Why This New Space?
I’ve been writing about politics and sharing that writing on my own website for the better part of two years now, so when I set out to move all of that writing to a new location and start building an entirely new website, one of the questions I wanted to answer was “why.”
Put simply, I really wanted to bring contributors into the conversations that, hitherto, I had been having with the empty space on the wall in front of my desk. In the past I had asked some people to write with me (and occasionally they did) but I never felt quite right about asking people to contribute their work to something that had my name slapped all over it. More even than that, the reason why I wanted to create this space lies a little deeper.
On December 16 of this past year I wrote a short post entitled “The Verb ‘To Essay.’” Obviously the word “essay” is most frequently used as a noun that describes a short piece of non-fiction writing. The old and more obscure manner in which the word is used is as a verb meaning “attempt or try.” I wrote the following:
I am convinced that the exploration and searching are vital and are rapidly becoming more so in the current political environment. For better or worse (it’s the latter) we are heading into uncharted social and political territory. History is instructive but it’s often cryptic; dealing in rhymes and patterns and hypotheticals. Rationality and logic are indispensable but emotion will remain raw and wholly valid. Rooting through the mess of signals and feelings and thoughts and noise and threats and glimmers of hope will be an unparallelled challenge and the willingness to rummage without reservation is worthwhile [...]
I hope in the coming months and years, people take the verb more seriously. I hope that people see the value in exploring avenues and lighting corners and peering over edges. Sometimes a tunnel will terminate without illuminating a comfortable or satisfying destination but that is of little consequence. We leave very little room for ourselves to dig around for answers and in this time and place, not only are the answers important but the digging is therapeutic.
More than being “therapeutic” (though it certainly is), writing about the things that I see and that I feel and that I think about has brought my ideas and my politics and my beliefs into far sharper focus than ever before. In truth, however, I think a big part of that clarifying and sharpening of my thoughts has come from the (accurate or otherwise) assumption that people would be reading them; identifying with them; criticizing them; asking me to support them.
What I want is to create for you, the same opportunity to clarify and sharpen and explore your own thoughts and ideas. For that reason, the most important part of this project are the contributions I receive from all of you. At the bottom of this page (and every post on the site) is a request for a response. For the last several weeks I have been contacting people and asking them to write about different topics. By putting your name and email address on the mailing list, you become one of those people as well. This project only works if I continue to hear from you.
There are a few simple rules. The most important is to speak to the content that you read and be respectful. If you read something you interpret as disrespectful, ask yourself why it hits you that way, write something about it, and send it in.
The next is that there will be no open comment sections on any posts (at least not right now). Do not mistake this for a restriction on debate. It is quite the opposite. I want everyone to have a voice but I want everyone to use their voice to speak as completely and effectively as possible. I will progressively add more and more ways for you to do that. I want more than anything else for you to write about what you think and feel.
This only works if I continue to hear from you.