RIP, NOTA: Going Gently Into That Good Night


For those of you who became addicted to the fine writing and even finer level of thought and discussion at Notes on the Atrocities, this does not come as welcome news, and you probably already know it, but Jeff Alworth has decided to close NOTA down. For good. His reasons (given here) are inarguable, but there’s no question that he will be missed even as we respect his choice.

Jeff was always reaching for the truth behind the truth, trying to understand how this or that political or social development/event impacted our lives, where it had come from, where it was going, and how the pieces fit together. He was never content simply to sift the day’s happenings into this or that category, like so many of us. Instead, he worked to pull meaning out of chaos and connections out of isolationism.

Long before I found my own voice as a blogger, Jeff’s NOTA was one of the few blogs I eventually used as a template for my own, sort of. I wanted to do some of the same things he was trying to do. I was–am–not as widely knowledgeable as he is, nor as patient, so I fail more often than I succeed, but his example is always before me and I live up to it when I can.

I’ve said several times–and I’m going to say it again now so get ready to hear something you’ve heard before–that Jeff’s Daily Link was the inspiration for both the Women Blog, Too series and, eventually, LitBlogs‘ attempt to recognize talented bloggers and, hopefully, widen their audience if only a little. His generosity in sharing his success with those struggling to establish a small beach-head in a sea of blogs was extraordinary, and those of us lucky enough to have made his list are grateful for it.

He could be brilliant, he could be maddeningly obtuse, he could be startlingly perceptive or remorselessly pedestrian, but whatever he was at any given moment, he always wrote like an angel, and you gotta admire that in a blogger. Any one of us would be proud to manage half as well during our time in the ‘Sphere.

The death of NOTA is going to leave a gaping hole of good sense, rational discussion, and outstanding writing that isn’t going to be easy to fill. We can try–we owe it, in a sense, to the pioneering example he set, along with some others, that proved blogs could be something more than structureless diatribes and partisan whining–but whether or not we will succeed is a question I wouldn’t even attempt to answer. NOTA set the bar pretty goddammed high and most of us don’t jump all that well.

In the meantime, raise a glass to the death of an old friend and keep an eye on The American Street and Blue Oregon for new posts by the old friend’s creator. May his pen never waver and his ink never dry up.

Emma, we hardly knew ye.

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