The Readings of Saturn

a copy of The Rings of Saturn lies open on a table

I’m rereading The Rings of Saturn right now as part of Robert Macfarlane’s international Twitter book club. I’ve been enjoying it so far. The book itself yields new things every time I read it, and it’s fun to see others’ thoughts each day and gain multiple perspectives. It’s forcing me to read it much slower than my normal pace and to really sit with the material.

I first read the book about three years ago while I was living in the UK. It had been recommended to me by three separate people who were totally independent of one another, so I had to check it out.
I was in a particular state of mind. I was working in London and I spent most weekends walking in the countryside with a good friend with whom I would have long philosophical conversations. I was drawn to the seaside multiple times and witnessed first-hand the desolation of so many places that had been left behind by the economy. A week before, a hurricane had swept through, causing flooding in much of the country. I was preoccupied with coastal erosion. Every day on my walk to work I would look at the ground and think that one day everything around me would sink into the ocean and be erased. Reading The Rings of Saturn felt like climbing inside the claustrophobic head of an old friend I knew intimately well.

Today I’m reading it with my poet hat on, with so much more appreciation for the craft of the book, how the individual essays continually call back to each other and Sebald’s choice of sometimes cryptic images. This time around I’m much more able to appreciate the thread of silk that weaves its way throughout the text.

Back to the blog

A few months ago I wrote a tweet that was a bit tongue in cheek but also true.

I’ve always loved Twitter. I love the way that I can stalk the thoughts of interesting people that I don’t know and may never meet. I love the ease by which I can push things out. I barely have to think about it.

That’s really the problem, isn’t it? You say your little piece and then it disappears and at the end of the day you have nothing to show for it.

At some point in time blogging became too hard to do. To write something every day, to edit it, to add links, to pair it with an appropriate image, (or, in my case, a Sebald-style random or only tangentally-related, uncaptioned image). Then I’d have to to resize that image appropriately and upload it then preview and tweak until it all looked okay. At some point in time that stopped feeling fun and started feeling like a lot of work. So many steps. I got tired of it and I got busy with other things.

But there’s something about spending conscious effort and time on things. So much of the way that the world is designed actively discourages one from pausing to reflect and plan. Maybe that’s why I started my mending project and why I’ve jumped with both feet back into knitting. They’re slower activities. They give me time to think.

Earlier this year everyone said that they were going back to the blog and I got excited. I half-wrote a blog post with the best of intentions, then promptly got distracted and now here we are three or four months later. Typical.

And now I’m blogging about not blogging and returning to blogging. Also typical.

But here I am. I have shit to say, and I’m going to say it.