In issue 29 of Cabinet, this passage struck a chord:
“As Nature abhors a vacuum, so does the mind resist meaninglessness; it invents stories to explain haphazard incidents, and to provide reasons and origins; the amorphous, the inchoate, the formless, have beckoned irresistibly to the shaping powers of thought and imagination.”
It was in an article by Marina Warner called ‘The Writing of Stones” about Roger Caillois. I think I am also ‘beckoned irresistibly to the shaping powers of thought and imagination’ and seem to be afflicted more than most by the search for meaning. Recently, I was able to find a compelling answer to a question I’ve been asking myself for over a year.
In my final year at Uni, I lost my brilliant tutor prematurely. Her departure was reasonable given the circumstances, but I certainly missed her. Shortly before the end of the year, she sent an email to everyone on the course letting us know why she left and that she had started a blog. Since then, I’ve been almost obsessed with the blog – it’s really interesting (she’s an interesting woman) but there was also something about it that was really compelling. She always had a reputation for asking questions that were on the tip of my tongue or framing things in such a way that I would be rendered speechless by uncanny coincidences. In one of her posts she reflects on writing the blog (and sure enough, I can’t put my finger on the post to quote it) and admits that she’s still not sure why she is writing the blog, or who it is for.
Conversely, I asked myself why I was reading the blog so compulsively, and what that meant about the kind of person that I am (was?). Since then, I managed to get around to starting my own blog in earnest (I had a dabble some time ago), thinking that it would be a similar ‘shipping out’ of stuff. Strangely, my blog has turned out to be quite different – there’s a lot of banter and in some ways the blog is developing some of my relationships. This engagement, although odd to get used to, has been a very positive experience for me. Very recently, one of my ‘readers’ started his own blog, and I have been similarly enthusiastic about checking for updates. It’s an exclusive blog, so you won’t find it on my blogroll. Inevitably, though, I still wonder why I am so interested in other people’s blogs, and whether the fact that I probably know more about people from their blogs than I do from spending time with them makes me a bit weird and anti-social.
So, my compelling answer to the question is that personality will out (Capricorns always worry!) – I like to find things out, to investigate, to discover, and I don’t think there’s anything weird about wanting to learn more about people you admire and respect. As my Dad said, it’s a side you might not otherwise see.