Thursday, November 15, 2007

He Tires Somewhat

Over at Havering On, a former regular commenter on Thought Experiments, City Unslicker, remarks, 'I tire somewhat of his blog sometimes.' Unslicker, my heart goes out to you. I tire of it too. It goes nowhere, it achieves nothing. Many visitors land, stare around in bewilderment and get back on the Easyjet. 'What,' a Sunday Times writer asked me the other day, 'is your blog for?' 'What,' I snapped back, 'is a flower for?' Remember the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. But, to be honest, Thought Experiments will not settle down to being a flower. Nige, of course, strews flowers as he passes through, drawing in urgent new subjects like statues, birds, Croydon and his incontinently loved Carshalton. But I sit here in inspissated gloom, casting my increasingly paranoid gaze on increasingly strange corners of the world. Today, for example, probably I am the only blogger drawn to the news that low self-esteem promotes materialism. As we enter the grim world of Christmas advertising, it becomes clear that the best possible ad for Calvin Klein's Get Laid Now fragrance would be one that tells their viewers they are know nothing scum. They kind of do this already. Again I am probably the only person in the world worrying about the 2038 or Y2K38 problem. This was drawn to my attention by David in a comment on Ray Kurzweil. Apparently it means, as things so often do, that we are all going to die. Of course, I was going to assess, consider and finally dismiss this suggestion that we stop calling it the Theory of Evolution and call it The Law of Evolution in order to silence those doubters who keep sneering, 'It's only a theory.' But my heart's not really in it this morning. I was also thinking about Simon Jenkins's use of the word 'frit' and the way this fragment of Lincolnshire dialect has stuck in political discourse ever since Thatcher first used it in 1983. There's also the continuing Northern Rock horror which is now certain to cost the taxpayers four hospitals and may well cost us 60. I passed a branch in Norwich yesterday. There were, of course, no customers, just four staff members standing there grinning weakly. Sadly, I did not have my trusty D200. The last time I took it to Norwich I was nearly arrested. NR's chief executive and all round jerk - Applegarth - has a name like mine and its chairman, Matt Ridley, used to be a friend. We once had a very intense discussion in a castle. It was being filmed and 'moderated' by Evan Davies, but was never used because it was too complicated. They didn't tell us it was for John Craven's Newsround. It wasn't about building societies but evolutionary theory and it was a draw. The next thing I know Matt's running one of Britain's biggest companies. Amazing. I was also thinking of blogging on my great new post-Christmas diet book - Lettuce: The Silent Killer - and on the way TV advertising breaks are now all about smells. Last night I saw one for Hugo Boss's exciting new Have Lots of Sex sandwiched between two ads for stuff that suppresses the smell of shit in the bathroom. I'd be cross if I were Boss, though it may be part of his deliberate strategy to lower his customers' self-esteem by telling them they smell like shit. Nothing is what it seems. See what you've made me do, Unslicker? Ramble. Oh and the iPhone. Here's a thing - I'm getting one. Really. It doesn't get much more interesting than that does it? Well, I suppose there's cloned monkeys and Iran and stuff. And they're still torturing women in Spooks, killing them also. And I might also have some Shreddies. But where does this leave us, where I ask you?
PS We're almost out of milk so I'm having toast.


  1. Bryan, instead of this intense ruminating you must go out window-shopping in Notting Hill. It never fails to make me laugh out loud. So much expensive stuff for rich idiots.

    Also, consider the latest in Spooks: the lovely Adam is given a deadly poison but STILL manages to have amazing sex with the double-crossing Iranian who administered it before coming over all wobbly, seeing snakes in the bed and being left for dead in a half filled bath from which he cannot climb. How can you not love it?

  2. Fantastic post, surely the product of either too much or too little sleep?

  3. Too much sleep, Elberry, I can't seem to wake up at all. And, Sophie, the windows of Notting Hill are, indeed, a great consolation. I am, hower, in Norfolk.

  4. I'm not a 'former regular commentator' I still do!!

    And I read it EVERY single day!

    AND I want to disassociate myself with the Cityunslicker's remarks. Bryan yours is one of only half a dozen blogs I read every day without fail. It is the most stimulating blog and head and shoulders above any other in its diversity.

