Thursday, April 1, 2010

Gentle April Post Number 1: The Wherefore: A Pointless Manifesto

When I decided to trash my previous blogs, I had already begun publishing to this new one, which I named "fourinoneblog" because I intended for it to replace the three separate blogs I had been uploading to before; the first of which was about music; the second comprised of topics that I just needed to vent about; the third one, the main one, was ostensibly about running, even though it never really contained much about running per se1. It had some short descriptions of my runs, some race reports passim, but precious little else running-related because I really have no standing to be giving advice on running: I'm a pretty bad runner, in that I have no running technique to speak of, I am slow, and I can muster no sustained interest in doing anything to make myself a faster or more efficient runner. Running as a sport is frankly of no interest to me; once you get past the names that every fool knows — Roger Bannister; Jim Fixx; Frank Shorter, Steve Prefontaine, which are the only names I can pull off the old brainpan disc offhand, and in the case of Prefontaine I had to look him up to make sure I was spelling his name correctly since I know if I get it wrong, there are people out there just waiting to pounce2 — you've pretty much reached the limit of my knowledge of the sport of running; which is to say I know their names and that they were involved in one way or another with running but know little else about them. I am interested in running only as an exercise, as a way to get and stay relatively fit, and, fortunately, one does not need to run well to get that benefit from running — though I think it is probably safe to assume that running well certainly wouldn't hurt in that regard.

My purpose in combining those three blogs into this one was to cut down on the amount of maintenance I would need to do — managing three separate blogs can be a bit of a pain, and discovering, halfway through composing a post, that it is really more suited to one of the other blogs than to the one you've already put it on can be a bit disheartening as well as disconcerting — but also to kind of re-integrate my personality, as it were. I had started up a separate blog for each of these facets of my personality on the not unreasonable assumption that people who come to your blog expecting to read about running don't particularly want to read your take on, say, The Universal Existential Threat Implicit in the Minor Chords of "Little Red Riding Hood" By Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs or the State of Foreign Affairs, especially if the tone and persona you adopt to discuss those things is radically different from the ones you use when discussing running. But yet sometimes I felt like writing about "Wooly Bully" or something I read or experienced that maybe infuriated me a bit —but had nothing whatsoever to do with running.  Then it occurred to me that readers couldn't possibly be coming to Mostly BS Some Running/All BS No Running to read anything running-related — even though nearly all of those readers were running bloggers — because I rarely wrote about running, and I certainly had no insights to offer into how to run better or even how to do it competently3. And whatever I was writing about on that blog, people were free to read it or not, as they chose; they were free to leave a comment — be it one of agreement or vehement disapproval — or not, as they chose; they were free to see my blog as the biggest waste of time in the blogosphere and resolve never to spend another moment there ... or not, as they chose.

That being the case — I had made the truly startling discovery that they ... you ... are not a captive audience —I could think of no reason to keep these things separate anymore. If anything I write here offends you, you are, obviously, free to opt not to come here and read my posts anymore. That may come out sounding as though I am deliberately trying to drive people away, but I'm not — though I'm pretty sure at this point that I have unintentionally driven one or two former readers away for good4. My hope is that if you disagree with something I say, you'll stay around long enough to post a comment saying why; or, if you find something I write offensive, you'll say why. I'm pretty sure the only comments I've ever deleted from my posts have been ones that were, essentially, spam, so my view is your take on things in the comments can be as different from mine as you would care to make it; and you can be just about as vehement in your expression of your view as you'd like5.

The one thing you can't really say with any credibility is that something I write here is somehow off-topic or inappropriate for a running blog. Because I guess what I'm saying — what should already be obvious — is This Is Not A Running Blog. Or not just. I say that not to drive readers away, but merely as a pro forma Full Disclosure: If you want posts that have consistently to do with running, this is probably not the blog for you.

