Except that's all anybody does now.
23.04.2009 50 °C
A METABLOGUMENTARY DISCUSSION - Or what is the bleedin' point?
- ‘Bless me Father Stephen for I have sinned; it’s been 7 weeks since my last blog entry. I’m sorry, I’ve been…you know, busy’
‘I see. Can you tell me JJ, how it is that I – adorable lovely Uncle Stevey pooh – am capable of writing regular and, lest we forget, expansive blog entries despite my hectic schedule of travelling the world, acting my little heart out in various trifling nickelodeons, presenting TV programmes and performing the necessary chores of a professional technophile, twitter evangelist, celebrity homosexual and all round good egg?’
‘Erm, is it cos you’re dead clever an’ that?’
‘Precisely; please leave the web. You are shit. And I would NEVER say “you are shit”, even your attempts to parody my affable eccentric English intellectual demeanour are pitiful. Now fuck off.’
This latest blog entry is more like a meta-blog entry, it’s essentially empty of meaning. I make no apologies for this. Everything is so damn ‘meta’ nowadays. I thought postmodernism finished ages ago, but it seems to be the intellectual movement / conceptual framework / pretentious-load-of-old-bollocks that just keeps on giving (you the same old shit, but in a slightly different coat wearing those big glasses with fake moustache things). It’s like the war on terror: ill-defined, impossible to lose, impossible to win, an excuse for doing whatever the hell you want and quite obviously a triumph of form over content. Or in simpler terms: all mouth and no trousers. Still, that’s the world we’re living in, and god knows I love to conform even whilst complaining about it and attempting to break the system down from the inside (another ‘feature’ of post-modernism by the way). So I wanted to just talk about talking about stuff while I work out how best to continue my so called ‘travel’ blog. I quite fancy a normal NON travel blog now so I might just migrate over when I get back. We'll see.
When my last missive was thrust into the social meedyverse (maybe needy-verse is more apt?) I was a long long way away having quite a lot of real life, honest to goodness fun. It’s one of those rarely admitted truths that – for me at any rate - when you’re enjoying yourself the idea of then writing about enjoying yourself will necessarily decrease the amount of time you have left for yet more enjoyment. I find this to be true also for mega-boring things like uploading photos, I just can’t be bothered. It’s a waste of my damn time, and anyway: I was there, I remember it.
Luckily I lost my camera in Malaysia 2 weeks ago with loads of photos, so no more uploading (yay!) which means, I’m afraid, just boring old words on the blog from now on. Unless someone else has taken an appropriate photo which I can then acquire from Flickr and re-use (I’m allowed, I’m playing the postmodernism card remember, recontextualising found artefacts and subverting their meaning? We used to call it theft, but that’s a very outdated concept). Did I ever mention that ‘my’ pictures from the monastery on an earlier blog entry were just nicked from Flickr? May have done, may not have (probably the latter). My camera had ran out of battery so what else could I do?
The way I see it, for pictures of the ‘sights’ – you know temples, views, buildings, policemen beating people up, all that sort of thing – unless you’re a really great photographer, somebody else has a better picture of it on Flickr; better weather conditions, better camera, more attractive friends etc. So why not just show people their photograph instead of getting a low quality simulacrum? I’ve got a cupboard full of old skool prints of things like a rainy, cloudy, crappy Golden Gate bridge taken in a rain storm. The bridge hardly even looks red, it just looks rubbish, and it doesn’t represent the bridge as convincingly as the iconic blue sky and bright red paintwork picture that I could get from Flickr in 2 seconds would. The only difference is that it’s mine, a concept grounded in the possession of physical artefacts. Does that mean that it’s better to have something a bit shit that doesn’t efficiently represent the thing/place/site/sight convincingly because at least you know that you took that photo? Maybe is the best answer I have for that question.
Of course the opposite perspective, taken to extremes, is quite disturbing: that specific photographs of ‘sights’ become ‘anchor’ images or the ‘master’ aesthetic representation of any given object. That seems an almost communist and certainly de-humanizing viewpoint, the idea that we all have share a ‘common’ selection of holiday photos. So everyone who has been to San Francisco has the same photo of the Golden Gate Bridge in their photo albums because, well, it’s the best one. The difference is, though, that the best photo wouldn’t be defined top down it would be defined through popular consent.
