Friday, February 09, 2007

Retrospectively Speaking

Ret*ro*spec*tive:
adj. looking back on or dealing with past events or situations.
n. an exhibition or compilation showing the development of a
particular artist over a period of time.
-As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary


I have yet to do any sort of Year In Review-type Boast, though I almost did this year, but I decided to wait until this very special day. It has now been 2 years since the Boasts of Bethel's first appearance on the WWW. In the months that pass between Boasts I frequently come back and run through the catalog, hoping to find some sort of greatness or growth. Although I find some good arguments (and arguably better cartoons), the thing I find most rewarding are the comments left by others. Sure, I like the people that say they enjoyed my thoughts, but more exciting--to me at least--is the conversations started out of or in spite of the respective Boast. Let's have a look back at all the discourse, shall we?

Dulce Et Utile: The Supremacy of Solid Snake

This is the first Boast that generated a lot of commentary and was the first one in which the focus of this blog shifted to something a bit more. It's not a whole lot more, but it's an argument, a fully developed and defended position much like an essay, which is how I usually refer to the Boasts with people not privy to or especially biased against the word "blog." This was the first time I took the knowledge I was gaining at Cal Poly and and applied it to things I liked and cared about and this helped me toward a new view on life and a new door into the world of the mind...and Solid Snake and, ultimately, Revolver Ocelot (shout out to those who know what the hell I'm talking about). The big thing about this Boast is, in fact, the title. The idea of dulce et utile in literature is simple, a good story is one that has a useful message (utile, in latin) but is not didactic or droning because it is told in an entertaining way (dulce, in latin, meaning sweet). This phrase became a mantra for the BoB and is something I conform to today.

If you missed this one, read it if you want to learn about any of these three things:
-Dulce Et Utile, a literary term
-Metal Gear Solid, a video game series
-Epic poetry of Homer

Nostalgia Works Its Magic

This Boast is one of my favorites. It is the first of a few tainted with a religious theme, but without denouncing a faith but its few embarrassing practitioners. This one also further opens the breadth of the blog that started with Dulce Et Utile extending it to topics in the media and is something that interests the greater population. Many of the Boasts I wrote after this one conformed to a loose formula I had established here.

My Beef Is With Burton--Step Aside, Willy.

Now it's time to stop talking about me and my development as a blogger. It was with this Boast that I first touched a nerve with readers and a debate grew outward beyond the actual blog itself. Here a very genius discussion about Tim Burton, his movies, general storytelling, and storytelling on film begins and some very smart conversation edged with quite a bit of passion gave me a sturdy shock as a writer. It was here when I realized that people were actually reading my Boasts not just clicking on links or looking for cartoons, and that's a weird feeling. It still is.

Changesbethel


This is where I go too far and I try to wax philosophic and fall flat on my face, making me cry and wanting to quit (okay, I didn't really want to quit). The main failing with this is that I feel too much biography influenced the topic and I lost readership because it became more akin to the type of blog which I preach against later on. This Boast is, I think, part of a period of limit testing that lead to the decrees set forth in Literary Masturbation. I had started with a Boast that was too far away from me, and here (and more so here and here--don't read them) I swing way too close to the source. From here on out I try to keep an even keel and was one of the reasons why I started taking so long to write each Boast.

The reason why I mention this Boast, however, is that the only thing that saves it is the comments which are better stated and argued than the Boast itself and I started to look to how people respond to my words that helps me hone the type of writing I want aim for in the future. In short, the readers were as important to the BoB's development as I was.

Literary Masturbation

The culmination of all my work, I decided to make my statement on blogging. One of the toughest things with writing these things is that I like to write a lot, and I know that a lot of people don't like to read a lot of text. That is why I started adding pictures and cartoons so that people can take a break and keep reading. I admit that this Boast doesn't cover all the points I wanted it to cover, but I felt like I had to cut it back just so people would at least read it, think about, and talk about it. I found that I could continue my arguments, include the things I removed, in the comments section where I developed the unfortunate habit of creating Boast-length comments except with the fun links and cartoons.

This Boast encouraged strong opinions and ended up being one of the most satisfactory Boasts I have ever done which, despite my harsh editing before ever posting it, was my dream for this specific topic. If my blog ever comes up in conversation, I usually point people in the direction of this Boast.

In addition, this is one of the most involved and heated post-Boast conversations the BoB has ever had. It was enlightening and, if I may dare say it, perfect. I felt like a student in a room of savants. I started to want to write Boasts that incited a mild furor just so I could see what other people would say and what I would say.

East Is East, and West Is West, or More Than Meets The Eye

I'm always learning when it comes to blogging. This was a lesson in clarity. I have a problem with being a writer and a blogger, being too wordy when I should be concise. This Boast suffered from the lack of clear purpose, and I should have treated it as more of the op-ed piece that it was instead of what it appeared to be: a critique on Saddam Hussein's reign in Iraq. As is clear in the comments, I am clearly out of my element when dealing with politics and political history (something I concede to here) and I feel that the commentators got a bit caught up in my cloudy writing stance. It was almost funny, how I think a conversational battle started and each side is yelling about a completely different topic. And yet we still fought, lovingly, like Jesus said we should. But some very interesting ideas came forth from the comments, and I wouldn't change it for anything.

Other favorites and why:

Historical Maladies or How To Make People Mad: Two of my favorite cartoons (buy a shirt if you want. No mark-up! No profit!). My most speculative piece which led to bring the piece with the highest amount of research.

Jumping The Shark...: My online store opens through CafePress. As of today, nobody has purchased anything from it...which is cool. It's there for the possibility, not the profit.

Foul Is Fair: My most English-paper Boast. Includes a famous drawing.

Consider the Source: I still think this is a strong Boast.

I hope to keep this thing going for as long as I am able to do so. Though I can't guarantee the punctuality of future Boasts, but I can guarantee my full efforts for each Boast I make. I hope you keep coming back because it is you, the reader, that keeps me coming back even if that was not the reason why I started. Your comments have made me grow as a writer which I can not repay you in any way other than to keep Boasting as loud as I am able.

Keep a good thought.