Sunday, August 6, 2006

A Quiet Evening Begins

This blog will be about discussion.

Topics will, of course, be set by me and will inevitably reflect my interests and tastes.

All are welcome to contribute. I prefer medium-length posts and comments, long enough to develop ideas but not eye-glazing in length. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but do feel free to convey more complex ideas if you wish.

Here is a list of things that we might discuss. This is not everything, so expect surprises:

Music. This is my lifelong and principal interest. I spend most of my time with classical music, but I also enjoy good jazz. I expect to have a fair number of posts on musical topics. Unlike so many of my generation (Boomer, in case you hadn't guessed), I have almost no interest in the various kinds of pop and rock music. I can tolerate World music and other eclectic genres a little. So if you want to talk about Radio Paradise, fine. I don't expect to be posting, however, about Bob Dylan and his new radio show anytime soon.

Politics and public policy. Can we have an intelligent discussion? I am not particularly partisan, and would like to steer clear of the left-right divide that has poisoned so much of our public life.

Foreign policy. Being married to a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, foreign policy comes up rather often around our house. I was interested in foreign affairs long before I met my wife. Her being a grad student in the field was one of her many attractions.

Spiritual and religious matters. This will not be limited to sectarian views but should be understood broadly as all things religious. Are you a Buddhist? A Catholic? An Evangelical? A Jew? An agnostic? A quiet atheist? What have your spiritual experiences been? Let's talk about them and everything else that might come up here.

Science and technology. No stem cells, please! I like physics and astronomy and hardware of all kinds. I dislike science about soft, squishy subjects.

Literature and writing. I am just curious enough about current literature to start a discussion or two, but can only claim a smattering of ignorance on the subject.

Current movies, TV shows, and popular music. NOT! There are a zillion other venues to discuss these topics. And please don't quote lyrics from 30-year-old rock songs. Let me do that. I mostly quote Frank Zappa.

Starting this blog is an attempt to have the sorts of conversations I once enjoyed with a few close friends, now long scattered. We cannot relive the past, I know. We know we will never reclaim those young years when all seemed bright and possible. The friends may still exist, but we've said everything. The conversations are done. The evening seems barren and dull. So why not invite a wider circle to share an interest or two and perhaps to have a chat?

There are many people seeking to connect in some way, and the Internet has given us all new tools to do it. With these possibilities are the dangers of a new world of synthetic relationships. There is something distanced and false about even the most intimate and confessional forms of electronic communications. Terms like "community" and "roots" ring hollow. I originally intended to call this blog "A Quiet Evening with Friends," but "Friends" had such a pathetic quality that I dropped it with a wince as soon as I saw it.

We may have "friends" of a sort online. But the people who must have first call on our loyalties and energies are our families, neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Face-to-face always trumps keyboard-to-keyboard.

There are obvious problems that flow from the ability to hide behind a computer screen. This device gives us the unrivaled ability to create false faces and put on disguises that, in real life, would subject us to withering ridicule if discovered. For my part, I propose to keep my identity private for the time being, and I fully respect others who wish to do so. On the other hand, I try not to misrepresent events, ideas, or myself in any serious or essential way, and I would request that others do the same.

So, there you have it: The motivation, the interests, and a gentle reminder about honesty.

Please feel free to drop by. I will try to post at least twice a week, ideally more often. Find a spot on the sofa, make yourself comfortable, have a virtual glass of white wine, or coffee or tea if you prefer. There are a few virtual treats on the coffee table. Settle in and let us know what you think.

So, here's to beginnings.