Jan 20, 2006

Space and words
Marking four years of blogging

There was, once, a blank white wall in Sweden. It was up next to some walk-through thoroughfare and open to the public and as they were walking by people stopped and wrote things. Sometimes they wrote slogans or sometimes sentiments or poems or insults or parables. Sometimes they signed their names or they made up names and always, everyday, people stopped to read and people stopped to write. There was no point to it, beyond that. Beyond space and words.

There was no point to it, but peopled started to carry pens and they started thinking of things to say and began walking out of their way to say it. It was an impulse. Even though they knew it was passing, that space, knew that later it'd all be washed white again and all of the words would be gone, they went. They weren't building a monument, an Alexandrian library. It was just words in public, thrown at a wall.

It was some sort of social experiment: give people space. Give anyone who wants to say something space to speak, say that speech is this free and let the only limits be that it's public, that what's written is written, and that eventually time will wipe it away. Give people space and what will they say? It's the sort of democratic experiment that always plays with swelling music in the movies and that, on a wall, is spewn out and scrawled out and is vulgar and mundane and stupid and angry and somehow sometimes brilliant. The whole uncontrollable span of it was amazing, the human mess of it, and the occasional line that reframed the world.

Four years after I began blogging, when I can't even remember what I was thinking four years back when I began, I think I now know what a blog is. A blog is nothing but a space. A blog isn't a thing, or about a thing, or a form or a genre. The only technical definition is writing put up backwards, with the last words on top and the first words at the bottom. The first blogs were logs of cyberspace, measurements of an encounter. And now it's thrown open to words thrown up. It's a stupid and brilliant mess. It's an uncontrolled experiment of space, a question we ask ourselves in the emptiness of the opening and answer with recipes and news, slogans and reports, insults and critiques, theories and theologies and stories. It's an impulse. It's an impulse that after four years has me everyday thinking about what to say and walking out of my way to find this wall. There isn't any point to it beyond the words and the blanks and the always recurring question, What'll we say in the space?