Thursday, March 27, 2008

What is a blog? Ars Poetica and the art of the blog

What is a blog? 

Ars Poetica (also known as "The Art of Poetry," Epistula Ad Pisones...) was a treatise on poetics translated into English by Ben Jonson. How does Ars Poetica (aka Arse Poetica) apply to blog? There's an art to poetry. Is there an art to blogging? Just because you make it up as you go along doesn't mean there's not an art to it. 

1. "In media res," or into the middle of things... a popular narrative technique that appears in ancient epics and remains popular to this day, says Wikipedia. Okay. And what is a blog if not an example of "in media res"? It's where you begin... is the beginning where you begin? or where you begin to begin? Blogging I'm thinking is beginning to begin... but of course in your mind you've already begun. Something's going on... even if not directly related to your "beginning to begin..." 

2. "Make it new," the poet Ezra Pound said. Yeah, okay... not as easy as it sounds!

3.  "bonus dormitat Homerus" or "even Homer nods." Homer the poet, not Homer Simpson.  In truth, we're none of us awake. Poets fuck up. Bloggers fuck up. Have a little humility. Have a little compassion. Gimme a break. Give yourself a break.

4. And some continuity. Poems, if not blogs, gotta have some continuity. Yes? No?

5. Then there's "ut pictura poesis", or "As is painting so is poetry", by which Horace (so says Wikipedia) meant that poetry (in its widest sense, "imaginative texts") merited the same careful interpretation that was, in Horace's day, reserved for painting.  So that's where I'm coming from, writing / blogging as if someone would not only read it, but read it with some care. This at a time when most of us are just "window-shopping," cruising from Ramayana and Blog Wild! to Raining Noodles or I Blame the Patriarchy or Smoking Gun or or... I think unless you have attention deficit disorder you're going to have trouble keeping up. Sorry. Am I allowed to say that?

6. Then, understand, the Art of Poetry involves "decorum," using appropriate vocabulary and diction in each style of writing.

So now I'm not sure this even works. For myself, I'm into the messiness and ephemerality, I can cruise, I can window-shop Web / blogs without holding my nose. I'm most inclined to wince when I read my own jottings, own tendency to nod, to be a senior dude older than John McCain.

And one day I'll actually check out the Internet Archive project, Way-back Machine ( that lets you travel back in Web time... I don't know enough. I'm just trying this thing out.

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