Farewell

It evidently isn’t blogging that is dead, but what used to be called the blogosphere died some time ago. How I used to loathe that term, but it now represents a wistful glance in the rear-view mirror. At its peak, it represented an inter-connected series of blogs of shifting, but broadly mutual interests. Each blog nourished each other through commenting on each other posts, a carefully curated blog-roll, shared arguments and occasional memes.

There is little point in nostalgia. Facebook and then Twitter emerged as easier sites to share opinion and recommendations. There is, at least since Teju Cole, little artistic expression on Twitter. Writing on those platforms doesn’t, unlike blogging, feel like a creative project. I kept a Twitter presence to follow the journeys of a few readers who over some years shaped my own reading experience, but it is so easy to get dejected by the rolling news, the banter and the trivial. My @timesflow account became primarily a way of driving readers to individual blog posts.

The nuanced conversation and complex interconnected social relations that characterised the blogosphere seem to have transferred in part to podcasts, at least in terms of the literary conversation I once found between bloggers. To be honest, I didn’t envisage back in 2009 what a marvellous world this blog would open up for me, both in terms of meeting literary-minded people in person, or just exchanging emails and messages. Social media remains a viable way to “meet” like-minded people, so I’m sure I’ll maintain a presence in some shape and form.

This is all a rambling way to explain that I have decided to end Time’s Flow Stemmed. On this site I found a voice, maybe became a better writer, definitely became a better reader. I’ve no regrets or sadness. Through blogging, I’ve met many wonderful people all over the world and hope to continue the conversation in the future. I still have a great yearning for conversation about literature and what makes a human, though I’m not sure yet what form that may take.

Thanks to everyone that followed part or all of my reading life, especially those that subscribed, and those that joined the conversation. If I start anything new I’ll post an update on this site.

72 thoughts on “Farewell

  1. I will miss your blog. I wasn’t very active in conversation but I do found a lot inspiration here and I as you, miss the times when internet was really connecting us, people. I hope to find you somewhere somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have learned a great deal from the blog (and found a lot of books too!).

    I look forward to engaging with whatever form your future writing takes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You will be very much missed – your insightful, thought-provoking comments and quotes always urged me to read more deeply (and more slowly – although I don’t always do that!). Thank you for all the years of good writing and thinking!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks so much for your blog and your insightful posts. May I ask why you’re choosing to end it? Most of your post extols the benefits of blogging, so it’s sort of a surprise twist when you say you’re saying farewell…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blogs will continue to come and go. The community that was called the blogosphere is long passed. There are possibly other places and ways to engage in literary conversations, which I need to explore. Thank you.

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  5. I’ll miss your posts, but certainly understand your reasons for bowing out. It’s a shame that the so-called blogosphere has deflated to its current nearly airless state.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I never posted in the comments, but I have followed your blog for a long time. Thank you for all of the wonderful writers I read as a result of your posts; thank you for your insight and sensitivity. I will miss what was for me a calm and thoughtful amid the chaos.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sorry – I have found your thoughts & recommendations very helpful. You have taken me down many new paths. I will miss your voice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jill. I intend to maintain an online presence in some form, just not entirely sure what form that will take. I struggle with Twitter, but may try that again, or other places. The need to discuss literature is still strong.

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  8. We’ve never met but I greatly enjoyed reading your thoughtful blog when it popped up in my feed, and the books I took as recommendations were superb. Good luck in your next step!!

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  9. So much that you placed in your open commonplace book ended up in my own. Perhaps reporting on the reading experience left the experience misshapen, distorted, especially in this environment. Maybe we’ll all wind up writing letters again. Maybe leave commonplace books to be found in hollow trees. I have enjoyed being invited to think with you – now, go listen to yourself think, yes?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much for these thoughts. This has been a great place to share a commonplace book. What I’ve got back is infinitely more than I gave. We need places for these conversations, maybe letters perhaps.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. For much of the same reasons as the above comments I, too, will miss your thoughtful Writings Anthony. To me you are the ideal serious reader, as expressed in your online writing. And you bow out just as you (re-)started on your Murnane journey, a writer I have become quite obsessed with during the last eight years. I was so much looking forward to reading even more of what you think of his books. But more than anything I have appreciated and admired the tone of your writing: curious, humble yet firm and serious in your impressions and thoughts from reading, but also clear when in doubt, never prone to hyperbole or posturing, and always inviting comments and thoughts from others, inclusive in your approach. Thanks for your thoughts and the inspiration to read both wider and deeper. I hope to read more from your (Pelikan) pen elsewhere and onwards.
    All the best/M

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mattias. I can understand how a Murnane obsession could develop. I’ve only read 3 of his books and I’m already concerned about reaching the end of his work. Thanks also for such generous words. I take them to heart as more than I could have hoped for. Best wishes, Anthony

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  11. Cioran said: “We all die just at the right time.” Good for you for having the gumption to throw in the towel. Blogs – the very word suggests something that blocks S bends – are old hat, for the birds, “upturned boats.” Silence and solitude need all the friends they can get. Anyway, I discovered Anne Serre via your blog, so thanks for that. Start read unpublished manuscripts – maybe you do? Go at words from another angle, but remember you were loved. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blogs come and go. There are still some good ones, though most are dormant if not already ended. Silence and solitude are best when tempered with some sociality, at least that’s my experience. I hope to find another angle. Thank you!

