On the other hand, here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter whether I, as a biographer, drive to the civic library and hang out with the reference librarians all day—in the end, I’d end up with the same information that I’d have found here at home, online. Would the bricks-and-mortar research come with a pedigree? Would I need to show Chevron gas slips and document my mileage to score points? This throws the notion of “biography” into a new light. We can all hopscotch from link to link to link—it’s what most people do now, anyway. So Why write a biography? Maybe to get a sense of how it felt to be someone else in a different time. Maybe to cast new light on an old subject. Maybe to learn new ways of thinking. Maybe to try to enter an already vanishing mode of perceiving the past, the notion that a landscape is best viewed with a single source of light—the sun, one light bulb, a lone candle, a lone writer—so that all the shadows and highlights are true to each other.
– From Douglas Coupland’s Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!
My Day One journal tells me that I clipped this quotation four years ago today. I was doing a lot of reading in the middle of the night with a newborn child and a recently minted PhD and wondering what kind of writing I might be able to do outside of an academic context.
I still have no idea. Oops.