Here are golden tickets. Here are ancient and complicated keys, and some arcane passwords to let you in here. Here is a map. Yes, that's you on the map! See, if you turn your head the little stick figure on the map turns its head too! Here are mysterious instructions with little puzzles, you have to press the bricks in the right order. Notice how the bricks look like letters if you look at them right. B-R-R-A-I-Y-L. Here is a portal stone, activate it anywhere. Walk through and it comes out right here.
There is a "Follow by Email" window on the right side of this blog. You sign up and here blooms into your den or office or workstation like a magical clockwork, a pop-up book. Here is an enchanted guidebook. You open it once and it shows you a secret path through the ivy, open it again, a transporting spell that's easily concocted out of a few bird feathers and a bit of coffee grounds, open it again and it simply tells you to type "clerkmanifesto" into any search engine. The guide book has but one page, but it's different every time you open it, and, of course, it always tells you a way to get here. This steaming vial, all glowing green, has a potion that when swallowed allows you to pass through the stone walls surrounding this place like they are mere illusions, which they very well may be. The vial refills on its own in time.
So take whatever you want. Take keys and potions and enchanted guides. Yes, I have another of the guides, here you are. The golden tickets? Just brandish one at any gate or door and instantly I will be there letting you in. Sure, take as many as you like. Take all five golden tickets.
Okay, is everyone all set? Does everyone have what they want? Good, now I will tell you what's up.
Picture this blog as a castle, a grand Kyotoesque amusement park, a library of dreams. No, wait, picture this blog as an elaborate half-mad Chocolate Factory. Or picture it how you like, but let it be a place. Part of me lives in this place, and everyday I make something new here to see and do. I love this. So I keep doing it and will continue to keep doing it, maybe forever. Who knows. And everyday people come, you, you come, with your ancient keys and enchanted guidebooks and your email subscriptions, through secret passages and prior knowledge. You may not even know that there is a grand entrance to this place, so accustomed as you are with your own route and way, that there is a grand entrance with whimsical carvings of imaginary animals and famed bookpeople, velvet banners and exotic flowers, great walls of stone and glorious golden and iron gates flung wide open in a 24 hour welcome. You may never use these gates, or ever enter that way, but it is our subject today. It is our subject because after today, after this post, I am shutting and locking those public gates. Mosses and molds will bloom on the statuary. The great path leading to the gates will sprout weeds. The delicate, exotic flowers lining the Promenade will die, and then they will stand in skeletal dominion over nothing. The golden brick path will crack, and no one will ever enter again through the main gates. And, perhaps even more importantly, no one will leave again by the main gates. Not even me.
Yes, everyday I make something new here. And I love it. But most days, not all days, but many, many days I venture out of my great gates and seek visitors. I walk out the beautifully kept, quiet grand avenue that leads to my gates, and out into the bustling Internet. Out there I ask people to come visit my blog. "Hey Mister." I say. "Hey Lady." I say. I post notices where I can. The denizens of the Internet sometimes tear them down faster than I can put them up. Mostly I am treated as a nuisance while things that appall me seem respected. Most people seem unkind, or disinterested, or think I am doing something I am not. Mostly I feel ignored, even when people walk down my elaborate avenue, through my glorious gates, and into my blog. "Meh." They mostly say. And they walk out without looking at anything but the first thing they see. Hundreds of them, maybe even thousands of them now. Every once in awhile someone is kind to me. "Sure, I'll go to your blog." They say. And they go and look around. It makes me feel happy. They say "It's very nice. I'll come back." And sometimes they do. This all is called marketing. I am not good at it. I don't think I like it. It draws me like a moth, or an alcoholic. I know I don't like it.
I go out in the Internet and I post my notices on Google Plus pages of all kinds, on Facebook, on Reddit, on a Bob Dylan site, whatever seems appropriate for the moment, for the day's event on the blog. And people come, sometimes. They come for their one visit. Through my gates and out. Maybe they even get caught by my sign a second time and come again, hardly remembering their first time. "Huh." they say. And they go.
I hate them.
I really don't want to hate them, but I hate them all, fiercely. I hate everyone who has come here once and just once. I hate Facebook and Expecting Rain the Bob Dylan Website and Google Plus and all its myriad pages I have added to, the library page and the wisdom page, and the humor page. And I also hate everyone who has never come here. I hate Stumbleupon and implacable search rankings and spam comments, and Reddit, god how I hate Reddit, and I hate everywhere I have every posted. I despise and loathe them all. I wish a plague on them, terrible things. And I don't want to. I really don't want to. But I do.
I am not unalterably, unremittingly opposed to hatred and bitterness, but I know their dangers and how rarely they can be employed for profit. And I know that most of my unusable hatred and bitterness in all this is stirred by my leaving myself, and by leaving here.
So I am closing the gates. I will not venture out again. Ever. For any reason. And I will not invite anyone in. They must find the way on their own. The main entrance is shut. It is locked. And it is done. I will not market seriously or in jest. I will not market hopelessly or dreaming great things. I will not market at all. The gate, ponderous, swings and clicks locked. I wrap it in thick chains and lock those. I toss the key into a nearby sewer grate.
You with your golden tickets and guidebooks and email subscriptions, with your clerkmanifesto Firefox bookmark and magic potions remain ever welcome. Your visit is treasured. You can bring anyone you want anyway you want, come and go as you please. There are no restrictions. I don't think anything will really change in this for you. As I said, most of you have never even seen the Gates. All the thousand secret entrances remain fiercely open. Clerkmanifesto will remain as it always was.
But for me I will watch the toy numbers of all my viewers drop, like a leaky balloon when the air stops being pumped into it. I will try not to look at numbers. Eventually I will make a tenuous peace with that. I will struggle over and over to keep to my vow, and I will never leave here again.
I will go into my tower, or my workshop, or to my post it notes in the fiction stacks. I will go to my computer in my icy basement, and I will make things. Everything I can think of. And the lights will go up. There will be fireworks and rare coffees and chocolate rivers and paragraphs about nothing and everything. It will be a wonderland and a fire and a close look at almost nothing, words and lies and everything Lao-Tzu dreamed a blog would be.
But never again will it be for a stranger of any kind.
Forever more it will only be for me, and this, and us.