Farewell to Beyond the Beyond

“It’s the writerly act of organizing and assembling inchoate thought that seems to helps me. That’s what I did with this blog; if I blogged something for “Beyond the Beyond,” then I had tightened it, I had brightened it. I had summarized it in some medium outside my own head. Posting on the blog was a form of psychic relief, a stream of consciousness that had moved from my eyes to my fingertips; by blogging, I removed things from the fog of vague interest and I oriented them toward possible creative use.

Also, the ideal “Beyond the Beyond” reader was never any fan of mine, or even a steady reader of the blog itself. I envisioned him or her as some nameless, unlikely character who darted in orthogonally, saw a link to some odd phenomenon unheard-of to him or her, and then careened off at a new angle, having made that novelty part of his life. They didn’t have to read the byline, or admire the writer’s literary skill, or pony up any money for enlightenment or entertainment. Maybe they would discover some small yet glimmering birthday-candle to set their life alight.

Blogging is akin to stand-up comedy — it’s not coherent drama, it’s a stream of wisecracks. It’s also like street art — just sort of there, stuck in the by-way, begging attention, then crumbling rapidly.”

-Bruce Sterling, “Farewell to Beyond the Beyond.” Wired.com. May 17, 2020.

Bruce Sterling really nails the value of a blog, or at least my conception of it. It also makes me realize that I should be writing more for it. Perhaps it is time to start doing that.

cafebedouin.org: 2019 Year in Review and Looking Ahead to 2020

In 2019, I posted 931 entries, all post views were up to +14,000 views by +9,000 visitors to cafebedouin.org, roughly three times the level of last year. Most of the views are concentrated either on the main page or the most popular posts:

My favorite posts of the year:

In 2019, I went for a twice a day posting schedule that expanded to three times a day mid-year as I incorporated a review of my photo archive. Frankly, this is a brutal posting schedule. I could probably do twice a day comfortably, but I think I’m going to focus a bit more on quality and only commit to doing a single post a day and maybe do something original once a week in the coming year.

I still would like to move to a format where half the posts are in a Foucault hupomnemata-style, i.e., “to capture the already-said, to collect what one has managed to hear or read, and for a purpose that is nothing less than the shaping of the self.” And I think some of the sources I have mentioned last year are still worth exploring:

  • I have been collecting rules and maxims for life over the last 1.5 years or so, and there are now over 400 of them. I could do a year just using these as writing prompts.
  • I still haven’t included very much material from the commonplace book I kept for years before starting cafebedouin.org. Adding in material from it with some reflection now that it has been several years might be interesting.
  • Open-ended stream-of-consciousness writing. However, it probably won’t be much fun to read. I beg your pardon.

Offline, I did Postcard Friday, on more of a monthly basis this year. And I think this was both good and something to do more of, perhaps with tie-in to the blog. Still thinking through how this might work, so maybe something for next year?

In short, expect some changes and fewer posts in the coming year.

45 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog

“Always be networking. Always.”

—”45 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog – Which You Can Use to Grow Yours to 225,000 Visits / Month, Like We Eventually Did.” CodeInWP.com. April 27, 2019.

Good advice if you want to drive traffic to your site, become an “influencer,” make money off your blog, or be Internet famous.

Or, if you are like me, use it as a guide of things to avoid doing. Except have great content, that’s good advice for everyone.

Nazi Gold

“Legendary skateboarder and artist Jerry Hsu started his blog Nazi Gold in 2009 as a repository for the cell phone photos he’d been collecting alongside his more traditional photography and film practices: shots of friends and strangers, roadside curiosities, and anything else that seemed to merit instant sharing with both peers and the public. In the ensuing years, the site grew from an exercise in visual note-taking into a uniquely hysterical embodiment of both Hsu’s keen artistic sense and his razor-sharp wit. Documenting his journeys through the high and low trappings of our culture, Hsu’s work captures everything from bootleg t-shirts and bathroom stall graffiti to unexpected truths and the occasional startling moment of humanity.”

—Description of blog called Nazi Gold turned into coffee table book by the publisher, Anthology

cafebedouin.org: 2017 Year in Review and Looking Ahead to 2018

I started blogging on January 1, 2017. I was inspired by Don Joyce of Negativland and Over the Edge to “start your own show”, to have a creative outlet where it becomes possible to explore ideas and different creative directions. I was also coming across other posts like “Everyone Should Blog” that helped reenforce the thought.

Originally, my idea was to try to write one quality essay a week. But, I ended up wanting to explore ideas in lengths and with references that was difficult to do week in and week out. Also, my writing felt stilted, academic and lifeless. I need more practice.

By the third week of February, I had decided to close my Facebook account and to limit, to the degree possible, my reliance on the companies of the feudal internet, i.e., Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. After deleting Facebook, the next step meant taking a hard look at my use of Google, which included looking to migrate my new blog off blogger.com.

It was easy to migrate to WordPress.com. It just took awhile because I was looking for a new email provider, installing Linux and later OpenBSD on my PCs, evaluating new services like NextCloud to replace Google, etc. It took a lot of time and energy, but I am very happy now I made this transition to a slightly more free, but also slightly more costly, relationship with technology.

I started blogging again in June, and I decided to try one post a day, partly so I would be forced to keep it shorter. As of this post, I’ve made 262 posts.

I like the commonplace book style of the blog, and I think there are some good bits that get sprinkled in. I used to write quotes of this sort in a physical book, and it may be worthwhile to post the best of them here in the coming year.

In 2018, I would also like to get back to more original content. I’m thinking it would be good to post something original once a week, but spread it across different forms: poetry, essays, drawing, photography and so forth. Maybe also do more brief commentary of 250 words or less, sketches of story ideas or fragments, aphorisms, book reviews and the like. The goal still being to post something everyday, something that seems weird or interesting, just with some more originals. Let’s see how it goes.