An artefact of running a blog that is never apparent to most readers is the phenomenon of visitors commenting on old posts. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it is a common occurrence, and it always brings me up short.
To me, looking at my old posts are an indulgent excavation, too frequently a surprise for me to feel entirely comfortable about the state of my memory, but at least quite commonly a pleasant surprise. For the most part, any sentimental journeys I make into the archives are prompted by someone wandering past and dropping in a comment on some (to me) long-forgotten post. It’s always nice to be reminded that, once written, the words are not dead, even if they seem irretrievably distant from me-now. To whoever reads something you’ve written for the first time, the dialogue is taking place now, this very alive moment.
And so we get the curious encounter of some passing web traveller now with the ghost of me two years ago. Sometimes, as in this exchange on stone-sucking, it’s a Note & Query that can happily take place over the span of years. Sometimes, as in this shared journey back to beginnings, returning to the past feels very appropriate.
On other occasions, as with this ongoing and increasingly Byzantine thread on academic conferences spam, I feel as though it would be rude of me to step back in with my casual opinion when so many people feel so much more strongly about than me.
Best of the lot, the comment that asks or offers no explanation, but quickly sketches a picture of a place where, frankly, I’m very happy not to be.