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  12. Well, that is sad news. Thank you so much for guiding me towards many authors, and for on several occasions inspiring my own writing. I regularly return here to find out what you thought about Author X or Book Y. I very much look forward to whatever you do next. While I appreciate the blogging community is dormant, if not dead, I do still think it is a wonderfully democratic platform for writing. However, I appreciate they are plenty of other worthwhile avenues to explore. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The democratic nature of blogging is what has kept me at it for so long. If I thought the blogosphere merely dormant I would keep going, but I think it’s been superseded by Twitter and to some extent Facebook, which aren’t nourishing in the same way. Thank you for the kind words!

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  13. I agree that the blogosphere has changed — it’s not the community it once was, but more a collection of commonplace books that talk to each other very quietly. I’ve always enjoyed following your reading journey. Sorry to see you go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good description, though perhaps a little too quietly for me. Yours is one of a handful of blogs I subscribe to via RSS, and enjoy your reading journey too. Thanks!

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  14. This is sad news, Anthony, and your voice will be missed. I rarely commented here (I am a shy person and never feel I have anything to add to the conversation most of the times), but I have always enjoyed reading your musings and reflections on books. I do think that the internet shifted from being a place for connection and became a place for instant reactions. But I still find value in discovering different voices through blogs, where people have more space and freedom to write, I guess (maybe I am deluding myself here…). I hope to read your voice again somewhere soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Juliana, I also enjoy reading your posts. You are, I think, right about instant reactions. It’s all soundbites and uninformed Opinion. There are some fascinating blogs, like yours. I’m not ruling out that I might start another at some point. Or something where real connection and considered conversation can be had. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I will miss you as well. I have discovered through you Pessoa, Sebald, and so many others. Goof luck with whatever comes next.

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  16. Well damn. I feel genuinely deflated reading this, and am especially disappointed to lose your fine blog. I was thinking just yesterday that so much of my reading in the past few months has come to me from Times Flow Stemmed either directly (i.e Geography of Rebels and the Roberto Bazlen book) or indirectly (i.e., a bunch of books I’ve been reading because of the Roberto Bazlen book). And of course this is far from the first time that pointed me to some fascinating shore. From where I stand (and I hope you will not take this as any attempt to induce guilt, since I respect your decision as much as I wish it were otherwise), it seems more necessary than ever to have such insightful commentary, even just the lines and passages you’ve so often posted and which have, more times than I can count, reoriented my thoughts or lifted me out of dull ones. Thank you for all of that. Like the others who’ve commented above, I hope that we’ll all still get to hear from you in one way or another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Scott, for this and all your thoughtful comments over the years. It’s easy to express that idea that we are just writing for ourselves, but the conversation with attentive readers like you are why this blog has continued for 10 years. I still have need for that conversation, and hope to find another place for it. For the time being I am trying GoodReads as a social supplement to my beloved LibraryThing.

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  17. I take your point about Twitter, and I do wonder myself if my time wouldn’t be better spent learning Sanskrit or classical Chinese rather than drifting on-line. But on Twitter I follow people who teach me things, & whose ideas I find compelling — perhaps I have an easy time because my account is small.

    Anthony, I miss your voice. I always looked out for things you wrote: when your Twitter account disappeared, I felt as if I’d glanced out a window & found a much-loved tree gone. All that color & shadows, and the sound of the wind through its leaves!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve nothing against Twitter as a channel. I’ve friends who are active there. It’s also lead me to books, writers and ideas I may not have found otherwise. I just find, however small my window, it’s impossible to screen out the trivia. There are blogs that should and have become books (This Space), but there aren’t many (if any) Twitter accounts that reach that level of artistic expressivity. The form and fast-paced nature probably makes it impossible.

      I do want a place to discuss literature, but I don’t think Twitter works for me, unless I start a small very locked down account.

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

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    • Coincidentally I was just reading Steve’s (@twitchelmore) post on Twitter. I dislike nostalgia, but I cannot but help remember fondly my early blogging days. It was about so much more than comments. You were part of those times when, for instance, you wrote a post, one of us responded in post, and the conversation continued over days or weeks in post and/or in comments. It wasn’t just a question of number of back-slapping comments or “likes” but a properly nuanced conversation. I think my experience of blogging seems different from Steve’s, though if I was getting as many responses to my Farewell post in my former posting it would fell less like shouting into the void, proper conversational responses!

