July 14, 2014

Blogging from a small place, an experience in triplicate.

My colleague, the intrepid traveler, Nina Camic, is spending a lot of time on the little Scottish Isle of Islay, with lots of photographs, including plenty of stuff about whisky, which wasn't a particular passion of hers as I assume it is for most travelers who hop over to the isle for a day or 2. Go here and keep scrolling and scrolling, and when you get to the bottom, click "older posts" and scroll some more, and click "older posts" again. And if you're up for more intense attention to a Scottish island, here's the 2009 set of blog posts from the Isle of Skye.

I like this approach of really settling into a small place and needing to find more than the hot spots you'd tick off if you followed one of those New York Times "36 Hours in [Wherever]" articles.

It might be quite challenging, and you might get bored — especially if you're the sort of person who goes traveling because you get bored at home. But if you have a blog and the right Spirit of the Blogger, everything you see is triplicated: 1. The basic living-through-the-experience observation that all travelers have, 2. The recognition of bloggability that involves you in taking photographs and making mental notes and fluidly imagining how these things might later take form in a post, and 3. The experience relived as you discover the contents of your camera on your computer screen and compose the writing that will surround it with narrative. With this amplification of experience, a very minor experience like a couple sheep in the road becomes mythic.

Writing point #3 above made me want to quote William Wordsworth's "Preface to Lyrical Ballads"(1800):
I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. In this mood successful composition generally begins, and in a mood similar to this it is carried on; but the emotion, of whatever kind, and in whatever degree, from various causes, is qualified by various pleasures, so that in describing any passions whatsoever, which are voluntarily described, the mind will, upon the whole, be in a state of enjoyment.

17 comments:

Edmund said...

I recently spent a week in the Orkneys, in Kirkwall, and found it quite relaxing. We toured Neolithic sites, the whisky distillery, and did some shopping. Bought some North Ronaldsay wool for my daughter, who spins her own yarn and knits.

Tank said...

1. The basic living-through-the-experience observation that all travelers have, 2. The recognition of bloggability that involves you in taking photographs and making mental notes and fluidly imagining how these things might later take form in a post, and 3. The experience relived as you discover the contents of your camera on your computer screen and compose the writing that will surround it with narrative.

This is exactly what I do on vacation, except I don't blog, I compose an EMail with pictures and comments and send it to friends and family. I enjoy every aspect of it. I don't really think about what I'm going to say about most things until I'm doing it, but some pictures are taken with that in mind.

Joan said...

Mythic is spot on. Nina's Islay posts are so much more than "travel blogging."

James Pawlak said...

Source of the best "Scotch Wiskey" in the world.

MadisonMan said...

Fabulous posts.

Summer in the high latitudes has its advantages.

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of thing of thing blogging is for. What's it like to be there? The little things, the landscape.

mrs.e said...

My youngest sister spent a year, studying abroad, in Scotland. I can see why she fell in love with it.

Bob said...

"Spirit of the Blogger" - besides the list of three, can you expand on that?

Michael said...

Althouse:

Greatly appreciate being introduced to her blog. Followed her through Turkey and dog incident to Scotland.

I am off to Scotland for a quick three days in a few weeks. I have gone to the same place now during the same period for ten years running. No better way to learn about a spot than repeat visits.

FleetUSA said...

Yes, Islay is the finest and peatiest scotch whiskey. Only to be drunk in small quantities.

Thanks for the link.

FleetUSA said...

p.s. Laphroaig is the best. I liked her phrase about the sip of whiskey "pow". That's why small quantities only. It is a very heavy peat taste.

broomhandle said...

Excellent and very evocative. When I travel I like to watch for the ordinary life of the locals as I appreciate the unusual that brought me there in the first place. She does a good job of including some of that. I thought the two women commenting on winters there a particularly good catch.

cassandra lite said...

Donovan had a pretty song in '67 about the Isle of Islay, though nothing about Scotch in it:

How high the gulls fly
O'er Ilay
How sad the farm lad
deep in play
Felt like a grain on your sand

How well the sheep's bell
music makes
Roving the cliff
when fancy takes
Felt like a tide left me here

How blessed the forest
with birdsong
How neat the cut peat
laid so long
Felt like a seed on your land

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, I left a comment about the Donovan song on one of her first posts.

I love Donovan.

nina said...

Ann, you so understand the interplay between the life you live, the photos you take and the blog post that is born of it. I wonder why..:)

Islay blew my mind away. Still reeling from it... I think it's the light, and the whisky culture and the peat and the seas that surround it, but I'm not sure. Must go back next year.

cassandra lite said...

Ann Althouse said...

"Yeah, I left a comment about the Donovan song on one of her first posts.

I love Donovan."

Sadly underrated. He had three wonderful albums in succession in 66-67: Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow, and the one with the Islay song, Gift From a Flower to a Garden. His previous work was excellent, too. Sometimes history just doesn't have your name on it.

ken in sc said...

It is my understanding that Scotch and Canadian Whisky is spelled Whisky. Bourbon is spelled whiskey, a totally different stuff. BTW, Jack Daniels is not bourbon.