Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Dear old Blogspot,

Have I mentioned that Facebook has a thing for me? Facebook is constantly asking me what's on my mind, though it (he?) never offers to give me a penny--not one red cent--for what's on my mind. What's on my mind, Facebook? Twitter. Where I just discovered the following important information: 1.) Definitely not keeping up. Entirely missed until now that WaPo declared Hillary Clinton to be "style icon"; 2.) Had no idea there was also a Khloe K. until poet A.M. Juster kardashianized my mind. What is this obsession with the "K"? " 3.) And the thing seen first on Twitter this morning: rules for "your novel." Makes me want to (cheerfully) burn "your" book. Bonfire of the Inanities. Also, I am going to reread my friend Ashley's Facebook post about art and appropriation and see what people thought because that post lacked anything about a presidential candidate's upholstery or an important K, for that matter, and it also had that odd thing, substance, and did the good work of setting firecrackers under a few rules. Which is satisfying in a world where the number of rules for the arts appears to be on the increase. Yes, general corseting of the mind and the arts is as common as web pages, and those in turn are as common as particles of styrofoam in the seas.

And what, Facebook, is this magic thing where you turn small-f Facebook into large-F Facebook? Even on my blog. Here. Yes, exactly like that. You like it like that.

You (you-reader, not you-Facebook or you-blogspot) may possibly be able to tell from the above that I read Andrew Sullivan's "I Used to be a Human Being" yesterday. (Subtitle: An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too. Clip: "There is no dark night of the soul anymore that isn’t lit with the flicker of the screen.") And so, human nature being a weathercock, I contemplate whether I should drop out of Facebook and twitter (and possibly blogging), or whether it is possible--wishing to be moderate in all things save those few in which I am genuinely and joyfully and purposefully immoderate--to be moderate with the 'Net.

The whimsical, whirligig wind blows; I turn about and decide that the world is billionated with human beings, and that it doesn't much matter if I talk to myself here and there or not. Except: time. So precious and falling through the hourglass. Must go meet some human beings face to face, and then put some words in the right order.

Update, or threat-tweet from A. M. Juster: You'll like my k-heavy Kardashian double dactyl in next year's Waywiser anthology. Evidently a double dactyl anthology is forthcoming! Better put it on your To Buy list. There may never be another one.

20 comments:

  1. Indeed! There is too much irony in all this faceless social media. Are too many people losing their ability to be social by being faceless? Yes. Nevertheless, too many persist in flying alone to the light and battering their wings against the glass. Perhaps someone should extinguish the light. But will the moths find each other in the darkness?

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    1. I'm rather fond of the old face-to-face. And have been dithering over how much I should cut back my online activities.

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  2. I'm giving Facebook up. Well, I've been saying that for two years. But now I am, leaving page for grandchildren, so I can see their pics, and know when relatives are sick, etc. All of which is ironic. But I hate Facebook.

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    1. I'm considering it, though there are people I want to keep... But this year the politics on it has driven me around the bend. Unrelenting warring nonsense about all the candidates.

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  3. Hah, how delightfully well you articulate my reasons for avoiding FB and other social media. But why am I not updating my blog - is it laziness or am I tired of words? Perhaps I too need more old fashioned face-to-face.

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    1. I wish you weren't on the other side of the continent! I would like that with you....

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  4. I do thing it's possible to use the Internet moderately. Although it bugs some of my friends, I've long used this technology only as I wish. We can either do its bidding, or we can make it work for us, on our own terms. I've gently "hidden," but not unfriended, anyone on Facebook who posts primarily about politics, so my visits there now show me only family members and some of the more interesting writers and artists I know. I don't care if I ever see another opinion about a presidential candidate—I'm leaving that line blank on my ballot this year—but my contacts with long-distance creative people are all the more important to me now that I've moved to the boonies.

    Your thoughts about time are wise. I can't help but notice that several of my friends who claimed to want to be novelists are now far too busy pontificating online about the ephemeral news story of the moment, photographing their food, and otherwise over-documenting the least interesting parts of their lives. These people find it a bit nutty that I still have a blog, since that's so 2003, let alone that it's devoted to books, poetry, and medievalism. But then, I have never been one to do what everyone else is doing. Life is difficult; our online time should, therefore, be merry.

