December 2012

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December 10, 2012

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Dear Ruchira,

What a fittingly graceful endnote you have struck here. I understand your reasons for bringing a very successful and interesting run to an end and commend you for doing so definitively instead of lingering on beyond usefulness. Thanks for running AB as long as you did and for collecting a remarkably fascinating number of contributors. I have gotten to know several people through AB and am happy to be one of those who has met you face-to-face for a cup of tea (or was it a beer?) and hope we'll do that again sooner rather than later.

Best wishes,

Abbas

Ruchira, you created a wonder with Accidental Blogger, like one of those meeting places in Star Trek where beings from far galaxies relax together for a few precious hours before resuming their warp speed journeys elsewhere. There is so much of pleasure and significance that happened here, since 2005, there are so many highlights. The quality of the writing has been consistently excellent, and I have had the honor of seeing how A.B. writers developed their craft and their voices. Being in conversation with these writers is something to treasure always. I will truly feel the loss of that marvelous ease of access, that always friendly destination. I have learned so much being an A.B. reader, as everyone here has pioneered that 21st century form, the virtual friendship. Who but you, whom I am fortunate to count among my beloved friends on any plane, could have been the guiding spirit behind all that? You were inspired to begin it, and I trust that your inspiration to end it is just as sure.

The era of the small general interest blog may have fled -- all eras do -- but A.B. was one of its most original voices, and will now be one of its signal artifacts. I would like to join you at that lovely table in the painting, and to find my way to other tables in other places, to re-encounter Anna, Sujatha, Dean, Joe, Prasad, Jesse, Norman, Cyrus, Omar and John and Sukrita. But never together again, and never here. I have read a definition of happiness that seems pertinent -- to be lucky AND to know it. I believe that's the kind of happiness everyone at the big Accidental Blogger table felt, and you have my heartfelt gratitude for providing it.

John: I don't know why you couldn't access the comments section. I am copying the relevant message below.

Ruchira, I was unable to leave this comment at your farewell message so I'm putting it here. When I saw that title of your yet unpublished post I had a strong suspicion what was about to happen. Actually you are only following a technological sea change that has been going on for some time and I, for one, completely understand. My earlier comment reflecting on the many menu items I once served but are now forgotten turns out to have been something of a prologue to this ending. This now makes three places on the Web that I have carved into a tree or two. I sometimes fantasize that at some distant time curiosity may drive one of my heirs in future generations to make a forensic trip into the past, chasing the rabbit holes found by search engines. Heck, I can already imagine an app for that! I did that with genealogy during my high school days and it was great fun. (I even discovered to their surprise that my parents were fourth cousins who shared a common fourth great-grandmother. That's not a problem since we all have 64 great-great-great-great grandparents and very few of us even know who they all were.) But I digress...

Many thanks for your kind invitation and what has turned out to be a very good visit. Thanks to Facebook and the 3Quarks community we will continue to be in touch. This is a good place for that great line at the end of Casablanca -- I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

http://youtu.be/5kiNJcDG4E0

Dear Ruchira,
Even though I didn't have the time to be a frequent visitor or contributor to your blog, it has been such a reassuring and dynamic presence to visit as and when I could or whenever I felt like getting stimulated in a variety of fields...books, social issues, political and, even general and intelligent chit chat. It is sad that there is going to be a closure to it. But I suppose all good things, as they say, do end and it is better to face it in a graceful fashion. Lets celebrate the fact that it has helped create a beautiful community of people who interacted so vibrantly! Not a single instance of embitterment even though there has been a healthy atmosphere of free disagreements and even intellectual contestation moving into a zone of understanding and respecting "difference". Three cheers!
We'll be in touch on Facebook!
Sukrita

Many thanks for having provided much food for thought and reflection on diverse topics over the years. Your blog brought us into contact on new ideas and old memories, and made me aware of many events around the world that would have escaped my attention otherwise.

In the words of an Irish sage

May the space between us be blessed with peace and joy and
May the nourishment of the earth be yours.
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours.