    One last thought. It's all your fault I took up blogging...

  5. p.s. Nige's love of Carshaton is well placed. I was born there.

  6. Ah Richard - at last, someone who understands! I wasn't born there but have lived there, with various unaviodable intermissions, since I was 9 yrs old.

  7. if blogs have to be justified, a lot of us are in trouble! but you are so defensive, it surprises me. maybe you have more to lose than the average blogger, you 'media' bloggers!

    but now the world and his wife are blogging it is getting tiresome all round and I'm getting impatient for the next big thing. what will it be?

  8. I tire somewhat of his blog sometimes

    Lets face it, folks, blogging is bunk! Peopled by teenage pranksters, dysfunctional artists, literary wannabes, clever-clogs, lack-of-selfesteem lads and editorial hacks. The complete blogger is as useless to life as he is to his wife. One by one his deeper instincts, his spiritual requirements, are famished by stress of circumstances. The charismatic miscellany of life ceases to have any meaning for him. To console himself he sets up wilful tenets of right and wrong. Infatuated with fashion and fad - he chases his own whims. Nervy mannerism replaces wisdom. Fact is, we have long reached a point where daily annotations written on the digits of blogs are not just glut, they are horribly tedious. The hobby of overactive minds, rather than of true vocations. Thinking in terms of snippets destroys the ability to think in terms of texture and consistency. Indeed, studies in bloggerism even suggest that chronic habits can lead to solitary addiction and subsequently to reclusively.

    Bloggers are forced into hypercritical attitudes towards life. Debarred from being intellectually honest they threaten the survival of intelligent culture. Their personas live in a world gone virtual, a world which can only be judged by the desires that produced it and in which - long before the The Singularity [as] a form of technological determinism - human civilization has created the machinery for its own destruction.

    Is this the moment in which the world,s Unslickers overthrow the social networking cancer from its exponential and profoundly malignant status as the one enduring of the lower forms of entertainment?

    Many weep. I rejoice. It's an auspicious moment

  9. In the exhibition of art from Siena at the National Gallery there's a painting of an angel commending the care - but I'd prefer to think it "cake" - of Siena to a grim-faced old Pope. We could all do with the cake of Siena in our lives. Some find this delectable substance in Carshalton and others, like, me in blogs like this. I don't see why any blog has to be refreshed every day or be always up to some imagined standard. Life's not like that, and if a blog doesn't reflect the life of the writer then it's more marketing front than anything else. Not many blogs are worth it. This one is. As Richard Havers says, it's head and shoulders above others in its diversity. It's also very often funny, enjoyable and with a light touch, ingredients missing from an awful lot of other writing.

  10. Defensive! Moi! No, just didn't have a thought in my head and started improvising.

  11. Not feeling good about yourself right now, Bryan? Well, I hope the IPhone works for you. By the way, I like "inspissated gloom". Where did you get that word? Not gloom, the other one. Must confess, it had me reaching for the dictionary. Not a nice word really, is it? Looks good but doens't sound great.

  12. Secretly, Bryan, you wish to write a huge novel about The War that will definitively destroy civilisation, and the shattered remnants of mankind thereafter, who will wage endless war on each other till only one man remains - and that man will be Jeffrey Archer (of course).

  13. What is a flower for? you ask...

    The flower is of course the sex organ of the plant. Are you suggesting that the purpose of this blog is to help you get laid?

  14. I like this blog so much that I visit every day and leave comments. We unsung regular patrons deserve a moment of your thought, dearest Bry.

    By the way, I love it when your mind wanders and you riff like that. Without the blog, who would ever get to admire such a witty stream-of-consciousness from such an intelligent, wry guy? In the olden days, perhaps one person would have been the beneficiary -- you'd have jotted that down in a snail mail letter to someone -- but now we all get to savor it.

    Forget shopping. Go walking the lanes and byways of Norfolk. Instead of smelling perfume, you'll smell nature. Always makes me feel better.

  15. Is that why you are buying an iPhone then? I find that had to believe. Is it the lack of commenters you've been bewailing? While it is rather like be at a party where the host keeps asking "Where is everyone?," I must say that you should be pleased that you don't have 100's of comments for each post. If you did, more than half would be variations of "Did not!" "Did too!", another 20% completely unintelligible digressions, and a further 10% a random series of four-letter words occasionally interrupted by a well-placed conjunctive phrase in the hopes of masquerading as rational thought, leaving you with about the number of readable and worthwhile comments as you now receive.

