A year ago, I accidentally launched Persistent Enlightenment.
I’d been playing around for quite some time with the idea of using WordPress as a way to store research notes and, as part of the experiment, had set up a private blog called “Persistent Enlightenment,” mostly because I liked the way the words looked. Inspired by the work of colleague Manfred Kuehn — whose Taking Note ought to be required reading for anyone engaged in research and writing, impressed by what Robert Paul Wolff had done on The Philosopher’s Stone, and (closer to home) having been consistently enlightened and challenged by Ben Schmidt’s Sapping Attention, I thought about starting a blog where I could work out various projects that interested me and could dump research that wasn’t going anywhere, but seemed a shame not to share with others (e.g., what Adorno was doing in Thomas Mann’s garden).
So, on January 23, 2013, I thought I would write up a series of posts, save them on the site that I’d set up, and — when I’d gotten a backlog of six posts ready to go, start to publish them at regular intervals. I was, however, a bit shaky as to how the buttons on WordPress worked and, at 10:21PM the very first one I’d thrown together — “Sapere Aude, Incipit!” (appropriate topic, eh?) — was accidentally released onto an unsuspecting world (I’m not quite sure how that happened). And here we are, one year, fifty-two posts, and 22,772 or so page views later.
Although the premature release of that first post meant that I was, from the start, operating without a backlog, I managed to keep to a schedule of at least a post a week until September. But things became a bit more complicated with the resumption of classes (the job of corrupting the youth isn’t getting any easier) and it probably hasn’t helped that my posts, which generally tend to run long, have been running even longer lately or that the topics I’ve been exploring have become a bit more puzzling (at least for me) and take longer to pull together. As a result, I suspect I will be moving towards posting every other week, with some shorter posts when the inspiration strikes. But this is, and will remain, a niche blog devoted to the consideration of “the Enlightenment as historical period and continuing project” (which means that I promise never to post cat videos, unless they have something to do with the Enlightenment, and I suspect it is unlikely that any of them will).
I figured that I should give the blog a birthday present. If you look up on the menu bar you will see it: a brand new tab called “topics.” Inspired by the “finding aid” on the wonderful history of science blog Ether Wave Propaganda, I’ve created a page that groups some of the pieces I’ve written (especially the multipart ones) under topic headings. New visitors to the blog might find this useful. Old readers might find things that they missed. And I will be able to find what I’ve written a bit more easily.