Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ghosts of Who We Used to Be, I'm Just Tryin' to Find My Way

Joshua Rothman:

Often, after a way of talking has obviously outlived its usefulness, a period of inarticulateness ensues; it’s not yet clear how we should talk going forward. 

So there I was, reading this review of J.D. Vance's much-talked-about book, Hillbilly Elegy, wondering when I might finally find something that inspired me to write, when these words separated themselves from their context and leapt off the page to slap my cheek.

Yesterday marked eleven years since I started this blog. (I didn't start writing regularly for a few more, but still.) A lot changes over a decade-plus, especially if you're still fairly young at the start. The cumulative effect of all that change is that I find myself wondering if this particular "way of talking" has outlived its usefulness. I have certainly felt inarticulate lately, plagued by a strange sense of not knowing what to say about this, that or the other — or, perhaps, simply not feeling the need to bother saying it. It's not depression, or exhaustion, or anything like that. I don't even think of it as "writer's block" — I have plenty of things I could say, I just don't feel like saying them here, in this context. They don't seem to measure up to some inscrutable standard I've somehow set for myself. I'm not sure what that's about.

I've felt like this before, and that, too passed. Maybe this will as well. But like the Ship of Theseus, I suspect that enough tiny details have slowly changed over time to make this a different situation. Much of what I thought and was willing to say in print a decade ago seems callow and superficial to me now, but I haven't yet come up with a positive replacement for it. "I've changed my mind so much I can't even trust it/My mind changed me so much I can't even trust myself", said Issac Brock. Is time and patience the only cure? Or should I change scenery and start posting exclusively at my other sites, laying this one to rest like putting away childish things?

I don't know, but at least writing it down seems like an improvement.