Archive for the ‘blogs’ Category
Just saw this on the LRB blog, and I’m wondering if I might just not be responsible for the connection. I don’t know for sure whether Adam Roberts reads this blog – though I suspect he’s glanced once or twice, perhaps due to SEK’s occasional links. On the other hand, I’ve posted stuff like this about Ange Mlinko… Anyway, funny stuff, who knows…
I’m staying in Brooklyn for the next two or so weeks. I’d like to get back to blogging – the better me, in some senses, is the me that blogs… rather than leaving all the passing thoughts to quick dissolve in time or silent suppression. So watch this space – I’m already working on a couple and should post soon.
Working a piece on “therapeutic culture” and blogging (and social media, etc etc). Making my way through, but just wondering if any of you have come across anything particularly interesting on this front?
From Lars Iyer’s Spurious, as quoted in a nice review here:
’Compare our friendship,’ says W., ‘to that of Levinas and Blanchot’. Of their correspondence, only a handful of letters survive. Of ours, which takes the form of obscenities and drawings of cocks exchanged on Microsoft Messenger, everything survives, although it shouldn’t. Of their near daily exchanges, nothing is known; of our friendship, everything is known, since I, like an idiot, put it all on the internet.
Looking forward to reading this, when my copy arrives. Feel a strange kinship with LI, despite never having met him, as it feels like we’ve both been doing our versions of the depressive lit blog for a long time, almost from the very beginning.
Wait, say it ain’t so Joe? Where am I going to go (periodically, everyothermonthly at best, obviously) for my one-stop blogshop experience about my ostensibly nascent homosexuality, the size and efficacy of my male bits, someone’s fantasy of my engagement in paraphilias unattempted yet in prose or rhyme, abuse of my unwritten novels, or, as actually happened at one point, a debate about the upsides/downsides w/r/t the death of my daughter posted as my daughter was being traumatically born?
As it turns out, I was right. And last night at a World Cup party, in the course of horsing around about my sniffing out his sniffing me out, I ended up disclosing the existence of this thing to quite a number of other colleagues, or maybe in fact all of them.
Christ, let’s hope that contract for the monograph comes through. Or else I’m going to be making one hell of an argument about my blog’s impactfulness!
Paradox of blogging. When I justify – generally to myself but sometimes to others – the fact that I write this blog, generally my argument takes this shape: that the blog is helpful because it takes inchoate ideas, random reflections garnered in reading this or that, and forces me to follow through to a claim about them. In other words, the temptation to make a post of a thought moves distracted thinking through to un-distracted concentration. Time and again, I’ve found an argumentative line where there was nothing more than a passing fancy.
But here’s the paradox. I’m garnering a little more writing work lately, which of course makes more writing work easier to garner, as you can parade around your CV bonafides like a journalism membership card. But what happens when this happens is a sort of doubling-over of, or doubling-down on, the logic described above. Random thought turns into incipient blogpost, but then incipient blogpost becomes potential article for pay and in print.
This happened today, early this morning. I was working on a long post based on this article, when I realized that the thing I was doing had the reasonable potential to be a properly publishable piece. And so I stopped short, post nearly done, and wrote instead an pitch for the world-leading art magazine (as my department’s impact statement has it – and they’re not wrong!) that I sometimes write for. We’ll see what happens – I’d be thrilled to write this up for them. But it does fuck the blog a bit. Increasingly, when I think I’m onto something good, I keep it off of here. For instance, there’s this great idea I have for a piece about DFW, totally blogable, but…. It’ll never see the html.
My plan is to drop the pseudonymity at least by January 2011, right after my probation hearing – in which case, generally speaking, I’ll be able to link to published work and then all will be good and I won’t feel guilty about selling out my readers and being in general a bad blogger of the old and pure school. (There are funny stories to tell about the pseudonymity too – like the one about how I’d do my department good, again on the “impact” side of the REF, if I’d cop to having a blog… But… It’s a bit more complicated than that, isn’t it?)
Exciting stuff, and an advertisement for blogging. The headless one will land in 3 hrs 30 min at Heathrow and then is (I hope, if we can work out the US mobile-phoneless-comms) staying at mine. I’ve even washed the sheets on the guest room bed and cleaned out the cats’ litterbox! Scott is probably my oldest blog friend, and one whom I haven’t seen (if memory serves) since 2007 at the Philadelphia MLA (right? I’ve been to so many Philly MLAs that I’ve lost track) when I sat at a blog-meetup dinner next to Holbo and Bitch Ph.D.
I’ve been doing this for a long, long time.
It’s not hard to describe the pain of writing. You type and the other part of you says No, not good or sometimes scribbles in the margins in ink visibile only to you AWK. And so the first you backspaces and starts again. And again you hear, from the other guy, Nope. Awkward. And this goes on for quite awhile until you finish the piece, progressing in a way best described as an inside-outing of the Zeno’s arrow paradox.
