Oh the days dwindle down to a precious few
– “September Song”, Kurt Weill/Maxwell Anderson
I reflected with alarm today that a calendar month was about to tick over without a Strange Flowers entry. How things have changed…it’s hard to believe, but there was a time when I posted daily. Clearly I had more time on my hands, but I was also just starting out on the on-ramp of a trajectory familiar to many bloggers who start off all blazing with ideas, enthusiasm and missionary zeal for their subject matter (in my case, semi-forgotten eccentrics from the margins of cultural history), to burn out shortly afterwards when they realise just how much work it requires.
And so a few months ago the pendulum swung the other way and I posted less and less. The Strange Flowers one-year mark came and went about a month ago; I chose not to draw attention to it.
I know what it’s like when you become a fond, frequent visitor to a blog only for the blogger to slow or stop their output; in some small way it feels like withdrawal of affection, like a bath going cold.
It’s not that I felt any less enthusiasm for the subject matter. In fact it was more that being busy with other things I wasn’t able to do them justice. Through research and y’know, thinkin’ up stuff I had always hoped to offer not just a biographical précis but establish connections, draw parallels, hopefully offer insights and in so doing bring the subject alive, at least for a moment. And the ultimate goal was always to inspire the reader to find out more.
Strange Flowers has never been the most bloggy of blogs. I saw it as a kind of parallel universe Who’s Who. The almanac format was semi-ironic at first; we usually mark the birthdays and death anniversaries of the great and good; those who invented useful things, or discovered delightful continents. But I really feel these unfairly marginalised oddballs are at least as deserving of respect and attention as, for example, many of the warmongers, jobsworths and dull Swedish poets crowding out the Nobel honour roll.
And while I’m not so vain or deluded as to imagine that no-one else had expressed an interest in these fabulous freaks before I came along, try as I might I’ve not found one blog or site which brings them together in the same way – something I say not with pride but disappointment.
Right now Berlin is cold like the cold when you’re dead; the kind of weather which inspires little more than staying inside watching Simpsons DVDs, occasionally donning a thermal tiara to venture out for falafel and booze. But my Strange Flowers hunch in various biographies on the bookshelves behind me, no doubt bitching about my inattention when I close the study door. And honestly – I miss them.
So before this turns into some kind of Maoist exercise in self-denunciation, suffice it to say that the pendulum is now swinging back to somewhere about the middle. I’m aiming to post once a week. I expect the format will change, though I can’t say exactly how. It might become more essayistic, or it might head the other way to Tumblr-style image overload.
There are still so many Strange Flowers who need their time in the sun, so much more to share, but in the meantime: thank you for your interest and patience thus far.