Tuesday, March 04, 2008

On the Varieties

In the publish and perish world of blogging, it is clear that I am an twitching corpse. To wit, I have been slowly writing a paean to Conrad's deciding to walk away from the magnificent edifice that is the Varieties of Unreligious Experience.

And then the bugger comments on his own blog that he will be returning! So please take the following in the spirit that it was intended, and despite its irrelevance...

I was not surprised to see Conrad go in January. One could feel it in the mood of the blog. We often find ourselves discussing the coldness of online communication, and yet there was something in the air, a stench, that made it clear that the staff had been broken above the head of what is, perhaps, what James Joyce's blog would look like if had turned out to be a patriarch and thus 780 years away from the ground.

In looking over his body of work, especially the older stuff, the first few months, it is amazing to see, in hindsight, just how bloggy Conrad's writings were. Or weren't. He somehow had managed to transcend the constraints of the blogosphere and create what is perhaps the only standing work of art on the net.

An audacious claim? Absolutely. Yes, there are sites devoted to the exploration of electronic media, and yet their self-consciousness somehow distances them from the medium itself - in absorbing their McLuhan, they have missed the whole point. Conrad, in stark contrast, is the message, he is not the hope of promise of blogging, or what people strive for in the online world, rather, his work is the sublimation of the medium itself.

For this reason, I hold Conrad largely responsible for both keeping me in blogging, and keeping me out. I was thinking I would do something on plain language - he's been there. More recently, I was going to talk about Mabuse, and was disheartened to see...he's been there too. His voice seemed to have been everywhere, and this was after 4 months!

I feel bad for not commenting on his blog much, however, what does one do when Conrad so deftly drains his subjects of the very possibility of challenge, or perhaps discussion? Yes, the pedants could nitpick, and I suspect this is part of what he wanted, but comments on his blog often felt like scribbling notes into an illuminated manuscript. And perhaps this is why his earlier post invited more discussion, things were more open, or interspersed with fare that allowed people to discuss. I suppose my biggest problem with him, in this respect,was that I agreed with him virtually all the time, we shared a very similar philosophical outlook, and there was not much more for me to contribute beyond what he was already doing so well.

Tout court, I miss the Varieties. I find myself sifting through its archives, blown away by the sheer volume of it, especially in the first year. And his writing wears well - try looking at some 2 year old conversations on my blog and see how they've aged like an opened bottle of cheap wine compared to his work. Ah well...

I suppose part of my problem is that I have yet find my voice - I am still in my Lehrjahre, it seems. And with Gawain's sporadic posting, things feel rather sparse around here. Hard to explain why. We'll see.


Conrad H. Roth said...
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Conrad H. Roth said...

Andrew, I'm only just coming to this. I have tried to keep up with your various incarnations, but this post must have gone under the radar. I have received a number of kind comments over the years, but this must be the kindest; thank you so much for your appreciation. I am only sorry that I have contributed to 'keeping you out' of blogging.