Monday, June 14, 2021

Fifteenth Anniversary (Crystal)

I started this blog on the 14th of June, 2006, so this is the fifteenth anniversary of The Imaginary Museum. Ten years ago I put up a post which listed five major web projects I'd undertaken in the first five years of the blog's existence, and five years ago I published a follow-up, with five more projects undertaken between 2011 and 2016.

The statistics on the blog are interesting. It took till December 2018 for it to break the "Million-hit Barrier", and another two years after that to reap another quarter million hits, so I guess I must be averaging a fairly consistent 125,000 per year (10,400 per month / 2,400 per week / 340 per day). I only have 100-odd followers, so there must be a pretty consistent number of returns on online searches to build up that amount of traffic.

Pageviews (6/12/2018)

Comments are way down from what they used to be. I don't take that too personally, as that seems to be the case for most blogs nowadays - certainly ones that include moderation. I get a large number of comments from spammers pretending to be successful members of the Illuminati every since I put up a mildly sarcastic post on the subject a few years ago now ("Worried about the Illuminati?"). You'd think that the date it was posted - April 1, 2016 - would offer some clue to its nature, but apparently not.

My web-based endeavours do seem to have slowed down a bit, but there are still some reasonably substantial ones to list below. Here they are, then, in (rough) chronological order:


  1. (December 2, 2016- ) Jack Ross: Showcase.

  2. This ... is meant more as a vitrine than a catalogue: the closest simulacrum I can achieve online to my own personal cabinet of curiosities.
    - Jack Ross. "Site-map" (2016)
    For a long time now I've maintained a large, quite complex site called Works and Days as a combination curriculum vitae / comprehensive list of publications (and reviews of same). Even I find it a bit difficult to navigate at times, though, so I decided to make a more streamlined showcase site where I could display my major publications in a convenient, easy-to-reference style.

    The idea is to maintain both sites in tandem: to put everything of interest on the first site, and to select only those few details likely to concern others on the second. It's a bit difficult to gauge the success of the endeavour so far, but I do feel the medley of covers and titles combine to make an attractive design.


  3. (September 19, 2017- ) Paper Table.

  4. A few years ago I participated in a fairly haphazard and poorly organised book fair ... The book table that I was helping out at was decorated with a selection of paper models I had made, designed to catch people’s attention, make our table seem more welcoming, and hopefully generate a few sales as a result ...
    At a certain point in the day, a little girl approached us. She was about eight years old and she asked if she could buy the paper table from our display. She held out $15.00 to pay for it. Of course, I gladly gave her the table for free, and for some time afterwards I glimpsed her walking around the large room, the paper table carefully balanced on the palm of her hand, staring at it with an expression of utter delight.
    - Bronwyn Lloyd. "Mission Statement" (2017)
    Having published a number of books through our Arts-oriented small publisher Pania Press, Bronwyn Lloyd and I decided to move into fiction publishing with this new endeavour. Specifically, we hoped to put out a series of novellas which could contribute to the richness of this form in New Zealand writing.

    Unfortunately the costs and organisation involved proved more than anticipated, and we were forced to suspend the series after the first three volumes had appeared. It was a nice idea while it lasted, though, and we may well return to it at some point in the future if the commercial balance of such initiatives tips our way again.

    The three books that did appear were as follows:


  5. (September 20, 2017-March 2019) Poetry NZ Review: Local Poetry Books in Review.

  6. As in the print edition of the magazine, there are a lot of opinions on display in the Poetry New Zealand Review. Some of them the editors may happen to agree with, others not. A well-argued point merits its own space, however, and we see our function on this site more as curators than as advocates of particular views.
    - Jack Ross. "Guiding Principles" (2017)
    I had hoped to make this a more substantial site, featuring year-round reviews of poetry books which weren't able to be fitted in the annual volumes of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook. However, my interest in the project began to wane after I decided to give up the managing editorship of the magazine after six years and six issues (five edited by me directly, one edited by Dr Jo Emeney).

    It's a shame, as I think it could have been a useful resource for recording the immense stream of published poetry - much of it of high quality - which appears each year in New Zealand from small presses as well as established publishers. Now that Poetry New Zealand has moved to Waikato under Tracey Slaughter's editorship, I feel that I might just leave the site as it is for the present. Who knows? The time may come to revive it in one form or another.


  7. (October, 2019) The Lonesome Death of Brigid Furey. Ka Mate Ka Ora 17: 62-79.

  8. It is some years now since I tried to contact Bridget Furey, the elusive and enigmatic poet whom Jack Ross discusses in his beguilingly performative essay ‘The Lonesome Death of Bridget Furey or: Pessoa Down Under.’ The nearest I got, when I wrote to the only and clearly out-of-date address I had, was to reach Bridget’s older, doting sister, Maud (Maudlin) Furey. Maud replied to me by snail mail (as I had written to Bridget). She explained that her brilliant, but implicitly erratic, sister had long since done with poetry. And the next sentence hinted that she might have long since done with life itself, too. But Maud did not elaborate or unpick her dark hints. All she added was: “I wish she hadn’t!” Then Maud had copied out by hand into the letter a text message, which she said was the last communication she had received, quite a while ago now, from her sister, and that she feared that would be the final: “Out on the margins the oddballs bounce the highest.” And that was all. Except for a PS added in tiny letters (Maud’s hand-writing was very neat and small) beneath her signature: “My sister overdosed on life – I wish I had.”
    Bridget Furey’s characteristically enigmatic text comes into sharp and meaningful focus when applied to this issue of Ka Mate Ka Ora. This is an issue of high-bouncing oddballs ...
    - Murray Edmond, "Editorial Notes: Out on the Margins the Oddballs Bounce Highest." Ka Mate Ka Ora 17 (October 2019)
    This article - in full: "The Lonesome Death of Bridget Furey, Or: Pessoa Down Under,” & (ed.) ‘The Complete Poetical Works of Bridget Furey (1966-c.1997)'" - started off as a paper on the influence of Portuguese Modernist poet Fernando Pessoa on a number of Antipodean writers, which I delivered in mid-2018 at the 15th International Conference on the Short Story in English in Lisbon, Portugal.

