And the sun was on the rise
I never felt so wicked
As when I willed our love to die.” —Jenny Lewis
or those of you who don’t already know, I’m doing my thesis on blogging. And this has me thinking a lot lately about why I blog, why we blog, why people look at our blogs.
I remember when Xanga.com came out. I was the only person I knew in my circle of fellow 14-year-olds who didn’t have one. I couldn’t think of anything more uncomfortable than having an online journal.. there was a reason I kept mine hidden! Also, it seemed (rightfully) pretentious. Yes, maybe I, like everyone else who’s ever written in a diary, thought mine was special and filled with prolific musings and deep emotion, but I also knew that only a certain few chosen by fate, like Anne Frank, Harriet the Spy and Amelia, had theirs published. But the idea that I would put my writing on the web to be criticized by my friends and the general public seemed ridiculous. You can’t just assume anyone would want to read that crap, can you?
Yes! George Orwell says you can! This is a particularly inspiring except from Why I Write:
“Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:
1. Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc. etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen - in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they abandon individual ambition - in many cases, indeed, they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all - and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, wilful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centred than journalists, though less interested in money.”
The next three motives are “Aesthetic enthusiasm,” “Historical impulse,” and “Political purpose,” in case you were wondering.
There you have it. George Orwell says we are allowed to assume that someone wants to read our shit. And that is why we blog.
suppose it’s about high time I explain the title of this blog.
The meaning of the word “portmanteau” is explained by Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass when he is helping Alice decode the poem Jabberwocky: “It’s like a portmanteau - there are two meanings packed into one word.”
I like the idea that you can just smash two words together and get a new definition that encompasses both contributors.
I love words. I like plays on words, they’re my favorite jokes. Portmanteaus themselves are often funny little jokes. I’m fascinated by different languages and alphabets, and how bits of these relics have made their way into modern English. I love how language is organic and ever-changing. I believe in the concept of intertextuality, that no work is entirely new and original, that every written, painted, photographed, created expression is a collage of the works that have come before it. I like reading, but I enjoy it most when the words are in a book. This is probably why it’s taken me until now to try out the blogosphere. I’m a little old-fashioned in that way.
I started blogging when I moved to London as a means to relay my everyday life to friends and family back home, should they be interested. It’s a pretty dull log of so many adjustments: life in the big city, finding a flat, starting a graduate course, acquiring friends. And it continued that way for awhile until my “life in London” became My Life. But in London.
Now I want a place to put pictures, songs, videos, lyrics, quotes… which leads to a much more intertextual experience, no? Blogs are pieces of mixed media, and on top of that, they are interactive. This blog is meant to be a mish-mash of different forms of expression. Maybe each image, every lyric, quote, and link, all the little tid bits I post here will combine and form a new meaning. Like a portmanteau.
What I really want
But is a brighter discontent
The best that I can hope to find?” —The Submarines, Brighter Discontent