    In sum, DOn't worry. Be happy.

  16. Bryan, it's been a year since I discovered your blog, and noted it at mine with the comment that you "...can come across as fairly pompous". Since then, I have visited it almost daily, revised my opinion, and frequently recommend it to others.

    I don't know if it is your (lack of?) visitor numbers that bother you. If (as I guess) you have hundreds (thousands?) a day, I don't know that there is much to feel unhappy about. After a couple of years of pretty solid blogging, which I must admit I think is reasonable quality, I am still lucky to get 40 visitors in a day. (I seem to have a fairly devoted following of about 10 people, including some daily visitor from South Africa who refuses to comment or tell me who he or she is. I hope it is not some automated thing who I think is a fan!)

    Anyway, sometimes it seems the closest analogy for wide-ranging blogs like this is sitting having a relaxed breakfast with a friend while reading the newspaper, and saying "hmm, want to hear something interesting?". Information is shared, a wry joke may be made, and then move on.

    I guess the problem is, if few people bother commenting, you're not entirely sure whether they appreciate the offering or not. I therefore find I have to deliberately invite compliments about once a year to keep me encouraged.

    Consider yourself complimented.

  17. i've had this discussion with other bloggers - it can be disheartening to find one has no comments. But i think most readers just can't think of anything to say, or don't feel like saying anything, and read a blog much as they would a newspaper, one-way.

    i find the statcounter a better guide to whether people like one's work: if people keep coming back, they obviously find something interesting about it, even if they don't feel like commenting.

    i once thought - in my fiery youth - that only towering works of enduring, Promethean art should occupy a man, and all else was worthless dross, to be swept aside with disdain and drunken fury.

    i now think of 'journalism' (in the sense of day-by-day reflections that may have little value in 100 years) as the necessary context for a lot of good art, the soil & humus & what not, which keeps some kind of cultural mental activity going, and which often enables the more lasting art.

    It's true, i suppose, that virtually nothing on my blog will interest anyone in 100 years, but that doesn't make it worthless: perhaps a few thousand readable if ephemeral blogs are akin to the steadily smouldering heat in a fireplace, the sustained if low flicker, providing little heat, almost no light, but ready to become more with a little judicious poking.

    Who knows if Dante could have written the Divine Comedy had he not been raised listening to now rather tedious love poems, now irrelevant scholastic argument; or if Shakespeare could have written Hamlet without all those weary Elizabethan gore fests, without a now forgotten context of thought & drama, evenings in the Mermaid Tavern?

    Perhaps one could think of culture as a chemical solution, and great art as a reaction only possible above a certain temperature: if the temperature naturally cools through a kind of spiritual entropy, then a thoughtful or amusing blog post, or conversation, or advert even (!), is a way of raising the temperature, just a little. And it's not just that some great book may arise from the mound of glorious, smelly decomposition which is Thought Experiments (a compliment), but that in itself, good writing & thought & humour is necessary if (as i think is the case) spiritual acuity & energy will naturally dwindle if not exercised daily.

    Just to read a good post in the morning, with my flapjack or doughnut, amidst my tedious work, is to be reminded of the larger, subtler world of energy & intelligence. i recall one of your pieces, on Philip Roth i think, which i read at work about a year or two ago, and it pierced through the greyness of my working day most pleasingly; things like this - intelligent writing - are for me like finding a shiv or a fragment of the prison blueprints just when you've given up hope of ever getting out of solitary confinement, i think 'aha, there is a world elsewhere!' and i continue to scheme and plot and brood on escape, on defiance, on an amusing & meaningful death, which is after all what life is for.

  18. well Bryan I love your blog and having succumbed to an iPhone at first glance I can tell you it renders you're site beautifully. Just wish I didn't have fat welsh farmer fingers as typing this is ain't so easy. Keep it up, please! The day's not complete without the daily thought experiments fix.

  19. Thanks, Windbag, and the rest of you. I wasn't fishing, just improvising. I know about the iPhone. I let my wife get one first - now I know I must have one.

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