This is the artefact(oid)

(Another slightly updated elderly posting which would seem to want to live out its limited readership on this blog.)

I was trying to distinguish my various sites from each other using only the power of my feeble brain (which resembles one of those energy-saving bulbs when you first switch it on, only it never gets brighter: inside my head there’s only eighteenth century electricity).
I think this WordPress/ex-Windows Live site is for nearly intelligible statements and actual published reviews, etc.

My two collaborative blogs (corridors in the Great Collabyrinth, still under construction), Blogaria, and Tri Brodyagi v Metro, do pretty much what they say on the tin: provide an account of ongoing projects baring in mind that some projects are more ongoing than others.

Then there are two blogs trying to log aspects of the project (what is the project? Feedback is always welcome). The Lost Notebook, itself feeling rather waif-like at present, is really about the power of forgetting — a number of nearly-complete entries may well revive this shortly. Mozart in Colorado, on the other hand, is about being forgotten — fiction I’ve published, finished but can’t contextualise, or haven’t quite finished, is presented in brief, incomplete excerpts.

MySpace (, with its fitful fistful of fistulae, The Chimericon, was for dumb ephemera. But this begs the question what could my Facebook site possibly be for? Epi-ephemera? Ersa-razzamatatz?

And then, while commiserating with a fellow work-shirker about how this is the most convenient way to keep up on other people’s midlife crises, it finally occurred to me that Facebook, Twitter, MySpace aren’t ‘for’ anything at all teleologically speaking.

No, I’m not ‘networking’, I’m not ‘getting my face out there’ or doing any of those things I’m too incompetent/embarrassed to manage in person, I’m ‘being’ in exactly the same way I ‘be’ — ineptly and inefficiently — in the aisles of supermarkets, on trains and in all the other no-spaces our culture has generated.

It’s like trying to work out who or what a child is addressing when they write ‘Dear Diary’ or Who or what exactly it is an agnostic prays to. We just like making things, often little versions of ourselves, frequently using words and images. Small fables for the passing eye. Sub-art sketches for short short fictions, or what Brendan Kennelly called ‘glimpses’ and Tagore ‘kabitika’.

This is the end, beautiful friend.

About Bill Herbert

Poet and pseudo-scholar W.N. Herbert was born in Dundee in 1961, educated there and at Oxford, where he completed his DPhil thesis on Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and now lives and works in Newcastle. He is Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and his books are published by, among others, northern publisher Bloodaxe Books. He is also the Dundee Makar, or city laureate.
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