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Concerning the Blog

This blog is a record of one man’s thoughts, which include but are not limited to: questions, prayers, maxims, dialogues both recorded and invented, observations, quotes from other writers, poems, parables, definitions, lists, etc.

There is no planned arrangement of the thoughts. They are unordered, variously structured, and at first glance disparate, yet not so disparate as to give the impression that they come from more than one writer. It may be that patterns emerge from the posts, but the reader should consider the patterns incidental to the content of those posts. Beyond this simple sketch of the contents of the blog, the writer will make no attempt to systematize his thoughts. Key-word tags and categories are used for finding old thoughts easily and not for much else. Anyway, little is gained and much is lost when one man’s thoughts are built up into a system. The writer of this blog is one man of many words, one heart overflowing, but no one needs a system to be sure of that.

Concerning the Tasks of Writers and Readers

Some of the thoughts may be confusing. It is not the writer’s intention to confuse, but he does insist that the reader reads—slowly, earnestly, trustingly.

Each thought is a firmly closed door. The reader may be unable to guess where that door leads, but his task as a reader is to open that door and find out. Some writers (but not the writer of this blog!) take up the added responsibility of preparing the reader for what will or should be found on the other side of the door. Such a writer is called an “author.” And an author, in presumptive fatherliness, diminishes the task of the reader. Authors do this so well and so often that some readers (but not the reader of this blog!) become habitually unwilling to approach closed doors at all. Instead, these readers prefer the convenience of finding their own thoughts already opened up.

So these readers, when they encounter the contents of this blog and the possible confusion that follows from a thought, will hastily retreat back to their “feeds” and “digests,” as if reading were as easy as eating. (They are aptly called “consumers” of words.) Yet the reader of this blog should not be alarmed by confusion. All the closed doors here are meant to be opened, and all confusion meant to be resolved, but by the reader. Keeping this in mind, the writer writes slowly, earnestly, and trustingly for the reader.

Still, the unfortunately labeled “comment” function with each post is more for the writer. There is no expectation for “comments,” but what writer is not delighted by conversation! Anyway, while not being obligated to write a response, the reader who accepts the task to read slowly and earnestly and trustingly will nevertheless begin a conversation—with himself. That, at least, is what the writer expects.

Concerning the Writer

Biographical details can never be anything more than interesting—interesting in the sense that they temporarily stave off boredom. The appetite of boredom is most sated by human life, and all who are bored devour lives by the dozen. The life of a writer is the special diet of those impatient readers, those consumers who crave only hearing without understanding, only seeing without discerning—to say nothing of only hearing the word without doing it. Again, the consumers enjoy, most of all, finding their own thoughts on a page without thinking anything anew. And knowing about a writer’s life makes this consumption easier because the biographical details become a scheme for summing up the writer, thoughts and all; the consumers take in thoughts that have become easy on the palate, so the speak, seasoned to taste by facts. In the end, biographical details tend to make readers approach a text in a way that undermines the slowness, earnestness, and trust that characterize the genuine reader’s task.

Knowing something about the writer should be treated as a terrible temptation—no, as an enemy that will come to steal and kill and destroy whatever good the thoughts might hold. Let the biographical details neither legitimize the thoughts nor undermine them.

It is best to forget the writer altogether. Forget his art. Forget his background. Only remember his hope: that the reader be upbuilt in the reading.



5 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Upbuilding Discourse « The Overflow

  2. Hello Mr. Line-Through-Circle

    1. A couple thoughts: wouldn’t the mythic “genuine reader” you are writing for be able to penetrate the “distraction” of biographical details, given her craving to think anew and engage in edifying conversation? If you believe in some kind of communion or something between writer and reader, shouldn’t that be bigger, go beyond getting caught up in biographical detail? Do you not trust potential readers so much that you don’t want to say, hey, my name is so-and-so, I live in there-abouts, I am a regular person? Do you really believe your writing will be read more honestly in some kind of vacuum, if you come off as some kind of cyber-ghost without name and place and age? I think it’s likely readers will be more willing to read and will be more likely to connect with your writing if you more honestly announce your context, however inconsequential or irrelevant you may feel it to be (although I don’t think it is either – does your writing stand apart from your biographical detail?)

    2. Is not this denouncement of biography itself just as likely to encourage the very thing it claims to undermine – legitimizing or undermining the writer in the mind of the reader?

    3. Let’s be honest – anyone who read to the bottom of your page is not the mythic “consumer” reader, so you can drop the pontificating on that subject after the “Concerning the Task of Writers and Readers” section, at the latest.

    Lastly, thanks for the blog – I hope to find some good challenging conversation here.

    • Re: Mr. Line-Through Circle. You still make me laugh, Matthew. You may use my name since you know it. I’m not afraid of being discovered. If I were, why publish this blog through social media?

      I use the pseudonym so that, as much as possible, if possible, I might stay in the background while the thoughts stand forth. For those who do know me, and who see me in the writing, I can only hope that they would continue to know me without letting that knowledge frame the writing in a falsifying context.

      Re: penetrating the distraction. The biographical details do not necessarily disable readers, but they do “tend to make readers approach a text in a way that undermines” genuine reading. Given this, withholding the biographical details is meant to encourage genuine reading—not because the readers are deficient, but because a man would hate to lay a stumbling block before his brothers. Concerning what is “undermined,” the relevant distinction between genuine readers and consumers is that the latter find biographical details interesting and use them to make sense of the ideas. But this use, or abuse, is a backwards hermeneutic that glosses over the thoughts and goes for the system. It is in hermeneutics what plain racism is in human relationships.

      Re: writing in a vacuum. As you have suggested, this is impossible. But I still make no especial effort to gain the attention of readers who feel an attachment to a summary of my life.

      Re: denouncing biography. I would not denounce all biography. Biography itself may be useful and edifying. But if a biography were supposed to comprehend the subject’s thoughts, it would ultimately ignore those thoughts.

      Re: point #2. One thought may recommend another. But this is not the same thing as using biographical details to declare one’s authority.

  3. Pingback: From My Journal. A Theory of Art and Thought. | The Overflow

  4. Pingback: A Passage. Of Loveliness. Of Human Art versus God’s Creation. Of Intimate Knowledge. | The Overflow

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