Friday, February 02, 2007

Further thoughts on blogging: dot points

That previous post looked more like a 'Why I Blog' than it was intended to, I think. So, a bit of corrective steering:

* What I was trying to address there was a more specific issue about the 'reality' or otherwise of the people whose blogs one reads. If I were in academic mode, I'd say I was thinking about the construction of subjectivity and the degree to which that is discursive, but I can see your eyes glazing over and so are mine, and I haven't even got to the end of this sentence yet. Nonetheless, that is what I was really thinking about: what a self is, and the extent to which a self can be evoked, and invoked, using nothing but words.

The idea that bodily presence is the only thing that genuinely reifies a connection now seems to me as limited a notion of human relations as the vague idea circulating among my post-hippie peerdom in its younger days that an emotional attachment wasn't 'real' unless the people involved had actually had sex.

I lost my last shred of unease about this one the day it occurred to me that some of the deeply-felt emotional connections in my life that for one reason or another had never made it into bed were far more important and lasting than the handful of ill-judged casual bonks it still pains me to think about. (Except for ... Oh, never mind.)

* I certainly don't care whether blogging is cool or not; fortunately I am too old to care about coolth at all. To my mind, the cutoff age for such concern is about 35, tops; after that, it's just a sign of arrested development.

* Being the first to know the news isn't important for me; most of the 'news' is such that one would be very happy to be the last to know it. And anyway, as has often been pointed out, almost all blogging is response to the news rather than the creation or breaking of it. And the MSM -- in its online incarnations at least, and on radio -- is far more likely to be accurate, and to acknowledge when things are under dispute or have not been confirmed.

*It may have looked, unintentionally, as though I was expressing no interest in the public-life blogs. It's true that it is boring, disheartening and time-wasting to wade through all the dross on a lot of the political and economic blogs' comments threads -- but when it's good, there's nothing like it. There is currently, for example, a long thread about David Hicks at Larvatus Prodeo that's told me more in one read-through than everything else combined that I've ever read or heard on the subject.

While the quality of the ensuing discussion is partly due to the excellence of Atticus's original post (though this logic doesn't always follow), it's the Gestalt of the discussion that's the truly valuable thing, and the way everyone on that thread has made everyone else think hard and formulate well-informed and/or well-constructed responses. You can't buy that kind of education, and you certainly can't get it from any single person or from even the best MSM source.

No, the banal truth is that I blog because

* I rooly enjoy it. Why do I rooly enjoy it? Comms junkie.

* I write for a living, and it's an excellent way to keep my hand in on a daily basis, like a swimmer doing training laps.

* I like finding out what the sorts of people whose tastes and knowledge I respect are reading, listening to, wearing, cooking and thinking. And I lerve reading about the practice of life skills I will never have: Dogpossum's lovely dancing, Ampersand Duck's magical printing, bookbinding and related activities, Anthony's amazing food.

* It's a great way of recording things that I want to, or should, remember: of processing and encapsulating the little bits of daily experience that one usually loses as they float away down the stream of time, but would, in a perfect world, prefer to keep.


JahTeh said...

A bit of the daily experience but more of the things I find an explanation for, or the Aha experience which is too long or too scientific for my personal journal so it goes on the blog for me to remember. As for being cool, I was way beyond cool, so cool I was alone in my league.

Pavlov's Cat said...

'As for being cool, I was way beyond cool, so cool I was alone in my league.'

If your enviable gravatar is anything to go by, JahTeh, I am sure that that is true.

cristy said...

I hope that I didn't misrepresent your last post too much. I should have said that it spoke to me both about the concept of reality (who is a real person etc...) and about the "why blog" question, rather than saying that it was a post about why you blog.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Cristy, not at all, it was me -- my first piece kind of slides into generalisations about halfway through, I think. I tried to write a substantial article last year about blogging and it was a complete disaster, and I've been thinking about why ever since. Something to do with there being too much to say and not enough of it widely understood.

Some of the comments on your LP thread are enlightening -- people use the verb 'to blog' interchangably to mean read, write, comment and/or lurk. I think blogging's a very radical practice in the way it mixes these things up, and would go even futher and say it changes the way the psyche works -- a lot of blogging is the subconscious made manifest. And a lot of the aggression in blogging is rampant Id, on show where it would never be IRL. In that respect blogging has a lot in common with drunkenness, road rage and certain illegal drugs.

(As in, for example, that breathtaking backhanded insult on your LP thread about my teaching skills from a former student, whom I'm happy to say I don't remember, and whose bait I have no intention of taking there. Good thing I've got a stack of high-scoring student evaluation forms to say he's wrong, though -- I know exactly what you mean about the need for a thick skin.)

cristy said...

Yes, I was wondering if that comment actually breached my rules about not being nasty and whether or should have deleted it...

Why anyone would feel the need to slip that kind of insult into an otherwise reasonable comment is beyond me!

lucy tartan said...

I've enjoyed both these posts and I got your meaning. The old New Yorker cartoon about how on the internet nobody can tell if you're a dog increasingly seems completely wrong to me. You really can tell. And Zoe was right in what she said on your other post.

So yeah I agree that blog relations are at least as real as other kinds of interactions (and I don't know that we really know much about many other people anyway, to save ourselves mental energy we tend to work with fantasies of our own devising for thinking about most of the people we come in contact with.)

The authenticity of online relationships is a good when it's a good relationship, but I don't know where this leaves us with people who we don't get along with.

I think it's interesting that at LP people have been identifying as bloggers when what they apparently have in mind is that they comment on blogs. Is this something specific to big blogs with forum-style comments threads?

lucy tartan said...

One other thing - convergence. One reason I have more blog friends than blogless now is that the blogless are getting themselves blogs.

I rarely discuss blogging with the unconverted, but if someone brings it up, disparagingly, I say that in a year or two they'll be eating crow.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I can usually tell when someone is a dog: I have inbuilt PawSense!

Fido Dogstoyevsky said...


dogpossum said...

I really enjoyed your last post - I'm sorry I didn't comment (I've just been reading and running lately). I thought/think you make neat points. And you write nice.

suzoz said...

I like to keep my blog separate from 'real life'. I do know people in real life who read my blog and other people who I originally met online and who I am now 'real' friends with. But I don't often discuss cyberspace with them when we're together in real space. Thinking about that, I suspect it's because blogging is primarily a place in my mind, some kind of imaginative, meditative place. I like to keep it within me, rather than externalise it.

GotA said...

I love the anonymity of blogging. Only a select few people in 'meat time' (as Charles Mann puts it) read my blog or know I have one.

I love dropping in on people's lives, too, though I feel a bit creepy when I do. I drop into many people's blogs for the reasons PC speaks of, but I tend not to comment, and it seems strange that there are people out there I care about who don't know I'm watching. Makes me feel a bit stalkerish.