Saturday, February 05, 2011

`No Shoddier Than What They Peddle'

Among the folk arts, blogging ranks somewhere between scrimshaw and tatting. Practitioners are harmless folk, furtive and deficient in social graces but trainable with patience, understanding and a firm hand. Some are gainfully employed and support families. Others remain editors and minor humorists. Five years ago today, in my first post at Anecdotal Evidence, I wrote:

“Literature is sustenance, best enjoyed meal by meal, in the company of comparably hearty fellow diners. An ornithologist once shared with me his conviction that birds often sing for the sheer arbitrary pleasure it gives them, not merely to defend turf or attract a mate. An aesthetic capacity, he speculated, has evolutionary value. Who can conceive of a life lived without beauty, whether making it or enjoying it? Come, join us at the table.”

The invitation stands. Some have taken a seat and claimed it as their own. Among my generous guests – collaborators – are Gary Baldridge, Roger Boylan, Buce, Guy Davenport, Elberry, Roger Forseth, Mike Gilleland, Cynthia Haven, Joe of New York, Jonathan of British Columbia, Melissa Kean, Joshua Kurp, Ken Kurp, Ann Lugg, Dave Lull (“—mon semblable,—mon frère!”), James Marcus, Fran Manushkin, David Myers, Nige, Stephen Pentz, Helen Pinkerton, Bill Sigler, Levi Stahl, Jay Stribling, Susan of New York City, Terry Teachout, Eric Thomson, Frank Wilson and others slipped from fraying memory.

Today’s post is number 2,021. Some have been trifling. To most I lent all the seriousness a minor humorist can muster. If a day were to pass without a thought worthy of nurture, I would be a sorry writer. Arranging words in pleasing shapes, like a folk artist snipping tin for a weather vane, is what we do. As one of this blog’s tutelary spirits puts it:

“There is no use in indicting words, they are no shoddier than what they peddle. After the fiasco, the solace, the repose, I began again, to try and live, cause to live, be another, in myself, in another.”


Left-footer said...

Who was that ornithologist, please?

He sounds like the late John Buxton.

Edward Bauer said...

Thank you again for the daily arrangement of thoughts and words. It's something I look forward to each morning.

By the way, did you see there are new paperbacks out of Elizabeth Bishop's poems and prose. The prose one, with some of its additions, looks especially inviting.

Mary said...

Has it really been five years since Terry Teachout linked to your blog? I have been a regular reader ever since. Yours is by far the best lit blog on the web. Thank you so much for all your efforts and influence.

Dave Lull said...

Charles Conrad Abbott, in his Recent rambles: or, In touch with nature (J. B. Lippincott Company, 1892), and similarly in other writings, said:

Nearly twenty years ago, in an English magazine I suggested that "birds, like mankind, sing for pleasure and talk from necessity." Many years spent more in the company of birds than of men have not caused me to change my mind.

But let us go over the ground anew. Let us take a somewhat careful survey of familiar birdlife, such as we find it in the outskirts of all our towns.
(Pages 242-243)

Continued here:

Levi Stahl said...

Happy anniversary, Patrick. Spending a few minutes every day in a virtual conversation with you about books is a real pleasure.

Amateur Reader said...

Yes, happy anniversary. Thanks for all of the good writing and good ideas.

Fran Manushkin said...

Happy anniversary, Patrick! I was so pleased to be included in your entry. One spring day about ten years ago, I watched a brown thrasher sing nonstop for a half hour in Central Park. Nobody can tell me he wasn't singing for pleasure. It was a grand aria and he knew it and we who witnessed the concert knew it.