Pulling Back a Curtain You Didn’t Know Was There; or, a Note on the Always-Increasing Difficulty of Finding Anything, Ever

A little over five years ago, in a post titled “Disconnected Archives,” I wrote this (just quoting the text here—not the links embedded in that text):

Earlier this past week […] I noticed that Michael Chabon‘s “about” page was gone, and his home page said something, if I remember right, about how he’s had difficulty typing lately; it made me wonder if, and hope that, he’d noticed Richard Powers’s piece in the NYTBR about speech-recognition software. But now, only a few days later, that note is gone as well, replaced with an image of the Indian Head test card. I’m not sure what all this means; but I suppose that, in the future, whenever I read something on the web that I know I’m going to want to read again sometime, I’ll make sure to print it.

A side note: someone smarter than me, somewhere out there, has probably said something very smart about what blogging—or what we used to mean when we called something “blogging”—has become now, as F——b—— and Tw—— have taken over. (Like the brilliant Paul Ford, I, too, can’t bear to write those words again.)

Actually, now that I think about it, and dig through my jury-rigged archives, here are two smart things that two smart people have written about what blogging has become: Bill Wasik’s “Twitter and the Big Blog Dream,” and Nicholas Carr’s “Blogging: a great pastime for the elderly.” As you can see, I got to the latter from the former; and I probably got to the former after reading And Then There’s This. And I probably got to Bill’s book having known him when we were both interns at Harper’s thirteen years ago—at which point I was already a fan of his work, having lived in Somerville when Bill edited The Weekly Week: Boston’s Only Redundant News Source for News.)

But here’s what I want to tell you about Michael Chabon: somehow, about a year ago—I can’t remember how—I got past the scrim of the current iteration of michaelchabon.com. I found the corner of the curtain and tugged. And I found Chabon’s last blog post again, the one where he says that he’d been having difficulty typing. And following my own advice, I printed it out. (Or rather, printed it out as a PDF, which I saved to my computer. Perhaps this is something that only old people do as well? Perhaps the young are too busy doing something with each other that I have not even heard about yet. I’m still eagerly waiting to hear that teenagers are running away from the suburbs in droves, moving to the pampas, abandoning their digital devices, buying old Victrolas, and starting collectivist chinchilla farms. I guess the unemployed recent college grads are moving to Detroit and selling artisanal handmade watch fobs on the Internet, which is good, and a pretty close approximation.)

I’ll link to the post itself, titled “Signing off“; but I’ll also quote the part that seemed so sad, and still does:

Lately I have been suffering from Repetitive Strain Injury that makes typing a chore and clicking an agony. As I have been spending less time online I have found that I’ve lost interest in the web as a whole, and in my site in particular. I’m tired of having to maintain www.michaelchabon.com, but I hate that it gets stale, and so quickly. Yet I don’t feel comfortable with or have any interest in getting somebody else to do it for me. So I’ve decided, not without regret, to take it down, a little at a time, starting with the posting of my monthly Details column.

What was the other thing I discovered in the last five years? Oh yes! The Broken Link Checker plugin for WordPress. So there goes that problem. Once I find the time to install the plugin.

Books—physical books (or is this a sign of my age as well?)—keep looking better and better.