Saturday, January 27, 2001
By Paul Ford
A first stab at the answer to that question.
There's only so much to be learned from reading; the armchair football fan grows fat with his bag of chips, watching every
Monday-night game, and the reader grows intellectually soft if she does not try to form word-patterns herself. As Scott Rahin
puts it, in Sky Frequency:
...in me there still remains the boy's dream that I will tune the radio and it will read out my life story; I still wish I
could look at the sky and see constellations spelling "Scott Rahin" and hear black holes collapse with my name on their lips,
but I know I this is not what can happen. The bleeding preacher recedes into dreamlife; now, I idolatrously worship dead authors,
in a church of books and language. Thomas Hardy, Richard Dawkins, James Joyce, Walt Whitman, Yeats, Blake, Montaigne, Pound,
Hofstadter, Henry James, Don Delillo, William Faulkner, William Carlos Williams, they invite me into their skins, behind their
eyes; I possess them; I cannot tell I am not one of them when I read their words in books, and then they are whispering my
name, the dead poets, my stars.
I was lonely in my early 20s, and the site helped me find an audience, invisible, to listen to my explanations of why nothing
was working out. Later, Ftrain was a place to break down stories into smaller pieces, and find new ways of fitting them back
together. Here, I can work to find a voice. Finding a voice means that you have tuned yourself to speak into the sky; you've
found the sky frequency. Someday.
Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some
There is a Facebook group.
You will regret following me on Twitter here.
About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit
things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.
If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at email@example.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am
glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.
: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
© 1974-2011 Paul Ford
Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose.
As a hobby I write.
Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out.
Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley.
Welcome to the Company.
“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”.
Forgot to tell you about this.
“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”.
An essay for TheMorningNews.org.
People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately.
Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford.
Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford.
Nanolaw with Daughter.
Why privacy mattered.
0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford.
It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so
that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So:
Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand
below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every
Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came
unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...)
That Shaggy Feeling.
Antilunchism, by Paul Ford.
Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford.
I'll have no one to blame but future me.
Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford.
(1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and
the historical fallacy.
The Moral Superiority of the Streetcar.
(1) Long-form journalism fixes everything. (2) The moral superiority of the streetcar. (3) I like big bus and I cannot lie.