So, I’ve started a blog. Not quite sure what I’ll do with it. I’d like to share and examine things I like and that I’m interested in. Talk about books mostly (lately I’ve been reading more American history, but I read widely: classics, genre fiction, poetry, comic books, etc). Post poems or songs that I like. A major thing I would like to do is explore my identity in its many facets: as a white American in 2014, as a man not conforming to typical gender roles, as a Christian who grew up in conservative Evangelicalism, etc. The blog is selfish in that way. I want to understand myself and my place in the world. But I would hope that is interesting to others, whether they are in a similar position as me, or merely curious about another perspective. I also have always wanted to be a writer, but I’ve never put in the hard work. This blog is my attempt to start the work of being a writer.
One of my goals for this blog is to foster dialogue. There’s a lot I don’t know or I might know only a little about a subject; I feel that I have a lot to learn. So feel free to school me. I may not always agree with you, but I’ll still learn by having to formulate my response. I hope that any dialogue can remain civil.
My model for this type of blog is Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of a recent cover story at the Atlantic on reparations (that everyone should read). He followed up the magazine piece with an autopsy of the key books that he read that lead him to the conclusions he reached in the article (here’s the first one). I’ve been reading his blog for a number of years, so I’ve seen him wrestle with some of these books in public as his ideas formed. It’s been challenging to me personally to watch him think out loud and in public. I imagine it in terms of watching someone learning to walk a tightrope. I have no illusion that my blog will be anything like his, but it’s an inspiration and aspiration.
I should probably explain the blog’s title and my reason for posting the poem. First and foremost, it’s a poem I like. It expresses the desire for human connection, but also the difficulties in communicating to another. It’s easy to feel like a stranger, both online and off, at least for me. Out of place, different than expected, unrecognized. Since I plan to write about books frequently, “extant” felt appropriate as a word usually reserved for old manuscripts. But it nicely fits our condition much of the time, “still existing” and “surviving.” Many days that fits me well.