Look back in embarrassment

A good friend and fellow blogger tells me that she is going through her past posts and deleting those that, in retrospect, make her squirm in embarrassment. I know the feeling. I’d guess most bloggers do. All those posts in my back catalogue that are inelegantly written, shoddily structured, badly argued; all those posts expressing views that I no longer hold, or critical of views that I nowadays do; all those many posts that do little but bespeak the sheer muddle-headedness and stupidity of the author … should I go back and delete them? The temptation certainly is great.

But no – whatever the temptation, I think it best to let them all stay. Although this blog is primarily about literature, I tend to write about whatever comes to mind, and thus, over more than five years now of blogging, these posts, the good, the bad, and also the ugly, cohere together to form a sort of composite self-portrait. And the best self-portraits tend to be the warts-and-all portraits, honest and unsanitised.

In short, if I am a prat at times, why should the world not know about it? Let he who has never been a prat cast the first stone, say I.

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10 responses to this post.

  1. I quite agree; I would never dream of deleting an old post. I yam what I yam, as a great thinker and spinach-eater once said.

    Reply

  2. I don’t even edit them as a rule. They are what they are. Whenever I have cause to read an old post they always seem to me at best crude, inelegantly written, shoddily structred, badly argued as you say.

    Still, they reflect my views of the time. If I hold a different view now I can always write a comment or a new post. Editing the past is tempting, but I think it’s an error. Better to leave it as you say, warts and all.

    Besides, if past me got to see my current posts he’d probably want to edit those. We’d wipe ourselves out in a wave of cross-temporal-editing.

    Reply

    • Yeah, if I have a correction or addition to make to an old post I just add an Addendum at the end. The only editing I do is to fix typos or dead links.

      Reply

  3. Don’t touch a word. I have magazine articles going back 30 years and I cringe when someone throws my dopy, gobshitery, seriously dodgy, often racist and generally pig-ignorant views of the past at me.

    What the hell am I talking about? That wasn’t 30 years ago; that was last week.

    But as Max says, they are what they are.

    Even more to the point, they are what the great Lou Reed called, ‘Growing Up in Public.’

    Making a holy show of oneself, especially when in one’s cups, is one of the great unPC, non-regimented joys in Life!

    And if you wake up the following morning to your missus saying: YOU MADE A RIGHT SHOW OF YOURSELF LAST NIGHT!!”, well you know it was a good evening.

    Try defending Ken Russell’s ‘ A Kitten for Hitler’ or saying that Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Straw Dogs’ was a blow for feminism and then tell me about embarrassment.

    Reply

  4. Posted by kaggsysbookishramblings on July 28, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    I very much agree – my early posts are thin because I was new to writing my thoughts about books and feeling my way. But they are what they are and apart from silently correcting the odd typo, I don’t go back and change my posts.

    Reply

  5. I’ve considered this too, but if it were a matter of deleting posts about which I’m embarrassed, I’d delete nearly all of them.

    One way I’ve considered approaching this – but have not yet put into practice – would be to write a post critiquing an earlier post. I run the high risk of then having two embarrassing posts, but there’d always be the possibility of writing another, ad infinitum (and perhaps ad nauseam as well).

    Reply

  6. Posted by nnyhav on July 29, 2015 at 2:21 am

    and even if you wanted to
    https://web.archive.org/web/*/argumentativeoldgit.wordpress.com/
    (coming up on 10yrs myself, tomorrow. yesterday, I don’t worry)

    Reply

  7. Posted by Shonti Mukherjee on July 29, 2015 at 9:28 am

    I’m ususally a pillock but have never been a pratt!

    Go figure!

    Reply

  8. Posted by alan on July 30, 2015 at 7:30 am

    ‘Warts and all’, indeed. I’m always suspicious of people who talk about ‘finding the real me’. That ‘real me’ is invariably a much nicer me, not the hung over me, not the ignorant, stupid, impolite, selfish, arrogant, unimaginative or insensitive me.

    Reply

  9. Oh, I have lots of those posts I’d like to pretend I never wrote them. But I agree with you, that we need to show our foolish side too; I think that makes us better writers since we’ll think twice about what we write for others to see.

    Reply

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