      I hope we can talk in person. I’m in DC in October?

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  18. Hello Anthony. I’ve been subscribed to your blog for quite a while. I don’t comment a lot. Mostly about books of mutual interest or books you might recommend that I’m likely to read. Was it via you that I discovered Pascal Quignard? I believe so. Very special. Also I think just short mentions of books on twitter has led me to some great writers. Magistrabeck’s mention of Jean-Luc Nancy for example. My first exchange with you was via twitter over a number of pdfs of critical theory if my memory serves me well. So, meaningful exchange can happen (even back in the day of 140 characters). Also, I find even meeting up can be frustrating unless there is a longer time to develop a conversation, and that’s often difficult due to time and place constraints. These days, I find the best way for me to have a meaningful conversation is on a long walk – in the country or in a park. Each environment – virtual or physical – has its own limitations. I still appreciate genuine twitter exchanges that emerge every few days from the tedious static; although sometimes the tedious static is indeed just tedious and the temptation is to disengage. That said, I stay with twitter because I value the small exchanges that do work. I’ve never been a blogger really. I use the old tumblr site to throw up some experiments in writing but I’ve never been a consistent publisher of posts. We can always communicate by email. You’ve put a lot of literary commentary and responses up on the your site over the years that I’m sure a lot of people will have read and appreciated without having commented or engaged with your words conversationally. A silent appreciation. I’ll be sorry to see your blog disappear. All good wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Des It doesn’t surprise me that Twitter superseded what was described as the blogosphere. It is a lot easier to communicate that way, even with the limitations. There was a lot more to the blogosphere than comments. A post here might trigger a post on another blog, that catalysed a reaction on a handful of other blogs. The blog roll: the thrill when you saw links coming from a new blog. I debated for weeks whether to just fade away, rather than write a farewell post, which risks appearing invidious and nostalgic. I chose to write this post out of gratitude to those that have followed this site, in some cases almost since the beginning. Without a Twitter presence I may not have had the opportunity to meet you in person. Next time, let’s try a long walk, and as you say, let’s keep in touch in the meantime by email.

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  19. To all the blogs I loved, like yours, I regret not leaving comments as I should have done every time I was provoked by ideas in them. But reading your posts silently and invisibly and being struck many times by recognition or discovery, I continue to relish the silent communion of reading across the sphere and deriving something intangible yet fulfilling. And so I want to visibly express my gratitude to you for sharing your personal tastes and take on reading and thinking about books. Your viewpoints are read and cherished in this part of the eastern hemisphere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your first sentence makes me smile as I must have made that resolution at least six times. The blogosphere at its peak though was about so much more than comments. It was the inter blog conversation through posts and linking that was its richness

      Thank you, Rise, for your comments. Yours was one of my favourite blogs.

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  20. Thanks for a wonderful blog. I’m sorry to lose it, and in fact, selfishly, I hope you’ll be back someday. The internet will be a lonelier place without you. Podcasts are fun, but they’re no substitute for blogs, and the parasocial illusion of community they provide ultimately wears thin, I’ve found…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Robert. There is an intertextual aspect to philosophy-art-literary podcasts that reminds me of the nuanced quality of the peak blogosphere: allusions, echoes, homages, nods, but it isn’t really a substitute, even if I replaced blogging with podcasting. For some reason I have a need to talk about what I read. Reading is improved by sociality. I may be back someday, in some form.

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  21. Late to this as I’m (perforce) not much following literary things at the moment, but sad to see you go Anthony. I was late to Twitter as well, and couldn’t see much use for it, but yours was the first account I stumbled across trying to make use of it for something other than self promotion or simple self regard. Others followed, of course, but @timesflow was my way in, and I’m grateful for that. Go well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jude. I’m as suspicious of my motives for posting on Twitter as anyone else’s, but meeting discerning users like you was a high point of the experience.

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  22. Thank you for having blogged! My reading has become much slower of recent, but I enjoyed hearing from you about authors I’d never heard of and your thoughts about language and reading. Let us know what’s next when you discover it!

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    • Thanks for your message. My reading since this crisis became overwhelming has ceased. I hope to rediscover literature in the future, and maybe find somewhere to continue to talk about literature.

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  23. Once upon a time, long long ago, it was March 3 2020. When C19 was just a rumor. I hope you’re doing ok out there. Your archive has become my go to place away from the noise; it feels like a deserted library on an ocean liner. What will become of us? Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a question I ask myself daily. Would I have written this post if I fully understood how things would change in a month? Thanks for your interest and concern. And yes, please take care.

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