Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Escape + Return + Shift

Bringing you the choicest random facts from all over time and space.
It has been a long break for this blog: the last post I wrote was a little more than five months ago, mainly to sign off before diving into a two-month period of studying for two weeks of 12 exams. I'd imagined that I would come back to blogging after that. But—maybe unsurprisingly—by the time I actually finished all those tests, I was too exhausted to just fire the engines up again. (It turns out that spending 28 hours writing essays by hand in which you regurgitate as many facts as you can does not incline you to write new posts for your trivia blog.)

So I decided to take the summer off and recover. It has been good to avoid the compulsion to write for any reason other than my own desire to do so; good to learn how to read books for fun again; good to figure out how to relax and even how to waste time, things I think I'd forgotten how to do.

But now, writing seems fun again, and I'd like to go back to this blog. What started off as a kind of glorified portfolio to drum up some writing work (I admit it) turned into a really fun way to stay in touch with the 100-200ish readers (most of you friends, family, or old schoolmates) that a normal post reaches. I've also had fun sharing interesting facts and drumming up new ideas from the depths of cultural history: it always kept me thinking of new things, seeing what I could remember, what struck me as odd or obscure or too cool not to mention. And it was a good home for ideas that never would have made it as pitches to websites or magazines, but I liked too much to abandon. No editor was ever going to publish my close-reading of Bernard Williams's prose. But you read it anyway, and it was surprisingly popular.

In the beginning, the idea for the blog was to focus just on trivia, and stay away from the online culture of news-reposting and link-sharing altogether—not because those are bad things, but because I worried that if I started, I'd never stop. I have other things to do; and I don't want to be part of the cheap-reaction, cheap-outrage vending machine. The value of words has suffered from the literary equivalent of hyperinflation in these past two decades; you could say the same of the value of opinions. I try to think twice before I step into that marketplace.

More than once now, though, I've ended up writing on current events or in response to a piece of journalism elsewhere, like when I saw a lot of friends wondering about whether the academic life could be worthwhile in this terrible year since Ferguson, or when the New York Times Magazine ran a long article on the adult lives of international adoptees. Early on, I'd tried to keep Loose Signatures fairly impersonal; I didn't want it to be a journal, and didn't want it to be a matter of sharing my life or my mood with the world. Personality inevitably seeped in—but still, I am not 14, and a blog is not a diary.

But now, as I get ready to leave school and return to life in the U.S., I'm realizing that there are more aspects of my life that I'd like to share and record, and more reactions that are worth voicing. In particular, I'm excited to be delving more into Korean culture, language, and history over the course of the coming year, while also exploring a lot of things that being a full-time student precluded: good science writing; the Middle Ages; the history of major world religions; the American Civil War; contemporary literature; the titles of novels from Kenya, Egypt, Japan, and South Africa that I've started to amass but haven't yet been able to delve into. And I want to capture the sense that I'm learning about these things as I go along—not worrying about expertise, but sharing what it's like to draw connections, test hypotheses, overturn your assumptions.

So as I come back to Loose Signatures now, I'm planning on shifting my sense of what it is I'm doing. I still have no plans to become a news aggregator (I have friends who do that much more successfully than I do), or a halfpenny soapbox columnist-homilist. But I do plan on writing a little more personally, as well as reacting to and reposting more articles from elsewhere than I have in the past. The idea is to be less of a trivia whirlwind and a little bit more of a "Hey, I just found this out" source of sharing things that I'm just coming to myself. There will be inevitable errors of fact—but I'm hopeful that those of you who know better can chime in with thoughts, corrections, and further reading along the way. You, my readership, might be small, but you're one of the brightest any writer could ask for—and the best part of writing this these past two and a half years has been availing myself of your minds and reactions. I hope I can learn even more from you in the years to come!

Signing back on,
Spencer

1 comment:

  1. Always enjoy your view of the world. Welcome home!- Catherine

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