Tuesday, January 1, 2008


To mark the new year, I thought I'd make some resolutions for blogging. Mainly it comes down to topics, areas covered. I'd like each month to contain a commentary on a book of poetry, and on a novel read that month, as well as at least one "music through the years" entry for either 1968 or 1978, or possibly both, as in a comparison of notable albums in each year for that month. Assuming that the WHC film series has worthwhile offerings in the new semester, I'll continue to comment on what I see. In fact, I'm instituting three new lists in sidebars: 2008: Read -- to record any book I've read this year; 2008: Acquired -- to mark any music acquired this year; 2008: Viewed -- to note any film or DVD viewed. Anything listed is potentially a topic for comment.

What I call "observations" is a bit more haphazard. I think of it as "topical," though the topics aren't necessarily newsworthy. I would like to resolve to write at least once a month on something that is "of general interest" (whatever that might mean), but I also think of "observation" as applying to any more extended discussion of almost anything -- the blog itself, for instance, as in this entry, or, ideally, if I can ever go so far, commentary that is not specific to a particular example. Like, y'know, theory? Critique? Something like that.

Events, as a category, will be as events go -- I don't attend things just to have something to write about, and I don't write about everything I attend. I like writing as a witness or audience to some gathering, but I make no resolution to do so every month.

Somewhere along the way recently I read a horoscope that said I should tell stories more than give opinions. So in that spirit, I hope to give a bit more space to "a day in the life" -- which I don't promise will be exciting, or even interesting, but which should be more narrative-like. I draw the line at keeping a "public" diary, but I've come across blogs I find oddly compelling in their immediacy. I can't promise it will happen, but I might try a bit more.

So that's what's ahead in the new year, in so far as I have any say in it. What the new year will offer as occasions for comment I can't begin to say. Which is why I'm skeptical about resolutions in general. "Who knows what tomorrow may bring" is my basic outlook, though I tend to be a rather inert status quo type in my general disposition. That, and the fact that I tend toward retrospect, means that this blog will never exactly be 'ground-breaking.' I'm more interested in telling "the way it was" than "the way it is." And on that note, here's the first line of each month for the year that was, 2007:

January (I leave out the entry about the blog for the past year): Today I received a rejection of my essay on Molly Bloom. ("Getting Serious / Having Fun" 1/5)

February: This past week the Finnegans Wake reading group recommenced its labors with the first half of "Anna Livia Plurabelle." ("The Use of Joyce" 2/2)

March: This week's tasks in Daily Themes had to do with the creation of characters. ("Characters" 3/2)

April: The Indigent Ministers' 1967 release, Camp Scratch, is out of print and hard to find, lamentably. ("Music Through The Years, 13" 4/1)

May: Saturday I attended a performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, presented by the Yale School of Music, the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, the Yale Glee Club, and featuring the Philharmonic Orchestra of Yale. ("Music of the Fears" 5/1)

June: A few weeks ago a friend asked what the last word of my novel is. ("Home" 6/19)

July: Of the writers I consider the most influential on myself -- the ones I can't imagine NOT having read -- Proust came last. ("Mighty Marcel" 7/10)

August: Summer now dwindles to its close. ("Summering, 2" 8/26)

September: It's the anniversary of the start of Blogocentrism and as fate or some other abstract entity would have it I recently read two different accounts of the internet world . . . ("It's the End of the World as We Know It" 9/1)

October: The novel for class last week was H.G. Wells' Tono-Bungay (1909), a long, rambling tale of rise and fall . . . ("Romance as Spectacle" 10/4)

November: I recently saw two films at WHC that complimented each other well, though they weren't shown together: Killer of Sheep (1977) by Charles Burnett and Pather Panchali (1955) by Satyajit Ray. ("Friday Night Films" 11/4)

December: This weekend I saw Todd Haynes' much ballyhooed I'm Not There -- an attempt to render homage to the Dylan mystique at plus two hours length. ("What a Drag It Is to See You" 12/3)

Other reflections on the year that was? I saw online a New Year's questionnaire (about the old year). Here's a few:

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before? saw the Vermeer and the Rembrandt in the Frick museum

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Two chapters on Pynchon's fiction

9. What was your biggest failure? Not finishing at least the 3rd chapter

11. What was the best thing you bought? Probably the laptop I just got (though actually my wife bought it). So, I guess my new watch.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007? "Wolf Like Me" by TV on the Radio

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? writing

26. What was the best book you read? re-read of The Good Soldier

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? that I could listen to a mix CD made by a twentysomething and like most of it

30. What was your favorite film of this year? The Darjeeling Limited

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? they don't pay me enough to dress up for class

34. What kept you sane? the conversation of people who actually seem interested in what I say

36. What political issue stirred you the most? who the hell is going to replace W and what can be done about the sad state of things, in general

37. Who do you miss? anyone I've just spent some quality time with

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
oh and we carried it all so well
as if we got a new position
oh and I'll laugh all the way to hell
saying "yes this is a fine promotion"
oh and I'll laugh all the way to hell

of course everyone goes crazy over such and such and such
we made ourselves a pillar but we just used it as a crutch
we were certainly uncertain at least I'm pretty sure I am
well we didn't need the water we just built that good goddamn

oh and I know this of myself
and I assume as much for other people
oh and I know this of myself
we've listened more to life's end gong
than to the sound of life's sweet bells

--Modest Mouse, "Missed the Boat"

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