Outer Life is an autohagiography and a history of today, custom-crafted in the form of decorative word arrangements. Or it's "art that's so focused, so detailed, and so true to the facts that it takes on an almost surreal, dreamlike weirdness." You decide which.
A Monument to a Monumental Insecurity:
Michael Blowhard, 2Blowhards:
The one-of-a-kind Outer Life may be the premier personal-reflections-blogger out there; he's got his own distinctive -- quirky and eccentric -- voice and vision, and he uses blogging like no one else around.
Michael Blowhard, 2Blowhards:
I find Outer Life's ability to put his life under a microscope and to simply observe and describe what he finds to be quite amazing. . . Let me blurt this right out: I enjoy following Outer Life's blogging more than I ever liked reading the books of the hyper-praised author Nicholson Baker. . . .
In a very general sense, Outer Life and Nicholson Baker are doing similar things: quirky and alert self-inspection, in a word. . . . Both writers enjoy palpating the air around them; they're taxonomists of close-in surfaces, including the textures of their own thought processes. And the results both writers generate can resemble in verbal terms the kind of art that scientist/naturalists produce: art that's so focused, so detailed, and so true to the facts that it takes on an almost surreal, dreamlike weirdness.
But Outer Life has a more searching temperament than Nicholson Baker does. And the ongoing-blogging format helps keep Outer Life's work open and affable. . . .
Outer Life spends much of his writing time peering through microscopes and into mirrors, too -- but he can't help noticing how very much of the world his viewing devices reveal. Everything is perceived through him and his self, whatever that is, and through his own immediate experience. But his blogging ain't all about him. Even when it is, bits and pieces of life more generally keep breaking through.
Did I mention that he's also a very funny writer?
So get thee hither and treat yourself to some Outer Life. Something artistic and wonderful is happening there. The world seen through Outer Life's eyes doesn't look quite the same as it looks through anyone else's.
The Outer Life writer doesn't post much anymore, but the wait is always worth it. I love this guy.
OGIC, About Last Night:
After careful consideration, and having duly consulted with my co-blogger, I've come to the conclusion that the mysterious proprietor of Outer Life is the Charles Lamb of our time, or the Charles Lamb of our medium—I'm not sure which, but he's the Charles Lamb of something. His recent posting "Birthday at Buddy's"—as observant, dry, and economical as his usual fare but somehow even more hilarious—is what pushed me over the fence from simply enjoying his essays to reaching for superlatives. If you aren't already reading him, what are you doing with your life?
OGIC, About Last Night:
Have we mentioned lately how much we love Outer Life? Nobody chronicles This Californian Life quite so well. Docents! Read the piece and you too will be repeating that word to yourself wonderingly for the rest of the day.
A most intriguing and different blog.
Remarkable, touchingly insightful.
Enoch Soames, The Charlock's Shade:
As always it is very, very good.
Outer Life is the best blog writing there is. Period. Better than mine, even. And mine ain't bad.
The Epicurean Dealmaker (via Twitter):
Very good writing by @Outerlife at www.outerlife.com. A new favorite.... Were I a confessional writer, I would be very envious of his skill.
He has an eye for the real and a deft concision of phrase.
[M]y favourite all-American read.
The perfectly crafted pieces Outer Life (still, 9 months since I first read him, the best, by some distance) continually turns out on an almost daily basis....
Rachel Howard, Footnotes:
I'm continuing to admire the day-to-day meditations of Mr. Outer Life.
Alan Sullivan, Fresh Bilge:
A modern Austen acolyte, the author of Outer Life writes a blog of manners, quietly chronicling curious aspects of daily existence. Serious thought undergirds the various episodes, but there is frequent wry frivolity as well. Outer Life has evolved distinctively in the past few months, and I chide myself for not reading it more often.
Alan Sullivan, Fresh Bilge:
Alan Sullivan, Fresh Bilge:
Could I really have called Outer Life "humdrum?" I must have done it; the proprietor is a scrupulous fellow. Today I would rather say "quotidian." Outer Life observes the surfaces, so his readers will better understand the depths.
