I’m not absolutely sure if this will be my final blogpost here. It should be, of course – I promised you as much.
But promises – especially when one finds oneself in a state of unrequited love – are clearly made to be broken.
A retrospective of sorts, then; an overview of what this blog has done for me. I started it on November 3rd 2006, over at Google’s Blogger servers (was it already Google’s when I started?). I was a massive fan of Blogger as an easy tool for simple writers. Looking through those early posts, I clearly took my inspiration from the original meaning of the word: logging the Net. Short posts, maybe a brief commentary if that, which aimed to create a tapestry of meaning from successive forays onto the web.
At the same time, or maybe a couple of years later, I began to blog in a parallel fashion for a project I believed in incredibly at the time: Labour’s Members Net (more here). I wrote under the heading of the Cogwriter – a typewriter of engineered ideas, and means of production, I think was where I was kind of coming from. This blog may still exist for all I know, behind the virtual four walls of the Labour Party’s IT infrastructure. It looked to encourage partisan participation and community, even as it ultimately failed through its own unavoidable intellectual contradictions. Meanwhile, via the support (not always appreciated by others or – indeed – myself!) of Dave Semple, who progressed from digging in his heels (as only he knows how) to then publicly spreading his wings as the founding thinker behind the far more public – and ultimately combative – Though Cowards Flinch, I was encouraged myself to spend more time on the open web in the finally firmly accepted understanding that we had to shape the battle in full view of the public we wanted to vote for us.
I assume Dave now sees Labour as a lost cause of some considerable tradition. Myself, if I am to stop doing what – over the years – I have been doing here, it is primarily because I need a new frame where sitting on the fence isn’t my modus operandi. And if anyone has impressed on me the importance of taking such a step, it will have been Dave in all his irascibility who has ultimately won the arguments.
The Galludor, too, was a big influence on how my thought developed, both within Members Net and, later, on the open web via his gentle, perceptive and often striking Equals. A gentleman in everything one might care to be, in fact – including his careful expositions of complex subjects which, nevertheless, never intended to browbeat.
All the time my posts got longer and longer. I remember Paul Evans once advising me, in the kindliest way possible, that my stuff wasn’t really suited to the web: not to the web of one scroll and TLTR dynamics, anyhow. I took it as the compliment I’m pretty sure he intended. In the end, I’ve always been a wannabe Renaissance man of instincts which date from centuries ago, in desperate – and finally unredeemed – pursuit of a Renaissance mind which might have served to provide such redemption.
Never mind. My memory of what I have written is shockingly poor. I only remember some posts – and even then, not enough to properly search them. How I fell in love with the Kindle and the Guardian‘s version for it, only to fall as quickly out of love. How I loved so very much Amazon’s beautifully constructing corporate machine, only to find myself disgusted with its tax shenanigans to the point where, for a while, I even stopped using it. How I realised, very early on, that the Big Society was designed for semi-retired white Conservative men, who would deliberately find it in themselves to squeeze out the truly deserving through their state-sanctioned privilege and prejudice. How my long-held admiration for the Dutch understanding of consensus in politics was brutally destroyed by the experiences we have had with our alleged Coalition government. How the Blair I had admired during 9/11 – and even the beginnings of Iraq – lost all my sympathy, even all my empathy, for anything and everything he had achieved. How I cruelly realised, ended up quite unable to deny, that Hunt, Lansley, Gove, May, Osborne and chummy Cameron himself were nothing but a logical extension of the groundwork New Labour had carried out.
A groundwork at the time I had been happy to sign up to and believe in; to promote and divulge; to learn about and study; to spread and evangelise.
I loved America – the USA I mean – just as much. The two seemed to go hand in hand. My love of the US, the good vibes which Newsweek and Time and Life from my Yugoslav holidaying brought home to me, were finally my downfall in 2003, as a mixture of mental ill health and unhappy circumstance combined to create a dangerous cocktail only nervous breakdown managed to put on hold.
And that, for me, if we have to look for something this blog has ultimately managed to fix, is the biggest reason why I should now let go. If anything at all has been mended, if anything has been repaired, if anything was once quite stuck and is now – as a result – finding itself gratefully soaring, then it is my own mental wellbeing which these last seven years and one day of assiduous blogging have returned to the hearth of my soul.
You can indeed write yourself out of illness, and if I did anything properly on these pages over the years, it was to share a definitive progress from terrible sadness to what I have often described as a manifest comprehension of a world with many underbellies, it is true – but also of a world with just as many joys.
If any of what I’ve put down on these pages has ever made you think, ever touched you – ever stopped you even a little in your tracks of daily routine or weekly boredom – as it made you wonder how beautiful it is to wonder, to try and repair a broken set of minds, then I suppose I can be reasonably satisfied.
Perhaps, in the end, it has been a strangely selfish project too. I’m still too close to it to be able to properly gauge. But if this is the case, if I have been self-indulgent (Dave S would be the very first to say I have!), then let at least the following be known: by allowing me to respond to the world around me, you’ve allowed me, in a way, to save my life.
My new project, blinkingti.me, is already up and running. I hope to use it to participate much more actively in the offline world, with a fair smattering of reports – in amongst the inevitable introspection that will continue – on real stuff where truly socialising people find themselves able to socialise each other: in essence, to cry, laugh, love and work to a wider good.
And why not? We may, after all, be under the brutish boot of the oppressors – but that doesn’t mean we should stop doing what human beings at their very best do their very best: fix their surroundings, whenever they can, for the broadest wellbeing of the grandest majority.