Last night I read the “front-matter” — probably not the right word for the preface, introduction, chronology, etc — of the recently released Damion Searls-edited NYRB Classics edition of Thoreau’s Journal.

Kind of great: check out the accidental "Adobe Photoshop CS3" text on the cover! How sublime would it be if that made it onto the real cover! Not sublime at all. But still, this is the kinda junk that makes me happy. My daughters are all grown and moved away.

In Searls’s funny and helpful introduction, he calls the volume an “abridgement”–similar, in one respect, maybe, to an abridgment Searls made of another 19th-century American classic, Moby-Dick: called ; or, the Whale, Searls wrote a great essay in the Believer about the project here. I’ve recently been hit with an overwhelming amt of semirequired reading, and Searls’s introduction, which talks about the distinction between abridgement, which seeks to retain the flow and balance of the original, and editing, which simply reduces its length (I am bungling this, hard, and giving up on this sentence).… Of further interest is the fact that it’s basically Thoreau’s life that’s being abridged. I somehow thought it was going to be easy to make a point here about the amount of books one feels one needs to read and the amount of days one has to live and have these things be gloriously connected in a reading of Thoreau’s journal. But it’s not and I’m at work and need to get back to it. These excuses smell like  excrescences on an old cheese.

Late last year I ate a pot cookie and went to the California Academy of Sciences with some loved ones. That evening I accidentally spilled two full beers on a reality TV show demi-celebrity and her date (I have severe night blindness, didn’t see their table). Then I ate more of the pot cookie and went to Rosemarie Waldrop’s George Oppen Memorial Lecture, where she spoke a bit about Oppen’s Daybook. My grasp of the lecture was suitably tenuous but I did love the idea of a daybook, even just as a prettier word than journal. I guess, my dear Wolfman (I write this blog for one person only, and that is the Wolfman, sweet web-surfing Wolfman, I hope you like my blog, I hope your Internet connection is clear and fast and uninterrupted, I hope that no one bridles at my calling you a “person”, for even if you’re sometimes more wolf than man, you, adorable Wolfman of mine, are always a person. Because you can read! What the fuck) this discussion is inevitably leading toward a discussion of blog as daybook. Blog as journal. Something about the fact that the Wolfman has immediate access to it, and that it has hyperlinks, distinguishes it from the intensely private, contemplative analog journals of “yore” (and yore is, of course, still in full contemporary effect, in tens of thousands of active Moleskines and spiral-bounds worldwide). But seriously, I smack your face with my unworn leather gloves: blogs are allowed to be daybooks. Let them be. Why do I feel the need to defend the internet from hypothetical reactionaries? Why do I insist on calling my rambling, soggy rants “discussions” or “arguments” when they’re really just excrescences on my poor old personal cheese, and I should be getting back to work at work?

The self-abusing rhetorical question smells like the privates of an old man. I’ll see you tonight, Wolfman. Hugs.

8 thoughts on “Daybook

  1. dept. of bands named after rad comic books of trasnculturation between the here/now and other realities says:

    really? yummy fur played here a year ago and nobody bothered to tell me about it? i guess you were all like, “not my department, babe.”

  2. Whoops: Nice catch, DBNARCBTBH/NOT! They’re playing (with Mantles and Sonny) a week from this coming Monday! Viva 2010! ¡Que viva!

    1. dept. of bands named after rad comic books of trasnculturation between the here/now and other realities says:

      oh good. i’m there.

  3. I have corrected the date above, so now you, and I, sound like just a couple of insane, acid-casualty nutters. ¡Que viva!

  4. Quilty! did a pot cookie foil this post? I hope we’ll get to hear your glorious connections some other time.

    I thought, for whatever THAT’s worth, of it as a distinction between abridgment (keeping the feel of the whole) and selection (stringing together the “good bits” without the connective tissue or matrix of the “boring bits”, which a. aren’t actually boring and b. make the good bits good). Not abridgment vs editing. Any choices you make are editing. Which is why I think of ; or The Whale as something I “produced,” but that’s another story. Thanks for readin.

  5. Hi Damion,
    A psychic pot cookie of stress and laziness foiled the post. I knew I had that distinction wrong, but of course I couldn’t be bothered to wait till I got home to page back through your excellent essay to confirm. Oh well; oh well. Thanks for visiting the Wolfman’s Lair!

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