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Two Years On

It was a dark and stormy night …

That’s how I started writing Barataria two years ago today.  Like many of my small acts of humility, the reference to Bulwer-Litton was simple and funny and ultimately unnoticed by many of my readers.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 43 years of life, it’s that I usually require a little more explanation than I am willing to give.  Please forgive my indulgence as I look back at what I was trying to accomplish with this blog over the last two years and what has actually gone down.

Statue of Sancho Panza in Madrid

Statue of Sancho Panza in Madrid

This blog started at authorsden, a site that promised to help me connect with other writers.  Originally, I hoped to do little more than that as I emptied my head of the loose bits that got in the way of serious work.  This began to seem seem unreasonable as I found myself less interested in the mechanics of writing than a subject that is worth writing about.  My musings on culture, the reason writing is essential, went past the community there.  Last August, I pulled it all over to wordpress to seek a larger audience.

I have diligently and reliably posted at least three times a week for two years, the main articles on a MWF basis.   Since there were no comments on authorsden, I encouraged people to e-mail me their thoughts, which I answered on Tuesdays.  Six months into this experiment, a letter compelled to answer what this blog is really about; to use the great James Burke’s way of looking at the world, it’s all about connections.  To me, a writer is like a community organizer in that the value to the world is in connecting people to something that improves their lives.  Connecting to people in the community with similar goals is valuable work, but connecting people to new perspectives and outlooks is trickier.  That’s the broader goal I always have in mind.

There is vanity to doing a blog, of course.  I do believe I have something unique to say, which may come off as arrogant at times.  I always hope to add a unique political and financial analysis to our world because I think what we have now is lacking.  I also have always hoped to get work from the recognition that Barataria has generated, though this has not happened yet.

I’ve been a finalst for Weblog Awards twice.  Stats are not perfect here at wordpress, but I seem to generate about 12k visits a month.  The Alexa rankings confirm this, and they also confirm that this is higher than what most Minnesota political blogs generate.  More impressive is the figure of over 20 minutes spent per visitor reading Barataria, which shows that conventional wisdom is wrong; people do sit down and read a long essay and think about it.  Yet I have so few comments here that I have to worry I am not achieving my primary goal – to get people to think, and to have the favor returned.

What is this all about?  I think that history never stops for any one culture, but it does have key inflection points.  I believe that we are near one now.  It’s taken a lot longer for this to look rather obvious than I expected, but timing of cultural events is one of my greatest weaknesses.  The voyage we are on may produce an interesting discovery or two, but like Columbus it’s likely not to be what we expect.  What matters is how we enjoy the discovery as a people, and then what we make of it for future generations.  We may be dazzled by the toys and speed, but it’s the connections they make possible that count.

Our species of standing-up chimp has not had time to evolve since we first started writing our stories down.  The only differences between then and now are in the writing and what we have learned from it.  That’s what culture is all about  – the things that fill the spaces inbetween which we pass from one person to the next.

The name Barataria suggests that I am a kind of Don Quixote, mentally poisoned by reading too many fantasies.  In truth, I find the world itself rather quixotic.   I write to you more as a dutiful Sancho Panza, keeping track of things until the madness stops; I am not a rockstar.  Cervantes gave us a deep sense of melancholy when the madness finally did stop, but at least loyal Sancho was given Barataria, the swampy “cheap lands”.  In the end, Barataria all I hope to achieve as well.

Thank you all for being here, because reading is what makes writing worthwhile.  I hope I have added something to your life.  You’ve certainly added to mine just by being here and indulging my passion for trying to make sense of the world and the curious species known as homo sapiens.

Please add your comments, and if you’d like to know more regarding what I’m getting at, just follow the links – they are to some of the posts I still like after two years.  Thank you again!

22 thoughts on “Two Years On

  1. Well T Board, You are certainly one interesting Wisconsin chick. Your posts never cease to interest and amuse me. Btw, since I am a ‘horse person’ I can’t help myself but I must say that the donkey’s ears are out of porportion to it’s little body. I suppose it was for the artist’s enjoyment!

  2. Since finding your blog I have been reading regularly and appreciate the thinking that results from each new post. Don’t be disappointed at the lack of comments. I think it is because what you write casues people to think instead of react. View it more as a tribute to the “soul” of your essays.

  3. HA! Now Erik. you are being suspected of being TBoard (something that I am very familiar with). Marion, I am Mr. TBoard, and I assure you he is not she. 😀

  4. Eric thankyou for sharing your insights and observations. I find your writing to be a catalyst for some deeper looks at life in its many and varied aspects. Keep up the great work and thank you for sharing your view of the life we all share.

  5. Congratulations!! I can’t wait for you guys to come down to Miami again so we can have a long chat about Sancho Panza’s perspective of things 😉
    Keep them coming!

  6. Glad you marked two years as it really is a birthday of sorts.

    Here’s to another two more, and for what you may learn… even from your own writings.

  7. Thank you for your support and your comments, everyone. Well, maybe not the one that thought I was T … 🙂

    I guess what it all really comes down to is this: about the time I hit 40, I simply decided I was sick of being what everyone else wanted me to be. It was time to just be myself. This post comes the closest to saying it outright:


    I realize that not everyone is going to like me. A white boy isn’t supposed to think and act like an outsider, after all, so I often throw prejudices all to Hell. I ask questions that seem really stupid at times, or at least autistic, because I tend to question really basic assumptions about … well, about everything.

    Yeah, I know, I’m a real pain in the ass. But you read my attempts to explain why, and I appreciate that. I may be too old to try to fit into the great High School of life, but y’all are the ones that take me for what I am – whatever the Hell that is. I appreciate it more than I can say.

    Thank you!

  8. I don’t think it’s a pain at all to question nearly everything. It’s obvious that people haven’t been questioning enough lately. I think that’s way more stupid!

    Keep it up! You make it easy to think deep thoughts. That’s what I like about this blog. It makes me a better person.

  9. Janine, thanks for your support over all this time. I think you’re the only person that followed me from Author’s Den.

    People seem to get weary from questioning everything in their lives, something I’ve come to accept that over the years. If I’m wired up to be a questioning machine (aka, “idiot”) then maybe I can dish out good questions three a week – a rate that hopefully isn’t too grating.

    If that’s my place in this world, I’m good with it. Now, why is that my place? Why is such a thing needed? Oh … nevermind. 🙂

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  18. Perhaps one voted no because one actually preferred a more honestly socialist response, in which the federal government nationalized these banks or their transactions, and thus made voters not just indirect beneficiaries of any money that might be recouped though the recovery of Wall Street banks, but actual owners of the assets in question themselves. ,

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