Predicting How This Blog Will End

My criteria for coming up with a subject for my weekly blog post is very simple. I ask myself what’s been on my mind this past week and I run with the most engaging answer.

Sometimes the stars collide. Then, whatever thing is concerning me might also happen to be mildly entertaining or diverting or disturbing. Something to engage you, oh rare and welcome reader.

This week, I fear, the subject matter might not interest anyone other than me. 

This week has seen a little internal dialogue going on and, if I could think of something else to write about, I would gladly do so. But, alas, this is it; the thing that’s been on my mind this week. 

You can read on, if you want, I always appreciate it when you do, but there might not be much to amuse entertain or disgust you this week. It’s just a thing.

It’s all iTunes' fault really. iTunes is on its way out, apparently, and everyone is saying how it’s high time it was gone because it’s outmoded and old-fashioned and unwieldly. But here’s me and I’m also outmoded and old-fashioned and extremely unwieldly and I don’t really get it. I’ve been using iTunes for donkey’s years in conjunction with my lovely and much-adored iPod Classic and I have no gripe with that setup. It gives me exactly what I need in terms of music and podcasts and, now that I can plug it into my car, it is just perfect. Still, iTunes must go and I will doubtless adapt to whatever comes next and I will continue to do so until I die at which point I will stop adapting.

But that’s not the point. It’s just what led me to the point. Here’s the point.

I didn’t see the death of iTunes coming. And this week, I suddenly realised it, I won’t see the death of my own little blog coming either. Like iTunes, I will get a couple of months’ notice some fine year and then it will be gone.

This came as something of a revelation to me. You see, I always thought I knew how this blog would end. I’ve seen so very many blogs, and other online ventures, end the same way. It will simply run out of steam; it will run its course and I will stop doing it. There are only so many one thousand word articles one can write before it all grinds to a halt. That’s how it will go.

But, for once, I’ve underestimated myself. 

I should have known better, really. I don’t give up on things, I just don’t. I just keep going and going and going until something tells me to stop or makes me stop. And so it will be with this blog. I will keep writing post after post after post, year after year after year. There’s no fear of my blog running out of steam at some point in the future because it effectively ran out of steam years ago. 

The kind people who come to read these posts are a tiny cohort and it is important to me that they know they are under no obligation to turn up every week. I have never thought badly of people who didn’t drop by. There may have been a time, say ten years ago, when I wrote these things in the hope of a readership or, God help us, that something here might spark something somewhere else. But now I write for a different reason and that different reason is the hub of the problem and the very reason why this week’s train of thought has bothered me a little.

I write these things for me. I write them because it my equivalent of lifting weights. The routine keeps a muscle tight and in trim. It’s not a bicep or a pec, I don’t have any of those, it’s a writing muscle. It stretches from my wrist to my brain and back down the other arm. This exercise keeps it working and it does it rather well. And, of course, if someone drops by and kindly says, “Ken, you’re a fucking genius, so you are,” even though they may be mostly being kind, well that’s an added bonus.

But, here’s the thing, and it’s slightly embarrassing to admit this, but let’s go for it anyway. I also like to think I’m writing these things a little for posterity. I know, I know, cop on Ken but let me try to explain. Twelve years of posts, hundreds of thousands of words, and one tiny pinprick of real blood somewhere in each and every one. Like it or not, it is a ‘montage of me’ the best snapshot of who I am that there will ever be. If you stuck all the posts on a wall and stood a mile back, that would be me. And, silly old me, I think I had some kind of notion that these posts would survive in some way over decades and might be of some passing interest to some distant person who just wondered how an ordinary Joe got on back in the first quarter of the 21st century.

And this week, for maybe the first time, I see that I was naive and wrong. These posts won’t last. Here’s how I predict they will go. In a few years, my blogging platform will be shut down by Google or whoever owns it. "Nobody is blogging anymore," they will deduce, and then they will pull the plug. In a panic, I will migrate my blog to WordPress or somewhere else but that too will eventually tumble. The world is moving on and the few remaining blogs will go the way of all those fledgling websites of thirty years ago and all the wonderful newsgroups and the wonderful rows we used to have there.

The blog platform will be no more and this little blog will not be visible online. What will all these posts become then? A series of Word documents stored on a physical hard disc or perhaps filed in some cloud folder. The computer housing the hard disc will eventually die and it will then get thrown on a scrap heap. The password for the cloud directory will be lost and nobody will know it exists anyway and it too will get erased in time because nobody ever came looking for it.

All will be lost.

This is probably all pretty obvious to you but it’s come as something of a sobering thought to me. I mean, it shouldn’t. Those weights you like to lift will get thrown in a shed when you’re no longer able to lift them but, for a time, they served their purpose well. They kept that muscle trim for as long as you needed it. What else can one hope for?

In the meantime, don't mind me. I’ll shake off this sneaking suspicion that I am piddling into the wind here and I’ll keep on working the muscle and the occasional kind soul will perhaps tell me how nicely diverting I am.

