I’m going to answer this poser by splitting it in two – why the name? and why the site? – and I’m hoping they will segue into one another without requiring a textual assault course.
I’ll begin with the name. Names don’t matter in the big scheme of things – this is my band’s desperate mantra – and yet I am drawn very much by sites that project a bit of colour with their particular tag. To be honest, this blog began a bit ass-backward with the name inviting me to find a use for it; poor punnage often finds its way into my songs and humour writing kind of cries out for it, but as it swam in my brain I developed an attachment to it, and began to find some reasons to consign it to a more permanent place. Namely, the blog that then existed, like its putative name, in the waters of my think tank – less swimming than swelling and threatening to burst out if I didn’t relocate it fast. So the reasons:
Firstly, it’s a place. I like the idea of the blog as a place. From the american street to Billmon’s bar to Harry’s Place, (and now I’ve found Utopian Hell) the conceit that these are places you visit with their own particular climate is one I find useful and value.
A nominally geographic description of blogtopia (and the wider net) is a pretty good level of description, for me at least, and one that that allows me to engage a bit more fully with the whole thing – we’re visiting sites for crying out loud, not melding with a concept. The concept of community on the web has got a whole lot better since the approaches have been a bit more embodied with a user-friendly sense of place, and I applaud that. Come visit the coop. See? It almost seems real.
I also find it kind of fun to imagine how various places might fit together – if you could imagine a blog neighbourhood, who would you find on the corner of your street? I’ll come back to that later. Suffice to say that if it were so this would not be near any gleaming megalopolis in the centre of town, infused by traffic and exuding class. You might find it halfway up the hillside, favela style, self made and while a little ugly, undeniably solid. That’s the aspiration, and for better or for worse, that’s the way my mind works.
Secondly, it’s a joke. Again, that’s the way my mind works. Funny is good, and even when you are being serious funny can be good. It might be redundant to claim Bill Hicks as a formative influence (even average Brit-flicks do it) but its true – I got into his stuff about 2 months after he died and he opened my mind to comedy as a weapon, comedy as an eye-opener, comedy as power. Clearly he wasn’t the first, or even best, in any of these senses; I’m even now hopelessly behind in my appreciation of the domain. Just that he got to me first, before Prior, Bruce et al. The best comedy can make my head hurt, see me chew the walls or cry. So comedy should be able to come anywhere.
Third, it points (in palsied jerks) at a political component. Just to spell it out I am happy to be considered left wing, liberal and progressive; I think it is disingenuous to put yourself on the fence when you know where your heart is on many social/political issues. If saying so denies me the moral high ground of saying “I’m a purely independent thinker, and I arrive at every decision on purely logical grounds” then so be it. (Must be a major achievement to have removed yourself from every assumption and bias that the real world [and the human mind] offers and proceed from a disinterested, god-like position – but hey, you said so, so it must be true.)
Having said that I don’t agree with left-wing consensus (there! That was the blogs first real joke) on everything, which is unremarkable, as no reasonable person adopts any stance totally uncritically. Where I differ I would typically argue that my position is more progressive, or aims to be. I’m prepared to be swayed on these things, as with anything, but expect a good few bouts first.
(also on reflection I should add that I freely take all the politics in my diet, rather than having some force fed to me; it may be that if I had to put up with SWP manifestos and cries of ‘splitter!’ I would scale down my affiliation. As it is, I think it fits me fine.)
Fourth, as a credo, it suggests that things should not be taken too seriously on the web. Flaming, pettiness and aggressive behaviour is often documented (and can come from either side of any dichotomy you care to throw up). That the internet has come to be a place for people to argue, persuade, pontificate, rhyme and joke is a good thing, and worth saving. Games of ‘who’s the troll’ are not. If I try keep myself civil, and give open invitation, I hope everyone will keep their game similarly high.