I heard a professor of the classics on the radio the other day. The radio, for those of you wondering, is kind of like an audio-only version of the Internet, with fewer websites, which radiophiles, or "listeners", call "stations". Anyway, this professor said something interesting. He said he feels he is successful if he reaches merely one or two out of a hundred of his students. He says to his students "My God! You must read The Decameron some time." And then a year later he gets a letter from one student saying "You said I should read The Decameron so I did and it changed my life!" And the professor is satisfied even if he had no impact on anyone else.
I find this a helpful perspective.
And so sometimes I quietly share my blog post around to the relevant sort of communities on the Internet. By relevant communities I mean that I write about cats and bicycling and bowling and libraries and Bob Dylan and mooses and the Internet and James Joyce and Disneyland and The Decameron. Many of these interests have communities of some kind on the Internet where it is vaguely possible, sometimes, to share my relevant post with them. And after sharing a few times with these communities I get a kind of weird sense for their personalities. I'm not saying I get a lot of reaction, I count one out of a hundred readers finding some pleasure in my blog post as a success, but occasionally there is a comment, or a lot of page views, or a conspicuous silence from that community, and it gives me a sense, a sense for the personality of a hobby or interest.
And my senses I share with you! So here is a selection:
Cat Fanciers pretty much have to be pried off of their GIFs and cute pictures, and even then, if you manage that, they are most interested in bathroom, food, and behavioral problems. But never will they offer an unkind word!
Bicyclists, the ones who are really serious about it, don't think anything is funny.
Bowlers are even worse than bicyclists and will read nothing that is not by someone who averages over 200 and is either humblebragging or discussing technique. Which is why I feel lucky that I am rarely compelled to write about bowling.
Library people delight most to read about themselves, and they are ever so quiet!
Bob Dylan is, as we know, a huge fan of this blog (hi Bob!), but his fans are fastidiously mild and sometimes even cooly disdainful about absolutely everything that is not Bob Dylan.
Moose fans are, well, I haven't really found them yet, but I imagine they are sad, oh so sad.
Internet people seem to be open to, and very positive about new ideas, but it's hard to tell if any of those "people" are real.
James Joyce fans are just so happy to hear him discussed that they immediately want to share all their James Joyce experiences.
Disneyland people are the happiest people on earth, well, as long as you swaddle them in thick blankets of nostalgia.
Decameron fans are, er, uh, actually this is my first post that discusses The Decameron in any way. Perhaps someone could direct me to the place on the Internet where The Decameron fans all hang out? I finally have something to share with them!