Yesterday I received an email from a Classics’ enthusiast who has started blogging at The Lyre and the Lexicon asking me to add the blog to my Blogroll. I have of course done so: the blog is congenial, in so far as one can judge from its two posts so far, one of a general introductory character.
The Lyre and the Lexicon blog is congenial because its author shares his or her thoughts without feeling the need to satisfy professional standards. An amateur Classicist may be able to publish material and thoughts which a professional might not share unless they are worked up into a paper, for fear of professional humiliation. On the other hand, The Lyre and the Lexicon is anonymous. The author wishes the blog to be ‘judged on its merits.’ My first reaction is that this is a pity. A blog should have persona, but that persona receives substance by being linked in the minds of readers’ to an identifiable person. To explain what I mean, consider the diaries of the British politician Alan Clark. They were somehow more interesting because one knew who he was, and which English constituents that arguably amusing philanderer with a picture of Hitler in his safe represented. Yet there are excellent anonymous blogs (for example the blog of Ms Hedgehog relating to tango: though I daresay some insiders know the blogger’s identity). Perhaps the blogger of The Lyre and the Lexicon has good reasons, though, for anonynimity, bearing, who knows, the burden of office, or enjoying the privilege of a public profile and prestige which might distract from the substance of the blog.
I think The Lyre and the Lexicon will find readers. My own blog (the present one!) did and I suppose does find readers. It has all but died because it has done what it was meant to do: it has enabled me to get some things off my chest. There was a strand of elitism in it, I suppose: having expended an inordinate amount of time acquiring skills in Classical languages, I may have permitted myself a touch of irritation that those selected for university posts in Classical languages sometimes have skills which lie elsewhere, or at any rate only to a modest degree in the technical aspects of the specialisms they profess. Most of my prejudices however, are positive. Classics is ‘in'; an oral element in language training is valuable; Classicists should and increasingly do feel comfortable about sharing their personal reactions to their subjection on the Internet.
And so, like Chandler who, in the preface to is second edition waves a last farewell to his much larger work (about which I have blogged), I feel I am waving a farewell to this blog, but not necessarily to Classics blogging. My plan was that classicsblog.net would be for this kind of highly personal reflection (personal to me, not to its subjects!). I acquired (at some expense) the classicsblog.com domain for a more general Classics blog, perhaps with a more didcatic element, and at any rate a less quirky one. Maybe I will make that website in Drupal, rather than WordPress, and do lots of Web-clever things in it. But will I or anyone find the time or inclination to write it? I have no idea.
In the meanwhile, head over and look at The Lyre and the Lexicon. Thanks for reading.