    I had originally intended to write it up for the Conference Proceedings, but the editors felt (not unreasonably) that it was more focussed on poetry than short fiction. I therefore rewrote it substantially for our local New Zealand Journal of Poetry and Poetics, Ka Mate Ka Ora, based at my old alma mater the University of Auckland.


  9. (January 1, 2018 - September 4, 2020) NZSF: The Psychogeography of New Zealand Speculative Fiction.

  10. George Bernard Shaw and E. M. Forster were great admirers of the later Samuel Butler, who brought a new tone into Victorian literature and began a long tradition of New Zealand utopian/dystopian literature that would culminate in works by Jack Ross, William Direen, Alan Marshall and Scott Hamilton.
    - "Samuel Butler (novelist)." Wikipedia (accessed 17 August 2020)
    I originally planned to collect all the various articles and reviews I've written about NZSF between covers as a rather discursive history of the topic, but the publishers I submitted it to seemed to feel that it fell between two stools: two nerdy to appeal to "general readers" (whoever they may be), and too anecdotal and personal to please an Academic public.

    However, I think they might have done me a favour, as I feel far more comfortable with this online version of the project. It has the great virtue of being able to be expanded and revised continuously, and it's also far more colourful and image-rich than anything short of a coffee-table book would have allowed me to be.

So what does the future hold for this blog - and for the bloggy empire to which it constitutes the gateway (38 at last count)? Who can truly say? These are deep waters, Watson.

More of the same, no doubt, but perhaps it might be a good idea to learn to expend my energy in ways which make more sense to the Academic authorities presiding over my professional development: PBRF [Performance-Based Research Funding, for those of you lucky enough not to be in the know], for instance ...

Nah, just kidding.

Geoff Murphy, dir. The Quiet Earth (1985)


Richard said...

Hi Jack. I think it is good you keep this Blog as I feel I can go from FB e.g. and see insights and new books, writers I had not heard of or thought about. I do a lot of reading and not taking and my own collection is less systematically presented. I do have plans for my own Blog but things keep getting in the way. I needed recently certain photographs to "fulfil" what I wanted to do. Also there are the day to day things. But I work slowly. Pictures slow me down.

Your site has had some fascinating things. I have taken up reading many of the writers you recommended and read carefully your analyses where it applicable to what I am interested at the time.

But I think that in principle and in general Blogs have a good function. I decided to go through various of my own books from Science to Philosophy etc (at the moment history, psychology, philosophy, some books of poetry and other topics I am reading some more than others -- one for example is Wittgenstein, another Baudrillard, and Rousseau and others as well as I am reading or partly re-reading Musil's 'The Man Without Qualities' (which I knew about when you blogged about it -- I read it with an essay by Kermode to accompany it to some extent). But I recall the Blog you did on it. Rousseau I want to get under my belt as he is an important if flawed early Modernist etc and Derrida et al use him (respectfully) as a kind of punching bag! I'm also reading Bacon's essays and read W's Tractatus and now the PIs and also reading about Stein -- a book of essays -- also some science books etc.

Brian Walpert was the guest reader at the Thirsty Dog last Tuesday and he read some fascinating poems. He takes some interest in science or like me science ideas etc (Cantor on infinity etc). I didn't know he was the guest and it was good as he and some of his pupils read some very interesting works. So I bought a book by him.

But I mention you a lot and your observations on lit. where it is relevant.

You have done a massive job on here: very impressed with your work on Leicester Kyle and his work and the collation of your books. The way you connected EMO to this online thing was great. I think that led me to read more of Ovid (Tristia) and the novel by Mafouz etc.

Your Blog has inspired me in many ways. I think I also like the idea of such a vast collation of books -- indeed the really strange ones also -- what was that Blog post about the fellow who had his own printing press? It was fascinating. Those novellas were good. If I haven't read or purchased more or your books it is the feeling of being a bit overwhelmed -- my feeling which I feel you are also into of wanting to know and see ideas and the beauty of words and the way literature has developed via all kinds of twists and turns throughout world and NZ history.

Scott had a good Blog but he allows spammers on which is a pity as his was one of the best.

But re blogs in general -- as part of my reading I decided to read the first series of the Penguin Modern Poets (and being mad I want to collect the second and the more recent series, I have read from both, but want to have them -- obsession!) But the first writer was Durrell who I for years knew only as he was mentioned by his brother in the books on animals etc Gerald wrote and our family all read -- but Durrell proved to be quite fascinating in his style. I looked him up online and found a resource. A woman writer has a Blog talking of lit. things and I swapped info read her spiel on Durrell etc. A lot of Blogs including yours are a kind of resource.

So I think you should continue as long as it is not too stressful and you enjoy it. I think such as myself and those lurkers who wont be named -- joke, people don't have to comment -- I think they like the resource and indeed even the fact there is someone such as you so alert to literature and to books and writers. Great stuff. Soldier on! Or Book on!

Dr Jack Ross said...

Dear Richard,

Thanks for these comments. I have to say that I take a good deal of inspiration from your own enthusiasm for new books and new ideas - it gives me a sense that I'm writing for someone other than myself on this blog.

I do find it (still) fun to do rather than a chore, so will hopefully be able to celebrate future anniversaries here in the future!

best, jack