Thursday, November 20, 2008

house cleaning

Well, those of you who don't read from RSS feeders (I'm old fashioned in that way myself) will notice I changed my layout and added a homemade header. I was literally fooling around with the header for over an hour, and at this point I'm so frazzled I can't tell if it's any good at all. It's probably way too big. On the plus side, I like the stretch style; I write long posts, if you hadn't noticed, and the wide layout makes sense. Plus my Shakespeare quote is finally formatted properly.

Oh, and by the way, my style is to jot off a post quickly, then read it back after it's posted and change little things here and there, mostly typos and grammar but occasionally word usage I don't like. (Stupid, I know.) From what I understand, RSS feeds don't show those changes. So if you find I've said something particularly incomprehensible, check the site and maybe I've changed it.

I did several African and black philosophy independent studies in college, mostly thanks to Lewis Gordon (who I dreamed of studying under). I had this professor, a really great, friendly guy. In a class he was letting me sit in on as part of my credit, we were talking about negritude and dramatic self-presentation. We were discussing how, according to the proponents of negritude, living life with a sense of dramatic narrative and presenting yourself in that spirit could create a sense of purpose and dignity, particularly important for those facing racial discrimination. I asked my prof what, precisely, would prevent such behavior from becoming pretentious. He cocked his head and smiled a little bit, and said he didn't think there was any difference-- living with a sense of dramatic arc in one's life was bound to be pretentious.

Let me say that I know that some of the elements of this blog are pretentious, even self-parodic; the French name taken from a classic short story, the Shakespeare quote, the earnest picture. At the risk of attempting to excuse through explanation, let me say that I'm aware of the silly-seeming seriousness of it all. I have two things to say in my defense. First, I think that it's possible for something to be at once earnest and self-parodic. I've long thought that there's a difference between acknowledging that something is ridiculous and ridiculing it. Lots of times, when I say I like a movie or song, people will assume that it's a matter of "so bad it's good." But really, it's a matter of "so good it's good." If you catch my meaning. My Shakespeare quote is in earnest, and that's how I really feel. I also recognize that putting a quote from Titus Andronicus up on your weblog is very mockable.

The other thing I would say is that there is a difference between the creator and their creation. This blog is an outlet for me to be a little pretentious, I guess, to be a little full of it sometimes. If you're like me, you often find that life is kind of, well, discouraging towards that notion of dramatic living. Here, though, where things are all cognitive, all intellectual, I can allow myself to stretch out, so to speak. I mean if you can't be a little self-involved on a blog.... Anyway, I hope you'll all take it on faith that, in real life, I'm not so certain, or so contrary, or so in earnest. Not taking yourself too seriously is a virtue, but a hard one to maintain, so luckily enough for me life keeps interceding whenever I get a little too much wind in my sails. (The "I look good/cool" trip is one that life puts a stop to with frightening speed, for me.)

I guess this is all just a way to say, I hope you like the new layout. Catching just the right tenor around here is difficult, and I'm working on it, but sometimes I screw up. If I haven't exhausted your patience yet, perhaps you can hold onto it a little longer.

To do: us the word "thing" less in this blog.

(The header is still too big, huh. Fuck.)

Update: OK, I've changed it from the "vertigo" picture (which you can see below) to something a little more generic, a picture I took on my mountain spot. I'll probably play with this for awhile the next few days.

Can't decide about the width-- I like the width of the widgets on the right a lot bigger this way, but the actual text is definitely too wide. It would seem like it would be easy to change one and not the other, but apparently not.

Feedback, please!

17 comments:

talboito said...

I tend to think the width is a bit too much. 3/4 of that width would probably scan better.

Freddie said...

I was thinking that too. But there's no template inbetween the two, annoyingly enough. I'll let it marinate for awhile and see how people feel. Thanks for the feedback.

raft said...

1) i generally like the reformat.

2) Header is too big. and are you planning to jump off the ledge? i'm sure there's some deep symbolic meaning there (romantic existentialism?), but IMO it's kind of off putting.

Freddie said...

Haha, no, nothing suicidal.

Bah! OK well I'll keep futzing with this. (But not tonight.)

Josh said...

Sorry to say it, but the header does seem a bit big... Still, it's not a deal-breaker. I don't think you'll lose your readership if you let it sit there for a while.

The rest of the reformat is nice, though.

(And I don't think any serious reader takes your earnestness out of context. You're clearly aware of it, which is all one can ask.)

B said...

There is nothing intrinsically pretentious about a Shakespeare quotation. That I am sure of.

B said...

By the way have you read up on the collaborative nature of Titus? I recommend.

Irenesbooks said...

I like it, including the header.

individualfrog said...

For whatever reason, I don't like the font on your header; it looks...I don't know, sort of wobbly to me. Like it's a cheaply made chair.

That might just be me. I like the changes, otherwise.

paul said...

the header is a little big; the text width seems fine

paul said...

(and yeah, nothing wrong with the earnestness; and also you're more self-aware of the earnestness than, e.g., andrew sullivan)

Matoko said...

I thought I saw Black Dog in the vertigo picture, last night when it was big......but when I looked again He was gone.

Anonymous said...

I like the re-format - including the header. And may I add, as someone who has only recently discovered your blog, how very much I enjoy it. The number of times I read your entries and think either that you have expressed my own opinion on an issue (even if I couldn't have articulated it so clearly) or that you raise an issue or perspective that had never occurred to me - well, let's just say it's a regular occurrence. And for that I thank you.

Freddie said...

Thanks so much for the words of encouragement, guys.

The Raj Man said...

I like it however it is...I think you have a great personality.

ryan said...

I like the new layout. I can't come up with too strong an opinion of the header--though I like the new picture better than the previous one--because I only see it for a second before scrolling down.

The width is fine. I was really annoyed by the narrow width of the previous version, so this is a needed improvement.

And keep at it. I'd have kept reading whether or not you changed the layout. I don't always think you're right, but you're interesting--and conciliatory--enough that it doesn't matter.

Steven said...

I like the vertigo picture better for a header. Why did you decide against that one?