02 January, 2008

Tempus edax rerum

Chris Miller predicted that 'the last entry in VUNEX will be the most exciting of all'. Is disappointment evitable? Writing the Varieties has been possibly the best adventure of my life, and I regret not a moment of it, not a word, not a flicker of scorn, not a morsel of indiscretion. But my star is waning, or has waned; response of late has not been quite what I had hoped, and it is my own fault. Sure, you find the wit, the style, the erudition all still there: but it is no longer enough. The work has ceased to inspire and engage you. It has become moribund. And all around me I find the sites I once loved become monotonous, like a set of jokes all with the same punchline (even if those jokes are clever and well-told), or else adrift in Nova Zembla, or lacking, like myself, the passion of earlier days. Or barely there, or dead altogether. And, of course, all the rest. It is a sad state of affairs, but still, friends, we have our memories, eh?
Despite all the opportunities to "interact", we read material from the internet entirely passively because all the interesting associative thinking has already been done on our behalf. Electronic media are intrinsically ephemeral, and work quite strenuously against any sort of historical perception. The opposite of edited, the material on the internet is unmediated, except by the technology itself. And having no price, it has questionable value. Finally, you can't write comments in the margin of your screen to be discovered by another reader fifty years down the line.
This was written by Lynne Truss, in her wildly popular Eats Shoots, and, Leaves. I will be happy if my efforts at this cockpit have, if nothing else, disproved every one of these statements. In some ways it is a shame to leave now: I wanted to write about Seurat, and John Buncle, and literary fools, and London, always, and irony, and geology and underwater bells and Goropius Becanus and the Neminiana secta and the capacitor and Laura Riding and eighteenth-century lavatory graffiti, rithmomachia and John Conway, e cosa via. I may add to and develop earlier posts—and please, feel free to comment, though I'm sure few will, so that this corpse might continue to grow its nails. All, old and new, are encouraged to contact me. I have already met several of you, and each delighted me; I only hope I might meet more.

Thus, I end it. It was two years ago today that I began. 2008 has gotten off to a bang: at the turn of the year I found myself with friends in the dark, letting off fireworks from a dam in the Elan Valley. I leave you with a shadow of a shadow—myself, at midnight, spread out against the shingles of the beach at Aberystwyth, contemplating the rokkes blake, and what lies beyond.

Update: D. informs me that the shadow is not mine but his—the final irony.