Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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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.

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