New adventures. New spaces. New directions for the blog.
I’ve been thinking over what it is that I want from this blog. I’ve had weird fantasies about what this blog could do for me, and in a way I felt like I was guiding it to do one specific thing, when in reality I need it be multipurpose. This is, in many ways, a public diary, and that’s fine, but it wasn’t always this way. My earlier posts were often focused on a particular political topic, like representation, otherness, and marginalization, but when I went to Senegal in the Spring of 2016, I began writing more confessional pieces, and that scared a lot of people. I find that it’s a little strange to read information about a person which stems from a part of their life you had never seen or experienced before. The gullies and valleys of our minds, those sun-starved places that we prefer to keep hidden, are often the greatest wells of inspiration. As someone who has been in many ways forced to be introspective, I have to consider these sites, the depressive ridges, the elephant graveyards, to be worthy sites of exploration in the mental cartography of “self-discovery.”
This blog has been a roadmap for that process, insofar that it forces me to 1) process my thoughts and, more difficulty, my emotions 2) distill them into meaningful, human language 3) adulterate that information for general consumption. Even if it has changed form, I don’t necessarily feel bad about those changes. For one, I’ve been having this weird issue of credibility lately. I feel as if I know only a brief overview of what I’m studying, and have only recently become conscious of larger systems at play. Throughout this blog I have been talking about these systems, and with each post I am able to better see the inner workings and the interconnections, but still I feel somewhat weirded out about the idea of sharing my thoughts on these cultural and political issues considering my mere 21 years of experience and the readings I skimmed for a course. Hopefully that fades, but that is one of the reasons I decided to stop writing about these issues.
A few months ago, my siblings became very interested in reading my work, and that brought us together, but it also forced me to begin thinking of this blog as a way of gaining a following of some sort. I wanted to be an essayist and get my name out there as a black blogger who spits dope shit eloquently online, but I realize…I don’t know how to do that. I tried several things, like following other bloggers in the same (sort of) niche, submitting my thinkpieces to blogging platforms, and the like, but I found that I didn’t have the motivation to do this, nor did I have the direction. I didn’t want to necessarily write to be famous, but I found that the ideas I was generating were a little clickbait-y. Also, I’m not necessarily formatting this blog to be easily passed around the web. I use short, non-descript headings, often don’t attach a photo, and write in ways which is personal and not necessarily applicable to broader audience. I wasn’t using the journalistic skills I had *honed* in high school, but a very intimate, vulnerable voice, and that doesn’t translate well to a general Buzzfeed-like audience. Slowly but surely, I became cognizant of this and began to focus my attention more towards documenting my experiences and have been content with the content I’ve been producing, although I admit I wish I could post more often.
I have decided to switch domain names, mostly out of accessibility. While I think it’s a little rude to think that I chose the name narcissure to be pretentious (for some reason, people think I study French because its pretentious, which is absurd), the name is nevertheless a little hard to say, and a little over-the-top for what I want. Plus, I would like to transition this blog into a general website for all of my work and this blog. The blog will likely be the largest source of content on the site, but it won’t be the only source of content. The site would have my CV, articles, social media, etc. I would even like to use this space to sell my books in the future (be on the lookout for that). I already bought a domain, but have been having problems getting things set up. I hope to completely drop the name narcissure.com and be just xgerardlee.com by the end of the semester at the earliest and end of the summer at the latest.
I have big career aspirations, yet am still somewhat confused about how to realize them. It seems that the relevant information I’m looking for would likely come from someone else who had been in that position, but it seems like I have no role models to look at. Sure, I’d like to be as renowned as Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and conduct necessary research like Saidiya Hartman, be as accessible as bell hooks and be was universally applicable as Michel Foucault, but how exactly will I manage that? It seems so huge a dream that it is actually crushing in its magnitude. I also don’t like the idea of being famous as a validation for my self-worth as a person or a scholar, but I suppose I shouldn’t sit on that dream because it seems a bit vain, but embrace the fact that I have vain dreams and am not necessarily a shit person because of it. I’m not sure. I want to be influential, and I want my work to make an impact, and I want to address major gaps in the ways we approach certain cultural and social phenomena, but I also want to do so in a way which destabilizes the very spaces I hope to integrate. I, for one, think that all kinds of capital, be them social, aesthetic, or economic, inherently produce social hierarchies and inequities, and our notion of democracy is threatened by the understanding that the experiences of some are inherently more important than those of others. As a professor, I will be carving a niche for myself and reaping the benefits of my titles and privileges as an “intellectual.” Yet, the concept of intellectualism and elitism is disturbing to me, for it breeds notions that those who are not “intellectuals” are not intellectual, or that I have more to contribute to a conversation than someone else. Yet, people will read my books and come to my talks because I have this clout.
I don’t think I’ll stop talking about these big, heady topics, but I just want to shift my reasons for writing them. I don’t necessarily think I’ll get on HuffPost from this blog, and that’s fine. If I do, that’d be awesome, but I’m not sure how to do that, and if I find out, I don’t want to change the reason why I write things. I don’t have a blog so people can acknowledge my intelligence and my ability to write. I have a blog to catalog and journal my life experiences and to share my life with people who I may not be able to interact with in person.
Also I designed this sick layout myself. I know I change the layout of this site like, every two weeks, but I got tired of the inflexible WordPress templates I was using and decided to sit down and design a template from scratch. It came out pretty good, although it is a little image-heavy and may not load quickly. I’ll try to optimize it over the next few days, but as of now, this shall be the default style for *hopefully* a few months. I change things a lot in my life. I change the arrangement of my room every few months because things get stale, the energies stop flowing and all that.
Photo: This picture is from the frontispiece of The Negro Family in the United States by E. Franklin Frazier. The artist is uncredited.