Sunday, April 01, 2007

In which the Meridian learns that he has inflicted pain on certain of his readers

Some time ago at the end of a class--we had been discussing the nature of Reality or something like that, I forget--a student told me that her head hurt. "Why?" I asked. "All this thinking you made me do," she said. I don't know as I had done an especially good job of discussing whatever it was we had been discussing, but seeing as a goal of Education for teachers is to spark Thinking, I was glad to hear it--even if it had been painful.

Apparently, I also have that effect on people who don't have to pay to listen to me, too--even more flattering, I assure you. Over at Nobody Asked . . . , Winston, a long-time reader of mine, has named good old Blog Meridian as a Thinking Blog (go here for an explanation). But I'm a bit suspicious. This being April 1st, and given that the title of his post is "Oh my aching head," I alternate between feeling a slight tug on my leg and detecting a repressed confession of his having spent a bit too much time last night with Tennessee's best-known citizen. But one accepts awards graciously, no matter how little deserved, especially when they are given by people whom one especially admires. So, I humbly thank you, Winston.

If you visit the Thinking Blog link, you'll see that it aspires to be a different sort of meme, the goal being to direct readership toward blogs that, well, make you think. Hmm. Like Winston, I find it hard to narrow the list down to a mere five, as the meme asks. So I'll make a blanket statement that all the blogs I've linked to over in the right gutter under "Daily (B)reads" are worthy candidates. So, here are five, being perfectly aware that if someone were to ask me to do this again tomorrow, I could just as easily name a different five and be perfectly content with that list as well.

Finally, a comment on the order of the blogs in the list: Although I hadn't planned on it, it occurs to me that the bloggers listed here led me to learn of other bloggers listed here. So, the order of blogs below will be my viral mapping-out of how I came to learn of them. Also, so as to bridge some gaps between some blogs, it'll give me a chance to cheat a bit and link to some other, equally-worthy bloggers that you should know about. The five Thinking Blogs, though, will be the numbered ones.

(1) Bittersweet Life. Of the blogs whose general focus is "religion" (broadly defined) that I link to and/or visit with regularity, all of which I consistently find engaging and meaningful, I've chosen Ariel's blog as being their representative. A committed and intellectually-serious Christian (yes, they do exist), Ariel knows the difference between argument and polemic; you get the feeling that he has thought carefully about the arguments of others as well as his own, and so you can't help respecting him even when you and he disagree. Now: if we could just clear up that heresy of his called Jayhawk worship . . . Love the sinner, hate the sin.

It was through Ariel's blogroll that I learned of (2) 327 Market. Camille's posts chronicling her adventures in a palimpsest world corresponding to the Bay Area, combined with startling musings on the nature of Art, and all written in language that is precise in a lyrical sort of way, are tailor-made for those (like me) who admire writers who can make the familiar seem strange . . . and then make us wonder why we hadn't been seeing the world like that all along.

Ariel's linking to me, meanwhile, is how Randall Sherman of Musings from the Hinterland found my blog. Randall, by the way, is the sort of dedicated reader every blogger should dream of having if s/he doesn't already have one. It was his blogroll that led me to (3) Tomato and Basil Sandwiches. Aunty Marianne is a Brit serving in the European Union's humanitarian aid office in Brussels, but she writes about far more than that, and often does so in a humorous style that is the very definition of "unexpected." Here, for example, is an excerpt from her current post, a review of a concert she attended:

At the interval, I tried to get near the bar, and that's when I found out that nothing scrums for a drink like a newly retired gentleman shoehorned into last decade's trousers and a bow tie to escort the lady wife to a classical concert, when he'd much rather be at home farting quietly behind last week's Sunday paper.
Now there's an indelible picture.

Here ends one strand of Thinking Blogs. The other begins with the blog of Raminagrobis, whom I've known in an online sense since before my blogging days. Last year, his blog began drawing comments from Conrad Roth, whose blog is (4) Varieties of Unreligious Experience. Conrad is one of those writers who can make you recognize how little you in fact know but makes you feel smart anyway. I think it's because his posts have the feel of their discovering their subject and insights even as you're reading them. He's exceedingly generous with what he knows, and his readers (this one, at any rate) are the better for it. Over there in Tempe as he is, reading him is the intellectual equivalent of watching the desert bloom.

It was Conrad who led me to (5) A Lake County Point of View. Fellow transplanted-Texan Hank is the sort of guy who, if you need a hobby, he could lend you one of his and have plenty left over. Like Thoreau, Hank understands that the head is an organ for burrowing; most appropriately, then, many of his best posts begin with thoughts about the things of the earth. And like Thoreau, Hank is in no hurry in most of his posts. Here is one of my very favorites of his, which I described as being "about" "Beer, paint, naked women, music, Yves Klein, musings about the matter of representation, and footnotes-within-footnotes. God's plenty." I urge you to go read it, but two warnings: a) Prepare to spend some minutes doing so; 2) Prepare to become addicted to his infectious style.

Now: those whose blogs are numbered--and, hey, anyone else coming across this post--are encouraged to perpetuate this meme by directing readers to blogs that make them think. Provide a link to this page by way of explanation. Thanks again, Winston, for finding something of value to you here, and thanks to all of those of you who visit and comment and whom I visit and read--all of you make this place as worthy of your time as it is.


Conrad H. Roth said...

Thanks, John; you're very kind.

Winston said...

Well done, Master John. A couple of those I am already familiar with, having followed some prior pointing of direction by you. The others are in for a scare as I show up with my posse to examine their goods and make off with anything not nailed down.

Gwynne said...

Those are some real treasures, John. Thanks for pointing the way. :-)

R. Sherman said...

Thanks, a couple of days late. I've been out of (blogging) commission. Business stuff. (Cue Jacob Marley: "Business!! Blogging is your business!)


Ariel said...

Thank you, sir! Were I to painstakingly create a list of Thinking Blogs, there is no doubt in my mind which site would head it up. That's right: Blog Meridian, however, would come in a close second. ;)

The County Clerk said...

It occured to me that I'd not commented here, when I should have,

Thank you so much. Just keep walking along that river brother!