A blog of which I am fond is The Orwell Diaries. They blog George Orwell's diaries, some seventy years to the day after he originally wrote them. This is being put on in concert with the release of the diaries in print by the Orwell Estate.
When I told her about it, Megan thought this was fucked up. She is generally opposed to the publication of writer's private papers posthumously (the dreaded quadruple-P). She could make the argument better than I could, but generally she feels the integrity of the artist/author's message is violated when people start digging through things never meant to be read.
I can't say I disagree. As a writer myself, I know of plenty of notebooks, sentences, and even drawings of my own I would never want to be published, that is, included in the same general oureve as the stuff I have chosen to publish. Some of it I think would lessen the impact of my finished work; other items are just embarrassing because of the lack of quality. Others are things that should simply never be read, because they might actually be compromising to my public image. Yes, I am hardly one concerned with the integrity of what most people would refer to as "public image". I have a blog, for goodness sake. There are also many "embarrassing" photos in existence, which I really don't feel so bad about. I think I'm much more forthright about my private desires than most people--and yet, I still have feelings and thoughts that are my own, and no one else's, and have been committed to paper. Perhaps I should entrust someone with the act of destroying these particular artifacts. But this is precisely what Kafka did, and the conniving back-stabber Max Brod did not carry out these wishes (though Brod believed FK wanted him to contramand the order). Dora Diamant also betrayed his corpse and corpus in this way, but luckily for the dead Kafka, the Gestapo may have completed his last wishes when they confiscated these notebooks and manuscripts from her in 1933. One of histories greater ironies, to be sure.
This could lead us into a large-scale "do what I do, not what I say" question revolving around the role of the author, versus the role of performer, versus the role of public intellectual, and so on. I will avoid all this, simply because I think that regardless of what any one person might intend or wish, what happens happens, and cannot be said to be anything other than what it is. In other words, the fact that the Gestapo followed Kafka's wished more closely than his lover, is really not anything other than simply ironic. To try and make the argument that destruction of work already transpired was just or unjust, or good or bad, is silly. Are we missing possibly good works, caught in the threshers of history? Undoubtably. But how can we lament the lack of something we never knew of? I suppose humans are actually pretty good at this. Take it another way: the books that are burnt are never hurt; if copies remain, they either survived in the hands of protectors, or they simply fade from history as if they never existed. A book is only in history so far as it is known, read, and continues to be thought about. The classical works we know only by reference are only references. If we discover them, then they are texts again. If we destroy them and forget their existence, they will never exist. Anything else is a fantasy of some prime mover of literature.
Like how I avoided a discussion of the role of The Author by a discussion of Text in History? Yeah. Remember I did that. For later. (If you don't remember, then please delete this blog post).
Anyway, I enjoy the Orwell Diaries, regardless of whether or not I should. It's fun, although perhaps not so illuminating, to hear Orwell go on about the number of eggs his chickens have lain, or the newspapers in Marrakech, or the cool creatures he found. In the mix with other blogs I read, it is nice to hear about a man walking in mountains trying to improve his health, in addition to the tech-savants, debocherous writers, political agitators, and clean-cut economists I also read.
The fact that the blog moves in a time line seventy years in the past also adds an interesting, dare I say, time-traveling element. Orwell is writing his daily musings, albeit not intended for publication, just as we all do on our blogs. His form is similar (okay, his editors add the hyperlinks), but his day is one far in the past, in which I never lived. Will they repeat this RSS transmission in another fifty years, or another hundred? Will George Orwell's diary continue to echo throughout the Internet, in various epochal intervals?
My blog, unlike Orwell's diary, is meant to be published. But do I want it to echo through history? Do my posts about various Internet memes, current music and politics, and my own thoughts have any currency outside of the moment they were written? When subscribing to a new blog, who goes back and reads the posts from the first post? One reads maybe a week previous, if that, and then just goes with the flow from there. Of course, if one were an author of significance, like Kafka or Orwell, there might be a reason to do so. But my blog is mostly about me, anyway--I'm clearly not in it for the readership or the historical sketch of the man that is me.
So, rather than assigning someone the duty of deleting my blog upon my death, why don't I pre-empt history, by working out a program to re-post my blog on the fiftieth anniversary of its beginning? I can already set Blogger to post a post in the future. I couldn't be do hard to whip out a program to echo my Internet essence across eternity. I create multiple Networked Units of the post databases across the world, which do nothing for fifty-years except monitor each other, and set up a new database in case anything happens to one of them--you know, so there is always a backup. Then, on that appointed day, the Blog Ghost Network starts a new blog, and begins posting my posts until it is out of material, and then it goes dormant for another fifty years. Naturally, it wouldn't be assured immortality, but it would be pretty hard for the Gestapo to take down all the Networked Units. I would also pay to have a transmitting satellite put on a fifty-year orbit of earth, which upon coming into radio range would transmit a command to buy server space for a new Network Unit to the ground, planting a seed, keeping the BGN going. It's my damn legacy!
But there is one problem: Twitter. Yes, the ubiquitous micro-blog threatens the propegation of my Internet seed. Here is how:
It might be referred to as cyber-squatting, but I think we all know what it really is, in an age when one's Internet profile is equivalent to oneself. I'm talking about techno-zombies.
Numerous dead authors have mysteriously gained Twitter accounts. They don't post often--I assume because of the black magic required to gain enough zombie control to use a keyboard. Also, the posts are often mere charactures of the author's former selves, or just plain senseless in entirety. Clearly a lot of brain matter is lost in the zombification process, as the living-Twitter-corpse feasts on itself for sustenance. But while these Twitter zombies are rarely confused with the living author, it still something to worry about. It's just plain gross! Imagine someone perverting your dead Internet corpse for their own sick, selfish pleasure! I can't imagine a worse fate.
But I have determined how to prevent myself from being Twitter zombied. First--I will die in a pillar of flame. That should keep my real corpse secure. Second, my Blog Ghost Network will be equipped with Twitterized Molotov Cocktails, automatic 140-character shotguns, and naturally, Internet Chainsaws. They will monitor the Twitter API for any reports of brain-eating, grusome limb-missing flame wars, and bug-infested dreadlocks. If they find any hits, they will deploy the Warriors of Natural Death, who will quickly dispatch my zombified Internet Personality straight back to hell.
Remember--with a textualized consciousness of History and Internet Chain Saws, the living Internet will triumph over the forces of darkness.
Unless, of course, the one thing I've been praying never happens, happens...
Predictions for 2012
2 years ago