Please forgive me for not writing much today. I’ve been here the whole time, but I seem to have the flu or something. I just don’t feel up to reading or writing. In fact, I spent the last two and a half hours watching Harakiri, which is an incredibly powerful film. Even still, I don’t feel up to writing about it.
Last week, Infidel753 wrote, Catacombs of the Blogosphere. It is sort of a celebration and remembrance of blogs that have stopped running (or slowed to a trickle). Blogs are, by their nature, ephemeral. And in a fundamental way, I think that political blogs are unhealthy. They force us to consume a lot of politics and then they attract (in my case) conservatives who, nine out of ten times, add nothing to the conversation. They spout talking points that I have usually addressed many times before. It’s exhausting. (Of course, they also attract more interesting and informed people, which is a big part of why I continue to do it. So I’m not surprised that people cut back and even stop.
There’s another issue, I think. Blogging forces you to see just how many great and thoughtful writers there are out there. It’s great for developing your skills. But it isn’t going anywhere. It is hobby writing. I figure I could do this for another decade and I would still be getting the same few hundred actual (not spam) visitors per day. To a large extent, this is simply a result of the structure of the internet. I have another website that I started in early 2000. I haven’t done anything on it in years. Yet it still gets ten times the traffic that Frankly Curious gets.
A better question than “Why have they stopped?” is “Why did they take it seriously for so long?” And I think the answer to this is extremely positive. It shows self-actualization; it shows commitment; it shows passion. Bloggers really are the best of what we are. (Well, they are; I’m just a narcissist.) And they are extremely idiosyncratic. Infidel753 mentioned this, “If a blogger is dedicated to liberal politics but also has a passionate interest in, say, gardening and jazz music, then there will be some posts about liberal politics and others about gardening or jazz music.” Exactly.
Still, why do I post five or so articles every day? Part of it is fear. I see it as a kind of work of anti-art. It will go on as long as I do it and then it will be no more—very much like life itself. We spin our webs as a reflection of who we are. William Buckley famously wrote, “A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop…” We liberals run ahead of history yelling, “Full steam ahead!” It’s a noble, if futile endeavor. But what else am I going to do?
It is very possible I will repudiate this all tomorrow. I feel like my head is swimming. But I had to get this out. It’s been over a year since I only published one article in a day…
Update (29 April 2014 8:52 am)
Infidel753 wrote a followup:
You have some good observations here. "Hobby writing" can be important — for myself, I can hardly imagine [i]not[/i] writing, and a blog is the simplest and most straightforward way to do it. That might be considered a kind of narcissism by some, but I think we’re all narcissists in our own ways.
I had a lot more to say, but I realized it was too long for a comment, so I turned it into a post instead.
@Infidel753 – I’m very pro-hobby. It seems to me that America has become far less hobby oriented, and that’s a very bad thing.
Almost all creative work is narcissistic. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I just never want to lose site of the fact that ultimately, I do this all for me.
I’ll check out your article later. I’m still not feeling that well.
I hope you’ll feel better soon. Take it easy as much as possible — flu can be serious.
Gore Vidal once delineated two types of narcissists. The first basically is a self-worshipper. The second looks in the mirror, sees the lines upon the brow, and obsesses over what time has done to self, society, world. (I’m paraphrasing but have the gist of it.)
In a way I suppose he’s right and wrong. You could make the argument that all writing for the consumption of others is narcissism, and all writing solely for oneself is not. I think you could flip that around, too, and argue that because writing for others is a form of human interaction, it’s less narcissistic than the person who perseverates on their own musings to absurdity. I think it depends on the intentions one has with writing. One can write for others in a vain attention-seeking manner, or value how outside reaction influences one’s perspective. Or both. One can be essentially a diarist and use those solitary musings to make sense of thoughts before approaching others with them, or use private writing to settle scores and feel king of one’s empire in one’s head. Or both. There are a million different reasons to write, and I think I’ve at least dipped my toe in all of them.
Personally I feel that when I have more opportunity to write in a manner that receives feedback from strangers, positive or no, it helps me be more interesting to the people I interact with as friends and colleagues. Otherwise we just get stuck in loop tapes of saying the things to each other we know won’t cause fights (or saying the thing we know will cause fights, when we’re feeling prickly.) Writing with strangers helps me know what subjects (and how I address them) can be introduced into the conversations I have with those I know and how others might react to what I have to say. It’s worthwhile on that score.
But I admit I haven’t written for strangers in a while and it must feel counterproductive sometimes to do on the Net. I miss letters (even e-mail letters!) so much. Phone calls and face-to-face are fine, but there’s something about organizing your ideas that’s a challenge and liberation simultaneously. My favorite was when I could write friends most of the time, call them some of the time, and visit them occasionally. We sorta had the best of all worlds there.
Anyhoo . . . keep enjoying what you can enjoy as much as you can enjoy it!