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last in a series of posts… you’ll see….

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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:

Contra:

  • 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.

Pro:

  • 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….)

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 21, 2009 at 1:09 am

Posted in blogs, me

15 Responses

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  1. I believe I started on July 1, 2003 — nice to start on the first day of the month like that. (My blog is actually slightly older than Crooked Timber — but if you were on their blogroll, you must’ve been somewhat established by the time they started.)

    I never seriously considered a pseudonym, and when I worry about job-related repurcussions, etc., I always figure it’s better to keep going and bury the questionable stuff rather than, for example, delete the blog and then have my comment participation come up much higher on the old Google results. And your wife may be right, although my experience with getting approached to do “real” things as a result of the blog is rather small.

    Adam Kotsko

    February 21, 2009 at 1:28 am

  2. Ads, I’ve been following your blog for about a year now: it’s a great read, some of the most inspired, smartest writing in the blogosphere, a space that becomes more professionalized, more product driven, more drivel clogged by the day. Thanks for what you do. I love how your name is nowhere here. Give yourself the chance, the freedom to keep it like it is: as if spoken by a character in a novel. Why pen yourself in? What’s proper about having a name anyways? I’d miss something if gave up your anonymity.

    Typos

    February 21, 2009 at 5:16 am

  3. Adam,

    I can’t remember when exactly I started and can’t find the archive of posts that would make it clear (ah, posterity!) but yeah, my first start was around then. Cultrev started in 2004. My google linked comment about butler is from December 2003 and I definitely had the blog then (please don’t go look if you know my name and drive it back up to the top of my gCV…. It’s taken so long for it to fall to the bottom…)

    I was added (upon request) to a fairly early version of the CT roll, so, nah it’s not like I was famous n’ shit back in the day.

    My experiences is the world of print are mixed. I had one really primo opportunity that I fucked up (sorta)… And indirectly, through the personal relationships thing, it’s yielding good stuff now. But sure, no, I know…

    Typos,

    Ah geez, thanks. Thanks thanks.

    Ads

    February 21, 2009 at 8:50 am

  4. You were one of the bloggers I found intriguing. But a sense of false friendliness came to dominate this as a result of not knowing who you are. As I have a terrible reputation in the blogs, I don’t blame you for not wanting ME to know who you are, although I haven’t any academic theory connections with which to threaten your ‘job issues’, and this I’ve not done to anybody no matter how much I found them loathsome. We had a little skirmish several years back on LS, but you were very gentlemanly when I said I’d behave on your blog. From then on, it’s always been pleasant, and you’ve written some witty and smart things, but I did quit commenting here because I liked your things a little too much to able to accept your anonymity any further. Not that I’m such a prize for you anyway, given that I’m not exactly the Communist sort. This is, however, interesting, because at the moment I’m having very long dialogues with someone from London who won’t identify himself, but writes such orchidaceous things I find him thoroughly irresistible and even said that such a thing was all right if he wanted to communicate with me that way. But he’s got a history with Hyperstition too, and the net effect is a composite of people we are both familiar with and/or know and/or know of, and he could be any of these or none of them (as he claims. Basically, I had given up all blog commenting, but this anonymous fellow has been teasing and tweaking me for well over two months, with a laudable concentration and what seems to me a brilliant talent; so that it was only because of him that I wrote anything further.

    I do remember you posted a photo which I think you said was of yourself about a year ago on vacation in Miami or some place in Florida. Was that, in fact, you?

    This is a somewhat interesting post, in that I would have not ever commented here again but for this subject. Of course, you could email me, but it doesn’t matter that much. You have always seemed a basically affable and likable guy, but although I’ve thought a lot of your posts were good, I’ve often felt that your particular blog problem was not to let the discussions go on long enough the way most do. In any case, I would want to know who you are at this point, whether or not I ever wrote anything here. Because that other fellow is the only one who has so seduced me by the incredible lyrical beauty of his writing alone that I allowed him to be the unknown and me to be the known. Other than that one exception, I do admit I much prefer that bloggers names be given, and think it shows courage. Before this ‘dark attractor’ (unless he’s in fact admitted his identity as a bright sunshiney type as of yesterday) arrived, I had stopped all blog writing except some threads at Talking Points Memo and pretty often at Krugman’s blog or some of the NYT blogs, although those are over-populated and discussion doesn’t ever become developed, and obviously Krugman doesn’t talk on his blog.

    Anyway, if that was you in the old Miami snapshot, you’ve got a good body and a pretty face.

    Patrick

    February 21, 2009 at 5:47 pm

  5. Ugh, no! That wasn’t me in that picture! Read the post again – all images were from that day’s Evening Standard! Man I have to be more careful… I picked that image because he looked like such a scuzz! Is that what you imagine me to be?

    As for the real me, I have posted a photo, not a very good one, within the last month. Not sure you’ll be able to tell about my face or body from it though.

    Ha! Your comments are always great Patrick. Jesus.

    How am I not letting the conversations go on long enough? Everyone is permitted to talk as much as they want. I’d do anything to have chaining 150 comment threads blooming all over the site. Say again what you mean.

    But let me just break this down. You’re saying because my prose is not “orchidaceous” enough, therefore I am not enough a “dark attractor” to merit your participation in my comment boxes unless I reveal my real name? Is that all? Or did I read it wrong?