Mr. Outer Life is such a brilliant blogger-writer.
We all wonder who Outer Life Guy is, but the distance he puts between us and him by not giving us even his first name is enormous. It keeps us at arm's length, further than that, even. No familiarity is offered or welcomed. It's perfect. We stay over here, behind this line, standing politely.
For well over a year, I have read the unparalleled blog, The Outer Life. The man who writes The Outer Life is one of the most brilliant observers of the human condition I've read - and given the volume of blogs I read, that is saying something.
A supremely written, interesting blog. The guy brings you right into his mind. If I could communicate like that, I'd have you bitches begging me for more.
Some would call it charming and I have grown to admire and enjoy these small observations and fragments of writing that capture those daily moments of contemporary life.
Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti:
It's always a pleasure to read Outer Life.
I have been reading Outer Life for more than a year now, and it is one of the best-written diarist blogs that I have found.
Retour à la langue anglaise avec deux nouveaux blogs dans le blogroll ou la blogoliste, comme vous voudrez. Via Mr Keefe j'ai découvert Outer Life, que je trouve, autant que je puisse en juger -- l'anglais n'étant pas ma langue maternelle -- très bien écrit et passionnant . . . . Enjoy!
I find Outer Life Guy’s paranoia in this case amusing, but I’m not entirely sure why. He puts so much of his soul into his own writing that I often think while reading one of his posts, “Ahh, like me, just so.” Which is, of course, the exact little kick of self-recognition that the best fiction also gives me.
But he is also so careful to keep his anonymity that even though I get the impression from some of his writing that I know him so well, I also see from where the shadows lie that I barely know him at all - which is exactly what he wants. I think. His writing persona is just that - a persona.
This beautifully written blog may be the web's best kept secret. Brilliant.
Outer Life's "An Open Letter to a Disconsolate Voter" is one of the most remarkable bits of post-election writing we've seen. . . . We've recommended "Outer Life" before. Consider bookmarking the site. . . . [It] make[s] us think. And that's our highest compliment.
Publish, man. Publish. I'll buy it. And I'll press it on anyone who will listen.
As for Outer Life, who always takes readers on a voyage into thought - you, yes you, your secret’s out. We know how many gallons are in your sea. Enough for fine sailing to places we might not otherwise have ventured. Accept a salute, and thanks.
I read this post several times this morning, and thought I would share this fine bit of bloggery.
Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is sure he's used his puny words to describe how great Outer Life is. If you doubt it, or have never visited Outer Life, read this.
Dude knows how to hit a nail on the head.
This guy is hilarious.
An erudite page of commentary on everything from jobs to cars.
I read every post this fellow writes, and many times I feel as if I read my own words, but coming from a more affluent setting and eloquent mouth. His picture obviously isn't real and there's no mention of who he is but I know this man. . . . You should also read him and get to know him. Always well written and thoughtful and even sometimes funny.
It's a personal blog, but so well done. (We hates it, precious, it's just the blog we always wanted to be and we wants it.) I have no idea who this guy is but I love his writing style and his sensibility. I've been enjoying it so much I've been obsessively working my way through the archives. That should tell you something.
I just stumbled upon The Outer Life recently and have thoroughly enjoyed it. The writer puts out a couple of posts a week and if you like good writing I highly suggest it. His cranky old geezer persona, perfectly captured by the photo on his home page, is worth aspiring to.
This anonymous author is the best blogger I have found at documenting the inner life of the "grumpy old guy" persona. Better than me, even. Damn him.
I rave about Outer Life all the time, and the preponderance of my praise no doubt bugs you. But here he is, telling a hilarious and all-too-real story entirely in dialogue form. This is an adventure in suburbia that John Updike and Richard Ford wish they could write.
