Saturday, January 26, 2008

Changes or "Just What the World Needed, Another Blog!"

For a while now I've been putting off dealing with a couple of competing issues. The first one is the fact that as this blog has progressed from "Sharon, ranting vaguely to empty space" to "Sharon, ranting vaguely to a bunch of people too kind to tell her to shut up," there has been more than little dissatisfaction voiced with my blog, particularly the title.

That is, when I speak, and people have to introduce me, they can't pronounce it. When they send links, they can't spell it. And perhaps the most common single email query I get is "who the hell is Casaubon?!" The next most common is "What the hell does George Eliot have to do with Peak Oil."

And it is hard to spell. It is hard to pronounce, and as much as, in my role as a former English teacher, I feel like I should tell everyone that they have read _Middlemarch_ it isn't my favorite novel either - if I'm going to bug people to go read novels, I'll pick one that's considerably more fun.

You see, Casaubon is the old man who Dorothea Brooke, heroine of Middlemarch, marries because she wants to do something important. Casaubon is writing a great book, a book that will reveal universal truths, that he calls "The Key to All Mythologies," and she imagines that she will be part of a work of genius. Unfortunately, Casaubon turns out to be a complete fool, and his project is a work of ego.

Now my old Professor, John Burt, used to say that his young female students want to be Dorothea Brooke, and his male ones want to be Stephen Daedalus. Frankly, I always thought Dorothea was a twit, and would much rather be Stephen Daedalus myself. But what I always worried about becoming was old Casaubon - allowing my ego, and what I want to be true, to alter my thinking a bit too much. Thus, the name "Casaubon's Book" was a reminder about my own tendency towards hubris. Essentially, I named it this so to remind myself not to be too big a fool.

If you've been paying attention, the name hasn't checked me that much - I still have a bit too much hubris, and I'm still working my way through a host of thoughts on how all the pieces of our societal crisis - ecological, psychological, economic, democratic - go together. But I like to think that maybe I'm a little less arrogant for the reminder.

Several people, with my new professional interests at heart, however, have gently suggested that a different title would be in order. And one person I pay a lot of attention to has suggested it not so gently "Sharon, that title sucks - change it" was about the size of it.

At the same time, a bunch of other changes have been occurring. One is that writing two books in 14 months and running a CSA is not something I can do - not and do all the other things I'd like to accomplish with it. Time is at a premium, and right at the moment, writing is taking up a lot of it - as are kids, food preservation, homeschooling, speaking engagements, and all the new agricultural projects we're taking up. Something had to give, and reluctantly, we're letting the CSA go. Instead, we're working on subsistence agriculture, more pasture farming, farmer's market sales, and hoping to turn the farm into a site for teaching subsistence gardening and other related skills. We have an enormous old house, and it has occurred to us that maybe what might make sense is to use some of that space to help others adapt.

Because of that, I'm also working on finding some other sources of income. Like all of us, I'm stuck in an economy growing unstable, a bit worried about the spousal job that provides most of our family's income and benefits, and I'm under some pressure to spend more time on remunerative activities, other than the purely fun stuff, like blogging. I am faced with a choice - cut back on the blog and spend the time doing things people pay me for, or make money on the blog.

But the thing is, I'm not thrilled with my choices. You see, one of the things I like about this blog is that it has been ad free, commercial free, technorati free - heck, I don't even have a hit counter, which frees me from worrying about my traffic. This blog, for me, has been about good conversations with interesting people. I want to keep that - and my reminder not to get too presumptuous. And since I am compromising with something I'm at best ambivalent about (most advertising), I want people who would rather read my stuff without ads to have the option.

So I've started another blog This one will have almost all of the same content as Casaubon's book, along with more links, cool stuff, my speaking engagements, maybe even pictures (if I ever learn how to put them up) and perhaps even a hit counter (ibid). It will also have (fairly subtle) ads at the bottom, will accept direct sponsorship, and will have a store offering books and other useful things. It will also have a couple of posts a month that don't appear here (Casaubon's book will have at least one post appear here exclusively each month as well).

For people who don't want ads or book sales, you can read almost the same stuff right here, in perpetuity. If you aren't bothered, or want to buy books on sustainability, energy issue and other recommendations from me, or think that the new colors, the news feed and the links are worth putting up with it, check out my new site. I'll also be making some updates to this one, but since I'm the original techno-moron (think your elderly great-aunt who asks you to come program her remote control for her), be patient with me. You don't want to know how long it took, or how much help it required to get up and running - really.

