Why do I keep thinking of Mozart?
That’s a line from a very exasperated Miss Marple. The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, in which two characters swap identities, is what eventually turns out to be an important clue; so Miss Marple wasn’t too far off track when she said the above words.
The “Mozart” to my self-introduction, then, is a dozen volumes of a magazine called Perspectives. (I’m sure there still is a periodical of that name, but it has nothing to do with what I’m talking about here.) Published in the 1950s, these old magazines happen to be among my most prized possessions. I had picked them up from an old charity shop in England. I was in my early teens then.
Whenever I attempt a self-introduction, my thoughts tend to stray towards Perspectives, because that old magazine has helped to shape my idea of writing, of culture, and of my own identity.
Here’s a volume of Perspectives.
Magazines are special in that they are specifically addressed to the readers of their own time, and not presented as collections of classics or articles by established authority. Well, not too established anyway. They allow for musings, lighter sketches and rough ideas from authors. They tell you about that “recent” play of Faulkner’s, the “modern” houses of America, the “freshness” of that Philharmonic, now considered to be in the canonical category. I grew up with these virtual memories, memories that would have been too old to be my own, really, had I not read Perspectives as a kid.
Can you imagine reading Torch Song, the short story by John Cheever, not because your English teacher told you to read it but because it’s a story by a noteworthy young writer, printed in The New Yorker only a couple of years ago?
I had been reading the classics, listening daily to Richard Strauss (and Glenn Miller), and been into silent movies from a very young age- why else would a teenager buy magazines from the 1950s? But on top of that, through Perspectives, I as a child could have a time-machine experience. It was a bliss.
Some of the articles featured were very personal; nothing more, you might say, than childhood reminiscences. Their authors must have been famous at the time of publication. For some of them, however, their fame hadn’t made it into the 21st century; in those cases, their names meant nothing to me. And yet their anecdotes had been printed alongside the writings of some of the greatest figures from the 20th century. What’s more, they stood up really well. (And one guy had written about artichokes in his mother’s kitchen!)
Talking of artichokes, here’s a random photo of my cat Monty and his wife Tonie. I named him after Monty Python.
It was then that I had an idea of the type of blog I wanted to have as my own: A blog full of daily ramblings, but not out of tune with literary critique…and maybe a little creativity.
Even when you’re really into a variety of fields, the shallowness of your interest is often presumed. There are degrees, courses and other certifications we could achieve, just to prove our dedication and depth.
But we don’t have to.
I happened to get degrees in European History and Philosophy a couple of years ago, but that’s not all of me. Had I been out of money, for example, I would have no degree by now. Had that been the case, I would have ensured that it wouldn’t make me less knowledgeable. If I had had a parent telling me what to major in, I might now be doing something I hate. I would still have had a passion for other things, though.
What I’m saying is, where life takes you is not necessarily where you had most wanted to go. We compromise all the time. Only we know who we really are, regardless of some of the choices we made.
I often want to blog about music. Or about film. I have no higher education to show for it, but I sure can write about these things.
A blog is, I believe, one of the best things a serious dilettante can put a lot of work into. A couple of centuries ago there were places to go to, people to converse with- or to argue with- for you to be recognized as a “thinking” figure. Now, you have your blog. You can keep a record of your life, of yourself, to prove to yourself that you’ve got more than what you were taught in school.
There will also be readers of your record, which is great. Most people around me aren’t much interested in the books, the music, or the movies I love, but someone somewhere, especially online, is bound to be a little bit like me.
With these thoughts, I kept a blog of my ideas. But the service provider came crashing down on me.
I refrained from keeping a personal record of any kind, perhaps never to be disappointed again, until I came to Steemit. They told me I won’t be able to delete anything. I loved the idea.
Still in the process of defining what blockchain technology might mean to me personally, I can nevertheless say, with confidence, that I as a writer have found my peace of mind here.
And hey, I could even start a magazine like Perspectives some day. I’ll tell you about that some other time.
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