Friday, September 15, 2006

Blogs: Parasites?

The current Harper's Magazine has in its center and cover story about "Literacy in an Age of Video Games" a roundtable forum. It concludes with the musing that blogs, being parasitic as they quote each other endlessly, are not destined to be great art. In fact, the panelist opines that in the future, great art will no longer emerge, merely lots more--thanks to the Web's access--of so-so, good-enough, art. Well, Chaucer all sorts of sermons, folktales, ballads, romances, and classical tales to combine, as a blogger, these sources into his own galliaumfry, to use a bastardized Middle English term (as is "humongous," from the Middle Scots I think). Shakespeare took Holinshed's Chronicles, cut-and-pasted lots of treatments, as they'd say in Hollywood, and worked them into a new and fresh rendering of old stories, luckily before litigation and Digital Millennium Copyright Act (aka The Mickey Mouse Act) of 1998.

What's lately been happening? Post Santa Cruz letdown. I miss the forest and fog and ferns. (Image of bridge over Zayante Creek.) I have books checked out from LAPL on Tim Leary (new bio); universities in the age of digital, corporate, and occupational threat; Patrick Kavanagh's Tarry Flynn (which reads just like, of all things, The Green Fool: the former fiction, the latter fact, but both about a dreamy farmer in Monaghan who turns away from church, cows, and colleens to meditate, daydream, and moon upon all things great and small in the fields that he sees. Daydream Believer, circa 1940s. It is not a quick read, densely arranged if deceitfully light-hearted on the surface of mean ol' ma and prancing virgins (so they say), and scheming neighbors. But, as with Flann O'Brien, underlying this not superficial but subtly seeming transparent backdrop, there lurks insecurity, existential doubt, and despair even at having to in a Catholicized (so they say) society to hearken back away from the monotheistical, the everlasting, and the commanded to that free of God with capital letter, doomed to decay, and determined to live free or die trying. A haunting book, deeper far than the backcover Penguin Classics blurb--they should've known better than to put this out as if the reader was to find within a sort of gelded Christy Mahon. Marketing savvy.

Which reminds me of Lee Templeton's wonderful Come Back Horslips page and project, that revives that legendary 70s glam-folk-prog band's originators, imitators, and celebrators in spirited fashion. Marketing expertise makes the muse of this site also savvy at spreading the good word to latecomers such as I, who forget that even if I checked the net late 2004 not to find much on the band, that New Year's 2005 all changed utterly, and CBH was engendered. The pace, as I told my Tech-Culture-Society class the other night, is so quick. We heard of Friendster maybe three years ago, My Space broke out and surpassed its former rival about a year or so ago big time, and now You Tube is racing along after a few months it seems of visibility, while this fake-gal-on-MySpace promo hoax 'lonelygirl15' in Blair Witch style makes a story (who is she really) on Thursday, the break over the weekend, and the denouement on Monday: less than the nine-day's wonder of old, the phrase taken from poor Lady Jane Grey--good little film with Cary Elwes and Helena Bonham Carter, and a moving portrait of the doomed queen that was my favorite when seen way back around 1989 in the National Portrait Gallery.

I hit Amazon's top thousand reviewers only last week but went from 997 to 991 to I thought 971 back down to 977 and now 981 today but who's counting. So, whoever you may be, see the link to my profile, vote well and wisely and often to maintain my august rank. Who reads there, or here? Let me know if this gets out to you, as otherwise vox clamantis--Barry Devlin writing as Barny Drivel on CBH revealed his ability to rattle off Latin phrases in his post; I recall he had studied in a Franciscan seminary at one time! As for me, I study Irish, laboring over the intricacies of lenition and eclipsis regarding numbers 1 and 2 and then changed for 3-6 and again 7-up in ways that boggle me, as difficult to grasp as were oxidation-reduction equations when I was grappling with chemistry at the age of 16. How students can wrap their minds around such details amazes me. I think of the head of our Yahoo Cois Fharraige group progressing in Mícháel Ó Siadhail's notoriously user-unfriendly (not on purpose but seemingly by inattention) "Learning Irish" textbook. David Webb's in China in some mountain village studying that language while on the side somehow shepherding himself and us around the planet through the printed bogs. And, he had his tonsils out, ordered a slew of books in Irish from Ireland and had them shipped back and then forward again and is still slogging along, although at an understandably slower pace.

Of such altruism as Chaucer may have once showed, along with being the first professional writer and perhaps the first Englishman we know who could comprehend Italian, and as for the Bard who knows, but for such heroic strivers as our Miss Templeton and Mr Webb today on the net, blogged, yahooed, and otherwise corralled, still showing that learning and sharing and enjoying learning for its own sake, like Chaucer's imperfect clerk of Oxenforde, his forty bound books of Aristotle prized on his shelf over his bed, makes the proverbial royal road to learning that none can find but all do seek worthwhile: "and gladly would he learn, and gladly teach."

1 comment:

Miss Templeton said...

Ah! How could I resist such a nice compliment? Your blog is/will be read over time!

I have just finished watching Wife Swap, a network show in the reality genre where two households exchange their feminine elements for a two-week period. It's the first network television I've watched in several years!

The only reason for watching it was this week's particular theme of Sally Bauer of the Talk Like a Pirate Day fame swapping with a model organizer of the Container Store/Martha Stewart ilk in suburban, stucco California.

What added a moment of surreality to the evening was my own project of hand-painting a jolly roger flag on black canvas for tomorrow night's festivities. My older flag, hand-stitched, failed to turn up after two attic raids. But look! In a box, neatly labeled 'patterns' there was an envelope labeled 'homemade patterns' and in that envelope, the newspaper template for my original jolly roger which provided the outline for tonight's painted version.

So we're a household of pirates who have raided the Container Store a few times ourselves!

I'm not sure why I felt like relating this story, but it does show that all is not online in my life and tomorrow night I'll be yo-ho-ho-ing along with the rest of the scurvy crew gathered at the Glaser Center.

Talk Like a Pirate Day. Next year I intend to be better prepared to enjoy it to the fullest!