Anyway, that's the news here. New blog. Same rants. New day.




abuddhistperspective said...


I came to your blog late but have been working hard to get caught up. And I've come to the conclusion that you can write faster than I can read!

If I may make a suggestion, have you considered accepting donations? Many Buddhist sites do this for the very reasons you mentioned. A donation page could be "discreetly" written and would not detract from your wonderful blog. It would give us a chance to show our appreciation for all your hard work and eminently worthwhile rants.

yooper said...

Hello Sharon! Yes, I like the idea of another site. Perhaps, I'll be more inclined to post there.

Thanks, yooper

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon,
Delurking to say I enjoy your site and think that what you have to say is important enough that you should be reimbursed for it. You put far more thought and work into your writing than most bloggers.

I'd prefer not to track two blogs with mostly identical content, so could you be so kind as to give a link or a shout-out on your new blog when you put up "exclusive" content here at Casaubon's? I'll keep my eyeballs (and advert clicks) over there from now on, if it helps. Thanks muchly.

I also think your idea of teaching basic survival and farming skills for families would be awesome- you could have week long summer camp style sessions, I'd attend!
Cheers, Paks

Green Bean said...

I agree with Paks in that please note if you have a post up on this blog and not on the new one. I'll switch to the new one, I guess, but I actually really love this title and the byline. I'll kind of miss it because it is so esoteric. :)

Phil said...

Sharon, this is just a cunning ploy to get us to read all your posts twice, isn't it? :-p

Anonymous said...

Hm, I never had a problem with the name of your blog... but I also almost never have to type the name anyway (copy and paste is my friend). But, will add the new blog to my Google Reader list.

Heather G

Susan Och said...

Be careful of the siren song of wage labor. Our kids need us, even as they get old enough to claim that they don't. It's cheaper to put the time into raising 'em the right way now rather than paying for a therapist later.

I'll link to the new site. If you have specific questions about putting gadgets on the new site, email me.

Anonymous said...

For those of your readers who don't know, or have begotten how to Google, here is a site that has a brief descriptive essay to explain.
And for those who don't wish to read the entire report here is a rather illuminating quote: "In honour of Mr Casaubon, I have given this tendency of the mind to search for all-inclusive answers the name Casaubon delusion. I believe we are all liable to fall into it in one way or another, probably because it is an exaggeration of an inbuilt function of our minds. Typically the supplying of such answers is the province of religion, although something similar can occur in science too."
The Hitchhiker's Guide is an old read for me. I watched the television serial version very late a night when I was much much younger then I am today. Surfing the web looking for the meaning of life (just kidding) ultimately led to George Eliot's lovely little book.
When I encountered Archdruid your blog came up and the name was an automatic for investigation. I've been a dedicated reader since. I am looking forward to your book

Roy Jones

Rosa said...

Sharon, your many advisors may have been right about wider marketing value with a more direct name...but this is the only peak oil blog I actually follow, I think because most of the "I am using big words to show I'm smarter than you" pissing contests don't seem to show up here.

So I'll follow your new blog (and buy your books or subscribe or whatever) but I hope your new, wider audience draws from diverse crowds and not just the PO folks.

Sheri said...

Don't you ever stop writing unless it's an absolute necessity!!

I just want you to know that you are full of good ideas, thoughts and relflections for lots of us who read your writing.

thanks for all the great work you do here at the blog, er blogs!.

Sheri, an admirer

Ailsa said...

So if I'm reading you via a feed rather than going straight to the site, I can just keep on reading here, right?

jewishfarmer said...

Buddhist Perspective, thanks for the suggestion. I'm not comfortable asking for donations - I'm not a charity. But I appreciate the idea.

Just FYI, this site will remain here with most of the same content as D/A, and I've put a link on the site to anything that is on D/A that isn't and isn't here, and vice-versa.

Thank you all for the kind words and support!


jewishfarmer said...

Rosa, I don't have any plan to make either blog only PO focused, so no worries there.

Ailsa, I'm afraid I don't know how the feed works, so I don't know the answer to that. Technomoron, remember ;-)?

Phil, you've found out my clever plan!

Susan, I know what you mean - for me this is a way to keep doing the stuff I really care about - both writing and canning and tending kids and stuff, and try and optimize both. I admit, the books have meant I'm spending more time in front of the computer screen than I really like at the moment, but I'm looking forward to transitioning back - and spring!


Anonymous said...

I thought you were referring to Isaac Casaubon.

Tom L

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更新日期:2009/08/25 17:19

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