Monday, January 21, 2008

Helpful blogging advice from great works of literature

Plato gives Socrates instruction in what to say in one of the dialogues, which, you know, isn't quite how things happened . . . Originally found here.

A while back, my bloggy friend Debra of Reflecting lamented that not only had she nothing to say that day, she didn't seem entirely certain she should have a blog. She since seems to have gotten past that existential crisis; still, her dilemma is one which affects most, if not all, bloggers from time to time.

It's for that reason that I'm posting this excerpt from Georges Perec, Life: A User's Manual (which I posted on here). Substitute "words" and "blog" and "blog post" in the appropriate spots and, well, you can thank me later:

For some months Hutting [a painter] used a method which, he said, had been revealed to him for three rounds of gin by a half-caste beggar he had met in a scruffy bar on Long Island but who wouldn't reveal its origin despite all Huting's insistence. It involved selecting the colours for a portrait from an inalterable sequence of 11 hues by use of three key numbers, one provided by the date and time of the painting's "birth", "birth" meaning the first sitting for the painting, the second by the phase of the moon at the painting's "conception", "conception" meaning the circumstances which had initiated the portrait, for instance a telephone call asking for it to be done, and the third by the price.

The system's impersonality was the kind of thing to captivate Hutting. But perhaps because he applied it too rigidly, he obtained results more disconcerting than captivating. To be sure, his Countess of Berlingue with Red Eyes earned a deserved success, but several other portraits left critics and clients in the air, and above all Hutting had the confused and awkward feeling that he was using without any spark of genius a formula which someone else before him had obviously managed to bend to his own artistic requirements.

The relative failure of these trials did not discourage him overmuch, but led him to refine further what his appointed panegyrist, the art critic Elzéar Nahum, felicitously called his "personal equations": they allowed him to define a style lying somewhere between a genre painting, a genuine portrait, pure fantasy, and historical mythology, which he baptised "the imaginary portrait"[.] (279)

That final paragraph describes a lot of my own posts, come to think of it . . .

4 comments:

Paul Decelles said...

Sounds like certain poetic forms. Curiously I decided to write a sonnet this morning, adhering as close as I could to the form and it was really hard to come up with something that didn't leave me with a confused and awkward feeling, at least not a totally confused and awkward feeling.

The result is here.

Winston said...

Interesting, especially the second time through when I really did do the word substitution as you suggested. Reminds me of one of those games, something like Word Scrabble, in which the players draw words instead of letters, and must construct sentences from them. Yes, some days, all bloggers seem to resort to such...

I did not previously know that your dog has a drinking habit...

John B. said...

Thanks to both of you for stopping by.
Paul, thanks for linking to your sonnet. I think yours works, but I do agree that there's something about that form that makes it hard to write.
Winston, Scruffy just runs the place for others like him.

Pam said...

As Scruffy should!