Sunday, 26 December 2010

Foxing Day

We've all had some time with our gifts now, and probably been thinking about presents for ourselves and others plenty over the past few weeks. Johnathan at Ostensible Cat prefers not to list and I largely agree, while Desert Scribe at Super Galactic Dreadnought has thoughts on golden oldies (for Star Wars fans years could fall away at Back in '81). But how much have you thought about gifts in general?

I've mentioned The Log from the Sea of Cortez here once before. This is one of those books that keeps on giving. In the appendix Steinbeck suggests a defining quality of his close friend and mentor Ed Ricketts may have been the ability to receive. Steinbeck describes giving as a “a selfish pleasure”, but says receiving done well needs “a fine balance of self-knowledge and kindness”, “humility and tact and great understanding of relationships”, wisdom and even “a self-esteem”.

Ricketts is described as accepting a thing, but not taking it and keeping it as property, and association with him is said to have been “deep participation”. From reading the book as a whole, the authors – Ricketts included – seem to have an almost mythical view of synthesis and the non-teleological, the thing as it is.

As Steinbeck also says, giving can be “downright destructive”. We know this. In games plenty can be done with the fact. Where would Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 be without the corrupting gifts of Chaos? How about Tolkien's Rings of Power? They must have seemed like the perfect present at the time, for the lord who has everything. A DM/GM can use his or her players worst instincts against them, luring them into danger on the basis of greed or lust, or just giving them an item they can't not use...

For bloggers, new readers are gifts. The short lifetime of this blog has been one long Christmas for me and I'm humbled by the interest. Then again, the growing ranks of followers and visitors unsettle me in the sense of being a new responsibility. There are times when I question whether the audience will like a post more than whether a post is good or not. It's quantum again. The observation makes the thing.

On this subject I have a quandary. I stumbled on a blog by accident at the weekend which I think is wonderful, pure fun. The trouble is, it's its own near-closed ecosystem. By commenting or following I risk upsetting the balance. That said, it's publicly available and so visitors must be welcome, even if the numbers of visitors themselves creeping up might make a difference. Rather than name or describe it, I've just added it to the blogrolls with several others. If you're interested enough, you'll find it, or you might end up there unintentionally one day. I think you'll enjoy it.

If you're guessing the title of this post is a clue to the identity, I'll tell you it's not Slight Foxing, because I follow that great blog already; Rachel might well be regarded as a fox, and the content can be foxing, but what's foxing me here is something else again. On the subject, check out kitsune and revisit the spooky Fox himself. Potential aplenty.

If you do find yourself there one day, or at a blog like it, I'd suggest having a reasonable think before you interact. The gift of a comment or a follower is almost certain to be an overwhelmingly positive act in the majority of cases, but are there not times it might do more harm than good? I'm rarely sure, but I trust the wisdom of the readers and intrepid explorers passing through. If you have thoughts on the decision, I'd be glad of them.


Update: This was re-posted here a couple of months later, beginning a new discussion.

5 comments:

Johnathan Bingham said...

You have me intrigued as to this mystery blog. Ah, it is a challenge to find out. I shall endeavor to do so!

Harald said...

Found it. While thinking about following, I put it in my blog-roll as well. I see what you mean though.

Porky said...

@ Johnathan - A challenge is always good! The solution is simpler now, though only a little - it's a blog also in Harald's blogroll.

@ Harald - There's no mistaking it. If you've taken the same approach I'm more comfortable the decision was a good one.

Rachel said...

I just saw this post. I'm now intrigued too. The hunt for the mystery blog has actually diverted me from reading a paper about weevil cladistics. You can't get much more diverting than that.

Porky said...

Welcome to the Expanse, and to the search too! I can't promise the blog itself will be more interesting than weevil cladistics, but it's in with a chance. And with mention of the humble weevil you actually do move us in more or less the right direction...