Frequent visitors to our website may have noticed some subtle changes that have started cropping up. For example, the old “Dappled Feed” title over a section of our homepage has been replaced by “Deep Down Things,” and the word “News” has been changed to “Blog” on the top bar. There will be more changes coming down the line, which you will notice within the coming months. All of this is to say that with the help of a madly talented new group of volunteer editors and writers, we are committing to transforming what used to be a section for occasional updates and links into an important extension and pillar of our mission. Our hope is to make Deep Down Things a focal point on the internet for substantive Catholic commentary about culture.
We have long debated on the merits of starting blog, and several considerations had kept us from taking the plunge so far. First, there was the simple matter of logistics. With an editorial board made up entirely of volunteers, who has the time after combing through submissions, selecting pieces, working with authors, proofreading, typesetting, proofreading again, coordinating with our printer, promoting issues, raising funds, and who knows what else, to update a blog? And even if we could do that, should we? One of the reasons Dappled Things exists is to provide a safe-haven from all the NOISE that the Internet-age has ushered in, the kind that tricks you into spending entire days clicking on links and arguing on comboxes for hours, making you feel for a moment as if a matter of life at death is at hand, until suddenly you wake up and wonder where the last six months of your life have gone. God knows I’ve been there too often, and know too well the way such activity deadens the soul. We’ve never had an interest in adding to that noise, even at the cost of greater traffic and more subscribers, because we see it as directly opposed to our mission. Among the many compliments Dappled Things has received in its relatively few years of existence, as the journal’s founder nothing has gratified me more than when BadCatholic called us “a welcome respite from the eternal snark of the Internet.” I knew then that we must be doing things right.
So why the change? As far as logistics go, we discovered that that was not a real issue after all. When we released a call for volunteers recently, the response was almost astonishing—not just because of the number of applications we received, but also because of their quality. I have to say it bodes well for the future of Catholic literature.
But more importantly, we concluded that—despite so many examples to the contrary—it is possible for a blog to be more than junk food for the mind, to be a source of nourishment for the long term, a medium for the kind of writing that a year from now you’ll still be glad you read. And it’ll help us do one thing we’ve long been aiming for, but have so far not been able to really accomplish. Dappled Things aims to foster a revitalization of contemporary culture, but culture obviously means much more than high literature and visual art, even if it doesn’t seem so at times. Too often people have fallen into the habit of making, consciously or not, a hard distinction between Culture and culture, the former standing for all those things that they feel they ought to enjoy (or that pretentious people say they ought), the latter for all the things that make up the actual forms and details of a life. While I would grant that in an important sense there is something “high” about “high culture,” separating the two actually serves neither. What we are hoping to achieve, then, is to make Deep Down Things a place where readers can be nourished by beauty both in the high and the mundane, where the sublime in the works of art that we publish can seep into the daily lives of those who visit our site. So yes, there will be posts about new novels, interviews with authors, and nuanced commentary on art, but you may just as easily find articles about food, traditions, and travel, and pacing our lives to the rhythms of the liturgical year. We want all our pages, whether paper or html, to shine with the true richness of the Catholic vision of the good life, the life that delights equally in the elegance of a philosophical proof, the amber glow of a pint of a Trappist beer, or the joy of dancing with friends and family after an Advent novena (a Colombian tradition I’ll have to tell you about later).
The blog will be officially inaugurated in about a week, during which our various bloggers will begin introducing themselves. Please check back soon, add us to your RSS feed if you haven’t already, and join us as we explore the “dearest freshness deep down things.”