Hi. Just a note to those of you subscribed to The Nonist’s RSS feed: The new site is up and the feed’s address has changed, this will be the last burst of text coming through this channel so please switch to one of the following.
New RSS 2.0- feed://thenonist.com/index.php/thenonist/rss_2.0/
New Atom- feed://thenonist.com/index.php/thenonist/rss_atom/
I have removed the RSS 1.0 feed. If this is a problem for anyone please contact me and I’ll set one up.
there is an aspect of this redesign period which i’ve begun to find amusing. i titled the last post “redesign is nigh” without really thinking. what is the most common modern usage of the word “nigh?” why the street-corner prophet and hobo doom-sayer with the sandwich board which reads, “the end is nigh!” of course. but, well, the end which is so very near never seems to arrive does it? that title must be seeming more and more prescient to you fine readers. ha.
well, i am here today to let you know that the completion of the redesign and the nonist’s return is indeed really and truly nigh. i’ve got a couple more pages to retool, some cross-browser bugs to iron out, and that’s it. so barring any unforeseen calamities i’m guessing a weekend more and i should be ready to return.
i may have a scraggly beard but a scraggly beard does not a hobo kook-prophet make! when i say nigh, i mean it! nigh nigh nigh. see you all soon.
well folks, i’ve been gone for a little over a week, just as i’d suspected. it’s amazing how quickly one can mentally unplug from the internet stream and its current b.t.w.... anyhow there is good news and bad, and, as is often the case, they are one and the same. the good/bad news is this: the site will remain dormant for an indeterminate period. it’s bad news because those of you who read the site religiously, cultishly, drawing all your mental and emotional sustenance from our content, refreshing your browser window again and again like a shivering addict will have to find something else to distract you from reality. (weirdoes.) it’s good news because while the dust-bunnies start forming in the space between these old sentences, and the tumbleweeds roll through the margins, i will be busily redesigning and reshaping the nonist.
likely many of you will gasp, or at very least sigh, and say “but it aint broke!” to which i can only respond, “aint is not a word, you lazy, lazy person.” the truth is i looked at the site one day recently and thought “my god i’m tired of looking at this.” and that’s all it took really. i’m a restless type and i intend to shake things up for my own selfish amusement and throw away years of hard work, for no particular reason, whenever i damn well please! in all honesty this site is in need of some streamlining, some back-end clean-up, some re-focussing, and a good juicy jolt from the design defibrillator. (clear!)
so folks, in short, please be patient while i tear down a perfectly good web site, break all your links, and continue the endless, impossible search for visual and functional perfection. i will return as soon as this task is complete, though i can’t say when exactly that will be, not more than a few weeks with any luck, after which the nonist will hopefully rise majestically from the off-white and orange ashes. wish me luck, and i wish you luck too.
i’d like to apologize for the sporadic posting of late. it’s due in equal parts to the flu and a hectic period at work. it couldn’t be helped, and still can’t. in as much, rather than posting whenever i can fit it in, i’ve decided to take a short hiatus. a week, give or take. i’m mulling over making some changes to the site as well, possibly some major changes, but i’m reluctant to open that can of worms just yet. we shall see. in any case hope everyone is well, and i’ll be back as soon as i can manage.
a couple of days ago, while watching the olympics, i had an odd flash. a women’s figure skater had just wrapped up a decidedly underwhelming routine and was standing at center ice, arms akimbo, in one of those panting, mock-triumphant poses. in the distance, and at the edges of the frame, small objects began flopping onto the ice. knowing diddly-squat about skating i misinterpreted this barrage and in doing so i inadvertently conjured a vision of an exquisite alternate world of civilized protest and absurdist displeasure.
watching this comparatively feeble skating performance i imagined that the audience, in order to voice it’s displeasure in a civilized manner, had begun throwing small pillows and plush toys onto the ice which were shaped exactly like human anuses.
as soon as i mentioned this out loud to my girlfriend i realized it could not be true. simultaneously, however, i realized that i’d be infinitely more satisfied, entertained, and amused if it were. and why couldn’t it be? it fits so well.
