Few of the visitors to this site on any given day leave comments or any other signs of appreciation or disagreement, or of attention at all, but, when I examine the trail of “views” they leave behind, I like to imagine that I have found intellectual comrades of an hour. When I notice that someone (or apparently someone – the simple site stats also pick up “robots”) has lit upon a post or series of posts that, like the great majority of my posts, may have received little or no attention ever made known to me, either when posted or at any time since, I may be inspired to take another look, often discovering obvious flaws in style, grammar or punctuation, or concept. From time to time, I will find little but embarrassment under whatever title, so will trash or de-publish the post with little regret before continuing on my trek through my past, attempting to make improvements as I go.
I am not in fact fully confident that I can or even should continue this blogging project or remnant or transformation of a blogging project, either continue this re-reading and refining or continue the larger project at all, but, if I do manage to do so, I may eventually end up with a body of work that, if nothing else, will at least in its most viewed and re-viewed reductions qualify as polished – as conforming, if never perfectly, then unusually adequately, because adequated and re-adequated, to a developed authorial intention.
I think few writers have had either opportunity or motivation to work on their work in this way. Some, those born into ease, security, and comfort, or who have found such a happy state through hard work or luck, may write and study without continual interruption and distraction. Some are able to submit their work to skilled editors or to circles of friends and colleagues. Some will have been forced closer to perfection, or at least into enviable mastery of composition, in confrontation with the limits of available technologies, or with publishing deadlines, or with starkly narrowed circumstances: A political prisoner scrawling a treatise on bits of paper collected in secret will presumably have worked multiple drafts internally, phrase by phrase or word by word as chiseled into the mind, before setting anything down. For almost all writers, especially prior to the age of word-processing but even during it, continually revising old work, especially old published work, has simply been impractical. The difference between what I find myself doing, or having been attempting, and what, as far as I know, most or all those others have been able or seen fit to do, would not necessarily be between a more and less polished writing, but between, for them, a polish administered intensively, nearer to a primary rendering in whatever medium, and, for me, a proofing conducted in some ways haphazardly, but extensively, allowing the distillation through repeated re-considerations of thoughts or of ways of expressing them if not exactly at leisure, at least in the luxury of their obscurity.
I wonder if, as the whole of this virtual object turns increasingly on itself, as it dies by pixels before my eyes which are its eyes reflecting their own reflection, it must become what it points to: an opposite of the “web-log,” a different kind of marking of time executed across an ever more static content, the record of a personal history only just barely still unfolding, to be viewed like the history of the world in the philosophy of the history of the world: as already completed in principle.
In spite of whatever difference exists between us, I’d like to think I’ve made my respect and admiration for you abundantly clear. It may be little consolation to you, but I, at least, know your worth. You’re a deeply thoughtful, erudite scholar and your practice of the writer’s craft is exemplary. I’ve told you before that you ought to write a book. To the extent that your weblog is a projection of your fundamental self, you exemplify the virtues of profundity and sophrosyne–virtues of a high rank. That you have, thus far, failed to acquire the wider audience which your writing deserves may be put down to vicissitude.
I, for one, would be very disappointed if you were to lose heart and discontinue or scale back the writing you submit to this website. The writing you do which appears here, the fruit of your reading and contemplation, is the real work of your life–infinitely more important than whatever it is you “do for a living”. And that is so regardless of whether you have any readers or not. The life of philosophic contemplation, which you exhibit at an enviably high level, is its own reward and may be the highest kind of life for a man–even when carried on in a largely solitary vein.
Again, it may be slight consolation for you, but I intend to read your writing and comment on it as thoughtfully as my middling intellect will allow. Thank you for taking the time to write your careful, insightful and interesting pieces. Your website adds something to my intellectual life which I highly value, not least your noble example of intelligence and moderation.