Believe it or not, it matters a great deal to me that I’ve written so little here this year. But I remain hopeful that scarcity might bring its own rewards and that when there is something worthwhile to say, it might be absorbed and appreciated.
It feels like the final chapter of my thesis, on Andrew Marvell’s ‘Poetics of Privacy’, has been a traumatic experience. Not simply because writing by day and by night on different subjects is gruelling, but because the private internal negotiations that Marvell constantly faced and the impossibility of choice he so often found himself with leave a man permanently trapped in a life that offers so little solace and almost nothing except a desperate rush towards the end.
How much can you put yourself into the mind of another individual? My work on Marvell and Private Lives has been a wonderful introspective process because the way I’ve symbiotically linked our biographies together has given me license to think as deeply and darkly as I please.
Drop a copywriter into the world of SEO and hack journalism and watch him fight to stay afloat.
Regular users of social media networks will no doubt have noticed – if their friends lists are anything like mine – that politics is again becoming a very public sport. Yesterday, a referendum was held on whether to adopt the ‘Alternative Vote’ system, turning social networking sites into moral and ideological crusades.
This place has never needed to be about me. It has needed to be about pieces of research that tell a good story; about events or developments that have some form of interest… Commemorating two years of Writing Privacy.
Last autumn, I wrote an article on blogging for everywoman, but it’s always easier to preach than to practice. Perhaps I can write convincingly on what makes a good blog, but can I practice it? Silent observations have made me think about what it takes to improve a quiet cornerstone like this page.
This notion of ‘retirement’ is curious. Of course, it features heavily in my research capacity. Marvell, by his own admission, favoured ‘modest retirement’. There are entire realms of conscience and casuistry to be explored when examining someone’s choice of the passive ‘private’ life over the active ‘public’ life.
It is a great shame that it is so difficult to make personal experience count in professional or academic writing. The first time I attempted genuine research was looking at Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray through the lens of dysmorphophobia, or body dysmorphic disorder. Of course, it wasn’t random reading of somatoform disorder textbooks that brought this match to my attention, but personal experience.
The ‘Horatian Ode’ is the most exciting poem in English. History, fate, and ‘ancient rites’ bend and snap under the sheer force of Cromwell. It’s a poem tells us a fascinating story in the aftermath of one of the most ‘climacteric’ episodes in English history.