the anus carries with it a sizable payload of negative associations, which could encapsulate nicely general sentiments of disapproval, and hey, everyone loves to voice their sentiments with squishy little novelty pillows and cute plush toys! imagine it. with one soft, pink anus, tossed at just the right moment, you could say it all:
“you are an asshole”
“man you’re are full of shit”
“your existence makes many people squeamish”
“what you have just said / done is crap”
“what you have just said / done stinks”
at first i imagined the “throwing of the anus pillow” as an expression of displeasure at sporting events. americans- why dump perfectly good beer (which you’d certainly prefer to dump into your belly) onto the right fielder’s head when you could pelt him with small, soft, human anuses? europeans- why riot and kill 30 people at the “football” match, with all the stamping and crushing, when you can simply smother one another to death humanely with comfy asshole shaped pillows?
then i realized, however, that limiting the “anus bombardment” to sports was too short sighted.
imagine the sound of a volley of anus beanbags thumping against the screen during the closing credits of hollywood’s next television remake / sequel / big budget piece of trash. what a sweet sound it would be.
imagine news footage of the japanese parliament hurling fluffy anus pillows at one another on the floor of the lower house, screaming “日本語!”
imagine the sight of a stadium concert stage, piled 2 feet deep in pink, frilly anus cushions, when the egomaniacal superstar rockers keep their audience waiting for 50 minutes and then only play a 40 minute set!
imagine a whitehouse press-secretary cowering behind his podium as a fed-up press tossed wave after wave of red, swollen-looking, velvet anuses at his head.
imagine the “nooses through time” float at the next white pride demonstration careening off the parade route because so many plush anuses were lodged in it’s wheel wells.
imagine a single, well aimed anus entering the open mouth of an american idol contestant in mid-earsplitting-warble.
imagine gutters and doorways and sidewalks cluttered with thousands of anuses, of every imaginable shape and size and color, the day after a huge anti-war, anti-wto, anti-torture, anti-spying, political march.
imagine the lobby of the riaa offices completely crammed with stuffed anuses after a flashmob of anus hurlers showed up and let fly.
imagine the satisfaction of waking up one morning and seeing every newspaper cover at the newsstand freezing the same glorious moment in time: an oversized brown anus smacking against the side of president bush’s head, a deep dark wrinkle of which is poking him in his squinty eye.
you see what an exquisite, absurdist world our displeasure could create?
i imagined that helium filled anus balloons could be made for events in the air which one might like to voice displeasure at. likewise weighted, waterproof anuses would be available for events in the sea. perhaps special nerf guns could be fashioned which would shoot nerf-anuses long distances, say into a neighbors yard. drivers in l.a. might shoot one another with them on the freeway. small coaster sized anuses would be printed for more intimate protestations, say on the subway, in the elevator, or at the car dealership. anus stamped stationary would be available for all angry letters to magazines, state representatives, and long distance anus-faxes. asterix keys the world over would get worn down to nothing.
of course, as i thought about it the realization that “plush anuses” don’t grow on trees assailed me, and that the whole enterprise would get quite expensive. i for one would never be able to keep enough of them for all my protestation needs. then the likelihood of epidemic levels of throwing injuries and tennis elbow-type stress disorders sunk-in. might be dangerous. the ambulance-chaser ads on local cable flashed through my mind… “have you been pelted with stuffed anuses? we can help.” i imagined all the washed-up celebrities faking anus attacks to get back into the tabloids, all the gut wrenchingly terrible leno jokes… too much to bear. then i imagined all the “rebellious” kids embracing the anus barrage, all but begging people to thwack them… and i lost hope.
this world was not meant for such as thee soft anus pillow of displeasure! it was not meant to be. it’d never work. i’m sorry for having imagined you. fly away now and lodge yourself in some other poor bastards brain. i can’t bear to think of you… sniff… er… i mean… sigh.
