Thursday, January 20, 2005

What this is all about...

As a writer working on a book-length project, I need a place where I can work out ideas I’m thinking about and to perhaps get some feedback from others on the directions I’m going with the ideas I am thinking about. Writing is a solitary pursuit, even more so where I am living in a fairly small predominantly agricultural town where writing is often seen as a bit of a suspect activity. But it always helps to have a place to bounce ideas around, not necessarily on the writing itself, as that has to be mine (although I might share some of that at some point) so much as the ideas going into the writing. This web journal seems like a good way to do that.

I’m mainly interested, here, in belief systems and the ideas that power them. At bottom, I think these ideas are individuals’ and institutions’ opinions about how the world works – physically, culturally, politically, spiritually, and in all other ways. So, I’ll be writing a lot about ways of belief and how people seem to arrive at the things they believe. I think all this is fascinating because these beliefs are responsible for how the world, ultimately, works – or does not work.

Because I consider the whole universe to be fair game in this exploration, however, belief systems are likely not to be the whole of the discussion here. I imagine there will be some excursions here that will make some folks reading these entries tilt their heads and say, “Huh? What does that have to do with anything?” The thing is, I tend to agree with what John Muir had to say about connections and connectedness: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” (My First Summer in the Sierra, quoted in The American Wilderness in the Words of John Muir [Waukesha, Wisconsin: Country Beautiful, 1973], p. 60.) In other words, I suspect that on some level everything has to do with everything.

I hope you will bear with me. Besides being a writing project, this is a journey I’m on, a quest to figure out why people believe the things they do, how the world and the universe work, and most of all what I really believe about all of it. There is a reason for my taking on this project. I used to think I understood the world and how it works. Now, most of the time I’m not sure I understand anything about the world. I’m not looking to be converted to anything, mind you. I’ve been down that road – something else I’ll no doubt be writing about from time to time, if only as to make my own biases and their sources clear – and, frankly, once was one too many times for me. I’m not looking for anyone to hand me any ready-made answers. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear what you think or that I won’t learn from you.

I will also probably be expressing a lot of my opinions on a lot of topics here. That means I’ll probably make everyone who reads this on a regular basis angry from time to time. That’s okay. It just means that I’m doing my job as a writer. I’ll just hope that no one will take any of my comments personally. I really won’t mean them that way. I will also not, I hope, come across as being entrenched in my opinions. If anything, I’ve always been honest enough with myself that I realize my opinions might well be wrong. I’m not easily argued out of some positions, but I’m always willing to consider the other sides of an argument (I’ve never met an argument that had only two sides), and I’ve even been known to change my opinion from time to time. In political terms, I don’t consider that to be flip-flopping on issues; I just agree with the person (it may have been Oscar Wilde, but I’m not sure) who said that the only people who are truly consistent are the dead.

I don’t know, even, if anyone will read this web journal but myself, although I’ll definitely be inviting a few people specifically to look in from time to time, and as I’m able I’ll also be issuing general invitations for anyone who is interested to read whenever they like. In other words, I might well end up only talking to myself here. But I’ll welcome any and all readers and whatever contributions they have to make to this endeavor.

No comments: