May 02, 2014

A good blog is your own private Wikipedia

Writing in the New Yorker, Ian Crouch (@iancrouch) wrote an article with an interesting headline, 'The curse of reading and then forgetting.' Ian Crouch explained a recent experience of reading and suddenly remembering:
"Recently, a colleague mentioned that she had been rereading Richard Hughes’s “A High Wind in Jamaica,” which was first published in 1929 and is about a group of creepy little kids who become the unwanted wards of sad, listless pirates. She praised it, and her recommendation sent me to Amazon. The title was familiar, as was the vibrant cover of the New York Review Books reissue. One cent and $3.99 for shipping, and the book was on its way. A couple of weeks later, I opened to the first page and started reading. By the fifth page, I realized that I had read this novel before, and pretty recently, about three years ago, when another colleague had also praised it and lent me his copy."
Siegfreed Sassoon wrote something similar:
"For it is humanly certain that most of us remember very little of what we have read. To open almost any book a second time is to be reminded that we had forgotten well-nigh everything that the writer told us. Parting from the narrator and his narrative, we retain only a fading impression; and he, as it were, takes the book away from us and tucks it under his arm."
Perhaps this is why Oscar Wilde said:
"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all."
And as Vladimir Nobokov said:
"Curiously enough, one cannot read a book; one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, and active and creative reader is a rereader."
Though Ian Crouch questions rereading. He said:
"Part of my suspicion of rereading may come from a false sense of reading as conquest. As we polish off some classic text, we may pause a moment to think of ourselves, spear aloft, standing with one foot up on the flank of the slain beast. Another monster bagged. It would be somehow less heroic, as it were, to bend over and check the thing’s pulse. But that, of course, is the stuff of reading—the going back, the poring over, the act of committing something from the experience, whether it be mood or fact, to memory. It is in the postmortem where we learn how a book really works."
He concludes in support of rereading:
"Maybe, then, for a forgetful reader like me, the great task, and the greatest enjoyment, would be to read a single novel over and over again. At some point, then, I would truly and honestly know it."
There is an alternative. David Meerman said:
"After nearly 1,000 posts over almost a decade, I use my blog as a catalog of my ideas. It may seem strange, but I search my own blog several times a day."
Andrew Sullivan said that "A good blog is your own private Wikipedia." Like logs, blogs, are a form of human self-correction. The historic form closest to blogs is the diary. Except a blog, unlike a diary, is instantly public. As Andrew Sullivan said, the blogosphere has created an open-source market of thinking and writing.

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