in the introduction to the book masters of calligraphy, originally published in 1923 in german under the title meister der schreibkunst aus drei jahrhunderten, there is the following: “today the charms of a thriving calligraphy, expression and beauty, are in danger of perishing. handwriting in everyday life is disappearing or becoming superficial or coarse. with it yet another branch of honorable human artistic endeavor is dying out.” that was initially written in 23 and with each successive printing, in 36 and again in 81, the sentiment became more true. by now i think it’s safe to say the art of handwriting, as it was once understood, is no longer dying but really and truly dead.
here’s some more from the book’s intro:
handwriting could and should be the most direct personal expression of human visual creativity. the hand that wields the pencil, pen, or brush is stirred so vigorously by the moods, temperament, and even the character of the writer that we are able to distinguish and interpret the features of a man’s writing just as we do his face. creative people feel the urge to go beyond the purely necessary, beyond mere, legibility, and to arrange the letters, words, lines, and sections into a surface pattern, to enrich them with linear flourishes, the overflow of their high spirits. writing becomes art.
indeed. below are a few of the hundreds of fine examples of the handwriter’s art as collected in the book. (click each for full sized version)
weyess, zurich 1662
grahl, dresden 1670
carpenter, harlem 1620
roelands, vlissigen 1616
hercolani, bologna 1570
pisani, genova 1640
van den velde, haerlem 1621
allais, paris 1648
senault, paris 1667
barbedor, paris 1659
cocker, london 1660
richard clark, portsmouth 1758
they are pretty alright. but we can’t really morn handwriting’s passing can we? on the one hand it’s a shame. the care and artistry of proper handwriting were lovely things. on the other hand i’m grateful to not be compelled to put that same care and artistry into every single bit of writing i do. what a hassle that’d be. imagine a post it reading “gone to the store” intricately inked with a thousand curling flourishes. no thanks. so as with other victims of progress handwriting will now be relegated to the world of the artists alone, which is fine i think, they’ll take good care of it.
if you believe all the statistics we have only the weakest grasp on our language as it, and it’s weakening still. so should a mangled language be interpreted into anything other than pixels and throw-away copy-paper pigment? why should words like “ain’t” and “nucular” get any artistic treatment? emoticons will do just fine for we philistines i think.
i’m sure that i’ve mentioned my dislike for advertising before. i must have explained at some point how television ads rarely fail to illicit a sneer in my living room, often times accompanied by an expletive or two as well. no matter how “clever” an ad is i simply can not get past the fact it’s an ad; a cloying, disingenuous, attempt to convince me of something. and therein lies the problem, they never do, ever, and so in their ineffectiveness each one feels like an insult to my intelligence. today i’d like to single out a specific facet of advertising for discussion- the tagline
first a definition of the tagline (sometimes called straplines):
a tagline is a line that serves to clarify a point or create a dramatic effect; a reiterated phrase or message identified with an individual, group, or commercial product and that resonates strongly with an audience: An ending line, as in a play or joke, which makes a point; a slogan.
it seems to me that as advertising stands today the tagline has lost its way in an orgy of overworked ad-speak and transformed into something commercially impotent, lacking any of the intended resonance whatsoever. taglines change endlessly, with each mutation verging closer and closer to complete meaninglessness, and it would seem consumer opinion in general bears out my feeling here-
a marketing and branding expert with the Byline Group in San Mateo, ca, did a survey on taglines in 2005 which ranked the top 100. the breakdown showed that about 50% of the taglines chosen by consumers for the Top 100 were created in the 1960s and 1970s with each successive decade having a smaller percentage. only 1% came from after the year 2000.
so today’s taglines stink and are in no way shape or form worth the millions that get spent on their formulation. but don’t take this expert and his survey’s word for it, he is after all a minion of ad-hell or a “knight in satan’s service” if you will. instead why not take my word for it.
no? too smart for that?
