Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Just so you can all note it down in your home-game versions of the Bucket, this humble blog passed the 100,000 visitor mark yesterday. And it only took me 2+ years to get there. Sure, there are plenty of blogs who get that kind of traffic in a day or an hour or whatever, but this feels special. I earned this. No advertising, no comment-spamming other people's blogs begging for readership. Just my words and you, the dedicated readership. And Ephraim, the autistic neighbor kid* I've taught to click on my blog site over and over again as many times as he can in the course of a day. Just those three factors are the cornerstone of my runaway blog success.
When I started this blog, I wasn't 100% sure, but I had a strong feeling that it would reach the heights that it has. It had all the earmarks of success: easy distribution, me writing it... well, that's about it. But that's a pretty heady brew right there. As an historian by training, however, I had to reserve a little bit of scientific uncertainty when predicting my blog success.
Historians are very suspicious of identifying direct causality in chains of events. I know, it really seems like that's all an historian should actually be doing, but really, when you factor in thinking up essay questions, attending faculty mixers and banging grad students, there is hardly any time left for identifying what caused what and how. We barely even have time to disseminate the lies and propaganda as dictated by the Elders of Zion as it is, let alone come up with our own stuff.
That said, there are certain phenomena, certain people's biographies, even some (dare I say it) events that have a clear trajectory. Of course someone like Marx talked about this kind of thing all the time (class struggle and the inevitable rise of the proletariat, etc.), but I don't know. I've read some things about him, the time he lived in, the places he lived, the company he kept... I suspect he may have had some communist sympathies. So we're going to steer clear of that one.
Modern history--on the surface at least--has a great deal less ideological self-assurance about it. The idea is, I guess, that causality and projecting trajectories are just too... easy. Anyone can do that. Professional historians insist on an infinite level of complexity buried in jargon and vague codes of academic procedure conducted outside the view of the average person. Because after all, what's a club without a secret handshake?
But there are some events that break through that wall of diversion and obfuscation, where the results are so clearly evident, so frighteningly obvious that they border on mathematical certainty. And if there's anything I know, if you want to confound an historian, just introduce some math.
Let's look at a case-study to emphasize my point.
Two different points of departure on two different trajectories: 1) The Internet and 2) Lindsay Lohan.
1) The Internet. A revolutionary communications technology originally designed by the military (as all good things are, including Tang, tin-foil and the Moon). The overlays of the world-wide-web idea, HTML language and the ubiquity of personal computers made an infinite amount of information instantly accessible to billions of people the world over. Never before in human history had so many had such a wealth of knowledge so readily available to them through so simple, convenient and understandable a source. Which of course we primarily use for celebrity news and porn.
2) Lindsay Lohan. In the great tradition of Dana Plato, Todd Bridges and many other child stars not necessarily part of the cast of Diff'rent Strokes, she started out cute and small and precociously talented (really, she was quite good in the remake of The Parent Trap). Then one day--probably around age 13--she had a sip of her mom's wine cooler (you know, because Lindsay was making all the money and gosh, she just seemed so mature for her age, so why wouldn't she be able to handle it?) and it was all over from there. A steady progression of drunkenness and fame and some crappy movies pushed her into this bubble of fame-for-fame's-sake, which fed the feedback loop of partying and paparazzi-attention and general skankishness. Lots of nights out means lots of pictures taken in various stages of sobriety and undress.
Now, it is rare to find one obvious trajectory let alone two. It is even less rare for two clear historical or personal trajectories to intersect in a way that can only make us go "Yeah, I never really thought about it, but now that it's happened, there's really no way it couldn't have happened in exactly that way."
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you (NSFW) digital pictures Lindsay Lohan's vagina.
Don't look at it. Don't click the link. Really, do you have to? It's there. You knew it would be there. The existence of the internet plus the life of Ms. Lohan dictated inevitably that this would come to pass. For me, it's enough to know that it's happened. In these difficult times, it's really something of a relief to know that there are certain constants and outcomes you can reliably count on.
I'd like to thank my wife's work for paying for my DSL connection and keeping me on this internets thing. I'd like to thank Ms. Lohan's parents for being bad at their jobs. And lastly I'd like to thank all of you for coming back here 100,000 times even though shit like this is the best I can do.
I should thank Ephraim, but I'm not sure he can read. Keep clicking, buddy!
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.0
*= sure, it sounds like cruel exploitation, but really, he's so distressed by any social interaction, he does it in exchange for me not coming over and trying to talk to him. If you think about it that way, I'm doing him a favor.