To Blog or Not or What

Boy, it sure has been nice these past four days to not post an entry into Deckchairs. I spent the past four days doing very little work, thinking a lot about work, spending some calm time with the family, trying to get my daughter to eat, and see old and good friends. Lovely.
But I have three thoughts about why it’s been so nice not to blog:
1. I think blogging, for all of its gorgeousness, is a horrendously time-sucking affair that can add up to little at the end of the day. Questions like “Who the hell is reading this?” and “Why the hell am I doing this?” necessarily enter the brain of the blogger if that blogger really has a brain. It’s just that few like to ask these questions publicly and let on to the fact that ambivalence is as much a part of blogging as is typing.
2. Blogging is an inherently transitional affair of the heart. It’s not documentary writing per se, nor is it publishing, nor is it diaristic, purely. It’s a combination of all of these, filtered through the limited means of electronic forms and databases and constructed so as to appear whole, unified, cogent to the outside world. Blogging is not one thing, it’s never done, and it’s never fully satisfying because, like the medium it relies upon, it’s replete but never complete. The Web is always about the next big thing, the next thing, the next.
3. The questions I’m raising are not accepted, nor celebrated, by bloggers the world over because they go right to the heart of the experience of blogging. I’m also not raising them because I want to end my “affair” with Deckchairs and blogging, nor because blogging has become dull, tiresome, and trite. (It has not.) Rather, I wonder what would happen if every blogger could write about the vagaries and ambivlances of blogging itself — the activities, the thought processes, the improbable forays on the Web and off for information and synthesis — for one week and one week only. Only then could we see what blogging is truly about.
That’s what will happen here this week — an experiment in living blogging.

3 thoughts on “To Blog or Not or What”

  1. I disagree with points 1 and 2- i think blogging does take time, but that’s because, when practiced correctly, it’s a creative activity. Sure, if you write a diary about your life, and all you do is describe buying milk at the store, the time you spend is waste- but no one would tell Michaelangelo that painting was a time suck. And that’s the kind of blogging I challenge myself to do.
    And that’s why I disagree with point number 2- the best blogs are monomaniacal in their devotion to subjects, not the self. So they are not documentary, or diaries, but rather, creative mediums like oil painting on canvas or performance art.
    If I ever address question point #3, it will be in three essays modestly entitled as follows:
    1. “the blogger as renaissance man”
    2. “on future developments in blogging”
    3. “rules to blog by: what not to do when you blog”

  2. Jake,
    Thanks for the comment. But I do think you agree more than not.
    Blogging takes time, like any creative endeavor (or any serious activity that attempts to demonstrate expertise and understanding), yes. But the futility of blogging, as well as that of making art, are rarely acknowledged publicly because it would mean defeat, or it shows weakness, or perhaps something else. When I was a serious painter, o, 300 years ago, only over impolite dinner conversation would anyone discuss the difficulty, the improbability of succeeding publicly. It was as if the myth that painting alone was a substantial exercise still held or would always hold, but everyone knew that being a painter meant starting a conversation, a market, an idea-set with others.
    Of course, blogging is an adventure in futility for most of us but it’s one shared by most of bloggers, too. And that very public nature of blogging is what is so rarely discussed publicly.
    It’s almost as if publishing content to the Web through weblogs is transparent, like watching television or film is for most of us. But it’s not and the actual mechanics and the crunching of neurons for public display is still very new, inherently unstable, and messy, as are the personal politics of submitting yourself to the viewing public (e.g. Hilton sisters, The Bachelor, etc.).
    Granted, a blog about blogging is dullsville. But I’m also wondering if there are examples of blogs that critique the assumptions of blogging in a useful way and that set the tone for the “future of blogging,” which I’d love to read or write someday as well.

  3. Jake and Andrew:
    I hope y’all will continue this public conversation, so that those of us lurking [and contemplating a blog-start] can benefit. And Jake, I’d really like to see your “rules to blog by.”
    As a preacher, it strikes me that blogging could be much like sermon preparation–collecting ideas, images, phrases, working them into casual [or not so casual] conversation to see how they play, never really letting anyone know [and usually not knowing entirely oneself] what’s being masticated by [and at times masticating] the soul/self/psyche–until it pours out of your mouth in front of everyone.
    That said, perhaps blogging is also like preaching; while there’s an “instant gratification” to preaching–you can see the effect on faces, feel it reverberating in the air, catch its pulse in a handshake or hug at the end of worship–the effects continue to unfold over a long time, as part of an ongoing conversation between a pastor and a congregation. Isolated and individual lines become a part of individual and corporate stories, and they can surface months and years later in ways that usually catch me off guard.
    To signal a different take on the conversation: I’m curious about the connections y’all feel/see/construct between “ambivalent blogging” and the tension inherent in the creation of public selves/personas before a largely unknown public.

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