Autobiographical writers who get it right do one of two things. The first batch write of themselves in essays, self-contained pieces that don’t try to capture the full breadth of a life but that rather illuminate a part that reveals a sense of the whole. Here, I think of Outer Life, who writes movingly and amusingly on aspects of his life. Withdrawing money from an ATM, workplace rumors, life in suburbia, a night on the town—it’s all fresh in his eyes. His blog is a life in miniatures, one that acknowledges that life only flows in an uninterrupted way if we think in purely chronological terms. By detailing his quotidian dramas, Outer Life actually shows how his daily foibles (or his interpretations of them) are different from anyone else’s. He makes the mundane extraordinary.
Oh, and for the love of all things sacred, read this guy.
In the meantime, may I recommend Left at the Gate for your racing news needs, and Outer Life if you're looking for fine writing and a pleasant way to lose time reading.
Thinking about contradictions I’ve found in a most excellent weblog called Outer Life has gotten me to thinking about a contradiction in my own life:
In 38 years as a print journalist, I hated to write about writers. Oh sure, we wrote for the readers, not the subject, but think about it: Writing about a writer is like cooking for a chef. Intimidating. And the better the writer, the more I hated it.
That’s how I feel about the guy who writes Outer Life.
Daniel Green, The Reading Experience:
Outer Life is an excellent blog, although it takes up "literary" subjects only occasionally. Most of the posts are ruminations on ordinary events and concerns, and they are usually very thoughtful, in a delightfully understated sort of way.
One of the best inner life bloggers out there.
Wow. This might be the best blog post I've read all year . . . . everyone needs to read it.
Good writing, not necessarily funny, just interesting almost all the time.
It's extremely well written. Add yet another to the long list of people who are better than me. Sometimes I think I'd be better off learning plate spinning.
I think he is, quite simply, the best.
Brilliant writing couched in a fantastic reality.
I'm noticing that as I seek to improve my writing skills, I find myself reading the blogs of much more creative and writerly folks than I. Of note among recent finds are Tremble and Outer Life.
This is one of my very favorite blogs; the blogger is an excellent, insightful writer whose thoughtful posts have a certain depth and appeal, day after day, that is rare in a personal blog.
Outer Life continues to be among my favorite blogs ever, even when he tries to be breezy and chatty like the rest of us.
AC Douglas, Sounds & Fury:
Have you read the weblog Outer Life yet? No? Well, you should, you know -- regularly. I do, and have for some time now. . . . The writing is consistently literate, wryly intelligent, and not infrequently, screamingly funny. Stop by, and begin reading from the top. Make your day, it will.
Sherry Fowler, Stay of Execution:
Outer Life -- a blog that is as consistent as clockwork: a high quality post, usually a well-crafted personal essay, every weekday.
Searchblog led me to Outer Life, which I find stretches my boundaries a bit, because there's much in his blog I don't relate to, but I find that the combination of his self-examination and careful, thorough observation of others makes for fascinating and entertaining posts, and his writing style is delightfully smooth.
His work is nothing short of brilliant.
One of my favorites, Mr. Outer Life, has upped his monthly postings to weekly ones. They are, as they always are, delectable Belgian chocolates to be twirled in the mouth a while before swallowing. A memorable after-taste lingers. Always.
Someone on the web who writes coherently and well, someone with a wonderful vocabulary, someone whom I wish I could emulate. Bravo!
He rarely updates, he seldom replies, and he has assumed, shall we say, idiosyncratic philosophies. But the Outer Life remains to me better reading than most of what Inquirer’s Highblood manages to churn out. Not that I will stop reading the dailies when I get older; only that the process of getting older has – through the notes of Outer Life – absurdly predisposed me to think it less scary.
Delightful, but sensitive.
A little bit scary that: but not in the same class of scary - or creepy - as Mr Outer Life, who writes so beautifully, but as though he had trained some mind-piercing spycam upon me and my daily doings; who writes with unnatural perception about the things I am up to or the things I am pondering, but at or close-to the same time as me. That just freaks me out, as I've mentioned in mail to some of you, Him included.
A Whole Lotta Nothing About Outer Life:
I was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. And that was my only patrimony. (With apologies to Rafael Sabatini.)
Let us start at the beginning. My infancy. When I was but a babe, my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an eye on me, and see that I did not raise Cain. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and-six, and got it. We now pass to my boyhood. At an early age, I was sent to Eton, everybody predicting a bright career for me. But it was not to be. (With apologies to P.G. Wodehouse.)
