Thursday, December 20, 2007

Of Authors, Readers, Music, & Memory

I've noticed something of late: it's the more personal entries on this blog that seem to spike the readership. I find that fascinating and about 180 degrees out from what I expected. I had thought that it would be the posts on more current events or movies or some such, but no; it's when some single current event inspires a more original meditation that suddenly the number of hits tracked by Google Analytics spikes. And I'm beginning to understand why.

Over at Enrevanche, Barry's posted a riff on "Music as a trigger for memory." Though the list of blogs I read on a daily basis has slowly grown, it's still pretty small. But reading daily and being really moved by what you read are two different things. I was reminded by Barry's post on music and memory that it was my cousin's ability to sometimes strike a genuine chord in my own soul that attracted me to his blog in the first place, and it was his blog that eventually inspired me to crank this one up.

So, I'm going to guess that this is really how those spikes occur. We can get news of current events anywhere. But it's the human connection we feel when someone who writes on a daily basis manages to put into words, sometimes better than we could find on our own, something that we feel about those events. I've said all along, as an English professor, that the authors we're attracted to are those who can describe what we've felt or thought all along, but better than we ever hoped to. That's why I love Cormac McCarthy and someone else loves Rod McKuen. Same for blogs, I'm learning. It takes a while for a blog to find its own audience. What I'm becoming aware of though is that my audience, however small or large it may be, mostly isn't here for links to news or even other cool things on the web. Guys like Glenn Reynolds pretty much have that covered. More power to them. It's not what I created this space to do anyway. The point is, recent trends in hit tracking seem to indicate that what I did create this space to do has more validity than I'd realized. I'll try to blog with more consciousness of that in the future.

Meanwhile, pay that blog entry of Barry's a visit. It's worth the read. And be sure to take in the comments too. Here, for what it's worth, is an excerpt from mine:

Chap & Barry: I have to say, "the fullness of deep and involuntary memory" and "memory, like vinyl, has grooves that wear out" actually make pretty good bookends, though I have to say that I think the mechanism functions in reverse--the grooves of memory, unlike vinyl, are kept fresh by use. It's more like their sides melt into one another if the needle of remembrance doesn't pass through them from time to time. Best entry in a while, Barry. Thanks.

As for music, I've no doubt Barry has been my most faithful reader from day one, so I'm sure you'll remember "Adagio for Strings" back in September, about a pretty much similar topic. More apropos though is the passing of Dan Fogelberg last Sunday. Two nights ago I went to sleep with pretty much all my Fogelberg in the playlist, piping in through earbuds. What I remembered was why I don't listen to him that much any more. I remember too much when I do, and too much of what I remember is too laden with regret to be good for me. Again, beautiful post, Barry. Thanks.
And I don't say this very often, but if you are reading this blog, then thanks. And if you're getting anything out of it, feel free to leave a comment now and then. Blogging is largely an exercise in Narcissism anyway, but it's still done with an awareness of an audience, and it's nice to hear from that audience from time to time. In some ways, a blog and its comments is the ultimate expression of reader-response theory, so, jump on in there.