Over the past few days I’ve been putting some finishing touches on a redesign of this web site, which debuted over twenty years ago as Superfluities. Since then it’s gone through a variety of iterations as my interests and indeed my life have evolved, and with the onset of my sixtieth birthday earlier this year I thought it was once again time to take stock of this writing, which has wavered between the sublime and the ridiculous, most of it leaning towards the latter. A self-consciously modest admission, perhaps, but nonetheless true.
When it began back in the 1990s, blogging itself was the killer app of its day, long before the launch of social media platforms like MySpace (2003) or Friendster (also 2003); Facebook was a mere glint in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. Now, two decades later, the internet is filthy with abandoned blogs, though many of them have since been deleted, their expressions lost to the ether. For me, blogging was a way to share my own writing with what I hoped would be a wider audience, and for a time it was. As Facebook and Twitter became more popular, however, blogs became less and less so, and in an odd way social networking and connection suffered too, at least when it came to the publication of lesser-known writers. Blogs, posted on the World Wide Web, were universally available to everyone, and many invited comments from its audience, no matter their origin; I myself landed a few paid writing gigs with the likes of the New York Times and the Guardian as a result of my blog posts. Sites like Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, are dependent on users forming groups of friends or followers, shutting out those who may not orbit in those circles, as wide as they might be; because you follow someone, they don’t necessarily follow you back. The circles are insular, and the feeds move too quickly to encourage anything but superficial engagement. Not to mention that, in the blogosphere, there was no character limit, nor was there much of an invitation to the short sharp shocks of a Facebook post. While blogs required a bit more technical know-how than a Facebook or a Twitter, the bar to entry was extraordinarily low if not non-existent, and what one learned on the technical side was, at least, transferable knowledge that could be leveraged in other pursuits.
I spent many years blogging about theater as both a critic and a playwright, and I had something of a reputation, but I don’t write about theater any more and have moved on to other pursuits. Nonetheless, in putting together this relaunch, I’ve noticed a few interests that have remained central over the years. In the past few days I’ve reread some earlier essays about Vienna, about T.S. Eliot, about my own background, and they more or less remain current concerns, even if since their original writing my views have evolved and my affinities broadened somewhat. I’m making a concerted effort to revive my interest in this writing itself, and hope that if you visit here you’ll find a more concentrated effort and more frequent posting than I’ve been able to exhibit over the past few years; over the next few weeks I’ll continue to repost a few essays that I’d like to preserve, but I’ll do my best to come up with new writing (now they call it “content”) too. At 60, I’m less argumentative and I hope more open-minded, and perhaps that’s because marriage and parenthood does that to you. There’s still plenty to write about, though, and I hope I still have a few things I hope to say that I hope are worthwhile to hear.