This has always been my home on the internet.
Beyond social networks du jour, beyond homepages on the sites of employers, beyond the fleeting, and the popular. I haven’t always given it enough attention. To be honest, there will be the day when once again I won’t.
At the ten year mark (2003! Yey, party hats and paper whistles!) it’s time to take stock and see what’s what. So:
- I have a blog, and I want to keep it. I’ve always been the writing type, and if you want, I can post stories I smudged on the page in scraggy fountain pen from the age of nine or so. I still have them. And over the years, some of the stuff that’s ended up on Leben… oder so has not been horrible. Some of it still makes me smile. Some other stuff makes me cringe. I don’t want to take ten years of my life off the internet, even if I’m ten years older now, and some of it is awkward, some of it is dated, and some of it I just wish didn’t exist. But I’m a historian (with a PhD even, as soon as the bureaucracy is appeased), I know I like to find stuff other people wrote. I like to sit in archives and read one-hundred-plus year old newspaper articles and diary entries and letters and telegrams. Because it tells me something about a time and place. It tells me about the people and how they lived their lives. The internet in 2003 is a time and place already removed from our own. And less and less of it is still active. So one should keep what there is. Incidentally, I still miss my very first homepage. On geocities.com.
- The concept and the name have always given me a headache. What exactly is a blog named Leben… oder so supposed to be? That’s pretty much everything! And so you’ll find pretty much a bit of everything here. The blog as a scrapbook. That’s not a bad thing, but it doesn’t bring out anything consistent in my writing. Good stuff comes from setting limits and working with, and then, maybe, around them. This blog needs focus.
- The things that interest me have changed with me, and will continue to do so. Right now, I’m into photography again. After getting my first camera in 1989, my second and third sometime during the 90s, a pretty crappy 320×240 pixel digital one in the early 2000s, a nice bridge camera in 2005, a little Nikon S 10 in 2008, and in 2013, in a swing back to analog, a Rollei 35 T and a Minolta SRT 100X. See, I know all these names and abbreviations. Obviously, I care about this stuff. The blog should reflect that. More room for pictures, then!
- I’m moving soon. I received a PostDoc grant at the venerable German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. I’ll be in archives in Washington, and elsewhere in the United States to work on my second book project. That means new places, faces, and things to explore, and a whole bunch of people I can’t take with me, and who I don’t want to make check Facebook for updates all the time. I also don’t want to spam my friends with “what I’ve been up to” e-mails. They are my friends, after all. So this blog shall be and everforthwith must remain their one stop to know what’s going on with me if they so chooseth. End fake archaisms.
- I’m bilingual. For the most part. At least, I use two languages in my daily life all the time. I know some parts of some others, but I’m not in France or Spain all that often. So this should be a blog in English and German. That also means that the German name is a bit of a problem. Not so huge that it needs to go right away, but big enough to be phased out gradually. Which brings me to…
- Names. That’s hard. Especially on the internet, where every .com seems to be taken. Also, it should be a name that reflects both what this blog was, and what it is now. And be multilingual. After wrecking my brain thinking about this, I decided a Latin name with some meaning behind it would be best. I settled on ictus oculi. Ictus oculi means “blink of an eye,” and has long been used as a metaphor for, bingo, life. It brilliantly captures the long and short of it – the shortness of life, and its breadth. If Augustin used it, it can’t be all bad. And it has that connotation that fits perfectly with the new focus on photos, all taken in ictu oculi. And wow, the .com was still available! So while lebenoderso.de will still lead you right here, now and for the foreseeable future, I’m moving toward making this ictusoculi.com. I’ve already moved to a new, more name-appropriate design.
I’m excited. Maybe you want to glance over my shoulder every now and then. I’ll be happy to have you.