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.