Giovanni Tiso’s blog Bat, Beam, Bean (A Weblog on Memory and Technology) belongs to that lamentably rare genre called by us “slow blog” which attentively studies its subject, thinks over all of its aspects, and presents the result in a theoretic framework. You can learn a lot from each post of it.
This is why it is a special honor to us that the subject of the most recent post at Bat, Beam, Bean was but Poemas del Río Wang. And if in the comments several readers say thanks to Giovanni for having presented Río Wang to them, we also have to say thanks for the same. For his precise review helps also to us to see our own blog from outside, from an aspect and in a context as we have never seen it. Its validity is proved by the fact that when we set about to write some thankful words to the author, the thoughts proposed in his review almost automatically continued to develop themselves further, outgrowing the frames of a comment and assuming the form of a new post. Here below we do not want to resume the whole review, only those few aspects that inspired us to carry them further.
1. Paths. In his introduction Giovanni ponders on the “proper” way of reading a blog to know enough about it for writing a review. Should it be read from the beginning to the end, like a book? The author of a blog usually does not regard this as the best approach, for he or she generally feels the most recent posts and tone of the blog more mature than the earlier ones. Should we then read it inversely, starting from the day of today and going backwards, as we in fact do in most cases? But the new posts often continue older threads, and if you read it backwards, this usually slips your attention for a good while. And in this way you only read the most recent posts, while the interior of the blog remains unknown to you. This is why we at Río Wang try to build paths penetrating the whole blog through references, index posts and a visual table of contents. “The eye travels along the paths cut out for it in the work”, says Paul Klee in the Pedagogical Sketchbook. As a consequence, the bog assumes the form of a private encyclopedia like the Nuova enciclopedia of Alberto Savinio which was in fact a source of inspiration for us at the time of launching Río Wang.
2. Languages. The multilinguality pointed out by Giovanni does not only mean that we translate all posts to one or more languages, but also reacts upon what and how we write. What is trivial to the public of one language is exotic to the other. What I would tell with insiders’ allusions to one, I have to expose in detail to the other. You can learn really much from trying to find the balance between them each time. And multiple public also offers to the reader the guarantee that the posts written on subjects that are far from his or her culture are also checked by readers who are at home in the given culture, and who authenticate it either with their correcting comments or with their approving silence.
3. Images. Blogs generally use images as illustrations in the sign of the adage “one image says more than ten thousand words”. In Río Wang, images do not “say” anything. They do not stand for words, but constitute an autonomous thread running parallel to the text and complementing it. They do not illustrate but urge the reader to link them by way of associations into a second level of interpretation. This is why they must have the visual force to stir up the curiosity of the reader and to involve him in the game of interpretation. This is the source of the “visually sumptuous” character of Río Wang emphasized by Giovanni.
4. Native digital form. Giovanni points out that Poemas del Río Wang, in contrast to most blogs, is difficult to imagine as a column in a printed journal. Apart from the fact that in a printed form it could hardly reach its territorially dispersed community of readers speaking in several languages, its whole structure of hyperlinks, maps, galleries and indexes has been also fundamentally shaped by the digital context. To us this is a very exciting aspect. Río Wang has grown out of the experiences of the CDs and websites created by Studiolum. And in all these projects we have always been stimulated by the various possibilities of reconstructing that non-linear, parallel and cross-referring way of reading as the texts encircled by commentaries, glossas, interlinear texts, notes, interpretations and variations used to live on the pages of medieval treatises, Renaissance editions of ancient works or even of the Dictionary of Bayle: by the alchemy of transforming the text into a texture.
5. And one last unexpected aspect mentioned by a reader: “I recall being mildly disoriented when I first looked at «Poemas del río Wang» – where was I, anyway? For me, the exciting thing about this blog is precisely this sensation of not being able to identify a neat linguistic, geographic or thematic category.” Although this disorientation is unintentional, nevertheless we are glad of it. It means that we have managed to convey something from the excitement of the encounter with the unknown, as we ourselves approach those things, looking for the unexpected even in the well known, about which we report here at Río Wang. Thank you very much for it.