Writing vs Blogging
Meeting some new folks and talking about our travels, I mentioned I wrote a blog. I only then realized this is lightly embarrassing.01
But when one of the others recounted briefly writing a blog, I realized I wasn’t getting the benefits I should be. In traditional “blogging,” you write for the here and now. Once writing becomes too polished, and about things too far in the past, it no longer fits the spirit of the blog. You lose the processing benefits granted by immediate reflection.
So, I’m planning to carve up my website, yet again, splitting travel writing into its own thing, and leave space for actually writing a blog. The two aspects I’m most excited about this are:
for the travel posts: I want to dig up photos from old places I’ve been, and make a map view.
for the blog: I want to write more about what I’ve encountered and been thinking about in the last week.
This—the “what I’ve been reading / listening / thinking about” section—was my favorite part of reading the blogs of people I knew, and it’s totally gone from mine with these big long-delayed travel posts. I hope you like it, too.
Creating in the Moment
My biggest inspirations right now are: landscapes, nature, architecture, and art.
I’ve been spending time working on my voxel projects, but not enough.
And I’m realizing how critical it is to strike when the iron is hot, especially with how much we’re traveling.
Being spat out from endlessly rolling hills into an incomprehensibly, impossibly green valley, a huge grass shag mop blanketing gently summed geological sine waves of several frequencies—this kind of thing blows the mind and is utterly lost in a photograph.
And after a day or two, the urgency is gone, and the mind moves onto other things.
Strike while the iron is hot.
Craig Mod’s Tokyo Walks
I spent the last week reading Craig Mod’s latest popup newsletter, which is a delightful concept where a newsletter lasts a short while and then is finished forever.
This one is (was) called TOKIO TŌKYŌ TOKYO, wherein he walks around Tokyo and talks to people and photographs stuff. It lasted one week, one post per day. Last one today. What a lovely thing.
It’s been an interesting and much-needed contrast from the last photo blog I looked at, which is that of Paul Stamatiou (example). Mod’s only has a few carefully chosen photos, but goes into great depth with words, many little anecdotes, micro narratives, and conversations. Stamatiou’s, on the other hand, is kind of photo-maximalist, dozens and dozens of photos for every day, taking up your whole screen, including many variants of the same shots. (By his own count, he averages taking 600+ photos/day on, e.g., that example post I linked.) But relatively far fewer stories. Kind of feels like just “look what I have seen.”
Don’t get me wrong, being influenced by Stamatiou’s blog was a huge boon for me. I think my travel posts have improved a lot now that I’m giving much more real estate to photos, and just taking more in general. More photos also makes me write more. But it’s refreshing to have something to chew on that leans way in the other direction.
Turning the photos way down, it made me think of the essay format. Pure-text, like my favorite A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. The writing is so powerful I think if DFW had taken a camera his photos would actually detract from the essay’s experience. In his words, you don’t just get a sight, but you get… well, it’s hard to put my finger on. Attitudes, cumulative behaviors, events, the inner monologue, vivid collages you could never capture unless you wore some kind of creepy record-everything glasses. And even then, you’d still need the interpretation on top, backstories, narration, etc.
Stories. I think it’s all about stories.
How Minds Change
I listened to a great podcast of Michael Taft interviewing David McRaney, and I completely want to read his (McRaney’s) book now. I put it on hold at the library.
Early on they gave me confidence by roasting most nonfiction books. The term I have been using is “nonfiction bloat.” Theres were:
- Taft: “a 250-page book that could have been a 3-page email”
- McRaney: Wikipedia with jokes
Just that someone is aware of this and willing to roast it gives me faith that they’re, at least, specifically not writing this way.
But mostly, I liked McRaney’s style. He’s unpretentious, but more importantly, he seems truly interested in understanding how things work. This is refreshing compared to science (as practiced in academia) in which, inevitably, a researcher builds a professional identity on an opinion of how things work. While the idea may have started new or radical, and some amount research might truly support it, you can’t really tell, because the researcher’s entire layer cake of incentives is utterly tied up in it being that way.
McRaney, not a scientist himself, can more or less do a survey (i.e., what does science know if we look at many researchers?) and field analysis (what do people know outside of the institution of science? what is working right now?). For a dedicated person, I think this may be the best way of understanding a topic as it’s known in the present.
Anyway, the podcast is super interesting—great anecdotes, and at least intuitively makes a whole lot of sense at explaining how things like beliefs and rationals operate, and why most of us are so bad at changing them.
Been playing a lot of Neon White, post here (hope to add photos to it soon).
Last Call BBS
Cooper gifted me this, super interesting and cute game that is essentially a collection of 90s-esque puzzle games.
I love how different its games are than most that you play these days. They’re not afraid to be weird, and to make you think algorithmically.
But my biggest takeaway so far is that solitaire is a damn good game and it is a crying shame that macOS doesn’t come with it.
We’re headed to Belgrade soon. Our flight today got cancelled when we were at the gate, so we’ll try again tomorrow.
I’d never thought of myself as “writing a blog” or “blogging” I guess because I don’t think of my website as a blog, really. It’s just that the blog section is more active these days. The website is this infinite burden I refuse to give up. ↩︎