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click opera
February 2010
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Tue, Sep. 29th, 2009 12:36 pm

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, imomus.com. 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.


Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 12:44 am (UTC)
Thank You

Hi Nick,

I've been following your writing online since 2003. Like so many others here, Click Opera has absolutely touched and changed my life.

Your writing here has been an incredible source of inspiration (and education) to me on so many different subjects over the past five years. This is, in my opinion, the best blog on the internet, and my life will certainly be different without it.

I've always loved the sense of community that you have cultivated here, and I will miss that too. Although this is my first time to comment, I've always felt that Click Opera was a very special virtual place with so many other interesting and thoughtful readers. This site has been for me, in addition to all the intellectual discussion, and incredibly *emotionally* positive place as well.

Thank you so much again for writing and best of luck on all your future projects. I know that I'll continue to follow your work, in whatever format you continue on in!


PS - I'm very excited about your forthcoming fiction. My favorite CO entry is still this poetic rumination on the life of a fish worker: On the Barents Sea.


Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 01:01 am (UTC)
sexy culture

All of the nice things people already said. ^

This shocking development may inspire me to be less of a culture-potato.

I stumbled onto imomus in 2006 after a google trawl for Matthew Collings brought up a very amusing and anecdotally informative essay by some curious 'Momus/Nick Currie' character. I eagerly hoovered up the other essays and then found the blog. 'Could there be one of these each day? Astonishing!'

If the blog has had patchy periods it's also had amazing runs of brilliantly insightful and provocative commentary. If it has not been the cause of my coming of age as a culturally informed person, by way of following up the countless references and links, and responding to its against-the-grain ruminations, it has certainly helped immensely in such change as there has been. Then there is the pleasing lightness of tone, learning worn lightly; the paeans to the importance of aesthetics, beauty, the 'texture' of things, sexuality in culture.

I have also, almost incidentally, just discovered a musician called Momus who is rapidly becoming a favourite (the writer i am looking forward to).

I started to make a list of the things i first learnt of on Click Opera, but it was obviously a futile endeavor. Besides, what has really had most effect on me is the general Weltanschauung that so values things often ignored by 'the mainstream', challenges assumptions that didn't seem to need challenging (or to be challengable), and pithily summarises what's wrong with stuff today.

A necessary rebarbative to my habitual tendency towards classicism in its championing of the continuing importance of the new (with examples). Inspiration to an art student who wants to believe that art matters and can be incorporated creatively into a way of life.

I think the change is a good idea. I will miss, i think sorely, the daily jolt of delight. I look forward to the next iteration of internet-momus.


Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 01:16 am (UTC)

I would so love the printed version of this blog.
with comments included.

Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 07:57 am (UTC)

It would be bigger than the Encyclopedia Britannica! In digital form, on the other hand, it all fits on one memory stick.

ReplyThread Parent

Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 02:17 am (UTC)

Another longtime reader who has never commented. Reading since 2006 from Berkeley, CA. Thanks, really enjoyed it.

Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
the end of click opera

How many people read Click Opera ?

Its like unwrapping a tiny present each day! (usually with a cup of coffee and some oatmeal)
Sad to see it go, though it does sound like the timing is right.
Many thanks for the past 5 years!


Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 03:26 am (UTC)

I have more or less grown up with your blogging, having originally gotten wind of you at the very beginning of high school (which was a bit prior to the genesis of Click Opera) and I’ve been a frequent reader ever since. I don’t think you have changed all that much in the mean time – you may have shifted in focus somewhat, but hardly in attitude. The effect has been something like orbit, wherein you have remained largely a fixed point and my relation to what you write has changed dramatically. It has been a formative influence on my thought. These days I would say I disagree with your ideas as often than not, but your very demeanor has made an indelible impression upon me. I now read Click Opera as being largely autobiography -- more Invisible Cities than Arabian Nights, a thousand descriptions, quite varied and individually entertaining, which may appear as proliferation but are a single portrait upon inspection. You are indeed overexposed, which is quite your charm, and I’ve grown to like you immensely for it. To my eyes, Click Opera has been your signal achievement in a career full of impressive work, a new form that the Internet has enabled that you have made great use of in a way few others have, in part because few people are willing or able to blog full-time without a direct commercial incentive, but mostly because you are simply an interesting person who seems continuously renewed by your idiosyncratic lifestyle. I think it’s a fine time to hang up your hat on Click Opera, and I’m sure you’ll go out with a great bang. Here's hoping you find a new form as distinct as this one.