And as for the writing? I guess it’s a bit like those ashes that the priest used to scrape on our foreheads on that Wednesday a few months before Easter. “Man,” he used to say, “you are dust and unto dust you shall return.”

Maybe that’s just the way of the writing too.


Fles said...

I get the whole "transience of everything" sense more and more the older I get. I never had children (because I struggle enough simply being responsible for myself) and I think perhaps that makes me more acutely aware that if I am to leave any kind of mark on the world, anything to say that I was here, then I have to do it myself. I used to write poetry in my teens and twenties but that's something that I don't feel within me anymore. I used to throw myself into my job (I'm a CAD monkey) but after a decade or so it became evident that no matter how much passion I put into producing things in which I see elegance or beauty, nobody else gives it more than a cursory glance. Now I write letters to newspapers (and a few articles for political and spoof news websites) which I hope can influence people through showing different perspectives or injecting humour, but I suspect that I'm just kidding myself. Probably the most we can hope to achieve is to make a difference right here and right now - perpetuity is an illusion and a futile obsession, but each moment can be meaningful and significant in itself.

Ken Armstrong said...

I think you're right, J. What a silly navel-gazing arrogance for me to worry about what generations-to-come might think of me when action and energy is desperately needed in the here and now. Keep doing what you're doing, which is pretty darned good.

Marc Paterson said...

The thought of these words of yours disappearing down the recycling bin of internet history horrifies me! For my own peace of mind, print them off!

Jim Murdoch said...

When my first wife left me my brother did an odd thing—odd if you knew me—he packed up his weights and bench and delivered them to me to keep me occupied in the evenings. I mean what possessed him? I was a bookworm. But I didn’t squabble, accepted his generosity and decided to have a go. Much to my surprise I took to the regime like a duck to water. Never would’ve expected that. Not in a month of Sundays. Not in a decade of Sundays. But there you go. I didn’t keep it up long because when I moved back home my brother reclaimed his kit and it was too much trouble to trudge down to the gym. The weird thing was—and no one was more surprised than me—I missed it. I didn’t expect that.

Now I don’t know what you think about when you think about weight-training (or how much experience you have of that world) but while there’s a lot you can do on your own there are limits. You shouldn’t, for example, bench press too much because what happens if you get the bar down to your chest and can’t get it back up again? That, literally, could be fatal. If you’re going to do that properly you need someone to spot you.

Spotting has several functions and I’m not even sure safety would be top of the list. The role of the spotter is to encourage the guy lifting weights and in some cases to help keep the bar moving and they do that with as little as two fingers. All they’re doing is keeping the momentum going; you’re still bearing the weight. I was never fond of working with a partner—my brother stepped in a couple of times—and preferred the machines in the gym when I wanted to push myself. But I guess that’s the writer in me.

That said I think of you and I as spotters. I’m going through a quiet spell at the moment writing-wise (pretty much everything-wise to be honest) but I never fail to read and respond to your blog even if I can be dilatory at times. It’s my weekly-ish exercise. And I appreciate it. Because I like writing and I’m not that picky what I write about. I simply enjoy stringing sentences together and the more elaborate the sentences the better. If you weren’t there I’d fritter away my time doing nothing worthwhile.

Which implies I feel this is a worthwhile exercise. And I do. But the thing about weight-training is it never lasts. In a matter of weeks no one would ever know. Which means it was all for nothing, yes? What is the point to life? The answer isn’t especially complex: Life is its own point. I think too many of us forget to enjoy living. It’s the whole destination versus journey argument. I’m enjoying myself just now. It won’t last but an hour’s enjoyment is not to be sniffed at (says he sniffing because he’s just written the word “sniffed”). I’ve never really given much thought to readers, at least I didn’t before I began my blog, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I drafted what I’m calling a poem this morning—the first in yonks—and I really enjoyed being back in the saddle. It may come to nothing in the short term and it will, as you say, definitively come to nothing in the long term but for half an hour I got to be happy and I’m fine with that.

I do sometimes imagine you sitting down and thinking, What the hell am I going to write for Jim this week? and, you know, although I’m sure that’s mostly not the case (nor should it be) I wouldn’t feel all that guilty if it were true. I’m giving a fellow writer a reason to write, keeping him on the path. Just one more sentence, Ken, come on lad, you can do. Good boy! And another verb, a noun, a conjunction. Let’s go for an exclamation to finish on!

Ken Armstrong said...

Marc: Thank you for your unfailing encouragement over the years. I'm sure I'll think of some way to preserve the better of the posts here. My little ego would not let it be otherwise. :)

Jim: Very nice, thanks. I like the expansion of the little weight lifting analogy and I also agree that (as the great song put it) 'Life is Life'. In a little play of mine, a character suggested that the meaning of life question is like the question 'what is the colour of red'. Red is red, innit?

Keep spotting anyway, it does seem mutually beneficial and, sure, when we stop, we stop, eh?

Now, get back to that poem...