Oct 30, 2014


second post.

Everything here is still so virginal and fresh. I am reluctant to write, for fear of creasing these finely folded pages. But crease I must. That is the point, in the end. To get it out, all out, to flood this infinite repository with words until it can take no more. So I write and crease and cringe. And here we are.

I have some concerns about this project which I would like to lay out for you. But I need a framing; there is no pleasure in a dry procedural document.

Framing: citizenfour

Edward Snowden is a man of principle. To walk away from a good life – respectable job, longterm relationship, beautiful locale – for the sake of an abstraction; this is something only a principled man could do. One of the most amazing things about this story is that Snowden appears to have been entirely honest about his motives. A year and a half after the story broke and no sleazy underbelly has turned up. No previous ties to Russian intelligence, no large anonymous deposits into his account. I'm speculating here, of course. But I speculate because I'm impressed. It is an instance of principle standing up in a world accustomed to operating without it.

The above paragraph brings me to the first concern: what will be the content here, in practice? I left it quite open-ended in my last. Now, actually writing, I have to make choices. Is this a public journal? A platform for righteous diatribe? Or some sputtering attempt to map my creative process on a white screen?

all and none, all and none

In the end, it does not matter so much what results. That is the entire premise (of the moment). What matters here is the process, the action-in-the-moment as I put down these words and you read them up. What I think after writing does not matter. And what you think after reading ... well, maybe that matters a little. Nobody promised consistency.

So, the content? A couple areas off the top of my head:

  • Journal entries (from my life)
  • Ethical conundra
  • Attempts at prose fiction

How's that? Good enough? Good enough.

Second concern: readership. Who is going to want to read rubbish? drivel? trash? Again, my reply is that the concern is unimportant. There is a part of me that is deeply worried about what others think – how will this writing be received? Will anybody spare the time to read it through? To leave a nice word at the end, about how they thought it was "just marvelous"?

Quite a neat little project really, you should check it out. He is writing in such a direct way, yet so relevant! You'd enjoy it, I'm sure.

I'm running away from this part of me. I'm not terribly interested in what you think. Or how many of you think it. Rather, I shouldn't be interested in such things, and I am doing my damnedest not to be.

And now, we are closing in on the third concern: I worry that entries to this white screen will leave me totally unhinged. Too much masturbatory cleverness, too much sly self-reference, and I will find myself utterly detached from everything outside the borders of this box. In this regard, the content is important – I want what I write (what I do, what I live ...) to be tied to the world. I do not want to write in circles.

I worry that this will be the primary problem of the project. Case in point – my attempt to frame these concerns in some reference to my life and the world. What does Ed Snowden have to do with any of this anyhow? To bring him back in now is artificial, forced. I've already gone off the rails here.

But let's try to get back on. Principles. Snowden. NSA leaks, surveillance state, neofascism cloaked in old fears.


That's right. So I've outlined a couple concerns. But what about the positive aspect? What do I actually care about here? What are the principles of the project?


Transparency is deeply important to what I would like to do here. It is why I am mercilessly subjecting you to this winding examination of what I think my goals are, rather than laying out Goals 1, 2, and 3.

I want to lay myself out, showing each piece as it falls into place. I want my process for creating a polished product to be made as clear as it can. I want the record of this process to stand, irrelevant as it is.

The same applies to my writing about the world. I believe a great many things, and I am not confident in the validity of most of these beliefs. Laying them out, putting them under the microscope, perhaps that will bring some insight.

I do not know what transparency will look like here, in practice. But it is the first principle, for the moment at least.

More will follow.

[rereads: 2, edits: 1]