Saturday, 18 February 2012

The beginning is the most important part of the work.

You are reading this for the wrong reason. That is first sentence of the Dan Simmons' excellent novel Endymion, and it still resonates in my mind as strongly as the day I first read it. I was told, when just a wee lad, that the opening sentence was the most important part of a story, since it is here that the reader decides whether to keep reading or not. A great opener means your words shall live forever, and a poor one can result in a different kind of immortality. But this opener has always fascinated me. Its sheer denial of the reader, the antagonizing arrogance of the author, pulls at something primal in me. It offers the promise of answers, answers to questions that up to the moment I didn't even know that I had, but now consume me. Tell me, O Author, for what reason should I read this? It feels almost like an esoteric expression of faith, whose revelation would reveal something fundamental about me. Of course, this is not the case, but the memory stuck with me, the experience of reading a voice that said:
[F]or good or evil mine is the speech that cannot be silenced
Joseph Conrad
But I digress. For it is I that am wrong, for I am writing this for the wrong reason. Why do people write blogs? To make money? I am sure that The Google has plans to do this, although I won't see a penny. (Along with not seeing any of the ads either, I use both Adblock and noScript, and I'd advise everyone else to use them as well). Is it for fame? As a follower of Epicurus, I take the motto “lathe biosas” seriously, and have taken great pains to obscure my identity. Is it to proselytize? While some use blogs as a platform to spread their ideas, I could could not care less. While I believe that my philosophy would beneficial to most, I care little for the conversion of others, for:
I hold it to be the inalienable right of anyone to go to hell in his own way
Robert Frost

No I am writing this for sheer narcissistic reasons. I am writing this to practice writing, since given the current lack of Mephistopheles to sell my soul to in exchange of unholy writing ability I am forced to use old-fashion methods of improvement. I am writing this as a form of emotional catharsis. Like St. Augustine, I shall confess my sins to the world, although I am not a brave as he was. I am writing this because I have searched high and low to find a place that I had the content that I wanted to see, and failing to find it, decided to make my own. But most of all, I am writing this because I wanted to, and I make it a policy to never deny myself anything that I desire. So we come again full circle. You are reading this for the wrong reason, because you are reading this for yourself, and that is not what this is about. 

So, with that little bit of unpleasantness out of the way,
Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste.
The Rolling Stones

My name is Paul Melanchthon, and this is my blog, Hic Vigilans Somniat. I am a philosopher, an artist, a theologian and poet, albeit not particularly good at any of those. But as Pratchett's Rincewind claims, talent only defines what you do, not what you are. In this blog, I shall write about whatever interests me, but there will probably be lots about Japanese cartoons, history, baseball, quantum mechanics, philosophy, punk rock and my various neuroses and psychoses. I promise to tell the Truth in everything that I write, if from a certain point of view. And as for the rest, then me quote in full what Montaigne wrote in the introduction to his Essays, as translated by Donald M. Frame:
This book was written in good faith, reader. It warns you from the outset that in it I have set myself no goal but a domestic and private one. I have had no thought of serving either you or my own glory. My powers are inadequate for such a purpose. I have dedicated it to the private convenience of my relatives and friends, so that when they have lost me (as soon they must), they may recover here some features of my habits and temperament, and by this means keep the knowledge they had of me more complete and alive.
If I had written to seek the world's favor, I should have bedecked myself better, and should present myself in a studied posture. I want to be seen here in my simple, natural, ordinary fashion, without straining or artifice; for it is myself that I portray. My defects will here be read to the life, and also my natural form, as far as respect for the public has allowed. Had I been placed among those nations which are said to live still in the freedom of nature's first laws, I assure you I should very gladly portrayed myself here entire and wholly naked.
Thus, reader, I am myself the matter of my book; you would be unreasonable to spend your leisure on so frivolous and vain a subject.

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