November 21st, 2010

Moving On

I've been at an impasse -- another one, yes -- over the past week, deciding whether it makes sense to proceed with this journal and, if so, under what auspices. The success, by my standards, of my experiment with friends-only posting was pushing me to abandon the principles on which I began using Live Journal.

But then I started to hear from people who either don't have LJ accounts or have stopped using them and began to second-guess my decision. The fact remains, though, that either approach will only matter if I post material that's interesting and accessible enough for readers to understand what the hell I'm going on about.

And that's where the problems I've been having in my personal life converged with the crisis I've been having with regard to Live Journal. Right now, my mind is so consumed by topics that are painful to share that my only options, aside from persisting in obscurity, seem to be getting "naked" here or giving up the project altogether.

For some time, I had sustained what's left of this journal by posting photographs that are intensely personal to me without revealing much to anyone else, secure in the conviction that they are at least visually accessible and, hopefully, of interest to others. Yet recently, as I explained last week, I have found myself feeling extremely alienated from photography. The documentary impulse that has long been a crucial factor in my self-conception has waned to the point where I frequently can't even remember where I've put my camera. I know that's a common problem for others, but it's highly unusual for me.

After I posted my last entry, I briefly entertained the notion of it being the final photograph I would share here. As it turned out, I was getting sick at the time and being irrationally sentimental. I'm sure I will continue to post photographs on Live Journal from time to time. But I still have the sense that something has broken irrevocably inside me where photography has concerned. I will once again take pictures with pleasure, surely, but with a different and as-yet unforeseen relation to the act.

Considering my present antipathy to photography and the strong urge to reinvent myself that is bound up with it, I have been struggling to figure out a way of proceeding with this journal that would make it interesting and at least somewhat accessible without altogether dispensing with the distance that the technological apparatus of the camera has historically afforded me.

And then a possible solution to this problem suddenly occurred to me. What if I returned to my original impetus for starting this journal? When I began to write here in 2003, I wanted to reflect on the complexities of personal blogging by turning practice into theory. For better or worse, in other words, I wanted to do what this entry today has been doing, however tediously, and then makes connections to the work of others.

So that's what I mean to do, moving forward. I will be more directly confessional than I have been in in recent years -- it would hard to be less direct -- but in the service of thinking through the theoretical questions that have preoccupied me throughout my seven years here. The result may sometimes seem inaccessible in a different sense -- my interests and expertise are in areas of study often deemed arcane -- but at least it will be true to my own mental life.

I should note, however, that I know better than to write every entry like this one. While I can't promise to make everything easy to understand, I will try to provide enough concrete detail to make my entries compelling to a range of readers. This entry, turgid though it appears, is a way of getting all the thoughts I have been fighting with out of my system so that I can take my talents to a South Beach of the mind.