I have held off writing anything here primarily because I have so much other writing I need to be doing that it felt altogether too great a selfish and irresponsible act to record much of anything in this space beyond my careless litle joke with those personal interest buttons below. But I am stuck in a hotel room just now, with nothing much else to do, except read, and I have done rather a lot of that in the last few days,— and I am feeling that siren call of ego that causes otherwise discrete individuals to declare their personal, and intimate, and (inevitably, I suppose) much too clichè secrets to that awkwardly indiscrete publican, the internet. The my, my, my of self surely is not so utterly used up that it cannot stand at least one more tasteless frolic in the public square, and I am not so deluded as to imagine that this obscure little corner of wikiland will be visited by many, if, indeed, any at all.
I half justify myself in the notion that an ordering and declaration of my varied interests may actually be fruitful and in some odd sort of way may even prove therapeutic,— however, another half of me, a more cycnical minded fellow, only laughs and says, simply, "it is braggadocio you practice here, and nothing more." Well, then, so be it. Let the bragging begin, and pray no one with any subtlety of taste or honesty of discretion discovers it.
My interests are broad,— well, there is the first great brag, but it is true. And interests may be broad without being particular great, altough, I clearly intend,— this is the brag,— that they be taken as both.
But how to order them, these wretchedly varied interests. Properly speaking, if context has any relevance, I suppose I should order them by virtue of my activities on this site. I should say, in the language of wikipedia, I have done some editting of the article on Matthew Arnold and on his poem "Dover Beach" and on several related articles including that on Arthur Clough,— and added a few small comments on John Dewey (one of the most wretched articles in the whole encyclopedia with Dewey, himself, caught carelessly between the adamant invectives of conservatives and post modernists alike,— a miracle, I suppose, as the two are not likely to agree on much else),— and I have hovered around a few of the articles on nineteenth century English painters and another few articles on etchers and other types of print makers,— and the wikisource files for Plutarch's Lives (which wrongly were listed as being translated by Dryden),— and, no doubt, a few others that do not come to mind just now.
How utterly trite all this sounds, how lacking in breadth and whatever might pass in this century for a greatness of intellectual spirit. Why could I not say that I have a desire to clarify and correct and make perfect some larger article on poetry or hermeneutics or mythology or relgion, or some great wonder of a writer popular amongst the taste-makers of our new century's intellectuals such as Borges, or Blake, or Nietzsche, or Gadamer, or Wallace Stevens, or some such other writer who now stands tall in our non-canoncial canons. (May I be forgiven if I point out, with more than a little sarcasm and invective, that our taste-makers of today are as self-certain of their tastes as had been the taste-makers of any past age, and most particularly of those ages of adamantine certainty that we are, today, so likely to disparage.) Instead I drudge away (in good memory of good old Samuel Johnson) on the relatively obscure, who even if they are (so I must believe, must I not?) the victims of gross misunderstanding, would still be, even were they to be more properly understood, the most unlikely of candidates for stardom in this new century: the Matthew Arnolds and Arthur Cloughs, the C. R. Leslies and George Adolphus Storeys. And why? Because even John Dewey, himself a relative obscurity, but a favorite in certain quarters, seems overburdened by an excess of attention and that desire for obsessive and extreme readings that are so much the rage in this bloggers' world. And as much as I would like to ferret out something more moderate in the Dewey article I must confess that I feel a little daunted. And here is Matthew Arnold in a relatively quiet corner of wikipedia and on my shelf are Super's collected edition of the prose and Allott's annotation to the poems, and beside them collections of Clough (Arnold's brother-friend-sparring partner). And I cannot help but say to myself, "this is doable. This touches in me just that little bit of the bibliographer and collector of odd knowledge. This I may do,— this I must do."
Then along comes the "caveat writer" (for whom see the archives of the "Dover Beach" site) and to my surprise Arnold is not so quiet a corner of the internet. And I am accused (very righty I must say) of being overly protective of a particular article (the wikifolk have an acronym for that, as they do for everything, which is delightfully amusing, but too cursory for my taste) and accused, as well, of not having organized the article as an encyclopedia article should be organized (oh how wounding that, and yet how very true).
Et in Arcadia ego. No there is no quiet corner of the internet, no gentle pasture of pastoral beauty, no Thyrsis, no Gipsy Scholar. No, only the rough and awkward noise of people coming and going in haste. But they are people, falable and delightful in their robust humanity, and perhaps I should really be thankful I have not found that false bucolic that even Arnold, in the nineteenth century, knew had long since past from this earth.
Clueless in wikipedia land
- If I collect enough of these buttons, do I win some sort of prize?