Category Archives: housekeeping

The Man: Who Am I? And What is This Blog About?

Hello.

My name is Sean, and I’m a blogger. Apparently. I’m also a first year law student which you would think would mean that I have no time to tell the internet what I think about movies, books, comics or anything else. You would be right, but I make time anyway. This blog, Semantic Drift is mine. In linguistic terms, semantic drift when words change in meaning over a period of time. Like the word silly used to mean something like holy. Silly originally described purity. From there it came to be associated with innocence, and so children. Children are synonymous with simplicity. Over time the connotation of simplicity gave way to idiocy and we have the current usage. Language and ideas can shift in meaning over time and my ideas do the same. This blog is a way to document them as they do.

I feel sometimes that I’m a sensitive intellectual trapped in the body of a thuggish man-brute. Though my soul yearns for the higher calling of sophisticated pursuits, we all have to make do with the tools we’re given. So I’m stuck down here in the mire with nothing but brave words and bloody knuckles trying to talk about the things that interest me. I like to write, and I started this blog to get back in the habit of putting one word in front of the other in aesthetically pleasing ways. If I write more, I keep my skills with the written word honed to the cutting edge. I don’t know if its working. I also find it helps me discover how I feel about certain issues. Writing is my tool for gaining insight and clarifying my opinions and feelings.

I like to think I’m fairly interesting, but all too often it turns into “Interesting“, with the audible capitalization and air quotes, like I’m trying too hard. Part of this comes from a faux-pompous tone that occasionally creeps into my writing. To be fair, I think I’ve earned a certain amount of pretension since I’ve lived in a few foreign countries – most notably (and for the longest times) South Africa and Ireland. I have itchy feet and am a vagabond at heart.

I’ve never really felt like I was doing enough with my life, even when I was.

I spend most of time thinking and caring about things that ordinary people neither think nor care about. For instance: magicians, samurai, comic books, cartoons, globalization, the history of role playing games (although I don’t play), video games (I do play these), the weather in strange cities I will most likely never set foot in, those warning cartoons you see around industrial equipment, movies, fighting, vacant buildings, recipes for chicken.

I (and this blog) have a few broad interests that I concentrate on:

  1. I love to read, and do so constantly. This includes novels, nonfiction, comics, and an increasing emphasis on legal treatises what with the law school and all. I like to review the novels that I read because I was an English major (Creative Writing, but still…) and also graphic novels because I am a huge nerd.
  2. I don’t get to read very much non law school curriculum-related books these days so I’m sharing my initiation into the legal world.
  3. I love going to the movies. Everything about it, from the popcorn kernels that get stuck in my teeth to the previews all the way through the end credits. I am omnivorous when it comes to film, taking equal if decidedly different pleasure in everything from foreign/indy flicks to big-budget action spectacles (and everything in between). I like to talk about the new movies that come out and give a postmortem on my theater experiences.
  4. I’m something of a traveler, and have put some serious miles under my feet. Sometimes I write about travel, but not as much as I would like to.
  5. I enjoy drinking, and though I do so but rarely these days it usually becomes quite epic when I do. I’ve got some stories, and I occasionally make reports on new bars that I discover here in San Francisco.
  6. I train obsessively in combative sports (MMA, Submission Wrestling, Kickboxing). I enjoy mixed martial arts, and while I don’t follow the UFC or PRIDE as fervently as I once did I still enjoy a bit of the old ultraviolence now and again.

I some times combine these interests, where it makes sense to do so. For instance, I might read a book on Australia while drinking a beer. Or I might travel somewhere and proceed to get drunk. The permutations are many, but you could probably work out for yourself which ones work better than others. I also reserve the right to pop in random posts that have little, if any, overriding theme. This is my playground and I’ll damn well write what I want.

Something else you should know: I’ve never been able to call anyone “Baby.” It’s something I’d like to accomplish before I die. But every time I try it comes off sad and kind of disturbing, like when middle-aged men give each other high-fives.

If any of that makes you more interested to read what I have to say, you might have problems… But welcome to Semantic Drift.

Man, design is hard.

