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Hello my friend, won't you tell me your name?

Do we really need a new incarnation of my journal?

It's a fair question. Yes, I certainly enjoyed writing in my full online journal before (from April 18, 1999 to June 4, 2001), but do I have more to say, now? And do I need to say it in the full Online Journal format? I mean, I do have a Livejournal, and don't keep that nearly up to date enough. Why add to my discontent by reviving something that hasn't been active for so long?

Why indeed.

The world is not the same place it was back in April of 1999. This is true both online and in real life. I shudder to think the moments of horror we have all had to endure in the last five years, and the systematic challenges to our way of life, to our essential freedoms, to our Constitution and to our community have come from bombers and terrorists and the highest officials in our own government. We have had ample reason to know fear and lose hope. And yet, we have as a people endured and moved on. We have remembered who we are and why we are, and fought back against both the assault on our nation and the assault on our Constitution.

In the last five years, online journals have also given rise to the phenomenon of Weblogging. Blogs and Livejournals are everywhere now. Everyone has them, it seems. Weblogging was considered the strategic key to Howard Dean's ascent to the front of the Democratic pack in the upcoming primary season. Wil Wheaton, TV's lovable Wesley Crusher, went from a mostly despised afterthought from the 80's and 90's incarnation of Star Trek to a mostly beloved fellow geek and traveller through life, thanks to the power of his blog. Iraqis blogged from the heart of Iraq during the war. Journalists blogged from the heart of the troops during the war. And tens of thousands of 19 year olds wail into the night in their Livejournals. The weblog has both come of age and supplanted the Online Journal utterly, and today Online Journalling of any stripe is not seen as revolutionary or even exhibitionist, but average and normal. It's a part of what folks do when they're online. A part of who they are.

So why should I pick my own journal back up? It's nigh impossible that I'll get the thousands of daily readers I once had back -- there's plenty for them to read out there now, and a substantial portion of it is written by hot young things who like to post pictures of themselves in ragged clothing. How does a fat guy in New Hampshire compete with that?

And does he have to?


I'm reminded of an entry I wrote on April 18, 2000. It was the one year anniversary of Some Days in the Life, and I was waxing philosophical. And I reminisced about all that had happened in the previous year... and how much of it I would never have thought about again without a journal like this one to follow. As I said then:

Without this journal, I'd think back over the past year and, but for my Cardiomyopathy, I'd figured very little has changed. With this journal, I realize everything has changed. The changes are all right here, in electrons and HTML.

That remains true. The last few years are more of a haze, even with Livejournal entries to follow. And the Livejournal isn't nearly as good for essay writing as a true journal is. Livejournal entries are more immediate, somehow. More focused. Less objective. No matter how personal a journal entry is, it seems somehow less like short correspondence and more like serious writing. Like something someone does to actually produce instead of just to ramble.

That means something. That feels good.

The tools are almost entirely different, now. In the old days of journalling, we created and worked on websites and built each new journal page by hand. These days, I'm driving creation with Movable Type, which does all the crosslinking. And I've got an RSS feed for Livejournal, so folks can see when I write new entries. It's all very automatic and magical now. I suppose that makes me a little sad. There is something to be said for handcrafting, even when the hands are really just typing. Mostly, it's more convenient, and that's a very good thing.

So, maybe it's time for a whole new volume of this journal. Maybe it's time to go back to basics. After all, I didn't start this with the idea of getting much of an audience, last time. As I said in my original 'first post:'

It started with Bill Dickson. Bill's a friend of mine from my Relay days (ah, Relay, we hardly knew ye), my days in Ithaca, New York and my days in Seattle. Bill has an online journal which gets addicting to read. There are two reactions to something like this. One is to anxiously await his next entry and follow his links to other journals to ease the pain. I suspect this is what people who aren't colossally arrogant do.

The other is to start your own. Which is what people who don't meet the above requirement do. Guess which camp I'm in.

Arrogance is a part of writing. It's a big part, actually. It's that part that says "I am so good at this that you will want to read it because I'm good enough for that. It's like that in poetry, especially. There are three types of poet in the world. Two are poseurs, and one is a poet. They break down like this:

Poseur sub A: A poet who truly believes that his tortured soul can't withstand the pain any longer. He needs to express himself. So he writes poetry. Reams of it. Enough poetry to make Sir Philip Sydney take up plumbing as a profession. And he never shows it to anyone -- it's too personal. It's too intense. It would be like a woman unbuttoning her blouse on the bus -- most women don't want you to know she's wearing a wonderbra. This is fortunate, as most Poseur sub A's poetry is extended masturbation where they didn't have the decency to clean up after themselves.

Poseur sub B: The Artiste. They talk about poetry. A lot. They talk about the specialized, internal, highly personal world of the poetry. They often wear tweed and smoke pipes or clove cigarettes. Notable because they haven't actually written more than three lines of poetry. In it for the lifestyle and in the hopes they'll get groupies.

Poet: Irritating fellow who writes poetry and then tries to force you to read it. These are the folks who go to poetry slams and scream out "shut the fuck up!" at the top of their lungs to try to get you to listen to their eight hundred line prose poem on breakfast. Carry chapbooks in the trunk of their car.

The third type -- the actual poet -- is arrogance personified. It extends into all media. The person who reads every newsgroup specifically to find idiots to flame because their idiots is a form of usenet artist, striving for a voice and recognition from someone. The person who writes fiction and leaves it under your windshield wiper for you to find coming out of the grocery store. The person who publishes an online journal. Arrogance and a belief that the things they say will be interesting to someone fuels them.

Without these people, we would only have Morality plays and Viking Sagas for entertainment, and those get repetitive after a while.

So, in summary, I'm writing this because I liked Bill's, and am arrogant enough to want to write one.

These are all still true. I still like Bill's Journal -- which, as intermittent as it is, is still being written all these years later, so Bill wins the prize. And I still believe in the artist who simply has to create, who simply has to say something, who simply has to be let it be known, because they're arrogant enough to think someone, someday will want to know it.

That's still me, five years later. I'm a lot more battered, and in a lot of ways more cynical, but in the end I still like Bill's journal, and I'm still arrogant enough to want to write one of my own.

I won't give up my Livejournal. It serves a wholly different function now -- it's the quick fix, the 'oh by the way,' the place where I bitch about Health Insurance bastards and point out online comics I think are funny. This journal's for something else. For something where I want to write for long periods of time. For when I have something to say that's more relevant than 'man I feel like shit.'

In short -- for when I want to get my Opinion on.


So. Here we are again. You and I. Hi there. It's been a while. My name is Eric. I'm a writer. I work as an I.T. Manager at a private school in New Hampshire. I have a cat, a car, health problems and a tendency to think.

Let's see what happens.

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Comments

Hello again Mr. Burns.

When you have a chance, check your table settings for you template. You seem to have the page width hard coded to something quite wide - 1280px perhaps?

Glad to see this is back. I've missed your journal and all that artistic arrogance (it's a feature, not a bug!) and whatnot.

Weird, John -- the page is working normally for me, without any odd widths....

yippee :) A place to read your posts aside from LJ. :)

As for wide widths.. umm... the page looks pretty huge on my screen as well.

And, as for introductions:

Hi, my name's Mel. I'm the Goddess of Perk, and the human incarnation of Dory the Fish (or so I'm told). I'm a libra, and I love listening to bon jovi.

Well, a small bit of testing reveals it to be an internet exploder issue. The page works fine in Mozilla Firebird. Farking browser incompatibilities...

Good to see you back on Annotations. The year is off to a good start already. Now what's with this "Livin' on a Prayer" nonsense?

Hi Bro!

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