Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What's this about?

As if I haven't shed enough blog already.

This is a kind of continuation of my political sociology revision blog, NANOGRIEF. Putting together notes in quasi-public gives you impetus to organise them just enough that your future self might understand them. That's the main idea. Commonplacing towards a novel: a lot of political theory, political economy and economics, and a bit of aesthetics. Maybe some space stuff. I'm thinking it might be a novel set in space.

UPDATE: Slight change of plan, it's now turning into a bit more of a normal F&SF type blog. Avid bookworm! #amstalling! Etc. All the more standard fare is gathered under the tag blog.

UPDATE 2: OK, now I'm not even using that blog tag anymore. And it's not called The Lorraine Concern, it's called All That's Solid Melts Into Aaargh!, with variable amounts of aaa and !!!. The below relates more to how this blog develops in some parallel universe.


What I should really be doing during this phase is creating a provisional list of labels (see below; oh dear). Keeping my poetry-and-miscellaneous-matters-blog, EVERYONE'S CUP OF TEA (here, here & to a certain extent here), I took a pretty conventional approach to labelling. I just called 'em as I saw 'em. I tried to be abundant and I tended to pick plural forms over singular ones. (It might have been good to have a few other rules of thumb for picking between indifferent alternatives: use alphabetical order to prioritise synonyms, for instance).

There was one slightly experimental aspect: I felt like I had six or seven inchoate thoughts which I could let develop externally, on my blog rather than in my mind. So I picked six or seven bits out of nearby poetry books -- mostly pairs of words -- and assigned each one an inchoate thought. The idea was, whenever I came across a passage which made that particular inchoate thought tingle, I would assign it the relevant label. Then after a few months or whatever, I would have assembled these bespoke readers about my own hunches. The meanings of these coinages would have accrued.

It didn't really work.  Can you work out what sacral emetic or crazed field were supposed to be about? I dunno if I can. One phrase (pillow or pillar) quickly developed a broad and not-very-interesting translation, which wasn't inchoate at all. Pillow or pillar meant "the relationship between poetry and political activism," and I totally overused that label. Others I used only once or twice or not at all.

Maybe that suggests that the notion of a quasi-cognitive, non-linguistic or quasi-linguistic thought is itself incoherent -- or at least, that it is incoherent on a time-scale of months or years. I do think it could have been more fruitful if I'd taken more care over it. I made some notes to remind myself what was what, but perhaps I should have referred to them more regularly, or memorised those notes, or ones like them, from the start.

I'm also not sure if there are advantages of using bits of poetry to do this, rather than say, "Concept A," "Concept B." When I started I suspected that the original signifieds would prove impossible to completely eradicate, and that their faint presences hanging around would actually help the new signifieds to take root, and continue to nudge them into more complex formations. They may have done one or both of these things, but I didn't feel anything to confirm it. I wonder how it might have gone with English-like nonsense words, with names, or with a bland and already inter-related set of terms (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday).

A small extra reason for using quotations was that the process might enrich the source poems for me, even turn them into weird, only-I-can-see-them-type odes to my obsessions. But I've forgotten where they've come from, and Googling them just turns up my stupid blogs.


You could split a concept you think you already know into two labels, assigning each on alternate occasions or whimsically. (I think I've tried this, but again without much oomph. A way of oomphing it would be to have an interim read of your results, and thereafter assign them to try to amplify any divergence you'd noticed).

You could pick two concepts you think you already know, which are perhaps intellectually unrelated but convey some kind of emotional or moral resonance, and give them a single label, which goes on every commonplace quotation related to either. You are composing an inspirational tract useful in intellectually fleshing out your wild sympathetic guesses.


It's probably wise to front-load some structure. For instance, it may be a good idea to draw up a list of tags in advance, and perhaps to regularly compare it to the tags actually in use, modifying both as meet to your no doubt miscreant purposes.


(1) Something that lets you add an old blog to your feeds as though it were happening now. Cf. the blog I made out of a blog post by Chris Goode.
(2) A blogging platform that lets you edit labels directly, without having to pop behind a curtain and make the sound of breaking glass and yowling kitty.
(3) Even better, a blogging platform that lets you right-click on a label and see roughly synonymous or morphologically similar labels that have been used, and to easily merge or split or double up labels.


Oh dear.

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