Saturday, March 6, 2021
Well, I want to write something—not quite “anything” but I’m fairly open to the inscrutable dictates of my soul, whatever they might be—for this, my secondary blog, Iterations of Zero. I’ve had a hard time forcing myself to keep writing on it, ever since I stopped committing to writing something every Sunday. I just decided that I needed to take Sundays off, since I often work six days a week and have a long commute. I also felt that my spirit often wasn’t in the writing as much on Sundays, and I wasn’t always too pleased with the outcome. I find—as I know many people do—that when I’m already busy it’s easier to get more done, at least up to a point, than it is when my mindset is on recuperating for another week to come.
I likewise did not want to take another morning away from my fiction writing, since I already reserve Thursdays for that regarding my main blog.
So, I’m going to try simply writing on a Word document that I’ll keep open on my office desktop and add to it at various times when I have a moment. Since I use those down times usually to check the news from various sources—which usually just serves to make me feel depressed (except the science news on such sites as phys.org, which is almost always not only interesting but well-reported and not fluffy)—I might as well use it to write new stuff (nonfiction) which sometimes even helps me feel less depressed. At the very least, that way it could constitute a form of therapy, something for which I otherwise no longer have the time, patience, or money to take part in, though I’ve benefited from it in the past.
We’ll see how it works out. If nothing else, it can operate as a sort of diary, which seems appropriate for a blog called “Iterations of Zero,” and when I write something in it that seems worthy of sharing, I’ll post it.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that what I think is worthy will be considered so by readers, but hey, that’s the risk you take when you read anything, isn’t it? I’ve read plenty of blogs by “amateurs” which are far more interesting, engaging, and well-written than some things I’ve read in The New Yorker, let alone the editorial section of most daily news“papers”. There’s still good actual news reporting, of course, from reputable sources, and it tends to be much better than the tabloid style crap almost all TV and similar news has descended to, but for thoughtful commentary and explorations of topics, it’s difficult to know whether you’re going to get examples of good thinking and good writing or sophomoric dreck even from the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.
And if a news provider uses Twitter as a significant source of “News” then I have little use for them (unless the news is actually about Twitter, of course). Reporters who write articles that are mere delineations of tweets should be ashamed of themselves. Gossip columnists of old at least had to dig for their dirt at some level. Their bastard offspring are encroaching far too much on what ought to be legitimate sources of analysis, commentary, criticism, and exploration. Even Scientific fucking American has blogs that focus on virtue signaling and social media encapsulations sometimes.
Maybe I should not only avoid reading the news; maybe I should avoid talking or even thinking about it.
Unfortunately, I think it’s good to know what’s going on in the world, and preferably what’s really going on, rather than selected events with a slanted editorial bias baked in from the start. This is why I can’t stomach watching Fox News or MSNBC (or most other big-name TV “news” sources). They editorialize right from the start, with selective reporting and a biased FORM of reporting. I don’t want a news report to tell me how to think—even if I thought the reporters or their higher-ups were better qualified to make such a decision than I, which is laughable—I just want them to inform me of relevant details of important events that are happening in the world. In any case, even if TV news were any good anymore, which it isn’t, print media just tends to be a better format for sharing data.
With that sort of notion in mind, I come to an issue on which I’m somewhat conflicted, and on which I frequently change points of view: whether or not to add pictures to my blog posts. At times I’ve done so readily and regularly, and for my main blog I tend to feel fine about that, since it’s really about communicating my personality and updates about writing and thoughts about it, and similar fairly touchy-feelie things. But I’ve gone back and forth on it even there, and more so here on IoZ. I recognize that it probably attracts people more if you have a picture attached to your blog—presumably, I guess, because people are biased toward looking at pictures rather than reading words? I don’t know. Perhaps that explains the popularity and the bottom-feeding character of the TV news programs, and even much of mainstream “Discovery Channel” type material.
But while I would love to attract people who find themselves inescapably drawn to such things, and to wean them away from that dependence, I can’t make that my focus. Nor can I or should I take the pessimistic attitude that all or even most people are unable to appreciate and enjoy the printed word, even on esoteric subjects. I think that the average person is not only smarter than many people would claim, but they are probably smarter than they realize…except the people who consistently think they know more than they know about everything.
So, I’m not going to use pictures unless they are pertinent to whatever I might be discussing at any given time. If you have to have stories and reporting with pictures (and I’m guessing if you’ve read this far, that doesn’t describe you), then at least read a manga or graphic novel or something along those lines. There exist some real, high-quality story telling in many of them, and at least they require some skill and creativity to produce.
I recommend using video and other pictures for games and for entertainment (movies, TV series, etc.) and using the written word (with figures added only when and as needed) for getting information and even analysis and opinion. Of course, you’re free to take my advice or not, but I do think it’s better. I feel rather saddened by the fact that many young people who appreciate good stories—and would surely enjoy reading classic tales in written form—are consistently distracted by (often quite good, to be fair!) video forms of storytelling, because these are so ubiquitous and—again—are often very well done.
There’s nothing wrong with watching videos, even to learn things sometimes (I’m a fan of several science and math YouTube channels), but remember, someone had to use written language to code those programs, and before that to learn to code the programs that run these videos and make them and edit them, and to learn the principles that allowed all that technology to be created. There’s a reason the richest people in the world now are in technology companies…and these tend to be people who read, often quite a lot.