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September 30, 2005
Readers have noticed that postings recently are scarce. Someday there might be more. Not today.
Chez Dilys still shelters us in pleasant surroundings, we soldier happily on, offstage for awhile. If there is gold in them thar hills, we'll tote a nugget or two back home in a bucket engraved with the G&H monogram.
Aaaaahhh... A respite from the sound of one's own voice has certain rewards.
Economics is spreading its investigation to culture and psychology. Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution calls "delusion" the secret to a good marriage. This genially flip description is not fair nor accurate in weighting the importance of this information.
Framing is crucial to our neurological, ethical, and practical evaluation of events. Re-framing is something that coaches and other sensible consultants know will neutralize or transform even bitterly troublesome events nagging in the memory. And thus affecting the future.
Accomplished rather technically, it is an invaluable secret to healthy forgiveness and perspective, demonstrated in a political context by Jay Rosen's description of the time-frame for reporting news events. It is as simple as this. Anyone who wants to know exactly how this is done can e-mail The Chez at good (underscore) and (underscore) happy "at" yahoo-dot-com.
Life is too short to be preoccupied with detritus orbiting the mind.
Update: Jay Rosen today kicks off discussion via a letter from a senior editor at a major publisher, who reads blogs and won't publish a MSM writer who isn't a feature or link-target in the 'sphere. We wrote a slightly ascerbic and ill-humored comment, and decided to post it here rather than toss it under Jay's shrubbery, even though some of the allusions are specific to that discussion:
The [blogger] does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only...[a version] of The Daily Me.
We are part of the private, recent, non-geek, non-old-boy bloggers, with insignificant stats, who think aloud in public, becoming a part of varied conversations, adding a nano-gram to consensus or controversy on certain subjects, and occasionally achieving a mini-scoop by virtue of observation or privileged access in our own circle.
When in retrospect blogs are evaluated, we believe it will be this kind of ordinary educated citizens' distributed intelligence with its impact on the market and the polity, including the expressive content of millions who also read the expression of others, that will have rumbled the tectonic foundation of our common life. Dwarfing academic or journalist-careerist concerns about who gets hired, who gets paid, who makes a name. That's just celebrity culture, visible, brittle, ephemeral, and essentially the same-old Here-Comes-Me-Again-to-Have-My-Say, in lights.
The phenomenon is bigger than that, and less predictable or controllable. We do not concern outselves with p.lukasiak's worry that the early entrants have it wired; "it" seems to be merely successful LookAtMe. Even in an empty quadrangle, someone(s) may be listening, well before dawn, to the sound of millions of keyboards.
Update: Mr. Lukasiak very cordially engaged the discussion further by e-mail, and we thank him for his civility. Perhaps at a later time that correspondence, including both our comments at PressThink, can be mined for further clarity on how
--he, who maintains via a website on the subject of President Bush as AWOL, and appears to hold associated ideals and opinions, and
--we, utterly predictable "free-market dinosaurs," in his accurate term, can remain in tenuous reciprocal understanding. Thank you, Paul, you prove yourself a gentleman, or if you prefer, comrade worth engaging and appreciating. One purpose for the stormiest of straits in our time, might turn out to be the engineering of a new span of bridges. Knowing our own clumsiness, we can nonetheless hope.
Update: We're flattered that PressThink decided to quote a hunk of Dilys' ruminations. Jay is the mother ship (there's that metaphor again, is fountainhead a better, more gender-appropriate encomium?) of intelligent analysis on the subject of How Journalism Lives Now. His forum is "the best," if we may be permitted to formulate our praise with so fine, elegant, and educated a diction [Ed.: Put a sock in it already, OK, Dilys? : ) ]
March 2, 2005
Dilys and the pals who constitute her back-up and advisory crewe here are shuddering, wondering at the rants in some quarters. Lots of rage about anonymity on the web as equating to trolls, lack of civility, & what most of us simply regret as The underside of the Nature of the Cyber-Beast. Such stomping about makes us want to put on our furs and go out for a steak, it's so unsettling.
Maybe, those so preoccupied with the inevitable shortcomings of our medium could take some comfort from a 5-minute time-out with a snuggy toy to tell their troubles to. Or an imaginary friend. Not so's to be mean and outrageous under the cover of anonymity, but because life rewards good will expressed in creativity. The utility of an imaginary friend, the numbers, variety, and availability of whom are not so limited as real people who will sit still for tantrums in lieu of ruling the world, is something too many of us sometimes fail to appreciate.
We here at Chez Dilys sure enjoy the several narrative layers. So apparently do a few friends. Hardly an excuse for unhappy deeds or dark sayings, more a playhouse comprising a system of colored lights for impromptu entertainments. No one who doesn't want to, has to play. Or watch.
Dilys hasn't failed the Turing test yet. We don't demand the transcripts of others.
