D’you follow me?

Is it somewhat audacious to ask for comprehension not just attention? Or is the second on its own worse?

‘Look, Mum! Mum… Mum… look, Mum. MUM!’ Sometimes it’s hard to shake the feeling that as my blog posts drip into the public feed I may as well be a small child tugging on your coat demanding just that split second of your attention.

But on the other hand, I’m after some sort of conversation, however stilted (and perhaps Beckettian), not an audience. And for that what’s desired is comprehension. Do you follow this line of thought? Does it make sense, can you see where it’s going, what I’m trying to say? Unless you follow a message to its meaning, you can’t really respond, and the statistics that register a dated interest, or a brief flicker of your gaze, or a misjudged mouse click may as well be that meaningless.

So in that sense, do you follow me?

It’s an interesting word though. Comprehension should never be enough for agreement or adherence. It’s not like I’m uttering a priori truths here, and hopefully nothing so tautological as to be trivial. So I’m not after followers. We should only ever fall behind something we’ve already seen; our agreement should never precede understanding, and we should be wary of looking for the element to ‘like’ rather than the elements to contemplate further, and possibly even challenge.

I’m following many of you, but to follow you is not to sit behind you, and trail along in your wake. Not unless you genuinely see your work as casting backwards.

To follow is to sit before something, in front of it. It is to place yourself so that it can be presented to you. I look in my reader at the people and the topics I’ve chosen to follow so far, and in making that choice to follow I’m creating windows in my existence that present a view of what you’re thinking or feeling or considering. Observation is always partial, and preconditioned, and typically selective at some level or other. In following you I’m not tagging along at your heels, but creating a way for you to reach me. It’s an act of permitting your activity, your agency, to achieve another goal or endpoint. But I’d like it still to remain an active thing on my part too, not merely passive. If I like something, or comment on something, it’s because I’ve read it, and I’ve let it in, and I’ve produced my own response to it.

You follow?

And if so, in what sense?

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Words…

“If the word doesn’t exist, invent it; but first be sure it doesn’t exist.”

Charles Baudelaire

 

Words are incredible objects. They sound so delicious, they have such visual intrigue. They facilitate communication kinds of such amazing value. They are engaged in a mutually dynamic relationship with our thoughts, our concepts, our perception, our experience. They enmesh us within symbolic orders; they set boundaries.

And they’re fun… and beautiful.

I intend to shamelessly pilfer from other people’s linguistic stockpiles (for isn’t that how language is shared anyhow?) to bring you my favourites. Favourites for delineating boundaries either amusing, or beautifully neat and compellingly useful.

A Space for Poetry…

I write poetry. Sometimes I dally in prose, but my attention span’s stamina staggers breathlessly towards the shorter lyric.

Amateurs don’t get audiences. Often this is because we don’t deserve the standard model, but sometimes just because opportunity never seems to exceed demand.

I want to make this a space for sharing. At least, I hope to share. You may join me, or send me links and I’ll look up your own writing on your own territory. Consider one’s typical audience. In my case, there’s a fan, who believes in my work. There’s also a supporter, who at least believes in me, even if the work itself is irrelevant to this faith. Then there are others who are apathetic. And others whose reaction is not elicited.

I would like to make this a space for commentary and criticism. Pretty much of any kind, to be honest. However, I would propose the following two criteria for minimal response as a starting point.

  1. State your favourite line/phrase
    1. This can be purely a matter of enjoying it; it doesn’t have to be the line with the perfect metaphor, or assonance, or imaginative spondee…
  2. State your least favourite line/phrase
    1. No matter how much the writer likes it, you may not. I think it should be ok to share. My writing never sounds the same in my head as it will in someone else’s. It’d be great to know, for once, what doesn’t work.

Hopefully that’s simple enough. I love the sound of poetry, I love the construction of a whole from units. Let’s start a criticism that seeks to identify the units that work best.