Saturday, February 2, 2013

What’s Next?

Sometimes the most interesting perspectives come from unexpected juxtapositions
A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. This every sister of the Bene Gesserit knows. To begin your study of the life of Muad’Dib, then, take care that you first place him in his time: born in the 57th year of the Padishah Emperor, Shaddam IV. And take the most special care that you locate Muad’Dib in his place: the planet Arrakis. Do not be deceived by the fact that he was born on Caladan and lived his first fifteen years there. Arrakis, the planet known as Dune, is forever his place.

— Frank Herbert, Dune

I began this blog slightly more than six years ago, O Dearly Beloved, for a vague and inchoate set of reasons I have outlined elsewhere and will not trouble you again with here. Over that span I have published 428 posts, excluding this one, and penned but binned or shelved almost a hundred more. Altogether I have sacrificed tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of innocent words to the monstrous appetite of my towering need to be heard. The range of material I have addressed here has been broad, too. So broad, one might legitimately question whether there is indeed either rhyme or reason to my writings. I have written lengthy treatises on the history and evolution of my industry, impassioned defenses of investment banker pay, excoriating jeremiads against villians great and small, diffident explorations of the roots of the financial crisis, self-indulgent ruminations on education, art, and philosophy, and ephemera and trifles too numerous and gossamer to mention. I have even written a movie review.

In almost all of these instances, my writing has been in reaction to current events, the behavior of financial actors, or the punditry and journalism produced by myriad others covering finance and various cognate and non-cognate fields. More often than not I write to correct, adjust, or amplify the words of others. A few of these efforts have evolved into online conversations, but most of them remain simply my own commentary and opinions. This is consistent with my original intent to model these pages as my very own Letters to the Editor section, wherein I could publish my opinions on current affairs without the tiresome blockage or interference of editors and other less-than-sympathetic characters.

But while I have achieved some small measure of success in this way, I would be dishonest if I did not reveal that I have become increasingly disenchanted with this situation. Part of this may be due to the siphoning off of my day-to-day outrage and commentary into my Twitter stream, which I find more than adequate to puncture or correct most of the petty inaccuracies and foibles I encounter. Part of this, for sure, is due to fatigue. After six years and hundreds of thousands of words on various topics, I find it hard to say anything new and tiresome to beat back a bad argument or sloppy facts with the same reasoning I have elaborated many times before. While it is certain I have changed my mind on many topics and my opinions in many areas have evolved, when it comes to the bulk of what I have written, I remain satisfied that I have written—if not the last word—at least very close to my last word on the topic. But as I am sure you can imagine, simply linking to prior published posts in reaction to new events and new opinions would be both bad blogging practice and stultifyingly boring.

So I am considering what, if anything, to do next. I modestly think there is a lot of good, interesting, and informative material hidden in the bowels of these pages, much of which I wrote before more than 13 people and their dogs became regular readers. I flatter myself that this material, properly edited, might actually generate some interest among a broader audience. But the blog format is a lousy method to present it, especially to a novice reader, since blogsites create online files which look more like unordered lecture notes than coherent arguments. Should I try to compile some edited subset of these writings into a book? The idea is intriguing, but I am conscious of both the extensive effort that would require on my part—who, sadly, still needs to satisfy the demands of my day job—and the ever-dimming prospects of book reading and book publishing in general.

I have come to no conclusions yet, and this navel gazing of mine may come to a screeching halt with the first outrageous idiocy I encounter on the internet which absolutely demands a double-barreled TED takedown. But I thought it only fair to let you, Dear Readers, many of whom have followed me for years with little to show for your patience, know what I am thinking.

Blogs, like many things, have a natural lifespan. I am trying to determine whether the next stage for this one is the morgue or a chrysalis.

I will keep you informed.

Possibly related reading:
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Hubris (April 15, 2009)

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