Friday, February 05, 2010

`A Throb of Pleasure in His Heart'

The first words I posted on Anecdotal Evidence four years ago today were not mine but William Hazlitt’s, and they remain my preferred ice-breaker and contractual statement of purpose:

“…we agreed to adjourn to my lodgings to discuss measures with that cordiality which makes old friends like new, and new friends like old, on great occasions. We are cold to others only when we are dull in ourselves, and have neither thoughts nor feelings to impart to them. Give a man a topic in his head, a throb of pleasure in his heart, and he will be glad to share it with the first person he meets.”

That inaugural come-on-in post comes from “The Fight,” Hazlitt’s account of an illegal, bloody, bare-knuckles boxing match in 1821 -- an irony I savor when the blogosphere experiences one of its periodic paroxysms of incivility. It also reminds me of the inclusive nature of essays in seasoned hands, and of what Montaigne wrote in “Of three kinds of association”: “Life is an uneven, irregular, and multiform movement.” So too is prose and literature worthy of the name.

This blog is a conversation with its best readers, some of whom I know by name – Gary Baldridge, Roger Boylan, Laura Demanski, Elberry, Katy Evans-Bush, David Ferry, Roger Forseth, Mike Gilleland, Joshua Kurp, Ken Kurp, James Marcus, David Myers, Nige, Bill Sigler, Ron Slate, Levi Stahl, Terry Teachout, Bill Vallicella, Frank Wilson and many who remain nameless or pseudonymed. A song written by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel in 1937, and sung by Ella Fitzgerald, acknowledges my largest, oldest, most consistent blog debt.

In a footnote he added to The Honest Rainmaker (1953), A.J. Liebling stated definitively the only philosophy of writing I have ever claimed:

“The way to write is well, and how is your own business. Nothing else on the subject makes sense.”

With this, my 1,633rd post, I thank all of my readers.


Michael Gilleland said...

We your readers thank YOU.

Anonymous said...

Aw, it's nothing, really.(the English response)

Prego (the Italian)

Bitte (German)

i found your blog via a post Appleyard wrote about Emily Dickinson's eyes. That's an excellent and honourable sourcepath. i don't know her but i think she wouldn't feel dishonoured to have been mentioned on your blog - nor, i guess, would any of the other poets & thinkers you consider. i daresay even, if they could look ahead, beyond their deaths, cough cough, they would be interested to see what you write about them.

Roger Boylan said...

Hear, hear. Don't know what I'd do without Anecdotal Evidence, bringer of sanity and civilization.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful blog. Happy Birthday AE!

Nige said...

We do indeed - one of the very few blogs without which the world really would be a poorer place. And by coincidence, today in a charity shop I bought a nice little Temple Classics edition of Hazlitt's Characters in Shakespeare's Plays. Here's to many more years of Anecdotal Evidence.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, and keep it coming. I don't know how you manage to put one out nearly every day but I thank you for it.

Laura said...

I'm with Michael!

William A. Sigler said...

Happy fourth anniversary, Patrick!

Your music is a “a sad and angry consolation” as you yourself prophecied all those many posts ago.

How you, consummate host, manage to introduce writers to new friends everyday is one of life's mysteries.

Ms Baroque said...

1,633? Well done! Of course we thank you: your blog is very much like an armchair pulled up... always a pleasure. Here's to 1,633 more. (I have 1,442.)

Anthony said...

A cup of tea and an AE post, now a daily ritual. Thank you, sir.