Earlier this spring, I was struck by the words of a member of the band Gomez. He was referring to the frequent question as to why, more than ten years into the band’s career, it doesn’t make music that sounds just like the songs on the very first album.
Paraphrasing, he said: “Because you can’t forget what you’ve learned.”
Of course, left unspoken is the assumption that something actually has been learned, but in the case of Gomez, one need only listen to the various recordings to chart the arc of the progression.
Each exciting, breaking, youthful rock star appears on the scene determined to reinvent the wheel, and then, barring an early death by misadventure, he grows up and starts learning how to play his instrument.
Last evening, after returning from the ballpark, I spent a few minutes browsing the NAC archives, and I had much the same reaction. It will be five years this fall since I began writing this blog, and clearly, in the beginning, I had precious little clue as to how things actually work in a place like New Albany. There was a considerable learning curve, and there remains a considerable learning curve. It’s daunting, but I relish the fact that there are so many things I don’t know, because learning them is a constantly evolving process that eventually leads to betterment — and maybe even progress.
Just as surely, there’ll always be newcomers to any game, and they’ll travel the same road with respect to knowledge and the learning curve.
More power to them, and good luck. The only unsolicited advice I can offer is that the ability to listen is a useful, underrated skill. It helps cut the time required of the learning curve, and unless you’re one of those people who learned everything in kindergarten, it will lead to you changing your mind.
I’d say that half of what I thought I knew coming in has been discarded or altered along the way. That’s the way it works, and sometimes, unbelievably to some newbies, the ones who’ve already fought the battles and figured them out can be helpful in the pursuit.
Aside from that, perhaps the newbies would benefit from the knowledge that it’s all political.
Five years on, I have to admit that it’s a vicarious thrill to have become a target, and to see that we’ve done your job so well that certain obstructionist elements among those in perpetual disagreement are structuring their platforms using the language we taught them. They’ll be organizing forthcoming political campaigns not “for” strategies, but “against” this blog and its contributors, and that’s a high compliment, indeed.
It’s also why, in the end, NAC’s reality-based community is so important.
Standing in the open makes one into an easy target, but it also provides bountiful credibility that the anonymous bile spewers will never possess. Real people with names and faces take the hits, but we also get the props when we’re right, and that sort of ownership simply isn’t transferable to that dude hidden behind yonder bush.
The masked obstructionists presumably will have to be themselves when registering to represent their political party the next time around. But how will they secure ownership of their self-congratulatory, pseudonymous brilliance?
Will they embrace their ongoing anonymity and campaign in leftover Rally’s bags?
Or, will they be forced to learn by conceding that voters choose names, not pseudonyms, and follow by wading waist-deep into the hoary tradition of generating yard signs bearing — GASP — their own names?
It could be that they’re just being used as stalking horses by the party hierarchy, to be discarded for the same good old boys on the ballot when the election draws nearer.
Predictably, at least until “anonymous” appears on the ballot, they’ll draft back into reality. When the anonymity they now bizarrely posit as the very source of the force and legitimacy of their ideas is stripped away owing to the immutable requirements of an election they plainly aim to contest, do the ideas themselves become powerless because they’re now to be associated with a face and a name?
If so, doesn’t that tell us a bit about their funadmental fear of being known?
“I have to keep wearing this mask, because if they know who I am, they’ll never pay attention to my ideas.”
After all, voters are not entirely stupid, are they?
According to the New Albany Syndrome, it is eternally fashionable to hide, but NAC will continue to be a place where real people write, learn and discuss issues. I’m serene, because I fully trust the verdict of posterity, and the quality of the work we’ve done here speaks for itself without the qualification of pseudonyms.
My goal has been to write the history of New Albany during my time of involvement in it, and to agitate for meaningful change while doing so. Along the way, I like it that we know each other’s names.
Makes it feel like a real neighborhood to me.