Who are “we” and why are we here?

“World of Hilarity” is an experiment of sorts. As I said in the first post, after almost an entire adult working life spent on it, I had given up blogging for some years, and mostly given up paid writing, because of the feeling of having run out of things to say on such a narrow range of topics - the crisis of faith, the crisis of our civilisation. But at the same time, I felt hemmed in by the strangeness of our now-global situation, unable to cope without “writing it out”.

At the same time, I had lost my home in Norcia and gone into a kind of exile that left me socially cut off from my monastery and friends there, but also isolated from the community of friends I’d come from in Rome. While Covid may have locked the rest of the world down over the last year, creating social isolation for many for the first time in their lives, it was a reality that I’d already been living - and grown sick of - since 2016. I still had social media, but it felt to me like lurking in the corners, being a wallflower at someone else’s party.

After many years of focusing on the Giant Flaming Asteroid hurtling towards us out of the sky, I started to realise that I still loved the world. The natural and the human world is full of wonders, and I thought it might be helpful to others to talk about those things, to remind ourselves that there really is “some good in this world…worth fighting for”. Maybe take a break from the Apocalypse. I’m not going to get polyana, but maybe let’s talk about the Other Things.

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Subscribe - it’s cheap - to get full access to everything in the newsletter and website of World of Hilarity, where some posts and features will be available to subscribers-only. This is not only aimed at rewarding paid subscribers, but at creating a sense of security, community and fellowship where, perhaps, actual interaction and even - who knows - maybe even real friendships can grow. In a sense, it is closing the door to the outside world so we can have a bit of quiet time. It allows readers a bit more confidence about commenting and interacting with each other, and it discourages trolls. We’re not “in the wild” here, huddled about the fire, threatened on all sides by predators, but at home enjoying a civilised conversation… More tea, vicar? Drop more sherry, perhaps?

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You won’t have to worry about missing anything. Every new edition of the newsletter goes directly to your email inbox with a link that will allow you to interact on the website itself. So it’s both a newsletter - if you just want to read privately - and an interactive community if you want to come over for tea. When I was a kid, growing up in an English colonial town, it was the custom among the set to make it generally known that tea would be “put on” at 3 pm, for anyone who wanted to drop by. At the start, I aim at posting twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I may limit commenting to subscribers on some posts. If the response is positive I will add a third, subscription-only post on Mondays. Don’t be late.

Join the conversation

One of the things I wanted to avoid with a completely open, public blog space was the lack of intimacy such things always seem to have. This anonymity - the feeling that you can get away with anything - has encouraged the feral wilderness feeling the internet has acquired in recent years. Back in the early days of blogging there was a real sense of fraternity among bloggers and readers, with a certain amount of personal accountability. I treated my blog like my living room, and readers like guests. It elevated the tone, raised expectations all around and made “trolling” much less acceptable. At the earliest hint of the troll’s vicious snarl, the offender would be escorted to the door. People will try on what they think they can get away with; let’s make trolling a thing of the past. No psychopaths, please; we’re having a nice time.

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