Not Dark Yet

Sauvie Island, Autumn 2009

I’ll admit it: I’m losing steam creating these Daily Miltonian posts, once again.  This has happened many times in the websites over three year (yikes, nearly four year!) existence — posts like What’s The Meta? or, let me think, oh yeah: Whatever Happened To the Daily Miltonian? and…hmmm, I can’t seem to find it, but there was one that just had an image of the Flying Dutchman and sort of announced the end of the website (we still try our best not to say blog) forever.

Portland, East Side, Winter 2010

To me, the heyday of the Miltonian was my last days in the city of Philadelphia, late 06/early 07, culminating in the subsequent trip across America to Portland, in which I posted, in real-time, the adventure unfolding across the country like a red carpet, beamed directly onto the screens of my friends back home.  In my mind it’s sort of just…settled, since then, just as things in my own life have settled (if you can call this crazy life of mine “settled” — I can’t).  If the Miltonian has become a superior product I wouldn’t know — once this thing was moved from its East Coast home to its West Coast home the comments just stopped.  Look at any post from its first six months (all handily archived thanks to WordPress) and you’ll see a chiming pre-Facebook community of participants, talking to the site and to each other.  Community — that’s what it felt like, and it was awesome.  It’s what made me crack open the laptop every morning while the coffee was brewing.  It’s what made me press fingers to keys to create the content.  Today’s Miltonian feels like carefully constructed model ships, built into bottles and sent out to sea, never to return.  It’s a pleasant way to while away time on a desert isle but it doesn’t feel particularly rewarding.

Pacific City, Autumn 2009

The Internet has changed in the near four years since this project was begun.  Our worlds have changed.  Our brains have changed.  And for me, place has changed.  Philadelphians are eager to build communities — Sarah Sarringtons and Ben Warfield and Brady Russell were folks I had just met at the inception of the Miltonian, and they were all instantly eager to contribute, in both the comments and in the content.  Portlanders, I have found, seem to be a little more reticent, suspicious even, of the latest invitation and provocation to gather.  Do I miss the City of Brotherly Love?  I don’t miss the City, but I certainly miss the Love.

Mount Hood, Summer 2009

That said, things are coming around.  Fort Saint Davids just hosted our second Literary Mixtape and the results were astounding.  People came, and though they behave as Portland audiences tend to do — a little shy at first, slow to clap, cautious to laugh, still, a few drinks in them and a little trust earned, you do feel the love.  You really do.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  But then we held out a blank piece of paper and said “Give us your email address, we’d love to tell you about our next event and we’d prefer not to use Facebook!” The paper remained blank.  It’s just a different culture, here, one I’m still getting used to.  But I’m not giving up on it just yet.

West Hills, Autumn 2009

Which is to say, the Miltonian, and the Fort Saint Davids effort, remains.  Summer is most definitely almost here, and with the return of the sun comes the return of inspirations.  I’ve got a lot of great ideas for event-type stuff this summer, more readings, more Mixtapes, more community, move love.  Please, whoever you are — and despite the fact that the stats say all kinds of you folks are reading this thing, I just wouldn’t know — stick around.  The Miltonian is not dead yet.

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