Hello world!: (by) a useless article


Well, not exactly “Hello World!”, since I’ve been here for forty-seven years already.

I thought long and hard about this blog’s name and kept trying out different wordpress.com domains to see whether they’d been taken or not. I’m shocked there are so many hello worlds out there. Their authors must have been swept off in other directions after what was perhaps a highly enthusiastic setup.

At least I hope that explains it. I’ve just come over here from Blogger, where I got frustrated with the editing program and abandoned another ‘parked’ domain. I hope all the hello worlds over here aren’t similar failures to get to grips with the software. I just want it to do what I tell it in wysiwyg mode and, preferably, if I write it in HTML I’d like it not to add bits and pieces itself (that’s kind of the point of HTML).

Anyway, why, in this ‘Visual’ (wysiwyg) form does a single press of the enter key cause a double carriage return, just as it does at Blogger? Nothing else I know of does that. There seems almost no reason for it. There never has been since we had mechanical typewriters. It doesn’t happen in notepad or Word. It’s stupid and pointless and I hate it.

You see, there I go going down two paragraphs automatically instead of two lines, and have to backspace again! Why not make it really annoying and swap a couple of the letters on my keyboard so when I press P it types G and vice versa? Bloody ridiculous. I’ll see if there’s an option somewhere, or I might have to edit my blog somewhere else.

So soon! No! Distracted so soon from doing anything useful with a blog! It would have appealed to my obsessive, pedantic nature to start my blog with a clear overview of what I intend to write about here. On the other hand, what I intend to write about here is not clear, and to a great extent will follow whatever is going on in my head, which will be influenced by what is going on outside it. (As if to demonstrate this, that bloody flash player has just caused Internet Explorer 7 to crash again – but amazingly the autosave did its stuff and I was able to get back here in a jiffy and not miss a single word. WordPress seems to autosave more frequently than Blogger. It’s obviously a lot better than Blogger on many counts. The sheer number of features looks impressive. So there you are, I digress about digression…)

But, as I learned in therapy, the apparently insignificant, the incidental, can sometimes turn out to be more important or interesting than the cherished and elegantly planned. At first, this instance does not appear to be a case in point: I cannot immediately see how digressing into discussing WordPress or Blogger, or reporting my browser crash, could have anything to do with my subject or indicate a return towards it; I almost panic, in fact, backtrack, delete paragraphs, and the faint but forbidding spectre rises in my mind of an early defeat, yet another grinding failure in my long life of grinding failures. It was as I feared: I can’t write anything meaningful, only self-obsessed drivel; I am what my mother used to call me (seldom, but once is too often), a ‘useless article’, and here I am writing a useless article.

You see the danger of giving up too soon? Now I have written something interesting, not to mention daring, and discovered at least a subtitle to go after ‘Hello World!’. Furthermore, I have begun to edge towards whatever this blog may be about; (for me that is undeniable; readers may have to take it on trust).

The important things often don’t get said, partly because they seem unimportant – we tell ourselves they are unimportant – and mostly because they are frightening to acknowledge. How many hello worlders have started their blog, wondering what to say, how to express themselves, their heads full of distracting thoughts … (“God, this is weird, writing stuff the world can read!” – “Oh shit, I can’t spell!” – “What will my spouse/brother/father/… think?” – “I’m bored with this already; I don’t suppose I’ll use a blog really”) … and never thought to mention their excitement, fear, boredom? We strain to avoid what is going on now (whether we share it or not, in fact, that just happens to be what blogging is about). We try to get past all that interference to the ‘important’ stuff, the ‘agenda’, the ‘useful’ bit.

So is that what this blog is about, being in the moment, allowing yourself to engage with distractions, sharing your feelings of fear and boredom? Well, no, that is what this post turned out to be about. I don’t seem to have been in the mood to write a front page. But certainly it will be a subject I’ll return to. Until I get round to writing a front page to introduce the blog, I’ll just say that it’s about philosophy, it’s about your philosophy as well as mine. It’s about truth and beauty and goodness, about what ‘useful’ might mean, and what ‘meaning’ might mean. It will, I hope, be enlightening and entertaining, rational at times, poetic at others, and not too short on jokes. I want you to read it. I can’t wait to write it.

Oh, I almost forgot: why ‘lettersquash’? Well, I just reckon that’s what you ought to get out of a wordpress.

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