Things Behind Things Ahead


It's the first post of the year, and now seems like a good time to announce there are some big changes in store around here, both for Misreader and for the website as a whole. I'd really like to use this space a little bit differently than I have in the past, not just by posting more frequently but also with the kinds of posts I'll be making. For the website, the big change will be redesigns for the Writing and News/Events sections. That's what has me thinking about loss.

Making changes to the Writing page makes me realize that not everything that's published online may remain that way forever. It's the second thing you'll hear in an argument about the pros and cons of print vs online: writing on the internet is just as perishable as print. I've already had it happen once before that a publication disappeared from a journal's website as they failed to follow through with migrating their site. It was an uncomfortable feeling, to follow a link to a piece of writing and get a 404. Checking in on another journal I published in, I saw that they haven't put out an issue since mid-2017. What happens when in a year from now, two years, tomorrow, the editor decides it's just not worth paying website hosting charges anymore? Yes I have the original drafts, but not the published contexts. So, if I want to keep them, I have two choices: print the pages out or save the HTML files. Maybe I'll do both, my printer ink is low anyway and this seems like a fitting project to let it run dry.

I've also been worried about all the early writing of mine that's stored on my LiveJournal, an account I haven't accessed in, and have kept completely locked private for about 12 years. It might be too late, I'm not sure, but I want to try to recover as much of that writing as I can. Not that I think all of it is any good, or that it will be fun to read or re-live, but just because it would bother me to know it was lost. Maybe you're reading this and you already know LJ purged all those old accounts and it's gone and you know, you already know as you're reading this, that I'm going to suffer that loss. But right now I don't. And don't spoil me. Once I have a minute to look around through the old passwords, hoping they're still valid, I'll know too.

Archiving is an art form too, but I don't think this is entirely an artistic mission. What am I preventing here by trying to hold on to all of these things? What would I gain by holding on to this much of the past? Would I lose that if I don't have these things preserved? I'm not asking because I have the answers. What I do know is that I'm not starting this project because there's an imminent danger. That wouldn't make sense. In a real crisis, these past selves are the first things we are forced to leave behind. Maybe by retaining them, we can convince ourselves that we feel safe.

This is late, it being about a week into the new year, but here is a guiding card for the month of January:

Prudence. Obviously I'm using my Minchiate Fiorentine, which I explained here, not your usual Tarot deck, just as Prudence is not your usual Tarot trump. The inclusion of Prudence completes the four Cardinal Virtues, joining the traditional Tarot's Strength, Justice, and Temperance. It is a particularly apt card for this post, and for this month. Like January's titular two-faced god Janus, Prudence with her mirror looks both forward and back, within and without. This is the perfect time to make backups and to back up, because that full knowledge of what has already happened will help moving forward.

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