Saturday, 2 April 2011
The Next Thirty Years
One’s thirtieth wedding anniversary seems a good moment for reflection and taking stock – not just in marital and life terms, but even for one’s Morris-and-utopias blog too. How, after all, can a blog really hope to contribute to William Morris studies, given both the brevity and transience of its entries? Perhaps this is a question I should have asked myself long before now, having posted 140 entries over the last few years; but it poses itself more sharply today, in the midst of personal celebrations.
Thirty years of marriage takes us to our pearl wedding anniversary; and no doubt blog entries are, ideally, pearls of a sort too, lustrous miniatures that one can appreciate for their compact artistry. But I would like to think that they can (again ideally) be more than this, be outward-looking and impactful rather than nacreously self-contained. I like to imagine them as tiny grenades of meaning, that can explode transformatively in the reader’s mind if all goes well.
Blog entries can, I would hope, illuminate the strange by-ways of both Morris’s writing and utopia as a genre, their peculiarities and perversities, all that crucial semantic potential which can at times get lost in mainstream scholarly criticism. They can also, at their best, sustain a Morrisian and utopian political commentary into our own historical moment, into a postmodern capitalist present vastly more complex than Morris himself could ever have imagined (or, it can sometimes seem, than utopia itself can cope with). They should certainly also test both Morris and utopia against the best thought and theory of our own time, but they will of course do this in short and snappy, heuristic and suggestive, rather than systematically elaborated ways.
And lastly, they will aim, while doing all these things, to entertain, to contribute to a Morrisian fellowship in the blogosphere which can sustain us in difficult political times. For as Folk-Might wisely announces in The Roots of the Mountains, ‘in that fellowship shalt thou find both the seed of hope, and the sun of desire that shall quicken it’ (ch. 36).
Right, enough reflection: time now to climb a Lake District mountain by way of strenuous celebration; for I am not at all sure that we will still be up to that on our fortieth wedding anniversary and beyond.