I love to read. I love the styles of certain columnists. I love the way some authors find to express themselves, the way they paint with words, like the opening of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, an opening that took almost three years to fully appreciate. Thinking back on it now, his description of the ship waiting for the tide to turn on the Thames, the welding of sea and sky, required full attention, something that I couldn’t achieve until I found myself stationed at some remote radar station north of the Arctic Circle, waiting for the sun to appear again. I read not for entertainment, but for the pleasure of expression, new ways to structure sentences and thus, thoughts. I want to read new words, enrich my Wortschatz. Wortschatz is German for vocabulary, and yet so much more. It translates literally to treasure trove of words, a bounty.
So it is that with my recent retirement and transition to a rural life that I think on the act of reading again, this time with some greater urgency. I worry that my Wortschatz will slowly find itself depleted, that my ability to comprehend and build sentence structures greater than that required by the average tweet, or reader thereof, will be diminished and dulled, and so would I be dulled. To be clear, there are some sharp wits at work in the twitterspere, but on the whole, not an environment for expression.
And yet, according to Clive Thompson, social media is the environment for self-expression:
“Each day, we compose 154 billion emails, more than 500 million tweets on Twitter, and over 1 million blog posts and 1.3 million blog comments on WordPress alone … How much writing is that, precisely? Well, doing an extraordinarily crude back-of-the-napkin calculation, and sticking only to email and utterances in social media, I calculate that we’re composing at least 3.6 trillion words daily, or the equivalent of 36 million books every day. The entire U.S. Library of Congress, by comparison, holds around 35 million books”.
For me, this blog was intended to share my investment experiences and hopefully prompt some disgruntled mutual fund owner to review their raison d’être. No sooner did I compose my first post, when I found myself critiquing not only the content, but also the style. In my much earlier days, my style amused; those that commented, described a stream-of-consciousness approach to my written communications. Some thought I was funny. In business, my output was more suited to reports: dense and pedantic, and frankly even I would not recognise my writing as my own.
It is said that flying an airplane is hours and hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror; investing should be a little bit like that: for the most part boredom and tedium until your year-end return calculation. My hope is that over time, this blog will do more than chronicle the tedium; that it will allow me to explore writing, self-expression, plumb and replenish my Wortschatz, and, if I do it well enough, inspire my reader to walk away from the Financial Industrial Complex.