That said, I promise that not every post during Gentle/Genteel April will be this long and ponderous. Someone once described late-career Henry James prose as "like watching a hippopotamus trying to pick up a pea", and having just read over this post, I am proud to say it is very Jamesian — in that sense at least6.
Now, having made the point that this is not a running blog, here are my Running (And Other) Numbers for March:

Miles run: 110.21
Miles walked: 39.5
Biking miles (on Morrissey): 40.2
Total miles for March: 189.91
1 If you're doing the math at home along with me, you might be asking, rhetorically, at this point, "Hey, doesn't that make this new blog threeinone, not four?" Good catch. But here's how I reckoned it: Three blogs plus the new one itself = fourinone; which, admittedly, is pretty fuzzy math; kinda like suggesting 1 + 1 = 4 because the "correct" answer to 1 + 1 is 2, but you then decide for no good reason to add that 2 into your answer. But adding the answer to your question into your answer could lead, quite easily, to an infinite regression. So I resolved that dilemma by deciding, arbitrarily, to stop at 4.

2 Intended as a compliment, Steve.

3 Yes, I know — you also don't come here for posts like this one; but I really don't intend to do any others quite like this in the future.

4 I'm not a very talented writer, but I do have that writing "gift" in spades.

5 Within certain obvious bounds, of course. I do not meant this as a challenge to see what, exactly, you can get away with in the comments. Because I won't hesitate to remove any comment that goes beyond the pale, even though I don't anticipate ever having to do so with the seven of you who read this blog. But I do know that many of you have opinions that are quite different from mine — opposed to mine, even. Have at it in the comments. Feel free.

6 Late in my undergraduate career, I became deeply enamored of James's ability, in his later novels, to write these perfectly cast,  page-long sentences that were nearly impenetrable, almost impervious to any attempt to unpack and comprehend them. And I tried, in my papers, to emulate his style. I consider it one of the highlights of my undergraduate career that I once wrote a sentence in a paper that was so Jamesianly involuted that, when I got the graded paper back, I saw that the prof had taken me to task for trying to make a point that was the diametric opposite of the point I had actually made. I read my own sentence over and over to make sure I was right and the prof was wrong. Upshot: I was right, and the prof was wrong. But I never went up to the prof to have my grade adjusted or to point out that she had misunderstood me and I could walk her through the sentence to prove it. To me, having achieved this Jamesian feat was reward enough.

So when you read this blog, you should be aware that you're dealing with that level of perversity.


  1. 16 subcribers according to GR's handy dandy detail thingamabob who can appreciate your nearly incomprehensible posts (for me, the line between nearly & actually incomprehensible is made by a cup of coffee or three).

  2. I'm just looking for kicks and giggles, no matter the topic. I don't always write about running but throw in some personal stuff, some musings, and some bullshit. Write about what you will, I'll still read. ;) Now it all makes it worthwhile since CV will still be reading!!

  3. G, I would argue with you about your writing ability. While, you are not one of the top writers in the world, I truly enjoy your blog and I will continue to be one of your 7 or 8 readers.

    Keep it up.

  4. And this is why I now have your blog in the "Miscellaneous" folder in my Google Reader. Because if it is anything, it is "Misc."

  5. THAT's the level of perversity? Not sex with horses?

    I think Henry James intentionally went further and further off-kilter with sentences because he was bored and wanted to see if anyone would bother reading his books any more. The last three (Golden Bowl, especially) are a far cry from Daisy Miller! After James, I went through Thomas Wolfe, who's even worse, and Faulkner and Joyce and then found Balzac left all punctuation out of about 100 pages of text, which may or may not have been one sentence.

    Now I just read blogs.

    Bannister: blew out knee in car accident. Fixx: ironic heart attack while running.
    Shorter: Crawled up his own @$$, cuz no one else would.
    Pre: Died in car accident.

  6. Just looked at the bookshelf. It was "Wings of the Dove" that took me forever to read, not Golden Bowl, though that too was a trudge.

    The "pointless manifesto" thing's been done. By Tristan Tzara.

  7. I'm going to have to link here. I've made your profile view counter go up 20 times this week.

  8. We aren't a captive audience?! You mean I don't have to read this stuff? :)

  9. I found everything you wrote offensive, not just the running "advice"

  10. 110.x miles in March? That makes this a running blog. In the words of wise, young Ian, "Beast!"

    I love your writing style and would prefer you not change a thing. Of course, I only had to Google about 12 terms and references in reading four posts. Either you are slipping or I am getting smarter. If it is the latter I blame reading your and SQ's book lists. Just the lists mind you, not the books. I am not that smart.