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    1. Jeff,

      I think that I owe you a note--am going to go look at my mail now. I wrote a much-too-long review and had to cut 80%, so that's part of what I was doing today.

      Yes, I think (but am not sure) it is possible to be on and be much less of a whirligig about it. I hope so. But as I get older, I'm more aware of wasting my time. And like you, I'm not too concerned with what's so 2003 or any other year!

      I wonder, how many will leave that slot blanks this year? I've finally decided that this round really is just as wild as 1828.

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  5. Any trochee put in from of "Kardashian" should yield a double dactyl. Yet it might be more entertaining to arrange their names so as to put the "pest" in "anapest". Has A.M. Juster considered the possibility that some Kardashian fans might take a pentadactlyic discount on his book?

    Years ago, our son told us that it was creepy when parents were on Facebook. We regarded that as a permanent exemption, and have stayed off. I once signed up for Twitter to test something I was working on, and now the Social folder of my GMail account mostly consists of Twitter stuff. Some techies do say that it is a good way to keep up with things.

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    1. Twitter has been good to me--I've met writers and reviewers there. Facebook is where I can reach a lot of people I know and like, but it eats time.

      "Kardashian" is, indeed, a tempting mouthful of syllables. Perhaps they will want to buy up the whole lot--that has happened here in Cooperstown. Supposedly the Clarks bought up the entire run of "The Sex Cure" to keep it under wraps!

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  6. Phew!! Such dense allusive text: sentences that crackle frangibly, break off, wriggle half-way down a bolt-hole, shout at a tiled wall just to create an echo. And yet you're convinced you're wasting your time. What else should you be doing? What's more valuable than making tracks? The cake you should have made is (virtually) eaten or gone stale. The dog sicks up on the floor you cleaned this morning. Nothing has usefully changed. Domestic events confine you and threaten to suffocate that individual voice with its capacity for influencing, modifying, inspiring or - most important - cheering up folk.

    Housman: And all's to do again.

    And if all this sounds fanciful (me imitating you but several leagues to the rear) let's be practical. With The Palace at 2 AM interred under an appropriate epitaph (Marly is quiet now; the susurrus we hear is distant mourning) where else would we turn for a list of your book-children, the nice things people have said about you (which, reflecting, reinforce our good taste), and other stuff. And how might we applaud?

    WS: Go not to these wars.

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    1. O'Connor said she wrote because she was good at it. Or maybe she said she wasn't good at anything else? I shall have to check on that one. (Though she was certainly into fowl....)

      I prefer people applaud quietly by reading my books, but you're right; one is supposed to have a stall, a wee little electronic book stall. And so I do.

      And now I must go downstairs because my lovely husband has made Sunday dinner for me and progeny! More anon.

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  7. nice husband! i do that sometimes, but the mrs. doesn't go for fried sauerkraut pie too well... and, "the time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time"...

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    1. Our daughter jumped in today and also made the most wonderful, tender scones and clotted cream. Yay for cooks!

      A yen for sauerkraut pie reminds me of Puddleglum (maybe a Puddly relative of yours?) "You've got to learn that life isn't all fricasseed frogs and eel pie."

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    2. eeek! a cannibal he was, yesss!!!

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    3. Frogs will eat anything they can swallow, including other frogs! But Puddlegum was only frog-like.

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    4. We have a cookbook from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with a recipe for chocolate sauerkraut cake. We have never tried to make it.

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    5. Well, now,that does sound Mudpuddle-ish. He may need that recipe!

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  8. Marly, Solitary Praxis has been renamed with a new address:

    http://solitarypraxisrevised.blogspot.com/2016/09/nathaniel-hawthorne-and-solitary-praxis.html

    I hope you will stop by every now and then. Today I am launching into a Nathaniel Hawthorne reading frenzy.

    http://solitarypraxisrevised.blogspot.com/2016/09/nathaniel-hawthorne-and-solitary-praxis.html

    v/r
    Tim

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    1. Oh! I thought you were on the road.

      Shall stop by soon--am a bit whelmed at the moment but shall get through the over-busy patch.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.