Today is Via Negativa’s tenth birthday. It seems like just yesterday, etc. But the media landscape has changed a lot over the last ten years; blogs are now thoroughly mainstream. The sort of daily writing and self-publishing that Luisa and I do here is still looked at askance in more conservative literary circles, but I think it’s proved very productive for both of us, yielding books and chapbooks, videopoem collaborations, invitations to poetry readings and conferences, and even, for me, a long-term relationship with a fellow blogger.

But let’s keep this in perspective. Five hundred years from now, if a literate civilization still exists, the 21st-century American writers they’ll probably most celebrate are those whose names we now barely recognize. I speak, of course, of the many brilliant writers of screenplays and TV scripts. And why are we just now entering what many are calling a golden age of television? In large part because the power of the publishers and media conglomerates is crumbling. And in general, thanks to the internet and all its disruptions to the traditional media landscape, writers have few restraints and fewer — or no — intermediaries between us and our audiences, who in turn are becoming more independent and creative, with fan fiction, videopoetry and the like.

What we now call remix was always essential to the storytelling and song-generating process, of course. And as it grows in cultural prominence, the (often collaboratively produced) artwork regains its rightful place at the center of creative life, and the Artist or Writer can go back to being a plain old artist or writer, a skilled worker rather than a demigod.

This, as I see it, is the milieu from which collaborative literary blogs such as Via Negativa have emerged as primary outlets for their authors. I’m pleased to have been a participant in this revolution. Back on Via Negativa’s sixth birthday, I wrote a blogging manifesto which I would like to think is still relevant, despite or perhaps because of the exponential growth of corporate, web-gobbling social networks and the meme machines flooding every feed with viral content. Thanks to all Via Negativa’s readers and to my fellow literary and personal bloggers for reading and linking and just generally for keeping us company out here in the open, non-corporate web. Industrial civilization seems more set on self-destruction than ever, but let’s keep this blogging thing going as long as we can!

18 Replies to “Ten”

  1. Happy blog birthday, Dave! You are probably the most prolific and creative bloggers among us (now with the help of Luisa’s fine work). Seriously, I can’t possibly keep up with it all! But I appreciate your dedication and ongoing renewal here over 10 years of blogging. Best wishes going forward for however long it continues to inspire you.

    1. Thanks, Leslee! What, you haven’t read our every post??! :) That’s actually the major criticism I would level at Via Negativa: that we post too much and risk wearing out our readers. Compared to sites like BoingBoing, of course, we are hardly publishing at all, but I think poetry, especially, requires more space than news and opinion pieces. I have always admired bloggers like Paula at Paula’s House of Toast who post just once every week or two but make it count. I think there’s no denying that Luisa and I are writing for ourselves as much as for an audience here. But I guess that’s O.K.

    1. Thank you. It’s kind of boggling for me too… until I remember that my main motivating force is, in fact, procrastination. I’m always putting off something (cleaning the house, doing work for the Audubon chapter I allegedly run, getting a life, etc.) and Via Negativa is always here for me in my hours of need. :)

  2. Congratulations, Dave! You were one of the first bloggers I found when I started blogging (soon to be 10 years too) and have followed you steadily. You had a different blog back then, didn’t you? Your steady and innovative output is aweome and inspiring – may it carry on. And yes, we do this first for ourselves, and the response of readers is a bonus.

    1. Thanks, Marja-Leena. It’s meant a lot to me to have the company of artists and visionaries such as yourself. Yeah, the Via was certainly a different blog in those early years, wasn’t it? I had so many points I wanted to make! Now I am obtuse as an old trowel, fit for small excavations only.

  3. Dave, you’ve always pushed me in new directions as a reader and writer as well as someone interested in occasionally reexamining what a blog should look like and do. I’m very thankful for Via Negativa, which has always felt like my online home away from home.

    1. The feeling’s mutual. You know I’ve always said that by rights your blog should be called Via Negativa and mine Slow Reads, since you are actually a Christian contemplative and I read at a shamefully slow pace. Someday we should switch and confound everybody! Or barring that, we should organize that literary blogging workshop/retreat we’ve talked about over the years…

  4. Dave, your work here has challenged and inspired me for all ten of those years. Thanks for that, and for all the collaborations and crazy ideas that have led to books and journals, travels and relationships…as they say, it’s been a long weird trip but I wouldn’t have missed it! Here’s to the next unpredictable decade!

    1. Thanks, Beth! Yeah, I always feel the VN bloggiversary is a bit anti-climatic with all you others having started earlier in 2003, the cassandra pages leading the way (as it does in so many ways). I was re-reading some of my earliest posts from 2004 the other week, and there was one from Jan. 7 responding to your post about Gene Robinson’s sermon on radical hospitality and infinite respect.

      1. (Which among other things bears out my memory that the cassandra pages in general and the comments to that post in particular introduced me to the whole, loosely affiliated blogging community to which we still belong, all these years later.)

  5. So sorry for my late arrival to your blogday celebration, Dave. Your fidelity, consistency and generosity as a blogger and blog-proselytiser is admirable and enviable. You’re a sort of Che Guevara of the blogosphere, if that’s not too far-fetched a comparison. Long may you and VN continue. Have a wonderful Noel with your loved ones and drink a toast to this fellow 10-year veteran, more often absent than present.

    1. Thanks, Natalie. I do think that comparison is ever so slightly far-fetched, but I’m flattered nonetheless. Best wishes for a good holiday and a peaceful and creative New Year.

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