Tuesday, March 18, 2008

five years and two months

On January 23, 2003, I started keeping a weblog on Diaryland, which I called The Palinode. I kept it up for a year and a half until frustrations over Diaryland prompted a move to Blogger. This year I hit my five-year blogging mark.

I have friends who, though they seem like genuinely nice and normal people, from time to time go to a hotel or the middle of a field somewhere and dress up as vampires or medieval knights. It’s a full-body immersion in gameplay.

Given the ubiquity of live action role playing games and cosplay, I was thinking the fundamental appeal lies not in the specific world you enter, but the notion of being able to enter another world by force of will, to inhabit an artificial place where you have the privilege of being able to commit to certain of its aspects but retain the best parts of the bland 21st century technotopia from which you’ve stepped away. Members of the SCA may look foolish to outsiders, but within their gated community of the spirit, they get to exist in multiple timeframes at once. It’s an experience that permits play and power simultaneously.

Therefore I’m starting my own live action role playing game. I call the game Afternoons of Palinode, in which a married speechwriter in a western Canadian city gets up every day, goes to work at a downtown office, makes soup in the evenings and watches The Wire on his computer. He’s married to a woman who’s bending the iron rod of identity blogging into a professional configuration. He makes good soup. He makes perfect paragraphs, organic and rounded as a honeydew melon.

One thing he is not making is literature. He’s not making literature for a variety of reasons, but part of the reason is his weblog. It is a limited form that claims a disproportionate amount of his energy. At first, when Palinode was writing on Diaryland, he felt free to experiment. Now he has assumed an identity, and that identity is too close to who he is. Unable to step outside of himself, encased in his identity, he has found that he has become estranged from his imagination. He is tired of that estrangement.

Part of the problem is that, in the years that weblogs have been around, a standard has been generated for web writing. That standard demands concision, clarity, liveliness, and strategically deployed vernacular. It is highly opinionated, endlessly entertaining, and usually designed for rapid consumption and response.

My imagination adheres to a very different standard. My imagination is a cartoon nightmare with musical numbers. And a weblog, which always bends to the rational even as it rages, cannot contain something as irrational as the junk that jumps around in my head. Literature is still a rational container, but it’s much more elastic.

I’m not talking about giving up on this weblog. I’m talking about opening things up a bit. I’m talking about doing more with my imagination than 500-word squirts of text. I’m going to play my live action role playing game and see what a little dislocation can do for me.


Anonymous said...

You wrote:

"The fundamental appeal lies not in the specific world you enter, but the notion of being able to enter another world by force of will."

That's exactly how I feel about having sex with girls who dress like sailor moon! Who they are isn't important. Entering them by force of will is.

What's wrong with 500 word squirts? It's the way of the future. Long form literature is dead. Why do you want to live in the past? Just do an anthology of your squirts and call it a book. Publish it and make mad money. Easy.

BarbaraCA said...

What I like about your gameplay is there are not as many reasons to wear faux fur corsets.

This is also what I don't like about your gameplay.

Or maybe you DO have some outrageous outfits in mind? The rules are the same, in any case: watch for chafing and have fun.

trinity67 said...

Speaking from a strictly selfish-standpoint I'm horrendously relieved to know that you will not be giving up blogging. AND I'm glad that you're concentrating on doing your thing, more.

Helvetica said...

HOORAY!!!!! Good for you buddy, 'sabout time.

lamech said...

As someone who has tried and basically failed at literature a few times, I'm in awe of those who can make it work. Your idea sounds like good fun; please do share the results here, or at least link to them!

Schmutzie said...


Nate said...

Do your thing, man. I'm stoked to see what you've got for us.

Feroz said...

By far the most interesting blog I have ever read, and looking forward to much more.

Congrats on the five years from one who aspires to have a blog half as good. ;)

palinode said...

unsigned - On the one hand, I'm thinking, Hey, way to deflate my rhetoric. On the other hand, I'm pleased that my writing calls to mind the thought of having sex with manga girls.

barbaraca - Chafing is the downfall of so many games.

trinity - Your brand is selfishness is welcome here.

helvetica - You should be my patron.

lamech - I don't know if you'll see any of the results posted on this site, but if links appear, you can bet that they'll show up.

schmutzie - Hell yes.

nate - Stay stoked! Stay gold.

feroz - Thanks so much. I hope that I continue to entertain.

lotus07 said...

This whole blog thing is evolutionary. Mine continues to evolve and expand. And damn if it isn't getting better over time (I sucked in the beginning). I would never expect you to remain static, where is the growth in that?

savia said...

I like your imagination. I'm looking forward to your brain's long squirts ;)