Panning For Gold

The begrimed and unshaven prospector slaves away at his wide and shallow tin pans, the Arizona sun sapping the moisture from his leathery hide. A glint of yellow attracts his obsessed gaze — he can eat for another day!

No, no, stop! That’s not what I wanted to write about! I was thinking about that elusive internet gold, the genuinely creative content that lurks amongst the general net dross like raisins in a parsimonious grandmother’s pudding.

There are several methods to find the “good stuff”, although many uncritical souls have boundaries for that category which are broad enough to encompass photos with cute captions and ephemeral viral videos. Or ponderous anecdotes with heavy-handed morals appended.

The easiest way is to have compulsive browsers as friends or relatives, the sort of people who can’t resist sending along links to the hundreds of people in their address-books. The downside to this approach is that you might end up getting way too many e-mails which, after a while, you discard unread. Social networking sites have taken up much of this burden in recent years.

Aggregator sites can be useful as filters, but those sites vary widely in their criteria for inclusion of new links. Some form of moderation is essential. Metafilter is a good one that I check every few days. Boing Boing is another one that I check less frequently.

What got me to musing about this issue was the simultaneously melancholy and humorous definitions of imaginary words by a very talented writer, John Koenig of St. Paul, Minnesota. In a manner analogous to that of Jorge Luis Borges when he wrote reviews of imaginary books, Koenig uses imaginary words as springboards for short essays on the human condition. They are very good; I know I’ve written about his site, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, in a previous post, but this evening I’ve been browsing that writer’s archives. This is quality writing, folks.

What struck me is something I hadn’t noticed during previous visits to the site. Each of Koenig’s definitions has numerous comments, but they are almost all trackbacks to somebody else’s blog. What this means is that John Koenig’s work is being mined for content by dozens of other bloggers who find it easier to provide links than to write new and original stuff.

Of course, I do this too, but the majority of my posts are right out of the weird and twisted labyrinths of my mind, for better or worse.

I’ll conclude this screed with a few more examples of John Koenig’s verbal artistry:

the hesitation waltz

n. the act of deciding whether to give a departing acquaintance a hug or a handshake, calculated by measuring your relative orbits, how long it takes your signals to bounce back, and the proximity of a close friend who just gave them a hug, whose massive gravitational force could slingshot you into a long-distance wave.


n. the default expression that your face automatically reverts to when idle—amused, melancholic, pissed off—which occurs when a strong emotion gets buried and forgotten in the psychological laundry of everyday life, leaving you wearing an unintentional vibe of pink or blue or gray, or in rare cases, a tie-dye of sheer madness.


n. -soc. psych. curiosity about the real flesh-and-blood people behind internet usernames, whose vivid individuality suggests that when our parents were tracing their fingers along our nameless faces looking for some hint of who we were to become, they really should have gone with Mr Cookieface, Unicornpuncher, Dutchess Von Whatever, or Wookiegasm.

la cuna

n. a twinge of sadness that there’s no frontier left, that as the last explorer trudged with his armies toward a blank spot on the map, he didn’t suddenly remember his daughter’s upcoming piano recital and turn for home, leaving a new continent unexplored so we could set its mists and mountains aside as a strategic reserve of mystery, if only to answer more of our children’s questions with “Nobody knows! Out there, anything is possible.”

I hope you enjoyed these!



1 Comment

Filed under Essays and Articles

One response to “Panning For Gold

  1. Cool! That’s a very interesting collection of vocabulary 😉

    And the idea is awesome, aggregator blogs are difintely not as cool as this 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s