The more I futz around here, the more thankful I am that I did not pursue a career in graphic design. I work with designers, and while I can empathize with their anal insistence on making every little curve and every little edge just so I cannot get as worked up as they do about the placement of every single little serif. I’ve read a Chip Kidd novel, and I’ve even browsed some Poyner:

But none of that has prepared me for the psychic and spiritual costs of trying to redesign my blog. Sure, wordpress makes it pretty simple to switch out the themes but the sheer volume of possible choices daunts me. Every time I make up my mind that this will be the layout for me, I spy what might be a better one. Playing around with the widgets is a little more fun, but I’m still having trouble settling down into a final configuration. And the worst part is that while I’m screwing around with this stuff, my readers are missing out on my cogent insights into American life, witty commentary on the world around us, and cultural criticism. But it must be done, and I feel like I am getting closer to the finished product. I have decided, for now, to go black. I’m not sure if this is good design or not, but I like it and it’ll do for now.

Out of Action

I’m going quiet, as I am neck deep in academic concerns. Unless you really want a post about the role of associational ideology in Chaucerian fiction, I think it best to focus my attention elsewhere. My nose is to the grindstone, my back is to the wall, and my attention is elsewhere for the next two weeks or so.

One last point: Thwip!!

MySpace Handshake

Thanks to everyone who’s checking this page out at the recommendation of Robert Wayne Shuping: Welcome. The man is a titan, and a credit to our armed forces. Any fake internet friend of his is a fake internet friend of mine. I don’t know if I can live up to the somewhat dubious honor of being the smartest man to come out of the Brevard school system. To my mind, that distinction is a bit like being the most sophisticated man in the trailer park, but I accept it in the spirit in which it was given. I can’t promise any sort of entertainment value, but welcome nonetheless. I hope you like aimless rambling. Enjoy!

Oh, the hubris!

So since I told my friends that I’ve started blogging, I’ve noticed that they tend to react in one of two ways. They either:

1. Kinda nod their heads in the complete opposite of surprise as though it were only a matter of time and ask “Why?” Then they ask me what I write about. Or:

 

2. They raise their eyebrows in consternation and ask “Why?” Then they ask me what I write about.

The variation in response seems to correspond with how well the person knows me, and how acquainted they are with my ego. They “why?” of the first type seems to be more of a “why now?” as opposed to the more existential question of the second type. They seem to be undaunted by my desire to bore other people with my opinions and commentaries. The ones who know me best realize it was only a matter of time. Those who respond in surprise question the value of writing for an audience of none. Or worse yet, being the sort of solipsistic egomaniac who feels the need to expose my every waking thought and story to the entire Internet. There is a certain amount of egotism in the act of writing. Whether it’s a novel or a blog post about a new restaurant, the writer has to have a healthy self-confidence to put his words and ideas out there. Whether its true or not, the writer has to believe that there are people out there who care what he has to say. It’s no coincidence that some of the greatest writers of all time were rampaging narcissists. If they weren’t, they could never have summoned the courage to type the first word on the page.

There is one (and only one) fundamental characteristic that makes a writer different from everybody else. Writers write. Most people do not. Maybe I haven’t quite figured out how this whole thing will fit together yet, but I’m starting to enjoy having a reason to write again. Maybe if nothing else this blog will be the dojo where I hone my literary techniques to a lethal sharpness, perfecting the emotional/intellectual jiu-jitsu that I’ll need to face the enemies every writer has to fight: the white page with its virgin promise, and the fuzziness that make clear ideas hard to make out.

Or maybe I subscribe to the Socratic notion that an unexamined life isn’t worth living. Maybe this is Proustian attempt to find deeper meaning and significance in the minutiae of everyday life. Perhaps if I write about trips to the movies and the books I happen to be reading as I take the bus home from work I’ll be casting myself as a Bloom-esque Everyman, the hero of my own epic of the mundane. By shouting into the vast empty cave that is the blogosphere, I’ll be able to glean some insight from the echoes. In that case, my blog will be a place for me to find out how I think and feel about things by writing about them. There really is no better way.

 

In either case I have to answer the second question with an “I’m not sure, yet.”