The Blog

An Update and an Ending

The last time I wrote a blog post about my life was on 11 January of this year. In the past nearly-six months, a lot has happened.

In that previous blog post, I wrote about trying to get a job in the academic job market, specifically in the UK. I shared a bit about how I had been coming to terms with my own values and expectations. Rereading that post, I’m brought back to that weird mixed feeling of discouragement and hope that comes from knowing that you are good enough, but deep down feeling otherwise.

Don’t worry. I can’t share details quite yet due to some current uncertainties, but I got myself a job. An academic job. In the UK. So, I got what I wanted. But I reread that post, and a part of me still feels the way I did when I wrote it, and that’s a problem.

I’ve kept this blog for seven years. In its first year, I posted 56 times, with those posts getting 546 views from 148 visitors. Now, I post a lot less frequently and get a heck of a lot more views from a heck of a lot more visitors. Some of my posts have been cited in books and articles, or have been used in university courses (although I still am not entirely sure why). As I write this, my most-read post is about an abnormally-large Bible. Second place goes to a post about Eric Gill and his disturbing penile escapades. And in third place we have a post about not-so-hidden inequalities at Google Books.

I started this blog because I was bored at work and wanted to stay sharp in the book history world. I was in my third year of undergrad and wanted to contribute to the conversation. And, again, I got what I wanted: in this case, something to do, and some readers. But I reread these posts myself, and I still feel a bit like I did when I wrote my first post. Still kind of bored. Still kind of lost. Still wanting to contribute to the conversation.

Except that now I have different ways of contributing. I have journal articles, popular articles, and a forthcoming book. I earned a ‘Dr’ title and all of a sudden people started reaching out to me. And those people have come from so many disciplines. Book history will always be my disciplinary home, but I’ve paid some visits to some other people’s houses over the past few years and… have you seen that fabulous chandelier at Debbie’s?

What I’m saying is that I think it’s time for me to consciously move forward. I’m still figuring myself out, as I noted in yesterday’s tweet:

But one thing I know for sure is that I have outgrown this blog. It did what I needed it to do, and now I’m ready for something else – something that includes an actual ‘here’s my name in the link’ website.

So, dear readers, this is my last update to this blog. Over the next few months, I’ll archive the links, but will leave everything up for future reference. I’ll also be starting to construct a more static website for myself, so y’all can still get your Leah fix.

For now, though, here’s to old dreams, new adventures, and 112,385 words of blog posts.

‘Assume No Readership’ – Kenneth Goldsmith (2014)

Whether or not you agree with Kenneth Goldsmith, you gotta admit that he occasionally says some pretty interesting things.

Web link:

In this 2014 video, ‘Assume No Readership’ by Louisiana Channel, Goldsmith begins by reading a newspaper article about the Nobel Prize, declaring the article to be a short new poem. He uses this reading as a springboard for discussing his own creative work. In Goldsmith’s words:

My ideas come become because I respond to technology. I think that where technology leads, art follows – not the other way around. And we’re living in a time of such incredible technological changes that just listening to technology gives me amazing ideas. […] The ways in which I write are digital ways, even if they appear on an analogue page.

Goldsmith believes in the versatility – and, indeed, limitlessness – of poetry as a genre. Using digital means, he says of his own ‘poetry’ that ‘in a sense, I haven’t really written it. I’ve just sort of moved it onto a pedestal for everybody to examine. […] Any angle you hit on that thing is going to be right.’ This obnoxiously-über-postmodernist approach to authorship is made possible by new tools for the manifestation of creative intention.

‘What can literature possibly be in the digital age?’ Goldsmith asks. ‘I think one of the great tragedies of poets is that they assume they’re being read. And they’re not being read.’

Dedicate 16.5 minutes to watching this video, get fired up, and then use what you’ve learned to upset your friends at your next Zoom cocktail party.