Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Second circus thoughts

I'm profoundly encouraged by readers who advise me not to simply abandon Antipodes, like an uncouth man who decides abruptly to walk out on his family. You know the charming anecdotes: Darling, I must go out and buy a box of matches... and the bastard disappears for a quarter of a century! There have been phone calls, too, including one from my ex-wife, who almost threatened to leave me if I abandoned my blog. (I'm joking. Divorced on 22 November 1977, we live conveniently in opposite corners of France.) What my dearest Christine actually said was that Antipodes has always served a useful purpose in informing friends and family members of what's happening at Gamone. And it would be silly to ignore that down-to-earth role of my blog. Besides, I prefer to write blog articles rather than send out emails or make phone calls. Curiously, in spite of being the proud owner of an iPhone, I've become relatively "anti-telephone" over the years. And, while I vaunt superficially the merits of Twitter, Google Wave, Google Buzz, etc, I'm aware of the limited scope and depth of these new-fangled vectors of communication.

As for Facebook, I must admit that I would be most happy if this so-called social networking system were to leave me alone. (To be truthful, it doesn't bother me too much.) Its ridiculous symmetry of the "Me Tarzan, you Jane, us all friends in the jungle" kind dismays me immensely. At least, in a blog, you can speak out your mind without fearing that such-and-such a sexy Jane in the jungle is going to scream out that she no longer wishes to be your friend, and walk out on you.

But I do seriously believe that Antipodes might not necessarily be the ideal platform upon which to attempt to deal with many of the most profound themes that inspire me... which are better left to my ongoing autobiographical typescript entitled Digital Me. For example, a recent straw that almost broke the Eskimo's back was a naive comment suggesting that I might be "pulling the legs" of my readers when I evoke certain marvels of modern science and technology. It's very hard to react intelligently to this kind of feedback, because it undermines the very essence of a blog, which is the possibility of expressing one's convictions and passions, while hoping that readers are sufficiently well-informed to know, at least roughly, what you're talking about (which apparently wasn't the case in the Eskimo domain). But I had committed exactly the same kind of indelicacy, as a comment-sender, in suggesting that a respected blogger friend might not have the right to talk of such-and-such a celebrity as a scarecrow. Antipodes is quits.

Maybe I should concentrate more upon my basic blog articles, rather than letting myself get carried away by comments. But, isn't that a way of saying that I'm an asymmetrical and antisocial blogger? That might be the price I must pay (willingly) in order to create the necessary operational context for the useful pursuit of Antipodes.

We bloggers are minor circus clowns, but the blog must go on...


  1. Yay to blogging, boo to quitting. Yours in anti-telephony - Kristin

  2. Excellent decision - wisely made.

  3. It takes more than a few insulting words from a crotchety old bugger to scare me away.
    I'm sorry I didn't respond to your post in a way you deemed appropriate.

    "undermines the very essence of your blog"
    having a bad day?
    a little bit of an over-reaction?

    You'd be sadly mistaken if you thought my little pea-brain could not keep up with what you obviously feel is your superior intellect.

    Perhaps it is disingenuous of me to generally express myself so simply - but I'm in the habit of dumbing it down.
    And I do lack a certain amount of arrogance.

    Regardless of being maligned, I enjoy your blog and shall endeavour in future not to upset the great "thinker"(sorry, couldn't help myself) by being anything less than correct and humourless.
    I promise I'll toe the subscribed line.

  4. freefalling: Since my youth in Australia, I've been a humble observer of various gigantic breakthroughs of a technological and scientific nature. I often mention the IBM corporation as a kind of symbol of some of these happenings. In 1957, this company hired me as their first computer programmer. Half a century later, IBM teamed up with National Geographic to launch the Genographic Project, aimed at demonstrating that "all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who—about 60,000 years ago—began a remarkable journey". Meanwhile, computers have evolved into the Internet, and the human genome has been mapped by several teams. I have been writing about such things, which interest me passionately, in an ongoing autobiographical typescript. As you've seen, I also evoke such subjects, from time to time, in my Antipodes blog... but this could well be a mistake, for two obvious reasons: (1) Not everybody is persuaded, like me, that these are fabulous subjects. (2) Genetics is a complex branch of science, and it takes a lot of effort to grasp the incredible notion that life and maybe even consciousness are based upon a string of chemicals. My conclusion (which I express here as an open question): Is it a futile task to tackle such subjects within a blog context? My personal answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. I must admit that I've been happy to see that the Antipodes blog has never yet been invaded by Creationists or adepts of so-called "Intelligent Design". This probably suggests that not many people read my blog, and that I'm lucky. Now, concerning the fabulous affair of Inuk the Eskimo, my greatest doubt was that this story had been handled excellently by so many media throughout the world (most of whom told the earwax tale) that it was pointless for me to add my three cents worth. However, I finally decided to do so, because it was unthinkable that I should refrain from expressing the intense excitement I felt upon reading the story of Inuk. Furthermore, I was a little surprised that few media had provided a link to the basic Nature article. Your comment on this affair introduced erroneously the term "race", and one doesn't need to be crotchety (I love that musical adjective, which fits me like a glove) to realize that this dangerous word had to be eliminated immediately, which was an easy task. On the other hand, I was frankly taken aback by your friendly suggestion that I might be joking, which came hot on the heels of a recent suggestion from a friend that I had "blown a fuse" when I evoked the idea of DNA certificates for newborn children. In fact, the Antipodes blog is a mixture of serious stuff, personal anecdotes about me and my animals at Gamone, and trivial stuff, including jokes. The blog often serves as a kind of sounding-board for stuff I'm trying to write about in the above-mentioned autobiographical typescript. In any case, as long as I find time to continue the blog, I shall no doubt persist in encouraging readers to look into the fantastic but complex stories of DNA, population genetics, etc.

  5. In talking of IBM, I should have said that it was IBM Australia that hired me as their first programmer. The company already employed several senior software engineers, including my lifelong friend Barry de Ferranti. Besides, it was another lifelong friend, Michael Arbib (Google his name), who arranged for me to get this job.

    In my previous comment, I spoke of "various gigantic breakthroughs of a technological and scientific nature". In the course of my humble life, it goes without saying that certain gigantic events have gone far beyond technology and science. I'm talking of Auschwitz, Hiroshima, the Gulag... Meanwhile, Marx is dead, but God, too (leaving behind countless victims such as the raped children of Ireland). Nuclear arms remain a terrifying threat (see the consternation, today, concerning Iran), whereas many citizens of the world consider that environmental issues (global warming) are our greatest challenge.

    It takes a lot of determination and effort to try to have an intelligent outlook on everything that's happening. In fact, it's almost impossible for an isolated individual to even pretend that he/she might have such an outlook. That's what I was trying to say when I suggested that we bloggers are no more than clowns... often serious and sad clowns.