To those who noticed, apologies I disappeared without so much as a by-your-leave or hint of explanation.
Two pressures and one anxiety drove my precipitous descent into silence.
The first was increasing time constraints that led me to be largely republishing here bespoke material a few weeks after those who had paid for it had seen it. And it was, as a result, quite stodgy and formal – and constrained by myriad compliance regulations that govern what can and can’t be passed off as ‘research’ in the financial markets.
The second was the legitimate concern that almost universal cost cutting would cause some of those who pay for my research or writing to do the calculation and conclude: “ah, what the hell, lets wait two weeks and then we can get it for free anyway.”
The third issue is a more generalised anxiety I have with social media, celebrity and this golden age of narcissism. Who cares, or more strongly: who should care, about the passing fancies and non-peer reviewed musings about SA politics from someone you might not even have met and whose credentials are not obvious? The easy ‘unsubscribe’ button has helped me put this worry behind me.
I think it was Samuel Johnson who said: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money” and aside from private letters, shopping lists and work that adds value to our literary inheritance, l agree with him.
I am unlikely to be adding to our ‘literary inheritance’ any time soon, however I do intend to start writing, mostly about SA politics, here again, even if it is occasionally.
The need to market my wares is one reason I am happy to acknowledge – and I hope Johnson would approve.
But there are other reasons that are slightly more difficult to explain. I think it was Michael Ondaatje who wrote in one of his poems something along the lines: ‘I never know what I love till I write it out’. (I promise to find this quote and this poem).
Well, I never know what I know until I write it out. Or even stronger: I never understand what is happening until I can write an explanation that is not full of lies or incoherence. Many posts, especially if they are rushed and poorly edited, will contain ‘lies’ – I mean the kind I am not aware I am telling. But the joy and terror of writing here is lies expose themselves to me, and to anyone else who cares to see them, as soon as I hit the ‘publish’ button.
Finally, of course, it’s important for citizens and those who care about the country to discuss politics. It’s either everyone’s business or it’s the business of those who have stolen it and practice it in secret.
Issues of the day
Unsurprisingly I am right now consumed with the NGC, the SCA ruling on the Public Protector’s powers, the Premier League, the titanic battle in the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, succession, the shifting fortunes of the SACP, the potential of opposition parties, the 2016 municipal election, the collapse of our resources sector and the awful oncoming wave of lay-offs, the chaos in organised labour, the hard swings in the ANC’s foreign policy … and the possible impacts of any and all of these matters on economic development and economic policy in the future.
I will publish something that strikes me as particularly interesting here in the next … week (I almost said ‘weekend’, but ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ is the new trite management mantra to which I hope to subscribe soon).
(The SCA ruling link is to Pierre De Vos’ Constitutionally Speaking, obviously.)