Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tennyson Would Have Liked It

There was a time, not more than this-or-that day past, a person said to me, "What a stupid name." He was referring to the title of my blog. Fair enough. Opinion is just opinion, even if it is presented as fact. But when did an eccentric title ever take away from the contents of the work? And if the title be eccentric enough, interesting enough in its own right, surely, obviously, such a title becomes a positive. It is to this kind of title that the name of my blog climbs on its little blog feet, to the titles which intrigue one simply because they do not reveal instant or explicable meaning. I'm thinking here of novels like Cry, The Beloved Country or the wonderful To Kill A Mockingbird or anything written by Philip K. Dick. My philosophy here is a condensation of the Dave Eggers school, which seems to buy interest by itemizing possibilities instead of quantifying them, the contents of the page instead of the headline, if you will. My philosophy here is that of Umberto Eco, who sought a title that would achieve obscurity by meaning too many things at once, a title that would ride madly in all directions, a title that was exotically ordinary, or the reverse. This, of course, is the heart of Romance. I like to think that my blog's title is Romantic. I do not like to think that it is stupid. Why did this person regard the title of my blog so unfavourably? Perhaps he thought it had no relevance to the contents of this site. Right, then, he was wrong, my critic was.

Within each craft, there was a massive library. The Terror carried 1,200 volumes, while the Erebus had 1,700. The assortment of books included narratives of early Arctic explorations, as well as the Dickens classic, Nicholas Nickleby.

John Franklin believed there was a Northwest Passage through the Arctic. He thought he could reach the cold seas of Japan if he only persevered long enough. Well, John Franklin was a foolhardy ass and a bad leader. He was forced to abandon the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror in the deep winter ice, and take the bare chance he might reach the far distant Canadian shore. He never made it. His men turned cannibals, he himself froze to death, and his ships, that summer, sank to the bottom of the sea.

It may be that Franklin's lost ships will one day be recovered. And the 2900 books that sanks in those ships, together with the new inventions of the time, will also be recovered. But until that day comes, those books are forever missing from this world, and we must make do without them. This blog, then, is part of that making-do. In variety, in content, this site is plainly lacking what the Erebus and Terror contained. No matter. Sir John Franklin's library will not be forgotten, not by me. I like to think of those black wooden ships, lying in the utterly cold darkness a mile below the ice and surface of the sea. Nothing of those wrecks will ever fade, nothing will ever come to those books until the last fire heats the deep, and the great monsters, rising, bring all the sunken world with them.

Reading: Humour is so hard to find in writing. This site, for instance, is nearly devoid of it. But there's a lot of humour out there in newer genres, specifically online. And although not everone can be a funny man, or a clever writer, right now I'm reading a writer who is both, and you should, too. His latest piece, "The AntiChrist Is Among Us, And He Has A Moustache", a review of the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie film, is bitterly ridiculous, and nearly had me in tears. I recommended him before, I'm recommending him again. Check out The 16mm Shrine + Ash Karreau, or, possibly, Ash Carreau

Listening: I like her, but that's no reason for you not to. She's got her own mention on the frontpage of Myspace and a retooled album. She's everywhere, of course (well, for the next 15 nanoseconds on the net), and she should be. Don't check her out because she's everybody's darling, check her out because she's good. And she has the cutest name ever, too, don't you think? Come on! You like it! Tennyson would have liked it, too. "O'Sailor" + Fiona Apple

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