Part 7. Logs, Blogs, and Epilogues

Entry begun on July 26, 8:05 pm

Race to the finish line

Race to the finish line

How and when do you end an open-ended blog?  A professional baseball game ends after nine innings.  A college basketball game ends after forty minutes.  A thoroughbred horse race ends at the finish line.  This blog ends when the time and place are right, which is now.

I’ve had to clarify my own thinking on this issue when consulting with Martha Nell Smith and Marta Werner, co-editors of the Dickinson Electronic Archive 2, and Aaron Dinin, its webmaster.  Since I expect to be completing this blog soon after returning from a trip to Amherst and Arrowhead in early August, I had asked about whether it would be possible—or desirable—to reverse the last-entry-first structure of the blog to a first-entry-first structure once it has been completed.  Doing so would make it easier for readers who would like to experience its narrative in chronological order, as I did when writing it from August of last year into August of this year.  Before addressing that question, Aaron posed a question of his own.   Noting that most blogs do not have an end—they are continuously open-ended—he asked if I might not be violating the ethos of a blog by ending it before I sent it to be posted.

The best answer I could give him is that each of my two blogs—the one I posted last year about my whale ship voyage in 2014 and this one about Dickinson and Moby-Dick I am now finishing in 2015—feels to me like a separate voyage by the same voyager.  I have created the current blog primarily to document the planning and execution of the Dickinson and Moby-Dick exhibitions and related Arts Fest events on which Emma Rose Thompson and I had worked continuously from late August of 2014, when I began this blog, through mid-May of this year.  After taking down the two exhibitions in the middle of May, we have still had quite a bit of follow-up work to do, though at a somewhat more relaxed pace.

Beyond my attempt to keep up with this blog, the follow-up has included returning artworks to student artists and alums, distributing catalogs to artists who had not yet received them, inscribing a few of our remaining catalogs to out-of-town Dickinson or Melville scholars, deciding how many additional copies of each catalog to order from the printer for future use, and working with Numediacy and NKU Media Services to select, edit, and post live videos of individual presentations at the two Moby-Dick symposia in such a way that I could insert them into my respective blog entries.

Emma Rose Thompson inscribing a copy of our Dickinson catalog to Martha Nell Smith

Emma Rose Thompson inscribing a copy of our Dickinson catalog to Martha Nell Smith on July 24

The above activities extended into June as I was still trying to write, revise, and post some of the entries for Moby Fest.  By then I was also preparing for the International Melville Conference in Tokyo at the end of June, which in so many ways was to be an extension of our events here in April.  These activities in June and then into July were still a direct extension of the Dickinson and Moby-Dick initiatives on which Emma Rose and I had been working throughout the course of this blog–and to which my upcoming visit to Amherst and Arrowhead is likely to provide the perfect Epilogue.  After returning from that trip, I expect to be shifting my primary focus to new initiatives whose purpose and destination differ sufficiently from those of my first two blogs to justify the creation of a third (as was the case with Melville in moving from one novel to the next)..

During our discussion of these issues in relation to the Dickinson Electronic Archive, Marta Werner wrote that she was interested “the intertextuality of the three blogs” and in the degree to which they are “both discrete and connected.”  She felt certain that there must be “ways–digitally–to register these connections and disconnections.”  Her suggestion has helped me to envision these blogs as a sequence of eVoyages, a term I may have coined this weekend while writing and posting the entry on eVoyage2 that now precedes Part 1 of this blog (

With regard to that original question I had put to Aaron, about reversing the order of the current blog, he argued effectively that to reverse the order of all the entries might betray the spirit, as well as the mechanics, of how blogs are supposed to work.  I have just begun a discussion about this with Ed Trujillo, the IT consultant to NKU’s English department, and we hope to figure out a way to have it both ways after we are both back on campus in early August.



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