Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Your City is Still a Wonder Town

A caveat: the new version of this blog won't be nearly as interesting as the old version of this blog. For one thing, I'm no longer in Israel. And if I were, I don't think there'd be quite the character of bewilderment rubbing against travelogue-style pretension and self-assurance that was the hallmark of YCIWT's initial 12-post, three-week run in January of 2009. If I were banging out 2,000-word blog items in the basement of the Conservative Yeshiva, rather than on the third floor of a walkup in Cobble Hill, I'd have no war or national election to follow as I did that January, and the naiivete reflected in the blog's previous output (a post entitled "War? What War?" is a prime example) would likely give way to something drearily, even monotonously critical of everything and everyone around me. The taste of cardammom in my coffee would become less and less pronounced; the wait for the 19 bus would be a tedious fact of life, rather than the anthropological bonanaza I once treated it as (which isn't to say that it wasn't an anthropological bonanza...). So I hope all zero of you keep your expectations low.

To be perfectly honest, I'm restarting this blog because I'm actually deathly afraid of blogging, which is to admit that since freshman year of college I've lived in a sort of mortal fear of a blog I maintained between mid 2003 and early 2007. Shit, I think to myself when my limited powers of self-discipline fail, and I find myself wandering the spiritual/physical/cyber exclusion zone in the middle of which sits the once-vaunted Personal Daily Hell. Shit. This work, this product of juvenile intellectual tumult that seems relatively alien to me now, this product of someone who actually thought he like, understood Dead Souls when he read it as a freshman in high school-- was the product of a different person that just happened to have the same body and name as me. But it's not mine. I can't explain how it got there or why. And I certainly can't reproduce it, or even anything like it. Call it performance anxiety.

But performance anxiety of a very certain type. For me, the blogging enterprise is a grim reminder of the aforementioned schizo-temporal nature of life; of the fact that the "self" is something that you have depressingly little power to shape or control. Even that other, now amber-clad self, the one that wrote hundreds of still-extant blog posts during high school, is a mystery to me, and if I thought enough about this--about my sense of alienation from the person/state of mind that produced the best writing I've ever produced--my failure to understand him would become a source of embarrassment and perhaps even a source of something with a more than passing resemblance to insanity. But I don't worry about this as much as I used to, and now I feel I can blog again.

The other reason I'm restarting this blog is that I've recently been disabused of the notion that my writing is worth anything in the fiduciary sense. This is just as well, I think. Back at the PDH, I gave my work away to free for the 5-10 close friends who actually read it on a weekly basis, and my creative life has been relatively stagnant ever since. Maybe--just maybe--the problem is that during my long break from blogging I attached too much of the wrong kind of value to the wrong kind of creative enterprise, and the only payment I really want or need for my efforts is the sense that they're not going totally to waste. Of course, money's like, important, and there are few ego-boosters greater than getting paid for something I've written (and no ego booster greater than getting paid for something I've written that was actually like, worth paying for). But ego and money carry their own sets of rules and limitations that I'm frankly better off without, as far as serious writing goes. Hence my decision to restart a personal blog that I'm sure very few people will find or read.

NB: Readers of my last blog might remember me putting a quote at the end of every post. How 'bout some music instead? Starting with this website's namesake:

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