DAY 153: New blood

December 3rd, 2015 § 0 comments

This long-running publication is undergoing something of a crise de conscience. I have been used to assuming – on all available evidence, no replies, no ‘likes’, etc etc. – that my readership was in the low single figures. And yet now, since a number of my Convoy2Calais friends have taken to at least clicking on the Facebook link to the journal, I am suddenly faced with the possibility of having ten or more readers.

[You may be wondering, by the way, why I am not devoting a few hundred or thousand words to the immorality and foolishness of Parliament's decision to launch a bombing campaign in Syria. For God's sake, gentle reader! How much space do I need to spend on the obvious? Do I tell you that the angles of a triangle add up to two right angles? (supposing they do, but that's another question) Do I tell you that capitalism stinks? I assume that I have an intelligent and enlightened readership, and that anyone who would be deluded into voting for airstrikes is not such a person.]

Of course the fact that someone ‘likes’ your page doesn’t in any way imply that they’ve taken the trouble of reading it – how many people (like me) ‘like’ Dante’s Paradiso simply because it’s got the odd good line?350px-Paradiso_Canto_31

All the same, this astronomical increase in circulation raises questions of responsibility. When I started off, in November 2012, I seem to remember I had a painstaking approach, varied and exciting content, and a passable literary style. As earlier examples I recommend to you day 88 on the Chinese translation on Finnegans Wake; or day 96 on the cost of sequencing the genomes of the entire population of the UK; or day 105 on reducing deaths in Tel Aviv by introducing air strikes on drunken parties (plus, ‘Is it OK for me to have sex with my mom?’); or day 122 on Christmas in Bethlehem, snow, Werner Herzog, Ruth Padel, and dementia; or most recently day 141 on the popularity of math and the gene count of squids and wheat. But the pace of world affairs, or perhaps just increasing age and debility, or neoliberalism, or some other of my nemeses, has caused the posts – IMHO as they say, and you’re at liberty to correct me – to deteriorate in focus, in style, and so on. As long as I assumed no one was reading the blog, I felt I could get away with this. But now with 8 likes yesterday (and counting) they should be provided with something deserving of their liking. Do I commission a survey to find out what the readership is missing? There’s not been much sex and/or violence for quite a long time (I missed the chance of referring, as everyone else did, to the Google Translate error which promoted a clitoris festival in the Spanish town of As Pontes). But would they attract or repel readers?

So, I may need to make a clean break, maybe sacking most of the staff and hiring fresh blood. (In an interesting sidelight on today’s job market a friend revealed to me that she spends her working day on Facebook!  Should I hire such talent? Indeed, in a world where people are paid to play snooker, design crosswords and fly drones, what values or qualifications should, or can we adopt in our staff? Go back to The German Ideology: ‘as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood’.)

It occurs to me that I haven’t made a statement of principles such as Charles Foster Kane madecitizen-kane-480x270 on launching his paper – and look what happened to him. Here goes:

1. I will fearlessly maintain my position on a few things which I know something about – Palestine, refugees, spelling, algebra – and hold forth endlessly on those things which I believe to be true.

2. I will steer well clear of statements on complex subjects which I know – even from a brief trawl through Wikipedia – are too controversial for me to back my statements up – Syria, the sovereign debt crisis, the plot of Il Trovatore. (You know, what Wikipedia calls ‘multiple issues’)

3. I will offer my pages as a democratic forum in which anything can be discussed with courtesy

4. I will endeavour to continue to discuss a variety of topics which are of no conceivable interest to anyone with scholarship and elegance.

This is where I should insert a ‘Like’ button to see how many of the new mass of readers approve of this manifesto. I don’t have the technical ability to do that, but I’m going to learn.


Brecht’s ‘Die Lösung’ appeals from its relevance to democracy, and (vaguely) to publication.

Die Lösung The Solution

Nach dem Aufstand des 17. Juni
Ließ der Sekretär des Schriftstellerverbands
In der Stalinallee Flugblätter verteilen
Auf denen zu lesen war, daß das Volk
Das Vertrauen der Regierung verscherzt habe
Und es nur durch verdoppelte Arbeit
zurückerobern könne. Wäre es da
Nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung
Löste das Volk auf und
Wählte ein anderes?[4]

After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?


I haven’t, I hope, previously posted Fela Kuti’s ‘Sorrow Tears and Blood‘. It seems appropriate for these times, even if longer than usual, just listen all through…


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