“Blog.” What a strange word! Yes, I know that it is a shortened form of “weblog” (which also does not sit comfortably with me), but you must admit that it’s not exactly a mellifluous combination of phonemes. However, it is perfectly suited to the present day–catchy, in-your-face, and with no connection to history.
Consequently, I prefer the term “sketch book.” It evokes a more civilized time, when people actually set pen to paper and composed letters, sonnets, stories, and plays, or created drawings without electronic assistance. It also includes the word “book,” a brilliantly useful and aesthetically pleasing vehicle for conveying the written word. Alas, the book seems to be on its way out, cast away by our great and misplaced faith in technology, and our apparent desire to be dependent upon electronics simply to be able to read. A sketch book sits comfortably on your lap as you repose in contemplation under a chestnut tree. A blog is the nasty bit of guano that falls on your head from a passing bird.
I also call this thing a sketch book in homage to Washington Irving, at whose home I was engaged. As at least some of you know, Irving, the first well-known American writer, published a collection of stories—including “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”—called The Sketch-Book. Irving’s writing is often described as “genial.” That is, he invited people into his stories and left them feeling entertained and content. His personality was also kind, genteel, and open. I want my sketch book to be like that.
Geniality is particularly important when you consider that among the topics I intend to address are politics and religion, the two traditionally taboo topics at the dinner table. Of course, today, it seems that everyone is talking and writing about nothing else, and the dinner table is going the way of the dodo. This is not to say that I will only be writing about those topics. Future entries will probably discuss movies, books, science, history, art, psychology, and social criticism, as well as anything else that I think might be of interest to my readers.
I shall strive to be respectful and gentle in all that I write, and I expect my correspondents to do the same, whether in concurrence or disagreement. Those who are not will have their commentary deleted unread—or at least unread beyond the first trace of unpleasantness. That does not mean that I’ll eschew strong stands, nor will I bridle at mere disagreement. If you require a “safe space” in which none of your ideas are challenged, this space will not be reliably safe. However, it is my wish that we treat each other kindly, and not write something on a screen we would not utter to an interlocutor’s face.
I hope to publish a new entry in this sketch book every week, more frequently if moved to do so, less if I find myself consumed with work or family business. I also expect at some point to publish an online journal of fiction, poetry, and essays. More on that anon.
Thank you for taking irreplaceable time from you day to read my humble scribblings. I wish you a good day.