o.k. how about this, i’ll list a bunch of current taglines which i’ve collected, i’ll judge each, but you can just judge for yourself. sound agreeable? keep in mind these aren’t necessarily the worst of the worst, just the ones i managed to jot down during a few days of t.v. watching-
sprint: yes you can
judgement: can what? bend spoons with my mind? meaningless
am-ex: my life. my card.
judgement: my nausea.
alka seitzer: i can’t believe i ate the whole thing.
judgement: i can’t believe this tagline is so retardedly ill-conceived.
expedia: enjoy your trip
judgement: or how about- “a website.” seriously, why bother?
saab: born from jets
judgement: this is your selling point? comically stupid.
ambien: tomorrow will thank you
judgement: fuck you ambien you arrogant anthropomorphizing assholes.
doctor pepper: one taste and you get it
judgement: get what? i don’t get get it.
hyundai: drive your way
judgement: you mean speeding, drunk, on the wrong side of the road? meaningless.
mcdonalds: i’m loving it
judgement: i’m not loving it, i’m ignoring it.
weight watchers: watch yourself change
judgement: watch your ad campaign tank.
ford: a life in drive
judgement: a car in drive. a life completely unaffected by which shitty tin can i drive. twats.
judgement: and what are those exactly? seriously. a cancer cure? a menage-a-tios? it’s just soup.
verizon: we never stop working for you
judgement: bullshit, and everyone knows it. so shove this tagline up your collective asses.
advil: the every pain reliever
judgement: wrong. dumb. totally forgettable.
boniva: there’s only one
judgement: forget your lame tagline, you deserve special scorn for naming your fucking product “boniva.”
toyota: moving forward
judgement: a less vomitous version of the ford line. still meaningless.
bayer: like no other pain reliever in the world
judgement: uh, ok, that’s what patents are all about right? so i guess it’s true.
citi bank: live richly
judgement: something vaguely condescending about a bank saying “live richly” isn’t there?
cadillac: the comeback of cool
judgement: as everyone above the age of 8 knows any claim on “cool” is an instant negation of cool. sorry.
honda: the power of dreams
judgement: oh just go fuck yourself honda. “the power of dreams?” yeah, that’s what your product is all about!
sony: like no other
judgement: means nothing. nothing at all.
the weather channel: bringing weather to life
judgement: nope. actually, taking weather and filtering it through a television which sits in your cozy living room is the opposite. if people want their weather “brought to life” they’ll just go outside. try again.
mercury: new doors open
judgement: christ! i’m sick of this lame double-meaning car thing. enough already. what’s left? a tagline playing on the drive-shaft? “grab your shaft!” these car lines are crappy. enough.
intel: leap ahead
judgement: lame (as is that new logo). engineered obsolescence does not a “leap ahead” make.
walmart: save more. smile more.
judgement: every ad which is not for toothpaste that mentions our smiles is loathsome. this company should be destroyed with extreme prejudice on the smarminess of their tagline alone, never mind their dodgy business practices.
microsoft: your potential. our passion.
judgement: much like the mention of smiles the mention of both “our potential” and “your passion” makes me want to puke. here is my tagline rebuttal: your lumbering, sub-par, monopoly. our tough luck.
judgement: clearly too self consciously “hip” to be anything other than pathetic. clearly.
at&t: your world, delivered
judgement: i’ll have my world with pepperoni please. thanks.
so there you have it. judge for yourself. do any of these even remotely satisfy the conditions set forth in the term’s definition? are any of these linguistic turds worth the money pumped into them?
i can imagine each and every meeting in which these lumps of crap were unveiled. the knowing glances, the conviction, the excitement! poor, pathetic, decision makers and your utter lack of ability. ah well.
my verdict is this- if you have a company, and the creation of your tagline adds up to more than 2 billable hours, then just forget it, you’ve payed too much. your ad agency’s copy-writers are most likely over-payed hacks who are too busy sniffing coke off satan’s hairy taint to come up with anything even remotely interesting or effective. just let it go. let the tagline die. please?
either that of try this out instead. sure would save you bundles of cash. cash which you could reinvest into helping your customers realize their potential, in broadening their happy smiles, and better caring for their all around well being, the things which you’re evidently most concerned with. profit-smofit right? you guys… i get warm fuzzies just thinking about your truly altruistic concern! c’mear and give me a hug.
anyway. feel free to disagree with me in comments. likewise feel free to agree, to add your own, and glory in that which is an irrational hatred for all things advertising!
originally published in 1842 the public and private life of animals is a book of animal centered fables. more than that though it was a vehicle for jj grandville’s renown illustration talents. born Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard, gradville began his career as a ferocious political cartoonist and caricaturist. he fought on the barricades during the revolution of 1830 which dethroned charles x, the last bourban king of the main line. during this period his cartoons appeared in le charivari and le caricature two of the most famous satirical journals of the time. in 1835 the journals he worked for were suppressed by the government of louis-philippe and grandville was forced to find another way of making a living. he chose book illustration and it is in this sphere his fame now rests.
quote from the 1977 english edition of the public and private life of animals:
in the public and private life of animals grandville finds another more traditional means of criticizing society and its effect on individuals. he makes use of the illustrated beast-fable, and applies his well-honed caricaturist’s gift to the combination of human and animal characteristics. the human and animal elements are so finely balanced that the animal disguise becomes a forceful expression of human foibles.
grandville’s original audience was prepared to accept what he did because the convention of the beast-fable was thoroughly familiar to them. it is one of the oldest narrative types, and goes back beyond aesop to be lost in the mists of prehistory. but a still more powerful inducement in getting the nineteenth-century french audience to accept the outrageously anti-naturalistic images grandville created was his own past history as a leading caricaturist. even in times when the demands of naturalism have been most insistent, caricature is allowed a special liberty. what was not permissible in “high art:” was perfectly acceptable if the material was presented as being in some way humorous or satirical. it is no accident that most of the leading fantastic illustrators of the mid-nineteenth century had a grounding in political caricature.
see below for some samples of grandville’s work from this beautiful book (click each for the full sized version.)
hope you enjoyed these, and with tales like the flight of a parisian bird in search of a better government, the sorrows of an old toad, the funeral oration of a silkworm, and the philosophic rat the readin in this book ain’t to shabby either. recommended!
yesterday i did some minor maintenance on my technorati account. i logged in to change a couple of tags around to better fit the site’s content as it has shaped up in the last year. we do evolve after all. while there i couldn’t resist the urge to click each tag and see where i stood in the technoratic scheme of things. the results were kind of funny and got me thinking, yet again, about the realities of blogging as compared to the number-driven illusions and mutually reinforcing delusions. consider the following a sort of case study in the illusions of blogging.
so- technorati, the popular ranking / tracking / tagging service which many of us bloggers look to for some insight into our place in the blogoshpere, allows each blog 20 overarching tags with which to sum up general slant and content. each of those 20 tags can be used to search out similar content and serves to place each blog in thematic relation to all the millions of others. the following rankings are by tags which i’ve chosen to sum up the nonist and were taken from technorati yesterday-
first lets get a chunk of the data out of the way in one swoop. for each of the following headings the nonist is ranked as the #1 result:
i must say that i find this fairly disconcerting. this means that overall the nonist is the top ranking blog for over a quarter of the 20 tags i’ve chosen to reflect it. if you look closely at the tags you’ll see that most are fairly broad, but i have to ask myself is the nonist really an appropriate choice to represent fiction, humanism, or skepticism in technorati’s cosmos? i try to write a bit of fiction each week, i believe whole heartedly in humanism, and am rather skeptical in general, but i have to believe there are sites with a more focussed viewpoint which people searching for said subjects deserve to see first.
the following results perhaps illustrate this more clearly:
1. tcs daily
2. the nonist
well… certainly i’m interested in looking at most of my chosen content in a philosophical way, i post many items of historical interest i suppose, and i refer to, quote from, and scan books often, but in all these cases the inclusion of the nonist seems somewhat misleading no?
