September 29th, 2009



In the middle of an interview (in French!) for culturemag Chronic'art in Paris last week, I found myself -- without really planning to -- dropping a bombshell "exclusive" (which, of course, this entry is now de-exclusivising). I told Olivier Lamm (whose own player_pianoblog is pretty great) that I would end Click Opera on the eve of my 50th birthday, in other words on February 10th, 2010. Unless something fairly radical happens to change my mind, that's the plan. From now until February will, therefore, be the last few months of Click Opera.

Now, most people, when they end a blog, just publish less on it and migrate slowly to Twitter and Facebook, or wherever. But I wanted to make a bit of a dramatic fanfare about this, because I think it'll make for a more interesting and dramatic final few months. It's not so much that I want to hear people wailing and gnashing their teeth and begging me to change my mind, as that this might prompt me to cover new topics or try new things in the final days. Instead of seeing readers ebb away slowly, we might even see an increase, a final rally, and a new tone of mutual appreciation and love here.

The last days of Click Opera will feature a trip to Japan, since I'll spend much of December and some of January there. And that's nice, because Click Opera has been about Japan quite a bit, of course, during its six year existence. Posted on Friday the 16th of January 2004, the very first Click Opera entry (now sadly bare of pictures) celebrates now-defunct Japanese magazine site Magazo, and picks six of my favourite Japanese magazines. Only two of them are still in print.

That first entry received just three comments. The first was from me, and said: "First. This is the first entry in Click Opera, the record of the clicks Momus is making as he operates his iBook on a daily basis." To which an Anon signing him/herself as Zachary Daiquiri, Esq, replied: "Can I assume this will be a delightful journey, exploring everything this side of Erasure?" And a LiveJournalist known as improvduck (whose journal has now been deleted and purged) added: "I was wondering when Momus would invade LiveJournal! I'm a very young admirer." Ah, very bliss was it in that early dawn to be alive, to stretch and see for the first time the strange sun of a new planet!

So why am I ending Click Opera? There are lots of reasons. We're coming to the end of a decade, and I've seriously spent about three solid years out of the ten generating copy and fielding comments on this blog. I had a great time doing it, but what it meant was that, after a fairly nomadic and adventurous first three or four years, the decade saw me mostly rooted to a chair in front of a screen. Because I don't do things by half measures, I became pretty much a full-time blogger, and the ugly word was even added to my name: I became "Nick Currie, blogger..." (writer, artist and musician followed somewhere behind that froggy word).

Now, lots of good things came out of blogging. I had an exciting reason to get up in the morning. I managed to sift and panhandle the web and find things of value, things that reminded me why it was good to be alive. Click Opera gathered an exceptionally intelligent, forthright and challenging group of readers with whom it was a joy to chat and even to spar. I learned an enormous amount, daily, from these people. From you. And I never banned the Anonymae, because you can't learn anything without being challenged.

Click Opera got me into surveys of the world's best blogs, and landed me commentary jobs with Wired and The New York Times, Frieze and Art in America. In other words, although Click Opera itself didn't pay me a dime (it even cost me money to host), it did lead to remuneration in all sorts of fairly direct ways. And yet none of the paid blogging work I did had the same vitality, the same zing. My writing elsewhere, for money, with editors, with adverts, usually bored and disgusted me. And it usually got, you know, three comments. Something died when I tried to do for money what I wanted to do for love.

So why end it? Why why why?

Because the LiveJournal platform I'm using is being wound down (it has a skeleton staff of 8 right now, I'm told). Because there's a kind of tumbleweed feel to my Friends List these days, as people migrate to Twitter (and "ship" their inconsequential tweets back to the old haunt as if to place a big "Nothing to see here folks!" sign over both locations) or Facebook. Because I don't feel that blogging either can or should be as big a part of the next decade as it has been of this one. Because I wonder what would happen if I put the energy I pour daily into this blog (and I've established a great working routine!) into something like a book, or something else. Because I think it's good to force yourself to change, just for the sake of change. Because I don't want to be a fifty year old man whose life revolves around a blog. Because I don't like some of the conflicts Click Opera has engendered, the hurtful battles that spiralled out of control when I crossed swords with people like Marxy, Alan McGee, or the ILX messageboard. Because I've probably said everything I have to say about my opinions and worldview, on a certain level (which isn't to say that the positions I've adopted have won or been accepted; many will never be). Because switching to another medium (fiction, for example) will be a way for me to put those views and hunches and feelings into new and fresh relationships with each other. Because it is possible to over-expose yourself, and popping up somewhere on the internet every single day is definitely one way to do that. Because I now have other forms of visibility: lectures, panel appearances, conferences, interviews in the press, performance art interventions, concerts, columns, books, records, journalism; enough to satisfy even the most rabid attention-hound.

Because (new paragraph) I don't like the chain letter pressure to come up with something interesting every day, or the way that a couple of missed entries lead to a whole week in which nothing happens, and how I care about that and battle to bring the ratings back up. Okay, I've cited this before as a plus, calling it the Scheherazade Challenge, but look at poor Scheherazade's motives for inventing a new tale every day: all the king's other wives were killed. Is that the kind of pressure I want in my life? Have I considered gardening as a hobby?

What will I do instead of Click Opera? Well, I don't know. Something will replace it, but I don't know what that is at the moment. I'm thinking about going back to my Daily Photos and monthly essays (with their superior art direction and total lack of comment facilities) on the website I maintained from 1995 to 2003, There was something rather magical about just issuing these non-reality-adjusted statements, accompanied by immaculate visuals, whenever good ideas occurred to me. Sure, Click Opera has been a sort of karate course, and its comment facility has taught me to be more dialectical and -- above all -- the skill set of prolepsis, of anticipating reader objections. But is a more moderate, accessible and dialectical me really what the world needs? Doesn't the world need an immoderate, outrageous and concentrated me, just laying out things that only I could think, no matter how wrong they may be?

So let's see what emerges, come February. Someone so ADD-ish, novelty-crazed and restlesslessly intellectually curious, someone who loves the internet as much as I do, will no doubt not be difficult to locate on the web. But who knows, perhaps I'll start a new blog and not tell anyone who or where it is, and just see if I can hide there, doing something a bit different, waiting to be outed.

I look forward to spending more time with my family. Wait! Hell! You people are my family! I look forward to spending less time with you, then. Let's see what it feels like. And let's enjoy these last four months to the very hilt, like a beautiful click-aria at the end of a beautiful click opera.