Happy New Year blog! You are just over 6 months old..you have 4! (count em) 4 official followers! Some people have RSS’d you!! You’ve had over 3500 hits in the past 6 months!!!
As is the way at this time of year – it’s often useful to look back at events and experiences of the last 6 or 12 months, weigh up and contemplate successes and failures and have some kind of plan for 2012. Since beginning this blog I’ve had discussions with people, received feedback and begun to read the blogs of others.
So here are my thoughts on blogging so far.
It’s hard to know if I should currently count my blog as a ‘success’….. doing so would possibly imply that it had some kind of aim.. and I’m not sure what the aim of it was to start with to be honest. I wanted a place just to put down thoughts to myself which perhaps others could share, reflect comment on…. to show things I make, create, write… to share photos I’ve taken and to attempt to document both my intellectual and artistic journey. I also occasionally use it for thoughts around my academic work. I guess what I’ve struggled to do is to refine it down to one single thing which I think in terms of blog ‘effectiveness’ (i.e communicating a single message) is traditionally not thought of as a good thing – but in terms of personal benefit I think it is. The blog is not just about my passions or my work or wholly biographical, wholly evidence based or wholly arts based. It is a combination of these things, because I am a combination of these things. I found it incredibly hard to define myself through one single activity or discipline or pursuit, and I rather think that perhaps similar to twitter this diversity, I would argue is a good thing.
As humans we are inherently habitual creatures and as Bourdieu writes, our experiences of everyday life and our place in the social settings/structures within which we are situated often lead us to ways of acting or ways of being which encourage us to replicate learned behaviour. Perhaps the continual stream of diverse subjects/topics coupled with a conflicting a lack of narrative (i.e mainly individual and unrelated blog posts) encourage not only small bites of knowledge dissemination or thinking points, and dialogue across disciplines, but also in addition (as is the way with this blog) combining art with this – will encourage the followers to interpret and reflect on their own experience in order to succumb to the often common modern human reflex which is to ‘order ‘ or to ‘make sense’ of everything. Again I view this as a positive thing. All to often in life we are taught to expect the linear neat ‘story’ this is demonstrated through our telling of history to the simple childhood fairytale. Its is an uncomfortable truth however that this is never really the case.
Whilst mostly blog posts have no specific narrative the one story that currently does emerge throughout is my story, as I am the sole creator of this blog. My story is inevitably told then perhaps covertly by demonstrating the topics I am interested in and more overtly by the inclusion of an element of biographical material, this which needs on to my next thinking point….
To share or not to share – that is no longer a question…
Blogs spring up for all sorts of reasons and I guess like twitter its entirely up to the individual how little or how much they disclose, or what level or personal topics they cover. At first I approached the blog with an intention of the ‘I’ remaining more removed from my writing. However unexpectedly as I began to write it seems that it became easier for me to express things… I also made another significant discovery. The word press site management functions enable me to see the search terms that people entered into google to arrive at my blog and I was really surprised as to the things that were coming up – a lot of the time they were related to productions, artists, theorists that I had mentioned but often they were more personal:
- My PhD supervisor shouts at me
- PhD student expectations
- PhD first year unhappy
- PhD I feel alone
- The body
There were a number of others, but I realised how the internet could be used to create meaning. As well as providing an element of personal catharsis I began to realise the potential of the internet to act as a type of virtual support for people who were experiencing the same/similar things whether positive or negative. By revealing the truth about our lives and revealing our authentic selves and to remove as far as possible the conscious effort to ‘self present’ ourselves.. the possibility that stigma around certain experiences may be removed, and perhaps in a most idealistic sense – support could be given even if no interaction between reader/blogger ever occurs. I noticed that as my posts became more honest and I revealed deeper things so did others. So they benefitted as well – in a way. Also I find the roots of my internet meanderings often come down to some basic philosophical things – life, death, love, family, food, sex, leisure – this perhaps reflects my own values and past/current experiences. Also my research – concerned with the experience of ageing often highlights these basic things. As we grow older and our worlds shrink, our bodies change and we approach the end of life inherently we appreciate and see things differently. The basic principles are often the most important and I guess so far my feelings around the issues brought to my attention all add up to the simpler and most fundamental things in life. It’s difficult and it becomes almost meaningless to attempt an over intellectualisation of the theory/issues/context surrounding the humanistic experience of ageing particularly when published in the blogsphere. I want it to be accessible. Not aimed at academics but to somehow use a language that speaks to everyone.
The future of this blog
So what’s in store for 2012? I guess for me and for the blog? I currently have 76 posts pending covering ideas for research, art, creativity, ageing, biography and other ideas. I hope to have a greater focus on my photography work and on my research which I hope will be of interest. I still have a number of reflection around courses I’ve attended and productions to write up which I hope to get done before I go back to work. I guess next year you can expect more of the same but with new stuff too – telling my story and the story of others. I expect that at times you will find it beautiful, uncomfortable, interesting, confusing and hopefully inspiring and thought provoking too. I currently plan to maintain this blog until September 2013. Then after that perhaps will act as documentary evidence of a transitionary time for me. Anyhow, whatever happens I hope somehow you get something out of it, even if you don’t always agree with it.
So, I’ll sign off now, I don’t think I will get a chance to post tomorrow so I guess from me I have to say ‘Happy New Year’ and thanks for following and commenting.. .. maybe on New Years eve you are off out to do something exciting…. maybe you are staying in and rejoicing in domestic bliss.. maybe you’re going to drink a bottle of Jack Daniels and wish the whole fucking pantomime would go away.. whatever happens I will see you on the other side…and maybe.. just maybe.. 2012 is going to be our year…