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Art of Living Blogging Journal Musings Self-Reflection

Moulting

Moth chrysalis waiting out the winter

Moth chrysalis waiting out the winter

Just as spring seemed about to step into the garden another snowstorm has hit Tokyo. For Tokyo this is unheard of… four snowstorms in one winter. Something is definitely amiss in the planetary teacup.

Weeks have now gone by since I announced that I would go on hiatus and I think the decision to take the time away helped a lot with both figuring out what I want to do with my time and with the kind of relationship I want to have with computers and the internet. More than anything is the conviction that taking a lot of time to engage with the natural world must be a top priority in my life. It may not mean as much to other people, but ever since I can remember the natural world has been the defining element of what makes me happy and what brings a balance to my emotions and my understanding of what it means to be alive. Whenever I’ve been apart from natural things I’ve always felt unbalanced and always felt as if that necessary extension of myself that completes the feeling of “embodiment”, but which exists separately from my physical body, is missing. I am more than just myself, and just like a member of a community, my relationship to the natural world has always felt like a completion of parts. I honestly don’t think that individuals can find fulfillment in themselves alone; somehow the natural world, as we like to call it, but which I would rather call the “real” real world, acts as an engine for our identities as physical beings in a living community. Without the Earth we are incomplete, because the Earth itself is the summation of its vital parts.

The time away from the blog came in part from a major systems failure on the part of my former web host, losing all data and promptly going bankrupt. It all happened last November, with a failure to notify me. So one morning in January, when I tried to log on to the blog to do maintenance on spam and outdated links, there was nothing there. It’s taken me all this time to get the basics back on line, most of it in the form of manually writing in all the old entries from seven months ago. This was all made possible by a happy coincidence of using ecto for the offline blog writing. (for anyone who uses ecto… and in my case the Mac version… and needing to retrieve lost old blog entries, just go into your home/library/application support/ecto/entrydata.plist file and you will find all the post data there. Unfortunately the whole retrieval procedure must be done by hand, which takes a lot of time) I was able to get back all the old entries, though I lost all the wonderful comments that went along with them.

So the blog is back up in basic, default theme form. I also migrated away from Movable Type and am camping out in WordPress for now. The whole web page will undergo major changes, with more focus on writing about nature, travel, and cultural identity and as much cutting out of political comments and personal gossip as possible. I am putting together a multiblog/gallery/online store/online nature and community magazine/freelance illustration and design business/ page that I hope will bring together all my interests and better exhibit who I am and what I love to do. Eventually I hope to be able to run a business with enough income that I can support the kind of lifestyle that I’ve always wanted to live… namely living part of the year in one place, doing stationary work, and the other part of the year traveling, visiting all those places in the world I’ve wanted to see and actively working toward learning about, helping to protect, and actually spending real time in the world’s natural places, while at the same time coming to terms with the unrest of being from a multicultural background and never feeling at home anywhere.

In a way I hope to make the web site a learning tool, a teaching tool, and a storytelling tool that will both communicate with other people while entertaining them, and showcasing my skills in such a way that people might buy my books and illustrations, possibly join a paid membership “online theatre” (at first with static drawing stories, called “Kamishibai” (paper play) in Japan, but eventually and hopefully with flash animated stories, and, for Japanese readers, possibly even online English-teaching story service) or ask me to do projects for them. (In some ways similar to FusionSpark and FableVision, though with a much less “canned” outlook, perhaps more like John Shelley Illustration) I have no idea if this is going to work, but I’d like to give it a try.

Ever since an online misunderstanding I’ve become wary of the way things are expressed on the internet. Too much is taken for granted and too much is enclosed within the limited language of the written word and the faceless, gesture-less, expressionless world of online communication. So much of how one is perceived hinges on the careful selection of words and not enough on who one is in real life. It is so easy to misconstrue one’s intentions and to write one thing, but mean something completely different. I’ve often wondered why it is that from the start I had to be careful about opening myself too much on the internet; now I just think that it is like any time you meet people you don’t know well… too much information without the proper context can come across as threatening or unfriendly. Those times that I’ve met or spoken to people I got to know first on the internet have proved to reveal personalities remarkably similar to my original impressions, but with subtle differences that only meeting them in real life could affirm. And it is the substantiality of the meetings that made the difference.

