A beginning of a year

I use the indefinite article with care. There are many kinds of years, after all, and this January 1st business is not the only beginning, nor is 2011 the only year, in my life. It may not even be the most important. For 18 years, now, my “work” years have been school cycles—either college or high school—years that begin in late August or somewhere in September with the anticipation of new classes, new challenges, new readings, along with the comfort of the very (and increasingly) familiar. January, in these contexts, begins a new phase or maybe merely returns to a life frozen in place. I now expect that this cycle (or one like it) may continue for most of my lifetime, though the future is (as always) seen through a glass, darkly. Another kind of year, for me, is a liturgical year that begins in either late November or early December with the first Sunday of Advent—a season of anticipation and patient hope. It is a year that proceeds wholly unaffected by January 1st; a year whose rhythms antedate the Gregorian calendar; a year divided to call attention to the various experiences of and encounters with a reality that is in some ways separate from the comings and goings of my everyday life, and in other ways is remarkably immanent in who I am and what I do. Yet another kind of year is the year that begins for each of us on a different day, and for me on the twenty-eighth of September—the year that marks another revolution of the Earth since conscious arrival as an independent human being, the years that (subjectively) pass more quickly now than before, the years that are starting to bring me closer to those who have preceded me and make me feel the increasing distance from those newly come to these strange shores. January 1st is yet another day to see that turning, but it is not an unusually good day to see my life in that perspective.

I say the above things for a few reasons. In part it is because these are the kinds of things I think about, and a blog is a place to write such things. And in part it is me starting to acknowledge that this blog is going to change if it is going to live. Not entirely—I still have my ridiculous Pulitzer aims, and I intend to see them through (even if, as now seems likely, the work may last much of this decade). But I’ve tried too hard to divorce the blog from my life—to operate under the assumption that I either talk about Pulitzer novels, or nothing at all—and that way of thinking is too barren. I read a lot of books (many of which have not won any awards), I think a lot of things about them, and my larger ideas about things like art and beauty and meaning have to do with even more sides of my personality than are encompassed by the books I read.

So, as I return from a quarter where I didn’t blog at all, I’m saying that I should have been blogging. I’ve been reading some interesting novels, and thinking about reading and readers in interesting ways, and I wish I had been sharing that here. I think at the very least it would have been more interesting/relevant/accessible to most of you than me posting my latest thoughts about Laughing Boy (though I will be posting more of those soon!), and I think it would make for interesting comparisons. This quarter, I’m taking a seminar on printed texts (part of the Textual Studies graduate curriculum at the U.W.) and I think it will give rise to some thoughts. I’m intending to share more of those. Sometimes it will be obvious how it connects to the Pulitzer Prize, but I’m going to take that obligation more broadly from now on.

I’ll still be posting the same kinds of comments on those Pulitzer winners, though, with the same consistently idiosyncratic reviews. Poetry Fridays, in one form or another, ought to remain with us. But other things may change. I will say (because I think it needs saying) that the blog will not become a mere outcropping of my whole life. Many things that interest me will not be here (politics, for example), so those of you who don’t share all my opinions about the world needn’t worry. This will more or less still be about me having a fully-awake encounter with literature, and what it says more broadly about who we are as people and where we’ve come from—and it will continue to derive its primary momentum from my interest in seeing what the Pulitzer winners do to me, and how I think they reveal (or conceal) America. I don’t know how frequently I’ll blog, but I know I’ll be doing it much more regularly than I have in months, and I hope a few of you will still be along for the ride: I’ll try to keep it interesting!

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2 comments on “A beginning of a year

  1. Jeffrey Lupo says:

    I look forward to keeping up with Following Pulitzer Version 2.0 just as religiously as I did the first incarnation.

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      Your enthusiasm is both inexplicable and extraordinarily appreciated, Jeff! 🙂 Thanks for continuing to hang in there — I hope it’s worthwhile!

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