When formerly semi-judicious colleagues whom we have publicly admired suddenly turn into, like, all, self-appointed, angry, and generally uncharmingly pithy-with-a-lisp rule-makers proposing our extinction, expect us to go "whoa!" We've been through that b-e-f-o-r-e. We've seen Neanderthals, and, well, honey...
February 27, 2005
Tim Blair posts ironically: Blogs to Fade Away,
once readers realise they are rife with inaccuracies and mundane minutiae,
raising his eyebrows at the offhand AP prediction that exercised us here a few days ago.
It suggests our continued presence is based on reader approval, or at least on eyeballs. We here at Good&Happy, with readership racing weekly upward into the low double digits, don't audit our undertaking in those terms. Don't get us wrong, we cherish our readers, sources, commentors, and interlocutors. If we could, every day we would serve you fresh fragrant tea with a homemade muffin. We would hang on your every word for up to 90 seconds at a time. We would name a new pastel-suede hug toy after your first love.
But we are in no way at the mercy of readers' taste, inclination, fashion, or action. We don't get paid. Our contract subsists in other parameters.
We write for ourselves and for our near-and-far-flung co-conspiring collaborators and beloveds; to keep a record; to find out what we think and are able to communicate; to practice satin-shod pirouettes of indirection; and to circulate invitations to the Cosmic Wedding Reception in one or another venue at sundry times and diverse occasions. It's a note in a bottle, and the reader must decide if it's a MacGuffin for further adventure. We're fully employed just locating corks and checking our spelling.
On the other hand, we're bored, subject to the law of diminishing returns, or at least retiring for a moment to reconsider.
What brought us as readers to the 'sphere was the limiting superficiality and perhaps-unconscious bias of MSM / house organ coverage that oversimplified the challenge, complexity, and anxieties of 9.11 and events following; that ignored the American Episcopal Church's accelerating confusion in the wake of General Convention 2003; and that threw up impediments to understanding the course of the presidential campaign and election of 2004. Although those matters stimulated our desire to approach the fray, we did not expect to address them directly, or frequently.
In that context, propelled by then-raging crosscurrents of Rathergate, we therefore heaved one round pink foot at a time out of the scallop-shell onto the beach on September 12, 2004, muttering, on the twin subjects of wearing pajamas and having opinions, "I could do that."
Now, on the presenting issues, distributed information and the arrow of time have begun to make their point.
--Mary Mapes has resigned, and Dan Rather seems increasingly ossified psychologically and molecularly. Even more of the story may surface through employment lawsuits. The old and new media are under scrutiny, and no journalism student can reasonably graduate thinking (s)he will be permitted to tell the rest of us what to think or to know (or not to know), without push-back for explanation.
As to Rather and CBS, we can see more clearly, it's simply the cut of their jib, and we release them all from our foolish expectation that people will do anything other than what they do and are. At the same time, we are deeply satisfied when the tack shifts, the shore comes into focus, and more of us are weathermen to figure out the wind direction.
--Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the international Anglican Primates are eyeball to eyeball with American/Canadian verbal and doctrinal slush machines. Something has to give.
Without the internet, more of the vaguely uncomfortable but forcedly-genial pew potatoes would still be reading only the parish pundit on what's new at the bookstore and the building fund. Some of us have even been galvanized to sneak a third or fourth look at the unpraiseworthy prose and indeterminate anthropology of the 1979 prayer book, and have morphed into outlines moving through the dead of night, packing our steamer trunks for early transport to the banks of the Tiber or Bosphorous.
--Our primary interest in the election, along with its outcome, was the philosophies, ethics, and rhetoric driving it and on display. We have no ambition here to be on anyone's Front Page as Hildy Johnson (editor, that's another matter) covering the political or any beat. Others do that so much better, partly because of their inexplicable ability to sustain their interest for more than 15 minutes before skittering after another bright shiny idea.
Almost everyone who is rhetorically anyone is on the job, climbing the ladder of insight up from the bottom Lakoff rung -- Framing Issues, Joining Argument, Comparing Value-systems, Shaping Vocabulary. We here still have ideas, and are hatching many more. But for the moment we are able to add only fine points or echoes.
Furthermore, Lent according to the Orthodox calendar approaches on March 9, culminating this year in Pascha/Easter on May 1. Not least, the difference in calendars should be appreciated in the restaurant trade for spreading the Festive Easter Brunch traffic. As the Eastern Orthodox are developed in fasting, so in feasting.
A recent New Yorker aside says that our life is bedeviled by Envy and Addiction. Lent provides an opportunity to dissolve the Crazy Glue(tm) attachments to some of the instruments of both. Like last year, lenten 2005 will see little or no weekday 'sphere-wide surfing by us. The computer at Chez Dilys is licensed to hum away for e-mail, business, and graphics. But the motley gang of 'sphere-titillated Lusts of the Eyes for amusement and up-to-date-ness will for a time be buttoned into their spring linen pjs and packed off to the metaphorical spa for a rest cure, clearing the guest room for their more decorous print-seeking cousins, some of whom may very likely peep around the curtain here as semi-regular postings.
