Monday, September 24, 2012

This Record of my Journey

"I give this record of my journey not as a contribution to human knowledge, because my knowledge is small and of little account, but as a contribution to human experience." - Henry Miller

This was from Miller's book The Colossus of Maroussi. It's in reference to that book, but is also how he perceived his fundamental role as a writer overall.

I share it because it expresses pretty much how I feel about this blog.

But what is the difference between the two, between a contribution to human experience and a contribution to human knowledge?

Well, I suppose it is comparable to the difference between art and science. While there is certainly some overlap between the two, namely in that both involve observation and experimentation; but art is more about creative self-expression, aesthetics, and the search for personal meaning. And science, is more along the lines of data collection, impersonal analysis, and verification of the facts; just the facts, without the poetry, all done in a very methodical manner, where personality, or personal meaning, plays no role at all.

So, in this way, I would say the personal blog, and this blog in particular, is more in the realm of the creative arts than the sciences. Even with all my theorizing and observations and analysis, it is more poetic than scientific, being that it is mostly a matter of personal opinion and the sharing of my personality, and thus, more of a contribution to human experience than human knowledge.

I do hope to inspire and teach those who read this blog, but there are not any definite fixed answers here, more of a sharing in the creative process of my own explorations and discoveries, which are very tentative and experimental.

The mistake people often make is in considering one more important than the other, or thinking that one could survive without the other, or would be better off without the other. Art (and by art, we also mean metaphor, so we must include spirituality and religion) and science, experience and knowledge, intuition and logic, heart and mind; both are valuable, both are essential. One without the other, is diminished, lopsided, an incomplete perspective, much like a missing eye, or ear; like the blind leading the blind, and the deaf pretending to hear.

The reason why I prefer reading personal blogs, particularly those that integrate theory and philosophy with personality, is mostly being that no one else will ever completely duplicate another's life, they will always be much more original than the majority of all impersonal blogs out there, who rarely offer anything innovative, but are more often than not simply rewriting material that is already widely available elsewhere, essentially reinventing the wheel each and every time. If I'm looking for just the facts, I will tend to look at books, newspapers, and other professional publications. I turn to blogs, for entertainment and inspiration, not for a rewording of information that I can get from more reputable sources.

However, from the perspective of the blogger, all blogging is writing practice, and all writing practice is good practice. So from that point of view, it doesn't matter if you're reinventing the wheel, or revealing a groundbreaking discovery, it's all writing practice, and therefore it's all good.

But from the perspective of the reader, I'd rather read a blog that says something I can't read anywhere else, and for me, more often than not, that is to be found on a personal blog; not a blog that attempts to be a non-fiction book, newspaper, or an encyclopedia of facts already published elsewhere. Which is not to say that there aren't any exceptional blogs of an impersonal nature, but they are few and far between. Unless you've got something new to bring to the table, or can at least reinvigorate the information in a much more entertaining, stimulating, and engaging manner than previously done before, you'd be better off writing about your pet, or what you ate for lunch today, at least it would be original. Even though we may both have pets, or have the same thing for lunch once in awhile, no one else shares the same exact story as you, it is uniquely your own.

Or, better yet, a good rule of thumb is, either write from the heart, write something innovative and smart, or don't write anything at all. That's what I try to do, not that I always succeed, or haven't reinvented the wheel a few more times than necessary, but I do at least try.

*This is post 15 of 20, part of my "20 posts in 30 days" challenge.