(John O'Donohue)

Best wishes to you and all your fellow bloggers!

rajarshi

all good things must end :-)

Ruchira,

I actually "met" you through Amardeep's blog, and you pointed me in this direction for which I always will be thankful. Shall miss your incisive posts here. Thank you so much for increasing our awareness and giving us the opportunity to commiserate. I will miss AB, but there is Facebook, still.

All the best, always :-)
Naveeda

I'm sorry to read of the end of Accidental Blogger. I can well understand the mix of emotions you experienced in making the decision to close down the site as your description mirrors my own thinking when I decided to end Carnival of the Liberals, and then my own blog, Neural Gourmet.

I don't think the era of personal, general-interest blogs is entirely over. I just think the changes wrought by social media, the shift from big to small screens, and declining attention spans means that it's much harder to gain wide readership. Plus there's a different set of skills and requirements required to promote blogs now, which may or may not, be tolerable to any given person.

I hope you don't give up writing for an online audience entirely, but if you never blog again, at least I'm lucky enough to know you on Facebook.

Best wishes in everything you do,
-- L.

Hi Ruchira,

This is a very elegant way to announce the end of an era. Through the years I have greatly enjoyed engaging with you in various conversations, and have learnt a good deal from our conversations. (I am also grateful to you for introducing me to Sukrita, whose scholarship I have also benefited from.)

I agree with many of the things you say about the change in the general interest in blogs and blogging, though I for one am still somewhat attached to my own blog. I still feel that space is needed for longer-form commentary and discussion that we had for a time in the blogosphere. I myself have by now embraced Facebook and (to a lesser extent) Twitter, but the quality of debate on such forums remains kind of poor, with many people too afraid of stepping on others' toes to actually take a firm stand on controversial issues. The best bet seems to be to use FB and Twitter for "throwaway" comments and links, but keep one's own blog for those "I really have something urgent to say, goddamnit" moments.

But then of course one has to "self-promote" by announcing that in social media -- not as much fun as simply writing and letting your readers find you without being prompted.

In any case, let's stay in touch going forward, yes? I still hope to meet you and your family in person sometime.

Amardeep

Ruchira,
AB was one of the first blogs I engaged with and it was a key inspiration to start my own blog. Some really good discussion has happened here. I understand your reasons for shutting it down though this is still a sad event. Perhaps now you will have more time to enliven 3QD (which I discovered through you) with your commentary!

So today turns out to be a day of extreme finitude for me. I decided just a few days ago to separate from an organization on whose board of trustees I've served for over four years. Tonight's meeting will be my last. And now this. I have a hard time with such separations, and I deal with them by opting for the slow death, the uncertainty cultivated in denial that compels me to leave the boxes upon boxes of journals I will likely never, ever read again stacked up in the dining room of the house into which we've just moved, rather than store or, better, give them away. (Anybody interested in 20-year runs of a couple oddball law journals?) I'd like to maintain the possibility, even in the most remote, hypothetical sense, of returning to them at my leisure. On the upside, this is the librarian's ethos of "just in case..."; on the down, it's the hoarder's compulsion.

The demise of A.B. is distinct, however. For one thing, it will likely always be "there," virtually accessible, exactly as it has been in life. The only signs of its waning will be the increasing remoteness of the date of the last post and the time stamp of the final comment. For another, inasmuch as A.B. has been driven by interpersonal connections among its matriarch, Ruchira, the authors, and the commenting readers, these connections were always etiolated versions of their meat-space counterparts. I have met in person only Andrew and Anna, a privilege for which I'm grateful. I imagine one day either having business to attend in Houston or there being a fortuitous coincidence of itineraries in the Los Angeles area that would facilitate a face-to-face meeting with Ruchira. But oddly, sometimes the purely virtual and verbal (sometimes visual) aspect of A.B., both the published posts with their comment threads and the below-the-radar email communications among a combination of authors, intensifies the discussions, which partake of an ideal quality. I suppose this is akin to the exhilaration afforded by even less verbose social media, but I prefer to credit the value of words, ideas, and the enthusiasms they convey.

The comments here are really good, sincere tributes. Yes, thank you, Ruchira for spawning and nurturing this community.

