meta: February 2007 Archives

Chains of love

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It's one of those weeks where my waking moments are filled with thoughts best left unblogged, for any number of reasons. But I've been meaning for the past couple of days to link to an entry over at Tim's joint. He's speaking mostly about the whole Edwards campaign kerfuffle, but for a paragraph, he references a conversation over at Laura's about whether or not she planned to continue blogging. It motivates some reflection on the double standard operating in some folks' conceptions of blogging. On the one hand, they want what happens in blogspace to matter in the larger world; on the other, they don't always seem to want to be held accountable by that larger world. But I was especially interested in the finally paragraph (gently pruned for your consumption):

This is not just about blogging: it’s about history. The more you write, the more your writing is both burden and expectation, a second self whose permission is required before you do something new–or whose betrayal is necessary should you wish to be free of your shadow....When I write it–even in a blog–it has, and ought to have, some greater weight. If that weight becomes like Marley’s chains, forged in life, it’s up to me to do the hard and complicated work of unlocking, not to complain that what I wrote was read.

I mentioned in the comments thread at Laura's that she'd articulated something that I've been experiencing lately as well. And I think that it's that notion of what I write here as a second self. When I'm feeling especially transparent, the blog doesn't feel all that separate from what I do. I don't feel like I have to police it for polysemy, worrying about whether or not what I say will be taken up in unintended ways. Which isn't to say that it's weightless--I hope that there is some weight to what I write, at least on occasion. But when it becomes a second or a third self--if my private and public meat/selves are the first two--it takes me that much more energy to tend to it. And that much self-maintenance can wear me out after a while. Right now, I'm feeling that fatigue. Part of it's the weather, part of it's the time of the year, and part of it's just the junk that happens.

What prompted this entry tonight was a conversation with D about last night's ep of Lost, which didn't jazz me quite as much as the week before. I'm worried that the writers of that show have decided not to "do the hard and complicated work of unlocking" their narrative, opting instead for more plot, more characters, and more distractions (assuming that Jack's tattoo was one of the "big mysteries" solved last night), and hoping that those of us who loved the show through the first two seasons will simply let it slide. Lost is no longer the must-see it was for me those first two seasons, and while I'm willing to ride it out a while longer, I'm beginning to feel a bit betrayed by the fact that I've watched regularly, closely, and with interest. I wonder how much the writers are longing to be free of the shadows of those first two seasons.

That's not to compare my humble blog to a show like Lost. But I had a much more concrete sense after that conversation of how even a labor of love can begin to feel like a unshakeable shadow. That's all.

And that's really all I have to say tonight.


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It occurred to me last night as I was putting together my last entry that there's a deep need going unfulfilled here at cgbvb. When I linked the phrase "event model" to one of the pages from my course blog from a few years ago, it was a little more indirect than I'd hoped. And there are a couple of other posts that might do just as well. In other words, as I've been working slowly on the second book, I'm also polishing up concepts that in some cases are variations on others' terms and in some cases are my very own.

I'm planning this summer to do a fairly elaborate site redesign, and as part of that, I'd planned on doing some "Best of cgbvb" linking, fronting some of my favorite posts and some of the screencasts that I've done over the years. I'm thinking that maybe I should also put together some synthesizing posts on some of the vocabulary that I've been taking for granted, both my own and others'.

This occurred to me also recently as I was finishing up Steven Johnson's The Ghost Map (Amazon). I'm in the habit of talking about fallacies of scale (which you'll find as part of this essay), but Johnson's book has me thinking about a corresponding "felicity of scale" that might be worth making similarly explicit.

I really don't mean for this to sound as arrogant as it probably does--I don't mean to suggest that my thinking is so important that what's needed is a glossary so that people can understand me better. Rather, I'm coming to realize that the invention and/or development of concepts is pretty important to my own work process, even when I move past them or ditch them in favor of other ideas. Phrases like "event model" or "fallacy of scale" feel like pieces of the puzzle I'm working on, and I think it'll help me to start pinning them down a little bit. As I write about this, though, I think that this is something worth doing over at Rhetworks, even though I'll still talk about them here. It occurs to me as well that what I'm talking about here is the same kind of thing that Kenneth Burke did in his earliest books, including local glossaries in both Counter-Statement and Attitudes Toward History, and that recommends this idea to me even more.

So we'll see. There's only a few entries that I've got planned so far, but it may be worth picking up some related ideas from some of what I'm reading, and glossarize those as well. And who knows? Maybe a full fledged Brookapedia will make more sense after the third or fourth book. Heh.

That is all. Go Bears!



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This page is a archive of entries in the meta category from February 2007.

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