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Friday Afternoon Confessional: Happy New Decade

How good and fitting it is to begin this, a new year and new decade, with the purgative power of confession. By now we have all had our perfunctory New Year’s parties, never as much fun as promised, punctuated by occasional glances at the TV that remind one that however much hope the new year holds, one must face the disturbing fact that Ryan Seacrest is omnipresent. Surely now we are all thinking about resolutions, despite thinking the idea is lame and arbitrary — and I confess that I myself have come up with two simple resolutions, because I confess that I take lame and arbitrary things way too seriously:

  1. To polish my shoes more
  2. To always “be reading” one novel and one work of nonfiction

I confess that often fixate on minor tasks and view them as simultaneously the most important and pressing issue in my life and also an insuperable obstacle. The Girlfriend reminded me of one of my fixations when she asked me if I’d done my course packets, a task I must have mentioned 5,000,000 times in the days leading up to Christmas (and my trip to Kalamazoo, then home, then to Kalamazoo again, then back to Chicago — during the second visit to Kalamazoo, I was to “do my course packets”). I realized, however, that nothing from the course packet would become necessary for several weeks and, moreover, that two volumes I needed to copy texts out of were in “off-site storage” at the library and therefore I couldn’t finish the things anyway, since they presumably wouldn’t rush off to find these books in a matter of hours just because that would maximize my convenience.

I’d like to pause here to note a strange feature of the Kalamazoo College online library catalogue (“Ariadne”). When an item is in off-site storage, it tells you so in link form. Naturally, I clicked the link, assuming it would direct me to some type of order form. Instead, it gave me a help file that told me the link I should’ve clicked from the previous page, complete with an illustration. This strikes me as a wasted step.

I confess that my primary goal in adding the “read more” link above was not to create suspense about my resolutions, but to artificially inflate pageviews. I confess that this is because The Weblog’s traffic has been in steady decline — in fact, earlier this year it was definitively surpassed by AUFS, which I started with the express purpose of getting a “clean slate” and so made very little effort to promote for the first couple years of its existence. I’m very proud of what AUFS has become, especially after a banner year in which we provided two sets of reading notes for untranslated books, held two events working through recent books in theology, and began a reading group for The Recognitions, in addition to hosting several of the circulating essays about the Iranian protests (one of which wound up getting an Andrew Sullivan link and one of which, by Zizek, wound up being by far our most-read post ever).

I confess that my focus on AUFS over The Weblog probably accounts for some of this differential, as The Weblog has been reduced basically to the weekly posts without much else — and here I must thank E. Bolden and Ben Wolfson for doing a huge percentage of the work week after week and JMS for taking over the Spoiler Alert Thursday feature for a time. But I confess that I suspect the biggest culprit is the fact that I started a Twitter account, which winds up absorbing a lot of random observations that might have otherwise wound up as “comment-bait” posts at The Weblog. A side effect is probably that people who were morbidly fascinated with my dysfunction, or else hated me, are probably giving up on the blog since I’m not giving them enough material to go on — I always suspected that half of my traffic was from people who hated me.

The result is that The Weblog is now effectively what I always tried and failed to make it from the very beginning: a group blog with reliable contributors other than myself, organized around regular weekly features, with the personal neurosis stuff pretty well confined to the Friday confession. I’m still working on getting 5-day coverage with different authors each day (Spoiler Alert Thursday and especially Monday Movies have proven unreliable, and my attempt to get JMS to do the TV post in perpetuity fell apart once Mad Men ended), but still, this is basically fulfilling my vision — and the traffic is steadily declining as a result!

And the really interesting thing is that no one, including me, cares. A handful of people have found a place to talk about their favorite TV shows, find new recipes to try, vent grievances, and do whatever it is we do on Fridays. That’s fine. That’s probably worth keeping up for another year.


January 1, 2010 - Posted by | Friday Afternoon Confessional


  1. Happy new year!

    Comment by read | January 1, 2010

  2. Bright tights and climbing walls!

    Comment by ebolden | January 1, 2010

  3. I confess that I might get a twitter account. This shames me.

    Comment by ben | January 1, 2010

  4. I confess I had a pleasant and productive Jan. 1. I awoke relatively early and surprisingly only a little bit hung over, and was pleased to find that the guest who had crashed on my couch had already disappeared, having first politely folded his sheets. I deliberately delayed the drive to my parents’ house, first walking to the corner bistrot/patisserie for a slow cup of coffee and to purchase a box of macarons and caneles to give as a new year’s gift to my parents.

    I had two resolutions for 2009, one which I failed at miserably, and the other of which was a resounding success. For 2010 I resume my failed resolution of 2009, which is that I will accept every social invitation that is made to me this year. In 09 I did very well for a few weeks (or maybe even months?) and had a really good time even, but the end of the year saw me as usual with my phone turned off and hiding out at home playing desktop tower defense on Friday evenings. My other 2010 resolutions are to fix up my house to my liking, and to spend more time drawing.

    I confess I’m looking forward to 2010.

    Comment by jms | January 2, 2010

  5. i confess a stranger wished me a happy new year right now, nice
    i thought one could become practically invisible if to wear a not very suiting beanie, nobody looks at you longer than 2-3 s, it’s like a tip for the spies, instead of trying to cover the face, dark glasses, a beanie! etc

    Comment by read | January 2, 2010

  6. etc, then a beanie of course

    Comment by read | January 2, 2010

  7. I confess that I do not like the taste of saffron.

    Comment by K-sky | January 2, 2010

  8. I confess that I’m really tired of listening to Americans pretend to be interested in whatever deadly new third world country the Pentagon’s decided we’re going to blow up.

    Comment by stras | January 3, 2010

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