Precisely a decade ago I posted the following announcement:
1.1: Jim’s New Website Posted: Mon – October 20, 2003 at 02:33 PM
This is being sent to you because you are a member of my family or a friend (I presume). I’m calling it “Dragon City” because, well, I like the sound of it, was born in the year of the dragon, and I like cities. But it will be pretty much about anything that I am moved to write (or illustrate with pictures and such) that I have bored or angered friends and family with in the past through regular email. You access it by launching the URL as you would with any website and, voila, there is the latest “news” from Dragon City. Of course, you don’t have to bother to open it at all, which is probably a good idea because the Homeland Security people are probably monitoring who visits Dragon City to see who consorts with a liberal pinko who sometimes uses French words (e.g. voila), the language of the people who are now considered to be our enemies because they won’t send money or troops to fight our war in Iraq. But I am digressing, which some people regard as my one and only talent. Of course, those are the kind of people who like to go deer hunting with Jesus and John Ashcoft. (see what I mean?) Whatever. Anyway, you may already have enough of a taste of what the news from Dragon City will be like to not click in again. But you should give it a chance. Remember, now that I am retired I need someone to foist my opinions and musings upon now that I don’t have any students as my captive audience (although there will be a midterm and a final). If you want, just click the “Credit/No Credit” button. Later.
I had no idea at the time that I would still be blathering on about the topics and issues that continue to interest me. At the time I founded Dragon City Journal I was in the first year of my partial retirement from my professorship and, I suppose now looking back upon it, I was already anticipating that I would not have my usual captive audience of graduate students to inflict my opinions upon. I needed to find some outlet for what had become a habit of mind else I would break out in pimples, become a serial killer, get myself covered with tattoos, join a biker gang, or all of the above. I am, I realize, someone who needs to speak his mind, even if it is to a computer.
Realizing that 10 years have passed I have become curious about the statistics of Dragon City Journal and so have taken a few minutes to dig into them with the following results.
DCJ has posted thus far 621 essays, averaging 1,200 words each and, as you know, have created an almost equal number of graphics to go with them.
This amounts to approximately 745,000 words, which is equal to 2,980 book pages (@ 250 words per page), which is the equivalent of almost 14 two-hundred-page books. I suppose my time might have been better spent writing 14 books, but as it was I did manage to write six books in addition during this period of time. Or, I could have just played golf.
I did my best to disabuse readers from referring to DCJ as a “blog,” a stupid geek word that might adequately describe the inane crap that consisted of “I washed the dog this morning before my colonoscopy appointment” that subsequently was consigned, appropriately, to Facebook “walls” where “friended” people were kept informed, or reduced to “tweets” so that such enlightening items could be compressed to the level of toilet wall graffiti. Blogs and tweets would have been a waste of my time and the time of anybody who bothered to read them.
Readership has grown over the years, but I have no idea how many people read DCJ, or read it regularly. I get more favorable comments than death threats, but my approach to the material that I write about is that it is work in “process” because these are subjects and themes that I enjoy thinking about and to which I return again and again. Still, I manage to end up agreeing with myself approximately 73 percent of the time.
I sometimes wonder at my compulsion to compose essays. My motivations are manifold. One is, as mentioned above, to speak out, to opine, sometime to rant and rage, to still be, in my very limited way, a part of the discourse on current affairs and other subjects such as religion, media and travel. A second is what I regard as a sort of personal debriefing, a rummaging through experiences and memories that is now getting to be a superannuated life, putting them in some order, and determining whether I have had an insight or two, here and there an apreçu. If all writing is “biographical” then this is that aspect of the process. Finally, there is, for lack of a better term, a “legacy” aspect to these essays and the rest of my writing. I always felt that the progeny of artists and writers had a means to peer into the mind of their ancestors; writings in particular can speak directly to one’s future generations. In this age of the 32-gigabyte flash drive I can (and will) leave everything I have written, musical compositions, graphic artworks, video and audio recordings and anything that can be photographed or scanned for each of my five grandchildren. Will they want to know that much about “Babo”? Perhaps not, but I will be available—my thoughts and opinions on a variety of aspects of life—and I won’t take up more space than a penknife.
Someday, I like to imagine, maybe in October of the year 5013, some astronauts from far off in the universe who have landed on an incinerated and radioactive planet will be conducting an archeological dig and come upon one of those flash drives. After deciphering the strange, non-mathematical language and reading the curious record, one of them will say “You know, this planet might have survived if more of its inhabitants had read and heeded this Dragon City Journal.”
There’s still time.
© 2013, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 10.20.2013)