Mr. Outer Life has a distaste to new faces, to new books, to new buildings, to new customs. . . . He evades the present, he mocks the future. His affections revert to, and settle on, the past, but then, even this must have something personal and local in it to interest hiim deeply and thoughtfully. (With apologies to William Hazlitt, who originally directed these remarks at Charles Lamb).
His missive is a function of need, not art -- a kind of long message in a big bottle…. The need to indite, inscribe -- be its fulfillment exhilarating or palliative or, as is more usual, neither -- springs from the doubly-bound panic felt by most persons who spend a lot of time up in their own personal heads. On one side -- the side a philosopher'd call "radically skeptical" or "solipsistic" -- there's the feeling that one's head is, in some sense, the whole world, when the imagination becomes not just a more congenial but a realer environment than the Big Exterior of life in earth…. The other side of the prenominate 2-bind … involves why people who write need to do as mode of communication. It's what an abstractor like Laing calls "ontological insecurity" -- why we sign our stuff, impose it on friends, mail it out in brown manila trying to get it printed. "I EXIST," is the impulse that throbs under most voluntary writing -- & all good writing. (With apologies to David Foster Wallace, from his Afterword to David Markson's Wittgenstein's Mistress.)
For days and weeks on end one racks one's brains to no avail, and, if asked, one could not say whether one goes on writing purely out of habit, or a craving for admiration, or because one knows not how to do anything other, or out of sheer wonderment, despair or outrage, any more than one could say whether writing renders one more perceptive or more insane. (With apologies to W.G. Sebald.)
And this was when I realized abruptly that as of that minute (impossible to say exactly which minute), I had finished with whatever large-scale growth I was going to have as a human being, and that I was now permanently arrested at an intermediate stage of personal development. I did not move or flinch or make any outward sign. Actually, once the first shock of raw surprise had passed, the feeling was not unpleasant. I was set: I was the sort the person who said "actually" too much. I was the sort of person who stood in a subway car and thought about buttering toast -- buttering raisin toast, even: when the high, crisp scrape of the butter knife is muted by occasional contact with the soft, heat-blimped forms of the raisins, and when if you cut across a raisin, it will sometimes fall right out, still intact though dented, as you lift the slice. I was the sort of person whose biggest discoveries were likely to be tricks to applying toiletries while fully dressed. I was a man, but I was not nearly the magnitude of man I had hoped I might be. (With apologies to Nicholson Baker.)
I have said that Outer Life was an observer of small things, and indeed he appears to have thought nothing too trivial to be suggestive. His blog posts give us the measure of his perception of common and casual things, and of his habit of converting them into memoranda. . . . [B]ut I am obliged to confess that, though I have just re-read his posts carefully, I am still at a loss to perceive how they came to be written — what was Outer Life's purpose in carrying on for so many years this minute and often trivial chronicle. For a person desiring information about him at any cost, it is valuable; it sheds a vivid light upon his character, his habits, the nature of his mind. But we find ourselves wondering what was its value to Outer Life himself. It is in a very partial degree a register of impressions, and in a still smaller sense a record of emotions. Outward objects play much the large part in it; opinions, convictions, ideas pure and simple, are almost absent. He rarely takes his blog posts into his confidence, or commits to its pages any reflections that might be adapted for publicity; the simplest way to describe the tone of these extremely objective journals is to say that they read like a series of very pleasant, though rather dullish and decidedly formal, letters, addressed to himself by a man who, having suspicions that they might be opened in the post, should have determined to insert nothing compromising. They contain much that is too futile for things intended for publicity; whereas, on the other hand, as a receptacle of private impressions and opinions, they are curiously cold and empty. They widen, as I have said, our glimpse of Outer Life's mind (I do not say that they elevate our estimate of it), but they do so by what they fail to contain, as much as by what we find in them. (With apologies to Henry James, who recorded these impressions after reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's diaries. Thanks, OGIC!)
propagation superfluidity. writing too.