I can’t help wondering if the idea of a photo as an ‘object’ to be possessed and owned is a hangover from analogue prints and that people won’t feel the same attachment to specific photos once a few generations have come and gone. Individual cameras taken near identical photos of the same thing at the same time is often highly impractical. At the end of my meditation retreat everybody posed for photos in a group, and about 60 cameras were placed in a pile. It took ages for each camera to take variations of exactly the same photo, because everybody needed their own photo. But all of them were digital cameras, I mean, pick the best camera, take 10 shots put them all on Flickr, let everybody choose their favourite. That will happen I feel, but not for a few generations. We still don’t trust that we will be able to get hold of them, so we must have our own.
Actually, the one thing you do need a camera for is to take pictures of your friends (bless ‘em) because they are (more or less) unique to you. But I do find that many pictures of me and my friends tend to feature of a bunch of gurning drunks in a faceless bar/club/beach/house/rave/festival somewhere with a gazillion watt flash burning out everyone’s retinas and turning my already pallid complexion into an even closer approximation of a tin of Dulux pure brilliant white emulsion. Which is not to say I don’t like those type of pictures (they do capture a moment, possibly the ‘same’ moment every time, but…) it’s just that you don’t really need a good camera to take them. I haven’t bought a new camera since…you know what? I don’t think I’ve ever bought a new camera. The last camera I bought was a second hand Olympus OM10; an analogue SLR that I still own and love
I’ve written about this before, but it’s basically just another example of my extreme personality which can cope only with only 2 things: all or nothing. If I’m going to take photography seriously, then I’m afraid I’m going to need a top of the range DSLR and I’ll have to carry it everywhere because I might miss the shot of a lifetime. And I’ll need loads of lenses and accessories and just the whole shebang. So no, no camera. Not yet anyway. You’ll just have to believe me that if I lift a photo from flickr and use it in my blog that I REALLY was there. Just not necessarily when the photo was taken, that’s all. And my long rant was a futile attempt to intellectually justify the fact that I’m not buying another camera while I’m here.
I’m writing rather a lot in this entry considering I don’t much enjoy writing. I’m not someone who lives for writing; someone who feels knotted inside if their ideas aren’t given some sort of external physical form. I like stories. I don’t mind how they’re delivered to me but I find the process of writing them – as compared to the process of telling them orally, or constructing them visually – tortuous. So why the hell am I doing it? Well, I have a story in my head and it’s fully formed and, well, it’s just too long to tell as an anecdote. So a novel it has to be.
Writing a blog is quite fun in a way that the novel aint. I don’t edit my blog entries. I don’t spell check them either. They’re written fast and loose so that I enjoy the process; it’s more like a counseling session I suppose (sorry about that!). Not writing a blog entry for a while has also re-enforced my afore mentioned extreme personality issues. After not writing an entry for weeks I basically thought ‘if you don’t maintain your blog regularly, what’s the point? All or nothing, remember?’ So I wrote the blog off.
It wasn’t just that, I was also staying in various places with only limited amounts of electricity a day. I generally write for 2 three hour sessions a day, which is about the same amount of time as my fully charged laptop battery gives me. Quite simply, the novel gets my six hours, not the blog. However, I’m now in a guest house in Chiang Mai with electricity and internet and so therefore the blog is getting some attention. The problem is, though, do I write a bunch of blog entries for each place I’ve been in the last 6 weeks? No, I think not; boring for you, boring for me. Instead, I’ll do a summary. Soon. Not now. For the moment, these are the facts. Now. At present. The missing period I have begun summarizing (a rare bit of pre-planning for my blog) but it will take a while to get it short enough. I want it to be like a blipblog, you know ultramicrosocialmedia or Nanoblogging if you will.
I’m in Chiang Mai. I love it here, there’s something intangible here that’s instantly comforting but also gives me a little electrically-charged lift. I’ve only ever got it from New York City before. That’s not to say that they’re in any way similar, but there’s something going on here (and in NYC) that connects with me in a pure gut instinct sort of way. It’s a city (biggest in Thailand outside of Bangkok), but it doesn’t feel like one; more like a cosy little town. It makes me want to get involved in the ‘real’ life of the place, to join a band, get an apartment; to just ‘live’. So I might well stay here for longer than planned. I've got a bicycle and a gym membership so far, so I'm obviously not leaving any time soon.
The book is progressing nicely if assessed from a simple quantative perspective; qualitatively I really haven’t the faintest idea. It’s FAR too long, I know that much. It has that in common with this blog entry.