How does one create a sense of intimacy with a blog? The very word, blog, heavy and lugubrious, suggests something one may not want to get too close to. Does intimacy imply a kind of secrecy, like the sharing of handwritten letters over time between two persons who have never met in propria persona? The Latin mass seemed intimate, and when, following Vatican II, local masses were said in the vernacular, I felt a loss of intimacy. The words in English had lost their secrecy. The mystery of the mass was no longer much of a mystery, no longer a magic show. The priest talked just like everybody else. This should have led to a greater degree of intimacy, but it did not.
One characteristic of the Internet is its ubiquitous presence, McLuhan’s “global village” realized, but for anyone who’s ever lived in a small town, the Internet might seem its opposite, an absurdly large, strange village, more like something Kafka might have dreamed rather than Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio.” But the paradox of “Winesburg” is found in the irony that one feels intimacy most when one feels most lonely. It is the loss of intimacy when one feels the value of the familiar, of something made known especially for you. But “over the Internet” intimacy is spread as thin as Emily’s gossamer gown.
One blog I follow that seems to have created a sense of intimacy for or with its readers is Spitafields Life. Does follow suggest intimacy? But what if one is followed by a multitude? That would seem hardly the suggestion of intimacy. Yet the Spitafields blog is written by “The Gentle Author,” whose actual name we don’t know. Note the note of secrecy that seems to draw the normally distant intimacy near. The Gentle Author offers a course on how to write a blog. The next one is advertised at Spitafields for May. Maybe I should cross the pond and attend, buy a copy of one of The Gentle Author’s signed books, find out if The Gentle Author is male or female, not that it matters – would that knowledge increase or diminish a sense of intimacy?
Blogs come in many disguises and intents, purposes vary. The lifespan of the average blog is probably not very long, could be as short as a day or two, indeed, an hour or two. One might quickly discover the blogger’s life contains the secret of a crushing intimacy, more sad and forlorn than a single tweet could ever hope for. The sound of the whippoorwill.
So it came as some surprise to see the comment of one distant but familiar reader who found the new format I’m working on for The Coming of the Toads, “less intimate.” The folks who started the Internet, huddled over their code, as anonymous as a telephone pole on a country road, surely must have been among the least intimate of the ones to whom one might want to write. Or I just might have that backwards. IDK. The bloggers among us who prefer writing with words rather than with CSM must rely on canned templates to fulfill our visions! Admittedly though, I’m not even sure what CSM is, but I think it has something to do with the difference between visual and HTML. And so I leave you, no doubt, gentle reader, about as far from intimacy as I can get in this particular post.