Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Most diary blogs are of little interest to me -- like Ron Silliman, (I found this entry foraging in the back issues) I usually prefer blogs as an intellectual discipline, source of information, etc. But occasionally a diary-type blog comes up on my radar that is so exceptionally well-written that it proves to be . . . well, an exception.

Last year, when I was on the rolls of Blog-City, I came across a blog called Land of the Blind. It was so gripping and so beautifully written, it is no exaggeration to say that reading it seemed like watching a Pulitzer Prize-worthy novel unfold before my eyes. (No, it is not to be confused with a current blockbuster crime thriller by the same name.) Be-jeezus, some passages took my breath away! I wrote the guy to tell him that if I were Harper Collins or the like, I would send him a hundred thousand dollar advance with a contract proposal... Unfortunately (for us readers at least), as so often happens with extremely "hot blogs", it suddenly vanished into cybersmoke: without much warning, guy pressed DELETE on the whole affair. The blog did get very close to the emotional bone -- it was a surruptitious confessional detailing the stages of a breakup with his wife, and the emotional rollercoaster leading to his own nervous breakdown ... I actually saved quite a few entries on my own hard drive, and am tempted to just post one or two that don't get too personal (after all, I can't ask his permission -- but he did write many extraordinary musings and reflections too) to show how good such blog writing can be.

Blaugustine is written on a much more even keel... (This one I discovered thanks to Emily Lloyd's blog-roll...) No, it is not P-Prize material, but it is very well written and illustrated. The diary of Paris-based artist and illustrator Natalie Arbeloff , it is a veritable feast for the eyes... one of the most gorgeous blogs on the net. Under a lovely pastel (acrylic?) illustrating the subject (you have to go to the blog to see it), here are some reflections from May 17:

The African presence in Paris is nowhere more evident or more vibrant than on the RER platforms of the Gare du Nord and on the commuter trains. On my way to and from the suburbs where my aunt and uncle were hospitalised, I was enchanted by the spectacle of ordinary Africans going about their daily lives dressed in dazzling exotic plumage, colours that we consider clashing, patterns we disdain as garish, fabrics knotted and draped every which way over solidly curvaceous bodies in glorious, cacophonous harmony. Birds of paradise glowing against a background of concrete, steel and soot. I don't know their individual stories, where they came from, what they feel about living in France, whether they're happy or miserable or resigned. But compared to them, the rest of us seem to be in some kind of uniform, whether it's designer grunge, designer chic or just plain drab global sameness. The Africans in Europe (at least those who don't dress "like everyone else") wear their continent on their bodies and I for one am grateful to them for bringing such joy to my jaded eyes.

Here in Montreal we also see such Africans (mostly they come from from places like Senegal, Rwanda, and Burkina Faso), evidently not in such great numbers as in Paris, but she voiced my feelings about their dress versus ours exactly.

This is a blog I'll surely drop into from time to time.

Surely, though, there is great literature evolving somewhere in blog land. Does anyone have any recommendations?


Anonymous said...

Brian, merci beaucoup for quoting and linking to me. I will put you on my blogroll now. Glad to discover you. Just a small correction: I live in London, not Paris, though I was born in Paris and have family there. The image which you mention (Africans in the train station) isn't a pastel or acrylic - I drew it entirely digitally, from memory, with Painter software, on my Wacom graphic tablet. Thanks and à bientôt.

Brian Campbell said...

Thanks for the correction, and the information about your graphic process... these have to be among the warmest computer-generated images I've ever seen. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

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