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Turning the Soil - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Turning the Soil
My mind is still rototilling the ground for a long entry on what I'm going to call the "resistance to blogging," inspired A) by recent tension between friends who are comfortable with the confessional mode and ones who critique it; B) by related exchanges on the public-private divide and the possibility of preserving an interstitial space between them without the pressure that those two terms exert buckling the M-dash into an I-dash; and C) by this pseudonymously penned column from the Chronicle of Higher Education to which masoo's regular blog alerted me, where many of the objections people make to blogging in an academic context -- including some of those friends I referred to above -- are distilled into a brew that is as toxic as it is clear.

I realize now that I have become excessively lax in my defense of blogging, particularly in its "personal" permutations, in recent months and need to tour my fortifications in order to keep them functional. The risk of having them turn into a Maginot Line is high right now, as the backlash against blogging gathers momentum. At the same time, however, I recognize that even the best defense can be needlessly defensive and am going to try, harder and longer, to take the ambient animus against blogging, both within the academy and without, more seriously than I did when I was still flush with the enterprise's novelty.

The fact that I've spent the past few months dealing with a situation directly attributable to personal blogging has certainly provided plenty of comestibles for consideration in that regard. Even if I have reconciled myself to many of the dangers that public openness invites, I freely acknowledge that other people, less invested in the confessional mode, may be expressing some of their reservations about personal blogging on my behalf. Although I find that this sort of worrying-for-others often seems to double as condescension, I want to work harder to give well-intentioned friends the benefit of the doubt.

Whatever critique of the critics of blogging I come up with, then, will be to some extent an immanent critique, in which I try to feel out the limits of their arguments by starting from a place deep inside them, rather than by running up against their exterior walls in a close-minded assault on their defenses. I imagine that my critique will end up confirming my investment in blogging, particularly of the personal sort, but suspect that it will also contain modifications of my previously articulated positions. In closing, then, please know that this entry is of the "place-holding" kind and, furthermore, that I wrote it rapidly, in the manner I do when I don't have time to sound less prolix or more paratactic. More to the point, I want you -- especially those of you have been writing to me or with me in mind -- that I'm thinking hard about the same things you're thinking about. I thank you for your helpful provocations and hope that I can provide similarly helpful provocations in return in the very near future.

Mode: burning lots of fuel
Muse: Sympathy For The Devil (Dem Teufel Zugeneigt) - Laibach - Sympathy For The Devil

12 comments or Leave a comment
masoo From: masoo Date: July 12th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
"I try to feel out the limits of their arguments by starting from a place deep inside them, rather than by running up against their exterior walls in a close-minded assault on their defenses."

This is a good definition of how you approach many things, and is one of the many reasons why I like to hear what you've got to say. Of course, I have a tendency to run against walls, myself :-).
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 13th, 2005 09:35 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Why, thank you! I've had a few head-on collisions in my time, but more often than not the sort where I run into the other half of my divided self. . . :-)
elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: July 13th, 2005 06:00 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
A friend and I were just having a blogged conversation about this article actually. As she is presently more invested in her anonymity than I seem to be in mine, I refrain from linking her non-LJ musings here without consent--but know that you came up in my discussion of why I went and have stayed "public" with this crazyfabulous enterprise, even before I read this.

She and I were both most troubled by the paragraph beginning "The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself." Seems not at all the sort of immanent critique you've helped me come to love so well. I'm looking forward to your future posts. Must think on this some more myself as well.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 14th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Hiring is, of course, different from firing. I think putting your blog address on a CV is probably unwise. But having one, whether in your name or a fake one, is unlikely to be a big problem unless you reveal yourself to be a spreader of gossip or a radical.
elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: July 14th, 2005 05:09 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm not all that worried. And the blog is anything but disappearing in the face of this.

More musings of my own perhaps in time.
From: jsterne Date: July 13th, 2005 01:10 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Give 'em Hell

I'd love a good polemic in defense of the confessional, but perhaps that would be the wrong genre, wouldn't it?

cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 14th, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Give 'em Hell

Right. I'm thinking of that too. I already visited that terrain in "Autobiography in Music Criticism." I'd like to expand and modify what I said there. Perhaps it will be for our issue.
art_thirst From: art_thirst Date: July 13th, 2005 01:26 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Very interesting about bloggers but, having a blog is not a new issue. I took one of my blogs and used it for my class. This one, I don't go mentioning to anyone I teach with. I have Miamiartexchange.com and its typepad blog. There, it's arts oriented and personal comments are usually framed within arts & cultural issues. I don't feel that I'll get a fulltime teaching position, ever, so, I'm focusing LOTS of energy into the latter website and trying to make it pay for itself at all costs. I have so much going on with it right now I haven't had a minute to think about posting to LJ for a few weeks. Once the relaunch happens on Friday, I can think again about this space... well, my space, not your space. *wink*

btw, I liked the Bean pics... she's so cute.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 14th, 2005 04:35 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Having multiple venues seems to be the way to go. I'm thinking of reviving our Bad Subjectgs blog to that end. I sure hope things get better for you soon. I know it has been a real struggle. And thanks for praising the Bean!
art_thirst From: art_thirst Date: July 14th, 2005 05:32 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yeah... things have been VERY bad. Once school starts I think other job opportunities might open up (because of the season mostly). But, I'm looking to get out of teaching. I just cannot do it any longer. I've never ever in my life been so out of work. And, at my age people are not ready to just jump up and hire me. That's why I need to find something more suited to my experience: arts mgt., general mgt., and other stuff but don't wanna make a list here. :-)

Miamiartexchange.com is my focus right now. I'm convinced that I can get where I want to go with my site. That means deriving some income from it; enough to make a real difference between a "hobby" and a meaningful comtribution to the arts community. I need more discpline getting proposals together for some future projects I'm hoping to develop with the site. Banner ads must be compensated either with cash or in-kind services, art work will be sold from the site, featured artists possibly working on a local project. Again, a proposal is needed for the latter if and when other org's are invited to participate. It also means I'll probably be doing less writing of articles but, I'll see how things go. Relaunch tomorrow, unless the site isn't moved to its own server in time. "Don't make me go crazy because it's not ready, please!"

From: jodi3425 Date: July 13th, 2005 11:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

interesting problem

The angle of the Chronicle article is really conservative: it seems that no only do they not want to know their candidate's thoughts about bombings, but that they don't want to acknowledge that candidates can have extreme thoughts or interests at all. The primary issue seemed to be ranting. It strikes me that the author didn't have a clue about blogs and their genre(s)/practices/unfolding. Outside the academy there have already been instances of people getting fired because of their blogs, so it isn't a surprise that workplace issues come up in the academy as well.

In my view, the question of revelation and reputation is more than one of the workplace: it's basically the same question we have any time we speak to another person, any time we let someone else even see us. There are zones in which we present ourselves, always aware that the zones are permeable. This knowledge is reflexive: others also know that the zones are permeable.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 14th, 2005 04:29 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: interesting problem

I agree with you completely. But there are people out there who, even though they should and perhaps do know better, will conveniently forget about the permeability of zones. I'm working on a follow-up that addresses the CHE article and the response to it more directly. As far as the workplace question goes, I can't imagine someone being justifiably fired in the academy for material that clearly has nothing to do with work. I fear, though, that my imagination may be atrophying. It's good to hear from you again. . .
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