Friday, August 22, 2008

Blog Bites Back

On Monday I was tickled to hear TXT MSG mentioned on WAMU's Art Beat. Neither my name nor Mark Cameron Boyd's name was mentioned on the radio, but the venue and gist of the work was mentioned.

On line, however, a little more detail was given about the event, including names, and links to our respective blogs!

They chose to link to something I wrote in March about Four Letter Words. In there I make a bad joke about the pronunciation of the word cwms. For those who read this blog regularly, I make a lot of bad jokes. But, what is becoming more apparent to me is the level of responsibility I need to have when writing these epistles. I never know who is going to link back to them, or where they might link.

In the case of where Art Beat linked in my blog, the writing is less revealing about the work, more revealing about the process, and gives strange insights on how I look at dictionaries. But, the writing is carefree, much like the nature of Four Letter Words as a series. The Staff writer at the Washington Post touched on that by commenting on the title, ""Four Letter Words" features more than 200 paintings... of, well, four letter words, though not necessarily the kind you are thinking of." Where neither the Art Beat link nor the Post picked up (nor DCist for that matter in their recent Arts Agenda) is that even a four letter word can posses complexity. Spellings may have truncated or expanded over the years (idyl is an alternative spelling of idyll... or is it the other way around?); they may fall out of the lexicon; they were adopted into the language through colonialism and trade, and have since fallen out of use in some stretches of the globe; or they are phonetically similar to another word and misspelled as a result.

Visually, since an abundance of type faces are available on anyone's personal computer, why not use them? At least once. I take a bit of pride knowing I never repeated a font in this project. Granted, in the process of painting, Times Regular and Times Bold may look similar, but each is a different font from the same family. The relationship between font and word is arbitrary, assigned methodically and randomly throughout the work. This can avoid any stereotyping... like when a greenhorn graphic design student chooses to use Fortune Cookie to design the menu of a Chinese Restaurant. It's a nice bit of variety to impose on a work. Besides, I'm tired of text made from stencils in art works.

But I digressed. This epistle is supposed to be about my responsibility with my blog writing.

If I write what I'd really like to write, will it come back to haunt me? It depends on how I write it, I suppose. Today's discovery on WAMU is a lesson to be mindful of that. I have no knowledge of who reads this. And, after my post about the Chinatown bus, I learned it could be anyone.

What I question more is, if I do carefully craft the commentary I care to publish, and it is done so in a manner that is objective, polite but critical, and with a gear toward insight, is it a path for alienation, a path that pushes discussion and debate, or simply something floating in the abyss like so much flotsam on the Internet?

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