here’s another good example-
now take that in for a moment. the nonist ranks just below the n.y review of books, which makes sense, but above bldgblog which seems wrong. i can go for days without mentioning the arts at all where as bldgblog is well focussed. the pattern of illusion begins to be evident.
now look at these-
in the design category i think it’s important to note where design observer falls. to my mind design observer is the most sophisticated and enjoyable site out there focussed on design. it’s arguable whether kottke is actually strongly focussed on design and i can say for sure that the nonist, though design “interested,” is by no measure a blog “about” design. (i do that evil shit all day and would rather not dwell on it.)
in the writing category you’ll notice the crazy cross-section which all sit under it’s umbrella. gaiman who is a world renown author, double tongued word wrester which is a wonderful etymological site, if:book which is broadly focussed on the culture of books, and those other two. now the nonist is at 6 and words for my enjoyment is 16 even though pauly offers a new piece of creative writing every single day without fail (he’s a professional writer after all) and has a very lively readership which masses 25-35 comments regularly on every post. meanwhile the posts here which i would characterize as “writing proper” are consistently the least commented upon. this tells me our readers do not necessarily come here for writing.
in the science category i can’t help but just laugh. pharyngula, science blog, and panda’s thumb, must cringe whenever they see this site’s inclusion among them. they are admirable, serious, sites with a proper science pedigree, where as i manipulate photo’s of darwin, prattle on about space, and post the blurbs i find of interest in the sidebar. how can i be wedged there between them?!
i’ll let you all in on a little secret now which goes a long way toward explaining things-
the nonist is highly ranked on the strength of no more than 3 or 4 extremely popular posts. sure we have a home in many sidebars but not nearly as many as the numbers would seem to reveal. the “nonist public service pamphlet” on blog depression has been, without question, the single biggest key to the sites wider dissemination. but how many of those linking the pamphlet, or following links, have been return visitors? meanwhile our referrer logs continue, months and months on, to show a high concentration of links pointing toward “the erotic coloring book” and “making love in 1975.” of all the nuggets unearthed and all the original content crafted the fact that these two silly posts continue to draw such a large share of attention, owing entirely to their quasi-sexual content, is, if i’m being honest, disheartening.
in essence this begs the question, how many of the 1,739 links pointing to the nonist represent an actual readership? also, does a blog with a handful of popular posts deserve to rank so high? and finally, is this method of putting blogs in perspective even remotely accurate in representing the actual blog landscape? to that last question i’d have to answer no. at least not from my perspective.
take a look at the ranking for the following tag-
1. boing boing
2. the nonist
in my mind “eclectic” might be the single most accurate tag i use in my technorati account to sum up the nonist, it is nothing if not eclectic, so a ranking of number two on that tag is actually fairly gratifying. searching “eclectic” and being given this result might lead one to draw corollaries however- “ah boing boing is huge, the “nonist” must be comparable somehow...”
but now take a look at those over all linking numbers-
1. boing boing. over all - 67,731 links from 19,764 sites
2. the nonist. over all - 1,739 links from 895 sites
not exactly comparable are they? in truth boing boing is the blogoshpere’s version of a superpower where as the nonist is akin to a small pacific island whose indigenous peoples still wear loincloths and have never seen a porsche, which is to say almost totally unknown. or let me put it into more topical terms- if boing boing were to start a preemptive war against another blog, at best the nonist might be listed among the “coalition of the willing,” not because we have an army, but because we donated a single bomb-sniffing mollusk to the effort.
now you might be thinking that i’m being unfairly (or even insincerely) self-deprecating with all this, but really i’m just trying to illustrate a point. if services like technorati (each blogger has his favored service) are not in fact representative of the landscape and the numbers themselves don’t really signify much concretely, then what is the purpose? or more specifically, why do bloggers watch over the rankings and numbers and referrer logs so closely?
