if at first you don't succeed...essay again


I am still pondering a list of essay genres: "the aphoristic essay, the collaborative essay, the dramatic or dialogic essay, the polyphonic essay, the long poem as essay, the meditative essay, the personal essay as witness, the visual essay."  And I came across a review in the TLS of a book of essays edited by Adam Phillips (In Writing: Essays on Literature). You know when you're thinking about something, other related ideas pop up to complement your thinking?  So with the Phillips book.  He cites the 19th century American essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) commenting on the essay for its "embrace of digression, meander and experiment." (I have never used meander as a noun.)  Or is that an excuse for evasiveness?

Phillips says of his own writing, "I leave lots of stuff in that I don't know what I think about it" and elsewhere, "you can't write differently, even if you want to."  Not sure I approve or agree with either of those statements, especially the former as it is very bad grammar and doesn't make sense. .  I may have to look up Adam Phillips.  Not now.

I digress, as essays do, apparently with immunity. Women don't, can't, not with immunity.  I will be accused of fuzzy thinking. 

meander verb1 the river meandered gently: zigzag, wind, twist, turn, curve, curl, bend, snake.   2 we meandered along the path: stroll, saunter, amble, wander, ramble, drift,maunder; informal mosey, tootle, toodle. [toodle?!  NO noun.

Okay,  the collaborative essay is a joint effort whereby two people put their dual brain power into the production of one piece of copy and the dialogic essay, is just that - a dialogue.   I guess there Socratic dialogue is the best example and ghee most instructive one.  But polyphonic?  I don't do multi-media. Don't even go there. 

Now the long poem as an essay: I have done that. I wrote the introduction to my book of poetry inspired by women's diaries (The Better Half: Women'sVoices,  1995) as a poem, with quite an intricate metric pattern, one frequently used by W.H.Auden. That was fun. 

I guess that most popular writers write the "personal essay, as a witness". I would call that a familiar essay, the kind that used to appear in domestic magazines.  Does anyone remember Jean Kerr? ( 1922-2003).  The wife of the Broadway critic, Walter Kerr,  wiith six children, she was the patron saint of the suburban housewives of North America, like me. Her best-selling collection, Pleas Don't Eat the Daisies, was made into a movie, as was her hit stage comedy, Mary, Mary, to name her best-known successes that might ring a bell for you. Or maybe not.  

That brings us to the visual essay. I assume this would be another multi-media effort, using visual aids to present or augment the written argument.   I think that if one is not careful, the finished product might end up looking like a catalogue.  Only now it's called a graphic - essay or novel.  I can't read them myself. I am a very fast reader and the balloons and images distract my eyes too much so that I can't focus clearly.  

Now, what would you call a blog:  A blog is a log, of course.

log   I will ignore definitions 1 and 3 and offer you the original definition of a blog: 2 (also logbook) an official record of events during the voyage of a ship or aircraft: a ship's log.• a regular or systematic record of incidents or observations: keep a detailed log of your activities.

Writers began to record incidents or observations on their websites and they called the record a web blog, that became a blog. . You know all this, but I have to  tie up the loose end.

There, I'm finished, and just in time. I have 2% power left. Anon,anon.