    Ads

    February 21, 2009 at 8:37 pm

  6. Add an “about me”(or something less lame sounding) link at the top right where yr email is. If people care enough they get yr name, they drop you a line, they can find you. Keep the blog name the same.

    If you’re just less cryptic about yr identity it’s really a non-factor to the majority of readers, I’d assume. If we know who you are, and we really care, we can look for yr book(s) at the google/lib…

    Pretty much it gives those of us who might be at conferences the chance to approach and say, “Hi. Really like yr blog… Did you ever buy a pair of Jeans?”

    Tokyo

    February 21, 2009 at 8:53 pm

  7. I say it’s a non-issue, and thus there’s no reason to change a good thing. I could theorize this at length, but there you have it.

    You’ll be amused to know that as of this spring I will have a weekly radio show in the town where I work, called Jane Dark’s Cultural Revolution!

    jane

    February 21, 2009 at 9:32 pm

  8. You’re saying because my prose is not “orchidaceous” enough, therefore I am not enough a “dark attractor” to merit your participation in my comment boxes unless I reveal my real name? Is that all?

    Well, the ‘is that all?’ is very orchidaceous–and the ‘sauce reduction’ very charming. It’s really I don’t like the sense of familiarity for too long a time with someone whose name I am not allowed. With the other personage, it may not be sustainable either, although there’s a touch of Bataille to it that I can’t resist. You’ve a touch of the ‘dark attractor’ with your nervous wreckness sometimes, so I apologize for having cheap taste, but looking at the photo again, I see that I did have doubts about the integrity of the cheekbones, due to the light; I can’t tell all that much. I just assumed he had washboard abs, and liked that a smart prof might look like a clubland type…please forgive…

    Patrick

    February 21, 2009 at 9:55 pm

  9. Tokyo,

    Yeah maybe that’s what I should do. Ha! My jeans! I might even start wearing them to conferences!

    Jane,

    Wow! Does that a previous iteration of me is cohosting the show? The wonders of satellite technology.

    Yeah you’re probably right about what to do. Hmmm…

    Patrick,

    Ha! I’ve only allowed a tiny sliver of the “nervous wreckness” stream through on here, so you can just imagine what it’s like in HD.

    Are you saying I don’t look like a clubland type?

    I’ll send you my real name, OK? I’d rather you comment than not, obviously…

    Ads

    February 21, 2009 at 10:50 pm

  10. Perfect. I’m honoured and pleased. No, you may well look like a clubland type, but I think that I saw that picture you posted on here about a month ago, and couldn’t make out too much, as you note.

    I demonstrated a bit of what I meant. I didn’t answer your question about the ‘discussion brevity’ mild charge. Sometimes I would think I’m asking you questions, or indicating I hoped you’d say more, and…you often wouldn’t. On the other hand, I do chalk up much of that to your schedule. I’ve noticed how you’ll not blog at all for 3 weeks, then there will come a flood, and so it’s really practical concerns that make the blogging pace have to be a little skewed–PLUS family and having all those things to do.

    This is very nice, and I’m a bit surprised, because you talked about how you didn’t want to be identified by your real name over the years so often, it seemed like a major fixation. Obviously, I’ll be careful not to use it on the blog until you do. In response to the PROS of using your real name on the blog itself, I would think you might want to decide whether you want to do mostly more formal posts, or lete this be a more relaxing place. Obviously, you will write more formal posts with your name, but you write like that elsewhere. Worth considering both possibilities, whether you need it as a place to write funny things like about ‘how asshole’ you were being one time, I think it was about some generalization, you said ‘go ahead, you know you want to tell me what an asshole I am being’. Whatever you decide, the blog oughtn’t to be a place that would cause more stress, possibly not even ‘good stress.’ You’ll figure it out.

    Patrick

    February 21, 2009 at 11:14 pm

  11. Wait how do I write you? Write me and I’ll write you back Patrick.

    Ads

    February 22, 2009 at 1:05 am

  12. The address you have at the top wouldn’t take, but I’ve never known why people are worried about their email addresses–the real ones, yes, but not this. So here’s mine: pmullinsj@verizon.net Look forward to it and all best…patrick

    Patrick

    February 22, 2009 at 2:15 am

  13. Seems you’re over thinking it. This is about what you’re comfortable with, not us the readers. So why the need to ask for reader input? Continuing with the current model is an opportunity to challenge yourself to relax about your writing. Perfectionism only goes so far (not very far, I’d say).

    Candice

    February 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    • Candice,

      Yeah probably right. And it does have exactly that effect, to make me relax, to a certain extent, or at least has at times. But in another way it’s just shunted things into two separate paths – the off-the-cuff stuff on here and the compressed, worked stuff on the other side.

      adswithoutproducts

      February 22, 2009 at 10:58 pm

  14. late to this post, and its probably since been pursued elsewhere (I’m just now playing catchup), but I prefer your pseudonymous freedom and less perfectionist style here. and it’s probably better for you, too, to have a space to work things out. This seems like a net good especially for someone who has perfectionist tendencies (I’ll admit to my own perfectionism being my biggest struggle).

    Dave

    February 27, 2009 at 3:24 am


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