when the nonist was at it’s ranking peak, somewhere around 400 overall on technorati, things were no different than they are today, when we have dropped down to around 800 (and still falling). the experience from my point of view was (with the exception of a few months worth of higher hosting bills) the same. this precipitous rise and subsequent fall did not effect the site in any palpable way. so why then do i continue to look at the numbers? why do i still check technorati each morning and my referrer logs a couple times each day? simple- because the illusion of accomplishment which the numbers provide is the only reflection of success or failure available to me.
i have no advertising on the site, so i can not gauge popularity or achievement by my ad-sense revenue. i do not offer a specific product or service, the sale and popularity of which i could look to as a reflection of my efforts. i have not as of yet tried to parlay the site’s (possible) popularity into any other opportunities. in short i do not have at my disposal any of the traditional measuring sticks with which to gauge accomplishment.
where as the creators of sites which, directly or indirectly, take in profits can look to them as a marker, i am obliged to look at traffic like a store owner who does not actually sell anything so instead reviews the security camera footage from above the front door a few times a day to be sure someone showed up. services like technorati offer bloggers like me (of which there are millions) a point of reference, illusory though it may ultimately be.
these are not complaints, merely observations. i could after all load up the site with ads. that’s my prerogative. but i’ve chosen not to. which brings me back to points i’ve touched on many times already, both satirically and sincerely.
why do we blog?
what do we hope to accomplish?
how will we know when we’ve succeeded?
i’m willing to bet that the lion’s share of those blogging right now have no idea why they blog. having started out of curiosity they are now simply compelled. if asked they might answer “because it’s fun!” though i’d have to retort that if the popularity of the “blog depression pamphlet” proved anything it’s that blogging is not always fun. it’s work. so again i ask, why do we blog?
the highly successful “superpowers” of blogging likely don’t ask the question anymore. there’s no need. they probably don’t bother to check their stats and referrers nearly as often either. (can you imagine cory or mark over of boing boing waking up each morning and logging on to technorati to see if anyone has linked them? haha. i can’t.) they have concrete evidence of their success which make the illusory popularity contest of technorati and similar services superfluous. perhaps for the “non-profits” that is the ultimate badge of success- disinterest in rank.
for the rest of us though the illusion is all we have by way of external reward. for me personally comments, emails, involvement, and conversation of any kind is the highest reward, but failing those at least i can see when someone in poland thought enough of a post to link it. that’s gratifying as well. the act of compulsively looking to technorati proves i’m not quite a success. on the other hand the numbers there seem to imply that neither is this enterprise unsuccessful. of course i’m a realist, and the crazy tag rankings above which place us in with pharyngula, kottke, neil gaiman, the panda’s thumb, the n.y review of books, and boing boing, actually diminish my pleasure a bit because i know that, appearances aside, we are not at that level of popularity. we are in fact a small blog with a modest readership which can use all the help it can get. which is to say those monoliths listed are not our peers, gratifying though the illusion may be.
lastly let me just leave you with this bit of tagging zen, take from it what you will-
as of yesterday technorati offered the following rankings:
1. the brad blog
2. the nonist
1. the nonist
I can’t express my amazement at this ironic turn of events. I do confess a bit of a sweet tooth, more perhaps than is good to have, and the smell of a bakery is more than I can resist, when the hot dough and cane sugar meld with cinnamon cut from a tree on some far-flung island (try not to think about whose toes the stick was between; you’d rather not know).
No point dragging out a long story when there is really nothing more to it than selecting a toothsome pastry, carrying it home in a waxen paper bag, and freezing as I was about to take a bite:
For there, before my eyes, a miracle: a danish with the image of muhammad.
