When I first set up this blog, I couldn’t think of a cool name for it. So I just called it Andrew Batson’s Blog, not as a title, really, just a description. But I was never really happy with it and stayed on the lookout for an actual name. I think I found one.
The phrase that captured my fancy is in this short passage from Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, which I was re-reading last year.
I went upstairs again and sat in my chair thinking about Harry Jones and his story. It seemed a little too pat. It had the austere simplicity of fiction rather than the tangled woof of fact.
It’s a great line. In Chandler’s books, the private detective Marlowe spends his time breaking down people’s pat, plausible but wrong stories about what happened, and finding the messier truth underneath.
The phrase appealed to me as, I’ve come to realize, I’m largely empirically oriented: I’m most interested in explaining actual things going on in the world, not in constructing grand theoretical edifices. My formative educational experience was in anthropology, which teaches the understanding of society through participant observation, and my formative professional experience was in journalism, which (at least in my experience) emphasizes relentless effort in discovering and establishing facts. Living in China further demonstrated that, yes, the facts are often pretty tangled.
So that’s it. I’m calling this blog The Tangled Woof.