Hello, again, Blogreader.
In the couple of years since I last kept this blog regularly, I have often thought about keeping it again. The various attempts are still preserved below, carcasses of decent intentions made laughable with the benefit of hindsight.
What happened, primarily, was that I felt I had little to say, and I had begun to believe that the majority of my writing was below the standards I had thought to keep myself to. I had, more or less, tired of my own voice. And so I retreated, waiting for some magical event to restore my confidence or my words.
No such magic materialized. Waiting for magic, it turns out, is not a great way to get moving.
In the process, having removed myself from my self-prescribed writing practice area, I stopped writing entirely. I made some furtive attempts at fiction in the time I was away, but found myself frustrated that my writing muscles—having been mostly dormant for so long—were not capable of producing in the way I wanted them to.
Since what I would still primarily like to do is write and write, you can see where this was a problem. And worse, it was a problem that fueled itself. It would be an exaggeration to say I thought of returning here daily, but I don't think it's a stretch to say I thought of it every few days, at least. And then, failing to do so, I continued to not exercise, to not write, which only served to make me feel that I had less to say.
All of this preamble is merely my best attempt to explain why I have not been here. It is not, however, the point of this post.
I have found, you see, a gimmick. Today, I thought of a way to trick myself onto writing more regularly, while simultaneously enriching my knowledge of certain things, and checking some stuff off of my to-do list.
Anyway, my intention is this: Over the course of the next year, I intend to work through the top 100 books and films as rated by The Modern Library and the American Film Institute, respectively. Basically, starting around February 1st, I will begin at the bottom of the list and work my way north to #1. I'd like to finish this within 2010, but if necessary, I'll allow the project to go a full year.
I've chosen these lists somewhat arbitrarily, but I'm not sure if there's necessarily a more authoritative list in either category. The AFI list, in particular, will rob me of both British and foreign-language films. So if I find a better list before the start date, I will switch. Otherwise, I'll likely supplement from time to time with a worthy film or book which was not included on these lists.
I considered, briefly, going with Oscar winners for Best Picture, but kind of feel that would end up being a far worse representation of cinema. For one thing, those are chosen more or less in the moment. For another, they are limited to only one film per year. The AFI list, at least, has two from 1939 in the top ten. One of which, I must admit, I have never seen. Plus the fact that film existed for some time before the first Best Picture statue was presented. And, of course, some truly awful flicks have waltzed off with that award.
In each list, there are a certain number which will be revisits rather than new discoveries. I have seen an awful lot of these films before, or read these books. But I find that my appreciation of a thing is at least somewhat dependent upon my circumstances at the time, and I think that I'll gain something even from the retreads. Some of the books and films also rank among my favorites, so it'll be nice to revisit those from time to time, and see what thoughts they might provoke now.
So I'll have to average a book and a film about every three days, which doesn't sound too difficult, but will almost certainly be much tougher than I imagine it. There aren't a lot of brisk, light reads on the book list, for instance.
I'll be writing my reactions here on the blog, to each book or film, as I go. Some might go a bit beyond that. I'm curious to see how what I am reading might affect how I enjoy the film I am watching, for instance, so I expect I'll explore some of that when I have reason. I'm sure I won't enjoy every selection from either list, but that's a part of the experience as well.
Anyway, I mainly intended to say hello again, and to kick-off this project. My internal editor has not done a tremendously good job of keeping this brief, but I hope things will improve as this goes on.
I'm hopeful that, in addition to the posts related to this project, you will also be able to find the sort of quality drivel I use to churn out with such regularity. The project, however, provides me with a sort of regular assignment schedule to keep to. And I'm hopeful that we'll get into some discussions again. While I highly doubt I have any readers left from the old days, maybe some will decide to check in again and say hello, and some new folk will appear who are interested in this journey.
AFI requires you to register at their site to get a copy of their list, but the Modern Library one can be found here. It's maybe worth mentioning that I will be doing the Board's List on the left, rather than the Reader's List, which is clearly weighted by people who are tremendously into their thing and little else. No disrespect to any of those people intended, but having 70% of the top ten taken up by any two authors is palpably ridiculous, and for those two to be Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard makes it clear that, at best, they were using some other criteria when voting than I would consider reasonable when trying to select the "best" novels of all time.