I’m not sure what lasting effect any of my online comments have made in the past. I know I have been offensive at times and at times too whiney. I’ve tried to speak with earnestness and have never meant anyone harm, but in my anger or neediness I may have asked for too much or assumed too much before thinking or taking the time to understand. I’d like to be more careful from now on and to use the internet less as a bouncing board than as a pool of words to contemplate, listen to, and learn from. If I can’t give the best of myself to this pool then there are no words to be added. In the eight years that I’ve been deeply involved with the internet I’ve found that little of the critical contributions I’ve made or read have made much difference in how I feel about things overall or perceive things. Even all the information I gleaned about the Iraq war and the goings on over the environment have only served to raise my hackles and punch out. I’ve lost a few friends. Little was gained.

What has made a difference are the stories people have told and the way they have done things and the beauty in things they have seen or created, things that have moved me like Subhankar Banerjee’s photos or Beth’s sensitive and searching ruminations or haunting work like Plantage by Jakub Dvorsky of Amanita Design. Such encounters have shown me the wondrous possibilities of the internet and after coming in contact with them I can honestly say that I sat back and felt deeply satisfied, the way a good book gets you.

This is my intention on the internet. If I am to speak and to show my hand in drawing or photography or storytelling, it must wind around the heart and leave people with a seed. And hopefully a flicker of movement in their souls that they can take with them into the light of the real world. Otherwise my speaking here has no meaning, and my time in the real world no connection to this electronic vision.

To me my time in the real real world is everything.

Categories
Blogging Journal

Neurons Firing

Random thought: With all the uncertainty of what blogging/ web journaling/ rippling constitutes, I wondered last night if perhaps it is kind of latter day, secular confessional. You’ve got the screen, the listener with the feedback, the anonymity, the focus on oneself, and even the worship of a huge, all-pervading organization, with its priests of information. The time that we spend spilling our hearts almost seems to be trying to make up for the years of silence we all endured as we gave up the old institutions…

Suggestion… For those of us for whom good writing makes up the most important aspect of web journaling, I would like to propose a vote for the best written entries of 2003. We could start with single suggestions from bloggers (except one’s own blog, of course), tallying up, say, 30 of the the most often named entries, then vote again to pare it down to 10 entries, that can then be posted on their own page. Any ideas on this? Can you even remember any specific entries? (I find it quite difficult…!)

Evolution… A while ago I wrote that blogging is probably a new form of communication, still in its infancy and offering something that neither books nor magazines can. Beth of Cassandra Pages discusses this new trend, too, talking of our being pioneers in a new medium. Many of us have struggled with the sense of addiction that blogging brings out in us, and, for those of who are writers, the way it seems to invade the time we spend writing for print. William Gibson, the science fiction writer, went so far as to quit his blog because he found blogging to interfere too much with his writing. The funny thing is, blogging instigates us into writing everyday in a way that print writers only dream of! Many people who have never written before, suddenly find that writing is actually fun. What is it about blogging that gets you coming back, day after day, month after month, and probably year after year? Even online chatting never had me so hooked (I’ve completely stopped doing it). My hunch is that it’s fireside storytelling reborn. Where anyone round the fire can have a go. No hierarchies, no filters, no initiation process that stills the voices of those who don’t make it into some inner circle. The spreading of the word like wildfire. Minds suddenly set free.

An interesting development is that while this site receives quite a few visitors, my other blog, Harubaru: Far and Wide has from the beginning recieved almost no visitors. It is an illustrated fiction blog, originally intended for children, but I’m wondering if it just doesn’t work if done as an individual’s blog. Perhaps fiction in a blog needs to be created jointly, or perhaps it doesn’t work at all?

There is a lot of exploring to be done, and the imagination is rife with possibilities. It will be interesting to see what develops from here on.