It was a bit of a shock that the end came, even though I knew it was going to happen. An entity in cyberspace may not qualify as human, but A.B. came to represent some qualities of that to me, over the years. It has been a great privilege to be on board since Ruchira invited me to blog in 2006.
"The old order changeth, yielding place to new..." in the words of Tennyson's 'The Passing of Arthur'. And maudlin as it may sound, I feel rather like Sir Bedivere at the end.
"Long stood Sir Bedivere
Revolving many memories, till the hull
Look’d one black dot against the verge of dawn,
And on the mere the wailing died away."

Where will I go when the urge comes upon me to hold forth on recent events (like the curious confluences between the Irish abortion law death and the recent Kate hoax-triggered suicide)- but then, those thoughts about blogging just flitted across my mind and vanished. There was no time or deep inclination to set it down in a blog post.

Goodbye A.B. ( though not you, Ruchira, Dean, Anna, and the rest- I hope to keep in touch through FB, where I will be forced into more activity now that A.B. is archived.)


Sujatha and Dean, I share your feelings, and I have been merely a reader and commenter. Ouch! OUCH!! Where will I go...?

Ruchira, Accidental Blogger was also one of the first blogs I ever looked at, when the idea was still brand new to me. Thanks for all your contributions in internet-space. And thanks for having so generously reviewed my novel here. On to other things now... will be seeing you on FB and 3QD.

Ruchira and everyone here at AB:

I am really having trouble trying to say something at the close of AB. All of this, and all of you have meant something very special to me. Perhaps it is because of my sister's recent passing that I see the end of AB in the light of the cycle of life, death, renewal, and rebirth. Of all the names listed in Ruchira's post and in these comments, not one voice will cease with the closing of AB. There will be reincarnations of writing talents in one form or another, and better they will be for the worthy lives they led at AB.

Ruchira, I just don't have words. But you had something for me - one of my favorites among your paintings. It was that beautiful young woman with the little bit of cobalt blue in the background.

Love to everyone.

Ruchira, I am sorry that you are closing down the A.B. I was an avid reader though infrequent with comments online. I think we ended up discussing the posts during our long phone conversations. I am confident that you will soon discover yet another creative avenue. Any way I now look forward to more of face to face 'addas' with you. Inshallah!

It was always a pleasure to come over and sit awhile. Your blogging will be missed. I do concur that it seems harder for general interest kind of blogs to thrive given social media. At times, it is easier to share a link and "zap" a couple of lines of comment on Facebook or even less on Twitter, but then the depth is missing. Thank you for the great writing, the good thinking, and the space for us to come and learn and think and ponder and discuss. Hope I will see you around on FB or other places, and I wish you the best as you take new directions.

Sincerely,

Dear Friend, Neighbor and fellow reader,

Thanks for inviting me to your virtual, intellectual salon. Although late to the party, I have enjoyed your writing and insights and hope to catch up by going back to the beginning. I can peek in through the digital windows and see how your friendships through writing have evolved. Your farewell blog post reminds me of a faculty seminar that I have been participating in this semester (Fall 2012). It is a national group and I am part of a local class (New Media Seminar)at HCC where I am on Faculty. The focus of the seminar and its many readings has been on the evolving and emerging communication technologies, from the 1940's (Vannevar Bush)to the present (Janet Murray and Clay Shirky). The whole semester dovetailed nicely at your Blog's last post! Your blog is an excellent example of using digital technology to create! Many thinkers in the digital world feel that humans are designed to create and to share what we create...thereby allowing others to expand, improve and take ideas to new levels. The present technologies certain provide a means and opportunity to do that.

Like your other friends, I am sure that you will find an exciting new medium to explore...and share. I look forward to it!

Cathy M

P.S. Thank you for sharing the view of the lovely, curious young lady enjoying her tea with a look that invites us to sit and join her for a lively discussion.

It had to happen some time! Thanks everyone, for all the gracious comments on the final A.B. post. I really appreciate it.

The thought of ending the blog was a wrenching experience for a while. But once I decided to go ahead with it, it was a remarkably easy process. I will of course continue to miss the blog for a long time to come. Naturally, and I am sure it showed, I have enormous affection for A.B. But it was the right thing to do. Nothing much was going on here due largely to my own inaction and lethargy. I saw no point in keeping it open for infrequent postings that not many people were reading.

