A Masthead for Vagabonds, Drunkards and Saints

–No Title–

When I write I tend to start with titles. They act as targets of a sort: I know where I want to go; I’m just not sure how I’m going to get there. But one of the rules of blogging is that you shouldn’t be too creative with your titles. If your titles are too creative, you greatly reduce the chances that Google’s Sauronic eye will find you. And since, like all writers, I crave readers like an AA member craves a drink, I oblige the requirement. But not today.

To be frank, I really don’t like the term “blogger”–at all. I’m just not sure why we need a new word for writer. Poets write. Playwrights write. Novelists write. Essayists write. It’s good enough for them. Obviously, I know that bloggers write, but they also blog. Blawg. The sound of it is enough to send me scrambling for a typewriter. Blawg. I suppose it’s not that simple though. When you write in a journal you might say, “I’m journaling”–a way, I assume, to indicate the masturbatory nature of the writing, since to say, “I’m writing,” implies that someone other than you will be giving your writing a reading. Of course, blogging is sometimes catastrophically close to journaling, but still, there are no “journalers.” It’s just not a word. And every poetic sensibility I have is offended that “The blogger is blogging his blog,” is not only grammatically viable, but solid sense to boot.

Have we finally reached the point of in our linguistic evolution that we can just say, “smurf-it,” and cut back on all those ridiculous dictionaries, with their preposterous parts of speech and cockamamie collections of Greek etymologies? It often seems so. Between Google’s googull, blogging’s blawg, and all the twittering about Facebook, our public debates have all the phonetic variety of a fart contest–tack a few gutturals to the end of our goos and blaws, and we’re ready to go. Indeed, some of the most ridiculous moments of The Social Network–a fairly entertaining movie besides–centered around the faux-innovation of things like “The Wall,” and “Relationship Status”; let alone when Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker drops the definite article from Facebook, because, you know, “The Facebook” is sooo jejune. Not that I don’t use Facebook, or enjoy the easy way it allows me to spy on my fellows, support my friends and sell myself, but really, Facebook was a creative breakthrough the way blow jobs were a creative breakthrough–nice, but you just end up in the same place with less effort. Social revolution is definitely not coming to a status update near you.

To be fair, though, the way our public discourse circles the proverbial drain isn’t new. That other great cosmopolitan sewage system called Rome was pretty low brow too. Most of the graffiti that archaeologists uncover in Roman excavations is grammatically cracked, rife with slang and subject-verb confusion, but probably not half as beautiful as some of the Los Angeles graffiti artists, so I suppose there’s been some progress. The Romans had a similar fascination with linguistic economy, and things turned out pretty well for them, right? I guess we should just embrace it. The thing is, I didn’t sit down to write a screed against blogging–I was actually going somewhere else entirely–but that’s one of the limitations of the medium, frequency.

Unlike other mediums in which a writer can wait months, years, or even decades between artistic productions, in order to build a digital audience, one must be prolific. Updating a blog less than once a week is begging for anonymity, and really, from everything I’ve read, twice a week is the minimum to keep people coming. As a writer, having a blog is like being on a first date–forever. Not to say that you don’t end up with faithful readers, you do–and I thank all of you who are–but you better show up on time, dressed appropriately, with some charm and a little mood music, or you’re definitely not getting laid. Not that I expected to get laid on first dates–back when I still had them–but there was a certain alchemical concoction that increased the probability. And though I love science, I won’t say no to magic–especially when casting bones for a romp.

I suppose I’m complaining a lot about something that’s been kind to me, which means I have just enough adolescent self-indulgence to be a writer. That’s how I think of myself at least–a writer, a self-publishing essayist, an occasional poet, an as-of-yet failed novelist, a paid columnist, but never as a blogger. Blawgerr. It really unnerves, which is why I bend all sorts of rules about blogging, like the varied subject matter, and the length of the entries, but I’m a pimp for my pieces too, so I don’t bend the rules too far, which is why I send out two Facebook updates per entry, cajole my fiancé into reposting them again, and check the number of visitors obsessively–2,108 as of today. It’s why I took a stylized photo of myself with a bunch of books, some scotch and my old worn-out black belt, because I want everyone to know that these pieces–I won’t call them posts–have a real pimp, a hard drinking, deep reading, hardcore Hapkido master, who will slap you Johns into shape if you start mistreating them. It’s all true; well, except for maybe the adjectives, but it’s ridiculous regardless, since I’m scared of tiny-framed Zadie Smith and Annie Dillard, and all those corpses who wrestled beauty from the mud.

Still, in spite of my fear, I may be a pimp, but I’m not a whore, so today I’m leaving the title on the floor.

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