I am rewriting a section of this into my piece on waiting. The blog is the only place (perhaps you can tell – ugh) where the process above does not apply. And thus I’m beginning to have a sense that the most efficient way for me to get writing done is simply to scribble every night on here and then, later, go back and see what can be combed out of all this knotted stuff. I am combing more out of this knotted stuff, and it seems to be OK to do that.
Interesting to think: I only write easily when I write under another name. When I have a sense that my own name is going to be on the thing – and it’s hard not to have that sense when I tap into the first two lines of every document THE TITLE and then MY NAME, right back to Catholic school training that, see also APOTAAAYM.) But under the pseduo, even though the pseudo is becoming increasingly less pseudoffective all the time, I can simply type. If I could remember my Derrida on some level other than a sort of intellectual muscle-memory, I could probably come up with something clever to say about all of this. But now, really, back to the cutting, pasting, and strenuous editting.
My wife claims that she can tell my mood and general stance by what she finds me doing when she comes down to the kitchen in the morning. If I am reading the newspaper, that is one sort of thing. If I am typing into a blog window, that is another sort of thing.
The other day she said I miss you and the newspapers, you with all of the newspapers in the morning.
Was it Hobsbawm who claimed that the morning paper was the modern man’s version of daily prayer? When I am happy and invested in the world outside, my mornings are a full church-service of engaged attention in the human. Otherwise, it is something closer to a black mass of interactivity.
Hell definitely isn’t other people, but it probably has something to do with compulsive issueless work and nonsynchronous communication.
Too much branding going on lately in our neck of the internet! Just saying! The bubble era, sure, taught all of us lots of tricks about hype without substance, ads perhaps with products but catastropically without a business plan. Or…. it’s like we’re trying to replay English Department 1999, which I can assure you wasn’t all that fun or useful and certainly not sustainable let alone scalable the first time around. Better work before the guerilla-marketting, the spray-painted logos, the placard spots above urinals! Let the world do the naming!
Ah, there’s no way that you could have known, but if you just read the previous post about Dickens, you just read not simply a post but an experiment in blogging. Surprised? I bet you are! And as the title of this one suggests, just as that was the first of a new set, this is the last of an old set. Now you’re confused as well as surprised. Sorry!
Long story. I doubt you’ll read to the end, but I’ll tell you anyway.
Little known fact: I’ve been blogging longer or way longer than anyone on my blogroll with the possible exception of Kotsko and definitely (I think!) Ftrain, who barely blogs anymore, and I’m not sure he ever considered what he did “blogging” anyway. I’ve changed blog addys at least twice that I can remember. There was an original site under my real name that I got rid of when I first heard the siren shriek of the job market during, I think, my second or third year of grad school. (I believe that the google trove for my real name still includes my listing on a very early blogroll at Crooked Timber, believe it or not, as well as some snarky comments in response to a post on Judith Butler…) My second was called, er, Cultural Revolution – that’s the reason why some people still call me CR, which was my handle at both Long Sunday and during the Holbonic Wars at The Valve. Now this one, which I acquired to lose the old name (look, I’d just come back from China when I started the other, which really is the opposite of an excuse, I know…) and so that I could have a free and clean wordpress.com account.
I have, to date, posted 63 posts considering whether I should take down the blog or not, unless I missed a few or ten. Now look, it’s a form that I love, and that has won me some very good friends, and that has in fact served as a useful public notebook for coming up with ideas for work (my semi-started second big academic project, which has to date yielded me several good conference papers and served to do the job that a second project needs to do at job interviews, was wholly born on here….)
In fact, it’s safe to say – and this is a big statement, but a safe one, I am pretty sure – that my little lived existence right now, today, would be much less full and exciting if I didn’t have the blog. Let’s leave it at that.
On the other hand, and its a big other hand, I am – you may be surprised to learn – an extremely perfectionist writer in my real life. Not in some ways, ways that really matter. I’ll never send out a manuscript again without paying a copyeditor to work it through or doing it myself, I can be a bit sloppy. Not that sort of perfectionism, unfortunately, but I want things that I write to be really smart and perfect. Really really smart and perfect actually, as far as the ideas go, the articulation of the ideas, the relevance of the ideas, you get the picture. Basically, I pretty much refuse to write unless I am overturning some major received idea or preconceived notion about an issue – unless, that is, what I am writing can be considered groundbreaking work. I have broken major ground with Conrad, I have sort of broken ground with Joyce, and I have a piece still in the can about Joyce that I know breaks some serious fucking ground, but I am resistant to publishing it despite spontaneous offers to do so after verbal delivery of said piece as it’s almost the only unpublished thing in the book I’m working on, which given a summer’s work (and proper copyediting) will break reasonably big ground, I think, in the study of modernism in general. Unlike on the blog, I am also not a self-indulgent writer – in real life we’re talking. Above all, I am an exceptionally slow writer. Slow slow slow. But it’s worked for me, in some ways anyway, some very material ways, so far.