most years, on this particular day, i find myself bemoaning the construct which is valentines day, pointing out how, in fact, the very idea of a commodified, obligatory, celebration runs counter to the nature of that which the holiday purports to praise. but everyone knows this. everyone with a wallet of their very own knows this day is meant to sell chocolates, cards, flowers and shitty 2 dollar teddy bears. (probably spikes the latex and lubricant markets as well.) but there is nothing to be done about it. one can not come out against love, no matter how pathetic and diseased a species of it. so this year i won’t bother. instead i’ll relate one of the first things which comes into my mind at the mention of love…
when i was a lad, and rattled, as lads are, with crazy tsunamis of hormonal emotion, i was fortunate enough to come upon a volume of emerson’s essays which i promptly rescued from the dusty library shelves. that same book sits beside me at this very moment, complete with adolescent pencil lines shakily underscoring portions of 19th century wisdom which seemed especially resonant. one essay which bears a larger than average portion of these marks is the 1841 essay titled love.
many people seem to look back on their adolescent emotions as invalid, being somehow negated by the more mature emotions which come after. i disagree. yes, they were naive in comparison. yes lessons are learned and wisdom begins to accrue casting a comical and even embarrassing light over what came before, but as i see it those emotions were no less real, and no less valid, they were simply experienced by a different person, a you who no longer walks the earth.
reading emerson’s essay on love at that earlier point of my life was most akin, i suspect, to reading a travel guide for a country i had not yet visited. his characterizations framed for me what love was supposed to be, even if i was at the time stretching adolescent versions over the framework. puppy love, infatuations, crushes, for me they were all emersonian somehow, for better or worse. now that i have visited said country, and live there everyday, i still find that he characterized love quite nicely.
judge for yourself. here are a few of the bits i underlined (and no doubt quoted in many a hastily passed note)-
no man ever forgot the visitations of that power to his heart and brain, which created all things new; which was the dawn in him of music, poetry, and art; which made the face of nature radiant with purple light, the morning and the night varied enchantments; when a single tone of one voice could make the heart bound, and the most trivial circumstance associated with one form is put in the amber of memory; when he became all eye when one was present, and all memory when one was gone.
it is a fire that, kindling its first embers in the narrow nook of a private bosom, caught from a wandering spark out of another private heart, glows and enlarges until it warms and beams upon multitudes of men and women, upon the universal heart of all, and so lights up the whole world and all nature with its generous flames.
In the noon and the afternoon of life we still throb at the recollection of days when happiness was not happy enough, but must be drugged with the relish of pain and fear; for he touched the secret of the matter, who said of love, --
“All other pleasures are not worth its pains”;
and when the day was not long enough, but the night, too, must be consumed in keen recollections; when the head boiled all night on the pillow with the generous deed it resolved on; when the moonlight was a pleasing fever, and the stars were letters, and the flowers ciphers, and the air was coined into song; when all business seemed an impertinence, and all the men and women running to and fro in the streets, mere pictures.
so… it’s a bit saccharine for modern tastes perhaps, (o.k. a lot saccharine,) but then i first read it when i was 13 (not yet packed with bile and frozen in “cool") and today, well, it’s valentines day, and i’m trying to not be a cynical sourpuss, so cut me some slack on that point.
if you’d like to read the whole essay it’s here.
otherwise let me just say happy valentine’s day to my baby girl miller, and to all the rest of you beloved sourpusses as well. if we’ve gotta put up with this pink heart-shaped teddy bear shit at least we can make the best of it eh? could do worse than a little serving of good ol’ ralph.
well, february 12th marks darwin’s birthday, and for the second year in a row i’m a day late in wishing a everyone a happy darwin day. this year i thought i’d continue with the theme of last years post, in which i attempted to update darwin’s image for our reality challenged and philosophically devolving masses, turning it into an official tradition here. last year my darwinian re-branding was aimed at the good ol’ boys among us. this year i thought perhaps i’d aim at a different demographic, namely those crazy kids with their newfangled computer game thingamabobs. see below
if it doesn’t have a beeping whosit or a flashing doohickey then the kids just don’t care so perhaps this flashy computer rendering of darwin will get through to the a.d.d. addled brains of our youth eh? nothing like some top-notch tech wizardry to grab the whippersnappers attention with! am i right?
also here’s last years entry in case you missed it…
so a happy belated darwin day to all and to all best wished for your continued evolution.