Some time in the last couple of weeks the counter on my wordpress visitor stats clocked over one thousand.
So this is a short post to say thank you to all those readers – presumably not one thousand readers, but one thousand visitors.
When I commenced this blog back in July 2015 – nearly three years ago – I did not imagine I could reach such an audience, modest though it is – very much in the small long tail of the distribution of blogging site stats. I had written a blog previously, but had done so anonymously. That blog – the happy pessimist – was about politics, and my read of political events in Australia. It was part medicine, part poison for me. I vented there and nursed grievances. I responded to the strange years of political crisis in Australia from the fall of Kevin Rudd to the fall of Tony Abbott. It rarely found readers, except an occasional, enthusiastic anarchist who egged me on in my more poisonous state of mind. I kept it going for maybe three years, and then took it down in fear of reprisals against public servants speaking their mind. I downloaded all my posts and put them into a scrivener file. Maybe one day I will use them again somehow. But I never put my name or any clearly identifying information to my posts. It was all done under the avatar of Antonio Possevino – a Jesuit priest and diplomat of the 16th century, who himself published a number of political tracts under pseudonyms.
This blog, The Burning Archive, marked a new path for me, and a new kind of personal courage. I wrote not about my daily worlds of politics and policy, but my night journeys through culture and symbols. And from early on I wrote in my own name. I began the blog in the depths of a personal crisis, and it took a couple of months before I resumed regular postings. Initially I posted mainly on historical and large political topics. But after a while I freed myself to write on culture, literature, writing, my personal story and, of course, poetry. I probed my losses to bear them with more dignity. I explored the unique paths my life has travelled, without concern to compare myself with others. I rediscovered my life of the mind and found at last courage to speak in my own voice.
It was one of these more personal adventures of my own mind that was shared by other bloggers and began to gain me followers and readers. This was a lesson to me – speak with vulnerability and authenticity, not behind masks of authority and power.
Too all you readers who have visited me on this journey: thank you. An especially big thank you to Daniel Paul Marshall whose comments and affirmations of the value of my writing have been especially kind and helpful for me. The strength you have given me will help me continue with this blog, and share more of my writing with the world. I plan to publish three books of poetry shortly, and have commenced work on an essay on the ordinary virtues of governing well. Three years ago, I could not imagine this day. I have walked through the fires of the Burning Archive, and stand before my readers naked, unburnt and transformed.
“The storm of progress now threatens to burn the remaining archives of human memory. In an infinite set of information, no tradition holds fast. Where then does the Orphean writer look, if not like this angel towards the past, while being blown irresistibly forward by a fire storm?” The Burning Archive, July 2015