Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Freedom of thought

My return to active Blogging means giving birth to some of the darker thoughts that have been incubating in my fetid brain these past few months. Thanks to the untrammelled freedom of speech we enjoy in the blogosphere pretty much anything I dredge up from those dark recesses can be exposed to the light of day at the touch of a keyboard. That's because these days freedom of thought is pretty much the same thing as freedom of expression. The thought is father to the Post.

And that's dangerous. Because ideas are dangerous. They always have been of course, but in the past they were a little harder to disseminate.

It goes without saying that ideas come from people. Imagine how different the world would be if Hitler, Lenin, Pol Pot, George Bush, Jesus or Muhammad, to take a few random examples, had kept their ideas to themselves. Of course, demagogues by their very nature never do keep ideas to themselves. It's only well-bred, reasonable people like me who have the decency to keep their more outlandish thoughts to themselves, being seen and not heard, refraining from making waves, impeccably not scaring the horses.

I guess Hitler, a master of propaganda, would have been a brilliant blogger. George Bush, well, maybe his grasp of the English language has prevented him from using this means of attack. He is obliged to use more direct action. Soldiers with guns are more loquacious, though not necessarily more persuasive, especially when they don't speak the language, in any sense of the word, of the people they are trying to convert.

The ironic thing is, although I am a firm believer in freedom of speech - I will defend to the death your right to express the most repulsive of views - when it comes to blogging I actually practice a rigid form of self-censorship. That's because it seems to me that that the vast majority of my readers are in fact bloggers who are nice, middle-class people, and I for one have no wish to offend them gratuitously. To do so would be like farting aloud in church. And, oh, I do so want to be one of them. A nice, middle-class blogger. Or at least that part of me that remains that little working-class boy from Tilbury, Essex does.

The irony is, of course, that the "nice" middle-classes certainly don't need protection from any puny thoughts or ideas I may propound. The "nice" middle-classes are far more robust than that. The reality is that "nice" is a supremely dangerous characteristic and not at all the same as "good". Indeed, the nice middle-classes in this country have ruthlessly managed to annexe all the important levers of power - like Parliament, the BBC, and the judiciary - largely through their very "niceness". Amazingly, even though I am well aware that the middle classes are indeed the masters now and pretty much impregnable, I still go out of my way not to offend them. As a result I pick the subjects of my posts, and the way I treat them, extremely fastidiously and thereby tamely yield to my readers' niceness. And just in case I should ever think of straying outspokenly out of line and causing offence to the status quo there exists a vociferous minority of bloggers who are much less reticent in their criticism but equally effective in their restraining influence. A rough, rowdy, ill-spoken bunch of self-appointed policemen armed with flamethrowers. And since I have no wish to be burnt at my posts, so to speak, I remain politely uncontroversial. This capitulation on my part I would characterize as abject moral cowardice, and I am not proud of what I have done. None of my writing heroes would have acted so spinelessly.

So, for me at least, in the past freedom of thought on this blog has not been not quite the same thing as freedom of speech. The main casualty of this conflict has been, as in any war, the truth.

All that, though, is about to change.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Better than sex

Sex is such an important component of the human condition that that it is bound to figure prominently in the preoccupations of a writer. Indeed, for me there are only seven things in life that are more important than sex. Here's my list:

1 Excavating the perfect verb from the barren wasteland of my brain

2 Igniting the perfect sentence from the arid dross that blankets my thoughts

3 Dragging the perfect paragraph from the wreckage of my tangled sentences

4 Building the perfect chapter from the rubble of my misshapen paragraphs

5 Knitting the perfect first draft from the patchwork of my chapters

6 Throttling the adverbs in my re-writes as I unknot my tortured plot

7 Watching golf on the telly

Monday, June 25, 2007

I hope no-one reads this

Who was it said "The only thing worse than blogging is not blogging"? Actually, I think it was me. It's rubbish, of course. Such is the state of the world that there are a million things at least worse than not blogging. In fact, now I'm back make that a million and one.

Anyway, I'm not really back. This is not a cause for celebration. I'm still sick of the sound of my own voice. My problems haven't gone away. I don't have anything to say. There is no purpose behind this blog. It won't be regular. It ain't aimed at any readers.

This time round I'm not going to try and build up a regular readership. So, I won't be obsessively checking my stats nor fretting over all those occasional visitors who can't be bothered to link to me. Especially, I won't be replying to Comments, if there are any. Not that I did before.

What I will be doing is recycling all the old stuff I wrote about before. In other words me. So the blog will be boring but at least it will be green. And no egos will be killed in the making of this monologue - I'm too vain to really hurt myself.. Don't expect any surprises either. All the old favourites will be there - depression, failure, hopelessness, feeble gags, navel-gazing, self-loathing and doubt. If you're a like-minded blogger welcome aboard. If you're a normal person, look away now.

It's just me trying to get a few thoughts together in public as I work on my next novel, Mummy's Boy.

No big deal. Nothing to get excited about. In fact, I'd rather you kept it quiet. Just between you and me.

Our dirty little secret.