MIA Postscript

It seems as if Jerome Weeks and I have been having an informal competition this spring to see which of us can neglect his blog more.

He gained a strong lead last month by getting sick (as mentioned in his post "There Will Be Phlegm") -- making it impossible for me ever to catch up, in spite of my prolonged silent meditation here at the hermitage.
By the way, some messages from readers have used words like "malaise" or "doldrums" in responding to "Missing in Action," and tried to cheer me up by, e.g., pointing out that "when the Times runs a bad portrait of you, it means you must be doing something right."

While the gestures of support are indeed appreciated, it may be that I failed to communicate that things actually look pretty good from this side of 45. That item was not a symptom of midlife crisis. Rather, it was a manifestation of coming to the end of said crisis (which was, with hindsight, to have been going on for maybe four or five years, as it seems from the literature is roughly par for the course).

I've been digging down into the core interests and values that got me started as a writer -- concerns that had nothing to do with Harper's, to put it that way.

But at some point in my late twenties, that line from a Gang of Four song began to apply: "To have ambition was my ambition." (That so perfectly nails it. Not so much Making It-style ambition as the baffled sense that the mini-Pods would keep stepping right over me if I didn't start scrambling a bit myself.) And various miseries followed, and fed upon themselves, so that it is just luck of the genetic draw that no ulcer has resulted.

A longish essay that I published last fall was part of the effort to reflect on some of this, albeit without using the first-person pronoun. But then it became necessary to follow up some changes in everyday life and in my attitude to immediate circumstances. This is not something you can do in a day. And given just how much writing I've published over the past few years (my 200th column is due next week, for example) it really did not seem as if demonstrating my capacity for productivity was the most urgent task. That, rather, has involved reading Rosa Luxemburg and Hal Draper, to give just a couple of names.

Anyway, if it sounded like I needed encouragement, let me thank you for the concern, but also stress that I'm in the best spirits I have been in twenty years.

And on that note, let me throw out a couple of things for discussion -- particularly for those readers whose blogging is a supplement to regular writing elsewhere rather than a primary means of publication:

-- Do you find that you have to take breaks sometimes, or wonder why you're doing it? Is so, does taking a hiatus (announced or just de facto) make you feel guilty? And if it does, why?

-- How do you recharge the batteries? Reconnect with the deeper springs of motivation?

On the latter score, Scott Esposito suggests reading Roberto Bolaño, and after a look at Scott's essay, I'm even more persuaded that this is something I really need to do. (My great fear, actually, is that I'd get so drawn in that reading anything else would be impossible, and I'm already very behind on a lot of things.)

By the way: I heard somewhere that Bolaño was at some point a Trotskyist. Does anyone know if that is true?

And if so -- pressing my luck here -- what sub-species?
June 5, 2008 10:23 AM | | Comments (1)

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Bolano is the new Sebald. Everyone who is reading him is urging him on everyone who hasn't.
Think I'll go read some Balzac.

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This page contains a single entry by Quick Study published on June 5, 2008 10:23 AM.

Skronking Down the House with Bo Diddley was the previous entry in this blog.

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