Jared Carlson
Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 03:51 am (UTC)

I discovered this blog not too long ago, perhaps a few months, and I have loved it ever since. It actually began to make me feel insecure. I assumed, as I always do until proved otherwise, that because you were someone on the internet you were no older than 30 or so. I was amazed that someone, who I believed was closer to my age of 20, could not only write with such wit and prose and with such an intelligent view of the world, but they could do it almost everyday.

Then I found out that you had almost 30 years worth of experience more than I. Needless to say I didn’t feel quit as humbled (Read “Stupid”) by your posts after that, but instead they became a form of instruction for me. I was no longer reading the words of a fellow youngster, but those of a learned teacher. Not an elder, but someone who had seen far more than I and who knew what was what. In the depressingly monotonous and often insipid world of blogging, you gave me intelligent entertainment, and I thank you for that.

I understand why you wish to end Click Opera, and I fully support your decision and look forward to seeing your future endeavors succeed. Godspeed, you Scottish pirate looking fellow, Godspeed!


Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)

I told myself I wouldn't cry.


Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 08:15 am (UTC)

Bring back the Daily Photo! Your daily pics from NYC and elsewhere first got me excited about the internet and digital cameras and possibilities and what not. Thanks Nick.
- Martin.


Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 08:29 am (UTC)

So it turns out that Twit Opera's own spectacular ending a couple of months back was strangely prescient...


Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 09:19 am (UTC)

I'll miss Click Opera (I like to visit and allow you to broaden my horizons) but it's not like you're going off to live in a cave, is it? As long as you keep releasing music until the eve of your 150th birthday, I'll be reasonably happy. BTW - I never thought I'd hear a Momus tribute band until I heard frYars!!!

Cheers, John.

Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 10:24 am (UTC)
The end of your click opera

I tried to post here yesterday but the interface failed.
I have been coming here almost every day pretty much since the start, I used to go to IMOMUS before that.
I shall miss you more than I can say, you have been a window into a world that I would never otherwise see.
I would implore you not to stop but who am I to make such a request.
If you feel it has run it's course then so be it , but I will miss these remarkably lucid insights. You are one of the very few smart people who does not pontificate and seems to have no axe to grind.
Unless of course it's an axe for being smarter, more inventive and Futurephilic.
Hail and farewell Mr Curry.
You are a paragon you will be greatly missed.

Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC)

gee, that sucks. Ive spent the last couple of years trying to find something as interesting as your blog to substitute it and not have my mind be so dominated by your snake charming ways. Now that i had grown strong enough to resist it and enjoy it without it being a guilty pleasure, you leave!
seems im not your only spanish fan...

Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)

I have just read this.

Just wanted to say that, I wouldn't have started blogging (over on My Opera) if it were not for you, very probably. You were the instigation. (You may not think that's a good think, but you can add that to any list of butterfly effects that your blog may have had). Furthermore, there are some very important people that I met through my blog whom I would not - therefore - have met had it not been for you. I hope you like that.


Wed, Sep. 30th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)

"'Nick Currie, blogger...' (writer, artist and musician followed somewhere behind that froggy word).'"

It's funny, because although at some point I was reading your blogs more than I was listening to your music, I never thought of you as anything but "Nick Currie, Momus, the musician".

The first song I ever heard of yours that caused me to fall in love with Momus was The Girl With No Body. Since then I have gathered up your records, even sniping some, like Tender Pervert, off of eBay (unaware you had released it's contents for free). When I finally reached something like Ocky Milk, I knew Momus would always be apart of my musical DNA, and that I would be possessive over Momus.

I have to admit I was depressed to read this. I felt for a long time that Click Opera was my only link to the sort of art that interests me, but have no personal connection to and no idea where to find. Guess I have to go out and figure it out.