I don’t often get to watch live football on the telly, so Liverpool vs Utrecht tonight should be a rare treat. It is tedious beyond words. So, I glanced at my desk and found Dr Samuel Johnson‘s Preface to the Dictionary staring at me invitingly.
Before you think I’m being clever here, I have to admit that it was passed on to me by the Canon Theologian of Southwark Cathedral who did her doctorate on Johnson and did an intriguing address about him (and ‘translation’) recently.
In paragraph 3 Johnson says (miserably):
When I took the first survey of my undertaking, I found our speech copious without order, and energetick without rules; wherever I turned my view, there was perplexity to be disentangled, and confusion to be regulated; choice was to be made out of boundless variety, without any established principle of selection; adulterations were to be detected, without a settled test of purity; and modes of expression to be rejected or received, without the suffrages of any writers of classical reputation or acknowledged authority.
Good grief, I thought. He could have been writing about the blogosphere. It’s a jungle of ideas out there and people express themselves on a myriad of themes in a myriad of ways. There are few rules and loads of unprincipled adulterations.
Iain Dale has decided to call it a day for now. I’m not sure he just didn’t get bored with it – the relentless need to write and keep it up to the minute. I understand the feeling. But, I think the blogosphere offers fantastic scope for expression, debate, learning, trying ideas, listening to people we don’t usually get to meet, and so on.
Anyway, to stop doing it simply abandons the space to the screamers and shouters. I have a funny sense that Dr Johnson would have blogged – if only to bring some order to the huge explosion of words in use. Maybe ‘copious without order’ needs to grow into ‘concise with order’. Maybe.