Inasmuch as Good&Happy has a portfolio, its purpose is to raise the Happiness Index here and now, for you and me and all Dilys' Crewe and everyone affected even indirectly. We seek deeper definitions and truer measures of the term, and the rehabilitation of some of its exiled components. Our passion for happiness is unlikely to disappear. We shall see what shape it takes for the next few weeks as the weather changes, inside and out.
Anglican Primates -- regional bishops -- representing the whole world have been meeting in Ireland this week to determine where to go from here, in view of stark possibly irreconcilable disagreements in doctrine and practice between the US/Canada hierarchy, and most of the rest of the Anglican world.
For two or three centuries, Anglican missionaries trudged, canoed, bandaged, translated, and preached from pole to pole. Converts were welcomed and educated. Some years later, turns out, these many scattered congregations still believe what they were taught. Quelle surprise.
Impressive photo of churchmen gathered for Evensong. The one-of-a-kind and (to us) entirely endearing, sympathetic, brilliant Welsh Celt, Archbishop of Canterbury Robin Williams, is front and center. We suspect he'd rather be at his lecture notes. Not a pretty job, salvaging floating toothpicks from the shipwrecked heritage of Lancelot Andrewes, Richard Hooker, and George Herbert, fishing up here and there a deliquescent leaf from the fine old Book of Common Prayer.
[early-morning] Update: Photo at link has been removed. Too bad, it was impressive and moving, to see the Anglican world bravely gathered in the crisis. The picture generated a good deal of eagerly speculative discussion about the diplomacy and semiotics of where the bishops were standing in relation to each other, especially the American Frank Griswold seemingly behind and beyond the group. Even a former intelligence agent, recalling his Soviet-era skills and the Kremlin era of overnight airbrushing, weighed in. That discussion has been deleted, as well as a discussion of the discussion on another website. Blogger Dilys only, too naive to have cached the flyaway material, escaped alone to tell thee
It pays to read quickly in some circles. See for contrast and comparison certain more explicitly political command-and-control controversies in living memory of some of us.
[linguistic] Update: A coincidental day to be introduced to the coinage of the word oblivionize [v.tr.].
We (try not to) oblivionize.
You (may or may not) oblivionize.
They, well this time they sure did, oblivionize...
[final foreseeable] Update:
The Primates adjourned early, issuing a request that until 2008 US and Canadian representatives absent themselves from meetings of the main AC Council, and prepare a theological explanation / rationale for their recent positions, in order to "consider their place within the Anglican Communion." Headlines accumulate, including wire-report summary in our own home town, and this comment quoted by the BBC:
The ACC is a liaison body, with members drawn from each province or member church. To step down would mean a church was no longer a full member of the Anglican family.
One observer said: The primates have handed the North Americans a pearl-handled revolver.
Via Christopher Johnson.
February 13, 2005
Sometimes our favorite publications--The New Yorker, The New Criterion, The Wall Street Journal--do not deign to give notice of or review performances until the run is finished. All gone. No chance to see it.
Good&Happy is nicer than that.
Beowulf in Performance
Monday February 14, 7pm
The Ransom Center hosts this 80-minute segment of Beowulf in performance, by Benjamin Bagby, the premier "scop," or bardic storyteller and reciter, of this tale today. Bagby, of the musical ensemble Sequentia, of Paris, France is internationally known for his recitations of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse poems to the accompaniment of a harp. He will perform this portion of the more than 8-hour tale in its original language, with period musical accompaniment, and with supertext titles in contemporary English. A reception follows.
Please remember that seating is limited.
Also, join us for a pre-performance discussion by UT Prof. Thomas Cable at 3pm Monday, February 14 and a post-performance discussion with both Bagby and Cable at 10am. Tuesday, February 15 (both also in the Ransom Center's Prothro Theater).
This event is produced by the Ransom Center, the Jane Weinert Blumberg Chair, the Department of English at UT Austin, and Medieval Studies at UT Austin.
As the ancients knew in the long winter confinement, Goodness&Happiness requires creative diversion so as not to go mad.
Don't be mad, be glad. Stop in here frequently, where the resident breezy bardic oracle might help the seeking sort of soul slide [felahror feranon frean wære] to the next square on the chess board of the world.
Or at least decide what to do on a winter's evening.
Virtue is a certain complex mindset... concerned with many other actions as well, with emotions and emotional reactions, choices, values, desires, perceptions, attitudes, interests, expectations and sensibilities.
Its blossom is eudaimonia: happiness, flourishing, well-being. Good, and happy.
Hastening to add, no claims here as exemplar. Not there yet.
Refinement, essential to slip the shackles and shadow of mere desert.
"Deserve's got nothin' to do with it."