Now, maybe you can see where this is going. The blog provides a space for me to write in a way that I don’t normally allow myself to do. I can’t keep a journal – I’ve tried since I was a kid and it just makes me feel sort of schizophrenic, writing things for which I am the only audience. On the blog, I can write at speed, I can be sloppy and self-indulgent, write misery memoir bits to see where they take me, take up unpromising leads and add no value but still post them, etc etc etc. And sometimes they pan out! But, given my natural tendencies as far as writing goes, there’s a bit of grate and spark that happens after, some uncomfortable friction, when I look back at what I’ve done on here, whether a few minutes later or the next morning for a few months hence.
This makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps you’ve noticed the number of retracted posts lately. That makes me uncomfortable and is a sign of underlying uncomfortableness as well. Not good! I’m uncomfortable enough as it is – I don’t need to go looking for new delivery systems and means of self-infliction, for god’s sake!
I’ve come to realize that the problem might not be with blogging itself. I am not going to take the blog down; I probably won’t ever. I have been talking this over with people and stewing in private moments about it this week, and finally tonight I’ve come to a conclusion about what to do.
I am tempted to stick my own name up on the blog. Ooooooo. Yep I know. I know. I know what you’re thinking: yeah, maybe, um, yeah, maybe you should think twice about that, given, erm, content and quality. I know. But let’s do a breakdown of the ups and downs:
- I could get in trouble with my job. Now, this is England, and things aren’t so terrifying as they are in America, and probation’s not tenure. But still, at the place I’m at, there remains a possibility that writing stuff could get me called into an office of some sort, somewhere. There’s non-blog precedent that’s rather scary etc.
- Anxiety about getting in trouble with my job, in times like these particularly, could stop me from writing, well, not just about some things, but about anything at all.
- The stuff that I write off-blog seems to be good. At least some have thought so. I’m going to water my corpus down, turn it to mush, front the back and back the front, all not nice!
- I find it therapeutic and sometimes interesting to write about myself, even in a personal, perhaps uncomfortably personal way. That will certainly come to an end with the end of pseudonymity.
- I will feel tons more pressure to write only good things on here, things that I would be proud of in real life. Therefore there will be higher quality, if lower quantity, and I won’t (probably) feel that grating embarrassed feeling the morning after anymore.
- I won’t write about myself anymore. Which I shouldn’t do and I’ve been told, repeatedly, I shouldn’t do. Or at least not the way I generally do.
- My readership will likely spike. Watch. It will. I’ll report back, but you’ll see…
- My wife’s principal argument, as she is a proper writer and blog-averse, and who gets paid for her work: that though it is properly communist or whatever to do as I do, it is insane to write without name attached, as nothing will ever come of it. I actually, for better or worse, hear what she is saying here.
There’s more to include in the lists, but I’m getting tired, so let’s wrap up. I am scared to do it, and scared to lose my pseudoblog, but I am thinking it might be best. So, here’s the deal. I’m not ready to take the leap just yet. But from the Dickens post forward, not including this one, and for an indefinite period, I am only going to write things on here that I would consider acceptable if this weren’t a pseudoblog, if my name were on the masthead. I’d love to hear what any of you think about what I’m thinking. But I figure it’s worth a trial run, at least. And at least it will clear out the mainpage before colleagues and students (and oh christ family????) start coming around and finding notes on my early-mid-life crisis or therapeutic epiphanies and so on….
(Ooof. Family. Jesus I forgot about that. There’s a chance they might not really understand google yet. Let’s hope. Maybe this will be healthy. Does wordpress.com include an IP blocker? Does anything? Oh lord…. My god, it’s one thing to write Safe for Work, another thing to write Safe for Mom and Dad…. I’ll ask at therapy on Tuesday….)
John Pistelli is back! And his new stuff is as good as it used to be back at commonplacebook….
William James in his Psychology:
why, some day, walking in the street with our attention miles away from that quest, does the answer saunter into our mind as carelessly as if it had never been called for – suggested, possibly, by the flowers on the bonnet of the lady in front of us, or possibly by nothing that we can discover
Of course, we’ve known all this for awhile. The poets and fictionists did, and the “theorists” of the period in question. Benjamin, of course, is famous for it, and that’s why he’s one of the patron saints of blogism.
It has to be a generational issue, to some extent, the fact that we don’t take what we make on here all that seriously. That we haven’t framed a “movement” out of it, complete with marketing phrases and manifestos and the like, that we are so embarrassed when we navel-gaze a bit about what we’re doing that we immediately ward it off with a joke.
But it might have value. It at least, as dictated by the mandates of its form, sidesteps several of the worst problems faced by conventional work in the discipline or movement or school. There are ways, when you squint a bit, that it seems like the logical next step, the materialization of aims and desires and strategies employed or prospective, that have been percolating for a hundred years, a hundred and fifty years.
But we’re too embarrassed to think that way about it. And plus, we most of us negotiate with impulses that nudge or push in other directions. (Good time to link to this…..) But it’d be worth thinking about it. (God, see – the temptation, the reflex, is to write a 25 pp paper and send it to fucking Critical Inquiry. That right there is the problem…. What am I asking myself to do that I’m not doing already, right here and in this post?)