I’ve decided on a more definite direction for this little blog, though I’m loathe to erase the earlier blog posts on this site (few and scattered though they are). Those old posts will stay up; let’s tally those as the early steps in the endless process of a blog’s development.
But what am I trying to turn this into, anyway?
As early as the 15th century, people have kept commonplace books as a way not only to record but to digest ideas and influences. In what I’d like to believe is a continuation of this tradition, C. Wright Mills, writing on the subject of intellectual craftsmanship, stresses the value of keeping a file or journal for “systematic reflection.” Animating these practices is a simple but powerfully relevant idea: it is one thing to read1Or listen, or watch, or consume in any other way, as the case might be.; it is quite another to understand. These days especially, with the glut of information and material begging for attention and consumption, it’s easy to fall into the habit of skimming, of simply acquainting oneself with the surface of a concept or issue and calling that knowledge.
But understanding, as I’ve come to realize, can’t be built from a collection of soundbites. People say that one can only give simple, clear explanations when there is full understanding of the large and complex issues to be explained; what we often fail to realize is that grabbing the catchiest points isn’t the same thing. I’d like this blog to be a document of the constant struggle to move from the latter to the former — of the attempt to probe deeper into ideas, concepts, matters that grab my attention, essentially.
I am writing mostly for myself; as I noted above, the aim is to think out loud rather than to write for an audience. The fact remains, though, that this is all on a public blog. I don’t mind. Here’s hoping that sifting through my posts will also be worth some small fraction of any potential reader’s time.