Sunday, August 24, 2003

Forgive me Father, it has been seven days since I last blogged

Writing a personal blog has a distinctly confessional feel to it. You're saying things that other people might read - or worse, things that they might dredge up nine years from now when you need to be on your best appearances. It's almost a diary, but it's public.

In the old days, confession in the Catholic church was a public affair: you had to stand up in front of the congregation to confess your sins. The box-confessional is a new-fangled piece of furniture; even earlier confessionals were simply chairs where people could kneel, in the full view of all, on either side of the priest.

Saying things in public is different. It matters more, even if nobody's listening. It reminds me of being at art school. You're experimenting and no-one else really cares, but you still have to put your work up in a place where anybody can criticize it. There's a frisson, a little adrenalin that simply making something for yourself wouldn't have. We're such social animals that we have to construct a society for ourselves even when we're alone.

There's also a self-consciousness which true performers can turn to their advantage. Hey, look at me, dammit! I'm pouring out my soul here, you owe me your attention! Most of us just end up faintly embarrassed. Perhaps that's why Marcus Aurelius' Meditations are so wonderful: they were personal diaries, not intended for publication. If they had been, perhaps Marcus would not have been so profound.

Just like confession, blogs also carry a good weight of guilt. Have you neglegted your obligations - again? How could you say something so inane? Didn't you realize that you were rehearsing the obvious? How dare your write with a style that's like a bean counter trying to waltz? Cross-linking is like saying ten Hail Mary's; a duty that washes away the sin, leaving your soul fresh and clean, ready to be soiled again.

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