I got my MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, which both does and doesn’t seem on brand for me. I wasn’t an art school kind of person but I’ve always been a believer in making an education from what’s available in a place, which sucks because I’ve gone on to give that advice only to have it not go anywhere near as well for the recipients of said advice. I’ve never said anything similar about the second Master’s, mind you. The functional one. My undergrad in history and my MFA are far from functional.
I may be confusing pragmatic and functional. I’m real tired. But with that exhaustion has come some clarity as far as my latest boondoggle with the Stop Button move. I forgot to change over this eighteen square pixel transparent PNG file I use on the movie ratings to intent them a little and used a WordPress plugin to do a bulk change. On what I thought was 3,000 posts. Turned out it did something to every post on the site… it eighty-sixed the paragraph tags. Not the ones with additional code, just the standard <p> and </p> tags. It erased them, which is something WordPress started doing a long time ago now (long time ago in Internet time).
It felt really familiar too. Not just screwing something up with a bulk change and not having a backup—make a backup y’all, even if you can—like I could, undo it with yet another bulk import of all the Stop Button, Comics Fondle, Visual Reflux, and Summing Up posts. I’m even more exhausted after typing that sentence. I think I did this same thing before changing something else and I think I went through however many posts and added in the paragraph tags again. But you know what… no one is going to notice. No one reading is going to experience any difference. You know why, because WordPress adds in the paragraph tags when rendering the posts. So it’s a fuck up and I should’ve made a backup and that find and replace plugin is far more destructive than convenient, but it’s also not a particularly… actually, no, it’s not even a visible fuck up. It’s something dumb I did and I should’ve known better, but the resulting material is no different.
The experience for the reader isn’t different at all, which brings it all back to the art school and this instructor—an eighties artist of solid renown and a smart guy—talking about how he got into it with another artist about artifice and when it matters. Kind of like the Val Kilmer Tombstone thing about the original director wanting them all to wear period accurate costumes and not modern fabrics. The camera couldn’t tell the difference. The first director got fired, they got to wear modern fabrics and be more comfortable and Tombstone stank to high heaven. So maybe a bad example. But it’s not worth sweating paragraph tags, not when the whole point of the blog is the blogging. The -ing of it. The generative exercise.
I mean, back up your work. Even if you can recreate it without backing up, back it up. But don’t forget what you’re making.
Sadly, no accompanying cat pictures because I need to go to bed. I also need to decide if I’m going to re-add those paragraph tags as I gradually clean up the old posts.
I always said when I turned forty I was going to dump the novels online. Since turning forty and now one and forty, I haven’t given it any serious thought. I can’t even imagine how much I’d fret over that shit though. The funny thing about the paragraph tags going and the threat of the paragraphs going? I never wrote my fiction in paragraphs. I mean, I initially did but then I got away from it in MFA school; I added all the paragraph breaks later, in one of the edits. I did something similar with blogging at the beginning…
It seems kind of disingenuous to be so worried about paragraph tags when I was so willing to make a lack of paragraphs a style hill. Of course, I don’t think about style hills anymore, which is kind of too bad. But it’s 2019 and there are multiple reasons not to worry about style hills anymore, but damn if they didn’t used to be a thing.
The aughts had a lot of pointless things, things so pointless in hindsight it’s very hard to imagine ever assigning them importance. Previous decades obviously had the same problem, often with greater intensity, but by the aughts we should’ve known better and instead we kept investing in shitty ideas because the idea of them not working out was scary.
And guess what… they didn’t work out.
Wow. There’s an upper. I could use a cat picture right now.