[Caveat lector: this a pitch, to be read in your best modulated NPR host voice.]
“The Republic of Newsletters and the Isles of Blogging, my friend. That’s what’s left. Messages in bottles from hermit caves by the sea.”
That’s the English writer Warren Ellis. I’m not sure where he wrote that, but I caught it in a tweet from Austin Kleon right before I sat down to compose this post.
Ellis’ sentiment resonated with me. As most of you reading this know, it describes rather well where I feel most at home in the writing world: here on this site, which is in its ninth year, and in the newsletter I began publishing earlier this year. And, admittedly, it does sometimes feel just like sending messages in bottles from a hermit cave by the sea. I’m never quite sure what exactly I’m accomplishing with regards to the kinds of problems I tend to write about, but I keep writing.
Sometimes I think of the title of the Flannery O’Connor short story, “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” and it occurs to me that this is pretty much what I’m doing here. Saving my own life in some way I don’t altogether understand by continuing to think in public as it were. If this thinking in public ends up being helpful to someone else as well, all the better.
I think I’ve got something to say, of course, it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise, but, as I see it, that’s chiefly a function of the intellectual and moral resources I channel. Whatever is valuable in the point of view I take is entirely derivative of this eclectic set of resources. The best I know to do is to bring the light of those who have illuminated my understanding to bear on the present darkness, and, perhaps, combine those lights in a way that amplifies their power.
As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve found myself with a brief window wherein to make some sort of sustainable living out of the independent scholar/nontraditional academic/freelancer gig, while also working to build CSET from the ground up (exciting things coming next year, by the way). If you think something of value is going on here and think it might be worth supporting, I’ve got a link for you right here. Consider this my combined Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday appeal. (I’ll spare you the “for the cost of just one tall macchiato a day” spiel.) Alternatively, there will be a link at the end of each post and in the sidebar should you occasionally feel the urge to leave a tip.
That’s it, we both made it, barely. Drop the NPR voice. The pitch is over. Won’t do that again for a long time. Thanks for reading. Regularly scheduled programming will resume now.