievable by attending to procedures that evolved with earlier technologies – pens, typewriters, hand-copying, posted and printed drafts etc.

However, there is another realm that cuts between these two approaches to writing, and that I think might just be the correct ideal to reach for in Blogging. i.e. the model of the spontaneous orator who achieves excellence without recourse to corrections. One axiom that I hold dear was something I heard spoken, as an axiom, by the Buddhist poet (and pal of Bob Dylan) Allen Ginsberg when he said “First Thought, Best Thought”. I must confess I have used this almost ever since to pursue my creative work as an artist, writer, lecturer, musician and songwriter, as well as in matters of daily life.

Decisions and judgements can be hellishly hard and complex and unsatisfactory but Ginsberg’s axiom clears them from our path leaving something else to guide us, the mysterious certainty of the intuitive and spontaneous, almost a deferring of the intellect to the more animal aspect of mind – our antennae we might say.

Applied to the task of writing, and of Blog writing, it’s important to note that what differentiates Blog and other Internet activities is its ‘Live’ quality. When ‘online’ we are ‘ON’, and on stage. thus, here, our writing becomes a live performance, and as we know, live performances can be good or bad, as well as rehearsed or unrehearsed.

But what I am suggesting here is that we think of Blogging as a live (or near-Live) performance, and aspire to our favourite orators, comedians, musicians, rappers and actors who are able to achieve a kind of excellence-without-editing, to come ‘off-the-top’ (as late-80s Nu Skool rappers used to say) fully trusting in our abilities, and in the moment, that what we are saying or writing, and what we are about to say next is worthwhile, relevant and valuable.

Ultimately, I have to confess, I think this is the kind of artist I always wanted to be, the kind of art I always wanted to make, an art that was not separated from and representative of the world as something other than that art, but an art in which the world and the act of representing it are immanent, fused, simultaneous, and thus perhaps not ‘art’ at all but simply this.

I think I will illustrate this post with an image of Allen Ginsberg:






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