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"the fitful tracing of a portal…"

Happy third blogiversary to ::: wood s lot ::: . By his own past admission, Mark found FmH one of his original inspirations and I was flattered by his emulation (and, even if sometimes unacknowledged, his echoing of a number of links from here) early on in his weblogging career. From such humble beginnings, he has grown into a signature voice presence filling a unique niche and appearing on nearly everybody’s blogroll, perhaps in no small measure because his own sidebar is probably the most voluminous of any webpage that does not explicitly call itself a ‘ web portal’ (oops! look at his current epigram). And it appears he does read everything he blogrolls, and he notices everything going on in the weblog world. I would never think of ignoring his anniversary because he appears not to ignore anyone else’s; he is like the distant uncle whom you hardly know but who sends you a birthday card without fail every year with a $5 bill tucked into it. (What are we then to make of the fact that he notes almost nonchalantly that he was late in noticing his own blogiversary this year?)

When I started FmH nearly four years ago and weblogging was so novel that one had to describe what one was doing, I explained, ‘Unlike a list of “cool links”, the links in a blog are “hot”, more timely and dated and, as one commentator put it, of “finer granularity”.’ A weblog reflects one’s use of the web, and Mark uses the web in an entirely different way than most. That he has never timestamped his entries is for me a signifier of his aspiration to be timeless instead of timely, as contrasted with most others in the weblog universe. You could call up many a page from his archive without indication that it was not today’s posting. [The absence of a timestamp also keeps him above the fray of who found a link first and who has to attribute it to whom.]

Thus, wood s lot functions as an extraordinary sort of ‘common book’ or source book of memorable, deep, often abstruse, at times obscure references and quotes. Although some would say that it indicates I don’t understand, I find the solipsism, self-indulgence, and preciousness in some of the postmodern discourse which Mark favors by linking to frustrating and maddening. (Oh well, there goes the sound of FmH being removed from a number of blogrolls…) Yes, yes, I know, the meaning of the text is no longer supposed to reside in the text but in each reader’s experience of it, so it is my problem, not his. The experience of reading wood s lot is often a visceral confrontation with the yearning to know what it all means. Does he intend to deconstruct meaning or convey it? I suppose one of the things it means is that I am hopelessly stuck in the modernist ethic in which meaning is author-centered, intentional and singular. But I suppose that is already clear to readers of FmH. I suppose what we get to ask more directly through the encounter with wood s lot than other weblogs is whether the weblogger can legitimately aspire to be an artist.

Mark rarely sullies his selections with his own voice. Having been a faithful wood s lot reader from the outset (despite my modernist, rather than postmodernist, vantage point) I have grown to feel that that is too bad that we do not know what it means to him. Although it is arguable that one may convey meaning assertively solely through one’s choice of material to post (FmH could also be accused of leaning in that direction at times; perhaps I have more readers who like my selection of links than my commentary), my birthday wish for the fourth year of wood s lot is that Mark might give us more direct glimpses of who he is himself, how he reacts to the world and what he thinks about the things he posts. And what he does when he takes a rest from his mercurial surfing, cutting and pasting. So, happy birthday, uncle, this year I send you a birthday card, but I include a little note letting you know how much the family seeks to know you better, get past your remoteness. Somehow I sense you are not constituted solely by your embrace of others’ sociopolitical commentary and cultural criticism, that there lies a mystery within an enigma waiting to be unwrapped a little.

Unless… do I have him all wrong? I know he still frequents FmH once in awhile; perhaps he will respond. As perhaps will FmH readers who also read his page.

Finally, there is that longstanding issue of the quirky deconstruction of meaning in his naming of his weblog, about which I have had some back-and-forth banter with Mark over the years. Anything but “wood s lot” would convey more meaning: “wood’s lot”; “woodlot”, even “wood slot” could work for me. That “s” dangles vertiginously without bridging, as I have said, like an itch I can’t scratch…