I will probably go back and read the blog from time to time. On the other hand as Dean mentioned, it may never be re-visited like the issues of old journals and magazines we sometimes hoard because we can't part with them. Who knows? Closing the blog was almost like ending a once vibrant but now floundering relationship - painful but I saw no point in sticking around hoping for things to get better. The old liberal blogging network of links, cross links and the constant hum of conversations that I experienced roughly during the period of 2004 - 2009 is mostly gone. The chatter has moved elsewhere even though it consists mostly of casual throwaway lines and not the kind of back and forth, lengthy engagement we frequently participated in on blogs. Blogs now have to be promoted on social media as Amardeep noted. I just wasn't enjoying it very much.

I may consider going back to writing (on a blog or elsewhere) again some day but it will have to be somewhere else in some other more focused form. We'll see.

A bit more about the self portrait. Some people who see it sometimes ask why I am alone and if I was waiting for someone to join me or if someone had just left. I guess you can look at the painting either way. In this case, I meant to convey the second version - the end of a party.

I'm glad you're leaving the blog archives up. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to contribute to the blog in the last few years (nor, if I'm being honest, the desire; it's like the elves going west at the end of Tolkien's books: my time as a blogger, I think, has passed). But it will absolutely be fun at some point to go through the archives and look back at some of our shared blogging past.

It was a good blog, and a fun blog, and we talked about politics and books and all sorts of other things. I am thankful to have gotten to know several of my co-bloggers (at least electronically), and I particularly enjoyed posts (by myself and others) which led to back-and-forth conversation with co-bloggers and/or readers about the topics at hand.

Ruchira, thanks for being an excellent blog host/leader!

Dear Ruchira,

I enjoyed reading your thoughtful commentary on various topics more than a decade ago, as forwarded messages to 'Maina' from 'Mummy' (future book title?), before we had ever communicated and long before the birth of Accidental Blogger. I enjoyed reading the same in the comments section of the defunct Dissemination blog. And I enjoy that commentary, albeit in truncated format, on facebook. You entered the blogosphere with pluck and grace and are exiting it with the same. I am confident that neither you nor any of the other AB contributors (even derelict contributors like Joe or me) will be silenced by a transition to new formats, and so look forward to encountering your future contributions to the best that has been thought and said, whether in ink or in counted electronic characters or in oil paints or in chocolate sauce.

Thank you for all the energy and substance you contributed to this endeavor, and for welcoming us in, as both authors and readers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snihdG1rE0Y

Ruchira, I'm sure that you will be missed by all of your readers...I too am glad that the archives will remain for our viewing. Luckily, for a group of us, we still will be entertained and educated by your contributions during our book club evenings. You are a wonderful story teller, and the parts of your life that you have shared with us are just fascinating. You are truly a treasure! Jan

Dear Mashi,
I am surprised to hear that AB is coming to an end! I visited the blog once in a while and always enjoyed your writing style and the topics you chose to write about. I hope you find another medium to express your thoughts and writing, which are always a pleasure to read. Thanks for inspiring me to read, think and opine :-D. Love, Saba

Sorry to say so long to A.B. It's been a hoot to read and occasionally write for over the years. Best of luck with your next writing projects -- there will be such projects, right? And I hope we can meet in "meatspace" some time.

Sorry to hear this, Ruchira. I hope I can still read your occasional comments in 3qd.

I have been continually impressed with both the posts and commentary that have appeared here over the years--the rigor, elegance, and catholicity brought to bear on such a wide range of subjects. I'm sorry that the blog has to end and regret that I did not visit more often, but am grateful for the time I did spend here with you and your fellow contributors.

What a beautiful, graceful and wistful post; everything that a summation should be and more.

I wish you all the very best that life has to offer and congratulations on the wonderful journey that AB has made.


Zach

It was fun while it lasted, and brings a smile to the face in retrospect. Such ends are good ones I think, better than slowly dragged out decays. And a beautiful "summing up" post from Ruchira. It's been great to get to know so many of you electronically.

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